The Dealer Playbook
The Dealer Playbook

Episode · 3 months ago

Mark McGovern: The Carvana Experience. A Customer Story


Car Dealers around the world have been keeping a close eye on emerging tech companies like Carvana for quite some time. Their direct-to-consumer car purchase model has proven to be a viable option for those who wish to bypass the traditional car dealership experience. 

That's why it's important for dealers to take action today. Mark McGovern is an online school teacher with zero connection to the automotive industry. He joins The Dealer Playbook to share his experience purchasing and trading a vehicle from start to finish with Carvana. 

Pay close attention to what Mark shares in this episode so that you can apply it to the context of your dealership operations. 

Noteworthy topics from this episode:

2:06 - Did you decide to buy from Carvana right away or did you shop around first?

4:40 - “It sounds too good to be true.”

10:39 - Did buying from a website seem like a better and much easier experience?

17:20 - What happens once you complete the checkout?

21:01 - It is all about the customer’s experience and doing what is best for their interests.

24:24 - How do they serve you after the sale?

29:54 - Do you see the value at servicing the vehicle at the licensed dealership? 

Enjoying the show? Leave a rating and review on your favorite podcast app!

Connect with Michael Cirillo:





Hey gang! Welcome to this episode ofthe dealer play boat, a podcast that explores what it takes to create athriving career right here in the retail auto industry. I'm your host,Michael Cirillo, excited to be joined by Mark McGovern. He's going to sharewith us his actual experience buying from carbon to, you know, we sit in theindustry and pontificate over the impending doom of the retail autoindustry. We say, oh, car Vonna new room, whoever else. And we getdefensive rather than what I submit we do, which is lean in, take notes andsee what we can do to improve our business. That's why I'm excited to bejoined by Mark McGovern. He, as far as I understand, has no ties to any cardealerships, but he's a real customer who purchased a real vehicle who gotthe coin, who did the whole experience with Carbonneau. And so I thought itwould be cool to invite him on the show to share about that experience. And Ihope you're paying attention. I hope that you are taking notes so that wecan understand specifically from the customer's point of view what led themdown that process. So Mark, thanks so much for joining me on the dealerplaybook podcast. Thanks for having me. It's great. It's great to be with you.So I'm curious how does this, how did this all unfold for you? How did yourcar purchase experience or process start? Did you, did you immediately goto carve on a, or did you kind of shop around? I generally shopped aroundfirst. I was a bit skeptical of carbon, uh, because all the, you know, thecommercials make it seem a little too good to be true for a, for a consumerside. And I've had several, uh, I bought several cars before fromdealerships, both pre-owned and brand new. And so, you know, rememberingthose experiences over the last 20 years or so and you know, people now, well I now nowadays I don't,I do not want to go to a dealership and look around at the car lot and have asalesperson follow me around and you know, um, it's just, it's just nervewracking nowadays, especially with, uh, I mean my, I guess the generation thatcomes after mine, uh, they're less in...

...touch with the idea of sales people Ithink. And so if they want to, they want to search on their own what theywant. I at least I did, I guess I can't speak for others I want to nowadays tosearch for for what I want on my own. Find it figure out what it's gonna costand go get it. Mm This is interesting. So, so for those that are justlistening, what what age group I mean what what demographic are you in? Areyou? I'm in my mid 40s so okay whatever whatever group that puts me in. Yeah Imean so so you and I same age group. I think I'm I think I'm like Borderlinemillennial like eight early like 1982 I think is the last year. That's that'swhen I was born. So I'm pushing 40. I'm old enough. I say I'm old enough amillennial to remember that when I heard the mash theme song on T. V. Itwas time to go to bed. Um But that's interesting you know especially as youconsider the younger age group that's coming up purchasing first. Maybethey're on their second or even third vehicle purchase that they may be lesslikely to want to deal with that whole thing. Especially about like you knowhow they how they communicate on their phones. They are not so good at uh, Imean like you should see some of the diatribes in text messages that I'mlike, it would just be so much easier if you picked up the phone having saidthat, um, you mentioned you were, you were skeptical in the beginning. Canyou just maybe touch on that a little bit? What were some of the things Iknow you said it was sounded too good to be true, but what did they, what didthey do to alleviate that for you? Uh, well, let's see. I'm kind of particularwhen it comes to vehicles. So if I have in mind what vehicle I want or what,what features I want in a vehicle. Um, Well, for instance, in 2003, uh, wewanted to get a pickup truck and we wanted it to be a manual transmissionpickup truck with four wheel drive. And we're leaning towards the ChevySilverado. They had their Z 71 off road package. So we're like, well, why don'twe get Z 71? Uh, you know, off road, four by four manual transmission pickuptruck. And we went around the dealerships. And even though Chevy madethat available from the manufacturer, none of the dealerships had thatbecause people were not liking the manual transmissions anymore. And thepeople who liked manual transmissions wanted to strip down car, so, sostripped down vehicles. So it was all, um, you know, base model, work truckkind of thing. And we couldn't find exactly what we look what we werelooking for. But whenever we would go to a dealership and ask for it, theywould say, well, we don't have that, but here's what we do have, which isfine. But then they were, you know,...

