Over a decade ago, when Competition Cars was in business, I dealt exclusively with Porsche 911 and 911 turbos. To this day there is no inventory in the world that comes close. In spite of the database's size no one was overwhelmed with the volume. They were all, however, amazed with the outcome.
Competition Cars could effortlessly search by area code, state by state, zip code, or any combination. We could search, within seconds, for a 1978-1983 Porsche 911SC, black, red, or white exterior (without red or beige interior), partial leather, fewer than 73,300 miles, 3 owners or less, all service records, no accidents, no paintwork, upgraded chain tensioners, new clutch, always garaged, and costing between $15,500-$22,000.
Our database recorded almost everything we imagined, and we had over one hundred customized fields for automobiles alone. Admittedly this was excessive, but having too many fields is far superior to not having enough. Fields used often are prominently displayed. Fields used rarely are simply hidden until needed.
Obviously, most listings do not require anywhere near this number of fields. The point to be made is every type of listing is different. In the end, once everything is complete and running smoothly, people will wonder how they put up with anything less.
Some of the invaluable tasks my system performed are listed below. None would have been possible without using fields.
- We could save an unlimited number of custom searches for each customer.
- We were automatically informed when new listings became available matching customer's specifications. We could also match buyers and sellers with the click of a button.
- We tracked when a car was advertised, where it was advertised, how long it had been advertised, the prices in each ad, and more.
- Each time a car sold we tracked previous owners, new owners, dates, miles, prices, recent vehicle damage, and more. This led to countless times when we easily recognized odometers had been rolled back, or cars were being misrepresented. Ironically, we knew more about a car’s condition than many of the people who owned them.
- When new listings came up, on car lots across the country, often they were cars we knew about but had marked down as "KEEPING". We would now be aware they were back on the market and would reactivate them, cut out the middle man, and deal with the owners directly.
- The abilities of my database tracked people's character as well. We could easily choose who to deal with, and who were the known rip-offs in the industry.
- With records dating back decades, the ease and accuracy determining the value of an automobile can be uncanny. I was never led astray by the false values sited by the Black Book, Edmunds, NADA, etc.
- Those at Competition Cars had a computerized Rolodex that was the envy to all. One click in the appropriate phone number and the computer dialed the phone, recorded the number dialed, the time it was dialed, and the time we hung up. We recorded who we talked to, who we left messages with, how many times we left messages, when to call back, and much more. Everything was as simple as choosing from a list, clicking a button, or the occasional typing into a comment field.
- By tracking so many buyers and sellers, I still marvel at how easy it was to locate an EXACT match for my customers. There was never a time when I could not find someone interested in those once in a lifetime deals I kept running across. While my customers might have considered a car I offered as a dream car come true, these were the cars I dealt with primarily on a regular basis.
Think back to the times you bought a used car. How often do you find EXACTLY what you first set your mind on? I sold cars for over 35 years and that task still remains daunting. Especially when looking for premium vehicle and models I do not deal with. If you are in the business, finding a close match is easy. Finding an exact match? Good luck without a huge database and the thousands of records to go with it.
With repeat business my main focus, I was always concerned with who I sold to. When I could be selective, which was quite often, I sold to people who would keep "my car" garaged and not drive it regularly. This way, when "my car" came back on the market (it almost always did), the miles and condition were close to when I had sold it. I could once again, in good conscience, sell "my car" to my next customer, as their new dream car come true, and the cycle repeated itself all over again.
There was one Porsche I sold to the next 5 owners, and I would love to get that one again. Each time the car sold the price was equal or higher than before. While the owner's expenses were high, that was expected. Needless to say, the story continued year after year, while I sold the car again and again. This case was rare and only happened once. Sadly, I lost track of this car after the final sale - Bummer!
My belief was unwavering. If I did not have a nice enough car at the time we still could do business. The approach I took made it easy; buyers were everywhere. The problem was finding the good cars to sell. With that being said, by warning buyers about what to look for I was doing us both a great favor. Ironically, when they bought somewhere else I did not lose a buyer. Instead I learned about a new car I could sell in the future.
Did I corner the market? Not by a long shot. I did control more cars than anyone else in the industry and that, by itself, is a nice position to be in.