What are the key challenges for dealers during the recession?
The focus of dealer activities is increasingly on achieving higher turnover while protecting profit margins. Dealers are finding they need to put increased emphasis on used car sales, in turn requiring them to optimise the many processes involved in buying and selling used car stock.
This encompasses everything from appraisal, provenance checking and stock acquisition, to preparation, pricing, marketing and selling.
Depreciation has always been the enemy of the used car dealer because, as each day passes, the value of any vehicle will fall. However, this issue comes into sharper focus in a rapidly declining market – such as in the last quarter of 2008.
A competitive asking price several weeks ago can look uncompetitive today, necessitating pricing adjustments. Each such pricing action will erode the eventual profit margin, so access to accurate and timely market information, coupled with speedy responses, are vital.
Prospective used car customers are better informed than ever before. Access to vehicle information on the internet has meant consumers are arriving in the showroom having already made a choice about the most suitable model, fuel type, engine size and specification.
It is likely that they will also have researched the availability and price of numerous used examples of their preferred car, as well as identified what they believe is an appropriate value for their part-exchange vehicle.
This is fast making key aspects of the ‘consultative’ sales approach redundant, and if the retailer isn’t able to deliver the accuracy or depth of information that the customer expects on price and availability, the buyer will simply go elsewhere.
For some franchised dealers these challenges are unfamiliar. It can be argued that the focus for many franchised dealers has long been overly biased towards selling new cars, with much of their remaining activity geared towards the sale of ex-demonstrators and self-registered vehicles.
Given the difficulties of the market, it is necessary for every dealer to now switch a significant amount of effort to used cars.
How does Glass-Net help dealers in the current economic climate?
Glass-Net is a newly launched online platform that helps dealership sales staff improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their vehicle remarketing activity, and to focus more of their time on the business of selling.
The system facilitates most of the day-to-day processes associated with valuing and appraising used car stock, and brings together these processes within a complete end-to-end workflow tool that can be integrated with a conventional DMS. Glass-Net is unique, and the system’s first users have confirmed it gives them a valuable competitive edge.
Glass-Net allows retailers to accurately identify a used car (using a vehicle registration look-up facility), value it (drawing on the full Glass’s database), check its history (via Experian AutoCheck), and adjust the value for mileage and damage. These disparate processes and operations are normally carried out manually using a variety of different data sources.
Glass-Net brings them together within a single, automated valuation process – eliminating the need to re-key information, while also improving efficiency and accuracy.
Dealers can also use Glass-Net to maximise the marketability of their stock. The market price comparison (MPC) module can identify how competitively a dealer’s used cars are priced against comparable stock within a defined radius, allowing the dealer to adjust prices to improve his competitive position and increase stock-turn.
Other time-saving options include a ‘bulk valuation’ feature, that can value a dealership’s or group’s entire stock within minutes. Users can also automate the process of creating an online advertisement and then uploading it to a host of leading used car websites, including Motoring.co.uk, What Car?, Fish4Cars, Exchange & Mart.
Glass-Net provides full transparency concerning the valuation and remarketing status of every vehicle at every site within a group, as well as detailed management reporting.
How can Glass-Net help dealers manage their stock more effectively?
In a fast-moving and unpredictable retail environment dealers need to be able to manage their stock inventories at a micro-level. This involves knowing the status of every item of stock, as it moves from acquisition to retail sale or trade disposal. For many dealers this can be a logistical headache because the information needed to identify the current status on each item of stock may be in several places.
The Glass-Net ‘dashboard’ can be likened to an aircraft cockpit, giving immediate visi-bility on the status of every stock item. It shows if key tasks have been carried out – such as collation of a detailed and accurate vehicle description; production of in-house sales sheets; creation of a value qualified for light damage; identification of the stand-in value.
It also tracks the number of days the vehicle has already spent in stock, and ultimately the sale price and confirmation of removal from stock.
Glass-Net is all about allowing dealers to make the right decisions with speed and efficiency – all made possible because the right information is at their fingertips. This leaves the dealer free to concentrate on managing the business and maximising the profitability of used car sales.
What makes you so confident Glass-Net will be successful?
We launched Glass-Net in February 2009 and we believe its arrival marks the most radical change in how used car data is accessed by dealers since Glass’s Guide was launched more than 75 years ago.
Feedback from the market has been extremely positive, even at this early stage and dealers have been very keen to sign up. Consequently, we are currently well ahead of our original sales predictions for Glass-Net. We have already signed up a host of franchised and independent users, 16 of which are AM ‘top 100’ dealers.
Is there a wider application for Glass-Net?
In the main, Glass-Net is designed for businesses retailing used cars, but dealers can also use it to identify and value commercial vehicles online.
One of the many features in Glass-Net is damage adjuster, which facilitates the adjustment of a vehicle value based on light damage.
This is very simple to use and we have found that lease and contract-hire companies are finding it of particular use when de-fleeting a vehicle.
What is to come next from Glass’s?
Information is becoming the key differentiator for all dealerships – large or small, franchised or independent, irrespective of marque or segment specialisation – and is a pre-requisite for safeguarding profitable sales growth.
The need to respond effectively to the new breed of car buyer isn’t limited to dealers – suppliers need to adapt too, and Glass’s is no exception. We are looking at radical new ways to make our data more relevant, more comprehensive, and to ensure it can be delivered when and where it is needed most.
Glass-Net is the first of our initiatives to address this, and much more is planned. We are already working closely with a number of franchised and independent dealerships of various sizes on several major new projects that will come to fruition in 2009...watch this space!
Mark Purtill, Mersey Vehicle Management:
“The most impressive and profitable feature is the damage
adjustment tool…De-fleeting a vehicle has become a pleasure instead of a chore as was previously the case”
Ian Beaton, owner, Classic Automobiles:
“The stock management capability is particularly useful, allowing us to view the status of all our used cars – as well as those awaiting final preparation – within a single screen. We can quickly get an overview of any stock that is over-age, as well as ensure our team is offering the right cars to relevant prospects. With the credit crunch distracting prospective buyers and margins under pressure, Glass-Net gives us ready access to accurate stock and valuation information to help secure a profitable sale.”
Andrew Jones, Sales manager, J&G Bland:
“We have found Glass-Net very intuitive to use, reducing the potential for errors in vehicle identification and freeing up our sales team to cut the admin, letting them focus on selling cars. It automates the various valuation processes and supports our ongoing drive for improved operational efficiency.”