October 29, 2007
So I’ve taken a very obvious break from blogging and I wanted to get started up again. Evenlevel had a ton of momentum at this beginning of this month. We started showing up in search engine results for a lot of car terms and our daily traffic had almost doubled to nearly 500 visitors. This progress was really fantastic given the short time that we had been in business. Unfortunately we ran into a major roadblock.
It seems that our business was a bit too disruptive for the mainstream car market. Dealers were noticing what we were doing and they started complaining. Eventually the company that we pulled our auction inventory from could no longer ignore their dealer-base and they asked us to stop pulling inventory from their site. As this was our primary source of inventory, this left the Evenlevel team in quite a quandary. The negative dealer feedback was not unexpected. We were taking direct aim at the traditional used car model and it was working. However, we did not expect our supply source to be cut off as we were doing them a service and selling cars. Given that there is no short-term resolution with our supply source in sight, we’ve been forced to regroup and work on relaunching our business with a different business model. We learned a few things the first time around that helped shape our “new” version of Evenlevel.
Used car dealers are not bad, inefficient entities. We realized that they do provide a ton of value to the consumer. They help with trades, arranging financing, and perhaps most importantly, with post-sale servicing. So we were stuck with the task of figuring out how to remain true to Evenlevel’s original core values while incorporating the value that dealers bring to the table in a used car transaction.
During the first round of Evenlevel we were displaying cars that were only available at dealer-only auctions. We found that price savings of $4,000-$5,000 were common. During our research we looked at a ton of price comparisons. During this research we discovered another interesting fact about the car market, cars prices vary wildly depending on the part of the country you live in. Often by $4,000-$5,000…the same relative price difference we were saving our customers in the first version of Evenlevel.
What we now aim to do is to inform consumers of geographic price differences in the used car market and help them locate the best deals in the national marketplace. Once a consumer has found a car that they are interested we match them up with a used car dealer that is local to that consumer and can help negotiate the purchase, help with trade-in and financing, and can assist in the post-sale servicing.
Our business will make it easier to locate the best deals in the marketplace and will remove the pain of buying an out-of-state vehicle from an unknown entity. Bargain car shoppers will no longer have to worry about title work or registration issues with the out of state dealer as they will ultimately buy the vehicle from their local dealer. We intend to add feedback ratings for all of our dealer partners as well so that the consumers can make an informed decision on which dealer partner to work with.
I’ll blog more about our vision and the relaunch of Evenlevel shortly. But I wanted to give everyone an update on where we were business-wise.
July 11, 2007
All businesses exist to make money, so you might want to know how we make money. Evenlevel shows retail customers cars currently available in dealer auctions and let you buy them from us. Actually, the wholesale marketed is a little more sophisticated these days; there are several websites that are the equivalent of eBay Motors for dealers. Those websites include:
- OVE: Manheim, one of the largest companies in the wholesale market (also known as remarketing), owns OVE. Cox Enterprise, of Cox cable, actually owns Manheim. OVE has a marketplace that let’s dealers and other wholesale sellers, like rental car companies, list cars for sale to be purchased by dealers.
- GMAC SmartAuction: A few years ago, GMAC, the financial company that lends money to buy GMs, started an online marketplace for GM dealers to use. Dealers could list GM cars for sale for other GM dealers to buy. SmartAuction eventually opened up, letting dealers list non-GM cars, and eventually allowing non-GM Dealers to use the service.
These companies, and a few others, are the source of our cars, so the cars you see, and the prices you see, are the same cars and prices that other dealers see. We show you the auction ‘Buy It Now’ price that we would pay to purchase the car, and then we include the $250 auction buy fee, the fee the auction charges us to buy the car, and our $749 fee. Every car price is the ‘Buy It Now’ price plus $999. That’s it, no more, no less.
When you’re ready to purchase a car, let us know, we will help arrange the details, purchase the car and have it shipped to your door – simple, easy, and transparent. We’re aiming for a completely new buying experience; feel free to let us know how we are doing.
Viva La Revolucion!