...they would, they would make commentssaying, well you don't really want that. You know what you really, what I've goton my lot right now that I can send you home with now and so it kind of put, itkind of started putting bad taste in our mouth for, for dealerships. But sothat being the case fast forward to now, I'm, it was weird the idea of shoppingonline for a car, Which has been around for years, whichI did for my, for my previous vehicle. We shopped online for my uh, Tahoe thatI bought in 2015, but that was from a traditional dealer and we shoppedonline for it and then went and checked it out and looked at it and you know,test drove it and stuff like that with carbon A, it's not quite like that, youknow, they, they, you look online and they've got super detailed inside andoutside pictures, they've got super detailed um, pictures of any kind ofdings or damage or uh, scrapes or scratches, upholstery, wear, anythinglike that. So they, they try to alleviate the, the, I guess thesurprise factor by putting up more pictures and more description of anykind of thing that might be perceived as being wrong with the car becauseyou're not gonna, you're not gonna necessarily test drive it before yousecure funding and all that stuff and so looking at and you know, and I'venot been super uh really into the market just yet, you know, justrecently I've just over the last really year, so I've just kind of kept my eyeon what's available out there and dealerships and used car lots and stuffand I had, you know what I wanted in mind. I already had my taco that, thatworked perfectly. So I was like, I don't really need a new car right now,so I don't want to go to a dealership and waste the salespersons time bymaking it look like I'm going to buy that day, but, and then not, you know,and uh, so I just kind of been keeping my eye on line here and there and justhappened to look a couple weeks ago and I was like, yeah, so I saw a commercialfor carbon and it said something about the Um, seven day test own, which they, it's like a test drive, butit's a seven day test own where, yeah, you buy it, but they don't process anyof the registration paperwork for a week after you buy it. Therefore, sothat if you decide to change your, you know, if you change your mind or whatyour old car back or whatever, you can, you can give it back within seven daysif you're under 400 miles. Um, And if you're over 400 miles, you still cangive it back just, you pay a fee or whatever. Um, but anyway, I looked onthere and I just adjusted my search...

