Coaching Recon Staff

Create a More Confident, Fulfilled Vehicle Recon Staff

By Brian Larremore

Originally published in the September 2021 edition of Fixed Ops Magazine

However you run your vehicle reconditioning operation, coaching and motivating the people responsible for this critical function of your used vehicle business will pay dividends. These can include:

  • Enhanced on-the-job confidence and skill
  • More job fulfillment
  • Fewer mistakes and time-to-line delays
  • Better communication
  • Frictionless relationships

When I advise on changes to a workflow or a process geared toward positive change, those suggestions are based on logic and experience. It is much harder to boost someone’s morale to ‘want’ to do an excellent job as part of a team than it is to tell someone what to do because ‘you’re the boss.’ You know that intuitively. But we need to be reminded of it more than occasionally, as with much of the better side of life.

Everyone, regardless of position, wants to be good at their job, be respected, and feel appreciated. This is true whether they show it or not, and sometimes whether they know it or not. Keeping that mindset helps when encouraging the team.

The ultimate goal is a productive workflow. That requires keeping everything moving towards the end goal of finishing the task. Sometimes, we stray from our standard operating process. But that does not mean we should not be organized and maintain that critical base process.

A recon workflow process should visually represent the most common sequence of events from top to bottom, and everyone on the team should understand the process. Everyone involved needs to be trained in this structure, so they can repeat it back on the fly to prove they have learned it and are using it.

You want a structure or map that provides some transparency into what is going on. Only then can the team identify and remedy dead spots. These delays occur when a staff member parks a car after one task in the recon process is complete without clarity about what needs to happen next.

When you have impeccable visibility into the recon workflow, you know immediately where all inventory is distributed. This will make it easier to observe flow and address stalled units.

Everyone involved in the reconditioning process plays a vital role and should be an active participant in your approach. A common misconception is that dealerships can sometimes think a more efficient process keeps the workflow steps to a minimum, limiting the number of users.

With every participant involved in your recon speed-to-sale proposition -- from lot tech to the GSM and dealer principal -- you establish and document when the recon starts (and by whom). You also know when that task and those that follow it within the process are done. Each gets communicated to all involved with a few clicks of the mouse or phone call.

When you reduce the number of active users in this process, you create information gaps. With these vital pieces taken out of the communications chain, others must then stop their work or task to find the right individual to inform them of something. That is an inefficient use of time and people.

Meanwhile, the car sits in a dead zone waiting for that relaxed communication process to be completed.

When I worked in a dealership, I often had to leave my desk 10 to 20 times a day to inspect a vehicle, give an opinion or authorize a repair. Manual ways of sharing information burn minutes, reduce efficiency, and work against job enjoyment.

Use a recon system that lets you communicate by text, visually, and in real-time with a few clicks. Then, everyone’s communications clarity and job satisfaction will skyrocket.

I do not mean to meddle here, but the fact is that when you operate recon without reconditioning-management software, you leave individuals out of the loop. Also, unless you have an easy way to see into the process, no one knows what is going on.

Without a system for capturing the data making up all these process steps and movements of the car in an organized portrayal of what is happening, there is no honest way to track and measure time-to-line speed, individual proficiency, and data-based evidence of events.

This industry changes every year … sometimes more often… to the advanced technical/digital way of things. Thus, we cannot continue selling cars or fixing cars like we have been for the last 30 years and expect to be more successful. We must evolve and adapt to the industry standards as they change. The individual involved in the system is so simple. There is not a coworker I can think of that I have ever worked with who could not master recon workflow quickly. Management is looking at the big picture and processes. But the techs, detailers, and porters only need to do a few points and clicks to move cars and add work items. Then they will be experts at their jobs.

Track vehicle efficiency through your recon system. Use tracking data to identify new opportunities for improvement and to change the process when a need is identified. This is not a matter of finger-pointing or finding someone to be at fault for a delay. Often it is just identifying a time-killer in the process and then making a simple process change to eliminate or minimize that time consumption.

Observe where you can get the best results. There will always be steps that are less controllable than others. But you will still have control, even if it is with a sublet or parts hold situation.

“Not my fault” is a weak individual’s response to a release of responsibility for delays. If a car had a back-ordered part that caused a delay for a week in getting that car frontline ready, the team should put in extra effort to complete the repairs, get the car cleaned, have the sublets done, and be sure the car is sale-ready. The success of the business means the success of the team.

About Rapid Recon

Reconditioning workflow automation from Rapid Recon is the industry standard in time-to-line inventory turn and speed-to-sale vehicle revenue enhancement for automotive retailers. Benchmarking data based on 13 million vehicles processed uniquely positions Rapid Recon to advise dealers on how to improve their store’s profitability. Used by more than 2,000 dealerships, Rapid Recon ensures the accountability of processes, property, and people. Hence, dealers know answers quickly, find assets anywhere, and sell vehicles promptly to grow dealership profitability. CALL US: +650-999-0497