​​​​Navigating the Import Maze: How One Dealership Mastered the Art of Car Imports

Import maze

For the past few years, the automotive industry has been battling supply chain disruptions. This has led to shortages of new vehicles, empty showrooms, and disappointed customers. The situation is expected to improve in 2024 – economists are adopting a cautiously optimistic outlook, predicting modest sales growth in the industry. As supply chains get back to normal, dealerships are also likely to have a more consistent supply of new cars to sell, giving customers a wider range of options.

On the other hand, this opportunity comes bundled with significant challenges. With global political instability and rising interest rates, the possibility of economic difficulties looms large, pressuring dealerships to manage costs and streamline their operations. The pressure to focus on efficiency also happens to be coinciding with the rising expectations of millennial consumers who demand a seamless and transparent car buying experience.

These challenges are particularly significant for dealerships expanding their inventory through importing cars. The process of importing vehicles can be tortuous, fraught with potential delays and unexpected costs. In this complex environment, where price and customer service are an ongoing pressure, the efficiency of the import process becomes a critical differentiator between businesses that will thrive and those that may even be likely to close shop.

Let’s take a closer look at how using a digitally forward, DIY platform like eezyimport assists vehicle importers improve the efficiencies and costs of the import process compared to the conventional use of customs brokers to run the process.

We Weren’t Kidding: The Steps to Importing A Car

Importing a car into the US involves several steps to ensure compliance with customs regulations and safety standards. From obtaining import approval and arranging shipping to filing entry documents and calculating duties and taxes, there is a lot to do before a vehicle can pass customs inspection and be released to a dealership.

The average timeframe for importing a car can range from four to eight weeks, depending on various things. How you navigate the customs process is a critical factor in keeping the time it takes to get a vehicle from door to door to a minimum, and a badly run process can end up extending the time way beyond any anticipated time frame.

Because of the complexity and the specialized knowledge required, car importers have traditionally used customs brokers to manage the process for them. This can be costly and frustrating because the business owner has no insight into or control over the process. The digital era has changed this, however, giving importers other options like eezyImport’s DIY online platform, where importers drive the process themselves using online resources (and customer support when guidance is needed).

Let’s start off by taking a look at the process done by a dealership using a customs broker (the following stories are real, but names have been changed).

Choice Auto: Battling the Old Way

Choice Auto is an established car dealership based in Florida, USA. Owned by seasoned car importer Olivia Felton, it has been operating for twenty years from the same location. Olivia had always relied on a traditional customs broker to manage Choice Auto’s import process. Her recent experience with a shipment of five cars from Japan highlighted the limitations of this approach.

Olivia’s excitement about acquiring the cars and the prospect of filling her showroom floor quickly devolved into frustration. After receiving the required documentation from her broker she set about trying to complete them. Some of the information she needed to submit had changed, and she was unsure how to proceed. It took her two weeks to get clarity from her broker who was difficult to pin down. Once the documents had been submitted to him, communication continued to be a problem. Olivia received only sporadic updates via email, leaving her in the dark about the status of her shipment and limiting her ability to manage customer expectations. “We had promised deliveries based on the broker’s estimated timeline,” said Olivia, “but the lack of communication made it impossible to keep customers informed of any potential delays.”

But the biggest blow came when the shipment experienced unexpected delays at customs due to incorrect paperwork submitted by the broker. This not only extended the wait time for the vehicles by a staggering six weeks, (something Choice Auto could not afford) but also impacted the dealership’s cash flow significantly. Promised deliveries were missed, and disgruntled customers started canceling orders. “The whole experience was a nightmare,” admits Olivia. “We lost valuable time, money, and customer trust because our broker wasn’t prioritizing my process. I suppose I am small fry to him, but he really was important for my business.”

Then came an unwelcome surprise – the final bill. The charges significantly exceeded the initial quote provided by the broker. Hidden fees for “additional processing” and “unexpected complexities” left Olivia feeling frustrated and ripped off. Reaching the broker for clarification proved futile. Calls were not returned, and emails went unanswered, adding to her growing sense of helplessness.

