But most of us still take the weary path, driving from car lot to car lot looking for the vehicle, price, trade-in allowance and financing package that either suits us or that we finally accept because we need a car and our patience has worn thin.
The second and third kind of car buyer, the traditional kind, now has another option – that is, if they live within reasonable driving distance of Atlanta (or can fly in): Carvana, a purveyor of late-model mid-market and luxury pre-owned vehicles that delivers buyer’s purchases through a novel “vending machine” not far from Georgia Tech.
The vending machine concept (their storefront actually resembles one) sets Carvana apart from other online auto buying sources, as does an eye-pleasing, easy to navigate web site. Prospects can even test drive their would-be purchases virtually before plunking down their bucks and showing up at the vending machine with an access code. And if they need financing, that’s available, too -- the people backing the venture have years of experience running dealerships and in consumer finance. All in all, Carvana seems organized for success, which begins with offering clear savings for its customers.
“The average consumer spends more than 20 hours and overpays roughly $3,500 when purchasing a car due to antiquated dealer sales practices,” declares a post on Carvana’s friendly and informative blog (http://blog.carvana.com/sample-page/the-back-room/). That said, the firm claims to save $1,500 per car by not having a dealership, which they pass along to their customers. A brief comparison of price on their Web site with those advertised for similar models with comparable mileage by dealerships in my area suggests that Carvana’s price is lower – a difference that could evaporate rapidly if a prospect has the time and patience to negotiate a better deal locally.
Time and convenience are other Carvana differentiating factors, as is what they call a 7-Day Test Drive, essentially a post-delivery No Questions Asked Money Back Guarantee.
Customers can pick their car out from the comfort of their home, then fly/drive/walk to the company’s vending machine and take delivery there. Inventory selection seems to consist mostly of silver and white 2011-2013 sedans or SUVs with the occasional red F-150, Mustang, Camaro or Jeep thrown in. If they live within 75 miles of Atlanta, there’s free home delivery, or buyers can take delivery of their new ride in the traditional way. For an additional $199, people who live within 76-250 miles of Carvana can have their new car trucked to them and delivered at home. Buyers more than 250 miles away are invited to fly into Hartsfield and be picked up at the airport.
There would seem to be a vast market for the Carvana concept, since the typical car buying experience has been long due some transformation. It isn’t the answer for everybody – maybe for most car buyers, people who like to see, touch and drive before they buy and who appreciate local service. But all in all, it’s a refreshing concept that Carvana’s customers seem to like – witness this high compliment from a satisfied buyer, who said:
“If Apple invented a way to buy a car, this would be it.”
I admire this innovative idea -- and the visionary thinking that led to it. I also appreciate Carvana’s spiffy online presentation and their copywriter, who has a mischievous (but restrained) sense of humor. That could be the work of company president Ernie Garcia, if his recent blog post announcing future delivery of Carvana cars by helicopter is any clue.
A whole new way to buy a car? Sure. But I wouldn’t lay awake waiting on the helicopter.
TakeAway: Is there an idea lurking in your mind that could revolutionize your business category?
Content © by Brian E. Faulkner
About Brian Faulkner:
> blogs to establish you as the knowledge source / authority in your business category
> case stories that communicate your sales successes and invite prospect inquiry
> testimonials that showcase customer / client satisfaction in 1-2 short sentences
> positioning statements to guide business development & marketing
> landing page copy to set your business or brand apart in a compelling way
> tagline development to attract the interest of your most qualified prospects
Brian also is a three-time Emmy award winning Public Television writer and narrator of UNC-TV’s popular Our State magazine series, on the air since 2003. His distinctive voice has been heard on many hundreds of radio spots and client projects since the 1970s. People say he sounds a bit like Charles Kuralt, which Brian considers a welcome but happy illusion.