The Dealer Playbook
The Dealer Playbook

Episode · 1 year 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? 

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Connect with Michael Cirillo:





Hey gang! Welcome to this episode of the dealer play boat, a podcast that explores what it takes to create a thriving 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 share with us his actual experience buying from carbon to, you know, we sit in the industry and pontificate over the impending doom of the retail auto industry. We say, oh, car Vonna new room, whoever else. And we get defensive rather than what I submit we do, which is lean in, take notes and see what we can do to improve our business. That's why I'm excited to be joined by Mark McGovern. He, as far as I understand, has no ties to any car dealerships, but he's a real customer who purchased a real vehicle who got the coin, who did the whole experience with Carbonneau. And so I thought it would be cool to invite him on the show to share about that experience. And I hope you're paying attention. I hope that you are taking notes so that we can understand specifically from the customer's point of view what led them down that process. So Mark, thanks so much for joining me on the dealer playbook 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 your car purchase experience or process start? Did you, did you immediately go to carve on a, or did you kind of shop around? I generally shopped around first. I was a bit skeptical of carbon, uh, because all the, you know, the commercials make it seem a little too good to be true for a, for a consumer side. And I've had several, uh, I bought several cars before from dealerships, both pre-owned and brand new. And so, you know, remembering those 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 a salesperson follow me around and you know, um, it's just, it's just nerve wracking nowadays, especially with, uh, I mean my, I guess the generation that comes after mine, uh, they're less in...

...touch with the idea of sales people I think. And so if they want to, they want to search on their own what they want. I at least I did, I guess I can't speak for others I want to nowadays to search for for what I want on my own. Find it figure out what it's gonna cost and go get it. Mm This is interesting. So, so for those that are just listening, what what age group I mean what what demographic are you in? Are you? I'm in my mid 40s so okay whatever whatever group that puts me in. Yeah I mean so so you and I same age group. I think I'm I think I'm like Borderline millennial like eight early like 1982 I think is the last year. That's that's when I was born. So I'm pushing 40. I'm old enough. I say I'm old enough a millennial to remember that when I heard the mash theme song on T. V. It was time to go to bed. Um But that's interesting you know especially as you consider the younger age group that's coming up purchasing first. Maybe they're on their second or even third vehicle purchase that they may be less likely to want to deal with that whole thing. Especially about like you know how they how they communicate on their phones. They are not so good at uh, I mean like you should see some of the diatribes in text messages that I'm like, it would just be so much easier if you picked up the phone having said that, um, you mentioned you were, you were skeptical in the beginning. Can you just maybe touch on that a little bit? What were some of the things I know you said it was sounded too good to be true, but what did they, what did they do to alleviate that for you? Uh, well, let's see. I'm kind of particular when 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, we wanted to get a pickup truck and we wanted it to be a manual transmission pickup truck with four wheel drive. And we're leaning towards the Chevy Silverado. They had their Z 71 off road package. So we're like, well, why don't we get Z 71? Uh, you know, off road, four by four manual transmission pickup truck. And we went around the dealerships. And even though Chevy made that available from the manufacturer, none of the dealerships had that because people were not liking the manual transmissions anymore. And the people who liked manual transmissions wanted to strip down car, so, so stripped down vehicles. So it was all, um, you know, base model, work truck kind of thing. And we couldn't find exactly what we look what we were looking for. But whenever we would go to a dealership and ask for it, they would say, well, we don't have that, but here's what we do have, which is fine. But then they were, you know,...

...they would, they would make comments saying, well you don't really want that. You know what you really, what I've got on my lot right now that I can send you home with now and so it kind of put, it kind of started putting bad taste in our mouth for, for dealerships. But so that being the case fast forward to now, I'm, it was weird the idea of shopping online for a car, Which has been around for years, which I did for my, for my previous vehicle. We shopped online for my uh, Tahoe that I bought in 2015, but that was from a traditional dealer and we shopped online 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, you know, they, they, you look online and they've got super detailed inside and outside pictures, they've got super detailed um, pictures of any kind of dings or damage or uh, scrapes or scratches, upholstery, wear, anything like that. So they, they try to alleviate the, the, I guess the surprise factor by putting up more pictures and more description of any kind of thing that might be perceived as being wrong with the car because you're not gonna, you're not gonna necessarily test drive it before you secure funding and all that stuff and so looking at and you know, and I've not been super uh really into the market just yet, you know, just recently I've just over the last really year, so I've just kind of kept my eye on what's available out there and dealerships and used car lots and stuff and I had, you know what I wanted in mind. I already had my taco that, that worked 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 by making 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 just happened to look a couple weeks ago and I was like, yeah, so I saw a commercial for carbon and it said something about the Um, seven day test own, which they, it's like a test drive, but it's a seven day test own where, yeah, you buy it, but they don't process any of the registration paperwork for a week after you buy it. Therefore, so that if you decide to change your, you know, if you change your mind or what your old car back or whatever, you can, you can give it back within seven days if you're under 400 miles. Um, And if you're over 400 miles, you still can give it back just, you pay a fee or whatever. Um, but anyway, I looked on there and I just adjusted my search...

