After years of buying and selling cars on her own, Leslie Harris Vander Baan, 34, of South Charlotte, began Automotive Consignment in 2003 and CarBuyCo in 2009. She and her husband like the savings of buying and selling automobiles person to person, versus a dealership, but realized she and members of the public were taking risks they didnt need to take. She recently relaunched www.AutoConsign.com and has already seen a 10 percent growth.
Q. How did Automotive Consignment and CarBuyCo. begin?
I had always wanted to go into business for myself, I just never imagined it would be in the car business! In 2003 my husband and I were trying to sell a car on our own and found our selves sitting on the sidewalk while the family we were trying to sell to took our Jeep for a test drive. We thought this was totally crazy. Here we were letting total strangers drive off in our car while we waited, hoping theyd come back with our car. After that experience we thought there had to be a better way to buy and sell a vehicle individual to individual.
My husband and I always purchased our vehicles from private sellers to avoid paying full retail at a dealership. We also always sold our cars on our own to avoid the lower value we would receive by trading it in. Buying and selling on our own saved us money but proved to be very inconvenient and was a time consuming process. I was not able to take calls at work or get away to show my vehicle to a prospect until late at night. I was hesitant to meet strangers at my home or let someone take off in my car to test drive. There was also the matter of payment and title. When I sold a car I was leery of accepting a bad check, and when buying a car, I became concerned about the title I was receiving. Automotive Consignment is the solution to this headache and hassle.
CarBuyCo began as a means to supply a consumer an instant selling solution. Prior to CarBuyCo, if an individual wanted an immediate selling solution they were forced to visit retail row, wait in a show room environment just to receive a purchase offer. There is a portion of the public who does not want to trade-in or wait for a private party sale. CarBuyCo provides a site unseen purchase offer and an immediate selling solution. From the comfort of your home you can figure out what your car is worth. Well even go to a customers home or business to complete the transaction. A person can literally sell their car on a lunch break. Its maximum convenience and minimal hassle.
Q. What drew you to the automotive industry?
I was drawn in through my personal experience. My family has been in the automotive industry for quite sometime and I recognized a need in the automotive market for our services.
Q. What do you do?
I run the business which involves all aspects of financial planning, marketing, operations, strategic partnerships and technology initiatives.
Q. What types of cars do you consign?
We consign any non-classic vehicle in good mechanical condition. Weve had every price point throughout the years though the majority of our sellers bring us vehicles in the $5,000- $20,000 price range.
Q. What types of cars does CarBuyCo buy?
We buy any non-classic car regardless of condition. The majority of the vehicles that we purchase are 2000 and newer and are very much in demand. We guarantee to beat any written dealers purchase offer by a minimum of $100 or well pay you $100. We want these cars!
Q. What do you do with the cars that no longer are operable?
Vehicles that are no longer operable are typically sold at a salvage auction and scrapped for parts.
Q. Are there any tips you have for our readers looking to buy or sell a car?
1. Visual Inspection
Conduct a walk around of the vehicle. Is the condition of the car commensurate with the age of the car? Look at the gas and brake pedals- if they are worn yet there is very low mileage on the car, there is reason for suspicion (possible auto fraud?). Look under the hood- are the belts and hoses worn and cracked or have they been maintained? How is the paint, dents scratches? Check for the original manufactures vehicle identification number (VIN) plate in the side of the door, hood, and trunk. If it is missing, its possible the vehicle had been in an accident and that panel of the vehicle was replaced.
2. Mechanical Inspection
Invest $75 and get the car mechanically checked out! Buyer Beware: Neglected maintenance or internal engine problems that need repair. All cars will need some maintenance at some time. What you need to know is if the car has been maintained up to this point in time?
Dont be surprised! Obtain a vehicle history report; ask for service records and how the seller kept up with the previous maintenance. While we advise sellers to keep up with service records, a lot of people dont have this info. So have the car mechanically checked out. Know what you are getting into!
3. The Financial Component
Evaluate price based upon how the vehicle stands up against the average book value based upon your visual and mechanical check up. If the vehicle you are interested in was in a minor accident (less than 25 percent of the value of the car at the time of an accident) and the repair was done properly by a reputable repair shop and that work can be documented, I wouldnt shy away from the purchase. Also, if discovered after the mechanical inspection that the vehicle needed some minor maintenance work, I wouldnt let that stand in the way of my purchase either. I would simply make an offer on the vehicle based upon this information.
What is your buying power? Do you have the resources to obtain a certified check upon finding the right vehicle for you? Will you need financing? Dont wait to find the car you want to buy to start answering these questions. Its unlikely a seller will wait for you to figure out your method of payment if another prospects comes along behind you and can pay cash- be ready to move.
Financing a car is just like financing a house. You need to know in advance what your buying power is- so, find out what your credit score is and what interest rates are.
Tips on Selling Your Car
The most obvious thing you can do to help the sale of your vehicle is to have it detailed. At a minimum take your vehicle through Autobell. Think about it, when is the last time you shopped for a dirty car? So why would someone be interested in buying yours dirty? Again, people assume if the car has been well maintained cosmetically, that it was most likely maintained mechanically.
Gather all of your service records. Have them ready. Also, invest in a vehicle history report to supply to prospective buyers. This will further supply peace of mind to your prospective buyer.
Dont set your price to high. Youll discourage potential buyers from even contacting you because buyers will assume youre unreasonable and wouldnt be willing to consider a lower offer.
Kelly Blue Book private party pricing is very close to what an owner can expect to receive in the sale of their vehicle.
Locate your title or payoff information. You need to have a plan for handling the paperwork once you have a buyer including notarization, payoff, financing for your buyer and DMV visits. Lastly and most important once you have a buyer is to verify funds!
Weve built a business around resolving these problems for buyers and sellers.
Q. What is the biggest mistake car buyers make?
The biggest mistake car buyers make is not considering the hidden costs of ownership including fuel costs, insurance, maintenance and repairs and depreciation.
Avoid buying more car than you can afford! Buying a car is a very emotional decision and people make the mistake of buying with their heart not their head. You may be head over heels for a particular make or model and can afford the selling price but know your cost of ownership including fuel, maintenance/repairs. A lot of people are surprised by the maintenance cost. Not every vehicle can be run to the corner oil lube and there is a significant difference in the cost if your vehicle requires specialized service! That must be factored into your purchasing decision.
Buying a vehicle is an important decision. Manufactures release new models each year and everyone is driving a used car. Its only new until it is sold.
Q. What is your favorite style/model car?
A. Im an SUV person though youll typically find me driving around in a decaled company car with my businesses logos. These decaled cars are the same fleet of cars that we use to visit a customer at their home to purchase a vehicle. They are fun, professional and there is no mistaking who is in your driveway!
Q. How do you manage being the VP of both companies while being a mom of a toddler?
A. I have a lot of great help. Im also an expert multi-tasker and I stay organized by syncing my calendars through our smart phones. My husband and I will send meeting requests to one another when we have travel or have commitments during the week.
You can find more online at www.AutomotiveConsignment.com and CarBuyCo.com