Categories
Car Auction Retail Car Lot Wholesale Lot

10 Sites You Shouldn’t Ignore when Sourcing Used Cars

Used Car DealerIf you have been in the car business for any length of time you have faced the dilemma of how to buy used cars. Do I go to auctions? Do I visit private dealers? At Auction Simplified we think you need to be always looking for cars and visiting every venue.

 

hemmings

10. Hemmings

This site is often overlooked by car dealers because they cater mostly to Collectors. But sometimes there are gems hidden in the listings from people that consider their cars to be collectable. Used Mustangs for example or even that oddity you need to fill a customer order. Additionally, if you need old parts, Hemmings is the place to start. To buy used cars from Hemmings, go to www.hemmings.com

bring a trailer

9. Bring a Trailer

If you’re looking for something cool and old, from a rusty Pinto project cars to perfectly restored Camaro, Bring a Trailer is where you want to go. To quote their site; “There is no need to keep sifting through hundreds of hopeless projects or overpriced dealer inventories to find that one car you’ve been looking for. We pick the winners and save you the trouble… the best bargains, the best dream cars, and the best rarities.” To buy used cars from Bring a Trailer, go to bringatrailer.com

autotrader logo8 AutoTrader.com

One thing that is great about AutoTrader is that you can search the nation in a second. So if you are looking for that hard to find specific car, AT is your best bet. Links to Carfax and Kelly Blue Book straight from the site are all plusses. Not everyone likes AutoTrader because of its heavy advertising and because their listings tend to attract people who severely overvalue their cars. However, AutoTrader does have an excellent search function, letting you make searches for things like “manual transmission + two wheel drive + four cylinder engine” and gives you a variety of similar cars across different years and makes.  To buy used cars from AutoTrader go to www.autotrader.com

auto tempest7. AutoTempest

It’s great because it allows you to shop all the major used car sites at once. It’s like those cross-shopping flight search sites, but for cars. To buy used cars from AutoTempest go to AutoTempest.com

carfax logo6. Carfax

Most buyers don’t realize that Carfax has a rather robust used car listing filled with great inventory, much of it wholesale. This is because many dealers have opted to pay flat rate for Carfax and they allow the cars to show up as an additional service. You get the added bonus of a free Carfax report, cool huh? To buy used cars from Carfax, go to www.carfax.com/cars-for-sale

kijiji5. (Canada Only) kijiji.ca

Even if you live in the US there are ways to get cars across the border, so I threw this one in for our US dealers. Canadian dealers have been using Kijiji.ca for years. Great cars for sale and a good user interface makes it like Craigslist but better. It’s also owned by eBay. By the way Kijiji means “village” in Swahili. To buy used cars from KiJiJi go to www.kijiji.ca

4. Auction Simplified

I also recommend our own wholesale marketplace, Auction Simplified (shameless plug) because it is free for sellers to use and the buy fee is so small. It offers a turnkey “Make and Offer” style buy center that feeds from their existing inventory software. More and more dealers are using the platform to buy and sell used cars.  Go to AuctionSimplified.com and register.

Cars.com-Logo3. Cars.com

Similar to Autotrader but with less of the commercialism, cars.com is great especially on their mobile app. Cars.com has a clear user interface and  a great search function. Because of their lower cost as compared to AT they attract more independent car dealers and small used car lots, so they will often have almost all the cars in a particular town listed. They also allow for national search which is really helpful when looking for a bargain if you are not afraid to travel. To buy used cars from Cars go to www.cars.com

eBay-Motors-Logo-no-border2. Ebay motors

It harder to find a great deal yourself because of the national exposure, but eBay Motors is generally more reliable and easier to deal with than Craigslist. It’s also good when you already know what you want, and if you’re looking for something very specific. To buy used cars from eBay, go to www.eBaymotors.com

Use a robot bidding tool like bidnapper.com as it can really make a difference in winning the bid because it bids hyper fast on your behalf at the end.
Kevin Leigh, Dealer Simplified
Kevin Leigh

craigslist-logo-transparent1. CraigsList

You get some weird crap thrown in, so be careful not to surf craigslist while kids are around, but nothing can beat Craigslist when it comes to local listings. The search function is not the most specific, alright it actually stinks, but their are mobile apps that make things a lot easier. To buy used cars from Craigs List, go to www.craigslist.com

The trick with CL is to looks a lot further down the page, because you may not realize that it is actually a chronological list and sometimes the honey is at the bottom of the pot.
Kevin Leigh, Dealer Simplified
Kevin Leigh

UPDATE 8.12.14:

Dealer Auction SoftwareNow that Auction Simplified has launched, we also recommend our software (shameless plug) for Dealers to find, buy or sell wholesale cars. Go to AuctionSimplified.com and register.

