auto reconditioning center entrance

OEMs Prioritize Service Parts, and So Should You

With new vehicle sales well below last year’s numbers, and in anticipation of continued soft new car sales this year, OEMs are pinning their hopes on providing parts to keep their vehicles on the road and promote their brands to customers.

May vehicle sales are about a third below the previous year and, although that is an improvement from April’s trough, it informs models that predict a loss of more than 1.5 million retail sales in 2020. It’s in the OEM’s interest to ensure that the ownership experience for their brands continues to be positive, and that means keeping supplies of service parts flowing through the supply chain.

For repair services and reconditioning operations, this is a cue to examine the efficiency of your parts pipeline and operation. What parts do you keep in your on-hand inventory, and how long does it take to acquire ordered parts? Is there a gap between when a part requirement is identified and when it gets ordered? And how long do vehicles wait for ordered parts to arrive?

AMT‘s reconditioning management systems include parts integration so that as soon as a needed part is identified, the system can either auto-approve or escalate the request for management approval. The approved part can be ordered right within the software from a list of popular suppliers or from your internal inventory. All stakeholders have visibility into parts on order and expected arrival to keep your operation running efficiently and reduce cycle-time. We’ll be adding a Parts Inventory Module in August 2020 to complete your 360-degree view of reconditioning and fixed operations our software provides.

To learn more or schedule a demo, contact us.

Used cars parked

Empathy, Cooperation are Key to Industry Restart

How to restart an industry? Work together as an industry!

New and Pre-owned Sales

Dealers Calling for Inventory

Early signs of a resurgence in used car buying are waking up the industry from its pandemic-induced doldrums. We’ve heard from two large clients in the past few days that auction prices are higher than anticipated as dealers across the country seek to increase their inventories. This flies in the face of earlier reports of a glut of used cars and an avalanche of off-lease vehicles coming down the pipe.

It seems counterintuitive. The Hertz bankruptcy will result in much of their fleet offered for resale. Several municipalities are reducing their budgets by cancelling orders for new fleet vehicles and shifting to more vehicle-sharing models in order to reduce the size of their fleets. The combination of fleet liquidations and lease returns should mean ample inventory for the used car market. We shouldn’t have a shortage of used cars available to dealerships.

What we may have is a supply chain issue. With social distancing restrictions still in place, many auction lots remain closed or diminished for live auctions. Online auctions are available, but may be inadequate to the task of moving the volumes required. Also, automakers and their finance arms are reportedly trying to slow the off-lease vehicle transactions to avoid flooding the market. KAR Global is buying land to hold vehicles for their better customers. These factors may be keeping wholesale prices high and putting a squeeze on dealerships trying to make up for 3 months of scant business. 

While the recent uptick in used car sales is a hopeful and promising sign, it’s too soon to call recovery. The economic impact of millions of Americans unemployed is yet to be fully understood. Previous down economies have increased used car sales at the expense of new, and franchise dealers are trying to expand their used inventories, partly because of manufacturing delays, and partly in anticipation of reduced interest in new cars.

This appears to be just another peak in what promises to continue to be a bumpy road to recovery.

Hertz, Thrifty and Dollar rental car logos

The Hertz Effect on Vehicle Sales

With the bankruptcy of Hertz Global Holdings, Inc., there will soon be an extraordinary volume of vehicles on offer, creating a bulge in a pipeline already constricted by the global pandemic. Hertz, down to their last billion dollars, will need to accelerate the rotation of their inventory as a cash resource to replace missing revenue from their operations.  Reported volume estimates predict vehicle counts in the hundreds of thousands.

In order to expedite this process, Hertz will be unable to move this volume through its branded sales operations, and will need to dispose of most of their vehicles through other means. Auctions would be the traditional mechanism, but ADESA and Manheim and many smaller auction houses are still at reduced capacity due to health and safety restrictions in many geographies. Hertz, or the court, will need to orchestrate direct sales to dealerships in order to liquidate as quickly and efficiently as possible.

This is an opportunity to acquire late-model vehicles with low reconditioning needs. Assets that you can prep for sale at low cost and in little time. In his recent article giving good advice on how to approach this as a dealership, Jason Unrau cautions:

“Dealers should be prepared to move quickly on rental vehicles that come to market. Snatching up batches of a particular make and model, or vehicle style, could be a great way to position a dealership in their locale. Cars bought from rental agencies tend to have extremely low reconditioning costs and offer an easy way to sell used cars at a higher volume.” 

