Updated: Jul 28
Whether it’s new or used vehicles, getting them on your lot is just the first step in what can sometimes be a very long process as you get them prepped for sale. As a company that has worked with the automotive industry for over 20 years, we have seen many dealerships that struggle to get their vehicles front-line ready in a reasonable amount of time. What causes these bottlenecks, and what can you do to work around them?
The two primary bottlenecks we have seen are due to vehicles that are not getting PDI’d or detailed fast enough. This can happen for a number of reasons. In some cases, the Detail or Service departments can’t get to them fast enough. We have seen other dealerships that have major problems with missing keys, while others don’t seem to know where their inventory is at.
No matter what is slowing down your speed to market, the important question is what can you do about it?
In this article, we are going to touch on several solutions that have helped our customers achieve good results. In future articles, we will dive deeper into the technical aspects of each of these solutions individually.
1) Fresh-Trade Photos
Almost all IMS solutions have the ability to take fresh-trade photography. Nothing is more important than letting your customers know that the vehicle is on your lot and available. From a customer’s perspective, nothing will make them pass up a vehicle on your website faster than stock photos or no photos.
We have a couple of dealerships we work with that sell about 40-50% of their inventory out of their back lot. This includes new vehicles. Yes, I said “New” vehicles. We were shocked at how effective fresh-trade photos of a new vehicle, still wrapped in plastic, could be. This emphasizes an important fact, consumers want to see the actual vehicle, even if it is not front-line ready.
2) Outside Detailing Company
We are starting to see a number of dealerships that are bringing in outside Detailing companies to either assist their Detailing department or to take care of all of their detailing. Depending on your dealership, either of these options can potentially relieve this bottleneck and enable your inventory to get to the frontline faster.
3) Rinsing Cars
This is along the same lines of having help from an outside Detailing company, but instead of having a full detailing company assist with minor touch-ups, you are utilizing your photographer or lot service company to rinse off slightly dirty vehicles. Typically, the additional cost for this service is minimal, and the biggest benefit is that you are not tying up your Detailing department with minor touch-ups.
This can be a great option if your photographer is constantly being held up because your vehicles are simply dirty on the outside. Oftentimes this is a result of having an off-site dirt lot.
4) Lot Tracking Solutions
When I first started working with dealerships, I was amazed at how many times managers would complain that their vehicles were missing photos only to find out that the vehicle either wasn’t even on the lot, or it was still in service or the body shop.
I understand that managers often have a lot to do and don’t have the ability to walk the lot regularly (or at all). However, simply relying on inventory reports from your IMS almost never tells the full story. What’s worse, those numbers can lead you to the wrong conclusions.
There are a number of digital lot management options out there such as LoJack LotSmart, CarTrax, or Find the Car, among others. These systems enable you to digitally track your inventory, which in turn provides you with a real understanding of what is physically at your lot and where your bottlenecks are actually occurring.
If these tracking solutions seem like too much money, don’t worry, there is a FREE option.
5) Good Communication
The free option is called “Good Communication.” It goes without saying that good communication is essential for every part of life. What are you doing to improve communication within your business?
I’m always impressed when managers go out of their way to create and maintain simple solutions to improve communication between them, their employees, and their vendors. Things run smoother, and everybody wins.
Good communication is going to help you determine where your problems are coming from. This is important because sometimes what you think is causing the problem, is not actually the problem. Before pouring money and resources into a solution, take the time to determine what the actual problem is. More than likely, this is going to require you to leave your desk and doing some field research.
Maintaining good communication is an ongoing process. However, it’s worth the effort, especially since the previously mentioned four solutions won’t be as effective without it.
We will be diving into the details of each of these solutions in separate blog posts to help you get the full picture of how to increase your speed to market.