...filters and this car that was in myprice range came up and looked, looked pretty perfect and I said, well, whatwill happen if I click this button and said, hey, your, your new cards on theway and they just that easy. It was, well, not quite, it was, it would seemlike it compared to my previous dealership experiences because we wouldgo to the dealership that truck in 2003, we ended up ordering, it specialordering it from Chevy through a dealership so that we could get what wewant to. Um, and we actually, that was 2003 and we just sold that pickup trucklast year, interesting. We got exactly what we wanted and we kept it longer.Yeah, let me ask you this because during this, I think this is reallyinteresting to point out, you're not making a snap decision, it's still acar purchase. So you're not like, just, it's not like buying uh, a swamp cooleron amazon. I don't know why swamp coolers. Okay, But it's not like a snap,like, oh, I see it as a good price. I can get it tomorrow. You're still goingthrough this process, you're still researching. I think it's reallyinteresting that you saw a commercial was the commercial televisioncommercial or did you see it on Youtube or something? He was a televisioncommercial Just reminded me of it. Yeah, I think that's interesting to, just tokind of note they're different touch points of where there um you know,putting their message in front of consumer. Um but but by and large, let me, let meask you. So you're on the website and you're filtering through in the back ofyour mind knowing that perhaps this could be easier than the traditionalapproach buying a car. Did that, do you feel like that shifted your psychologya little bit so that it felt more like an amazon purchase kind of? Yeah, I would say kind of. Um and I mean everything down to, down tothe idea of going to the dealership and having them program in their little uhyou know, car vending machine handing you a coin and you put the coin in theslot and just like a just like a candy bar machine. The platform raises canpick up your car and car comes down and read to you. Um And it was especiallyfun here in Atlanta. They have the, it's the tallest of all the carbon aVending machines. It's like 12 stories or something like that. Think that'swhat I said. Um But yeah, you know, and I think one for myself anyway. one mainthing that a lot of people don't like about the traditional dealerships isyeah, that you can see a commercial, like I was watching you on the otherday a couple of weeks ago and it said we have, we have uh pre owned inventorystarting at $11, or something like that.

They gave us some number. And I said, Isaid, well I got to see this. I went to their website, not one vehicle Lessthan about $5,000 more than what they said on them on the internet. So it'slike, it makes me think, okay, it could be, it could be honest,it could be honest. And they just don't have those vehicles on the website,they just haven't listed them or haven't listened them yet or whatever,but from a, from a consumer standpoint nowadays, if it's not on the internet,it doesn't exist. And so I'm not gonna drive to whatever dealership that was,which in this case, that particular one is about 20 miles away from my house. Ilive in, in the middle of Atlanta and I'm not gonna drive 20 miles and thenfind out you don't even have what you said on, on your commercial, you know,and uh, and with all my previous, uh, dealership experiences too, you know,I've never had a traditional dealership experience, take less than about fourhours or is actually purchasing the vehicle. There's always the, you know,you, you test drive it and you sit there and wait for the, for the who,they usually call the, the sales manager, who is not necessarily thesales manager, um, to come and talk to you about why you should upgrade to thedifferent, you know, I was thinking the underbody underbodycoating like three a.m. and all that. Right? And then they say, oh well, wealready put it on your car, so you have to pay for it. You know, my lastdealership, my last experience with the Tahoe, they called me a couple of daysbefore I was supposed to come pick it up and said, well, we're, we'veinstalled these uh, DVD players in the head rest for the people in the backseat. So that adds on an additional whatever, however much money, 700 bucksor whatever. But that doesn't add value over what your advertised price was. Idon't have kids right at that point, you know, I hadn't started driving forUber at that point, you know, like this doesn't add any value to me. So itfeels like you're kind of baiting and switching and it gets people feelinglike that those little add ons here and there and then the, and then the wholething with document fees, dealer fees, delivery fees, all this stuff that'sbeen a part of almost every dealership purchase I've made, especially thebrand new ones, but even the, even the pre owned, there's always that dealerfee that they tack on at the very end of when you're talking to the financemanager And they say, well of course there's the, there's a $700 deal dealerfee, so that will be tacked on there too. And it's like, you know, we'vealready negotiated the price and this is all after the negotiationshave all been done if there, if they even allow negotiations, some placesdon't even do that anymore. And so it...

