Ok, I lied. You’ve got a story for me. I’m betting your oldest unit in stock has a unique story? Please tell me you know what your oldest unit in stock is? Ok, let’s suppose you don’t know. Quick, go look it up and go ask someone in charge the following: “What’s the story on that unit?”
Here’s a little known fact, or at least one that’s ignored. The oldest unit in stock always has a story. It didn’t become an aged unit on day 45 or day 60. It was an “aged unit” getting ready to happen on day one.
If you dig deep enough you will find out that there was some sort of unique problem with that unit early on and no one recognized the problem. There’s a long list of what the problem might have been, but the bottom line is no one was paying attention. Someone was asleep at the wheel.
There are times when the problem is actually recognized early, but “bad brain muscle memory” kicks in like “I think I can make the problem go away.” Not long after that mindset, another one kicks in that says, “Just ignore it, it will go away.”
If you’ve been in the car business for any length of time you’ve heard the saying “Your first loss is your best loss.” So why do we hang on hoping for a miracle to happen? Beats me.
Here’s a big first step towards not having such problem children in your inventory. Do a “trade walk” everyday right after your save-a-deal meeting. The first step towards doing a “trade walk” is having a designated place for all incoming vehicles to be parked. Purchase cars are part of the “trade walk.”
All members of the management team are included in the “trade walk.” There is only one definition of “all.” Used Car Manager, New Car Manager, F&I Manager, Service Manager, General Sales Manager, General Manager and anyone else that has the word manager tattooed on their chest.
Stop and talk about each and every car. You will be surprised at the input you will get from the team. You will keep some cars you might have let “Bubba” and the “Gang” have and you will decide to unload some that you might have kept in the past. With the cars that you decide to keep it’s critical to establish a “timeline” for how long you will keep each unit and how you will price them.
This has nothing to do with a “Bucket System.” A “Bucket System” is designed to force you to change the pricing at specific days of age. The “timeline” is designed to determine how many days you will let it sit on the shelf before you dump it. My preferred timelines are 20, 30, and 45 days. Some cars get 20, some 30 and some 45.
Once you establish the “timeline” you then need to establish the “Price Line.” The “Price Line” will determine how you will price it coming out of the box. If you have decided a car is a 20 day car then you will want to price it very aggressively to the market and so on.
Establishing a “timeline” creates a sense of urgency. When the service manager is standing there on the trade walk and a car has been designated as a 20 day car, then the sense of urgency to get the car through service goes way up. The same sense of urgency carries over to all the members of the management team.
The name of this article is “I have a story for you.” The real story is not to have a story on your oldest car in stock. My story to you is if you pay attention, do the trade walk, set a timeline and price the cars correctly from jump street, then you will have very few stories to tell.
That’s the end of my story and that’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs