Thursday, August 9, 2012

The one(s) that got away!

As we've been watching the Olympics this last few weeks, we're present to performance at it's highest level. We can define performance as action or inaction. As we watch sprinters off the block it's easy to see the action, running fast, faster, and fastest. What's not as easy to see is the inaction; being locked and loaded on the block, not moving until the shot … tha't as much performance as the action of running.  

Since my last blog post I've replaced the engine on the Jeep GrandCherokee and made the sale to Casey, my first customer. Needless to say, we'll hear from him later with glowing customer service reports and, I've been to weeks of auctions not buying anything. At first, I was disappointed and left feeling ineffective. Why, after seeing all these cars move through the lanes, I wasn't able to make a purchase? That's when it hit me, performance is action and inaction, sometimes what we don't do is as important as what we do. I return from each auction and review the list of cars I was interested in, look at the amount of the auction bids and track the trade-in and resale values. Which vehicles will move through my hands quickly and which will wait for an owner for weeks or more? What's the ideal difference between the auction bid and the final sale price? I have to account for my overhead and the improvements I make to each and every car in the inventory. That's when I began to see where I'm not a babe in the woods, I actually have a sixth sense for when to act and when not to. I could begin to see my inaction as performance. 

Then, yesterday came. I was at the quarterly BIG auction in Auburn. Over 2,000 cars to choose from on 9 lanes of auctions going on simultaneously. it's a beehive of sales activity, my estimate is between $4-5M in gross sales per hour for nearly 3 hours.  Surely there would be a single car for my new fledgling dealership, for the market I serve? I patrolled the lists, the upcoming cars in the lanes and the lanes themselves. I was attentive to the 'red light' and my spreadsheet of recent auction activity. Some bids ranged in to the 'too high to consider' regions - some vehicles in range are too far gone in other words, no 'curb appeal'. Some had me frozen on the block ... I didn't bid (didn't run when the gun went off) when I could've. Inaction wasn't performance!  Then I saw it, a 'Creamsicle-Cream' colored beauty, a VW Beetle GLS Convertible, it had a dark brown top, two-tone goodness together with the paint. Its' aftermarket chrome wheels glistened even in the indirect sunlight, the whole car luscious and cute as, well, a bug! A 2003 with only 75,350 miles on it and it's a 'green light' too, I can have it gone over for any major defects and get a clean bill of health. I can't lose right? I bid at $6K and the bids keep going up. I hold fast. It gets to $6,600. and I haven't bid up, I refuse to gesture and somehow the auctioneer drops the price back to $6,500. and I jump, SOLD!  It  rolls out in to the bright sun, a dazzling ghost until it's real again. 

I hike it out to the parking lot to find the VW in its assigned spot. It's a mile away and it's as beautiful and shiny as I thought it was; real again to my eyes. It's sandwiched between lesser cars and no point taking a picture. All there is to do now is hike back and do the paperwork, authorize the mechanical inspection of all major systems and get the VW delivered with its clean bill of health. 

Not so fast. The call comes the next morning, the airbag light is on and this can be an issue within the $500. window (I'd have to accept) or if more, I can negotiate with the seller to make the repair on site or, I can retract my offer. A few hours later, it turns out to be the latter case, almost $1K of airbag technology to repair.  I chose to retract the offer. Yes, I was happy to make the purchase and knew the VW would make someone in my world very happy, however, the margin for this car was lower than expected, and I'd still need to make some minor cosmetic improvements. Now a repair needed to be made after a negotiation with the seller and that all takes time. Timing is everything when marketing a convertible in Seattle :) and that's time I could use to make another purchase.

Inaction, not buying this car is performance yet, I don't feel any elation! I have no photo to post to my web site, no exciting conversations to have with people and no possibility for revenue this week. Even so, I know the performance here is experience and increasingly, every automotive choice I make going forward will be valuable for each new customer and move Access Motors forward! Forward off the block and running the split second the gun goes off - BOLT!!