All used cars and trucks that a dealership acquires need some sort of reconditioning before they are ready for sale. Mechanical matters, dents and dings, detailing -- these must be addressed.
Each used vehicle in its inventory costs the typical dealership $32 per business day, consulting firm NCM Associates calculates. An industry rule of thumb advises dealerships to spend no more than three to five days on average on reconditioning a vehicle.
A faster, more efficient reconditioning process can generate big savings. A variety of workflow-management software systems promise to help dealerships cut reconditioning time and costs. Many of these products include "recon" in their names: Rapid Recon, ReconTRAC and Simple Recon, among others.
These systems track vehicles throughout the reconditioning process, breaking it down into its component tasks, analyzing each step for ways to work more quickly and efficiently and making sure everyone in the chain knows the status of each vehicle. Dealerships can customize the software to fit their needs and circumstances.
"It's always been about knowing where your money is," says Smit Shah, CEO of Simple Recon, which works with 75 dealerships and generally charges them $399 a month.
Nearly 600 dealerships use Rapid Recon, the most popular reconditioning software. Anthony Greenhalgh, the company's pro-cess performance manager, says he recommends "that dealers structure their software setup around their current process and then run with the system for about four to six weeks" to identify problems.
Freedom Honda in Colorado Springs, Colo., began using Rapid Recon in 2015 at a cost of $499 a month. The dealership formerly kept only vague track of its reconditioning time, General Manager Bret Petersen concedes.
Petersen says he discovered that his staff typically took 11 to 14 days to prepare a used vehicle for sale. The software helped point to major bottlenecks in detailing operations.
By changing the sequence of those operations and varying the flow of vehicles through the detailing department, Petersen says, the dealership has cut its reconditioning turnaround time to four days.
Freedom Honda usually sells about 75 used vehicles a month, but that jumped to 118 vehicles last August after a hailstorm destroyed 20,000 cars and trucks in the Colorado Springs area the preceding month.
"Without Rapid Recon, there is no way I could have reconditioned that many cars and delivered them that fast," Petersen says. "We didn't miss a beat."