Visit the Sam Swope Auto Group website 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 Carfax data 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, Carfax 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 Sample Reports page 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.