A Tool for Satisfying Smart, Demanding Customers during the Recall Barrage

by Jon LeSage, edi­tor, Used Car Mar­ket Reports

It’s a his­toric moment in US vehi­cle recalls, and behind that bench­mark lie oppor­tu­ni­ties to bet­ter serve and retain cus­tomers. Steve Wahezi, pres­i­dent of in Tem­ple Hills, Md., has learned a lot this year about effec­tive­ly deal­ing with well-informed, demand­ing cus­tomers and what they want to find out about recalls.

As an inde­pen­dent deal­er, USA Auto Deal­ers lacks the man­u­fac­tur­er-pro­vid­ed data that fran­chised deal­ers receive in their net­works. How­ev­er, access­ing Car­fax data has pro­vid­ed Waheizi’s team with the same recall infor­ma­tion fran­chise deal­ers have and that they need to pro­vide to car shop­pers. It’s also invalu­able when buy­ing whole­sale units and man­ag­ing their inven­to­ry.

So far, there have been more than 40 mil­lion vehi­cles recalled this year; Car­fax data sug­gests that 37 mil­lion vehi­cles are on the road right now with unfixed recalls; that’s near­ly one-in-six vehi­cles out there. The top states with unfixed recalls are Texas, Cal­i­for­nia, Mis­souri, Flori­da, and Ohio. So, the recall process will be tak­ing much time and ener­gy for deal­ers this year and beyond.

Pre­sent­ing car shop­pers, and cur­rent cus­tomers, with Car­fax Vehi­cle His­to­ry Reports is help­ing USA Auto Deal­ers alle­vi­ate wor­ries. Car shop­pers do bring up recalls all the time with USA Auto Deal­ers staff – some­times after being bar­raged with nation­al news cov­er­age and some­times to use it as a lever­ag­ing point for get­ting a bet­ter deal on the car.

Car­fax Reports and the recall process have tak­en much of the wind from the sails, Wahezi said. It’s been resolved for USA Auto Deal­ers by see­ing open recalls on Car­fax Reports and work­ing direct­ly with local fran­chised deal­ers respon­si­ble for car­ry­ing out the recalls. Most all of the recalls have tak­en just half day to a full busi­ness day for fran­chised deal­ers to fix.

Using Car­fax, fran­chised and inde­pen­dent deal­ers both have access to a com­mon resource that helps them eas­i­ly find out if a spe­cif­ic car has an open recall — the Car­fax Vehi­cle His­to­ry Report. OEMs report VIN-spe­cif­ic open recall infor­ma­tion direct­ly to Car­fax, almost all on a dai­ly basis. Deal­ers sim­ply run a Car­fax Report on their com­put­er or use the Car­fax for Deal­ers mobile app to see if there’s any out­stand­ing recalls on it. To help your cus­tomers stay on top of recalls, you can sign them up for myCar­fax () so they get alerts about future recalls issued for their spe­cif­ic car.

Wahezi has seen this car­ried out on both sides of the aisle – with 23 years in man­age­ment at fran­chised deal­ers and then after open­ing up USA Auto Deal­ers a year-and-a-half ago. Car­fax data is help­ing him buy vehi­cles at auc­tions and bet­ter man­age cur­rent inven­to­ry in today’s high recall aware­ness envi­ron­ment. His team looks at the sta­tus of used vehi­cles in their loan and lease life, ser­vice records, and if a par­tic­u­lar recall may be a minor fix or a major repair job. Some­times that also involves doing a Google search to stay cur­rent on where a spe­cif­ic recall stands and how it may be affect­ing con­sumer opin­ions.

Car­fax Reports help USA Auto Deal­ers be well pre­pared for the sales process. “Car­fax has been part of clos­ing deals,” he said. “Deal­ers not going with Car­fax are los­ing out on a lot of smart cus­tomers.”

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