Categories
Car Auction

Title Attached – Why it costs you money.

Profit loss missing titlesQuick Answer:

We Think You Should AVOID  Selling a Vehicle “Title Attached”.

A third less buyers and the remaining buyers pay less.

Lets use an example of a $8000 car. If you sell it at auction “Title Attached” 33% less buyers will consider the car, and the average bid will be $250 to $700 less. So net proceeds will be approximately $7300-$7750.

If you waited the 10 days until the lien release or title showed up, you would pay 10 days of extra floor plan.

Lets say your floor plan rate is 10% or .000273785 per $ per day. So in other words $8000 time .000273785 or $2.19 per day in floor plan

Which would you prefer?

$250-700 in loss at auction. OR $21.90 in floor plan and pick up the true value of the car.

 

Detailed Answer:

Title Attached/Missing/Lien Definition

What is the difference between “Title attached”, “Title Missing”, “Lien Release Missing”

 

Title Attached. New dealers/wholesalers are often confused about what “Title Attached” means.  It actually means that the title is NOT present at the time of the sale. This means the selling dealer has the title but it is not on hand at the time of the auction, usually at another dealership billing location.

 

Title missing. The dealer does not have a title in their possession. Usually they are still waiting for the customer to bring it in or they ordered a duplicate title from the DMV and are waiting for the title.

Lien Release Missing. The dealer has paid off the lien and is waiting for the bank to send the release.

Do I Get Less Bidders If The Title is Missing?

Yes. According to a study we conducted in August of 2014, dealers and wholesaler said that about 33% of dealers will avoid bidding on title attached cars because “It is a pain to deal with”.

Some dealers said they are working on fast turn around of inventory, because of this, title attached is not allowed by their owners. “We follow the vAuto philosophy of more turns per year (roughly 13-14 per annum), so title attached is a pain because you never know how long its going to take to get your title.”

One dealer told us that the “Big boys never buy title attached, because they have unlimited funds so they wait for the right cars.” Another said, “When we started only sending cars to auction with full title, we saw a 20% decrease in No Sales and a  higher average wholesale profit.”

Will I lose Profit if Title is not ready at Time of Auction?

Yes. Most bidders will pay less for a vehicle if the title is attached. One large dealer buyer told us that he pays between $250 to $700 less for “Title Attached” vehicles depending on the price. “The more money I am floating because of missing titles the more it costs. So I adjust my bid accordingly.” The only exception to this rule is for junk cars under $500.

The second reason you profit less on title attached units is because you have less bidders as mentioned above. Less shots on goal = less chance of a winning high bidder.

Can I Sell My Car if The Title is Missing.

We are not attorney’s, so we called our local NYS DMV and the person on the other end laughed when we asked the question. Her response was an  emphatic “NO.”

“You must have complete legal ownership of the vehicle before you have the right to sell it. The only exception is vehicles older than 1972 where titles did not exist for the most part. We know dealers sell vehicles with missing paperwork all the time but they shouldn’t because they technically don’t own the vehicle until they have a clear signed title with no liens on it and a signed mileage statement. ”

Is the Seller still Liable if The Title is Not in their possession?

There are many vicarious liability cases that have been won against selling dealers who did not complete their paperwork correctly or did not secure full ownership of the vehicle before they sold it. Again check with your attorney and or DMV before you consider selling a car without full ownership.

Recap:

The original intent of “Title Attached” at traditional auctions was to allow dealers to still sell cars at auction if they forgot to bring the titles with them. In most cases they needed to have the title the next day or the deal would be cancelled. It should not be used as a way to float money if you don’t have legal possession of the vehicle.

 

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
Car Auction Retail Car Lot Wholesale Lot

Should Dealer Groups Have a Centralized Buying Center? 

Centralized Buy Center

Why Centralize your Purchasing?

If you’re serious about reducing the amount of time you spend at the car auction consider a centralized buying center. Central buying or central purchasing, is the practice of relocating the authority and responsibility of a small purchasing team for individualized stores to one location for a whole group. The consolidation of the purchasing function by a large, multi-site organization into a central authority increases efficiency, inventory control, and purchasing power. Central buying is commonly used by multisite automotive retailers, to buy centrally for individual locations. This can be highly effective in controlling inventory levels and improving profitability.

Benefits of a Centralized Buying Center

Centralized buying has the benefits of consolidated purchasing power, standardization of purchases, enhanced professional purchasing skills and easier management of the buying function.

The major responsibilities of a buying center or a trade desk are;

  • Sourcing used cars for purchase both at live physical auctions as well as online.
  • Locating cars to buy from non-auction sites (craigslist, news paper, off the street…).
  • Answering trade calls from sales managers as they work deals.
  • Working with store managers to keep used inventory levels steady.
  • Working with the wholesale manager to move cars to the right locations or to the right auction.