Choice Auto’s experience illustrates how a badly run process by a third party who doesn’t share your sense of urgency can significantly extend the import timeline. This delay impacted not just the dealership’s bottom line but also its reputation – a reputation Olivia had spent twenty years building.

Motor Hub: Embracing Efficiency with eezyimport

Motor Hub is a newer dealership, also based in Florida. Led by the enthusiastic but somewhat less experienced Michael Delgado, he prioritizes a seamless customer experience from test drive to purchase. His initial foray into car imports proved frustrating. “The traditional broker system felt like a black box,” says Michael. “We were constantly chasing updates and unclear on costs.” Determined to find a solution that empowered control and transparency, Michael discovered eezyimport’s user-friendly online platform.

Motor Hub’s recent shipment of ten cars from Germany became the testing ground for eezyimport. Even finding the right HTS codes was not the nightmare he anticipated. Michael used eezyimport’s Borderless Import Navigation Assistant (BINA) tool, which was a game-changer. “With BINA’s easy prompts, I could accurately identify the HTS code for each car,” says Michael. “I have heard the horror stories of custom hold-ups and surprise duty increases because of wrong classifications, and I needed to make sure I got this right. I had built it up as a huge thing in my mind, and it literally took minutes to do.”

And that was just the beginning. eezyimport’s platform streamlined the entire process. The system identified exactly which forms he needed to complete and which documents to get, and Michael uploaded scanned copies directly onto the platform. Michael was even able to purchase a customs bond from eezyimport in order to file an Importer Security Filing (ISF). Everything was readily accessible for customs review within three days of starting the process.

Transparency throughout the process was a key benefit for Motor Hub. eezyimport’s built-in calculator provided upfront estimates of import duties and taxes, allowing Michael to make informed decisions about pricing and budgeting. Michael highlights a particularly useful feature – the platform’s catalog where he saved the information on all their imported vehicles. This not only streamlines future imports by having past details, like the HTS codes, readily available but also provides valuable data for inventory management.

But navigating the complexities of customs regulations isn’t always a smooth ride. During the import process, a minor issue arose with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval for one of the vehicles. However, eezyimport’s customer support team quickly guided Michael through the steps to resolve the issue, ensuring a minimal delay. “Their support was fantastic,” says Michael. “I was panicked and thought I would have to hire another broker to sort this out after all. But I called eezyimport and they guided me through the hiccup. It was sorted within hours.”

Motor Hub received their shipment within a remarkable four weeks, allowing them to quickly prepare the vehicles for their very happy customers. The icing on the cake for Motor Hub? “ I ran the numbers,” says Michael “I paid $95 less for this shipment than one I did through my broker. eezyimport not only saved us time but also cost significantly less.”

eezyimport: Become A Master Importer

Importing cars can be a rewarding venture, expanding your inventory and improving sales. But as Choice Auto discovered, navigating the complexities of customs regulations, HTS codes, and potential delays can quickly turn this dream into a logistical nightmare. Eezyimport changes all that.

eezyimport empowers dealerships to become masters of the import process with a comprehensive suite of tools designed for efficiency and ease of use. Our user-friendly platform guides you through every step, from HTS classification (thanks to our built-in BINA) to document preparation and customs clearance. eezyimport’s innovative DIY filing system saves you time and money, eliminating the need for expensive traditional brokers. DIY doesn’t mean you’re alone – a wealth of resources and support is at your fingertips, including educational materials and a dedicated customer support team to answer any questions and address concerns.

Don’t let the fear of the unknown hold you back from expanding your dealership’s horizons. eezyimport provides everything you need to master the import process and navigate the complexities of global shipping with confidence. Contact us today to learn more.

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eezyimport is an online platform and is not a licensed customs broker. However, we work closely with a third-party licensed customs broker who can assist with any entry-related issues.

eezyimport is an online platform and is not a licensed customs broker. However, we work closely with a third-party licensed customs broker who can assist with any entry-related issues.

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