Used cars: are you any good?

  20 February 2012

Most auto retailers I know would reckon they are pretty good at selling used cars. After all, a good used car operation is the bedrock of any auto retail business – obviously for independent used car dealerships but also for most franchised retail operations.

It appears not everybody in the industry would agree. At last week’s Vehicle Remarketing Association (VRA) annual conference, Pendragon boss Trevor Finn posed a series of questions to the audience.

“Have franchised dealers generally got a grip when it comes to retailing used cars,” he asked. While 40% thought it was ‘good and getting better’; 55% thought there was ‘much scope for improvement’.

“What is the biggest threat to franchised retailers used sales activity?” While 59% suggested it was stock issues, there were 20% who answered: ‘a lack of real used car knowledge’.

At which point you may begin to wonder: who are these people in the audience? And, what do they know about my business?

Looking around I would say it was largely the men from the auction companies, plus a smattering of suppliers to the vehicle remarketing business and a significant number of car manufacturer used car managers.

So the key question should be: why do they view the used car operations of franchised retailers in such poor light? My gut instinct is: it’s either arrogance or ignorance.

If it’s arrogance, there’s probably very little we can do about it. But if it’s ignorance, then all three groups of people need to spend more time educating each other.

Forums such as the VRA are a good place to start. Trevor Finn was his usual charming and witty self, but he was in a minority of two. I only saw one other retailer at the conference and nobody from the RMI or NFDA.

I fear I made a similar point after this event last year. But, 12 months down the line, it would appear nobody listened – so I see no harm in saying it all over again.

Rupert Saunders

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