ReconPro Starter mobile app 3.6.35

Add text and image notes to question answers, view vehicle info on the ‘Related Documents’ screen, use default template for inspection printing, and more

New Features

  • Add text and image notes to question answers

Improvements

  • Showing vehicle info on the ‘Related Documents’ screen
  • Using default template for inspection printing
  • Showing wholesale customer mode by default
  • Support for service default technician on devices of other teams
  • Showing question answers of service request print preview

See the details of the new features and improvements here.

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ReconMonitor Back Office 3.5.76

Export repair order list to MS Excel, update the status of multiple parts at a time, add a single document to multiple parts, and more.

New Features

  • Export repair order list to MS Excel
  • Change the status of multiple parts
  • Attach one document to multiple parts

Improvements

  • Mandatory adding of documents to received parts
  • Improvements for the ‘Submit Quote’ page
  • Improvements for the ‘Parts Order’ form

See the details of the new features and improvements here.

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ReconPro Classic Back Office 2.13.4.0

Use the new workflow that automatically approves work orders if specific event conditions are met instead of work order approval settings that have been removed

Improvements

  • Work order approval threshold settings have been removed

See the details of the new features and improvements here.

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Used cars parked

Reconditioning Your Way to Profit if Used Car Values Tank

When your cars have no buyers, how do you prepare for the future? The transfer of new-to-used, used-to-auction, and rental-to-auction has been at a two-month standstill, and the cars are piling up. Just six to eight weeks ago, demand was outpacing supply, and now we have the opposite.

Dale Pollak, an executive vice president of Cox Automotive, which owns North America’s largest auto auction company, wrote in an open letter to auto dealers last week:

“Six months from now, there will be huge, if not unprecedented, levels of wholesale supply in the market, cars are coming in, but they aren’t selling. Today’s huge supply of wholesale inventory suggests supplies will be even larger in the months ahead.”

Manheim auctions are already struggling to find places to park the cars heading to auction.

Nobody, not even the best in the industry, knows which way the wind will blow when the economy reopens. We know not when, nor how the economy may reopen. Another wild card will be how fast the unemployment rate reverses and what the current experience will mean for consumer confidence. Unlike other economic downturns, this one was a giant pause button, so it may be safe to assume that many of the recently unemployed will get rehired.

Dealers are holding onto that hope, and here is the proof: used-vehicle prices at retail as of mid-April are off by just 1 percent, while wholesale values are estimated to be down 10 to 12 percent according to Pollak. It’s an odd gap.

“Generally speaking, there’s a correlation between the movement of wholesale and retail pricing,” said Pollak, Cox executive vice president and co-founder of vAuto software. “But we’re at a strange moment in time where we’re not seeing that correlation.”

One reason could be dealers remain optimistic the economy will reopen soon and so have mostly held steady on retail prices. Some may be leery of marking down vehicles acquired at pre-pandemic prices.

Pollak sees this as an opportunity for dealers willing to mark pre-epidemic purchased vehicles down to liquidate stock while stockpiling cash to be used to purchase fresh inventory at discounted prices.

Conversely, a nightmare scenario for any dealer would be to think vehicles are still worth pre-outbreak values and then take in too many trades they can neither retail nor wholesale for a profit.

With such minute transactional data available, trend-spotting is impossible, and that is the point of frustration for many dealers.

Lease Extensions Could Help Stave Off The Glut Of Used Cars

Despite total factory shutdowns, automakers are doing what they can to limit the damage to the market. General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co.’s finance units are already offering customers one-month lease extensions. This should help relieve the pressure on both the supply and on the consumers who are reluctant to visit showrooms during a pandemic.

Plug The leaky Holes In The Reconditioning Process

“It’s critical for dealers to recognize what may be an unpleasant truth; it might take all the cash you can gather to sustain your business today and put it in a position to be viable when the market comes back,” said Pollak.

When we all get back to work, be that May or even June, one thing appears certain: used cars will be cheap to buy but possibly harder to sell. In order to get aggressive in your pricing and out-sell the dealer down the street, you need to sharpen the pencil on your reconditioning costs.

Certainly, there will be more clean used cars to purchase, but the margin gains may really come from the ones you can buy for pennies on the dollar. These may have a few more cosmetic blemishes than you are used to buying. Good reconditioning will always add value, so it is a critical element in getting the best return. That said, every cent saved in reconditioning costs is profit on the back end.