Categories
Business Development Dealer Software Retail Car Lot

The Important Question To Ask Dealer Software Vendors? Hint:Not DMS Integration

The Core Question?

If you draw concentric circles around your dealership accounting office you will probably find several software packages attaching themselves to your DMS. Everything from inventory managers, compliance software to CRM’s and service schedulers.

Each supplier probably had a booth at NADA where they showed off their bells and whistles and colorful graphs and functionality. We all get sort of mesmerized by the experience, taken by the flashiness and chrome.

Dealer Software is too complex
DEALER SOFTWARE IS TOO COMPLEX:
This is an actual training slide from a software vendor. I hid the brand to avoid the embarrassment for the company in question, but you know who you are.

As the long time Director of Variable Op’s for a large dealer group in Upstate New York,  I used to look forward to returning to the group to show of the latest and greatest software that could “revolutionize” our dealer group. Usually very early on in that meeting someone will ask , “does this integrate with our DMS?” I would say that is one of the least important questions early on. What dealers need to start asking is “How often are those shiny features actually used?”

We founded Dealer Simplified after sitting through three dealership website meetings. In one case I was shown a really cool bar that allowed customers to track searches. It looked great and was presented as a “Killer Feature” of their website. When I asked, “how much is it actually used by customers?” the salesperson actually gasped and stood there for a moment like a deer in the head lights. I pushed and finally he said 1-2% of the time.

I realized right then and there, Shiny Features are much different from Usable Features. The core question is, why are we always focused on the shiny bells and whistles instead of the features that make us money.

Lets take CRM for example, vendors love to show how you can make lists of customers to call and fancy reports showing our failing salespeople. The programmers that designed these features never sold a car in their life. Reports don’t sell a thing, until the salesperson learns to love his/her CRM.

In CRM the real questions are:

  • How does it help me retain customers?
  • Will my sales team use it and why?
  • How does it identify potential clients?
  • Can I speak to a satisfied 50 year old salesperson using this CRM every day?

In my opinion, the evolution of dealership software is not to add more bells and whistles or better DMS integration but to remove unused features and work towards higher utilization.

Utilization Through Ongoing training.

I really believe that software utilization comes through training. I think dealers spent way too much time showing their sales team every bell and whistle of the new software package they’re trying to launch. In my training classes I focus only on the items that salespeople and sales managers are going to use. Especially early on.

The key is to have multiple meetings over multiple months, because the sales people and managers have no idea what questions to ask until they use the software for a period of time. They also should have the cell phone number to the software vendor so they can ask questions on the fly as they are using the dealership software.

Require Quarterly Training Revisits as Part of the Contract:

One of  the least mentioned and most important lessons I have learned with software vendors is to require in their contract that they revisit and retrain your team at least once a quarter. Again it is my believe that ongoing training is an essential part of software utilization.

Categories
Car Auction Retail Car Lot Wholesale Lot

Used Car Profit Hacks

When it comes to used car profit, dealers constantly consider the resale value of their inventory. Having a profitable, well maintained inventory can make a huge difference when it comes the speed in which you turn your used car lot.
Here are some simple tips on how to increase the value of your Used Car Inventory.

Wash Your CarsCleanliness Matters

Keeping your cars clean isn’t just for cosmetic appeal, it can seriously affect your cars value. As a percentage of profit improvement, a clean car has the most impact on value for the least amount of expense.
All plastic should be treated with a quality cleaner and protectant, and the carpets should be vacuumed to the point where you can actually see the lines the vacuum made. Get your detail shop a carpet rake, to really make the carpets look awesome.

