Man in auto repair shop using tablet computer

How to Manage Your Inspections Without the Paper Chase

Knowledge is power, and complete and thorough inspections are your best source of knowledge for damage assessment and reconditioning operations. But did you know how else you can use inspections to boost your sales and profits? Click to watch how InspectionNotes gives you what you need without all the paper.

Used Car Reconditioning – A Dealership’s Supply Chain – Part II

Part II: Common Dealer Reconditioning Pitfalls

The quality of vehicles coming through the recon process defines the brand of your dealership. If the process is inadequate and quality is an issue, your customers will notice. Overcoming that negative brand perception can be very difficult. The reconditioning process is also what feeds the machine. If the “get ready” process takes weeks or months per car, then your salespeople will not have the vehicles they need to keep selling. If this can be improved to a few days (and it can), then sales will improve as the number of vehicles reliably available to be sold will increase.

Here are 3 of the common causes of dealership reconditioning problems:

  1.  Not prioritizing reconditioning:

Not prioritizing the reconditioning process is something we see in lots of dealerships around the country. Reconditioning of a used vehicle can be an afterthought of lots of dealerships for apparent reasons. Dealerships are often headed by former salespeople and managers. Their goal is to drive sales which increase revenues and puts money in everyone’s pockets. Sometimes, reconditioning of the vehicle becomes an afterthought or is viewed as a necessary evil in the sales process – something that drives up costs which lowers profits. Because of this, we see the reconditioning process not getting the attention and TLC it deserves.

  1. Not having a standardizing reconditioning process:

Not having a standardized reconditioning process is a major issue if you want to have a repeatable process that you can leave to anyone. The more structured and consistent your process is, the better your outcomes.  If there is a lot walk where people just walk around the car looking for damage and then a mechanical inspection that is just the mechanic looking for issues without a checklist, then you risk overlooking different issues. Worse, all of your vehicles will have differing quality when going through the recon process. We highly recommend that both the cosmetic and mechanical inspections be done in a multipoint checklist. This will ensure that all aspects of every vehicle are checked and addressed the same, 100% of the time. This will improve quality and increase trust in the recon team. You may no longer even need to have all managers come to look at cars in a lot walk manner. The same standardized process should apply to the general workflow of the reconditioning process. All vehicles should follow the same general process from A-Z and only deviate as needed (e.g. waiting on parts).

  1.  Vendors rule the henhouse:

There is nothing wrong with having good, trustworthy vendors helping you in the reconditioning process. We are not even suggesting that you bring all vendor work in-house. What we are suggesting is that dealerships take back control of the reconditioning process and own it completely. If vendors are finding and bringing work requests to you for approval, then see number 2, above. Work should be identified during the standardized process of inspecting the vehicle, and then assigned to the vendors. This allows the dealership to control costs, know what work per vehicle needs to be done, and have the flexibility to adjust the vehicle reconditioning workflow to suit its needs. When the vendor shows up to your lot, they should have a list of vehicles already approved for work. This keeps them busy doing what they do best instead of trying to find work and driving your per car to spend up.

If the items above sound revolutionary for your dealership, then you may need a revolution. You’ll be amazed at the improvements your dealership will enjoy focusing on a consistent and repeatable process in your reconditioning operation.

This is the second in a series of articles. Read part 1 here.

 

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Top Auto Dealer Management Software Picks for 2018

Automobile Dealership Management Software

Automobile Dealership Management Software in 2018

Running a successful car dealership involves countless moving parts, and within all these revolving pieces, productivity shortfalls are inevitable. Successful dealerships know it’s due to human error– because constant communication between individuals eventually leads to confusion and potential misinformation. So while most dealerships acknowledge these shortcomings and use management software such as ADP or Reynolds & Reynolds and other DMS software, these systems can leave gaps in efficiency when maintaining sales, inventory, and F&I information.

Despite our limitations as individuals and the shortcomings of the automotive management software above, we’re fortunate enough to live in an era where we have several software solutions to fully digitize inventory acquisition, marketing, and even inventory management– filling the gaps along the way.

To help reduce your time researching possible software solutions, we have compiled a top-5 list of management tools every dealership should consider adding.

Sales & Marketing

Hubspot

HubSpot offers various marketing, sales, and customer relationship management software to fit whatever business needs you may have– and while the individual options are powerful, they’re even better when used together.

Obtaining prospects and making sales on new or used vehicles relies on you meeting a customer’s needs and working with their budget.

In today’s world, almost every single car purchase begins with an “internet search.” These searches could yield potential new customers if your dealership provides the “right answers.” This inbound marketing, where you draw in customers through social media, branding, and search engine optimization, revolves around creating and publishing content which attracts visitors and converts them into leads as they travel the sales funnel from awareness to consideration.

