Used car managers should use their guts, and the data

Is your used car manager stuck in the '80s?

I've talked to a lot of dealers lately who believe in the power of used car pricing tools. While personal experience can be invaluable, technology that shows you what real-world customers in your market area are paying for certain vehicles will give your managers an edge when pricing used cars to move.

But those tools are only as good as the managers who use them, dealership consultant John Buelow of Wipfli LLP tells me. Buelow estimates that 75 percent of stores paying for such pricing and inventory management technology are using it and using it well. That makes a whopping 25 percent leaving potential profits on the table -- and wasting the money spent on the technology in the first place.

Used-car managers at many of those stores print out their inventory list every morning and use their gut -- or the dealership's cost base -- to determine pricing. "Do you get it?" Buelow says of those managers. "Can you even operate a computer?"

Now, to be clear, Buelow doesn't dismiss their experience. But find out what it's selling for in the real world first.

In other words, marry your guts with the data.