The incredible shrinking margins! It’s sounds like the title for a Hollywood horror movie, but for many auto dealers it’s a reality when it comes to reconditioned cars. The cost to acquire a used vehicle, clean it, recondition it and get it on the lot is going up while well-informed consumers are pushing the sales prices down.

What’s a dealer to do?

Improve your speed and coordination through better scheduling.

Simply put: the faster you can get a vehicle reconditioned in a quality manner, the faster you can make money from it, the more you can control costs and the more time and space you can devote to other profitable activities.

Here’s how it works. The goal is to move your reconditioned vehicle through your process as quickly as possible without compromising quality. Moving through the process typically involves multiple people across multiple departments from the cleaning to the inspection and repairs and ultimately sales. When you can cut down even small amounts of wasted time at each stop the time savings can add up to significant reductions in costs. It also means less crowded service bays and employees having more time for other revenue producing activities.

The key is providing a transparent scheduling system that lets each team member know when and where a vehicle is in the process and how much time they can be expected to perform their tasks when the vehicle is in their hands. Give each team member ownership of their part of the schedule.

Getting your employees to think and act like a team is also important to making your schedule more efficient. One tip is to hold “reconditioning team” meetings at specific times, maybe once a week, to go over the schedule and process and to address any issues. You can also offer performance linked bonuses for those team members who keep the schedule running smooth as well as bonuses for the whole group when certain goals are met. This way the team works together and also works to make sure everyone is pulling their weight.

The end result is more cars moving more quickly and at a lower cost to you. So if you want to raise up your reconditioned vehicle margins, think fast! And improve your scheduling.