In a robust used car market, does it matter whether you fully recondition cars before moving them to the front line?

Doesn’t it make sense to simply bypass a thorough reconditioning when you can sell very car you get at a premium without first providing a high-level recon? 

That's what a recent article in CBT News discusses.

Given the market forces building against you, no dealer can afford to sell half-baked cars that usually end up costing you money to make right  - or for which you end up unwinding the deal.

Buyers, especially uber-detail-minded female consumers, start negotiating your asking price the second they catch a foul odor, an unattended panel ding or bumper rash in the car you’re presenting. Heaven forbid they hear brake noises or a steering pull on their test drive.

Frontline available is an acceptable practice by many dealerships. It bypasses a thorough pre-presentation mechanical, cosmetic and detail reconditioning. Instead, cars from auction and trade get a quick wash, some snapshots for posting online, and moved to the sale lot – frontline available.

Our philosophy is sale-ready reconditioning, a culture shared by some of the nation’s top retailers that believe vehicles that are full sensory- and delivery-ready when hitting the lot and Internet are more advantageous to your bottom line, whatever the market.

 Unfortunately in this hot market: 

  1. Some well-disciplined dealers are dropping their guard during now in this unusual time. My concern is good times tend to erode best practices, so necessary when excellent efficiency is again required.
  2. A frontline-available philosophy keeps the GM happy because it creates a false sense of efficiency. Cars get to the lot faster, but shortcuts come with a hefty back-end cost – lost opportunity and often surprising costs to make cars safe and pretty.
  3. Frontline-available practices disrupt the service and reconditioning workflow, accountability and communication, so the reconditioning practice is always a step or two – or more – off its rhythm. Having to push cars from the lot or pending sale into recon to do the right things cost opportunity no dealer can drop today.

An accountable, disciplined and interactive reconditioning team positions a dealership to better keep up with heavy consumer demand. You can’t do that when come-backs or sale-available cars disrupt a workflow rhythm. Those concerns slow down workflow and efficiency.

Free-wheeling times in the car business are wonderful – enjoy the opportunity. But beware, “normal” times most always follow. Keep up best practices and disciplines now, so they’re prepared, sharp and advantageous when times lean out. Practicing a frontline-available reconditioning philosophy may seem right for the times but will prove costly.  



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