HubSpot assists in creating and publishing lead generation content– allowing you to track, measure and target your leads.

Reconditioning & Supply Chain Management

AutoMobile Technologies – ReconMonitor

ReconMonitor software helps dealerships monitor and manage the process of reconditioning pre-owned inventory and auction purchases from Acquisition to Front Line Ready. It can track each individual vehicle, the progress made during all reconditioning phases, help get vehicles ready in a quick and efficient manner, and save dealerships both time and money.

ReconMonitor is web-based dealership supply chain management software that picks up where your DMS leaves off, and gives any dealership stakeholder access to all in-process vehicles, the current repair stages, and deadlines from any device, at any time.

It establishes an early warning system in order to keep repair momentum from the initial acquisition to frontline readiness– tracking each vendor, employee, and repair phase to manage performance while identifying bottlenecks in the reconditioning process.

Social Media

Sprout Social

For dealership marketing teams, the primary goal is to advertise the business in the best and most efficient channels– and social media is the largest avenue to get the word out. Sprout Social allows you to track likes, shares, conversations, new contacts, and more with an incredibly clean and easy design.

Data is the driving force when it comes to marketing and understanding which posts drive the most engagement, and Sprout Social offers various monthly subscriptions to monitor your social media marketing campaign.

Sprout Social’s management screen has tabs for messages, tasks, feeds, publishing, and reports. Messages allow you to read and respond to comments left on various social media platforms all in one inbox. While publishing and feeds allow you to analyze the most viewed content and make postings on a timed schedule.

Reports are manageable both on a macro and micro scale– meaning you can view the analytics for all social media in one location or view them all individually.

If your dealership has a team using social media for customer communication, Sprout Social allows you to track tasks and measure post-performance.

Sprout Social offers in-depth data analysis for all your social media marketing on a simple and sleek platform ready to improve your business’ content.

Dealership Accounting & Sales

NetSuite ERP

NetSuite ERP sells itself as a tool to assist any size business to expand. Its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software provides planning and management tools to help automate and simplify business processes in real time.

Netsuite lets individuals at the dealership automate various tasks, enabling data collection, viewing, and sharing without interrupting other functions.

Since NetSuite is cloud-based (meaning all information is saved online in a cloud server), updates, maintenance, support, and customization are all available and automatic across all devices using the software. To elaborate on customization, the package offers the ability to fully edit processes to work as efficiently as possible for your dealership.

NetSuite provides financial reporting, financial planning, revenue recognition (for compliance with accounting standards), global accounting and consolidation (for transparency), billing (to improve accuracy and remove errors), and real-time financial monitoring to drive success.

For Smaller Dealerships: Dealer DMS alternative

Everlogic

Everlogic is a Gold Certified Partner for Quickbooks with a complete management system designed with small dealerships and businesses in mind. Everlogic has several integrated modules which show sales, F&I, parts, services, and administration departments all under one roof. It’s known for its excellence in customer service, and much like the other options above, it’s easy to use, understand, and update all current business processes.

Summary

If recent reports are correct, the two or three-year new car sales tidal wave has begun to slow down. Dealerships will scramble in order to find solutions to boost sales and bolster profitability. The competent and savvy dealer will stay one step ahead, see the trends, and use the best and latest software available. These are our top picks for 2018, and we hope they assist your dealership to increase productivity and profitability this year and beyond.

Used Car Reconditioning – A Dealership’s Supply Chain

There is a magical number floating around most dealerships, and that number is 3. Three days to get a car frontline ready. The problem with this arbitrary number is most dealerships either don’t know what their days to the frontline are or how to fix the process to get it where it needs to be. There are consulting companies that promise to help you fix your used car recon process for the lower rate of $150 per hour, and there are software companies promising the moon.  There isn’t anything wrong with buying a software package or paying for a consultant, but don’t be surprised if you still have the same issue as before, but with less money in your pocket. The problem is how the process is viewed and the methods employed to improve it.

Used car reconditioning isn’t a unique process that only happens in the dealer world, where outside examples of process improvement don’t apply. The process of buying a car from an auction, delivering it to your location, assembling a team of people and vendors to prepare the vehicle for sale is a supply chain problem. Cambridge Dictionary defines supply chain as, “the system of people and things that are involved in getting a product from the place where it is made to the person who buys it.” The dealerships and vendors are the systems of people that repair a vehicle and get it ready for the person who buys the vehicle. It is important to view this as a supply chain process so we can start applying supply chain management principles to help address some of the issues. That also includes applying lean supply chain and Six Sigma principles. We no longer have to make things up or try and tweak the process until we get some perfect combination.