...really feels like to a consumer thatthat's kind of shady, you know, it's not, but it kind of feels like that toa lot of consumers I think because we are agreed on this price and thenwhat's actually being financed is like five or $6000 more than that when youpack in all the extras, all the, all the other fees, all the, you know, thefight, well the finance charges gonna be there either way. The, you know, taxtag and title is going to be there either way. But like the stuff thatthey didn't weren't upfront about is what reallypeople, I think in my opinion are really not on board with anymore withthe traditional dealerships. Yeah, I totally hear that. It's like, well, whydoes the sticker say this? Yeah. So are you saying then carve anathe price you see on that listing on their site is the the price that'sgetting financed. The price that you see on their site plus any add ons that you choose likean extended warranty or whatever. But that's totally like they don't, you don't have a personasking you if you want that. It's on their website when you're going throughand choosing the options or choosing the um, choosing the car, I guess we'llsay, okay, well this adds this much to your payment. This adds this much tothe total if you don't want, you don't have to get it. No big deal. Just go onto the next step. So in that regard. And then, uh, there's add ons that youchoose and then there's um tax tag and title that's on every car sold. Um, andthat's it, literally there's no added fees on the end. So at any point, didyou, did anybody call you like, did you get a phone call to talk to a person atall at any point? Not before my purchase. No. So you're able to handlethe entire purchase options, everything where you're going to pick it like allthat kind of stuff without any human intervention? Yes, wow. And then let'stalk about just after the press. So you click, you click buy, you select youradd ons, you do all that kind of stuff. Then then what happens? You just getlike a landing pages says, congratulations, you now own this car.Well you got you go through the trading process too because that trade in like,and so I did my trade in online as well. And this is the part that really amazedme about it because when you trade in a vehicle, like whenI, I sold, I sold a vehicle to a different dealership About uh, about 11years ago and it needed new tires and I...

...went on, what was it kelly? Blue Bookhad a they were like a guaranteed guaranteed purchase or whatever. A lotof places are doing that now you go on to Kelley Blue book and you say I wantto sell my vehicle and they give you guaranteed quote or whatever based onwhat you say on there, right? And when I did that and I took my uh, my vehicleto the dealership that I was selling to the dealership with that guarantee,kelley Blue book quote. The dealership looked at the vehicle and said, well itneeds new tires. So they took the retail cost, the retail price of newtires off of what they gave me for the vehicle, even though my guarantee said guarantee,right? And so I'm like, I needed the money and I needed to get rid of thevehicle at that point. So I was like, I couldn't argue too much. So, um, butwith the carbon trading experience was, it was very weird to me. It was likeweirdly pleasant because he asked me if they asked me, you know, obviously youput in the vin, you put in, you know, any mechanical problems, if there areany, put all that stuff. And it asks you, you know, there, are there anyscratches, dings, problems, anything like that? And then they ask you at theend, um, you know, overall what condition is it, is it, is it prettygreat or just okay or not? So great and stuff like that and you select whateveryou think it is and they say, okay, well here's what we're gonna, here'swhat we'll give you as a trade in for that and they totally honored itmeaning. And the way I said, I know that's kind of like surprising the wayI said that, but they, I mean there was a couple minor issues that I, that Irealized that the Tahoe had after I did all that paperwork, but before thetrade in and we went to go trading in the Tahoe and pick up the new car andnot one person even glanced at the Tahoe to verify what I had said on thewebsite. Mm That's the condition of it. It was interesting. So they're reallylike, they're just, they're, they're removing all unnecessary touch points. Yeah, exactly. You know what I mean?Like they're, they're not having that skeptics like you said they removeskepticism for you, but there are also doing it in reverse. Like they're notbeing skeptical of you and in the way that you said they honored it. Yeah.Because they know like in their business model as a whole, yeah, theymight lose a little here, but they're going to make it up there and, and as awhole, there's still uh, moving forward so it's not on the oil. Well you saidthere was two scratches but I actually see three and oh well that's going tocost me the, you know, they're not doing any of that. They're just saying,let's get this guy in and out as fast... we can to honor his time, yep, wow.And you know, and uh I mean, and you're totally welcome tocheck the kelley blue book or Edmonds value of your of your trading beforetaking it in and you can say no, that's not enough or yeah, we'll go go and doit. Um and that's totally up to every, you know, anyone just like normalexcept that in the traditional sense, you have a person who does this for aliving kind of staring you down saying you need to take less money for yourtrade in because I think there's problems with it. Do you think they, I don't know the right way toarticulate. Do you think they may be gave you the lower end of the tradevalue? No, they didn't as far as I, when I checked my trade in value of myTahoe, um, they gave me right about the middle of the range. Okay. My, it was,I mean his 11 year old Tahoe had a couple issues here and there nothing,nothing major mechanical, nothing, anything like that, no wrecks oranything that I think the trading range was somewhere between uh, for trade invalue 6500 to 8500 or something like that. And they gave me 7000. So an opera you were you go, okay, thisis, it took all of all of, I mean, trading a vehicle isn't generally themost, Uh, financially smart thing to do for most people because you can justsell it and get four or $5,000 more sometimes. But if you still owe on thevehicle, then you gotta find a seller who's okay with waiting for waiting toget the title, you know from bank and stuff and most people aren't and itjust removes all that tire kicking and it removes all the stuff. So so didthey ask you if you still owed on the vehicle as well or like how do youthink all that, all that stuff was done through the, through the purchaseprocess? Interesting. So then so you're factoring in trade, the vehicle youwant, all of the add ons the trade and then they say okay based on all of thishere is the price. Yeah I had to upload a picture of the registration of myTahoe to upload. Oh I had to upload the document from my lien holder With thelike 10 day payoff amount. And so once I did that they said okayweeks we can see, we verified that you owe this much on it, we'll give youthis much for it. We'll apply the difference as a down payment on yournew new car. And that was all just factored in as I went through and itwas, Uh, it was probably about 98% painless, wow. So it was amazing. Nowlet me ask you this just as we're winding down. I want to be superrespectful your time. I love this. By...

