Documentation of Vehicle History is the New Negotiator for Sam Swope Auto Group

Vis­it the and you’ll imme­di­ate­ly see that the deal­er group offers a “Pre­mier Pre-owned Ben­e­fits Pack­age.” Sam Swope says that it’s the “#1 used car deal­er in Ken­tuck­iana.” The com­pa­ny offers more than 1,000 used vehi­cles for sale, and par­tic­i­pates in all the man­u­fac­tur­er cer­ti­fied pre-owned (CPO) vehi­cle pro­grams.

“We’re a used car deal­er that hap­pens to have new car fran­chis­es,” says Cary Dono­van, vice pres­i­dent and direc­tor of used vehi­cle oper­a­tions at Sam Swope Auto Group in Louisville, Ky.

“A very intel­li­gent con­sumer can walk in the door,” Dono­van said. “Doc­u­men­ta­tion is the new nego­tia­tor” for work­ing well with today’s car shop­pers, he said. Dono­van points to a telling indus­try sta­tis­tic – con­sumers walked into 1.4 deal­ers before they bought a car in 2013, ver­sus vis­it­ing more than five deal­ers while car shop­ping 15 years ago. “All we have to do is have our asso­ciates doc­u­ment and reit­er­ate what the con­sumer already knows,” he said. Pro­vid­ing infor­ma­tion such as defus­es the objec­tions that cus­tomers and car shop­pers usu­al­ly have, he said.

That same Car­fax infor­ma­tion also pays off when acquir­ing whole­sale used vehi­cles at auc­tions and oth­er chan­nels. Sam Swope works with vAu­to to stay cur­rent on sourc­ing inven­to­ry for stock­ing and pric­ing used vehi­cles for retail sales. Sam Swope asso­ciates have more con­fi­dence in their used vehi­cle inven­to­ry. They’re also bet­ter able to pro­vide car shop­pers with real-time data on pric­ing and options while shop­ping for used cars in the Louisville area.

Car­fax Vehi­cle His­to­ry Reports also pro­vide need­ed data to build con­fi­dence for man­ag­ing inven­to­ry and deliv­er­ing it to cus­tomers in a trans­par­ent way, Dono­van said. Sam Swope asso­ciates can view Car­fax Reports and find out some­thing that could stop the acqui­si­tion. A used car may have been stored in New York for sev­er­al months, but the Car­fax Report shows you that it was in Mesa, Az., for sev­er­al years. “When you’re buy­ing high-line cars, you don’t want rough-weath­er cars,” he said.

For Sam Swope and oth­er deal­ers, is much more than a trust­ed infor­ma­tion provider. For exam­ple, the com­pa­ny pro­vides staff train­ing on trans­paren­cy and using the Car­fax Report to dig deep into the data. Sam Swope ties these train­ing ses­sions into its own pro­gram with role play­ing exer­cis­es for staff who work with cus­tomers. Asso­ciates are trained to pro­vide full dis­clo­sure to car shop­pers. The car may have been in a minor acci­dent; the car shop­per can be giv­en the Car­fax Report with pho­tos from the col­li­sion and an acci­dent report. You can view this to see how Vehi­cle His­to­ry Reports are pre­sent­ed and the infor­ma­tion they con­tain.

It also gives the Sam Swope team more resources for their used vehi­cle inven­to­ry man­age­ment process. A con­di­tion report pro­vid­ed by an auc­tion only goes so far, Dono­van said. “A car might have been in a repair shop four times in one year for elec­tri­cal issues,” he said. “You can see why it was trad­ed in.”

The Car­fax Vehi­cle His­to­ry Report also plays an impor­tant role dur­ing the trade-in process, Dono­van said. Sam Swope asso­ciates are able to use the infor­ma­tion to “gin­ger­ly move into” telling the cus­tomer about dam­age they might not even know about. The car dam­age may have been done by one of their fam­i­ly mem­bers who nev­er told them about it, or it was done pri­or to the own­er hav­ing pur­chased the car, he said.

Years ago, it was threat­en­ing for deal­er asso­ciates to work with cus­tomers who seemed smarter and bet­ter informed than they were, Dono­van said. Using Car­fax Reports “empow­ers them to feel con­fi­dent about inter­ac­tions with cus­tomers. They can tell them the truth about the car – good or bad,” he said.

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