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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
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
Defining Car Speak Retail Car Lot

Define SRP

What is a SRP?

The Term; “SRP” stands for Search Results Page, a relatively new term in the industry. In the past, before the internet, all you had to worry about was how the front on your lot looked, did you open the hoods and blow up those balloons. Today, drive by traffic is still important, but if you truly want to grow your used car lot, you need to have a real understanding of SRP’s

SRP’s are how many times your car shows up in a search. Example on Autotrader, or even on Auction Simplified when you are trying to wholesale the car, your car must show up in searches results pages or it will never sell on-line. 
Kevin Leigh, Dealer Simplified
Kevin Leigh

Automotive SRP Yes or NoCars Not Showing On SRP’s:

When I speak to inventory managers at dealer groups, I tell them this: “If it does not show, it’ll never go.” And that is not too far from the truth. In the internet search dominated market, if your cars are priced to high or worse yet, you take to much time to get them online, they may as well be sent right to auction because they will age out.

Dave Kaiser our co-founder, wrote a great article about a pricing strategy he deployed at a large dealer group in Buffalo. In this article he talks about price changes at specific times to get the most possible SRP’s while retaining gross. [article on used car pricing]

The Main Question if you Want SRP’s:

The main question you should be asking is:  “Are my cars showing on page one of a search on cars.com autotrader.com etc, when the customer searches.” If not…. It should be a three alarm fire for your used car manager and inventory manager. Fix the problem quickly your your car will age.

One parting comment, even if the car is priced right, you still must have photos a great description and above all the equipment listed. I mean every time. Having missing photos in this day and age is a sin. Listing a car on line without a price is the cardinal sin. I have found only one exception to listing a car with no price; when you want the car to be bid on, using a tool like Car Auction Widget (available from us) but even then you need a starting price for it to be found on the SRP