Are All Apples Created Equal?

May 9, 2008

If you asked any three top used car managers in the same market to produce a list of the best used vehicles for stock, would these lists look alike? The answer is, probably not. What does this say about the vehicles that are being purchased for our used vehicle inventories? It tells us that our lots are stocked with vehicles that represent the best units based on the opinion and judgment of the acquiring manager. Without a doubt, many used car managers possess excellent skills of judgment. The bottom line, however, is that these critical decisions are just that – judgments and opinions

New technology has been introduced that shows you what, in fact, are the best used vehicles in your market without any judgment, opinion or debate. What makes this new technology different from existing stocking tools is that it incorporates information from the live local market rather than simply relying on a dealership’s own past performance history.

First, however, we must decide what the term “best used cars” means. For one dealership, best may mean vehicles that sell in the highest quantity in the local market. To another, best may mean vehicles that make the highest gross profit. This new technology allows dealers to solve the problem of what “best” means by simply using a slider bar and a scale of 1 to 5. With the setting at 1, the system produces a list of the highest volume used vehicles in the local market based on current sales. When the slider bar is set at 5, the system produces a list of vehicles that will generate the highest gross profit. Furthermore, this information is derived from a true “live market view” which sees every vehicle in every market, every second of every day. And perhaps most importantly, the technology quantifies the current supply and travel rate of every vehicle in real time. It even identifies vehicles that are sold as wholesale versus retail units. With this understanding of current supply and demand, sellers of used vehicles have a perfect view of what’s hot and what’s not.

Let me give you an example. With the slider bar set at 1 (high-volume) and the model year criteria set between 2003 and 2007, the 10 highest volume selling used vehicles in the Chicago market are listed below:

Now, using the same 2003 to 2007 parameters, let’s see the top 10 highest grossing vehicles today in the Chicago market by setting the slider bar to 5:

If you’re wondering why this second list represents the highest grossing vehicles, simply examine the relationship between the number of vehicles available for sale and the number of vehicles sold over the past 45 days. For example, on the first vehicle, the 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe, there are 47 currently available for sale, yet 48 have sold over the last 45 days. When you have a vehicle with high demand and limited supply, the vehicle becomes less sensitive to pricing pressure. Simply stated, when there is a greater demand than supply, you can price a vehicle high and it will still draw a crowd.

As revolutionary as this technology is, it goes even further. It is not enough to simply know that the #1 volume and gross vehicles today in the Chicago market are the 2006-2007 Chevrolet Impala and the 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe respectively. You must also know the specific trim and equipment configurations within each year, make, and model. For example, consider the following possible configurations of the 2006-2007 Chevrolet Impala.

Can you tell which one of these possible configurations is the highest volume selling vehicle within the 2006-2007 Chevrolet Impala category? If not, you’re likely to acquire the wrong vehicle even if you know that you want to purchase 2006-2007 Impala’s. This new technology reveals that in order of volume the best to worst configurations of the 2006-2007 Chevrolet Impala are as follows:

The ability to see the vehicles in proper rank order beyond year, make, model, trim and equipment configuration is the key to making this technology pay off. It is not enough to compare apples to apples when you have the ability to compare granny smith apples to granny smith apples. And, when the technology also shows you which dealerships and private parties have these vehicles currently for sale in your market, managers can zero in on the specific vehicles that meet their profit objectives and purchasing criteria.

This technology is already changing the used car industry. As we know all too well, every dealer has investment capitol tied up in used vehicles that could be re-deployed in better performing ones. Reallocating dollars from lower performing investments to more productive ones unleashes value for those dealers who are using this new technology as well as for the industry at large.

Call out:

What makes this new technology different…is that it incorporates information from the live local market…