Change Decisions, Behaviors and Culture with Data
As someone who is obsessed with data, technology, and efficiency, Danny Zaslavsky has sat in every seat and done every job at his family’s independent dealership in Kansas City, from point-of-acquisition to point-of-sale. He has quantified every step of the inventory lifecycle to identify efficiencies, eliminate waste, and take advantage of any and all opportunities to minimize costs and maximize effort. He prioritized data and outcomes over instinct and focused on achieving the Highest Authentic Value of his inventory instead of playing a game he felt he was losing.
In his pursuit, Danny organized the inventory lifecycle into three stages: acquisition, inventory management, and marketing. He found ways to measure and impact each stage to contribute to the overall value of the inventory. It’s about changing the way you do business to impact gross and turn, but it’s also about preparing your dealership to compete against the forces that are changing the entire industry. Let’s break it down.
ACQUISITION. Danny grew up at Country Hill Motors in Kansas City, literally – it’s his family’s dealership and he’s been on the floor for as long as he can remember. His dad always taught him that “when you buy right, selling is never a problem.” Everything starts with acquisition. It’s about what you need on the lot, what can you sell it for, and where you’re going to get it.
Most dealers rely on instinct and experience to tell them what they should be buying – and a lot of times they’re right. But instinct doesn’t have the same efficiency as data. Only data can make you aware of market disruptions and emerging trends – and most importantly, only data can help you take advantage of them to get ahead of your competition.
Knowing what you need means nothing if you can’t get to it, though, and if the last 18 months have taught us anything it’s that you can’t rely on a single source for inventory. Auctions will always be part of the inventory acquisition story, but smart dealers understand that they need to adopt a multi-channel sourcing strategy that combines auctions, dealer networks, and private-party acquisitions to ensure healthy and stable inventory levels.
INVENTORY MANAGEMENT. Achieving your inventory’s Highest Authentic Value is as much about understanding the true value of your inventory as it is being able to communicate it. For Danny, that means first knowing the full scope of features, options, and vehicle history, and then making sure it’s accurately and attractively attached to the vehicle. Then it’s about how much the market is willing to pay and how quickly he can expect it to turn.
Photos, descriptions, options, and even original manufacturer window stickers are a huge part of how Danny and Country Hill Motors attach value to their inventory. It’s not worth looking at market position if your inventory has a higher perceived value – especially if you’re better at attracting eyeballs, and especially if you have less invested. Most dealers are conditioned to race to the bottom price instead of selling on value, but Danny believes it’s more about storytelling.
MARKETING. Good marketing is storytelling, good storytelling is marketing. When you’ve bought right, you understand what you have, all you have left to do is tell the market you have it. It’s not quite that easy, when you meet your customers where they are it starts getting easier. This journey led Danny to completely rip out and reimagine his website and invest more in his digital brand properties like Google My Business, Yelp, and Social Media – reducing reliance on some more traditional marketing channels like email and mailers.
One of the biggest epiphanies for Danny was the idea that instead of dropping his prices every week by as little as $500 and as much as $1,000 a unit, he could instead spend less than half that on digital advertising that would attract more eyeballs and generate more leads. A lot of dealers see digital advertising as a black box their agency updates them on every month but armed with a little knowledge Danny was able to direct his agency more competently and with better results.
PEOPLE, PROCESS, TECHNOLOGY. They say it takes a village, and in the dramatic reimagining of Country Hill Motors over the last few years it has taken changes at every level of the dealership. Danny’s vision of achieving Highest Authentic Value relied and relies on the buy-in from his people, the structures and organizations in place, and the technology that allows him to measure, quantify, and predict how well the dealership is actually performing.
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