Used car sales are still the “bread and butter” for dealerships — especially with the craziness of 2020 closing down factories and now a computer chip shortage, resulting in the lack of new vehicles to sell.
Add yet another factor having a direct effect on used vehicles, which is that many drivers have been put in a poor financial situation, resulting in them hanging onto their current vehicles longer. The bottom line is that the used vehicle market is also going to tighten up and become a challenge in acquiring vehicles to recondition and sell.
All of this ambiguity in the sales of both new and used vehicles will have the dealership more focused on its fixed operations as a way to keep the lights on and the doors open. So, the question is: What can be done to get through these uncertain times?
During these times of forced change, where, if you do not pivot in response to these changes, you may find yourself out of business, I would like to suggest that digital inspections become an integral part of not only your service shop but also in the sales of both new and used vehicles.
Using digital inspections in the service department will result in building customer trust and increased sales at the same time. Sending a digital inspection with clear descriptions on findings, detailed recommendations and pictures or video to a customer via text message is similar to walking the customer out to the vehicle in the shop and showing them the “why” of everything.
The clarity and education of the digital inspection can also be utilized in boosting the sales of used vehicles and providing a compelling reason for customers to return for service after the sale. Marketing statistics — widely available on the internet — point to the fact that repeat customers do make up a large part of your shop’s profit success.
The evaluation that every used vehicle goes through should be documented by using a digital inspection — even if your shop rejects the vehicle for reconditioning.
When a vehicle goes to auction and the inspection results are made readily available to anyone with interest, the value of the vehicle will be greater than another without an inspection. The inspection results will shed light on a more detailed description of the vehicle’s condition. With this information in hand, informed bidders are more apt to bid on the vehicle.
For vehicles that are reconditioned and sold, the inspection can become a sales tool for not only selling the vehicle but also in giving buyers a reason to come back for service at your shop.
The inspection can be used to document not only the original condition of the vehicle but also any repairs and work that are done to make the vehicle sales-worthy. It can also provide baseline pictures of all wear items, such as brakes and tires. With this done, the inspection can work for the dealership in a number of ways.
First, the documentation can help cover your shop’s liability exposure.
Second, the inspection can be shared with any potential buyers digitally, so they can safely look over the vehicle from home or anywhere else.
Finally, the inspection becomes the baseline for the wear on the customer’s vehicle. Each time the customer returns for service and gets a courtesy inspection, it will build a “wear history” of the vehicle. This will help the customer prepare for any future replacements before they come due.
Having this digital history only available at your shop, customers will need to return to continue it. As the history builds, so will customer trust, since everything is documented. As they return, they will spend more money, hopefully becoming one of your shop’s lifelong customers.