Pre-Purchase Inspections - New Strategy


#1

Hi all!

I’m a college student and a lifelong auto enthusiast. Because I had a difficult experience scheduling a PPI, I’m starting a network of specialized inspection technicians.

All of our technicians work full-time in the field and travel to the vehicle’s location. Most importantly, we care about brand specialty - for example, only an experienced BMW technician will inspect a BMW.

Basically, we’ll give you a directory of technicians who can become your personal mechanic for a car purchase.

Does this seem like a valuable service? What are your major concerns? Do you see anything I could improve about the process?

Thanks in advance for your feedback.


#2

Also, feel free to respond on this thread if you prefer to do so.


#3

I have a fried that does this as well as searches for the “right” used car for you. He specializes in BMW’s. He’s doing pretty well at it. There IS a market for that service.


#4

Thanks for the feedback. As far as you know, has your friend found issues with expanding the service because of the BMW brand specialty? Wondering how difficult it is to enter a new geo with extremely specific requirements.


#5

Why limit your market to pre-purchase inspections? Around here half of the purchase inspections we do are post-purchase, meaning “I bought a car this weekend and need to bring it in to see what’s wrong with it.” Even had one guy last month that needed a tow truck because his new used car broke down on the way home.


#6

He stayed relatively local - southern part of the state, 3 large metro areas - because of family issues but he was well known in BMW circles.The market he was in was large enough to keep him busy. He did more than just BMWs but the bulk was the roundel crowd.


#7

The biggest issues I see are elevating the vehicle for a good look-see, hauling sufficient equipment around, and, in New England, the weather issue. I sometimes have to wait weeks for a decent day. Forget January, February, and March for reliable cash flow.


#8

This seems sort of difficult to believe. What kind of difficulties did you have schedule a PPI? I’m not saying your idea isn’t worthy, but I can’t imagine why a person wouldn’t be able to easily find a qualified shop who’d do a PPI and within a reasonable period of time. I guess my question is why would a potential car buyer use your service rather than their own trusted mechanic?


#9

Do you have technicians on stand-by for inspections? We don’t. We typically have 10 scheduled customers waiting between 8AM and 3PM. A non-regular customer is a low priority in the dispatch system. Can a used car buyer take a car for 4 hours for inspection?


#10

I think this business model is an innovative idea, but I wonder if it is sustainable. What research have you done to confirm there is enough demand for this service outside of your personal experience (difficulty scheduling a PPI)? What area(s) do you plan to serve? How will your technicians get under vehicles to do a full inspection if you’re inspecting a vehicle at a private seller’s home? What systems do you plan to put in place to prevent conflict of interest (in case, for example, your technician also takes jobs from dealerships and then is hired by a potential customer at one of those dealerships)?

I think you’re going to face a few challenges. One is that a lot of used car consumers don’t bother with PPIs. They mistakenly trust the “certified used car” sticker the dealer put on the car, usually without doing an actual inspection. Car salespeople are pretty good at talking people out of PPIs, by offering some kind of warranty like, “If you find anything wrong with the car, we will fix it for free.” Another is that you might find yourself competing in regions where mechanics do a better job of fulfilling this demand than in your area. Lastly, there are informed consumers, like other members of this forum and myself, who know enough about cars to do their own PPIs. That’s actually my strategy for the next time I purchase a used car or truck. I plan to say to the salesperson, “I’d like you to put it up on a lift so I can check it out,” and if they’re not willing to do that, they’ll lose the sale. I’ve only purchased one used vehicle in my life, and that’s how I handled it. It worked out well.


#11

Frank:
> I’m a college student and a lifelong auto enthusiast. Because I had a difficult experience scheduling a PPI

When I read that, I had visions of a youthful student who wasn’t versed in car inspections.

But then I read this:
http://www.tflcar.com/author/frank-kosarek/
and I realized you’ve been deeply immersed in the automotive industry for a number of years. I could be off, but I’m feeling a bit misled.

Anyway, my two questions for your proposal are:

  1. What is your value added?
    What hole in today’s market are you filling that doesn’t exist today?

  2. What is the additional cost?
    E.G., if it cost a person $100 to get their car inspected by a mechanic at a local garage, what will you charge for the same service?


#12

Nice catch! Yeah, I’m feeling that way too, but when I consider that Frank could have chosen just about any user name he wanted, I realize that if he wanted to deceive us, he could have done a better job of it.


#13

Definitely a fair point. We’re starting with PPIs because it’s a narrower market that we can use to prove the concept at scale. From there, we can definitely expand to the pre-sale space.


#14

I had problems with the scheduling process. I wanted to use a shop that was relatively far away from the seller’s location, and I had to spend a pretty substantial amount of time choosing that shop based on reviews, certifications, etc.

The biggest reason a buyer would use our service is for remote purchases. If you’re buying a car cross-country, it’s difficult to find a reliable, brand-specialized mechanic in an unfamiliar area. Also, it’s difficult to process payment/schedule the inspection, so the convenience factor matters much more.


#15

Actually, none of our technicians are on stand-by, since they’re fully employed at other dealerships/independent shops. They simply accept inspection requests when they’re available.


#16

Hi JoeMario,

Nope, no deception here. The writer profile you found is me––I started writing for TFLcar.com when I was 16. Great way to get involved with conversations about cars, and I learned a lot.

I didn’t learn anything about the inspection process until I tried to buy a car myself. When I had a difficult experience doing so, I decided to start this service.

  1. Value added is to combine convenience and expertise in the inspection field. Right now, it’s either-or –– you can get a high-quality inspection at a reputable shop, but arranging it remotely is tough, especially if you have a reluctant seller. You can get a super-convenient mobile inspection, but the person inspecting your car isn’t qualified to do so. We want to provide mobile inspections that mirror the expertise of a shop inspection.\

  2. The additional cost depends on the credentials of the inspector –– more experienced mechanics with more sophisticated inspection equipment (brand-specific diagnostics, etc) will be able to command a premium. With that said, we’ll be right in-line with other mobile inspection services at around the $150/inspection mark.

Thanks for your feedback.


#17

@cdaquila -Shouldn’t this Frank person be paying for advertising on this site ?


#18

@VOLVO_V70, I don’t think you actually flagged @cdaquila. This should do the trick. :slight_smile:


#19

I can see your point OP; that service may indeed be a something folks might use, if, say, they wanted to buy a used car advertised in another part of the country, a long distance from where they live. Like you mention above, there’s no reason to believe an appt could be completed on a time-certain schedule, but at least it could be provided eventually, as long as the car owner was willing to also be flexible about when they’d be providing the car for inspection.

If I were buying a Civic or a Corolla, not likely I’d be looking long distances from where I live, as there’s plenty of those models local. But if I was looking for a less common car, like a 67 Porsche 912 or something, yeah, I can see that.


#20

Hi, weighing in because it was flagged, though I had seen this earlier. I edited out the contact info in the original post. the discussion rules don’t permit advertising or solicitation, but in order to do that, I think a specific business would have to be named. The discussion that followed addresses some of the issues related to starting such a business, and was pretty substantive. I’ll leave it alone for now, so please keep it general, Frank.