How to make money on search for used cars – a history of CarFinder company
In 2015 a car enthusiast Maxym Shostya started helping people to find and buy used cars. Three years later, his hobby became a fully-operational business in finding cars. Now CarFinder, founded by Maxym Shostya, has seven corporate employees, and the company’s revenue for 2017 made about 2 million UAH. Maxym Shostya told AIN.UA about the company’s history, specifics of working with clients and plans for the future.
Idea and project launch
Maxym Shostya, the Founder of CarFinder, most of his life has been keen on cars. By the age of 32, he has managed to change 27 cars and he says that it is not the limit. More than 10 years he has been developing a business in the sphere of equipment repair, and since 2014 he decided to start his own car-related business.
Maxym Shostya notes that for the years of his interest in cars he had his eyes blackened while searching for the cars, and he knows how it is difficult to find a good used car. Maxym Shostya says, “In this sphere there are two types of people. Some of them buy the first car – they need a lot of time to understand how it works. The others already have some experience and understand wat a mess it is. I know that it is a problem for both of them.”
Officially, Maxym Shostya launched CarFinder in December of 2014, but he found the first clients in summer of 2015. The entrepreneur tells that he spent about $700 on the project launch: landing costed $300 and $400 he spent on thickness gage – a device to check painted elements.
Maxym Shostya was looking for the first clients among his friends and acquaintances. “The first client, who came to me and paid a full amount, was a director of a legal company. For a year he has been thinking about the idea to change the car, but did not dare due to possible problem. So, I helped him”. Thereafter, the clients approached Maxym Shostya owing to buzz marketing.
Maxym acknowledges that for the first few months he treated CarFinder more as hobby that a serious business. However, in a certain moment he faced a choice – try to make profitable business with CarFinder or abandon this idea. “I have tested the waters and found out that I need to focus on this business or close it down. There always were private consultants on the market, but I didn’t like the idea to be one of them.”
Maxym Shostya decided to focus on CarFinder. According to him, joining of the company by his friend Mykola Samodurov was a critical moment. At that time there was a many years’ experience in car business under his belt – with new cars as well the used ones. Since the beginning of 2016 the partners have built up a team. Maxym Shostya became CEO and was responsible for marketing and sales, and Mykola Samodurov was appointed as CTO: he dealt with engineering solutions and human resource development.
Maxym tells, “It became a turning point in development of CarFinder. Earlier many people did not believe in the project. It pressurized me. And Mykola’s arrival has given a great impetus to us. We became utterly absorbed in our work.”
Since the beginning of 2016 CarFinder has started an active development as a service for finding used cars. Maxym Shostya states that with Mykola the company began expanding to other cities. First of all, the partners hired experts in Dnepr and Kharkov, and then started expanding to other localities. In a certain time, CarFinder began to receive positive feedback. At that moment its leaders understood that this idea has the right to life.
In CarFinder they say that feedback from opinion leaders in Facebook was a key aspect for the company’s progress. Maxym Shostya says, “For example, Volodymyr Galika and Yevgen Nekoz contacted us. Owing to their positive feedback, the number of our likes skyrocketed.”
When we deserved a dedicated post by a person with a huge audience, it always gave us a new impetus to development.
By the beginning of 2018 the Kyiv’s office of CarFinder expanded to 7 people, and the company opened representative offices in 16 cities of Ukraine. Founders call CarFinder the all-Ukrainian service and it is not an exaggeration: even if they do not find the car in a city where they have no representative office, the car can be brought to the nearest office.
Now the process of finding a car through the service looks like this. The Client sends a request through the website or one of the social media. Further, according to Maxym Shostya, the team consults with the client and takes a decision whether it is possible to find the car according to the set parameters. If the client’s preferences are feasible, then the team accepts the order.
The employees of CarFinder discuss the whole process of car finding in the special chat in messenger (predominantly in Telegram, and sometimes in Viber). During the day a certain employee of CarFinder monitors the offers on popular platforms (Auto.RIA, OLX) and sends links to the chat. When the client has time, he/she looks through different options and, if he/she likes one of the offered cars, he/she can ask the expert to go to the seller and take a detailed look at the car.
As the company representatives note, one of CarFinder’s distinctions from the competitors is that they use specialized software for analysis of vehicles. For instance, the company is a subscriber of insurance companies’ databases. It helps the employees to obtain information what kind of works were performed for the vehicle using insurance money. It allows understanding whether the car is worth attention or not. Maxym Shostia says, “We cancel half of the visits, because we are able remotely to find out whether the vehicle is not appropriate for us.”
It is not obligatory for the clients to visit the sellers personally – CarFinder’s experts carry out detailed inspection. During such meetings the experts make video report on the vehicle and express their opinion on condition of the vehicle.
In the company they say that one of CarFinder’s tricks is that sitting in the office, let’s say in Kyiv, the Client can look through the cars in Vinnytsia, Mykolaiv and other cities, “It is a significant saving for the client. Let’s imagine how much money the client would spend on travelling to see the cars in different cities.”
We help the client to take a decision as if he/she is staying near the car.
If the client and expert like the car that was found, then there is the second stage – inspection by the official dealer center. This service is paid by the client. By results of the inspection CarFinder makes photo of the Completion Certificate and records comments of the service man.
Moreover, following the approval by the client, the employees of CarFinder can themselves negotiate the price with the seller. Maxym Shostya says, “Every day we communicate with vehicle sellers, therefore, we know this market. We almost always succeed to get lower price and the amount of the discount is much more than the cost of our services.”
The team of CarFinder accompanies the client until final purchase of the car/ They help the client to obtain registration certificate and other documents. In average, it takes about three weeks from sending a request to purchasing a vehicle, and the average cost of the order makes $500.
Customer Relation Service
CarFinder webpage already has more than 100 clients’ feedback and all of them are high estimate. Maxym Shostya says that the team has a few things that they always pay attention to while communicating with people.
One of such things is a commitment to make the process of car selection as transparent as possible. The team of CarFinder sends the links to the found cars in the chat, where they discuss every option with the client. Maxym says that during search for the car the expert continuously express their opinion and recommend what to do in one or another situation, “We even negotiate the price with the sellers in messengers to show all correspondence to the clients. People like us for transparency: they enjoy managing the process of car finding and staying informed of all news.”
Maxym Shostya recognizes that in the company they place great emphasis on communication with clients. According to the entrepreneur they keep close eye on literacy and the way of the employees’ speaking, “I always emphasize at briefings that the team should not speak in “motoring” jargon. We do not like to be associated with standard representatives of this market, but seek to be on the same page with our clients – young people aged 24-35.”
We even practiced dictation in Russian and Ukrainian with one of our candidates. We have employed him just after successful completion of this test.
The other thing that Maxym Shostya draws attention to – work with clients after purchasing the car. The founder of CarFinder tells that the team contacts every client a few times after purchasing the car – in a week, month or three months. “We find out what is going on with the car and whether the client is satisfied with the purchase. Many people buy their first car with us and they do not know the nuances. We provide them with assistance in different situations. For example, we suggest what kind of tires it is better to choose. It also increases loyalty to us.”
Plans for future
For 2017 CarFinder has completed about 200 orders, and the company’s revenue made about 2 million UAH. According to Maxym Shostya, they invested most of the revenue back in business.
As for the team’s plans for 2018- they are going to execute twice more orders and enter the market of Odessa. Besides, CarFinder is expanding beyond the territory of Ukraine – the company hired an expert from Switzerland, who has already helped them to buy and import a few cars to Ukraine. However, it is Ukrainian market that is a priority for CarFinder now. And overseas options are “Plan B” for the company.