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How to Sell High

Learn from the pros to get the most value out of your used vehicle.

Checking our email the other day we were greeted with a glowing testimonial from one of our customers. The sentiment is one we hear often, and it got us to thinking that if more customers knew a few secrets from the car dealer trade they could get huge return on their automotive investments. Our friend Lisa wrote:

Just wanted to say thanks so much for the great job you did on my car. She looks amazing, she is in better shape than when I bought her! I also wanted to let you know that I had sold the car less than 24 hours after putting an ad on Used Victoria, for very close to the asking price. I know this is in large part due to how amazing she looked after you were done with her. Almost wish I didn’t have to sell, she looks so good. I get to keep her ’til Wednesday though so get to enjoy her until then. Thanks again guys!

Detailing and paint companies like Island Detail & Color do a large volume of their business with car dealerships. We do complete detailing, bumper painting, scratch removal, undercoating, paint protection, and all manner of pre-purchase beautification of vehicles before they are officially sold. You may wonder why a dealership would go to such expense when they are trying to turn cars over quickly to make a profit. Well, there is one secret that car dealerships know and it is as true to private sales of used cars as it is to dealers. The secret is: customers are looking for a reason to NOT buy your car. This is a subtle distinction that makes all the difference. If they searched for the vehicle they want to buy, found your ad, came to see you for a test drive, they already want to buy it. It is exactly what they are looking for. When they do an inspection and test drive they are only looking for a reason NOT to buy it. Is it scratched, dented, rusty, or gouged? Is it dirty, smelly, stained, ripped or torn? If any of those questions answer yes, they will move on to the next seller. If the answer is no to everything, there is not a reason in the world they wouldn’t buy from you.

The Math is Simple

All you need is the data.

Many people look at the expense of detailing or car repair as a waste of money if you are just getting rid of the car anyway. The dealerships above know that the opposite is true, and if you run the numbers quickly you can understand why. Below we are going to use a simple example of selling a used Honda Civic. We will look at what it might be worth after some repair and detailing and what kind of profit a seller can expect from the services.

Resale ValueIf you had a 2008 Honda Civic DX sedan and you were going to put it on the market, first you would find its resale value, put up an ad, and start entertaining offers. The first place you should look is a resale value resource like the Kelly Blue Book or the Canadian Black Book. When you give the details about your vehicle, and its general condition, they give you a range of its potential value on the used market. The Civic in our example will resell within a range of $5212 and $6421.

The low end of this range, by the Blue Book description, requires some scratch repair, dents, chips, and the paint and body need restoration. The highest end of this range requires a car that has never had any cosmetic repairs of any kind, so we will shoot for the second-highest tier or resale value (what KBB calls “very good” condition). This means that all scratches, chips, and dents have been repaired and the body and interior are free of defects. This is when you bring your car into the shop for an inside and out detail and paint repair service.

If the car in question needed a full detail, a bumper repair for a cracked and damaged bumper, and some scratch repair around the entire vehicle exterior, it could all be done in a day and make you hundreds of dollars of profit by the end of the week. Let’s do the math:

Complete detail inside and out: $375. Bumper repair $300. Scratch/Paint Chip Repair $75. Repair Costs = $750.

Difference in asking price from the low end of Blue Book value to the high end: $1220

Total profit: $470

This illustrates the secret that dealers know and private sellers need to learn. When your car looks absolutely perfect, the benefits far outweigh any associated cost, and on top of everything else, the car will sell much faster than a vehicle covered with obvious cosmetic flaws. Sell your car faster, for more money, and have all the work done by established professionals and back in your hands overnight. This works so well and scales so easily that people start car lots and do it for a living. Us regular folks just do it every 5 or 6 years when we need a new vehicle, but by doing it right, we can turn a profit and make reselling a car a joy instead of a hassle.

If you are ready to resell a car and need some help improving its resale value, send us an email. You can even attach pictures of the damage so we can quote you without you even coming in. Just click right here.

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