Hidden garbage under the seats or in map pockets can cost you a sale. Make sure your detailers are looking everywhere and even vacuuming under the seats, trunk and map pockets.

Clean door jams make a real difference as well, have them wiped down and silicone the hinges.

Detail the engine and trunk, clean out their jams as well and be sure there are no signs of oil leaks whenever possible.

Freshen your Inventory often

cars with hoods openOne of the biggest mistakes dealers make is they don’t freshen their inventory weekly. I make it the lot person’s (porter/inventory managers) daily job. They should be flagging 2-5 cars a day to refresh.

Minor Modifications

Sometimes the smallest little details make your cars look so much better and in many cases add profit at a 2:1 ratio. When I was younger I made a living buying cheep cars with rips in the seats and dash boards. I would add seat covers and a minor patch kit for the cracks, then turn around and re-auction the car at a tremendous profit.
Simple things like spray painting the wheel wells black or silvering the end of an exhaust have amazing impact on curb appeal.

Adding Accessories

Some dealers like to add accessories, such as alarms. In my opinion the return is only equal to the value of the added item and in some cases lowers your SRP’s because it sometimes raises the price pass your competitors. Another side effect of adding the accessory in advance is you tend to give it away, instead of selling them at a profit

Minor Bodywork

Mobile paint technician’s are a used car manager’s best friend. These companies will come to your used car lot and can remove scratches and small dents without the hassle of taking your car to a repairer or body shop. They can also treat your car with an extra clear coat, giving the paint a new lease on life and providing added protection against chips and scratches.

When you have your own body shop you can fall into the trap of wanting to paint every minor dent. Dent removal without painting is the better way to go. Again its cost to profit ratio is as much a 4:1
Kevin Leigh, Dealer Simplified
Kevin Leigh

Story Book

One of the most important things you can do to increase the value of your cars is to keep a “story book” which includes such items as:

  • Printed Carfax
  • List of Work Already Preformed on the Car
  • Printed List of Reviews on the Car from Edmunds or Cars.com
  • Printed List of Standard and Added Options
  • Original Mileage statement
  • Warranties Available

Salespeople that show the storybook upfront are far more likely to get top dollar than salespeople that wait until the customer asks for the Carfax.

Categories
Retail Car Lot

What’s Your Strategy for Pricing Used Cars?

Pricing Used Cars

Pricing Used Cars for Your Retail Used Car Lot

Having the right pricing strategy is key to selling used cars in todays markets. Pricing used cars and re-pricing should be strongly based on your market and the online metrics SRP (search results page) and VDP (vehicle detail page) you are getting on your website or other search sites you are advertising with.  It has become a best practice to have every vehicle you select for retail advertised for sale starting at day one with a competitive “go-to market” price. This means competitively pricing your vehicles to the market to achieve quick turn at a fair profit.

VDP conversions

0% – 2%       underperforming vehicles
2.1%- 3.5%  avg. performing vehicles
3.6% +         high performing vehicles

How to pick the right pricing strategy for your store. Different dealers are looking for different results from their used car department. Some dealers are looking to increase market share, while other dealers are all about the money. Whether you are going for volume or gross, having a pricing strategy and using it consistently will help you achieve the results you are going for. Here are two examples;

To achieve a MAX TURN set your targets at:

Days                  Min %         Max %
0-10                 0%                    95%
11-20               0%                    90%
21-30               0%                    85%
31+                  0%                    80%

To achieve the MAX GROSS set your targets at:

Days                         Min%               Max%
0-30                 110%               150%
31-60               100%               125%
61-90                 90%                 100%

Once you have determined if going for max turn (high volume) or max gross (all the money), which will cause you to pass on the occasional deal, it is time to build your pricing strategy. Most strategies are based on the age of the car. As a vehicle ages we move the price down in an attempt to build interest in it. While having pricing targets tied to the age, can and does work you still have to watch the market when it comes to making pricing moves. It’s not just age that causes values of vehicles to drop, although it is a big factor things like MDS (market day supply) and seasonal change will affect the value of your cars.