Restarting the economy will be a collective effort. Now is the time to work with your reconditioning vendors and employees to plug the holes that leak profit from your reconditioning process. If you are still using a post-it note and whiteboard system, it’s time to get out of the stone age. Though some people may be initially reluctant to learn and use it, software exists to streamline operations and can permanently fix the profit leaks in any system.

When shopping for reconditioning software, consider AMT’s ReconMonitor, a reconditioning management platform built to serve dealers, auctions, and professional reconditioning operations.

Empty delaer lot

Vehicle Demand in a Time of Disruption

Revisiting the statistics to project second-quarter sales targets.

Economy woes are on the minds of every business right now, and sales projections are likely to be disrupted. If you are trying to make sense of what the second quarter may look like at your dealership, we dug into a few sources to pull together some quick stats on the average demand for vehicles in the U.S. to help you make some mathematical assumptions. Regardless of what the economy does, there are leases that will get traded in, and cars will get totaled and require replacement.

Leases

J.D. Power studies indicate that over 1.8 million vehicle leases will expire between March and July 2020. This, of course, means that 1.8 million consumers will need to visit their local dealership to either extend their lease, buyback that leased vehicle or return their vehicle and choose a new vehicle.

Truck and SUV Sales

Even though new vehicle sales are in a downward trend, in 2019, over 46,800 light-duty vehicles were sold each day. That 1.7 Million sales in a year sold across 18,000 dealerships in the U.S.

Collision Replacements

Does your dealership offer “bird dog” payments to Body shop owners and estimators? You should. According to a recent report from CCC (a collision repair management system), each day, roughly 34,400 vehicles are totaled and head to salvage yards. These vehicles are leaving the U.S. fleet and need to be replaced by new or used vehicles sitting on dealership lots.

As cars and trucks continue to hit the nation’s fleet with full ADAS capability, the cost to repair is pushing more and more vehicles to totaled that could physically be repaired but is not economically feasible. If a car is hit hard enough in the front and the airbags blow, they are getting totaled now. In the past, these “trainwrecks” were often repaired, but not anymore because of the cost for ADAS parts and post-repair scanning.

Last-Mile Fleet And Heavy Truck 

Supply chain and transportation are an area for growth given the rise of Amazon and nearly same-day deliveries replacing the need for brick and mortar stores. And now, there is a demand for medical supplies, food, and personal consumer products as people can’t leave their houses. 

 Last-mile fleet businesses continue to rise, and sprinter vans high roof delivery trucks are more vital than ever. With an increase in demand, commercial fleet operators may decide that now is the right time to add a new vehicle to help meet this demand. Amazon continues to add last-mile depots in cities to reduce shipping times, and incentives exist for entrepreneurs to start their own transportation and logistics companies. This will be an attractive option for some of the thousands of Americans who may be laid off as a result of the virus.

All is not lost for dealerships in 2020. The new car sales have been in decline, and the shutdowns at factories may help the right size supply and demand. But auction sales are increasing and pre-virus, the demand was steadily outpacing the supply. Certainly, there will be fewer buyers in the days ahead, but focus on the areas of growth as outlined above and adjust your sales strategies accordingly.

Woman in face mask

How To Sell Cars In A Post Covid “New Normal”

Depending on when you read this, we are not there yet, but it feels like we may be getting closer to “new normal” and “post covid”. In the news, the headlines about when we will reopen, and who will reopen first is starting to outpace the grim statistic headlines. Maybe it’s the rebirth of Spring, or maybe we are just about at our wits end. One thing that is very clear right now is that there is no plan. And likely for your dealership, you don’t have a reopening plan either. Opening back up isn’t going to be the same as opening for business say on a Tuesday in February. Each new day in the early days of reopening will be new and full of new challenges.

Will there be a car-buying boom post covid?

There is some speculation that at least for a year, there is going to be a fear of using public transportation. This could be a good thing for new and used car dealers everywhere, especially those in more densely populated areas. The RV industry is already predicting a turnaround in 2021 due to fears of public travel.

Will there be new laws or constraints post covid?

Swift moving Governors took action to declare states of emergency, allowing them to take the reins of the state and issue new orders like stay at home orders that were enforceable by law. Essential businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies adopted new social distancing protocols, like limiting the number of people in a store. In New York, Governor Cuomo closed all dealerships to public car sales. In order to sell a vehicle during the health crisis, it must be done online. Are your salespeople trained to sell a car 100% online if it were to become the new way of selling?

