Fleet News

Back to school and back to basics too

'AS the 'Back to School' signs come down after the start of a new term, it is time for the motor trade to get back itself – to basics. With a set of excellent trade and retail months behind us, it is important to do whatever possible to make the coming autumn and winter months successful.

So, looking at the basics, presentation is right up there at the top of the list. It makes little difference what the product is, the rule still applies. A friend of mine recently bought a house. It looked a bit scruffy when they viewed it and that enabled a relatively cheap offer to be accepted.

A few weeks later and a bit of paint and general cleaning up has led to a valuation about 40% higher than the purchase price.

A good shop display will always help sell goods just as a tatty or unprofessional one will leave customers walking straight past and, of course, it is no different for cars and commercial vehicles.

The better prepared they are, the more saleable they are. The added bonus here is that if they sell at the first time of offering, the chances are they will make more. For the disposals manager, making the effort today and even investing some money in presentation, is nowadays of the utmost importance.

It is well known now that the consumer has more exacting standards now than ever before – whatever the product – and that choice gives the opportunity to ignore anything that does not stand out. And choice is generally a luxury the trade and retail vehicle buyer tends to enjoy most of the time now, thanks to a few years of record new registrations.

So how far does a disposal manager have to go to prepare a car to an acceptable standard? Realistic appraisal is absolutely vital. Realistically take into account the age and mileage – you cannot expect an old car to be 'as new' – but it should always be taken into account nevertheless.

But the newer a car is means that the more like new it should be as nobody expects a rough nearly-new vehicle. Even a three or four-year-old car can be made to look almost perfect though, provided it has been looked after in the first place.

This is where the good disposal managers are worth their weight in gold. They can see the potential in a car that can be made to look a million dollars for just a few pounds. They have the knowledge and skill to be able to take a calculated risk in spending money on it, knowing full well it will reward them many times over.

The great disposals professional can see through the dirt and scratches to the potential car underneath. In my research I do occasionally feel that, for some, not enough time is spent keeping up to speed with those kind of skills.

The industry should be very careful to ensure that such appraisal skills are not left to wither. Always understand, too, that leaving jobs undone on a car does not necessarily only impact on the price.

The trade is generally reluctant to buy work, especially when there is plenty of stock to be had that is ready for retail almost immediately. They want to turn the car round and get it on and off the forecourt immediately.

It was not always this way but the responsibility of preparing vehicles to a certain standard does seem to be swinging more toward the disposer as opposed to the buyer. Although the rule – that you get what you pay for – is well understood by everyone, it is often the case with cars that you won't want to pay anything for something that isn't right in the first place.'

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