...the way, I'm, I'm seriously, I've justtaken 33 pages. Um, but, but it's really just fascinating about that, theconcept of And what a novel idea it is. Mark like, Hey, remove as much pain asyou can. You just said 98% painless. Um, what happens after sale? How do theyservice you now after you own the vehicle? Or was is it like a wave andcongratulations. No, there's a, there's a, there's a customer portal on, ontheir website and you can just go to the carve on a website up in the righthand corner, there's a sign in link and you sign in and for for instance rightnow I'm within this. Well actually today is the, yeah, today is the last day of my sevenday pre uh test Ellen or whatever. So if I go on there any time between theactual pickup of my vehicle and today and log in. It shows me my recentpurchase that shows me a little picture of my car, shows me, you know, a littlebit of information about the car case. I don't remember what cars in mydriveway and then it says what the process is. Like, what, what, whatthey're progresses in getting me my registration. They don't start thatprocess until after the 7, 7 days. So right now it's this registrationpending or application pending or something like that. But you just havelike carbon a license plates on it and all that or how do you tag like normalwhen you buy a, are you going to do it? And yeah, about the pickup process. Itwas, I mean I went parked my trade in, went into the store had had anappointment. They were running a little late or whatever. So you go and you goin there and you wait for them to be ready for you and they have, you sign acouple paper signed a couple documents that they need actual signatures onlike the trading stuff, the odometer verification, all that stuff and that'sand nobody in there is a salesperson at all. They're all just there to help youdo your paperwork. And so because the sale has already been done by thewebsite, so nobody in there is trying to get me to like convince me ofanything or anything like that. It's like walking into an Apple store. Yeah,so it's it's so much it's so much less of an adversarial relationship betweenclient and proprietor, you know? And so you go in there and they since theywere running a little bit behind, they were still uh they were still detailingthe car when we got there and they said you know they said you know we've gotyour car ready for you if you want we can bring it around and you can justtake it or if you want the whole like carbon experience then we can we canload it up into the car vending machine...

