Want to boost your turn rate? Speed up your appraisals

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Updated Dec 28, 2023
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Success in the used equipment market is often defined by speed. Great salespeople can undoubtedly enhance a dealer’s productivity, but in a market defined by turn rates and monthly depreciation — particularly a historically soft market— the best path to used equipment profitability is moving units quickly.

For units that won’t be flipped immediately or brought to market as-is, appraisals are a vital step in preparing used equipment for sale. But they also can be quite time consuming.

SOARR CEO Ethan Nadolsen knows that all too well. As someone who has conducted many appraisals in his career, Nadolsen understands the importance an appraisal has on a dealer’s profitability. “A subpar appraisal can be the difference between profit and loss in a used truck deal,” he says, “holding a pivotal role in financial outcomes.”

Nadolsen says that’s why SOARR recently introduced its landmark used equipment appraisal tool for mobile devices. Built to enhance the speed, accuracy and depth of appraisals, Nadolsen says SOARR’s new tool digitizes a longstanding manual process, drastically reducing the time it takes to complete an inspection and corresponding appraisal while also reducing the likelihood of incorrect information and faulty calculations.

[RELATED: As-is used truck sales offer alternative to costly reconditioning]

SOARR’s app exists to improve appraisal processes across the used equipment market. And though the standardization of data receival, entry and display processes, he says dealers can improve their speed to market and likelihood of sales success.

“With appraisals, it’s not just the mistakes people make, it’s also the speed at which they accomplish their appraisals,” says Nadolsen. “By digitizing the process, we are trying to take something that can take hours or days and make it possible in just a few minutes.”

SOARR’s appraisal app does that by integrating directly with the company’s cloud-based inventory management system and an existing vehicle. Inspectors plug in directly to the equipment and pull all relevant vehicle data, including VIN, engine information and serial number, component specifications throughout the unit, mileage and usage data, diagnostic trouble codes, and more. Once the report concludes, the app also displays active recalls, J.D. Power market analysis and other relevant data required to set price.

Nadolsen says the automation of the data entry alone can have a dramatic improvement on appraisals.

“Think about the other way. Somebody goes out to a lot with a clipboard and is expected to start filling in boxes of all that information,” says Nadolsen. “The VIN is a 17-digit series of numbers of letters. If they write one of those down wrong, or write poorly where they can’t read it later, that throws off the entire process.”

SOARR appSOARR says its landmark appraisal app streamlines and shortens the appraisal process for used truck sellers, reducing mistakes in the process and enabling units to be listed quickly.SOARR

Nadolsen says SOARR’s app eliminates that risk, and within minutes has captured data on a unit that would take hours to capture manually and then input separately later. Nadolsen says to extrapolate that time savings over a large 100-truck trade package, for example, and the time savings are gargantuan. 

The digital app also isn’t limited by the information it can capture. A physical form, even a well-designed and detailed document, only records a fraction of data available from a truck. Nadolsen says SOARR’s app records as much information as a unit can provide.

“If you have a guided form — even if it’s a good form — you’re still only getting the data the form requests,” he says. “What if you’re looking at a dump truck? If the form was written for a [Class 8] sleeper, it may not have the questions you need to answer.”

SOARR’s appraisal tool has pathways that are unique based vehicle type, ensuring users always record the most relevant information for appraisal calculations.

Says Nadolsen, a good appraisal “should be a written picture the truck. A good appraisal can directly affect the value … . The omission of vital practices such as ECM readings during appraisals, due to either the unavailability of a reader at every location or the cumbersome nature of utilizing such tools, ultimately incurs financial repercussions.”

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Jimmie Jackson says SOARR’s boundless capture of data is his favorite feature of the tool.

Jackson’s company, EquipLinc, hosts online auctions across the country and regularly inspects hundreds of vehicles a month. Jackson can’t inspect all those units personally, so he relies on a team of inspectors across the country. By leveraging SOARR’s tool, Jackson says he has piece of mind knowing those inspections will always net what is needed to maximize a used equipment listing.

And because SOARR’s tool syncs with its inventory system, which also supports EquipLinc’s online listings, units are posted in a matter of minutes. Jackson says that speed helps buyers and sellers alike — the former has a transparent assessment of any unit it is considering, and the latter gets its equipment posted quickly for marketing and pre-sale promotional purposes.     

“Our main goal is to provide customers with as much information about a unit as possible,” Jackson says.

The confirmation that the information in the app is correct also matters. Jackson says by eliminating paper inspections and manual processing, his team knows what it displays on a listing is accurate the second it is posted.

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Another dealer using the app agreed. The wholesale buyer asked not to be named, and said the app provides credibility during sales transactions because sellers can confidently stand behind the information it presents because it comes directly from the vehicle.

“It creates transparency,” he says. “If we’re buying a truck, we can do an inspection using the app and then tell [the seller] directly what our concerns are. It’s not like taking it home and doing the inspection later and then realizing there was something that wasn’t disclosed.”

And SOARR’s app isn’t just useful because of its raw data capture. The app also enables inspectors to take images and write descriptions of visual issues with equipment, all of which are immediately logged through the system so no post-inspection data entry is required.

Jackson says that’s another time saver.

“If I have to go out and take a bunch of pics and then come back and upload them to my computer, that takes time,” he says. “With the app, I just take them on my phone and they go right in [the report].”

“It shouldn’t take that long,” adds Nadolsen.

Yet Nadolsen also notes the app is designed to not overload used truck managers.

The app’s ECM readings can fill a 75-page printed report, but Nadolsen says the most relevant information to an appraiser is found on the first page and prominently displayed in the app. Photos and visual descriptions work the same way. Damage or issues that could impact an appraisal are highlighted, while other information captured but not relevant to pricing are stored deeper within the system.

The wholesale buyer says that creates clarity and allows for swift action.

“I’ll work with an inspection service sometimes and when they send me their report, they’ll send me 50 or 60 images with it,” he says. “I don’t need all those. If the fender is damaged, I want to see that. I don’t need to see every angle of the truck.

“I know what a truck looks like. I want to know what’s wrong with it.”

Nadolsen says that’s what a good appraisal does. And when done promptly, he says good appraisals give dealers their best chance to turn inventory profitably.

“Every time you take on a trade you’re gambling. You’re taking an asset instead of money,” he says. “If it was me, I would sure like to count my cash ahead of time.”

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