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The 5 Ws to Paint the Recon Picture

Article Highlights:

  • Ask the right questions to get a full picture of your reconditioning.
  • Letting the details lapse could make your reconditioning process suffer.

Managing reconditioning at a dealership requires you to be on top of a lot of information all at once. With vehicles and information constantly changing hands, it can be tough to know what questions to ask – and who to direct them to – to get the answers you need. When you’re not asking the right questions, you can’t get a full picture of your reconditioning process.

People often turn to the 5 Ws – who, what, when, where, and why – to gain a better understanding of any given situation. This simple questioning strategy is highly effective at helping you paint the picture, and it can be very beneficial to your current reconditioning process:

Where is the vehicle?

How can you efficiently move a vehicle through your reconditioning process if you’re not even sure where it is? How can you communicate to other team members or customers when they inquire about it? If you’re having to chase down vehicles every time someone asks, you can’t set proper expectations. Customers may choose to buy a vehicle elsewhere while you sort out your process, and employees may be wasting time tracking down vehicles or delaying work they don’t know is ready for them to complete.

It’s a trickle-down, domino effect. Knowing what step of the cycle your cars are in is essential to accurately managing your reconditioning process. Having this knowledge helps you field any inquires about vehicles, be transparent with customers, and build informed timelines and schedules.

Who is working on or responsible for the car?

Knowing not only where a vehicle is, but who is responsible for it is essential for building accountability. If there is a bottleneck or delay in your process, you can go straight to the source and eliminate the opportunity for finger pointing. Knowing who to work with to address the issue will help target process improvements so you can keep it from happening again.

Why is the vehicle there?

Next up, the details. Having more detail about the reason for a vehicle’s exact location helps you pinpoint precisely what is going on in your shop. Is the vehicle waiting on something in particular like parts availability or vendor pick-up? Is the person responsible for the next step out on vacation? Details like this allow you to avoid unnecessarily dispatching cars that end up sitting and waiting or changing hands more than they need to.

You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. The more information and insight you have, the more improvement areas can be identified.

When did the vehicle get to this step?

When it comes to recon, the clock is always running and every second counts. Keeping an eye on your time through each step of the process helps you identify what pieces are holding you up. How long does it take to get an approval? How long does it take to get a quote? How long does it take to dispatch the job and complete the work? Measuring and tracking each piece of reconditioning allows you to ultimately bring down your cycle time as a whole.

What is it costing you?

Breaking out cost details – parts, labor, and vendors– lets you build a better and more accurate estimate for the overall project, including trade valuation and recon costs, from the start. This gives you a better idea when assessing trade-ins and generating what you think your recon will cost. From there, you can better evaluate what is possible for your dealership to build out realistic, actionable goals and cut unnecessary costs from the process.

If you don’t consider costs, you could be limiting opportunities for your dealership. From carrying unnecessary expenses in your process to building inaccurate estimates from the get-go, you may be impacting used car profits.

Even when breaking it down into five simple questions, that can still be a lot of information to keep track of! Asking the right questions and having the right tool to help you manage the information gives you what you need to improve your reconditioning process.

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Manager of Consulting Services, ReconTRAC®

Eric Moen has more than 15 years of automotive experience in both variable and fixed operations. For the last 7 years, Eric has been heavily involved with ReconTRAC, a reconditioning software solution, leading onsite implementation and ongoing consulting for over 200 dealers across the country. With his industry and solution experience, Eric has developed extensive reconditioning expertise to help dealers reduce their reconditioning cycle time and optimize processes.

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