I see this as another opportunity for our industry to “do well by doing good”. Hertz is an iconic brand family that has been set on its heels by unexpected forces. They are far from the only pandemic casualty we will see, particularly in the travel and hospitality sector, but they are the largest so far. The automotive industry has an opportunity to help them recover by purchasing these assets and infusing Hertz with the capital they’ll need to continue operations while they figure out what a post-covid Hertz looks like.  

While the reconditioning of these and other rental cars is normally less complex, they still must follow your process and be fully prepped for resale. If you aren’t using software to manage the work in your fixed ops or reconditioning department, the money you save in lower repair requirements may be lost on inefficiency in doing the work that is done. ReconMonitor™ is a software solution that keeps you in command and control of your recon operation. From acquisition through the entire process to frontline-ready, the software keeps technicians and teams on task and removes the bottlenecks that cost you valuable time and money. If you are ready to reduce your operation’s vehicle turn times and maximize your profits, you should contact us.

Four images of SMART repair areas - PDR, chip repair, wheel repair, and paint touch-up

S.M.A.R.T. Repair in the USA

The term “SMART Repair” has become a popular way of representing the mobile repair industry in the UK and is slowly catching on here in the United States. SMART repair – Small to Medium Area Repair Technique – offers services like wheel repair, bumper repair, paint correction, glass repair, and paintless dent repair (PDR) companies we increasingly see across America. An assortment of cosmetic, cost-effective and quick repair techniques, SMART repair offers U.S. mobile repair and fixed operations a way of offering more services for more revenue, and more inexpensively than conventional collision repair shops.

Starting out in the SMART repair business can be tough. There are many obstacles to cross in building your independent mobile repair company. SMART repair professionals often face common issues such as:

  • Records and Customer Management
  • Creating Inspections
  • Parts and Labor Times
  • Estimate Approvals
  • Monitoring/Managing Employees
  • Customer Pricing and Commissions
  • Invoice Accuracy
  • Accounting

A good resource for SMART practitioners can be found here.

AMT is here to provide help, too. ReconPro™ helps the mobile repair professional get organized and get busy. It’s a software ideal for managing client paperwork, billing, estimates, and tasks. Perform inspections tied to VIN or Stock Number, and add notes and photographs to create a complete estimate to submit to the customer via email or printed form. You can receive work approvals electronically through quick link or direct signature right on your device. Approved estimates become work orders, and the app creates and sends your invoice when work is completed. As your business grows, the software will help you manage multiple technicians and teams, regardless of geography. ReconPro helps manage workflows and back-office tasks to give you more time to spend with clients and vehicle repairs, and offers a full suite of productivity options, including commission calculations, service requests and dispatch, time and attendance management, role-based access, customer-specific pricing and much much more.. 

ReconPro is available for iOS or Android devices, and completely self-contained, meaning you can take it anywhere and complete your work without needing to connect to Wi-Fi. When you do connect, all your work is synched to your back office for complete record-keeping and secure access from any computer. Are you an auto industry professional looking to break or expand into the SMART repair scene? Does your current SMART repair business need the extra assistance? AMT has the solutions and we’d love to help you. Reach out to us today!

Car detail cleaning

7 Things No One Tells You About Starting A Car Detailing Business

From Detail King CEO Nick Vacco

For anyone looking to start a car detailing business, it has the possibility of being an extremely lucrative venture full of exciting opportunities and endless room for growth. Detailers are in high demand and dealerships struggle to find and keep detail staff and vendors. Unlike other specialized fields in car repair, such as SMART and PDR, car detailing doesn’t require extensive training or even a significant investment to make it happen. Blazing new paths is what business is all about, however, listening to the experts can sometimes get you where you want to be much faster than if you figured it out on your own.

Nick Vacco started his mobile detailing business over 30 years ago from the trunk of his car while he was still in school. Today, Detail King is a two-building, 9500 square foot space that is “regarded as the premier leader in the auto detailing industry for supplies, equipment, training, and customer support.” 

Here are 7 of his expert tips you need to know before starting your own detailing business: 

  1. Get the right training: Unlike other fields in car repair, detailing doesn’t require a certification or degree before you can begin. However, you do need to get the proper training to know how to perform the services offered at detailing businesses. According to Nick, “if you’re working on somebody’s vehicle, especially with today’s new cars costing around $40,000, you have to know how to perform the various detailing and protective services.” You want to be educated on the business side of the industry, so you’re always up-to-date on anything that’s happening and new methods.
     
