October 3, 2007
So our crack team of three founders have a ton of coding, Internet, used car, and entrepreneurial skills but we admittedly lack in one area that is rather critcal to a successful web company….design. To this point, our lead (and when I say lead, I mean only) developer Eric has knocked out the majority of the design, other than the logo that Logoworks cranked out for us based on our other founder’s concept. I think Eric has done a rather admirable job on the site and its very respectable for this stage. That being said, each new design initiative is a major project for our team and takes many more man hours than if one of us had true design skills. We drool over the Internet design by masters like Dan Cederholm, but we just don’t and probably won’t possess those kinds of design chops anytime soon
Our design “problem” creates some interesting discussion within our team as we have to even the balance between what changes are necessary design-wise compared to product development for less design centered ideas. I thought the blog readers might find it interesting to see what we are currently debating in order to get a glimpse into what we are thinking/doing on a daily basis in addition to selling cars.
Every vehicle on our site has a Car Detail Page (CDP) that shows all of the details for each vehicle. I have a personal affinity at the moment for the Range Rover Sport, and its CDP can be seen here: Land Rover Sport. Eric will tell you that Range Rover’s are junk (he’s a Honda guy), but I love their look and would love to upgrade to one once I get rid of my Chevy Avalanche. The CDP is an extremely crucial page on our site, maybe even more so than the homepage, as the majority of our traffic enters our site currently through CDP pages. Many of our cars are listed on Craigslist and these cars link directly to their corresponding CDP’s.
Thus, we want the CDP to convert our traffic into qualified buyer leads. We feel that our current CDP design is somewhat confusing for a few reasons. The spacing below the pictures of the vehicle and the condition and option reports below it are way off and we’ve found that a lot of our visitors don’t ever realize that all of those juicy car facts are waiting for them if they scroll down the page. Moreover, there is no sort of education about Evenlevel and someone unfamiliar with our site gets dropped into a CDP page and has no idea about how our process works or even where our used cars come from. Additionally, if a customer gets to a CDP page for an expired vehicle, we’re not doing a sufficient job in telling them that the vehicle is in fact expired and then taking the next step and directing them to active vehicles that fit their search criteria.
All of the three founders have taken a crack at some form of the redesign and I started mine yesterday afternoon. I spent about 4 hours on it and I think that another 3 or 4 hours of work today and I’ll have a version that I like…pending approval from the other two founders. The worry is that we spend too much time on this and not enough time on other critical features. But for the time being the CDP redesign is at the top of our list. I’ll let everyone know once we’ve rolled out the latest version. With all of the creative energy going into the CDP, it is starting to feel like the car design page more than the car detail page.
September 29, 2007
One of the other founders and I had a really fun time on Friday as we headed down to the San Antonio Auto Auction (SAAA). This trip was particularly exciting for me, as I had never been to an auto auction. We sold a 2006 Chevy Equinox to a customer named Marie last week and the vehicle was located at the SAAA. Instead of having the vehicle shipped to us, we thought we’d make the short trip and pick it up for her ourselves.
Dealer-only auto auctions are essentially comprised of massive parking lots filled with cars, an administration building that houses most of the auction employees that take care of payments, transportation, inspections etc., and the actual physical auction lanes themselves. Cars come down through these lanes and are unsold when they start and then get bid on and are sold by the time they come through the other end of the auction lane. Here I am standing in one of the auction lanes after the auctions had finished. Sorry girls, I’m not currently for sale.
The physical space that the full auction occupies is astounding. Furthermore, the activity going on at these auctions is really overwhelming to a newbie like me. This auction was run by Manheim and they employ over 35,000 people at there auctions worldwide and I can now see why.
We also took the opportunity to test drive a BMW 325 that a customer had expressed interest in earlier in the day that happened to be at the SAAA as well. We ended up selling him a different BMW located in New Jersey that he should be receiving next week.
I drove the Equinox back to Austin and Marie took possession of the car today. Marie seemed really ecstatic about the condition of the vehicle and I really hope she enjoys her new ride. We’ll post some pictures of Marie and her vehicle soon on the site.
August 5, 2007
We’re happy to report that a customer just got her car. She had contacted us a few weeks ago looking for an older (’01/’02) BMW or Lexus. During her search there were quite a few very promising cars – she was surprised at all of the cars she could afford; her budget was roughly $16k, with a preference for imported cars, the newer, the better.
After looking for a week, including a couple 3 series, GS 300s, Camrys, Accords, and a bunch of other cars, she finally settled upon the Jetta. She was in Austin and the car was in Phoenix. Like most people, she was a little hesitant about buying a car without test driving it first, but the inspection report and return policy helped assuage her fears. She made the decision to buy the car. She sent us the money and we purchased the car for her.
We arranged transportation, and aside from a little hickup – the driver’s truck broke down in San Antonio – the car arrived safe and sound. She said the car was actually in better condition than described with more options than she thought it would have. I’ve been assured she’s very happy with the car and sent a few pictures for us to see!