Sam Swope Auto Group of Louisville, Ky., aims to buy virtually every private-party used car and truck it can find for sale in its market.
Buyers stationed at its used-vehicle Buy Center appraise and make cash offers for vehicles from walk-in sellers and those brought in by appointments made on its website, selltosamswope.com. The buyers also comb Craigslist and other online listings in search of for-sale-by-owner vehicles. They make house calls to sellers' homes or offices in SUVs wrapped with graphics touting: "Sell to Sam Swope.com" and "We pay cash for your car."
And when Buy Center staffers happen upon for-sale vehicles parked in public places?
They whip out their smartphones, scan the vehicle identification number, run a vehicle history report and leave a written cash offer -- subject to a mechanical inspection -- on the windshield.
Cary Donovan, Sam Swope Auto vice president of operations, declined to say how many vehicles the group buys from private sellers. But he noted purchases have grown 25 to 30 percent over the last two and a half years.
To be sure, half of the vehicles are wholesaled because they don't meet the company's retail standards. But that's just fine, Donovan said.
The laser-focused effort to become the go-to destination for consumers who want to sell their vehicles supplements the group's used-car acquisition strategy and has evolved into a tidy profit center, he said.