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Understanding Appraisals

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Performing appraisals is an important step in both making smart acquisitions for your inventory and optimizing your profit on deals. Evaluating customer trades, potential inventory vehicles, and existing used inventory vehicles empowers you to make better decisions when acquiring and pricing vehicles. And being able to do all of this within Autosoft DMS using our Appraisal tool helps you to accomplish this task efficiently.

Note:  The Appraisal tool is part of Autosoft's Inventory Management product. To use the feature, you must have a subscription to Inventory Management and individual permissions to access the tool.

Starting an Appraisal
You can begin an appraisal using the New Appraisal button. This button is accessible in these areas:

  • From the Appraisal Search screen and
  • From the Appraisal/Bookout page of a customer or inventory vehicle record.

Additionally, you can perform an appraisal from the Vehicle page of a deal (in Sales application) while viewing the trade record. Here, the button is labeled Add/View Appraisals.  

For step-by-step directions on staring an appraisal, see the Knowledge Base article, "Starting an Appraisal."

Appraisal Basics
Although it is not required, assigning the appraisal an Appraisal Name or attaching a customer to the appraisal will simplify things later. If you start an appraisal from a customer vehicle record or attach a customer to the appraisal, the customer's name will populate the Appraisal Name and Customer fields and the vehicle appraisal will follow the customer and appraisal vehicle's records. If you build appraisals for outright-purchase vehicles or trade vehicles, you can also simply enter an Appraisal Name to the appraisal in lieu of attaching a customer. Later, you can easily search for the in-progress or completed appraisal by the Appraisal Name or Customer Name in the Appraisal Search page. 

Upon completion of an appraisal, a vehicle record will be created for the vehicle you appraised, and the appraisal will follow the vehicle record throughout the DMS. In the case of a completed appraisal with an attached customer, the customer will be assigned as the current owner of the appraised vehicle and that vehicle will be listed in the Vehicles tab of the customer record, as well.

Appraisals allow you to evaluate vehicles using integrated book provider values and competitive market data. The Appraisal tool uses the book providers you subscribe to through Autosoft. Each provider assigns a value to certain features or lack thereof, so it's important to select all the features that apply to the appraisal vehicle. In some cases, the provider cannot decode trim; you will need to use the Trim options drop-down to select trim. This will ensure the book values are as accurate as possible.

Note:  While your dealership will likely have subscriptions to one or two book providers, many of Autosoft's example images for appraisal articles display all the book provider cards. This ensures all book provider users will be able to see how their provider/s display information.

The Appraisal Worksheet allows you to compare your Projected Cost and Projected List to the vehicle's book values to determine the Appraised and Retail values' relative position to the book provider value and condition of your choice while protecting your Projected Profit. The two columns in the Appraisal Worksheet represent Appraisal on the left and Retail on the right. For a vehicle you are likely to retail, the Appraisal column's Comparison Book Value field should be populated with the book provider value type and condition against which you would most likely compare your retail-ready inventory accounting cost. In other words, for a vehicle you will likely sell retail, you may use a value that represents the total investment you'll have to make in the vehicle for resale purposes instead of the value for the vehicle's current condition. If you intend to sell the vehicle wholesale, it’s best to use the value that best represents the vehicle's actual condition and value type. This feature allows you to view your potential equity position and listing-to-book comparison before you purchase a vehicle for inventory (Projected Cost and Project List percentage of book). When you click on a book value, a pop-up lets you determine if you'd like to use the figure as the Appraisal or Retail Comparison Book Value. You may wish to use different book providers for the appraisal and retail values. The selected values will be highlighted in red (Appraisal value) and green (Retail value) on the book provider card or cards. The book provider and condition you selected will be noted under the column header for reference.

Use the Base Appraised Value fields in both columns to enter your estimate of the vehicle's actual value and the retail asking price. The Autosoft Market Analysis card (see description below) provides market data to help determine a potential selling price based on similar vehicles within a specified radius. The tool will display all similar vehicles in the default mileage radius; however, you can override the radius to return a smaller or larger set of vehicles. The optimal number of vehicles in the set is between 20 and 30. To hone in on the most similar vehicles, use the Trim, Odometer Range, Certified, Transmission, Engine, Drivetrain, Body Type, and Body Sub-Type fields to refine the results. Click Details to view a detailed competitive list of vehicles. Each vehicle listing includes the vehicle's trim package and VIN, selling dealership and its distance from your dealership, odometer reading, whether it's certified, its days on market, and its pricing (list price, the difference between the vehicle price and the average market price, and percentage of market average). 

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As you build your Appraisal Worksheet, add any dealership costs associated with the acquisition of the vehicle or any adjustments based on the vehicle's condition, such as exceptionally high or low mileage for its age, body damage, or a negative Carfax report. This gives you an idea of your projected cost for the vehicle. Once the worksheet is completed, you can see what your equity position will be if you take this vehicle in and take it to market. 

If you established default values in the Setup for Reconditioning, Certification, Transportation, Auction, and Other fields, those values will auto-populate the Appraisal Worksheet. You can alter them on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis. If an itemized list of services and costs has been created for Reconditioning and/or Other, you will not be able to adjust the cost by simply typing a new figure in the fields. Instead, you will have to click the pop-out icon to the right of the line label and adjust or zero-out individual items listed for the category.  

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Based on the values in the Appraisal Worksheet, you determine your Disposition as Retail or Wholesale. 

Edit the values and percentages in the green section of the Appraisal Worksheet card to adjust the appraisal and retail values to target specific equity, profit, and/or future pricing goals. If you're uncertain how each value is calculated, click the blue information icon to see a list of calculations. Use the locks to the right of the Projected Cost, Projected List, and Projected Profit line labels to lock (signified by a closed red lock) or unlock (signified by an open green lock) the values. If you lock a value, you protect it from being altered by any of the adjustments you make to the other fields in the green area. Each locked line opens a different set of fields for editing.  

For step-by-step directions, see the Knowledge Base article, "Performing an Appraisal."

Appraisal Notes and Images
As part of an appraisal, you can add notes and photos that will be stored in the appraisal, as well as in the vehicle record, but not included when syndicating a vehicle. To add notes and vehicle images, use the Add Note/Images button in the Appraisal Notes card. Create notes that will help you document your assessment of the vehicle and add images to capture vehicle condition and relevant documents, such as registration and insurance cards. 

Once you've performed an appraisal on a trade-in or purchase vehicle, the appraisal and any notes and images you've added to it will follow the vehicle and deal records for easy reference. The images will be kept separate from the vehicle's Gallery Images and will be organized under the "Appraisal" label, appraisal number, and date.

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To learn more about adding notes and images to an appraisal, see the Knowledge Base article, "Adding Appraisal Notes and Images."

Searching for and Opening In-Progress and Completed Appraisals
All appraisals, whether complete or still in progress, can be searched for and recalled using the Appraisal Search screen. 

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This screen can be accessed by clicking the Appraisal Search button in the upper-right corner of the Vehicle Search screen or by hovering over the Vehicle application button in the left navigation bar and selecting Appraisal Search from the Vehicle options menu.

The appraisals are listed by the date last updated. By default, the status of each appraisal in the list is noted, along with the year, make, model, and VIN of the appraised vehicle, the odometer reading, the appraised value, customer name (if one was entered in the Appraisal Worksheet), and the name of the appraiser. However, you can add additional data columns using the Additional Grid Column options menu. 

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You can scroll through the Appraisal Search list or use the Quick Search and Advanced Search options to search for a particular appraisal. 

To learn more about searching for and opening an in-progress or completed appraisal, see the Knowledge Base article, "Searching for and Recalling an Appraisal."

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