...filters and this car that was in my price range came up and looked, looked pretty perfect and I said, well, what will happen if I click this button and said, hey, your, your new cards on the way and they just that easy. It was, well, not quite, it was, it would seem like it compared to my previous dealership experiences because we would go to the dealership that truck in 2003, we ended up ordering, it special ordering it from Chevy through a dealership so that we could get what we want to. Um, and we actually, that was 2003 and we just sold that pickup truck last 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 really interesting to point out, you're not making a snap decision, it's still a car purchase. So you're not like, just, it's not like buying uh, a swamp cooler on 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 going through this process, you're still researching. I think it's really interesting that you saw a commercial was the commercial television commercial or did you see it on Youtube or something? He was a television commercial Just reminded me of it. Yeah, I think that's interesting to, just to kind 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 me ask you. So you're on the website and you're filtering through in the back of your mind knowing that perhaps this could be easier than the traditional approach buying a car. Did that, do you feel like that shifted your psychology a 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 to the idea of going to the dealership and having them program in their little uh you know, car vending machine handing you a coin and you put the coin in the slot and just like a just like a candy bar machine. The platform raises can pick up your car and car comes down and read to you. Um And it was especially fun here in Atlanta. They have the, it's the tallest of all the carbon a Vending machines. It's like 12 stories or something like that. Think that's what I said. Um But yeah, you know, and I think one for myself anyway. one main thing that a lot of people don't like about the traditional dealerships is yeah, that you can see a commercial, like I was watching you on the other day a couple of weeks ago and it said we have, we have uh pre owned inventory starting at $11, or something like that.

They gave us some number. And I said, I said, well I got to see this. I went to their website, not one vehicle Less than about $5,000 more than what they said on them on the internet. So it's like, 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. I live in, in the middle of Atlanta and I'm not gonna drive 20 miles and then find 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 four hours 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 the sales manager, um, to come and talk to you about why you should upgrade to the different, you know, I was thinking the underbody underbody coating like three a.m. and all that. Right? And then they say, oh well, we already put it on your car, so you have to pay for it. You know, my last dealership, my last experience with the Tahoe, they called me a couple of days before I was supposed to come pick it up and said, well, we're, we've installed these uh, DVD players in the head rest for the people in the back seat. So that adds on an additional whatever, however much money, 700 bucks or whatever. But that doesn't add value over what your advertised price was. I don't have kids right at that point, you know, I hadn't started driving for Uber at that point, you know, like this doesn't add any value to me. So it feels like you're kind of baiting and switching and it gets people feeling like that those little add ons here and there and then the, and then the whole thing with document fees, dealer fees, delivery fees, all this stuff that's been a part of almost every dealership purchase I've made, especially the brand new ones, but even the, even the pre owned, there's always that dealer fee that they tack on at the very end of when you're talking to the finance manager And they say, well of course there's the, there's a $700 deal dealer fee, so that will be tacked on there too. And it's like, you know, we've already negotiated the price and this is all after the negotiations have all been done if there, if they even allow negotiations, some places don't even do that anymore. And so it...

...really feels like to a consumer that that's kind of shady, you know, it's not, but it kind of feels like that to a lot of consumers I think because we are agreed on this price and then what's actually being financed is like five or $6000 more than that when you pack in all the extras, all the, all the other fees, all the, you know, the fight, well the finance charges gonna be there either way. The, you know, tax tag and title is going to be there either way. But like the stuff that they didn't weren't upfront about is what really people, I think in my opinion are really not on board with anymore with the traditional dealerships. Yeah, I totally hear that. It's like, well, why does the sticker say this? Yeah. So are you saying then carve ana the price you see on that listing on their site is the the price that's getting financed. The price that you see on their site plus any add ons that you choose like an extended warranty or whatever. But that's totally like they don't, you don't have a person asking you if you want that. It's on their website when you're going through and choosing the options or choosing the um, choosing the car, I guess we'll say, okay, well this adds this much to your payment. This adds this much to the total if you don't want, you don't have to get it. No big deal. Just go on to the next step. So in that regard. And then, uh, there's add ons that you choose and then there's um tax tag and title that's on every car sold. Um, and that's it, literally there's no added fees on the end. So at any point, did you, did anybody call you like, did you get a phone call to talk to a person at all at any point? Not before my purchase. No. So you're able to handle the entire purchase options, everything where you're going to pick it like all that kind of stuff without any human intervention? Yes, wow. And then let's talk about just after the press. So you click, you click buy, you select your add ons, you do all that kind of stuff. Then then what happens? You just get like 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 amazed me about it because when you trade in a vehicle, like when I, I sold, I sold a vehicle to a different dealership About uh, about 11 years ago and it needed new tires and I...