I will be writing a series of articles over the following months that discuss this topic. We will dive into some common pitfalls most dealers face with their reconditioning process, and how supply chain management and methodologies can be applied to address them. Many of these topics may not apply if your dealership is only reconditioning 30-40 vehicles per month, but there will still be some good information that can apply to any operation.

Press Release: CDK Global Integration

AutoMobile Technologies, Inc. Joins CDK Global Partner Program

AMT-CDK Logos

AutoMobile Technologies, Inc., an industry leader in automotive reconditioning software, today announced that it has become a participant in the CDK Global Partner Program. As a member of the largest third-party partner program in the industry, AutoMobile Technologies is now part of a marketplace of applications and integration choices developed to help automotive dealers succeed.

“CDK Global understands the value of efficient supply chain management in vehicle reconditioning,” said Paul Maximov, CEO, AutoMobile Technologies, Inc. “Dealers lose an average of $35-$50 per day that cars spend undergoing reconditioning. Our solutions work to reduce costly delays and make better vehicle recon decisions early in the cycle, resulting in better inventory availability and ultimately, increased margins on vehicles sold.”

The CDK Global Partner Program provides its partners with the ability to integrate with a range of CDK applications, as well as with CDK dealer websites. AMT’s ReconMonitor software provides end-to-end visibility from vehicle acquisition through the reconditioning process and helps identify vendor inefficiencies that increase the cycle time. The software includes both mobile and back-office modules to help ensure everyone in the reconditioning cycle is informed about where and when work is required. This software keeps cars moving with optimal speed and results.

“We’re very pleased to welcome AutoMobile Technologies, Inc. as the newest member of the CDK Global Partner Program,” said Howard Gardner, vice president and general manager, CDK Data Services. “In joining our vibrant program, AutoMobile Technologies, Inc. will bring new skills, solutions, and choices for our dealers to choose from, which will seamlessly integrate with our applications.”

The approved integration of AMT’s ReconMonitor solution with the CDK Drive DMS will allow customers to better command and control the reconditioning process with full visibility of each vehicle as it moves through to frontline readiness. Other notable features include mechanical and cosmetic inspections, parts and labor-hours management, vehicle ROI, vendor management and payment, and real-time reporting. Additional details about these features can be found at link.

About the CDK Global Partner Program

The CDK Partner Program now numbers more than 360 partner companies and 475 unique applications auto dealers can use to run their businesses. As part of the CDK ecosystem, the CDK Partner Program provides data and workflow integration to a wide range of third parties, OEMs, and dealers. For a full list of partners and applications available through the program, visit cdkglobal.com/partners.

About CDK Global

With more than $2 billion in revenues, CDK Global (Nasdaq: CDK) is a leading global provider of integrated information technology and digital marketing solutions to the automotive retail and adjacent industries. Focused on enabling end-to-end automotive commerce, CDK Global provides solutions to dealers in more than 100 countries around the world, serving approximately 28,000 retail locations and most automotive manufacturers. CDK solutions automate and integrate all parts of the dealership and buying process from targeted digital advertising and marketing campaigns to the sale, financing, insuring, parts supply, repair, and maintenance of vehicles. Visit cdkglobal.com.

About AutoMobile Technologies

Since 2006, AMT has been building software applications to help companies in the automotive industry replace paperwork, enforce processes, and gain instant visibility to business operations, regardless of team size and geographic distribution. Our mission is to distribute easy-to-use, affordable solutions to help dealerships, PDR and SMART Repair technicians, detailers, and reconditioning companies improve customer service, make more money, and eliminate back-office inefficiencies.

Media Contacts:

Roxanne Pipitone
CDK Global
roxanne.pipitone@cdk.com

Rob Duda
Peppercomm
cdk@peppercomm.com

Ted Gaines
AutoMobile Technologies, Inc
gaines@automobiletechnologies.com

Dealerships: Steal These Emails and Give Your Sales a Boost

Dealerships, swipe these emails with 60% open rates to boost sales today!

Even though email is one of the oldest forms of digital marketing, it is still a very effective method for gaining new sales, or for moving prospects down the sales funnel.  According to a 2017 study from Hubspot, the average email open rate in autos and vehicles is 35%. This lags slightly behind the average open rate across all industries of 37%.

When your salespeople are not directly with a customer, they need to be generating activity to bring in and close more sales. In fact, activity-based sales, as reported by SalesForce, has been proven to:

  1. Produce higher revenue production per sales employee.
  2. Create robust data to make forecasting easier based on activity levels.
  3. Allow for insights on sales capacity so you know when to hire new salespeople to hit future goals.
  4. Create a team of outcome and data-driven sales experts.

