Allan Eagles, 39
General manager, Gault Auto Group
Achievement: Innovations, including an in-house auction and changes that sped trade-in reconditioning, paid off for Gault Auto Group
Allan Eagles, general manager of Gault Auto Group, boosted profits and made dealership operations more efficient with innovative practices, including a do-it-yourself used-car auction.
"We have our own, in-house live auction for other dealers to buy our wholesale units," Eagles said. "A lot of them are little used-car lots. I'll have 60 or 100 guys here, twice a month."
The homemade used-car auction, launched in 2015, sells up to 150 vehicles per month and turned the company's wholesale department from a money-loser into a profit center, Eagles said.
The dealership group and the buyers both save money on fees they would pay an off-site wholesale auction, Eagles said. "Right off the top, you're saving $400 or $500" per car, he said. "The other dealers really like it."
Eagles said he serves as his own auctioneer. He said he's still working on the fast-talking, sing-song patter of a "real" auctioneer. "I'm not very good at it," he said with a laugh. "But I'm improving."
Gault Auto Group of Endicott, N.Y., has three dealerships selling BMW, Chevrolet and Toyota vehicles in the so-called Southern Tier of New York counties bordering Pennsylvania. The group retailed about 4,000 vehicles in 2016, new and used combined.
Besides launching the used-car auction, Eagles said that last year he cut the time it takes to recondition used cars to less than two days on average, from as long as 12 days previously.
He said a couple of changes to the workflow sped things up. For example, Eagles said the group formerly serviced and cleaned used cars before shooting pictures to post online. Now, the car gets cleaned and photographed first and serviced later. "It gets the car up online for sale, because that's where people buy cars — online."
In addition, Eagles said management now parcels out which reconditioning work to do first. Before, it was up to the technicians.
"Technicians like taking the easiest work first, yet 90 percent of dealerships do it that way," Eagles said. "This gets rid of the backlog."