  2. Get Experience: What better way to become skilled in car detailing than on the job experience? Depending on where you train, most courses at training institutes will have you learn different methods of detailing and cleaning. Then, you have to practice these skills repeatedly, so you might want to consider working at a detailing business to gain experience. You’ll improve your abilities and can see first hand how a detailing business is run. That way, you’ll know what you would do similar or different when opening your own. 
     
  3. Start…but only when you’re ready: You never want to rush into working on cars until you’ve received the proper training and have the right experience. This business doesn’t require you to dive right in until you’re ready. Many times, you can build up a strong reputation with the services you offer and even have a customer base while working for other businesses before you even open up the doors of your own. Once you establish that, this would be the perfect time to start your own business since you’ve created a reputation backing up your work.
     
  4. Get licensed: Forming an LLC or another type of corporation isn’t just to legitimize your business. It’s also to protect you if you have any personal assets. You never know what might happen, so it’s better to be prepared than to have to deal with something that could have been avoided in the future. 
     
  5. Invest in what you need: Whether you plan to start off as a mobile business or at a location, you’ll need to invest up to $10,000 in the necessary equipment. Some of these basic necessities would be towels, hot water extractors, pressure washer, buckets, buffers, and sponges. 
     
  6. Create a marketing plan: Nick Vacco stated, “you should consider every vehicle on the road as a potential customer.” This is where having a good marketing plan comes in, which is pretty much essential for running any business. A marketing plan will help you narrow your focus on what you want to do, who you want to reach, and answer any potential questions customers might have. If you haven’t already, create a good-looking website detailing your services and contact information. Engage with customers on social media, which can be another great platform advertising your services and showcasing previous work. 
     
  7. Never stop learning: You never want to give your competition any reason why they should be ahead of you. This is why it’s critical any time a new method or service comes out, you (and your team) get the necessary training to offer the latest services. Just think of the amount of profit you can generate simply by offering something your competition doesn’t. 

There’s no secret ingredient for running a successful car detailing business, other than having the proper preparation. Be sure to follow the above steps that will guarantee business longevity. Otherwise, you may not get the results you want, and you’ll be struggling to figure out your next steps. And when you’ve got your business up and running, consider using software like AMT’s ReconPro to help keep you organized and professional. The car detailing world offers so much creativity and growth potential, so why not see what can happen when you open your own detailing business? 

Dealership happy customers

5 Tips From Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec To Improve Sales At Your Dealership

Robert Herjavec

When a person comes to your dealership, they’re in the market for a car. Whether they make a purchase is an entirely different story. As a result, you may find selling your inventory takes a lot longer than it should. 

According to Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec, selling can be “easier than most people think.” Whether you’re a seasoned dealer or are in your first year, there’s always room for improvement. 

Here are 5 tips straight from the entrepreneur himself on how you can improve sales at your dealership: 

  1. You’re not just selling a car. You’re selling yourself: If a customer shows up and doesn’t like you, they aren’t going to want to do business with you. Dealers are notorious for being overly pushing, trying to sell anything on four wheels. Be the dealer you would want to buy a car from, and you’ll be more effective in building that trust with your customers. 
  2. Listen: The highest-performing salespeople in any business listen just as much as they speak, if not more. Customers can tell when someone is genuinely interested in what they have to say, versus someone who’s just nodding their head and eager for the commission they’d make off the sale. The more you actively listen to their wants and needs, the quicker you can help them find a car and have a faster deal. 
  3. Know your customers: It’s essential to know every customer has their own wants and needs, including sticking to their set budget. Dealers often make the mistake of trying to sell the car that’s out of someone’s price range, and as a result, end up without a sale. Be realistic and fulfill your client’s needs by helping them find a car that sticks to their budget. You’ll both be more satisfied in the end.
  4. Discover what’s important to them: Part of knowing your customers is discovering what’s important to them when making their car purchase. What will the car be used for? What features of a vehicle are important to them? This shows you’re paying attention and want to help meet those needs. The more you understand their needs, the better you will be able to promote a vehicle that can meet them. 
  5. Keep it simple: Less is more when it comes to selling cars since you don’t want to overwhelm them with information to sound knowledgeable. According to Robert, “the mark of true knowledge in anything is how well you can explain to the average person.” Focus on the key points, listen, and guide how your customers will feel. Once you do that, you’ll have no problem improving sales at your dealership. 