Here is how this could work:

1. Your salespeople become Internet sales specialists who provide customers with information on vehicles over the phone, via email, chat, or even video using internet services such as loom, zoom, or facetime.

2. Your internet sales experts then send videos explaining the vehicle and its special features.

3. Test drives. Currently, those are banned in New York but will eventually come back. When they do, you may have to have your customers make an appointment in advance so that you can have the vehicle sanitized ahead of time. No longer will you be able to just make a photocopy of the driver’s license. And what about having the salesperson along for the test drive? Will you need to re-evaluate the policy at your dealership?

4. F&I becomes more virtual as almost all paperwork for the purchase is done electronically.

5. Pickup and walkthrough will also require a final sanitizing and will be an additional change to your current delivery process, and labor cost.

The lack of, or reduction of, human contact will be a real barrier to what was once a very human-to-human and personal transaction.

There is some upside to a new-normal in car buying. Salespeople will need to become much more knowledgeable about the product. This is especially true of used cars as well, where salespeople tend to be less informed about what options are on a vehicle, how they function, and what makes them desirable over other models. Salespeople will need to do their research constantly on all the features of all the cars on the lot. When you have to sell a vehicle to a person who can’t physically see it, you will need to present the features in a way that is enticing to the buyer. The car becomes the salesperson.

Selling in a post-covid world will be a new business challenge, but one that all of your competition is facing. The keys to success are to get ahead of it, make a plan, and train early.

Veterans at ceremony

Marketing Your New And Used Car Dealership To Military Veterans

In our article titled How To Market Your New or Used Car Dealership To Active Duty Military, we discussed how to market your dealership to active duty military personnel. But what about the twenty million non-retiree veterans? Eighty-five percent of non-retiree military veterans are in their prime car-buying years of 25-54. What can you do to reach out to this segment of the population? 

Why Market to Military Members

Over 250,000 military members transition back to civilian life each year. These veterans need everything from employment to housing to transportation.

Veterans Buying Statistics

  • 20M veterans (non-retiree)
  • 3.1M post 9/11 Veterans
  • 85% are ages 25-54
  • 2.2M retirees
  • Spending power = $939 billion

Younger vs. Older Veterans

Similar to the contrast in age groups among the civilian population, there is a difference between the younger, 18-34 millennial veterans and their 35+ veteran counterparts, especially with social media and web usage patterns.  

Millennial veterans continue to consume traditional media like radio and print but tend to favor digital, social, and streaming media channels. Millennial veterans continue to engage in military-specific content in a variety of ways, even after their service has completed.  

Almost half of the military veterans frequently visit military-specific websites, and they do so at a rate that is three times higher than veterans who are 35 years or older. With print marketing, half of younger veterans are heavy readers of military-related magazines, and they tend to be much more likely to read these publications than older veterans.

There are three Military-specific websites that do allow for digital ads placement.

Stay in Touch

The best way to encourage veterans to become customers could come through direct mail or in-store promotions, and the messages will resonate better if the messaging appeals to the service to their country. Keep in touch with your military veteran customers by collecting their email addresses and adding them to a veterans-only contact list. Remind them regularly that you offer a military discount even for veterans, and be sure to give them a heads up about any exclusive sales or promotions you’re running for holidays like Memorial Day or Veterans Day.

You can collect email addresses through any of your dealership online opt-in mechanisms, and consider adding a checkbox asking if they are active duty or a veteran, or spouses of active duty or veterans. With your proximity to the base, it won’t look out of place to a civilian on your opt-in form. You may even consider running a periodic special contest or sweepstakes just for service members and their families. Participants provide their email addresses to enter.

Educational resources for understanding the military audience

If you are looking to learn more about how to reach an audience of veterans, several websites cater to serving the needs of veterans after they have finished their service. Here is a partial list:

Consider Employing Veterans

Since your dealership is located near a military installation, consider hiring veterans, especially in your sales roles. This is especially true for “newly minted” veterans, as they will be more in touch with life as an active duty military than someone who has been out twenty years or more. Things change in the military, especially during times of conflict. Combat veterans will be better at relating to soldiers, and vice versa.

Veteran employees also know the Army terminology, ranks, and titles. A veteran sales manager is more likely to attend important deployment ceremonies.

Many of the big box stores like Home Depot offer a standing military discount as do the manufacturers. But aside from Veterans Day and Memorial Day, few businesses consider creating Active Duty or Veterans-only marketing campaigns. Work with your agency, or with your veteran employees to craft year-long marketing campaigns that are innovative, and speak to your veteran community.

