The used car market is more complex than it has ever been. With new vehicle inventory levels steadily declining and consumers growing more wary of high auto payments and public transportation due to the pandemic, the demand for used cars has accelerated which has naturally led to increased prices and higher trade-in values.

Dealers face growing competition from companies such as CarMax, Carvana, Carlotz, and Shift Technologies that have ramped up their used car efforts and were modeled long ago to sell used cars directly to consumers without dealer involvement.

With the pressure mounting, it is critical that dealers find ways to maximize used car gross profits and to tighten up processes to control vehicle depreciation and holding costs. From the moment that a vehicle is acquisitioned either from a customer trade or an auction purpose, dealers need to track every minute a vehicle sits in recon in a non-retail-ready state and make sure that each unit stays in the process no more than 3-5-days.

What many dealers do not realize is that consumers are buying up cars the minute they come out of detail – before there’s time to get a full set of photos onto the website. Imagine what achieving a Retail-Ready Time of 3-5-days would do to a dealer’s inventory turn if it had an aggressive sales team that had a line-up of interested customers immediately after recon was completed on a car. Not only would it give tremendous velocity to the used car inventory turn, but depreciation would be minimal along with holding costs.

To minimize the Retail-Ready Time requires software that lets everyone involved in the recon process see every vehicle across the entire operation and know exactly where it is at in the workflow and how long it’s been in a particular step. Trying to manage the complicated reconditioning operation with a spreadsheet or whiteboard will simply not get a dealer to the 3-5-day Retail-Ready Time necessary to thrive in this market.

Recon process management software is designed specifically to reduce the time it takes to get a vehicle through the recon process to the front line or Retail-Ready. Because the dealership’s recon workflow is mapped out in individual steps, there is an incredible amount of transparency into how long each unit stays within each step, as well as the ability to track the amount of idle time of units between steps.

Having this bird’s-eye view of recon step intervals allows managers to identify bottlenecks and take immediate corrective action. Additionally, this insight enables managers to hold individuals and vendors accountable for recon goals as well as recognize outstanding performance.

Improving cross-department communication is a huge function of recon software. App notifications and Twitter-like VIN-specific messages enable real-time communication about step progress. Unlike text messaging, recon app notifications and @mentions are vehicle-specific meaning that when they are opened from the app, the messages are displayed within the vehicle’s notes. Such advanced features make real-time work approvals and denials a reality, which can lead to increased technician efficiency and productivity levels.

Recon process efficiency is essential to speeding up the Retail-Ready Time of used inventory. It ensures that costs are controlled, and units turned quickly so that vehicles sell for as close as possible to the profit margin estimated at appraisal. The faster vehicles are turned, the faster those profits go back into the hand of the used car manager so that the cycle can begin again.