Market day supply (MDS)

0-40      days, fast moving

41-80    days, average

81-100  days, slow moving

101+     days, very slow moving

 

The most important part of having a pricing strategy or implementing any procedure is laying out your expectations and then holding people accountable to the task. Setting a strategy for a used car manager to follow can be tricky, from time to time they may have to veer off the strategy if the data they are looking at tells them to price a car different from the targets. You may have set your targets to price all fresh cars at 110% to market, but if the market day supply is 150 you will never sell that car for 10% over the market average price. You may not even sell it at 100%. Or maybe you have a 30 day old car and your target is set at 85% to market (15% discount) but you are getting an avalanche of internet traffic (4.5% VDP) you may want to holdout on moving the price down to 85%. Try moving it a few hundred dollars and watch the traffic. Don’t give up gross if you don’t have to.

 

So you have picked your pricing strategy and set your targets now its time to outline your plan. If you need a little jump start here is a 70 day and out pricing plan.

Vehicles are looked at for re-pricing as they age. No vehicle should go longer than 7 days without a price change and should be changed by the Used Car Manager. It’s always a good idea to have the GM, as well as the other managers in your store participate in the pricing conversation. Set up a bullpen so you and your employees can look over fresh inventory before putting cars out on the lot. Have the go to market price at the bullpen so you can discuss it with the team.

0-15 day

The re-pricing of cars 0-15 day old should be done at 7 and 14 days. You will need to monitor the vehicle’s online performance with SRP and VDP metrics. Vehicles with a low conversion percentage or with low SRP counts will typically need a larger price adjustment to help them get some interest.

16-30 day

Vehicles are re-priced at 21 and 28 days. Under performing vehicles (0%-2% VDP) or vehicles with a higher days’ supply (over 81) are marked down in price more than vehicles performing at a high level (2.1% VDP or lower day supply). Try to position vehicles in the top 5 price point base on vehicle condition and miles to increase online traffic. Make sure all vehicles have marketable photos and a well written description that differentiates your vehicle from the competitions. Promote any maintenance or  recondition you have performed in that description.

31-45 day

Vehicles are re-priced at 35 and 42 days. These cars should be re-bull penned with sales consultants.  Used vehicle managers, inventory managers and sales managers need to review SRP and VDP counts as well as MDS – looking for underperforming and slow moving vehicles. Price changes at 42 days should be moved at or below 90% of the market and should be set in the top 3 price position. (Based on market size)

46-59 day

Vehicles are re-priced at 49 and 56 days. At this point, you should have an exit strategy depending on market days’ supply (MDS) and stocking levels of vehicle class. You may want to keep a vehicle with low VDP conversions if it is of like brand to your franchise, but make strong consideration to be price ranked #1 in your market. Use MMR (Manheim Market Report) to re-price your vehicle based on what this unit will draw at the auction.

60-69 days

Set the retail price at or close to what the car will draw at the auction. Its time to make this car go away and retail at any price usually makes more sense than taking a wholesale loss.

70 days and out

Time to rip the band-aid off and send it to the auction.

 

Hopefully you have been re-pricing and making good stocking decisions so you never have to send another car off to the slaughter.

<!–nextpage–>

Categories
Business Development Retail Car Lot

Top 10 Tips to Encourage Employees to Utilize the CRM

It’s Sad, I Know, But Your Average CRM Utilization is:

28%

Getting Your Team to Use Your CRM

Having a new customer relationship management system (CRM) won’t grow your business until you figure out how to get everyone to use it. Your CRM needs to be EASY and make sense for your manager and their team. CRM is probably one of the most valuable systems that any small business can implement. It is as important as the employees and will have a more significant long term effect than any one individual.

1. Don’t bombard users with features. 

Change is hard enough for most users, the manager does not need to spend a majority of the training class showing off feature after feature of the new system. Especially at the beginning, keep it EASY for the user. Display only the features the employees need to do their job. After the basics are understood by all employees, hold weekly meetings where you can show off additional benefits of the CRM.

The Easy CRM is not Bloatware2. Hide the Complex Features at First.

“Make sure your CRM is as simple as possible for what the employees need,” says Maggie our head of customer service, “If you think you need a full blown bloated CRM system with every feature possible, then plan on failure. Bloated CRM’s are almost always under utilized and under appreciated. Think about the phone system in your office, it probably has many great features, but most of your employees only use it to make calls.”

