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Welcome to NCM's Up to Speed Blog

Retail Solutions: Hold Your Car Up to the Phone

Lee Michaelson
Written By: Lee Michaelson
Posted on February 07, 2017

“Hold your car up to the phone, sir.” (hahaha!)

Remember when we made comments like this to customers who wanted phone appraisals? We were real witty back then when a customer wanted the old sight unseen trade appraisal!

Capture an interested customer

Well, today, we can do a phone appraisal, and it’s easy. As long as the buyer has a smartphone with a camera—and who doesn’t—you’re set!

You have a great chance to sell these customers because they have already narrowed their choices, and you have made it to the top of their shopping list. Make it easy for them, and you have an opportunity to sell a car.

Develop a process and set expectations

Customers are conditioned to the information you have provided about your car online: multiple pictures and possibly a video, equipment list, CarFax, and a compelling description for starters.

Let’s say the customer insists you provide an appraisal of their car before they come to the dealership. Do it in a professional manner. Tell them you have a process for this situation, and you need all of the following documentation just like they see online for the car they are interested in purchasing from you: six to eight pictures and a complete appraisal form. Explain that you will run a CARFAX or other similar vehicle history report on their vehicle.

My recommended Online Trade Appraisal Process

  • Make a PDF of your appraisal document and have it available for all appropriate team members to email to a customer. This is a great tool for qualifying the customer, and it gets the customer mentally involved in the appraisal. You also will start to build creditability in the evaluation, lower the client’s expectations of the trade price, and help build rapport between the salesperson and customer. You are now getting answers to many questions before the deal is started!
  • Have the customer complete the entire document, including disclosure about the odometer, accidents, body damage/work, and any mechanical deficiencies that require reconditioning. Make sure they sign it before they scan it (the camera app on their phone will work) and return it to you.
  • Detail the reconditioning and reconditioning cost on every appraisal to justify your appraisal. Use current market pricing evidence from the internet to validate your appraisal. Inform the customer that your appraisal is firm based on the appraisal document they submitted to you, subject to driving and inspecting the vehicle. This is a similar process they will likely want for the vehicle they plan to purchase from you.
  • Upon arrival at the dealership, every appraisal should get a trade walk around with the customer, 100% of the time. Profit can be improved if the evaluation of damage and missing parts is correct. Likewise, customer satisfaction can be improved as a result of clear communication and a transparent process.
  • Define follow-up responsibility in case of missing parts (needing a second key, for example). You can also reduce stock days by completing the vehicle trade-in process.

Most of our customers enjoy the easy satisfaction and quick turnaround of online shopping. Although there will always be a necessary in-person component to trade-in vehicles, by creating a simple phone appraisal process you can capitalize on their habits and gain new customers. And just think: how many more cars would you sell if you adopted this process?

Learn more about Lee Michaelson and how he and his NCM colleagues can help your dealership through 20 Groups and in-dealership consulting.

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