While 2020 is the start of a new decade, automotive pundits were predicting another decline in auto sales even before the strong economy faltered. It can never hurt to get into the habit of huddling up with your sales team and reviewing sales tips from expert salespeople, like Robert Herjavec.

Credentials

What is Your Strongest Credential?

The dictionary defines a credential as, “anything that provides the basis for confidence, belief, credit, etc.”  In business, we use credentials as a shortcut in persuading customers or partners to trust us enough to do business with us. The credentials, “MD”, “PhD”, and “JD” convey that the holders have mastered the knowledge required to obtain them, and that alone can give a client confidence in their abilities. Technical certifications, diplomas, testimonials, accolades, licenses and franchises are also in this broad category of credentials.

Whether you have letters following your name or not, everyone has credentials. What are the ones you choose to share in your business? In other words, what qualification, achievement, personal quality, or aspect of your background do you use to indicate that you are suitable for business?

A credential, plain and simple, promotes trust and confidence. It can be anything. For detailers or cosmetic repair technicians, their best credential could be before and after photos of their work, a mechanic may have ASE certification or OEM endorsements. Dealers have their own designations, like 20-group or association membership. Your years in business alone is as valid a credential as any to elicit confidence and overcome doubt. 

Think about your other credentials, too. When I was shopping for a car, I noticed the salesman had pictures of his wife and 3 children on his desk. He didn’t remark about the photo, and neither did I, but when he described the safety features of the car I was considering, knowing that he had children made him more credible to me when discussing safety. For all I know, it might have been a stock photo that came with the frame, but in that moment, it was his credential – the connection point that told me he was believable.

We all have a drawer full of credentials that we might share. Climbed a mountain? You have fortitude and determination, Single parent? You’ve got organizational and time management skills. Backstage pass? You know somebody. Fly fisher? You have patience and value detail. Played sports in school? You understand the value of teamwork and shared goals. The list is as endless as our life experiences.

So when you are trying to persuade a customer or partner, reach deep into your drawer and find the right credentials for the occasion. Find the thing of yours that connects you to the other’s needs, and gives them the confidence to say yes. 


Want to learn more about AMT’s credentials? Click here.

Open for business neon

Re-creating Your “New” Business

No matter how many years or how many generations your business has been in existence, you are starting a new business. Changes in our economy and society related to the pandemic have reset nearly everything from employment to operational practices to consumer priorities. Your business will need to adapt in order to survive. Now is the time to reinvent your business to operate in the new environment.

What probably hasn’t changed: 

  1. The quality of your products and services.
  2. Your commitment to your customers, employees, and stakeholders.

What has changed:

  1. Everything else

Our society is interconnected, so when one element changes, it affects related elements across the society. High fuel prices led to subcompact cars. Lower fuel prices and greater vehicle efficiency brought on increased purchase of trucks and SUVs. Stay-at-home restrictions resulted in record sales of personal grooming products, jigsaw puzzles, and computer audio/video equipment, and effectively paused fashion and apparel sales.

Setting up your post-pandemic business plan (you need one) requires the same considerations as with any new start-up. The four P’s, product, price, place, and promotion, are still the foundation for your plan. Chances are, at least one of these variables will be different moving forward. Is your product still relevant? Is the demand and perceived product value changed and can you adjust price as a result? How will your product be consumed now? Do you need to modify the way you deliver your product to your customers? How many other people do you need to help you deliver? Finally, what changes should you make to your advertising and promotion in order to engage or reengage your buyers in the marketplace?

The answers to these questions and others will inform your way forward, but your need to assess and develop will continue. Markets and businesses may reopen more gradually than anyone would like. Volumes and budgets will be smaller, and consumer confidence will be tentative until employment and payroll numbers stabilize again.

If you run an existing business, you may benefit from your experience with other hard economic times and take the lessons learned from them to plan your own recovery. Regardless of prior events, this sudden national and global shift is more extreme that anything we have seen in our lifetimes, It is an opportunity to reinvent ourselves and our businesses in response. Every one of the four P’s is on the table for examination.

I would add another two P’s to that list, too. Examine your process and the productivity it generates. You may find opportunities to improve efficiency in your process, either by making changes or by better enforcing the processes you have in place. Management software by AutoMobile Technologies could be the right solution for running your automotive repair and reconditioning operations, and now as you reimagine and redefine your business, it’s the right time to enhance your command and control of the operation. Contact AMT and let us show you how we can help.

Focus on recon

Maximizing Hourly Revenue