Greg Uland: Hi, I'm Greg Uland. And today I get to sit down with Chris Little, the vice president of variable operations at Hendrick Automotive Group. Chris, thanks so much for sitting down and talking.
Chris Little: Yeah, looking forward to it, Greg, thanks a lot.
GU: Chris, we've had quite a partnership over the years and we're very proud to be able to continue to expand that partnership through our reconditioning software called ReconTRAC. You know, obviously, Hendrick is one of the largest automotive groups in the country. So how many locations are you installing ReconTRAC at?
CL: So we've got slotted eighty six locations to take, that, it's going to take a good bulk of the year, but we're really looking forward to working with your team to get them put in.
GU: And that's a big investment both time wise, process wise, people wise, there's a lot that goes into it. So thinking about that for you and for your team, why is the reconditioning process such an important one and really worth investing in?
CL: Everyone knows speed to the front line equates to more turns, which helps the overall company do better in terms of parts, service and inventory buys. And so when you can really take the time to measure and manage that and perfect that, you're going to increase your turns, you're going to increase your gross profit and you're really just going to increase the amount of used cars you can sell because you're getting them out on the front line quicker.
GU: So what does your reconditioning process look like? Does each store do their own reconditioning? What does it look like for your organization?
CL: Yeah, each individual store does their own, and that's why we're really excited to try to get a common process in all these stores so that we can commonize and see where we can get pluses and minuses in the reconditioning process. And 12 to 15 people really touch a used car during the reconditioning process if you map it all out. And you take that times 80 stores, and that's a lot of people that can do things and you can have a lot of leakage. And what we really found was ReconTRAC is going to help us commonize all these processes, find best practices, compete... I really like competing the stores, you know, we got a little racing heritage in us. So we like to race and compete, you know. So we found that if we do that, we get better together.
GU: That's great that you're able to leverage really both, you know, focus on the individual and focus on the organization as a whole.
CL: What we really like is the integration points that we now have with Reynolds. Because as soon as that F12 key's hit and the deal is stored to go, we are able to create an RO. We're able to have that go in the system and the clock starts then. And so being able to have that in all the locations, now it's gonna take a little bit, but in all those locations, we can see how long does it take from people to as soon as they close the deals to the RO is actually taken and put into action and then it goes through the technician touches it, the parts guys get it. The detail guys get it. The third party vendors get it. And so picking up an extra day or two here and there means a lot to us in terms of net profit.
GU: So Chris, you mentioned, you know, previously taking about five days or so to get through the recon process. What was taking so long? Where were those bottlenecks?
CL: Well, they were really, I think in the approval process that used car managers had to approve the deal. He's working deals or she's working deals or at the auction or doing something, and four or five hours go by, then he comes back, says, OK, we'll approve that and then we go, and then the technician takes it to the parts counter and the parts counter guy's got to go pull the parts and there's another hour. And so pretty soon the stuff started compounding into, you know, days to get going.
GU: How did you come to the conclusion that using software to automate a lot of this was the right answer? How did you get there?
CL: I got really tired of hearing people tell me when I say, how long does it take to get cars to the front line and they go about five or six days. That tells me I don't know. And that means 10 days, really, if you put it. And then we would do trials where we just put a grease pencil on the window the day that it was taken in, the time it was taken in. And that stayed on that car until it was brought to the used car manager and fully done. And it was astounding that some of these were seven, eight, nine days. And we're thinking, you know, industry, our best, what we want to be is three days or less. That's our goal at Hendrick Automotive Group to be there.
GU: What led you to ReconTRAC specifically? Why did you decide to go that route versus another?
CL: 100 percent decision was the integration. We think it's a valuable tool to have everything talk as one. And if we can do that, then that will define where the leaks come from and nobody can hide behind that stuff. So that really helped us make our decision as being one hundred percent integrated.
GU: To kind of put a bow on this, you know, if a dealership were to come to you, and they said, you know, we're thinking about installing this product called ReconTRAC. We have a little bit of an issue in recon and we want to speed it up. You know, what's your advice? What's your perspective?
CL: I really think you've got to be able to measure it to manage it, and that's what the tool really will help you. So if you're really going to get serious about and you really want to increase your gross profit, I would say that you ought to buy a ReconTRAC software to be able to come in and help you manage this process. Once it gets put in and the processes are set, it kind of manages itself. Everybody knows what they've got to do. And I'll promise you, you'll get really good results out of it.
GU: Chris Little, vice president of variable operations at Hendrick Automotive Group, thank you very much for your perspective and for taking the time to talk today.
CL: Hey, it's been a pleasure. Thanks again for everything you all do to help us get better.
GU: Absolutely. Talk to you later.