3. Make sure the owner uses the CRM, too. 

Nothing is more effective than when an employee knows the company owner is using the CRM, especially if they email questions to the employees about their utilization. Example: “I was looking in the CRM and did not see….’ Insert your ending here. When everyone uses it, it will become a trusted source.

CRM Trusted Source4. Make the CRM your trusted source of information?

Companies that also use Outlook or other contact management software often find themselves torn between two systems. If you can find a CRM that does it all, like the EASY CRM consider using it as your only source of customer info and customer detail. Most great CRM’s integrate with Gmail and google contacts, the user will not have to worry about an inability to access information. All of the info will be at your fingertips when you are off site.

5. Make it fun (and competitive) and reward the use of the CRM. 

Turn it into a game–with leaderboards, rewards and public recognition. Use competitive nature to encourage use of the CRM. Spiff’s and incentives work great, especially during the install phase of the CRM.

6. Play up CRM benefits. 

We all love top 10 lists, you are reading one now! Consider creating a top 10 list for the features that are most valuable to the team. The CRM sales top 10 would be completely different than the Customer Service Team’s CRM top 10 list. Keep it simple, and focused on the things they will actually use.

Once everyone is using the CRM, then show top new features each week to highlight the parts they may not be using yet. If an employee asks for a feature, make sure to use their name in your feature list. “Nancy asked the other day how to log a hand written note mailed to a customer? That feature is found in the ….”

7. Involve everyone in the early CRM rollout process. 

Make sure that the system is simple to learn for new users, and that your users can easily teach themselves as they work. Make sure employees have the opportunity to tell you what features do and do not make sense. You do not want to change workflow and make things take more time than before the CRM was implemented.

8. Find out who Hates the CRM

Figure out why and fix it early. “Naysayers do more damage to a CRM rollout than a power outage” says Kevin in CRM development. “Find the haters, help them, heal them and make them your evangelists.“

How to find them? The site Switch & Shift says, “They [users] will love the CRM or hate it based on its functionality. Let’s assume that your CRM is easy to use and provides them with essential information – a big assumption, but work with me. No matter how cool the functionality of your CRM system, your people may still hate it. Here’s why.

If your people love your CRM, it’s because it makes their jobs easier. If your people hate your CRM, it’s because you’re using it as a whip to ride them with.

It all comes down to this: do you look at your people as wayward children whose time and activity must be controlled tightly so they don’t slack off? Or do you see your employees as mature, responsible adults who are eager to do their work to the best of their abilities?”

CRM Is About Me9. It’s all about me

As a salesperson, the mentality will generally be “all about me”… that is what makes them good. If you didn’t take the time to involve them up front in the decision making process, why would you try to convince them now? After all, the salesperson will be the primary user of this new system. ‘Buy in’ occurs up front, not afterwards. If possible, try to rally your team to be onboard with the software before you even receive it.

10. Keep Training CRM

Driving CRM (or any software) adoption requires relentless and extended training. Training the CRM users once, having a few follow-up meetings and then having CRM fail, is an organizational execution failure, not a software failure.

Finally, have patience, give employees time, offer help.

“As leaders we all want to launch new procedures and policies, but it takes time for the average person to make them a habit. Be patient, be kind and be understanding. You are only truly successful with CRM implementation when the computer illiterate and the naysayers can use it to do their job. Just because they are not ‘computer savvy’ does not mean they cannot become CRM Savvy,” says Kevin.

TIP: Sales Buy-In is critical. In your sales meeting, ask for a CRM tip of the day. Spiff the person with the  $50. Then teach the whole team how to preform the tip. Or better yet ask the salesperson to demo his/her suggestion. ‘
Kevin Leigh, Dealer Simplified
Kevin Leigh

Categories
Retail Car Lot Wholesale Lot

Don’t Make Assumptions About Anyone, They All Deserve the Best From You.