...and you can do that. And I was likeyeah absolutely. Again my social media video of that. So I did that, you know,I spent another, I spent an extra probably half hour waiting for them toget that already and then do it and then check it out everything. But Imean, so honestly, if I would have not had them do that, I would have probably,we were, we were in and out in less than Probably less than 30 minutes, wow,just in and out. I love the level of communication. Hey, here, here's acouple of options. What do you want to do? Yeah, exactly. And they said, uh,so yeah, and after the sale, they sent me an email saying, you know,congratulations on your car or whatever. And they said, well, we'll keep youupdated on any, any progress, um, or hiccups in getting your registrationand, you know, um, and as always I can just go to their website and see what,what progress that's going on. And they said, well, we'll email you whenthere's any updates, anything like that, wow, Now let me ask you about. So, sonow that you've got possession the vehicles, yours, you've got thecustomer portal, what if you like? Do they do repairs? Do they havemaintenance centers? Do they like, what does that look like for you? Is thateven a thing that you care about? I'm not sure if they have maintenance andI'm pretty sure they don't because when I went on to my uh huh Mazda app on myphone, it wants, you know to make a make an account. It wants me to, itwanted me to choose my preferred dealer and carbon is not on the list as a as aservice provider for Mazda cars or whatever. So I had to choose an actualMazda dealer. Um, but I mean they have carbonic care, which is kind of liketheir version of the extended warranty. Um, and I guess I'll have to check on thepaperwork what that says. But I, as far as I know, they don't, they don'tliterally have service centers for the cars. It's just like I used, it's justlike, uh, it's kind of like a lot of used vehicles, a lot a lot ofdealerships that are mainly for used vehicles they don't have, you know, andthat leads me to my last question. I think just something you said hereabout the, the after sales, you know, carbonic hair and all those sort ofthings. You mentioned that you, uh, sign registered on the Mazda app. Mm,So, so you still are in a position where even though you bought thevehicle somewhere else, you still see the value in servicing your make andmodel vehicle at a dealership that certified for that vehicle. Yeah, Ithink so, definitely. Yeah. In in my understanding of brand name dealershipslike um,... the dealerships that arespecifically for a brand of car. I, in my, in my understanding of that, Idon't know anything really about those, but in my understanding those peoplehave, you know, factory training on that specific brand of car. So I tendto, you know, I generally took my Tahoe to the Chevy dealership where I boughtit for service and repairs, you know. Yeah, that, that's actually reallyinteresting. I think because it highlights um, what I think is a hugeopportunity for, for dealerships, they all have these, you know, well, many ofthem have these state of the art service facilities, they are factorytrained like you said. Um, so their technicians are going to you know justbe more in tune with that vehicle and what it's going to need and then ofcourse you know we could we could spiral down the wormhole of genuine O.E. M. Parts versus aftermarket and all those sort of things. But I thinkwhat's interesting here is seeing that hey. Yeah. You know though I didn't buy it from you, Istill see a need to service with you and and Carbonneau didn't get in theway there, did they? Not at all. That's just not their business model,their business model is to get you an easy transaction on a vehicle and then.Yeah. Yeah because I mean I didn't have when I when I started searching for avehicle I had a kind of a short list of um of brands that I felt better aboutand worse about. But more than that, I had a list of features that I wanted.You know, I needed this, I needed, you know, I needed, uh, satellite radio, Ineeded, I would like to have a manual transmission, I would like to have this,I would like to have that, whatever. And so I just went on by going on, youknow, auto traders website for years, just typing in that search those searchfilters and seeing what, you know, six or 10 cars are available at that timethat match that description. And so yeah, that's, that just happened to dothat. That one day I would never have gone to, I would never have thought togo to my local Mazda dealers website and look for a used Mazda that meetsthis description or, you know, whatever. And so that's where it's nice to havethose, those dealerships that specialized in used car sales becauseyou can specify make if you want, but you don't have to and you can do thaton dealerships websites to, but then you're limited to what is in thatdealerships lot. Or if it's someone like a brand like Jim Ellis in Atlanta,they own a lot of different dealerships and a lot of different brands ofdealerships. So your, you can search any of their types of, you know, anydealership owned by them, which is...

...nicer because any time you can open upmore options for the customer, you're gonna have better results. Um, but youknow, I just happened to be curious that one day and found what I foundexactly what I was looking for. It was nice, amazing, wow, I, uh, this hasbeen so enlightening. I'm so, I'm so glad that you're able to join me, Markhere, on the dealer playbook podcast. Thank you for having me. I'm Michel Cirillo and you've beenlistening to the dealer Playbook podcast. If you haven't yet, pleaseclick the subscribe button wherever you're listening right now, Leave arating or review and share it with a colleague. If you're ready to make bigchanges in your life and career and want to connect with positive,nurturing automotive professionals, join my exclusive DPB pro community onfacebook. That's where we share information, ideas and content thatisn't shared anywhere else. I can't wait to meet you there. Thanks forlistening.

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