Vernon Auto Group of Vernon, Texas, piloted ReconVelocity software at its three dealerships, says Chris Slaydon, the company's executive manager. The group previously estimated its dealerships generally were taking five or six days to recondition a vehicle. But after it used ReconVelocity software to connect its reconditioning data with its DMS, he says, the group found its cycle time was actually 11 days.
"We tracked mechanical, detail, photos, but we weren't tracking it from the moment of acquisition in the DMS," Slaydon says. Using the software "caused us to rethink our strategy. We're at four days now, acquisition to front line."
The software also allows precise analysis of costs and revenues from reconditioning each vehicle, which affect the dealership's calculation of trade-in values, Slaydon says.
"If you come in $20,000 under your estimated recon costs for the month, some people would celebrate," he says. "But that $20,000 could have gone into trades or deals we may have lost."
Slaydon says he considers reconditioning a revenue source as well as a dealership expense. In effect, he says, a used-vehicle buyer benefits from the shop's labor and pays for it in the purchase price. "Used vehicles are our best repair customers," he says.
Workflow data generated by the software has helped make every employee who participates in reconditioning cost-conscious, Slaydon says. Recon managers get bonuses based on gross profits from used-vehicle sales, vehicle turn times of no more than five days and reconditioning costs that remain within 10 percent of estimates. Service technicians and detailers are paid more if they keep the time they spend on each vehicle to less than two days.
"Now we have detailers talking to used-car managers and asking, 'Hey, what's our gross today? What's our turn like?' " Slaydon says.
The Hudson group's Burkeen says that getting the most out of Rapid Recon's software requires designating a "team captain" of reconditioning who works with dealership service and sales managers and oversees the process.
"The software offers the kind of accountability the industry never had before," he says.
Burkeen, a former reconditioning manager for two other dealership groups, says he began hiring recon managers for individual Hudson stores last year. Half of the company's dealerships now have such managers.
His most successful hire, he adds, had no previous automotive experience but managed logistics at a warehouse. "It's all about knowing process," he says.
Burkeen says he expects further breakthroughs in product development.
"New ideas are going to push everyone to be better," he says. "The only way we can make more money is to push costs and turn times down."