“A man is great by deeds, not by birth.”  Chanakya −290BC

It was my first week working at my dad’s used car lot and I was 15 years old. It was the late 70’s and things were a little different. My father did not think twice about letting me drive one of his used cars to the corner to get coffee for him, without a license. We did not consider it unusual to spray paint cars in a wooden garage without a mask. It was an innocent time. Jimmy Carter was president, interest rates were 20% and being in the car business was hard.

don't prejudgeWe had just immigrated to the USA from Ireland and my dad started a small used car lot on a shoe string. Immigrants are the original “boot strappers,” because they usually cannot borrow money, yet they possess a ridiculous work ethic. To say we barely had a “pot-to-piss-in” was an understatement. I was the middle child of six and my parents had spent all of their money on a home and that used car lot.

You are thinking, “what has all of this to do with making assumptions?” well the answer is, everything. Because in that predicament I should not have assumed anything about anyone, but that is precisely what I did.

At the side of the garage, my father had a small camper that he used for his office. We were sitting in the “office” one early afternoon having lunch, when a man pulled into our lot driving a very old and rusted Chevrolet Pickup. My dad said, “Kevin, why don’t you go out and meet that man, lets see if you can sell him a car?”

I was horrified. At the time, I had never sold a car, I had never talked to a customer. My first reaction was to come up with any excuse in order to hide my inexperience.

“Dad, he can never buy a car, look at how he is dressed!” I said as we both looked out at the man, who was now opening the door of one of our used trucks. “He could never afford that.” The man was dressed in greasy coveralls with one shoulder strap missing, a torn and unwashed grey t-shirt and old steal toe boots with the metal exposed in the front from years of ware.

Without a word, my dad was on his feet, in ten long strides he was at the mans side shaking hands and smiling. Within minutes the hood of the truck was open and the man was looking at the motor. Every once in a while my dad would look back at me smirking. After the third look from him, I finished my lunch and went out to help.

My dad introduced me and then introduced the man. It turned out that he had just left his job site where his was building a strip mall. The man was so pleased with the progress from his construction crew, that he decided to buy his foreman a replacement truck. It was the foreman’s rusty truck he was driving. The man standing next to me was one of the wealthiest  commercial builders in Buffalo, but to my presumptuous young eye, he was poorer than us.

Years later, I still teach this lesson on assumption in my workshops and one-on-ones, because a common mistake of young inexperienced sales people, is the error of prejudgement. Even if a person is dressed poorly, has bad credit, and appears to be only shopping rather than buying, they should not be ignored. Every customer deserves your best efforts.

One of my earliest trainers was Grant Cardone, he discussed the 100% rule and I used it for the rest of my life. It goes something like this: Give 100% effort, sell the customer 100% of the time. Even if you don’t succeed that day, give 100% effort in getting the customer to come back.

Later when I became a finance manager I practiced the 100% approved rule. No matter what their credit rating I was always able to get the customer approved. If they were attempting to buy a $10,000 car, and the bank said no, I would repeatedly call the bank and ask how much money down it would take to get the person approved. In almost every situation, I was given 100% approval. In some cases they asked for $6000 down, but I learned it was better for the relationship with the customer never to say no, to always give hope. In the future that customer will remember how hard you worked for them, even when it seemed impossible to gain approval, and it will be you they return to when their credit score has improved or they have saved enough money to make a purchase.

I could talk about treating customers fairly and not making assumptions for hours, but for the sake of time, try this: Look into their eyes, not their cloths. In other words, treat everyone with utmost respect and they will buy from you like you are a natural.

Even after my father died, the man from the used car lot and his family still buy from me. I have lost count of the number we have collectively sold them over the years. He was my first customer and my first lesson in sales, which has forever shaped the way I sell for the better. You never know who a person is or when their situation may improve, someone with a poor credit score today, may be wealthy enough to buy a Mercedes tomorrow. Put prejudgments aside, and always give 100% effort.

Categories
Retail Car Lot

How to Find Customer’s Who Want to Buy Your Car

It is Job One For Managers and Car Sales People to Build Their Customer Base

My father used to say,

“if you are not looking for customers they will never find you.”

As it turns out, customers are all around, at stores, restaurants, and shopping malls.

