Audi Nashua buys slightly more than half of its used-vehicle inventory from auctions. The store employs a full-time buyer who works the lanes scouting out vehicles that have minimal cosmetic and mechanical needs and that can sail quickly through reconditioning.
"Our No. 1 priority when buying inventory is to be as accurate as possible on recon costs and always have an exit strategy for the car. Minimizing risk is my game plan. Ultimately, if you can do that the best, you are going to make the most profit," LeBrun says. "I use a system called Rapid Recon that measures a car's timeline and each person's accountability in the reconditioning process."
Vehicles bought at auction and shipped to Audi Nashua via truck spend about four days in transit and usually reach the front line in a total of about seven days. Locally sourced used vehicles — from trades, purchases or lease turn-ins — make it through the recon center and onto the front line in just more than two days, LeBrun says. The efficiency of the reconditioning center has helped Audi Nashua gets its average daily cost of holding used vehicles in inventory to just less than $25 per day, about half of the industry average of $50 per day, according to LeBrun.
"The reason why this works so well here is that every single department has bought in. ... From when the car is purchased to when it hits the front line, every step of the way is measured in time, and every person who is responsible for the car at that individual step is held accountable by time," said LeBrun.
No one is immune from that accountability — including LeBrun. "Everything is done electronically. For service work that needs to be approved, the technician looks at the car, he sends a request to parts, parts send it to me, and I make the decision on my mobile phone and send it back to parts. The tech gets the parts, and then the car is repaired and sent to recon and photos," he said.
Waugh said the recon center serving the Nashua Audi and Porsche stores is the second such facility he operates. A smaller reconditioning center that services the company's BMW store in Peabody, Mass., opened in 2004.
Says Waugh: "The one thing we learned is that the downtime in reconditioning can pretty much kill you. Once we could streamline that in one facility, we knew we were going to solve a lot of problems and free up space in our main facility at Audi. Your most profitable opportunity with a used car is in the first 14 days after it reaches market. If a vehicle is delayed, it is forgotten by salespeople. Processing quickly and getting that car front-line ready fast means higher profits."