vAuto’s development team in Austin faced a difficult challenge in early 2012.
The team had just completed the successful launch of vAuto’s Provisioning tool, the automotive industry’s first solution that could accurately tell dealers which cars to buy, what to pay and where to get the used vehicles they needed for their inventories.
“The release of the Provisioning tool was a milestone moment,” Director of Software Development David Rice said. “We’d taken a lot of ‘can we do this?’ ideas and turned them into a game-changing solution. It was a pretty proud moment.”
But that proud moment quickly turned into a new mission: vAuto’s next strategic shift required a change to a “mobile-first” mindset to create products native to the two dominant mobile platforms: Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS systems.
“It’s kind of like learning two languages at the same time,” Rice said. “We knew how to make a single application work on both platforms. But we needed to deliver solutions unique to each platform to satisfy dealer expectations.”
For dealers, the tangible outcome of vAuto’s “mobile-first” strategy began arriving in early 2013, as the company began a series of mobile application updates native to the Android and Apple iOS platforms. The new mobile applications include vAuto products, as well as the smart, stand-alone solutions delivered by vAuto Genius Labs.
“vAuto’s ‘mobile-first’ strategy reflects two things,” said Jim Menard, vice president and general manager for the company. “First, it’s an extension of our efforts to continually evolve and innovate our used vehicle solutions to meet the ever-changing needs of dealers. Second, it’s a reflection of the increasing demand and desire among dealers to make used vehicle decisions in a more in-the-moment and on-the-go fashion.”
Provision Mobile: “Live Market” Data Aids Appraising, Pricing Decisions
vAuto’s Provision® suite of used vehicle inventory management solutions is recognized as the premier choice among dealers for its comprehensive “Live Market View” of supply and demand data that dealers use to increase the sales volume and profitability of their used vehicle operations.
The Provision suite renders vAuto-pioneered metrics — Market Days Supply, Cost to Market and Price to Market — in a manner that helps dealers make market-informed and profit-minded decisions as they acquire, recondition, merchandise, price and retail their used vehicles. Similarly, the Provision suite emphasizes simplicity, offering dealers an A-to-F letter grade on used vehicles as a quick-reference guide to help them make appropriate decisions at each stage of a used vehicle’s life cycle.
Dealers use the Provision suite in conjunction with vAuto Performance Managers to align their used vehicle operations to maximize sales volumes and profitability in today’s Internet-driven retail environment, where selling a greater number of used vehicles in less time provides the most profitable and risk-minimized pathway to success. (This market- and inventory turn-attuned approached to retailing used vehicles is known as the Velocity Method of Management™.)
With the launch of the Provision suite in late 2011, vAuto developed a hybrid mobile application, known as “vAuto,” that gave dealers greater efficiency and flexibility to manage their used vehicle inventories from mobile devices.
“The vAuto mobile application was an effective tool for dealers, but it was a hybrid solution that blended desktop and mobile features and functionality,” Rice said. “In other words, it wasn’t built from the ground up to serve the needs of mobile-minded dealers.”
Enter the launch of the Provision Mobile Application in spring 2013.
The Provision Mobile Application replaces the hybrid vAuto Mobile app and offers a far superior experience and improved functionality for dealers on both the Android and Apple iOS platforms.
“The new Provision mobile application’s speed, fluid animations and ease of use are much better than what the hybrid application offered,” Rice said. “It’s more intuitive and user-friendly for on-the-go dealers.”
“We carefully built the Provision application to ensure all of the premier market intelligence and decision-making power dealers have come to expect from vAuto extends to their smartphones and tablets,” Menard said. “Our goal was to ensure the application and its component tools speed up a dealer’s ability to make good decisions and help them maximize the profitability potential of every used vehicle.”
The Provision mobile application currently includes two key elements of vAuto’s Provision suite:
Dealers typically need to appraise vehicles in two places — at auctions and during trade-ins with customers. In either scenario, it’s absolutely essential that dealers determine the “right” number to either bid or offer on a vehicle to ensure they acquire the vehicle for a value that ensures they can achieve the front-end gross profit margin they expect.
The Provision mobile’s Appraising Tool allows dealers to instantly see trim-to-trim and equipment-to-equipment comparisons with vehicles currently available in a dealer’s market to ensure they know the “right” number to pay for a vehicle. By making precise comparisons with competing cars, the Appraising Tool’s “retail-back” approach don’t over-pay to acquire a used vehicle.
The Appraising Tool also provides dealers the A-to-F letter grade vAuto created as part of its Provision suite. The grading system measures seven vehicle-specific characteristics, including consumer demand, interest, profitability potential and past experience, to give dealers a quick reference point to assess and understand a vehicle’s opportunities and risks as a retail unit.
In addition, the Appraising Tool includes easy access to vehicle valuation guides from Black Book, NADA and other sources, as well as condition reports from AutoCheck and CARFAX, to ensure dealers have all the data readily at hand to buy every used vehicle “right” and avoid potentially problematic units.
“When it comes to acquiring used vehicles, the dealers who have the most accurate, real-time market data to determine the ‘right’ cars and most appealing retail prices have a distinct competitive edge,” Menard said. “Every used vehicle offers an opportunity, but our mobile Appraising Tool helps dealers quickly determine the exact cars and precise purchase parameters that represent the ‘right’ opportunities for their dealerships and local markets.”
The Provision Mobile Application’s Pricing Tool allows dealers to make used vehicle pricing and re-pricing decisions with a greater degree of accuracy, ease and efficiency.
“Dealers have become much more vigilant about ensuring their used vehicle prices are constantly competitive in their local markets,” Menard said. “Our new mobile-based Pricing Tool helps dealers take this vigilance to the next level — giving them the ability to easily assess real-time market data and quickly price their used vehicles at any place or time from their mobile devices.”
