Tell us about the genesis of carlotfinane.com?
Carlotfinance.com was conceived after discussing the results Buy Here Pay Here dealers were receiving through traditional classified websites. Many of them were finding that it was difficult to distinguish themselves from regular Used Car Dealers and were generating a high number of enquiries which didn’t suit their sales model
What made you want to start the website?
We wanted to make life slightly easier for dealers and consumers alike. We wanted to launch a site which would solve two issues.
1. Allow shoppers to search for their next vehicle by the most appropriate method; Down Payment & Monthly Payment
2. Provide local BHPH dealers with high quality leads from customers who are within their target area and already predisposed to their need for unique financing
Where/Are you in the BHPH yourself?
Prior to launching carlotfinance.com I had worked within advertising, supplying online and offline services to Car Dealers of all shapes and sizes. Over the course my career I have provided BHPH dealers with tens of thousands of enquiries and worked with them extensively to increase the quality of the leads which they are receiving. Although I have never completed a BHPH sale myself, I have been immersed in the industry for some time.
Carlotfinance.com is a good looking website, did you design it yourself?
Although I have some basic skills when it comes to website design, carlotfinance.com was outsourced to a company within the US that had great experience with complex databases. The handling of data feeds from our customers DMS was always a major consideration for me and the team which built the site were very active in seeking out the best contacts within the industry to ensure we were on the right track.
The site will undergo a number of small changes until the end of the year where version two will be launched. There are many advancements which we intend to make, however we wanted to gain the feedback from dealers and consumers before we made the final decision on how those changes would look.
The dealers who you’ve spoke/signed up, what have they said about carlotfinance.com? How many dealers have signed up?
Our customer numbers are growing every day at the moment. The reaction from dealers has been very positive so far and we are keen to grow the number of dealers we have on the site, with the traffic numbers we are generating. We are a new venture and although we are using many online and offline advertising mediums to attract high quality traffic, we do not want to run out and sign 80 BHPH dealers up and then fail to deliver the appropriate number of inquiries to them.
We understand the value of phone calls, online applications and transferring traffic from our website to our customers and track every aspect of these ‘touches.’ The feedback we are getting is very encouraging just now in regard to the quality of the traffic that we are generating. Our dealers are pleased not to be receiving calls asking what ‘the best price they will do’ is on a particular vehicle.
Coming from a consumer standpoint, how would they use carlotfinance.com? Please name the benefits of using carlotfinance.com over other classifieds websites.
From my time with the largest automotive classifieds company in the US, I was able to listen to thousands and thousands of phone calls which were being generated for BHPH dealers. A good 70+% of those calls always included two questions:
1. How much do you want down on that car?
2. How much is that car per month?
From this it was obvious that although the vehicle that the customer was driving was important to them, the payment side was the main buying factor. Carlotfinance.com has Patent Pending on the ability to search for a product of service by Down Payment or Monthly Payment.
Consumers know that every dealer on our website works with credit challenged customers and that there is a very high probability that they will be successful in obtaining a vehicle.
Carlotfinance.com offers a level playing field for the small to medium sized independent used car dealership. There is no way to pay extra to buy your way to the front of the search results and we feel that is the correct approach, delivering results that the consumers are truly interested in. We are reinvesting that advertising Dollars of these dealers to purchase a larger and larger market share in their local area. It could almost be viewed as using ‘Co-Op’ dollars to speak to their audience on their behalf.
What do you think about the state of the BHPH industry? Govt. oversight is becoming a problem for dealers. Give us your thoughts on this subject matter.
Although the industry is facing an uncertain future I have no doubt that the need to service this sector of the market will continue. The changes that I have witnessed within the market place over the last 6-7 years has been quite marked with dealers adapting to different market demands. With this flexibility in mind I am under no illusion that our industry has the ability to shift its focus to keep within whatever legislation which is imposed. As long as there is a need, a profitable solution will be found.
Where do you see the BHPH industry 10-15 years from now?
From what I can see the next two years are going to be key in shaping the future of the industry. I have run into hundreds of BHPH dealers over the years and worked with the most reputable, to the downright dirty. Needless to say, every successful business person who occupies this space is keeping a close eye on the regulations which are likely to come to fruition over the forthcoming years and are planning for these changes as well as they can. Sub-prime financing isn’t going to go away, however the method in which it is delivered will undoubtedly change.
This interview was conducted by Shane McC. Shane currently is attending RISD studying computer programming. He enjoys traveling and plays hockey. He played for the Boston Junior Bruins of the EJHL during the 01-02 season. You can follow him on Google+