Everyone knows HPI. Especially your customers. When they’re buying a used car, what do they ask – whether you’ve carried out a provenance check, or an HPI check? Quite simply, it’s a generic term.
It is not so by accident, either, but because the company has refused to rest on its laurels. It may have been the first to provide comprehensive vehicle history checks (since 1938, can you believe?) and over the years has constantly kept ahead of the game to ensure this leading position is retained.
Of course, everyone knows the benefits of carrying out an HPI Check. It’s how you confirm vehicles are legal and really will belong to the people who buy them (with all information backed up by a £30,000 guarantee, for total peace of mind).
Most manufacturers actually now incorporate the HPI Check as part of their approved used car programmes. It’s an everyday part of the industry that we all take for granted: don’t forget, nearly two in every three of your online customers is worried about the risk of fraud.
Steve Reynolds works at dealer group Stoneacre – and he’s a happy HPI customer. ‘The HPI system is the best bar none,’ he told Car Dealer. ‘We’ve used other systems before, and looked at all the other offerings: nothing beats the HPI checking system. It’s fast, efficient, easy to use and, above all, accurate. In the past, we’ve been caught out by HP agreements that the checking system has not picked up. This is simply not an issue with HPI.’
But how do you exploit the myriad other features offered by HPI? As Automotive Director Daniel Burgess – pictured right – explained to us, the standard HPI history check really is just the gateway into a legion of services, all of which can help make you money – and keep you fully protected from the strong arm of the law.
The core element, the hub of the system, is Exchange. There are two key services – Manufacturer Exchange, a stock locator service used by major manufacturers, and Dealer Exchange, which is of interest to us. Why? Because if you carry out an HPI Check, you can automatically load the vehicle onto Dealer Exchange at the same time.
It operates like a huge database, which pulls all the specific vehicle information from Glass’s and the DVLA. All you need to do is upload a series of digital images, and it’s ready to publish and therefore go to market – on eBay, Auto Trader, Fish4… over 20 outlets in fact, all of which can be specified precisely by you. It really couldn’t be simpler.
Don’t just take our word on the value of the system, though. HPI has recently signed up exhangeandmart.co.uk, which will use Dealer Exchange as its premier loading partner. Online manager Debra Healy can’t speak highly enough. ‘It stands head and shoulders above other offerings in the marketplace. Not only is it easy to use, but it’s free to our dealer customers.’ Can’t say fairer than that – as exchangeandmart.co.uk’s one million serious browsers per month will surely agree…
Our focus last month was SsangYong, and they’ve since signed up to HPI’s Manufacturer Exchange service, too, joining other makers such as Suzuki, Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Lotus. Again, this allows dealers to instantly market their vehicles online, something that certainly convinced SsangYong’s Ian Nicholson: ‘One of Exchange’s many advantages is its independence, meaning our dealer network has complete flexibility over where to market their stock.’
But the offerings from HPI stretch yet further and wider. Dealer Steve Reynolds has been streamlining HPI’s various other services into his business for some time now. ‘If there’s one word that sums up HPI, it’s integrity,’ says Steve. He’s a happy customer indeed – particularly with the new services offered. ‘I’m confident, when HPI launches a new service, that it will be easy to use and, more importantly, beneficial to me. Everything that they introduce, I know, will make my life easier.’
Did you know, for example, that HPI offers on-screen car valuations? Both CAP and Glass’s used car values are offered online, meaning it’s easier to get an idea of where a vehicle is according to your favoured trade guide. What’s more, as Daniel adds: ‘We also offer HPI Valuation, an alternative to CAP and Glass’s that is lower-cost but equally as good. Everyone has their favourite book, but want a second opinion. Since October last year, we’ve been able to say, why not us?’
This service is reinforced by the fact that it’s so easy to use. Full integration means it’s no more hassle for the dealer to use HPI Valuation than their other valuation source – Steve again confirms that a key aspect here is ease of use. ‘Like everything HPI brings to market, it’s something that is beneficial to dealers.’
Which brings Steve onto HPI’s ‘Godsend’ for his business: Driveaway. This is a service HPI’s ownership by Norwich Union facilitated – and, in a nutshell, is seven days’ free insurance, which can be arranged immediately from the dealership. And it is no mere headline-grabber.