When you move to an activity-based sales approach, you can utilize data to drive higher sales. With email marketing, you can enter these activities into your CRM to keep an eye on activity levels. But just kicking out emails isn’t enough. You need to create highly-converting emails in order to see the return on the time investment. Below are eight email templates for a variety of sales scenarios that your dealership sales reps face every day. These are proven to have as much as a 60% open rate when used properly. Fill in the appropriate information to replace the [italics], and you’re on your way,

 

Scenario 1:  They visited your site

Based on the prospect’s browsing behavior, you know which cars they are looking at or even seriously evaluating. Position yourself as a trusted advisor who can walk them through the decision-making process and answer questions as they arise.

Subject:  Resource for [make and model] questions

Hi [prospect name],

I’m sending this note to introduce myself as your resource here at [dealership]. I work with car buyers and have an expertise in [make and model], and I noticed that you had viewed these vehicles on our website in the past.

This inspired me to spend a few minutes to reach out to you and see if you had any specific questions about [make and model] that you were not finding clear, or decisive answers to.

As an employee of [dealership], I am committed to being a knowledgeable resource for car and truck shoppers in [town name] and I have helped [number] of customers find answers to similar questions.

When do you have 15 minutes to connect today?

Please also feel free to book time directly onto my calendar here: [Meetings link].

Thanks,

[Your name]

 

Scenario 2: If you’re a stranger to them but got them as a referral from an existing customer

Subject: 26 seconds (or less)

Hi [prospect name],

I’ll keep this short and sweet to make the 26 seconds it takes to read this worth your time (yes, I timed it.)

As a salesperson at [dealership], I get to speak with people like you about purchasing a new or used vehicle. You made your way to my radar because we just sold a [new or used][make model] to [referral source] and they recommended that I reach out to you because they knew you were in the market for a vehicle.

Could we schedule a 15 to 20-minute call to discuss your vehicle needs, which challenges you are currently experiencing, and how you plan on solving these needs? Even if you decide not to continue the conversation after our call, you’ll leave with some advice for car and truck buying that will make an immediate impact.

Best,

[Your name]

 

Scenario 3:  If you just called them

Use a quick email to reinforce the voicemail you just left.

Subject: [prospect name] — just gave you a ring

[prospect name],

Saw that you were checking out [make and model], and wanted to give you a quick shout after checking out the [dealership] site. The last thing I want to do is waste your time or mine, but I thought it would be helpful to quickly speak and learn a bit more about what your needs are that is driving the need or desire to purchase [make model], and perhaps answer some questions you may have about this vehicle or similar product offerings.

We have found that our happiest customers began their purchase with a quick call like this to get things started in the right direction.

Is there a good time for you today or the next few days? You can book some time directly on my calendar here: [Meetings link].

Best,

[Your name]

P.S. Thought you might like this as well while getting started:

   [Helpful link #1]

   [Helpful link #2]

 

Scenario 4:  If there’s been a trigger event (filled out a form or stopped by the dealership)

The old adage is that when they are ready to buy, sell. A trigger event gives you a compelling reason to reach out, boosts your credibility by proving that you pay attention to what’s happening on the lot, and establishes urgency.

Subject: Congrats on deciding on [make and model]

Hi [prospect name],

Your [interaction (email, dealership stop by)] inspired me to reach out. That tells me that you are narrowing down your options in the purchase of [make and model].

Within the last six months at [dealership], we have sold [number] of [make and model] to happy and excited new [manufacturer] owners. I’d be happy to answer any remaining questions and share a few ideas about how you could accomplish the same.

If you’re open to it, when would be a convenient time to chat? Say, [XYZ time]?

[Your name]

 

Scenario 5:  They requested a test drive

This email helps you establish a relationship with the prospect and set the right expectations for the process. If they’re not prepared for a discussion of their needs and budget before the nuts-and-bolts product talk, they might become impatient.

Subject: Showing you around [make and model]

Hi [prospect name],

I noticed you requested a test drive of [product]. I will be your contact here at [dealership], and my goal is to be helpful during your evaluation process.

Our test drives are two parts. The first is a conversation focused around helping me to understand what you’re hoping [dealership] can help with, as well as your desired options and even desired colors when purchasing [make and model], so then I can customize your test drive accordingly.

To get started, you can book time on my calendar here: [Meetings link].

Looking forward to connecting,

[Your name]

 

Scenario 6:  If they opened your email but never replied

The prospect is interested in learning more — after all, they read your message — but they’re either too busy to respond or not interested enough. Get the conversation going again with an explanation of your dealership or if you know the particular make and model they are looking at, and an offer to give them a test drive.

Subject: Helping you evaluate [make and model]

Alt subject; Helping you evaluate [dealership]

Following up on my last email, I wanted to see if [dealership offering, or make and model] was something you’d be interested in discussing.

