Mike Boyd

When a member of your sales team sells a car and it drives off the lot, it’s a time for celebration, right? We see it all the time, the high-fiving and the incredible rush that comes along with the sale. It’s only natural — selling cars is what we do. But maybe it’s time to re-examine what it really means when a car is sold.

What does selling a car really mean for your dealership?

Selling a car today does not always guarantee you made money. We have to concentrate on selling efficiently, and selling a car means there is now an empty space on your lot — one that needs to be filled.

Ideally, there’s already a vehicle ready to fill the space, but a lot of times that’s not the case. Maybe there’s no car stocked to take its spot, or maybe there is a car but it’s held up in reconditioning. The more cars you sell, the more stress you put on your dealership’s infrastructure. Great problem to have, right? Therefore, as soon as that car is sold, it needs to have a ready-to-go replacement.

This is where the real work begins for the entire dealership. Locating and stocking the right cars for your location, which can be a massive effort if you’re not using the data available to you, is just the start. After you’ve found that car and gotten it to your lot, it needs to be reconditioned and prepared to be sold.

Getting Front-line Ready

It seems simple. Find the perfect car, purchase it, recondition it and get it on display. But the truth is, very few dealers get a vehicle front-line ready within a reasonable amount of time. This means there can be an empty spot or spots on your lot for several days. Your sales team cannot command top dollar for cars that aren’t ready, and that will eat at your bottom line. Doing the math: Improving the reconditioning process and dropping the number of days it takes you to sell a car by only 2 days can effectively give you a 13th month of sales for free.

While reconditioning may not be exciting, the truth is that it’s vital to the health of your business. And while quicker is better, it’s more about efficiency. Think of it this way: It’s not about the land you conquer, it’s about the land that you hold after the conquest. And your ability to do it again. And again.

Ensure that your reconditioning process is thorough and easily repeatable. Keep in mind, it’s not a “one size fits all” scenario and exceptions will need to be made, but having a solid and repeatable process in place will allow you to make informed decisions in a timely manner and keep operations running smoothly.

Keeping Your Team Accountable

A successful reconditioning process will hold everyone accountable by quickly revealing flaws in the process and identifying areas of opportunity. The sales team can’t sell a vehicle for top dollar if it’s not ready, and the service department can’t get a vehicle serviced if it’s not stocked. Similarly, you can’t stock vehicles when reconditioning is running behind, and so the cycle continues.

The real dealership wins come when all departments are in sync and communicating effectively. Stocking and receiving a vehicle, getting it through reconditioning, and getting it front-line ready — that’s where the magic happens. A healthy reconditioning system keeps your lot well-stocked and your staff efficient, leading to greater net profit and more high-fives.

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