Update and embrace your dealership’s appraisal process

Part 2 of 2

When it comes to trade-ins, embracing and updating your in-store and online sales process can represent one of your biggest opportunities for improved trade-in acquisitions and an improved customer experience.

Fumble

Many dealerships appraise the trade-in at the end of their sales process following a demonstration drive. Some will not appraise the trade-in unless the customer has committed to buying a vehicle “today.”

Customers are often frustrated when they have to wait a half hour or longer for their trade-in to be appraised after they have already experienced a demonstration drive in a new vehicle. It’s a poor use of their time. “Why didn’t you appraise my vehicle when I was driving yours?” is often the question or thought.

In addition, consider having a written document that describes your appraisal process — or better yet — a video. This can be added to your website, social media, used as an email attachment, or viewed at a sales consultant’s desk with a customer.

Touchdown

Consider appraising a customer’s trade-in at the beginning of your sales process.

Example:

Sales Consultant: “Mr. Lee, I will arrange to have your vehicle professionally appraised. It’s free and there’s no obligation. I’m sure that you’ll want a value on your vehicle before you leave us today.”

This gives the appraiser plenty of time to examine, road test, research, and use various technology tools employed by the dealership. It also provides the time to have a technician examine or road test the vehicle if the appraiser has concerns. This does not imply that we should simply appraise vehicles and immediately provide a trade-in value at the door. You can provide the trade-in value later when you propose payment options toward the latter part of the sale.

Fumble

The appraisal process and the appraiser are somewhat hidden from the customer. The appraiser snatches the customer’s vehicle, examines it at the side or back of the dealership or during a road test and then drops the vehicle back in the customer parking area.

The process does not encourage customer participation. It also suggests to the customer that the value of their vehicle is arbitrary and solely based on the opinion of one person. It does not introduce the use of the various online appraisal tools and technology.

Touchdown

Consider having the appraiser meet the customer before the vehicle is appraised. The appraiser has the opportunity to do any one of, or all of the following:

  • Thank the customer on behalf of the dealership;
  • Compliment the customer’s vehicle;
  • Explain the appraisal process and introduce technology tools;
  • Explain how the vehicle value is calculated;
  • Ask the customer for the opportunity to buy their vehicle; and
  • Build rapport and trust.

Abbreviated example:

Appraiser: “Hi Mr. Lee, I’m Brian, the dealership’s certified appraiser. I just wanted to come by and thank you for allowing me to appraise your vehicle. We appreciate the opportunity. I haven’t yet appraised your vehicle, but I did take a very quick peek. I like what I saw. It’s a very nice vehicle and I would like to have it for our inventory. I have a few questions…

As part of my appraisal I need to road test your vehicle. Is that okay with you?

I will also be using some of the industry’s latest online technology to research the marketplace. Would you like to join me on the appraisal or would you like to continue with your sales consultant? As I mentioned, I like your car and we would like to have it.”

If a customer is overly concerned about the value of their vehicle, the appraiser can research and review market comparables with the customer before the physical appraisal with tools such as Canadian Black Book, Kelley Blue Book Canada or CARFAX vehicle valuation reports.

Some dealerships have created auction lounges. The appraiser launches the customer’s trade-in on a live real-time auction or using a live appraisal tool. The customer is seated in a comfortable lounge with a big-screen TV, where they watch the bids drop onto the screen from buyers across the country during a live auction. The appraiser uses this time to complete the physical appraisal of the vehicle.

If it makes the customer more comfortable, the appraiser can also invite the customer to join them for the physical appraisal to further build trust and the relationship. When a customer is able to meet the appraiser early, they may also appreciate the opportunity to “sell” their vehicle. Customers quickly realize that the appraiser is personable, likeable, knowledgeable, and professional. Even in the age of technology, people buy from people they like.

In addition, consider having a written document that describes your appraisal process — or better yet — a video. This can be added to your website, social media, used as an email attachment, or viewed at a sales consultant’s desk with a customer (email me if you would like examples).

Customers quickly realize that the appraiser is personable, likeable, knowledgeable, and professional.

Example: “If you would also like our 30- page document of e-lead reply templates and concepts, email me to arrange a discussion for delivery of this information to your team (in-dealership or online).”

Dealerships invest time, knowledge and thousands of dollars in technology to establish trade-in values. Yet, for most customers, this entire process is still mysterious. Be proud of your appraisal process, bring it out from the shadows and embrace trade-ins like you never have before!

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