[dealership] offers vehicles for [prospect need] that include the following:

   [Feature #1 and why it’s helpful]

   [Feature #2 and why it’s helpful]

   [Feature #3 and why it’s helpful]

I’d be happy to give you a brief walk-through of these vehicles and their features so you can evaluate whether there might be a fit for your specific vehicle purchase needs.

What do you think?

[Your name]

 

Scenario 7: If they still don’t respond

Haven’t heard anything back? Before you give up on this prospect, send a few more resources their way. You’ll add value while simultaneously reminding them your vehicle might be able to solve a pressing pain point — as it has for other buyers.

Subject: Resources used by [make and model] buyers

Hi [prospect name],

Following on my previous email, as they have a tendency to slip through the cracks. At the very least, I wanted to provide you with the top resources that people who are shopping for [make and model] or [vehicle category (SUV, light truck sedan etc)] found helpful:

   [Helpful link]

   [Case study]

Would it be helpful if we scheduled 15-20 minutes to discuss how some of these links may help narrow down your selections and discuss how a particular model may suit your needs? Just book some time on my calendar here: [Meetings link]

[Your name]

 

Scenario 8: If they went dark

This light-hearted email gives the buyer a chance to change their mind. It’s a great way to re-engage them without using a guilt trip.

Subject: Not nearly as bad as a blind date

Hi [prospect name],

But it still stings 🙁 Sounds like we weren’t meant for each other. But I wanted to reach out to you one last time. I have a few suggestions on how you can purchase that [new or used make and model]. If I don’t hear back, I’ll assume that the timing isn’t right.

In the meantime, here are two [links, resources] I thought you might find of value because [reason why they’re relevant]:

   [Link #1]

   [Link #2]

Best,    

[Your name]

 

It is our hope that these proven car and truck sales templates will be just the thing you need to re-energize your sales force. If you found these useful, we encourage you to check out other similarly useful content on our blog, as we are dedicated to helping dealerships just like yours grow sales in 2018. If you are also looking to re-energize your profitability in your dealership, we encourage you to check out our suite of software offerings, ReconMonitor and InspectionNotes, designed to improve frontline readiness of your used car fleet and trim waste from the process.

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Auto Analysts’ Crystal Ball Says Prepare Now for a Surge in Used Car Demand

How prepared was your dealership for 2017’s roller-coaster ride of new and used car sales?

If you are like many dealerships, you weren’t prepared for the unusual hurricane-induced car buying demand spike in the Fall that usually happens after tax refund time in the Spring.

crystal ballIt’s a dealership’s worst nightmare to be caught during a spike in sales demand at a time of low inventory, and then be forced to sit back and watch as potential customers head over to your competition.

Then, as you scramble to purchase inventory and get it frontline ready, you can almost watch the revenue slip past your balance sheet. Will you get the cars cycled out before the demand is gone?

Oh, to have a reliable crystal ball during auction time!

Actually, if you know where to look, there already is one. Auto Industry forecasters are expecting lower price volatility than 2017’s record highs and unusual fall spike. These same prognosticators also predict higher volumes of used vehicle sales in 2018.

The crystal balls reveal that a more desirable mix of late-model vehicles entering the marketplace and higher take-home pay as the new federal tax law is implemented, will heat up the used car market, so you might want to prepare yourselves now and reap the rewards when the buyers start coming.

From almost the minute the new tax law was passed, large corporations began announcing bonuses and pay raises for American households. Cox Automotive Chief Economist, Jonathan Smoke, revised his forecast of 2018 total used-vehicle sales to nearly $40 million.

At a recent conference call with investment analysts and reporters, Cox stated that they estimate 85% of US households will see an income increase as a result of the new tax laws. Cox also anticipates a 2 to 4 percent decline in 2018 U.S. new light-vehicle sales to fewer than 17 million units.

By now, all the Harvey and Irma hurricane victims have replaced their cars, so that spike in new and used car sales as replacement vehicles ended in December of 2017.

Still, experts believe that the U.S. economy will continue its strong demand for new and used vehicles in 2018 due to a low unemployment rate, strong financial markets and consumer confidence, and incentive offers from automakers.

 

Where will the used inventory come from?

It has been predicted that 2018 will be a slowdown in the increasing numbers of late-model vehicles entering the used market, with 2018 lease returns growing only 8.1 percent to 292,000 units.

And most of the growth is in pickups and SUVs, which are more in demand, so grounding dealers will retain more off-lease vehicles themselves.

Expect to see lower rental car-fleet vehicle returns, fewer coupes and hatchbacks, will fall this year, But there will be an increase in pickups, SUV’s and crossovers.

How to stay ahead of the demand.

