November 20, 2012
There has been the vague notion of “data” floating around in the industry for some time now and even some seminars conducted about how to ensure you have the correct data when you do inventory on your vehicles. But, it still remains an area with room for improvement – perhaps all we need is the motivation to do so. How about the motivation that you increase your chances of selling a part by a minimum of 25%, perhaps even as close to 40% when you enter correct data about your vehicle?
JC Cahill, co-owner of Cahill’s in New York and Brown’s Auto in Massachusetts, who comes to auto recycling with years of experience working in the industry, has discovered that the more accurate and positive your data is when describing parts, the better chance you have of selling your parts.
“When you take the time upfront to correctly identify codes on a part, you save not only hours of labor later, you reduce the chance of inaccurate data entering your system, and you dramatically increase your chances of selling the part by tenfold,” says Cahill.
“We no longer put check IDs on any of the parts that we sell. We call the dealership and do our best to identify the part in Hollander when it first comes in, not in the dismantling bay. Many times when recyclers are doing inventory, and they don’t know if it’s a 410 ratio or a 373 ratio, they’ll just choose one that they think fits the best, and ask the dismantler to identify it when he’s pulling it apart.
“The problem with this is that it enters incorrect data into the system from the start and makes it much harder to detect and clean up later. By taking the time to secure accurate codes upfront, you will save hours later and ensure you have correct data.”
Cahill says that even the term data can be confusing and that perhaps the way we have been thinking about it, isn’t quite right.
“There’s always been this term ‘data’ that everyone has been throwing out there,” said Cahill. They ask the questions, “Is your data accurate? Is your information accurate? Perhaps a better question to ask is, is your information accurate to the part you are representing? That’s the part that everyone has been stumbling on because they have either under- or over-represented their parts.”
According to Cahill, there are three problematic areas when it comes to recyclers entering their data: over-description of parts, under-description of parts, and a lack of description of parts.
When a recycler describes his or her part in better condition than it actually is, they are under representing it. They are not giving an accurate description to the customer and face a higher likelihood of the customer returning the part because the information led the customer to believe the part was better than it actually was.
A lack of description, when a recycler lists a part without any supporting data, gives the buyer no representation of the condition of the part they need.
Over-describing a part occurs when an auto recycler represents that there is more damage than there actually is. While it may seem crazy that someone could over-represent a part, Cahill says that this was a struggle for his company until they took the time from the start to enter the correct codes including, trim, paint, interior, and ARA Damage Codes.
“We used to over-represent the damage to parts we were selling until we took the time to follow the ARA Damage Codes to the letter,” said Cahill. “For example we were describing the damage on a door with three parking lot dings as needing three hours of work because we were counting each ding as one hour. In reality, according to the ARA Damage Codes, and for the amount of time it would really take, it should have been listed as 1.5 hours.
“We’ve always thought of data as just being your parts in stock, your prices, and the condition of the part you’re selling. It’s really an accurate combination of the three and making sure that the information on the parts you’ve listed allows the customer to buy the part with complete confidence that it matches your description of it. If you under-represent a part, you will create more credits and returns, and when you over-represent a part, you discourage potential buyers to not purchase the part in the first place.”
Overall, clear and concise data on your quality recycled green auto parts, even though it may take extra time in the front end, saves time in the back end of the process and increases the potential of a sale and a positive customer experience. Cahill is using this method to build his business, and its working.
Michelle Keadle-Taylor is a freelance writer based in Northern Virginia.
TIPS ON HOW TO USE YOUR DATA TO ATTRACT MORE SALES
• Correctly enter your data into your database from the start.
By taking the time to establish the correct codes and language for a part description before dismantling, you’ll increase your chances of entering the correct data into the system and then cyberspace. Not only will your customers be happier, but your sales people will have more confidence in the parts they are selling, and therefore you will sell more parts.
• Be sure to use proper codes, including ARA Damage Codes, trim, paint, and interior codes, making your description as good as you can.
JC Cahill says you can sell deeper into the vehicle and give yourself an advantage over your competition with this method of data entry.
“If everyone in your market has the same part to offer, with similar prices, you have the advantage by giving an accurate and full description of your part,” said Cahill. “For example, if I am trying to sell a door and I give the trim code, paint code, and use the ARA Damage Code for it, and my competition doesn’t, I will have customers calling based on my data, not based on the inventory. This gives your salesperson a chance to sell its benefits.
“It’s much like buying something on Craigslist. The better the photo and description, the better your chance that the potential customer will call based on your data, not the inventory,” he adds.
“We need to address the fact that if we don’t enter our data correctly, we have missed a sales opportunity,” said Cahill. “And many times we don’t even realize that we have. That’s because our lack of accurate data on our parts is costing us potential sales the moment it’s out in cyberspace.
“For example, if we do our best when we inventory our door panels and enter the correct interior code, paint code, and damage code, and that enters cyberspace via Car-Part.com, Eden, Craigslist, etc., our ability to sell goes up dramatically (like tenfold) over someone who didn’t take the time to enter that information.”
• Put a positive spin on your descriptions of the parts.
The way you write your descriptions can make a sale for you or attract potential customers. Cahill spends approximately 10 minutes per car, re-writing descriptions that have been given during inventory. He says that by putting a positive spin on the description, you give your salesperson a chance to sell the car’s parts and also provides the customer a more accurate picture of what they are purchasing.
“I try to present the information in each description in a more positive way – one that will more accurately reflect the part the customer is purchasing,” said Cahill. “For example, if we have a headlight assembly, our choices are to say that it’s hazy or foggy. However, if we know that before we ship it to the customer, we‘re going to buff it up, we write in the description, “needs buff.” It not only sounds more positive, but gives a better description of what the customer will actually receive. The customer will receive a part that looks better than they thought.”
Other examples include: instead of “damaged” or “wrecked,” use “may need repair”; instead of “broken intake,” use “sold intake.”
“Instead of saying ‘missing headlight, door and front hood,’” Cahill said, “we would say comes with ‘new headlight and hood’ because we know that what we’re going to give the customer is a product that is like new by the time we ship it to them.
“I’m not saying misrepresent your data. I’m just saying when writing your descriptions, look to the best of your abilities. Bear in mind regional differences, also. For example, in New England if we write ‘engine runs wicked good,’ everyone in New England will know that it means the engine runs really well.”
• Do not use only abbreviations.
When giving parts data, avoid using lots of numbers and abbreviations that your customer may not understand, especially if your market includes the general public. While industry insiders may understand them, an average person looking for a part will not. You want to make it as easy as possible for anyone to understand what the part you’re selling looks like.
• Utilize Craigslist.
“We use Craigslist a lot,” said Cahill. “We put almost every vehicle we purchase on it. We use it as an advertising point and to get people to call so our sales people can really describe and sell the part. Again, the more you make your description accurate and helpful to your potential customer, the better your chances of getting the call in the first place.”