‘Quite simply, it massively speeds up the deal,’ explains Steve. ‘A decade ago, people were prepared to wait. Not nowadays. People want things straight away – including cars. But, as they’re already prepared and readied before they go on sale, why shouldn’t this be the case?
‘The hold-up has always been taxing the vehicle. We used to have to do it in the dealers’ name, send it off to Swansea, get it changed to the customer’s name – it took weeks. With Driveaway, we can generate a cover note right away, in the customer’s name, so tax it while they sip coffee and run through the handover process. It’s an excellent system.’
Benefits, however, stretch further even than fast turnaround, more intensive (and profitable) use of floorspace and happy customers. ‘Admin also love it, as they’re freed up from chasing communications with the DVLA and all the other associated hassles. It’s a one-step process for them.’ And anything that keeps Admin happy…
HPI’s Daniel adds another benefit. ‘It’s a good way of eliminating buyer remorse. There are no more phone calls from the customer during the lengthy waiting period, saying they’ve changed their mind.’
There are other subtle and smart services on offer, too. Such as V5 Document Check. This ensures the cloning risk is a thing of the past, by validating the V5’s authenticity.
‘We check the V5 serial number and issue date,’ explains Daniel. ‘Crooks struggle to get the issue date, so it’s harder to forge a form from a stolen V5. They actually need to have seen the original V5.’ This service is unique to HPI, too. Oh, and all HPI certificates are available by e-mail. So, if a car is clean, the dealer can run the check and immediately give customers the forms. This is immensely beneficial: there are times when it could even be a deal-clincher.
HPI’s National Mileage Register has been running for over a decade now, with one stated aim – eliminating clocking. Records come from a wide array of sources, but HPI has recently clinched some fantastic relationships with major manufacturers. This has taken the records held from 80m to an amazing 125m.
‘We’re sourcing warranty data from major manufacturers such as BMW, Toyota, Ford and Land Rover,’ explains Daniel. ‘This is good quality data, too, as dealers are very careful about using the right mileage for warranty data, in case of auditing. Warranty information is a good source of 0-3-year-old information, though we also use data from Mondial, Warranty Group, Car Care Plan and so on, for older cars.’
Prestige car retailer Sytner has also just come on board. Employed across more than 100 dealerships UK-wide, Sytner will use all aspects of HPI’s provenance checks, including the National Mileage Register. HPI will provide all manufacturer-approved checks and mileage investigations. What convinced them? HPI’s ability to offer a tailor-made service.
And staying on the luxury theme, Bentley Motors has just been given HPI ‘Approved’ status. That means all Bentley’s dealers can use HPI for provenance checks. Offering added reassurance to Rooney, Lampard and legions of other Premiership football players…
It’s not something that’s a problem with Wayne, but for most other customers, a problem remains in the industry: finding out who they are and getting their vitals.
’30 years ago, when I worked in the industry, taking down names and addresses was a real issue,’ explains Daniel. ‘And this remains the case! My partner and I were buying a new car recently: we went round 15 dealerships and only one took our details.’
Which is why HPI offers the CRM (customer relationship management) sheet. It’s ingenious. A print-out sheet that the dealer can fill in as they talk to the customer, for uploading later. It brilliantly has a box for the car’s registration, too. Take five seconds to fill this in, and a mass of data will be back-filled, saving further time and proving even more useful to the dealer. ‘It’s not sophisticated, but it’s a really practical tool,’ says Daniel.
Even for former conquests, HPI has an offering, which saves time and money, and improve lead management, too: Customer Watch. ‘This uses DVLA data to see if former sales have since changed hands,’ explains Daniel. ‘Privacy laws means we can’t say who the new owner is, but we can tell dealers if the car is still owned by their customer – so they can target proactive marketing and also not send out service reminders to vehicles that have since changed hands.’ This is an ingenious tool that the switched-on dealer will find many more uses besides the most obvious.
Indeed, that’s something which sums up the entire arsenal offered by HPI – particularly as you can be sure that it’s all powered by the largest, most accurate and most powerful database in the business.
Look at HPI not as a mere provenance check provider but, if you’re canny, an entire toolbox of tools to help you speed up sales, better serve existing customers, target new ones… and ensure the dodgy ones out there are quickly wheedled out before they cost you a penny of precious profit.
With another battery of new products due before the end of the year, the strength of the offer will only increase, too. You certainly know HPI – but maybe now it’s time you got to know it better.