John Anderson of Anderson Honda in Palo Alto, Calif., has been handling vehicle trade-ins on his dealership Web site for about six months.
So when a new started by two former AutoNation Inc. executives offered him the chance to test software for online vehicle appraisals to consumers, Anderson jumped at the chance.
After three days, he was hooked.
During that time, Anderson had eight online requests for appraisals - including one from a man who asked and received an appraisal for his 1997 Honda Prelude on a Saturday morning. The man left the dealership in a new 2001 Honda Prelude that afternoon.
Anderson said the software by Veretech of Delray Beach, Fla., gives his customers quick and efficient appraisals and his dealership a new source of potential used-car inventory.
More importantly, he believes it is the missing link that will enable him to make all or most new-car transactions online.
'This closes the loop,' said Anderson, who kept the 1997 Prelude for his used-car inventory.
'We'll pick up trade-ins; we'll deliver new cars - whatever it takes. This gives us the ability to complete the entire transaction online.'
USED-CAR PRICES ONLINE
Veretech President Mike McFall said the plans to market the software to dealers, manufacturers and perhaps dot-coms that have an interest in securing used-car prices online.
'We make money by selling the cars (that dealers don't want) and take them to another market where we can get a higher price,' McFall said. 'We may also find there are opportunities to generate fee income for providing these services.'
McFall and Art DeLaurier, Veretech's COO, are former AutoNation Inc. executives who crafted the dealership chain's Internet business.
Veretech is a subsidiary of Fleet Lease Disposal Inc., a that specializes in remarketing off-lease and end-of-term fleet vehicles.
McFall and DeLaurier say Veretech's software provides accurate pricing information based on vehicle condition, region of the country and current price.
How It Works
Here's how the appraisal works:
A customer fills out an online appraisal form. The Veretech software processes the information and sends back an offer, which is subject to a vehicle inspection.
If the vehicle is as described, the offer is firm. If the dealer does not want the vehicle, Veretech buys it. The consumer never knows the difference.
Says McFall: 'We've learned in working with car dealers that it's very important to have the dealers' interest at heart on anything you do if you'd like to succeed.'
Another , USATradein.com, of Round Rock, Texas, has been conducting online trade-in appraisals since October.