(Darren Aiken is the assistant vice president for Wheels Inc.)
UCN: Did 2017 meet your expectations?
Aiken: Last year was a great market for our clients. Resale values for true fleet vehicles remained strong and allowed our customers to enjoy low depreciation costs for another year. The forecasted increase in supply did occur, but the industry was able to absorb the increase in vehicles, due to new vehicle incentives and demand for used vehicles.
The last quarter of the year experienced major weather events and our hearts and prayers go out to anyone affected by the hurricanes, floods and the fires.
The natural disasters also had an effect on prices of used vehicles across the country with certain segments of vehicles having price increases in the last quarter of the year.
UCN: What do you expect for 2018?
Aiken: This year looks very optimistic for Wheels and the remarketing of fleet vehicles.
The supply, current economic conditions and consumer confidence will fuel the used vehicle industry for the remainder of the year. After 2018, the supply of total used vehicles for sale should start to drop from 2018 highs and we should continue to have strong resale values in the future.
UCN: What are you doing to distinguish your offerings with the growing amount of inventory entering the wholesale market?
Aiken: Our strategy continues to be building a used vehicle brand for Wheels vehicles, whether we are selling them in the lanes or online, by differentiating our vehicles from all the other used vehicles for sale.
This strategy has been working, as we planned for this supply increase over the last five years.
It has built a great following for Wheels vehicles.
Part of our strategy is to offer certified units for sale, lane representation, vehicles that are fully maintained while in-service and one-owner vehicles.
Dealers like to buy vehicles from someone they know and the integrity of the seller is critical in building a brand.
UCN: What technologies are having the biggest impact on the way you remarket vehicles?
Aiken: Simulcast and online purchases by dealers have had the biggest impact on resale for fleet vehicles. As it gets more acceptable to purchase a used vehicle digitally, and condition reports, the grading system and reconditioning improvements get more fine-tuned and accepted by the buyers, we will see a drastic change in how dealers purchase vehicles now and in the future.
UCN: What ways could the auctions better meet your needs?
Aiken: The auctions really do a good job and have many good employees working every day to make sure sale day happens without a hitch and on time.
One area where they need to continue to focus their attention is operationally. Auctions need to continue to increase productivity of their locations and their employees.
Auctions can do this a number of ways by reviewing current processes, using technology and continuing to train employees on improving processes.
UCN: What are you doing for dealers?
Aiken: We continue to educate dealers about Wheels, to make sure they know our brand: that we sell certified, one-owner, corporately maintained vehicles that are represented sale events. Wheels does not use our auction lane to sell vehicles that are not owned or managed by Wheels to our dealers.
Again, dealers want to purchase vehicles from whom they know and whom they trust to stand behind their vehicles.