Like the Appraising tool, the Provision Mobile Application’s Pricing Tool incorporates vAuto’s Live Market View data to help dealers determine each vehicle’s optimal pricing “sweet spot,” based on competing vehicles and prices in the market, as well as their inventory turn and profit objectives for the vehicle.
“Our development team built the new mobile Pricing Tool to fit the variety of workflows dealers use to price and re-price their used vehicles,” Menard said. “Some dealers make pricing decisions the moment they acquire a used vehicle at auction or trade-in. Others make pricing decisions once their used vehicles are retail-ready. No matter the scenario, our mobile Pricing Tool has the flexibility to help any dealer easily identify and address used vehicles that need pricing attention to maximize their profit potential.” The new mobile Provision Pricing Tool offers several features that help dealers make used vehicle pricing and merchandising decisions consistent with their goals for profitability and inventory turn rates. These include:
Easy Access to “Needs Attention” Units
The mobile Pricing Tool offers multiple ways for dealers to filter/sort their used vehicle inventory to identify those that may lack pricing or other merchandising elements, such as a description, odometer reading or photos. “Our mobile Pricing Tool gives dealers to address these issues right away and on the lot,” Menard said.
Quick-View Market Comparisons/Rankings
As dealers address vehicle prices, they can use the mobile Pricing Tool to quickly review each vehicle’s market position, time in inventory and profitability position to ensure their retail asking prices optimize each vehicle’s competitive position and profit potential.
Vehicle Letter Grades
The mobile Pricing Tool includes the A-to-F letter grades vAuto dealers use to quickly assess the opportunities and risks inherent in every used vehicle. The letter grades reflect each vehicle’s characteristics based on the current market, to help dealers make market-smart pricing decisions.
AuctionGenius Mobile: A Better, Faster Way To Evaluate, Acquire Auction Vehicles
In July 2012, vAuto acquired the award-winning AuctionGenius solution and formed its vAuto Genius Labs™ division, which is charged with creating simple, smart and stand-alone solutions that help dealers address day-to-day challenges.
The division’s namesake solution, AuctionGenius, gave dealers a single-screen platform that allowed them to evaluate and acquire used vehicles at wholesale auctions in a more efficient and informed manner.
The platform provided integrated access to physical and online auctions, and served up vehicle condition and valuation reports on a single screen, eliminating the need for dealers to access multiple systems and reports to locate, evaluate and purchase auction vehicles.
Fast forward to spring 2013. As part of vAuto’s “mobile-first” strategy, vAuto and vAuto Genius Labs developers teamed up to create the AuctionGenius Mobile Application, a mobile-native application designed explicitly for Android and Apple iOS-based mobile devices.
“The AuctionGenius Mobile Application takes our solution to the next level,” said Todd Kinzle, operations director for vAuto Genius Labs and a founder of AuctionGenius. “Dealers can now research cars on the fly, which means they can evaluate more cars faster and increase their chances of acquiring the ‘right’ inventory while avoiding questionable vehicles.”
“AuctionGenius has achieved an unprecedented level of direct integration with leading auctions,” Kinzle said. “At auctions, dealers can use our mobile app to simply click through vehicles on a run list as they approach the block to see all the information they need to guide their bidding and purchase decisions.”
The AuctionGenius Mobile Application integrations include Adesa®, Manheim®, Brasher’s®, SmartAuction and others that serve franchised and independent dealers. In addition, the application also integrates condition reports from CARFAX®, as well as vehicle value data from Manheim Market Report (MMR), Kelley Blue Book®, NADA Used Car Guide® and other partners.
“Our goal was to provide dealers with all the information they need to do a fast, thorough evaluation of vehicles to ensure they acquire the ‘right’ vehicles at the ‘right’ prices,” Kinzle said.
The AuctionGenius Mobile Application combines all this integrated information in an intuitive, hand-held display to help dealers be more precise and productive as they evaluate vehicles at physical auctions:
With a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) scan of an auction-registered vehicle, dealers can immediately see its mileage and trim level. “This is a huge time-saver as it eliminates a couple steps in the valuation process for dealers and helps to quickly highlight specific equipment and options that often make the difference between a desirable car and a so-so unit,” Kinzle said.
Powerful Lane Browsing
Dealers can use the AuctionGenius mobile application to efficiently evaluate vehicles across multiple lanes at an auction, or check comparable cars at different auctions. “For the first time, dealers who like to attend the physical auction can still effectively be in multiple places at the same time to increase their chances of getting the ‘right’ car for their dealerships,” Kinzle said. “If a car catches a dealer’s eye in a neighboring lane, the data’s available instantly.”
The AuctionGenius mobile application eliminates the mystery behind the sizable percentage of vehicles that arrive on the day of an auction sale. “Dealers often pass on these cars because there isn’t enough time for a thorough review,” Kinzle said. “With a VIN scan, the AuctionGenius mobile app instantly shows dealers condition and value reports to put these vehicles into play.”
For dealers who use AuctionGenius and vAuto’s Provision tools, the AuctionGenius mobile application functionality is now included in the Provision mobile application. This seamless integration gives dealers the ability to acquire, appraise and price used vehicles all in one easy-to-use mobile application.
A Look Ahead At vAuto’s Mobile-First Initiatives
As 2014 approaches, vAuto is plotting the advance of its “mobile-first” initiatives for dealers in the coming year and beyond.
“vAuto Founder Dale Pollak says the business of automotive retailing has changed more in the past five years than in the past 75 years combined,” Menard said. “The pace of change in the mobile arena is even faster.
“The good news, though, is that our ‘mobile-first’ efforts at vAuto and vAuto Genius Labs are keenly focused on meeting the needs of dealers, no matter how quickly they may evolve,” he said.