Following the economic downturn started in 2008, car buyers’ desires for new vehicles leaned heavier towards cars than trucks. This caused a mismatch in the used market as consumers started leaning back towards trucks and SUV’s during the upswing.  But in 2018, half of off-lease vehicles are expected to be light trucks.

Heed the warnings.

Retailers who sell late-model SUVs and crossovers will benefit from declining used-vehicle prices this year, that could squeeze dealerships’ volumes and margins on new light trucks

Cut your frontline cycle times.

Now is the time to focus on the operations and look for ways to eliminate bottlenecks and unnecessary snarls.

Efficiencies save profits

The focus on fast and efficient reconditioning becomes even more important to maintaining margins on new car inventories as used car demand puts pressure on new car pricing. A small investment in a recon software such as ReconMonitor can mean the difference between profit and loss during a squeeze like the one being predicted now.

As a used car dealer, the decision to pursue CPO designation for select vehicles can be advantageous, making initial inspections even more crucial. Again, any investment in automation can pay for itself. When used car demand is high, each day lost in the recon stage is money wasted. Consider streamlining the intake phase with an investment in inspection software such as InspectionNotes from Automobile Technologies. Why waste time entering and transcribing vehicle details and management of recon needs on paper, when a single mobile recon app can eliminate hours of work?

 

2018 may not be as bumpy a ride as last year, but it’s sure to have surprises of its own. Staying attentive to the market is as close as we’ll get to that crystal ball, and maintaining an efficient operation will keep your dealership rolling smoothly.


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Are You Letting Revenue Slip Through Your Service Department?

 

In this line of work, I get to tour a lot of collision repair shops. Some of those shops are dealership body shops that are either under the same roof or located in the same lot as the dealership.

One thing that always surprises me is when I find that the service department, the sales department, and the body shop do not communicate with each other as a whole. In other industries, this situation is referred to as “siloed” where departments are in silos and either afraid to or unwilling to work with each other.

Just recently, I was at a shop in Pennsylvania and I overheard a customer who was getting an estimate for a new side mirror as a result of a sideswipe. What struck me is that the customer was there because the insurance company had sent her there, not the service department, despite her having just had the car serviced in preparation for a Pennsylvania safety inspection. Had the insurance company sent this person to another shop, the dealership would have lost out on some decent revenue.  If I was the dealership owner, I would be furious.

This situation plays out every day in dealerships all over the country. I have even worked with shops that are not allowed to email blast their sales and service customer databases. Does this sound like your organization? It doesn’t have to be this way.

 

Today, we are going to uncover some ideas to put an end to lost revenue in your service departments.

The first step is to realize that it is not your customer’s duty to remember that you also have a body shop or a service department. These should be kept top-of-mind with all customer contact points. For every sales piece you create to drive new car sales, you should think about how this could also drive revenue for the other departments.

Break down the barriers.

If you have a dealership marketing team, a service department marketing team, and a body shop marketing team, all these people should be working together to generate leads for the dealership as a whole. In fact, you may consider putting them all in the same location in adjacent offices or cubicles so that they can easily work together.

Mine your databases

Each car that is leased should be a lead passed over to the service department and the body shop. Some leases require the use of OEM collision repair parts. And most lease vehicles will require some reconditioning prior to trade in. Your body shop should have access to all leased vehicles who are due for trade-in six months prior to the trade in date in order to reach out and offer deals on trade in preparation.

Incentives

Money always talks. Consider implementing a cash bonus referral program for all work referred among departments. This should not be limited just to managers, empower your technicians to make recommendations. Vehicles declared a total loss should be an easy referral to sales, but service should routinely scan vehicles for body shop upsell work.

Train your staff to pay better attention to the customers coming into the service bays.

Take notice if they have any family lifestyle changes, like a new baby, a new driver, or upcoming graduation and discuss options that might help address the need for a new vehicle. Your service drive is an excellent business center to support your dealership’s CPO and new retail programs. Stay engaged with your customers to maintain their brand and dealership loyalty.

Staffing co-location

Consider having a body shop estimator work out of the service department to write complimentary estimates on any potential work they see in the repair bays. You don’t even need to ask the customer if they want an estimate, simply provide it along with the service work estimate and offer to set a time to have the car in for the repair.

Something as simple as that written estimate attached to a postcard advertisement for the body shop could generate additional revenues.

Text Messaging

Another option is to include this in a text message if your service department uses a texting service to update customers. Text a link to an estimate for the body shop while the car is still in the service bay to make the transaction smoother. For example, if the car has to stay in service to receive parts, now would be a great opportunity to take care of those dents, scratches or quick bumper repair.

