'Providing accurate vehicle descriptions can impact heavily on residual values,' said Alex Wright, group commercial vehicle manager of Manheim Auctions, 'yet many of our customers simply didn't know how to assess the wear and tear on their commercial vehicles as no accurate guidelines exist. Often they based their descriptions on the system used for cars, or worse still ignored wear and tear completely.'
Manheim has made an investment with Thatcham in a bid to alleviate the problem. It has trained staff to cost damage and give a fair guide to customers. Thatcham has also run Quality Management Workshops for all Manheim's commercial vehicle managers, helping to increase the flow of information between auction centres and allowing the group as a whole to improve valuation skills, product knowledge and customer care.
Manheim uses 'real time' information for buyers via Manheim Online and the investment in ensuring quality across the board from vehicle inspectors to data entry clerks guarantees detailed and accurate vehicle descriptions. The bespoke computer system, introduced at the beginning of 2002, provides staff with a framework to ensure every detail is noted correctly.
Manheim carried out a survey of retailers at the end of 2001, asking them exactly what information they required prior to auction. A selection of the responses were:
Since the research, Manheim now offers precise and accurate descriptions of all commercial vehicles, resulting in a 98% satisfaction rate among buyers.
Wright warns accurate and precise vehicle descriptions are critical. He said: 'To the inexperienced eye, it is easy to inaccurately describe a commercial vehicle. Many have been modified and the value of a vehicle can be affected. Features such as windows fitted to side panels, roller shutters, glass racks and side load doors should be noted. Extras, such as tail-lifts can increase the value up to £1,000, so ensuring the maximum residual value accuracy is critical.'