How to find car buyers:

  • Finding-car-buyers-smiling-girl-getting-carCall orphaned customers: Sales people leave dealerships all the time and in many cases their customers (orphan owners) are left without any contact for months. I love working with orphan customers because they can be a rich source of future growth for business and a great place to get referrals. I believe one should call and make introductions, verify email addresses, and let the customer know that a message will be sent with coupons and specials. Send them quarterly specials and bird dog referral reminders (see below).
  • Bird Dog Referral Bonus: If you find yourself with a plethora of previous customers it is always a good idea to have a bird dog fee. The phrase “bird dog” means, refer a customer and I will pay a finders fee. It is a good idea to double bird-dog fees for a couple of weeks per year, as an additional incentive and an excuse to call the customer base.
  • Be the Fastest to Help: One of the most important wow factors with customers is urgency. Always be the first at the door, quickest to answer the phone and fastest to answer an email.
    In other words while other salespeople are having their first cup of coffee, watch the entry points for your business. This applies to business owners as well. Do you have a plan for each of the entry points to your company?

    • Who’s watching the front door? If possible move your office near it. As customers enter, look up, smile approach slowly and greet them. Ask them “What would you like to accomplish today?”
      While at the Apple store the other day they asked a simple non-threatening question: “What’s going on?” I like it because it is simple and open ended. If I ran a service business, “What’s going on?” would be my opening question too.
    • Always answer sales calls on the first ring. Become the switchboard operator’s friend. Bring them morning coffee; let them know when you arrive and when you are leaving.  Make sure they have your Google Voice number (mentioned below) which enables your calls to be transferred, making all of your phones ring at once, so that you never miss a potential customer.
    • Who’s checking leads and general email? Get good at responding fast and informatively. Set up auto responders for your email system. Make sure the leads are also coming to your smart phone. After the initial email, get the customer on the phone fast so you can schedule an appointment.
  • Hit up your friends and family. Make sure all your friends know what you do. There is nothing worse than finding out your friend bought a car somewhere else.
  • Use Facebook, Google+ and linked-in to sell yourself. Become the expert in the topic on the items you sell. Example: if you sell cars, write about safety features. If you are a wedding planner, tweet about top wedding designs.
    • Make sure your contact info is online and easily accessible.
    • Become “the deal guy or gal” with the best product knowledge.
    • Keep posts public and business professional.
    • Invite followers to buy something every 50 or so posts. Any more than that and it will come off as a sales pitch.
  • Get a Google phone number that rings all your phones at once. This one is so basic, but so important. Go to www.google.com/voice and sign up. Once created, be sure to list all all of your phone numbers, using the google voice number as your main number so that the customer can always reach you. If a customer is ready to call, you are ready to answer.
Categories
Car Auction Retail Car Lot Wholesale Lot

How to Sell a Car with an Accident Showing on Carfax™

Carfax Accident Report

“I Just Ran the Carfax™ and it Shows an Accident, What Should I Do?”

Selling a car that has been in an accident can be challenging. If you are selling a car that is showing an accident on a Carfax or some other vehicle history report the first thing you should do is have your service department or body shop look over the car.

Carfax Accident ReportAre All Accidents Reported on Carfax?

Today most accidents are reported automatically by the police that reported to the scene and by the repair shops and insurance companies. It is by no means foolproof though, as many accidents are settled by the victim to keep it off the record.

Spotting Accidents:

Some accidents are harder to spot by just looking over the outside of the vehicle, you may need to put the car up on a lift to see any of the repairs. Accidents can vary from minor paintwork on one panel to full frame repairs. Carfax and other history report do there best to inform the public as much as they can about an accident but at the end of the day they can only report the information they receive.

Can You tell How Severe the Accident Is by Reading the Carfax?

No. In fact many times even a minor fender bender is reported as a full accident. That is why we recommend a full inspection.

How Do I Fix a Carfax?

From time to time you may need to ask Carfax for a data correction if the information showing is incorrect, that can take a few days but it’s good to be able to fix things before you offer a car for sale. It’s not hard to send in a data correction request to Carfax. You just go to http://support.carfax.com/c_datarequest  to get started then just follow the steps.