Texting can also be a great way for customers to communicate with service managers, get answers to questions, and schedule appointments. However, we caution dealers against advising staff communicate with customers on their personal cell phone devices without the use of a texting platform that tracks conversations, manages opt-ins and opt-outs, and integrates into a dealer’s CRM tool.

Community outreach

Another suggestion is to host customer car care clinics, which includes all makes and models, and offer free vehicle inspections, appraisals on vehicle resale costs, or reconditioning costs. This positions your business as your customers’ advocate while giving you the opportunity to generate new business and goodwill.

We hope these tips have given you some ideas on how to stop the leak of potential profits that you may not even realize are slipping past your Dealership, as we continue our mission to make 2018 the Year of Growth for your business.


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Are Certified Pre-owned Sales Worth the Investment for Dealerships?

by Automobile Technologies, Inc.

December 2, 1927 might not jump out to most auto dealership managers as having any significance, but that was the date the first Model A went on sale, replacing a model that had gone virtually unchanged since 1908- the model T. One might argue, then, that December 2, 1927 is also the date that gave people their first reason to trade in their old car 1910 Ford T on a new one  1931 Model A,

and giving birth to a new institution: the used car lot.

In 1927 there was no such thing as a certified pre-owned car. In fact, that concept didn’t arrive until sometime in the 1990’s. During that time, dealerships had the same obstacles to completing a used car deal as the local mom and pop car lot: establishing trust.

Today, the CPO market is a robust component of many dealerships’ used car programs. It adds a layer of credibility to any car deal, one that the local used car lots cannot offer, but this competitive advantage does come at a cost.

 

Higher implied costs before the front line

A factory CPO certification tacks on additional costs to a qualified vehicle raising the vehicle invoice price, and reconditioning costs, all of which can quickly put the squeeze on the final vehicle gross profit.

Used car management must determine in every instance whether the Cost-to-Market and Price-to-Market ratios leave enough room in the final deal for CPO units to achieve their desired profit and ROI objectives.

 

Higher yields at the lot as a whole

Market research firms indicate that CPO sales can drive a 6.1 percent increase in the value of used vehicles retailed by franchised dealers. So simply having CPO cars as part of the mix can help drive sales of non-CPO cars on the same lot.

Manheim Chief economist, Thomas Webb, reports that CPO sales were up 12.3 percent in 2017, and used vehicle profits are on the rise, as well as higher sales per store with stabilizations in used car margins.

 

Improving margins begins at purchase

Dealers must keep a watchful eye on cycle time for every CPO vehicle.  The minute the vehicle is acquired, the clock starts ticking. Every day the vehicle spends in reconditioning cuts into vehicle turn time to sale.

Most dealers set their goal at a 45 day average sales window, but the real shock to some dealers comes when they realize that the 45 days begins at vehicle acquisition. Vehicle inspection, reconditioning, and certification can easily eat up inventory holding time, long before the unit hits the front line, which makes prioritizing these areas even more important.

 

Remove bottlenecks – raise profit

NADA statistics show average vehicle holding cost can be as much as $50/day. Time lost prior to frontline has a huge impact on vehicle gross profit. Dealerships need to look for operational changes to speed up or even automate the remarketing process.

For the savvy dealership looking to shave a few remarketing days off of each vehicle, we offer the following suggestions:

  • Revisit the delivery process from acquisition through frontline. Are there any bottlenecks that can slow the process?
  • Review your paperwork procedure. Eliminate paperwork wherever possible. This will lead to increased efficiencies. A thorough review of your paperwork processing will be time well spent.
  • Modernize your inventory management process. It is surprising in this age of handheld technology, that dealerships still rely on whiteboards and paper documents to keep track of units from auction to front line. Whiteboards take time and resources to maintain. Whiteboards cannot alert you about bottlenecks and missed deadlines unless you are standing right in front of them. Software solutions like ReconMonitor will alert your team, leading to lower reconditioning cycle time and control the end-to-end process.

 

Conclusion

Certified Pre-owned vehicles can offer the used car dealership a boost in sales, a boost in margins, and a boost in used car purchase trust, but the process must be tightly controlled, constantly scrutinized and continually refined.

Top Auto Dealer Management Software Picks for 2017

Automobile Dealership Management Software

We don’t need to tell you how many moving parts there are to running a successful dealership- you are living it every day. While most dealerships utilize one form of a dealership management software, such as ADP or Reynolds and Reynolds, to keep sales, inventory, and F&I in order, some of these software systems fall short in other areas leaving gaps in the overall efficiency of a dealership.

Luckily, there are several software solutions available to fill some of these gaps in order to fully digitize any dealership from inventory acquisition to marketing, and even inventory management.

To help cut down your research time, we have compiled a list of the top 5 software tools every dealership should consider adding.