...went on, what was it kelly? Blue Book had a they were like a guaranteed guaranteed purchase or whatever. A lot of places are doing that now you go on to Kelley Blue book and you say I want to sell my vehicle and they give you guaranteed quote or whatever based on what you say on there, right? And when I did that and I took my uh, my vehicle to 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 it needs new tires. So they took the retail cost, the retail price of new tires 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 the vehicle at that point. So I was like, I couldn't argue too much. So, um, but with the carbon trading experience was, it was very weird to me. It was like weirdly pleasant because he asked me if they asked me, you know, obviously you put in the vin, you put in, you know, any mechanical problems, if there are any, put all that stuff. And it asks you, you know, there, are there any scratches, dings, problems, anything like that? And then they ask you at the end, um, you know, overall what condition is it, is it, is it pretty great or just okay or not? So great and stuff like that and you select whatever you think it is and they say, okay, well here's what we're gonna, here's what we'll give you as a trade in for that and they totally honored it meaning. And the way I said, I know that's kind of like surprising the way I said that, but they, I mean there was a couple minor issues that I, that I realized that the Tahoe had after I did all that paperwork, but before the trade in and we went to go trading in the Tahoe and pick up the new car and not one person even glanced at the Tahoe to verify what I had said on the website. Mm That's the condition of it. It was interesting. So they're really like, 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 remove skepticism for you, but there are also doing it in reverse. Like they're not being 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, they might lose a little here, but they're going to make it up there and, and as a whole, there's still uh, moving forward so it's not on the oil. Well you said there was two scratches but I actually see three and oh well that's going to cost 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 to check the kelley blue book or Edmonds value of your of your trading before taking it in and you can say no, that's not enough or yeah, we'll go go and do it. Um and that's totally up to every, you know, anyone just like normal except that in the traditional sense, you have a person who does this for a living kind of staring you down saying you need to take less money for your trade in because I think there's problems with it. Do you think they, I don't know the right way to articulate. Do you think they may be gave you the lower end of the trade value? No, they didn't as far as I, when I checked my trade in value of my Tahoe, 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 or anything that I think the trading range was somewhere between uh, for trade in value 6500 to 8500 or something like that. And they gave me 7000. So an opera you were you go, okay, this is, it took all of all of, I mean, trading a vehicle isn't generally the most, Uh, financially smart thing to do for most people because you can just sell it and get four or $5,000 more sometimes. But if you still owe on the vehicle, then you gotta find a seller who's okay with waiting for waiting to get the title, you know from bank and stuff and most people aren't and it just removes all that tire kicking and it removes all the stuff. So so did they ask you if you still owed on the vehicle as well or like how do you think all that, all that stuff was done through the, through the purchase process? Interesting. So then so you're factoring in trade, the vehicle you want, all of the add ons the trade and then they say okay based on all of this here is the price. Yeah I had to upload a picture of the registration of my Tahoe to upload. Oh I had to upload the document from my lien holder With the like 10 day payoff amount. And so once I did that they said okay weeks we can see, we verified that you owe this much on it, we'll give you this much for it. We'll apply the difference as a down payment on your new new car. And that was all just factored in as I went through and it was, Uh, it was probably about 98% painless, wow. So it was amazing. Now let me ask you this just as we're winding down. I want to be super respectful your time. I love this. By...

