Sell used trucks with video presentations
Jan 1, 2003 12:00 PM, [Compiled by Gary Macklin • firstname.lastname@example.org]
Add the rapid pace of dairy and food industry consolidation to the astonishing rate of change that has come to seem almost normal in all business, and managers and their vendors look at a daunting series of tasks. This is particularly true as mergers and buyouts change the face of fleet operations, says Bill Broadhurst, a 40-year veteran of fleet design and truck sales to the dairy industry for Watkins Leasing in Concordville, Pennsylvania.
He says one of the biggest changes recently has come in the value of used trucks and some of the methods used to spread information to the widest possible range of potential buyers. Broadhurst has recently begun to use a laptop computer, digital camera, and portable videotape recorder to produce and distribute information about equipment available for sale. He says that he has always had an intense interest in electronic gadgets and has been using digital cameras and camcorders since 1996. His latest efforts added the ability to transmit photos and video across the Internet.
As an experiment, Broadhurst made a one-minute video of his mountain cabin and hooked the camera to his laptop. Without any additions to the operating system, the computer recognized the camera as one of its disc drives and played the video. The next step was to attach the video to an email as an attachment. That worked easily as well; although, an attempt to load the video into a web site was not successful.
Since that initial experiment, Broadhurst reports that he has been using the new technology to help sell new and used trucks. Resolution of still photos is outstanding, he says, and the display can be adjusted from 1600 by 1200 pixels down to 640 by 480 pixels. The lower resolution setting allows more photos to be stored on a floppy disc. Photos are easily emailed and allow recipients to see truck condition in great detail. Video quality is good if displayed at the same size as it is made by the camera, but it loses some quality when expanded to a full-screen display.
Broadhurst reports using his video technology routinely. The one-minute video feature in the digital camera allows description and illustration of vehicle specifications and condition. He is particularly happy with the capability to show truck body condition, refrigeration units, and lift gate installations. He says a one-minute video takes six minutes to load to the Internet using a standard telephone line and is much faster with DSL service.
In addition to using video and email technology for truck sales, he reports using emailed video to document warranty claims. “I recently used the video to record an engine oil leak that was visible until after the engine reached operating temperature,” Broadhurst says.
The choice between a digital camera and a videotape recorder is one of capacity and physical size. A camera with video capability works for most applications, Broadhurst says. However, a video camera, especially one with the capability to take still photos, provides an opportunity to make longer video presentations. The drawback to the video recorder is size — almost three times as big as a digital camera. In defense of the video recorder, the zoom lens helps improve image composition when equipment is parked together tightly. Most of the software needed to play recordings on a computer is available free.
If video files become too large to email, Broadhurst recommends recording them to a compact disc. The disc can be sent to potential clients overnight. He says sending out CDs has allowed the sale of 150 to 300 trucks at little cost beyond the time required to make the recordings. Recordings also allow the presentation of information about used trucks in different locations to a single buyer.
The same technology can be used by managers to disseminate information when their fleet has a number of used trucks to move, particularly following a fleet redesign. Once the idea of using video technology and the Internet to distribute truck appraisals is mastered, it can become a standard procedure every time vehicles are sold, Broadhurst says. This has the potential to improve the return of equipment sales, because it lets information spread farther. Some parts of the country are better used truck markets than others. Video technology allows sellers to show equipment to distant buyers without physically moving it.
This idea can also be used to let potential buyers come to the seller. For equipment in multiple locations, it might be a good idea to set up a web page to show equipment for sale. The page can be changed as equipment sells or after a preset time, Broadhurst says. One big attraction to these ideas is that equipment can be presented to multiple potential buyers in multiple locations without ever leaving the office.
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