Less Emotional Decision Making = Better Acquisition

Setting up a centralized buying center or a trade desk can make your used car departments run more efficiently. When the emotion is removed from the purchase or trade evaluation it allows the used car manager to focus on the customer, which results in more sales and a higher profit. When you are working a deal, it is easy to become wrapped up in the heat of the moment and push a trade number past the actual cash value (ACV). If the number is delivered from a trade desk or wholesale manager it is more difficult for the consumer to disagree. The same urgency to buy can arrive at the auction. If you are buying cars that you are responsible to retail, somehow you convince yourself it is okay if you pay too much. This is a bad plan if you are trying to make money. This is where the wholesale buyer or trade desk works best. They are given a cap on how much to pay per car and can quickly call back to the store if a new game plan is needed.

This practice of a centralized buying center has been working well for dealers all over the country. Most stand alone dealers will have a buyer or wholesale manager to handle their used car inventory, which does not scale well for larger groups. If you are a multi-franchise dealer group you may want to consider having at least one representative for your different brands (Ford, Chrysler, Imports, GM and High-line).

Staffing a Buy Center:

Staffing the trade desk with two or three individuals that each work with a set of stores or with a specific brand is most beneficial. This gives the buyer better product knowledge and a greater understanding of each market. The team should work together with sales managers as a part of the trade evaluation process, sharing their opinion on what every trade is worth.

Having a solid trade process and a consistent buying plan will keep your lots full of the right cars and improve the bottom line. Remember the more used cars you trade, the less time you will spend at the auction, and the more time you have to sell.

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

Top 10 ways to Improve the Car Buying Experience.

Make the Car Buying Experience a WOW Moment for Your Customer

From the get go, consider the customer experience. Even when setting an appointment, explain the process, in other words let them know what to expect when you get together. If they are coming to you, make sure they know where to go exactly, not just the address, but direction inside the building as to where you are.

top ten car buying tipsMake yourself distinguishable: When the customer arrives, chances are they will be met by another salesperson and their is a good chance the customer will not remember your name. One trick I used was to have a big plant in my office, so when I set the appointment, I just told them to go to the office with be giant plant. Another example; I had a salesperson that worked for me named Dorothy, she used to tell customers to “Follow the yellow brick road”. When customers arrived they would ask for the yellow brick road and the greater would point right at Dorothy’s office. Even items of clothing are valuable, my dad for example wore a three piece suit for years, he would tell customers to “look for the Irish guy who looks like he’s going to a wedding.”

Have the car ready. I cannot stress this enough.  Pull the demo vehicle up front and make sure it has gas. Again, a feeling of urgency is the mission, you want them to know they matter.

Know their name: When a customer arrives, have their name ready. Write it down if you have to. I put their info in my CRM and have it loaded on my phone, this way it is at my finger tips and I can add info as I collect it.

Make eye contact: This sounds so basic, but I cannot tell you how many salespeople look around as they speak to customers. Look them in the eye and you ask questions, split your time between all parties. If they have kids, introduce yourself to them too, and ask them questions periodicity.

Ask questions early on that illicid shopping answers:  “What would you like to accomplish today?” or “Consider me your shoppers assistant, how can I help?”

Have toys for kids to play with: I have a small box filled with brand new matchbox cars (99 cents on Amazon) even pink ones for the girls. I also have coloring books and crayons (again 99 cents) that I give the kids to play with. I also have 2 older Nintendo DS’s that I got on eBay for 50 bucks with Mario cart loaded. This will keep a child occupied for hours and make the shopping process a WOW for your customers.

Coke for a Car BuyerHave quality beverages available. A good cup of coffee is one of the best ways to relax a customer, spend some money on a higher quality coffee machine. I like the Keurig because it allows the customer to select and brew their perfect blend.
Also have cold water, Cokes and lemonade. There is something homey about offering a ice cold glass of lemonade. In the condo sales area at Disney they have a full ice-cream bar, again make them feel comfortable. Serve coffee in a high quality paper bio-degradable cup.

Make sure the bathroom at your business is immaculate, and stocked with supplies like diapers, paper towels and even disposable toothbrushes. Hand sanitizer and mouth wash pump with small cups are also a wow.

You get the idea, small touches make all the difference, I once sold a car because I noticed that my customer child has a bug bite, so I offered the mom bug cream and a Band-Aid. Her smile was priceless. Little things like that wow customers and get them to talk about you with their friends. Result: You get referrals and the keep coming back. Don’t forget to friend them on Facebook the same day.