Cars on lot awaiting inspection

Lot Walk Enhancements

You get paid for the actual work, and anything that eats into that time eats into your profit. ReconPro’s enhanced Lot Walk feature lets you create fast inspections and get them approved in the shortest possible time. All the work is documented, and your customer can approve or decline the work all at once, or line-by-line. It’s a huge time-saver that keeps you and the work moving at full speed. Take a look:

Ready to go faster? Contact us to get started with ReconPro!

Best in town

Finding Your “Better” Thing

Used cars parked

Do Used Car Customers Buy Old Cars? We Have The Answer.

Are you a dealership that automatically wholesales out all trade-ins more than three or four years old? You may want to reconsider. Why? Because you might be ignoring a large sector of the used car buying public.

If you’re like most dealers, you sell significantly more used vehicles than new cars, and the current market conditions are likely to continue that trend. A huge number of off-lease vehicles turning over, combined with a decline in household spending, is driving more interest in used cars among buyers nationwide. Are you paying enough attention to your dealership’s reconditioning and remarketing operation?

What can we learn from the last 600,00 auto loan inquiries? In a recent study by LendingTree, more than 600,000 auto loan queries were studied in over 100 popular metropolitan areas, and they found that the average age of a used car people sought to finance was about five years old. The data set was limited to inquiries submitted in 2019 for cars and light trucks with model years older than 2019.

That may be shocking to most dealers who may not consider a five-year-old car for anything other than the “under nine grand land” which tends to just exist as a small backlot for a handful of cars that are clean enough to resell. 

Geography does matter, though. This trend could be a combination of different economies, regionally and stricter inspections and registration laws. But the spread of those who purchased newer used cars and those who purchased older used cars is pretty scattered.

Residents of Spokane, Washington, purchased the oldest used cars with an average age of at least 7.66 years.

Facts about metros that buy the oldest cars

1.    Spokane, Washington is the metro area that sought financing for the oldest cars, with 7.66 years old on average. 

2.    Wichita, Kansas came in second with car buyers here seeking loans for cars just under seven years old.

3.    Ogden, Utah ranked third nationally for those seeking to buy the oldest cars, with an average age of 6.80.

4.    More southern cities joined the top 10 this year, including Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Greenville, South Carolina.

5.    Across the board, the average age of vehicles for which people are seeking financing has dropped from 6 years in 2018 to 5.34.

6.    Colorado Springs residents finance cars with an average age of 6.63 years old.

Facts about places that buy the newest used cars

1.    San Jose, California buys the newest of the used cars, with an average age of 3.54 years.

2.    Miami, Florida is in second place with an average age of just under four years old. 

3.    Orlando, Florida’s average used car purchase age, is just slightly under five years old.

4.    San Francisco sought loans for cars with an average age of 4.03 years 

5.    Los Angeles and Oxnard California stand at 4.42 and 4.67 years, respectively.

6.    On the East Coast, Washington D.C. to Boston largely sought newer used cars.

7.    New York residents buy used cars with an average age of 4.04 years.

8.    Texas residents financed used vehicles with an average age of 4.14 years old

In cities where buyers preferred newer used cars, the cars average 4.12 years younger than the ones purchased by buyers in the places that buy the oldest used cars. This is an interesting statistic, and one worth watching to identify shifts in markets. 

So what can we learn from this? As more and more car buyers turn to used cars, it could help grow sales to be aware of the ages of cars that people finance in your area. Clean and quality units still exist out there, and it may make sense to have your buyers experiment with different years to see if it holds true in your municipality.

Regardless of the average age of used cars you sell, they all need attention to make them frontline-ready as efficiently as possible. We can help with that. Contact us to learn how we can reduce your costs and increase your margins on used cars.

Used cars on dealer lot

5 Tips For Operating A Successful Used Car Business

Running a business can be both an exciting and challenging time, and used cars are an increasingly popular choice among consumers. According to Auto Remarketing Magazine, over 40 million used cars were sold last year. Despite the challenges of the global pandemic, the used car market in the US continues to be robust, and many are forecasting an increase in sales as consumers avoid public and group transportation. 

So, how do you operate a used car business that’s built for success? Do you have enough space for displaying your cars? Are you near any other dealerships to get more customers? All these and more are things to consider when starting a used car business. The following are five tips for operating a successful used car business: 

1) Find Your Niche 

You’ve decided to sell used cars at your dealership, but do you know exactly which type? Finding your niche will help you stand out among other dealerships in your area and could increase your chance of success. You could have a used vintage dealership, a used luxury dealership, or maybe even specialize in used trucks and SUVs. The possibilities are endless! Do your homework, decide on the type of vehicles you want to offer, and calculate the volumes and margins you will need to turn a profit.

2) Ready Vehicles 

Selling used cars at a dealership doesn’t mean just slapping an “as-is” sticker on the window. Each one of the vehicles in your inventory should have proper maintenance and thorough inspection. Any repairs that need to be made must be documented and kept on file. You need to invest in an efficient reconditioning process to make your vehicles presentable on the lot. 

3)  Offer Warranties

A lot of people coming to used car dealerships might think the available cars are “what you see is what you get,” and “what you can’t see may come back to bite you.” This is why it’s essential to offer some warranty options for customers. It provides them with a bit of a safety net, you with incremental revenue, and can increase the chance of them purchasing at your dealership. 

4)  Customer Service 

Customer service is part of the car buying experience at a new car dealership, and it can be an important differentiator at your used car dealership. Provide your customers with a CARFAX or report or a free vehicle identification number (VIN) report. The more information you can provide about the car’s condition and service history, the better. Providing the honest data will show your customers that you respect their desire to know more about the vehicle and that you’re able to assist them in the process. 

Another way to show excellent customer service is to follow up any sale with a “thank you” email or a phone call. It’s a great way to show that you weren’t helpful to them solely for the purchase of their car. Doubling down on customer service will pay back in referrals and repeat purchasers.

5)  Location, location, location 

Unless you are ready to compete in the growing virtual dealerships arena, all of these tips won’t matter if you don’t choose the right location for your used car dealership. Do you have enough space to display your cars on the lot and have a place to store vehicles if there isn’t any space left? Is there enough office space for you and your team? Is there a service department area for repairs? How close or far away is your dealership to others in the area? It might come as a surprise to you that being closer in proximity to other dealers increases your chance of drawing in more customers.

If your passion for automobiles is strong enough to drive you to help others find the right vehicle for them, running a used car operation can be both fulfilling and rewarding. The tips above will help get you started on your way.

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?