One of the subtle inefficiencies in reconditioning costing you time, money – and smooth relations with the used-car manager – is in the vehicle reconditioning repair-work approval process.
The used-car manager reviewing the approval request often lacks details that limit their ability to fully understand the repair’s importance.
In my years as a reconditioning manager, I walked many miles back and forth from the sales tower with repair order estimates for manager review. He’d look through the paperwork and ask questions about the stock number – “How much do we have in this car?” And then I would tell him I needed another $2,500 for recon mechanical. The manager approved the mechanical repairs but was surprised to learn of a $2,000 cosmetics/detail/sublet estimate that was added later.
Had we presented coordinated mechanical and cosmetic/detail approval requests to the manager in the first place, he or she would have had a more transparent picture of the vehicle’s all-in cost to get it retail-ready. Instead, the manager now is asking the recon manager how the store can make money on the car if this sort of recon cost is required – and if not, what options make the most sense?
It is this lack of estimate and approval coordination originating in the recon department that sets up this unfortunate inefficiency. A busy recon shop and time-stretched used-car manager both benefit when more comprehensive and all-in estimates are presented together.
- Access to accurate mechanical and cosmetic/detail repair estimates provides the used-car manager with more complete and informed repair approvals.
- Better estimate data, including detailed descriptions and multimedia, help managers make more profitable decisions about vehicles acquired in a trade, auction or private purchase.
- Faster approvals get cars sale-ready faster to meet consumer demand.
The used-car manager should be eager to see faster and more comprehensive approvals happen in their store; after all, most are compensated on used-car profitability. Having processes to give them more decision data in the first approval request benefits everyone in this flow.
Best Practice No.1
Charge the lead lot porter with the responsibility of capturing vehicle cosmetic condition as vehicles are taken on trade or unloaded from transport. By using a digital intake process at the start of the reconditioning process, the used-car manager will have a better picture of the true recon cost upfront as mechanical estimates come in for approval.
With this data, used-car managers can make smarter decisions about what work to approve. And cosmetic and details teams will have more complete information to work with on specific issues to give them proper and prompt proper attention. Now, cosmetic/detail and mechanical estimates can be presented for approval together so the used-car manager has all the information needed to determine decisions related to that investment: Is a cost adjustment necessary or should the asking price be bumped? A necessary relisting for $1,000 more, even if the customer negotiates down, means you’re starting from a higher amount.
Best Practice No.2
Approvers have questions – they deserve to know the details of the repairs they’re being asked to approve. To answer their questions, the recon manager can spend many steps running from the tower to the internal technicians to get more detail or snap a photo.
A faster, more convenient and more telling approach is to give the manager a sight and sound video of repair requests. An oil drip is now seen as a potentially more cosly repair. An engine noise sounds suspiciously more sinister when the manager can hear the noise from the sales tower.
Digital media galleries provide a helpful tool for accomplishing multi-sensual approvals connected to work item steps in reconditioning software. Their use helps dealers maximize used car sales and profitability by:
- Simplifying how easy and convenient it is for technicians and detailers to post and review work-item details with before-and-after photos, videos and PDFs, and appended special instructions or receipts for related purchases used in repair completion.
- It saves repair approvers and used-car managers time to find VIN- and work-item- specific images or documents needed to approve a repair or answer a question. For instance, technicians can upload videos and PDFs to these media tools, which the used-car manager can access from anywhere to expedite the approval decision.
Used-car managers do a great job, but they can do even better using a system that tracks the reconditioning process. Knowing who’s doing what and when speeds up the reconditioning process and gets vehicles to sale faster.
Costly errors occur without meaningful decision-making information, such as car location or recon status. Making the approvals process more transparent ensures approvers have all they need to understand estimates and all-in cost.
Josh Coutts (pictured, above left), a former preowned service manager, is director of product at Rapid Recon.