 

Sales and Marketing

Hubspot

HubSpot offers a full stack of products for marketing, sales, and customer relationship management. Each product is powerful as a stand alone, and even better when used together.

Reaching prospects and making sales on a new or used car purchase often boils down to meeting individuals’ needs and budget. Nearly all vehicle purchases today start with some form of internet search. When done right, each search could yield a new customer to the dealership by providing the answers to customer searches. This idea of inbound marketing sprang from the idea of creating and publishing content that attracts visitors and converts them to leads as they continue down the sales funnel from awareness to comparison. This type of marketing is an exceptionally good fit for car dealerships because nearly all purchases begin with some form of Internet information search.

Hubspot allows to you to create and publish lead-generating content, measure where your visitors are coming from, and their new CRM allows you to track and target your leads when they convert on any of your lead forms.

Hootsuite

Getting the word out is the goal of any Dealership marketing team, and social media is an important channel. Hootsuite is an inexpensive software that helps focus social media efforts by tracking progress, engagement, and other metrics. It is useful to any business with any size marketing team, from large marketing teams to armies of one.

Hootsuite allows you to see a clear, concise snapshot of your key Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter activity to track trends and measure growth. It is easy to use and no setup is required.

You can also create customized analytics dashboards, or if pressed for time, you can use Hootsuite pre-built templates to learn more about how your followers engage with your content.

Export reports to prove your social ROI. Share your success with your team with one-click exports of your reports in Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, and CSV formats.

If you do a lot of communication via social media, and have multiple team members doing the communicating, Hootsuite allows you to measure team performance, track how long it takes your team to respond and resolve Tweets and Facebook posts, mentions, and comments assigned to them.

Hootsuite allows you to gain a deeper insight with a large collection of social analytics integrations and apps available. For a small monthly fee, you can really build a powerful analytics data set to help guide current and future content efforts.

 

Reconditioning and Inventory

ReconMonitor by AutoMobile Technologies

ReconMonitor is made for dealerships who need to wrangle all the moving parts of reconditioning pre-owned inventory and auction purchases. The auto dealer software tracks each vehicle, and the progress made on that vehicle during the reconditioning process. This visibility helps get vehicles frontline ready faster while saving time and money for the dealership.

Like a project manager in a box, ReconMonitor is a complete web-based and mobile software that gives any dealership stakeholder access to a complete dashboard of all in-process vehicles, stages of repair, and frontline deadlines. Imagine being able to get a real-time snapshot of all in-process vehicle reconditioning and deadlines from any device, at any time, allowing you to identify trouble spots and maximize productivity. ReconMonitor can make this a reality for your operation.

Dealership used car reconditioning software establishes an early warning system that keeps the repairs moving forward from initial acquisition to front line readiness. It identifies areas that are operating efficiently and uncovers areas contributing to delays. With ReconMonitor, you can track each vendor or employee task and manage what order those tasks are being performed. The result is better control and faster turn-arounds for your inventory.

 

Dealership Accounting and Sales

Executive eye 3.0

Executive eye from Dashboard Dealership proclaims itself as the auto industry’s premier data analytics and reporting product. Their car dealership software provides a comprehensive enterprise view of dealer group accounting and operational performance. Executive Eye enhances DMS capabilities by allowing dealers to track dealership performance side by side in one dashboard. Dealership managers can set up and track their own KPI’s and filter out the  metrics are most important to them.

Dealership controllers can keep an eye on vendor creep by viewing a 12 month vendor spend report. Expense Creep, where extra costs continue to slip by unnoticed is a constant battle. Find out how much you are spending at both the enterprise and store level with each vendor over the last 12 months.

Managers can receive their own customized doc report. Get the doc you’ve always wanted for your group.  Look at your dealer group as a whole, not just store by store. You can also export and email these reports. Executive eye delivers reports as often as you want, in the format you want, with the information you want.

Smaller dealership DMS alternative

EverLogic is a complete auto dealership management system that works with QuickBooks, making it a perfect fit for either single location or smaller dealership group. EverLogic software was actually built by Intuit, the makers of QuickBooks. The software is fully cloud based and has seven integrated modules that bring your sales, F&I, parts, service and administration departments together. EverLogic gets high marks for its customer support. Much like QuickBooks, EverLogic’s software is easy to set up, understand, and use. EverLogic also performs automated updates and backups to keep you current and secure.

 

Summary

If any of the prognosticators are correct, the two or three year tidal wave of new car sales has begun slowing down. When that happens, dealerships will start to scramble to find ways to boost sales and bolster profitability. The savvy dealer will stay ahead of these trends and will utilize software to its fullest. Hopefully our top picks list will help your dealership increase productivity and profitability.