Back of man using computer while sitting at dining table

The Remote Work Dealership – Is It Even Possible?

For obvious reasons now, the concept of essential and non-essential employees and remote workers has been thrust upon nearly every business in the world. Even though most dealerships are officially deemed essential businesses by the government, nervous workers are facing a dilemma: show up to work and risk infection, or stay home and risk layoffs.

For some employees, it is probably next to impossible to perform their job remotely. You can’t operate a service center with no employees, the body shop can’t be moved to a home, parts department still needs staff to pull and distribute parts, and test drives still need a chaperone.

But how much of your dealership could actually function remotely? We offer some suggestions below by department.

Back office

Accounting

Your entire accounting department could work remotely if given proper device access (computers, phones, printers, etc.). Most documents can be scanned, and e-filed and other documents such as titles could be picked up and dropped off at the dealership daily or weekly.

Purchasing

Again, this is a department that can be moved home immediately, given proper access to take-home computer equipment, and proper internet access. Any approvals that need to happen at a level above the Department head can be made electronically.

HR

Layoffs may happen at your dealership, so this is a department that might have to have some in-office days and work from home days. Any layoffs will need to happen face to face, usually with a witness to keep the dealership out of legal trouble from an employment lawsuit should one be filed against you.

If, on the other hand, your dealership is still hiring, you will need to continue to conduct interviews in person. Those can be scheduled in batches to eliminate entire days spent in the office.

Front Office

Sales and Sales Management

Unless you are selling fleet only where customers don’t really need to see the vehicle or test drive it, this staff will need to report for work. There is just no way around it. However, you can and probably should cut back on staff on the floor. You could rotate days on and days off among the sales team. The Sales Manager will need to be there to help approve all deals.

Finance

As a secondary sales role and the final piece of the closed sale, F&I will need to be at the dealership, there is just no way around this.

Service And Service Advisors

The service department will have to continue to come in, but you may need to switch to a rotating shift with additional days off. Warranty work will still come in the doors for new cars sold since those repairs are essentially free for the owners, but elective repairs may slow down, leaving empty bays. Technicians are hard to find and retain, and you have a lot invested in their training. Do what you can to keep them working even if for fewer hours if at all possible. The same would go for Service Advisors. If the volume takes a dip, you may not need as many service advisors showing up each day. Consider alternate staffing options there.

Lot Management and Detailing

If you had to cut staff, this is an easy area to cut; however, the low pay will not save the dealership significant amounts of money. But mobile detailers may be the ticket to reducing staff at the dealership and reducing liabilities. You should consider a sanitization protocol and have your vendors follow it.

It’s a blessing that auto dealerships are considered essential during this time, but staffing and operations and knowing what to do is not so clear cut. Consider these tips as you develop your disaster continuation plans and best of luck.

ReconMonitor Back Office 3.5.75

Select the appropriate part providers either when you click ‘Get Quotes’ or when you click the drop-down list of part providers.

Improvements

  • Changes in the ‘Parts Ordering’ process
  • Showing part providers in the ‘Ordered From’ advanced filter on the ‘Parts Management’ page
  • Error and warning messages have been updated for better user experience
  • Showing part categorization on work order print preview
  • ‘Less than 1 day’ option has been removed from the ‘Days In Phase’ and the ‘Days In Process’ filters in the ‘Advanced Search’ form on the ‘Repair Orders’ page

See the details of the new features and improvements here.

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ReconPro Classic Back Office 2.13.3.0

Use the new option that allows the ‘Append to opened Monitored WO’ workflow to dynamically identify a work order type that must be used and reduce setup time and complexity

Improvements

  • Improvement for the ‘Append to Opened Monitored WO’ workflow
  • Area administrators can view, add, and remove their area clients only
  • Repair location is now optional for teams with the ‘Part Provider’ type
  • ‘Dynamic Client’ has been added to Auction Edge Integration
  • Repair orders search performance has been improved
  • The ‘Conversion Clients’ page has been moved from the ‘Integration Settings’ tab on the ‘Company Info’ page to the ‘Automation’ section on the ‘Miscellaneous’ tab.
  • The ‘Conversion Clients’ page has been moved from the ‘Integration Settings’ tab on the ‘Company Info’ page to the ‘Automation’ section on the ‘Miscellaneous’ tab.

See the details of the new features and improvements here.

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