VALUATIONS experts Glass’s Guide has launched GlassNet mobile platform. Car Dealer explains why you need it in 2011.
Used car sales have faced unprecedented challenges for the past few years. These are set to continue going forward, says one of the industry’s biggest names, as the dynamics of the secondhand market continue to adopt ‘a new normal’.
More than ever before, it’s crucial that car dealers get the right advice, the best knowledge, the highest level of insight. Enter Glass’s Vik Barodia, a man with decades of used car industry knowledge. His warning for 2011? A continuation of the themes seen in 2010 – but more complications besides.
‘Dealers will need to continue working hard to source stock,’ he says. ‘Especially during seasonal peaks in retail demand – particularly early spring. The shrinking of the vehicle parc is making this harder than ever; it’s something that began a while back and is going to continue.’
The heady years of 2004-05 saw 2.4-2.5m new cars sold. Now, we’re looking at circa two million; as the number of new registrations has dropped, so the parc for one-to-three-year-old cars has reduced.
‘New car sales in 2011 are expected to be no better than 2.1m units. Fewer part exchange vehicles will thus feed the market. Used car sales will naturally follow recent trends and suffer a knock-on effect – already in 2010, they’re 14 per cent lower than two years ago,’ he explains.
There’s a further unknown quantity for 2011, warns our expert Barodia: how the coalition government’s austerity measures will pan out. ‘How the potential loss of 490,000 jobs in the public sector will affect used and new car demand is not clear, but consequently, overall consumer demand will be flat.
‘The loss of buyers from this demographic of the market may be partially offset if we see improvement of GDP and some expansion in the private sector.’ But it’s hard to say for sure: Glass’s is aware of it, though, and will continually monitor the market for trends.
At least retained values are more certain – music to the ears of those harmed by the fireworks in used car prices over the past few years. ‘Annual retained values will remain at 2010 levels, and we’ll continue to see peaks and troughs in line with familiar seasonal trends.
‘At the moment, residual value performance of used cars is matching the decade as a whole. Used prices are in line with CPI at a compound growth rate of two per cent pa, and used car prices both have, and will continue to, match that trend.’
A widely varied set of conditions, in other words. Question is, how can you be best placed to navigate your way through them? Enter Glass’s new services and tools for 2011. The firm has been hard at work on them, says Barodia, who explains to Car Dealer Magazine just what the firm has coming up…
What are you doing to improve your offer for dealers?
Our core business is the generation of valuation and pricing data. Our goal is to become the first choice, and there is much to do that will help improve this. We are working through a strategic change programme that will change the way Glass’s does its business and will dramatically improve our offering to customers across a multitude of sectors.
We have already made some significant progress this year. We strongly feel that becoming representative of the market can only be achieved by getting closer to it. We have thus increased the number of observations coming into our business to several hundred thousand, spanning the breadth and depth of available data. This is the key to our business so that we can truly be the choice across all sectors – from independent to franchise dealer, and from auction house to car supermarket.
Going forward, that breadth and depth will play a big part in embedding our valuations into the processes of customers: we’re aiming to ensurethose valuations may be accessed by any available means, anytime, anywhere. We’ve got some powerful new ideas and services coming in 2011, and it’s very much a case of watching this space. Glass’s is on the up, and I’m confident that our huge customer base of dealers will join us.
What’s your killer idea for 2011?
The big news from Glass’s is the launch of our GlassNet mobile platform. Launching this month, it gives GlassNet Unlimited customers the opportunity to do rapid vehicle valuations, and accurately mileage- and condition-adjust, all from their phone. We’ve already had a few customers trial the mobile site and early feedback has been extremely positive. The marketing launch saw a record number of registrants who wanted to know more – it was a phenomenal response in such a short period of time.
This tells us at Glass’s that it’s THE product that our customers have been waiting for, and through listening to our customers – something we’ve done more of this year than ever before – we’re planning through 2011 to build on this as a mechanism to access Glass’s valuations.
What makes GlassNet mobile so different?
We soft-launched the mobile site earlier in the year so that customers could keep up with GlassGuide. co.uk while on the move and could login to GlassNet. Mobile valuations were completely accessible, but the powerful functionality of GlassNet was difficult to negotiate in its desktop variant as represented in a mobile phone screen. The new mobile platform simplifies all of this, so the time to get valuations is significantly quicker.
The added bonus is that it is totally connected to the customers’ online account, so vehicles valued by mobile will be available in their enquiry or stock lists when they manage their accounts back on the PC.
It’s different from other suppliers for many reasons, not least because it is supported by official manufacturer data for options, condition (Glass’s can offer replacement parts and repair times info) and, like the valuations, is fully retrievable on the desktop. Getting our customers mobile is very much part of our strategy going into 2011.
Glass’s has an unparalleled history stretching back more than 75 years, says Barodia. ‘But it cannot be that we rest on our laurels and live off the brand equity for the next 75,’ he says. ‘We need to evolve with our customers, so dealers can continue to look to Glass’s as the first choice for valuations. We will be embarking on a path that demonstrates how critical it is for dealers to accurately adjust valuations according to mileage and ever-changing market conditions.’
Barodia has a prime example. He met with a Land Rover dealer recently, who took a 2006 Discovery 3 with 90k miles on the clock in part exchange. Incredibly, he took an unadjusted valuation from the guide, which was average mileage at 60k!
‘He’d just lost himself around £2k, because he didn’t use the adjustments we provide for a more accurate valuation. In today’s tough economic times, where margins are being squeezed and the customer is more informed than ever, that’s a lot of money to leave on the table.’
Glass’s aim is to help put this right, so dealers can help make the right profit margins. Barodia says it is doing this by listening and evolving. ‘Glass’s has recognised that our customers are changing, the process by which they operate is changing and therefore we need to change with it,’ he adds. ‘It’s a new chapter in Glass’s, and one I’m proud to part of.’
Find them: glassguide.co.uk