Since early 2012, John and I have been through a lot with TRED. The first version of our company (TRED 1.0) was a platform for helping people custom order new cars online (imagine: a manufacturer website, standardized across brands with Truecar-style price info, and transaction-enabled for home delivery). Our mission was to provide a seamless car purchase experience. As we built it, we realized that we neglected to solve for the fact that most shoppers needed to test drive new cars before making a purchase decision.
TRED 2.0 was a platform for helping consumers test drive new or used cars from their home or office. Our mission was to create a seamless shopping and purchase experience. As we operated it, we quickly realized that many shoppers needed as much help selling their car as they did buying their car. Unfortunately, we had no clue how to help shoppers with trade-ins, so at first, we recommended that they work with the dealership directly. However, this practice led to complaints from customers that our dealers weren’t offering fair trade in values. So, we started offering our shoppers trade in valuation guidance, and explained that they should expect dealer trade in offers at or above those values. However, our trade in value guidance led to complaints from customers that dealerships were coming in below our recommendations. So, we started offering our shoppers trade in guarantees, and offered to buy cars at our recommended (and very conservative) pricing if dealers refused to do so. Within a short period of time, we had a lot of cars on our hands, and no concrete strategy for selling them.
As our used car inventory grew, we became more efficient at selling our vehicles via Craigslist and Autotrader. In fact, we became so efficient that five months ago we launched our first web experience aimed specifically at car sellers. In exchange for some quick car info, we offered instant car offers. Our team would then drive to your house, cut you a check and take your car away. To make a profit, we would offer sellers roughly 10% less than we thought we could sell the car for on Craigslist and Autotrader. After a few months of testing that platform, we started brainstorming ways to offer shoppers even more money for their cars. “Virtual consignment” made the most sense to us. Here’s how it works:
You decide to list your car for sale via the TRED platform. Wherever your car is, we come take professional photos of it, pick up a spare set of keys and give it a thorough 150-point inspection. If it passes our “TRED Test”, we offer it for sale alongside a number of buyer assurances that increase its value considerably. We handle all offline and online interaction with prospective buyers. Based on your selling timeframe, we implement a pricing plan and relay all offers for approval. Ultimately, you get the highest possible private party price by selling directly to the next buyer without having to do any legwork, meet any Craigslist creepers, or research valuations. And, you get to keep using your car until it sells. Once your car sells for a price you authorize, we collect payment from the buyer and meet you to remit payment, help you clean out your car, and collect your vehicle title document. The process is also unique for the purchaser.
In the past few months, many of our buyers have requested that we provide inspections on cars we sell so that they can be assured of product quality before purchasing. Accordingly, we have rolled out a 150-point inspection on our cars, an interactive blemishes report, a vehicle history report, as well as unparalleled product assurances such as our 10-day buy back guarantee and our 2 month 2,000 mile warranty. And when you’re ready to buy, we’ll deliver your new car to your doorstep. For a number of reasons, we believe the future of the car market is our peer to peer transaction-enabled marketplace.
TRED 3.0 offers more value, more convenience and more assurance than selling or buying privately or at the dealership. In fact, by avoiding traditional dealership costs (such as lots, cars and salespeople), we’re able to survive on a 5% margin rather than a 20% margin, while offering many of the assurances of quality that you can’t get on the private market.
Although our model has changed a lot in the past couple of years, our vision has not. We make car buying and selling easy. Give us a call at 855.795.8733, we’d love to help you out.