Fleet News

Repairing the SMART way: A ‘smart’ car is often a sold car at auction time

AFTER three years of faithful service, one of your fleet cars is reaching the end of its life.

It’s covered tens of thousands of miles for your business, but the time has come for it to be retired to the used car market.

Sure, it could do with a vacuum and there are a couple of dings in the rear bumper, but with a lick of spit and a run through the local car wash, it’ll be irresistible to the second hand buyer.

Well, perhaps. Or perhaps they will go with the car that’s had all its little imperfections ironed out by a team of experts.

The choice is yours, of course, but if you would prefer to be the firm selling the second of the aforementioned hypothetical vehicles, then read on.

Smart (small and medium area repair techniques) is the art of fixing up a vehicle to maximise is residual value. The industry is more specialised now than ever, with everything from scuffed alloys to scratched dashboards able to be fettled back into shape.

According to auction giant BCA, buyers will be drawn to the best examples at auction, whatever the marketplace conditions. Smart prepared cars enjoy high conversion rates, often selling the first time they are entered. BCA’s research of more than 1,100 fleet and lease cars shows that conversion rates for smart prepared cars are 95% against 83% for non-smart prepared vehicles.

Performance against the CAP Clean price also rises with smart preparation from 97.5% to 102.1%. With the cost of repairs factored into the final result, smart repaired vehicles average out to 101.1% of CAP Clean, 3.6% ahead of the average for vehicles with no such action taken.

On an average £5,000 fleet car this equates to £180 additional return after the costs have been accounted for. Put another way, that’s an extra three or four bids per car. The most common damage that cars have when they enter the re-marketing chain is scuffs and scratches to corner bumpers, followed by car park dents, stone chips and scratches to the paintwork. Alloy wheel refurbishment also figures highly.

‘The importance of preparation in the remarketing chain just cannot be over-estimated, whatever the market conditions may be,’ says Tony Gannon, communications director of BCA.

‘After three years and sixty-odd thousand miles, a fleet car deserves more than a quick wash with a mop and bucket.

‘If it is to realise its potential at remarketing time then fleet managers should be considering every tool in the remarketing preparation box – that might mean repair to trim and paint, dent removal and a machine operated polish.’

Gannon says many firms did not appreciate the benefits of smart repair. He says: ‘There are still many who believe their vehicles are ‘auction-ready’ after a quick spin through the car wash. ‘Even worse, some do not prepare at all.

‘They are potentially losing money in terms of best bid achieved and running the risk of their vehicles taking longer to sell and depreciating even further.’

Gerry Lynch, marketing director of First Fleet, the remarketing division of AutoLogic, agrees with Gannon, and says smart repair sits hand in hand with traditional panel repair.

He says: ‘The quality of used cars appearing on UK forecourts is reaching unprecedented levels and fleet vendors that invest in smart repairs are reaping financial rewards.’

Smart repair fact file

  • Smart repaired cars achieve on average 101.1% of CAP Clean price, including repair costs
  • Non-smart repaired cars achieve on average 97.5%
  • For a £5,000 car, that means an extra £180 return, and often a first-time sale
    Source - BCA
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