...the way, I'm, I'm seriously, I've just taken 33 pages. Um, but, but it's really just fascinating about that, the concept of And what a novel idea it is. Mark like, Hey, remove as much pain as you can. You just said 98% painless. Um, what happens after sale? How do they service you now after you own the vehicle? Or was is it like a wave and congratulations. No, there's a, there's a, there's a customer portal on, on their website and you can just go to the carve on a website up in the right hand corner, there's a sign in link and you sign in and for for instance right now I'm within this. Well actually today is the, yeah, today is the last day of my seven day pre uh test Ellen or whatever. So if I go on there any time between the actual pickup of my vehicle and today and log in. It shows me my recent purchase that shows me a little picture of my car, shows me, you know, a little bit of information about the car case. I don't remember what cars in my driveway and then it says what the process is. Like, what, what, what they're progresses in getting me my registration. They don't start that process until after the 7, 7 days. So right now it's this registration pending or application pending or something like that. But you just have like carbon a license plates on it and all that or how do you tag like normal when you buy a, are you going to do it? And yeah, about the pickup process. It was, I mean I went parked my trade in, went into the store had had an appointment. They were running a little late or whatever. So you go and you go in there and you wait for them to be ready for you and they have, you sign a couple paper signed a couple documents that they need actual signatures on like the trading stuff, the odometer verification, all that stuff and that's and nobody in there is a salesperson at all. They're all just there to help you do your paperwork. And so because the sale has already been done by the website, so nobody in there is trying to get me to like convince me of anything 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 between client and proprietor, you know? And so you go in there and they since they were running a little bit behind, they were still uh they were still detailing the car when we got there and they said you know they said you know we've got your car ready for you if you want we can bring it around and you can just take it or if you want the whole like carbon experience then we can we can load it up into the car vending machine...

...and you can do that. And I was like yeah 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 to get that already and then do it and then check it out everything. But I mean, 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 a couple 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 you updated on any, any progress, um, or hiccups in getting your registration and, 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 when there's any updates, anything like that, wow, Now let me ask you about. So, so now that you've got possession the vehicles, yours, you've got the customer portal, what if you like? Do they do repairs? Do they have maintenance centers? Do they like, what does that look like for you? Is that even a thing that you care about? I'm not sure if they have maintenance and I'm pretty sure they don't because when I went on to my uh huh Mazda app on my phone, it wants, you know to make a make an account. It wants me to, it wanted me to choose my preferred dealer and carbon is not on the list as a as a service provider for Mazda cars or whatever. So I had to choose an actual Mazda dealer. Um, but I mean they have carbonic care, which is kind of like their version of the extended warranty. Um, and I guess I'll have to check on the paperwork what that says. But I, as far as I know, they don't, they don't literally have service centers for the cars. It's just like I used, it's just like, uh, it's kind of like a lot of used vehicles, a lot a lot of dealerships that are mainly for used vehicles they don't have, you know, and that leads me to my last question. I think just something you said here about the, the after sales, you know, carbonic hair and all those sort of things. 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 the vehicle somewhere else, you still see the value in servicing your make and model vehicle at a dealership that certified for that vehicle. Yeah, I think so, definitely. Yeah. In in my understanding of brand name dealerships like um,... the dealerships that are specifically for a brand of car. I, in my, in my understanding of that, I don't know anything really about those, but in my understanding those people have, you know, factory training on that specific brand of car. So I tend to, you know, I generally took my Tahoe to the Chevy dealership where I bought it for service and repairs, you know. Yeah, that, that's actually really interesting. I think because it highlights um, what I think is a huge opportunity for, for dealerships, they all have these, you know, well, many of them have these state of the art service facilities, they are factory trained like you said. Um, so their technicians are going to you know just be more in tune with that vehicle and what it's going to need and then of course 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 think what's interesting here is seeing that hey. Yeah. You know though I didn't buy it from you, I still see a need to service with you and and Carbonneau didn't get in the way 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 a vehicle I had a kind of a short list of um of brands that I felt better about and 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, I needed, 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, you know, auto traders website for years, just typing in that search those search filters and seeing what, you know, six or 10 cars are available at that time that match that description. And so yeah, that's, that just happened to do that. That one day I would never have gone to, I would never have thought to go to my local Mazda dealers website and look for a used Mazda that meets this description or, you know, whatever. And so that's where it's nice to have those, those dealerships that specialized in used car sales because you can specify make if you want, but you don't have to and you can do that on dealerships websites to, but then you're limited to what is in that dealerships 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 of dealerships. So your, you can search any of their types of, you know, any dealership owned by them, which is...

...nicer because any time you can open up more options for the customer, you're gonna have better results. Um, but you know, I just happened to be curious that one day and found what I found exactly what I was looking for. It was nice, amazing, wow, I, uh, this has been so enlightening. I'm so, I'm so glad that you're able to join me, Mark here, on the dealer playbook podcast. Thank you for having me. I'm Michel Cirillo and you've been listening to the dealer Playbook podcast. If you haven't yet, please click the subscribe button wherever you're listening right now, Leave a rating or review and share it with a colleague. If you're ready to make big changes in your life and career and want to connect with positive, nurturing automotive professionals, join my exclusive DPB pro community on facebook. That's where we share information, ideas and content that isn't shared anywhere else. I can't wait to meet you there. Thanks for listening.

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