Today’s best practice is more of a debate than sharing best practice as often prep standards are subjective. Therefore I would be interested in anyone’s views!
Regardless of your view on prep standards, the important part is to have a company policy and a consistent approach to monitoring this. That way you will be able to see whether you are losing sales due to poor preparation standards.
The below is based on my personal view and taking the best approaches from a number of our clients.
1 – Agree a clear bodywork prep standard
Dealers carry different stock which has an impact on the standard. Some are premium and nearly new. Some sell older and cheaper vehicles.
What we have seen and what works well is to agree standards by age.
- 1–3-year vehicles – Free from any marks or damage except for small touched-in stone chips on the bonnet and front bumper.
- 4–7-year vehicles – As above but allowance for scratches and chips less than 1cm but touched in
- 7 years plus – The best process we see is all vehicles mopped and major damage repaired. Small scratches up to 3 cm touched in. The important part is a clear document for customers to understand how these vehicles are prepared and more focus on mechanical integrity than bodywork spent.
2 – Fast Lane
Regardless if you use an external SMART company or you have an internal team we see the following as best practice.
Every vehicle goes through a ‘Fast Lane’. The vehicle is cleaned and any marks that can be polished out are.
A SMART repair does anything that they can do within an agreed time line usually 1 to 2 hours.
3 – Fast Lane Quality Control
At the end, the vehicle goes through Quality Control.
If it passes the standard it is moved to the next process step.
If it fails it is booked in for more intensive SMART or straight to the Bodyshop.
4 – Bodyshop
This can often be a big delay in prep due to the work involved. However, if Fast Lane is done correctly any parts required can be flagged in advance and any minor work is already dealt with.
Some important things to do with Bodyshops, regardless if they are internal or external:
- If the resource in the Bodyshop is an issue causing delays. Add more Bodyshops that you can use. Allocate work based on availability. Track who is doing which vehicle.
- Agree on a completion date and put alerts on vehicles approaching it. vAutoPrep has this built in but you can do this other ways.
5 – Sales Quality Control
At the very end of the preparation process, someone from sales must complete a sales QC and sign for it.
This can be on paper, or we can create a bespoke one that is time-stamped via vAutoPrep.
If the vehicle fails, any damage can be recorded on the form and the vehicle is then automatically pushed back to the failed area.
6 – Prep every vehicle before it is offered to customers
The one thing we see time and time again is that it is not possible to prep all vehicles before they get offered to customers. We agree this is the case if prep takes longer than 7 days.
What we do see is that trying to manage sold cars through the process delays the whole prep process. Be brave, if you can get prep to 5 to 7 days then you can afford a 5-day delay to show the vehicle to someone.
7 – Strict control for any work carried out after Quality Control is passed.
Providing the sales QC has been signed off there should be no reason for any vehicle to require additional work. It is important to monitor how many occasions it happens and if it is from individual Sales Consultants. If it is then there is an issue with an individual. Should it be a wider problem then the prep standard needs reviewing. Providing you have the data you can make the right decision.