The average time it takes to recondition a used car is 10 days. A vehicle depreciates approximately $10 per day. I’ve personally seen the process take as long as 42 days, and on more than one occasion. The faster a car can be reconditioned and put on the used car lot, the better it is to turn a profit.
And while most readers will think that used car reconditioning is an excellent reason to have a service tech dedicated to sales department work, I think it starts well ahead of used car preparation.
It starts with the trade-in appraisal.
Edmunds reports that in 2017, 43 percent of car deals involved a trade-in. Yet, nearly every one of those deals is to replace a current vehicle. Around half of your car buyers aren’t trading in their car, and it’s more often than not due to the trade-in value.
Naturally, a customer who buys a vehicle despite dealing with their old vehicle on their own sees like a victory, and every rolled unit is a success. But if they haven’t taken the opportunity to have their trade appraised by the dealership, it’s likely they have the perspective that the dealership won’t give them a fair trade valuation. That’s not a good place to be.
And when they are getting an appraisal, it’s common that the sales manager is looking for a way to steal the trade – or that’s how the buyer feels.
If you could give a car shopper a clear reason to trust the trade process, wouldn’t you be more apt to close deals, and wouldn’t you have access to more used cars for the lot? The answer is a resounding yes.
Here’s what could work. Picture a vehicle lift that’s dedicated to the sales department. When the salesperson is asking whether a trade is involved, they mention that they can do a comprehensive appraisal that aims to get them the best trade value possible. It needs to be clear that they’re working for the customer at this point.
When the trade appraisal is happening, a service tech dedicated to the sales team puts the car on the lift and performs a thorough inspection. Having the owner present is huge at this stage and offers multiple opportunities to build the relationship. “Wow, you’ve taken great care of your car!” “It looks really nice, and the undercoating you’ve had applied will really help build value for the next owner.”
Not only does this build value for the customer, but the dealership knows exactly what they’re getting into. It eliminates the guesswork in an appraisal where you’re building in a contingency for the unexpected. You can be more confident in the cars you’re buying, plus you can bump up trade appraisals for customers without getting stuck with a turd.
Couldn’t you just have a service tech do an appraisal though? On a slow day in service, yes. But if it’s busy, it’s impossible to find an open hoist to have a trade-in checked out or a tech free to do it. And anyone who’s been around for a while knows that when sales is busy, service usually is too.
It’s an investment to have a dedicated sales hoist and technician, although they could also be your accessories installer. Every store is different and the devil is in the details. However, the benefit of higher, more accurate trade appraisals is certain to build trust with customers and boost new and used car revenues.