Best Practices:

1. Do everything you can to find out about the damage shown on the CarFax and once found be sure the repair has been preformed well. Knowing where the work was done or getting a copy of the repair estimate to show your buyer, will help build the customers confidence in the car.

2. If you are using a storybook to build value in your cars this is a good place to keep that information.

3. Always remember to offer the customer the opportunity to take the car to a third party mechanic or someone they trust to look the car over. This really shows that you stand behind every car you sell. It also gives your sales team the confidence to talk openly about cars with accidents.

Exotic Car Crash Accident Carfax)Do I Need to Adjust the Price when the Carfax™ Shows an Accident?

Pricing cars that have been in an accident can be tricky. It’s important to take the previous repair in to consideration when pricing cars for retail. Just as that same accident will affect a customer’s trade-in value it will influence the retail price you can ask.


Are High End Cars Effected Differently when the Carfax™ is Bad?

Keep in mind that some makes and models can be influenced greater by accidents like BMW or Mercedes-Benz. Having accidents on higher priced highline cars can affect their values by thousands of dollars  Buyers today have the same information that sellers have on what’s for sale in the market. Asking over market value for a car with an accident history will make it much harder for seller to move that car.

Offering cars for sale with accidents can be done without struggles if you are upfront with the buyer and offer to show a history report before they ask. Building value early is critical to making a buyer feel comfortable and will make the transaction go much smoother.   But even before that make sure you don’t offer cars that you’re not comfortable selling.

Categories
Business Development Retail Car Lot

Do Your Salespeople Know Their Inventory?

Have you ever had a customer leave your showroom without buying a car? Of course you have. It happens every day at dealerships all over the country. We know that not everyone shopping is ready to buy today and some customers can even wait months or even a year before they make their buying decision. While some of the reasons customers don’t buy are out of your control, some may have bumps on their credit, others owe more on their trade than it’s worth or maybe you just don’t have the car that fits their needs. Or do you?

If you have customers leaving over selection you may need to ask yourself, do the salespeople know the inventory? It may be time to start training on it and if you are asking how to get that done I would suggest running a used car bullpen. Getting your team in front of the cars they need to sell will help you pick up sales and stop customers from leaving over selection.

So what is a bullpen and how does it work. A bullpen is no more than taking your fresh trades, off lease or auction cars and showing them to your sales team in an organized meeting, before you offer them up for sale. Now that’s the short answer, so lets talk about what makes up a bullpen. Well, the first thing you are going to need are some cars. The next thing you need are your salespeople. This one can be tricky, some of the team, and you know who I mean will think it’s a waste of time. Others will show up just because you told them to and some will get engaged and participate in the exercise. You will have to show them why this is a best practice in todays industry and what it will do for them. Once you have buy in from your team its time to set up your bullpen.

Here are a few tips to pull off a great bullpen.

Start by running the bullpen first thing in the morning, and I would have them twice a week. You want to keep them somewhat short, maybe 4 to 5 minutes per car and depending on the size of your store anywhere from 5 to 10 cars per meeting.

Picking the cars you are going to talk about doesn’t have to be hard. The sales managers should be reviewing all the fresh cars everyday. Using an inventory stock sheet will help to weed out the cars that you can’t sell (Bad cars or junk cars) and whatever is left goes in to your bullpen.

After you have picked the cars for the bullpen put together as much information about each car that you can. If you use pricing software print out the market data and what you think you can sell them for. Make sure you have a history report about the cars and any service that has been done to the them. This is good if the vehicle was a trade or lease turn in. It’s always a good idea to have the salesperson that took the car in on trade to tell the team about it and the customer. Having a good story goes a long way when it comes to selling used cars.

Organizing and running the bullpen can be done by a few different people.  Having the used car manager or an inventory manager run the bullpen makes the most sense. However having anyone on the manager team will work. It is essential to have as much interaction from all the managers on the team to show how important the bullpen is. As well as having the veteran salespeople’s participation will help make the most out of the time. You may even want to invite your service manager to join in, this will give service an idea on how much work may be coming their way. Plus having a service opinion on the cars may help you from putting problem cars on your lot saving you money down the road.

Remember you can stock your lot with all types of cars, but if the salespeople don’t know what’s out there your inventory will sit like boat anchors.