Tom started Automatch to help those of us who really don’t want to deal with the hassles of buying a car. He provides a valuable service to people by doing all the tricky negotiations for you. I found him on Jalopnik since he writes some really interesting articles and gives us some great insight. Check them out on his Automatch blog.
Here’s an interview with Tom where he talks more about Automatch.
Torque Affair (TA): What gave you the idea to create “Automatch”?
Tom: When I graduated college with my Education degree in January of 2005, no one was hiring teachers mid-way through the year. I worked odd-jobs and thought I might try my hand at car sales. I applied at a local Honda/BMW dealership. I ended up taking a “personality test” as part of the interview, a few days later I get a phone call from the sales manager, “We are sorry but the results of the personality test says you are too ‘customer oriented’ we need you to be more ‘company oriented.’ Essentially the results say you would be looking out for the best interests of the customer, we need you to look out for the best interest of us.” This got me thinking…I wonder if I could help people buy cars and save them the hassle of dealing with the “stealerships?” A few years ago I started doing consulting for free for family and friends. After every deal I was told, ” This is awesome, you should make a business out of this!” Once I finished graduate school, I had the time and energy to to make it a full-fledged business.
TA: Where did the name “Automatch” come from?
Tom: The name came about when one of my earliest “free clients” referred to me as the Auto-matchmaker.
TA: How long has it been around?
Tom: I have been brokering deals for people for about 5 years, but officially launched Automatch 2 years ago.
TA: What kind of challenges did you face in starting Automatch?
Tom: My primary challenge has just been getting my name out. Writing on Oppositelock and being published to Jalopnik and Lifehacker has really helped extend my reach.
TA: How do you get clients? Word of mouth? Advertising?
Tom: At first most of my clients came through word of mouth and personal referrals. Now due to my articles, I have about a 50/50 mix of referrals and clients that discover me on the internet.
TA: What kind of services do you offer?
Tom: I have three packages- First package $149- I have a very detailed survey that helps narrow down the field of choices to a few (usually 3) makes/models of what I think will be the best picks for the client. I locate those cars, and give what the “fair market” value is. At that point the client is on their own. Second package $299, I do everything from the first package but I will show the client how to communicate with the dealerships and shop to get the best deal. I will also give advice on how to get the most from their trade and get the best interest rates for financing. Third package $499, everything from the first package (including the trade and financing advice from package 2), then I negotiate with the dealerships on the client’s behalf get the best deal. All they have to do is secure the financing and pick up the car.
TA: From your articles it’s clear that you’re a true auto enthusiast – how long have you been interested in cars?
Tom: Ever since I was little I loved matchbox cars and hot wheels. I don’t remember, but my parents say that I would point out and identify cars from my car-seat. However, I got away from autos for a while and it wasn’t until I started driving that the interest sparked again.
TA: What’s your favorite car of all time?
Tom: Favorite car of all time…that is a tough one, there are so many. Well I love fast wagons, so I’m gonna say the RS6 Avant.
TA: What are your long term plans with Automatch? Are you going to expand this or branch out?
Tom: I would love to get to a point where I have so many clients across the country that I have to hire other consultants to manage the volume. It would be awesome to have an Automatch representative in every major metro area.
TA: Last question – what would you say to people who might be wondering why they should pay you instead of doing this themselves?
Tom: Short answer is they wouldn’t. If you can do something yourself and do it well, you don’t pay someone else to do it. But how much is your time and energy worth? Recently I had a landscape company weed all my beds, edge and mulch. It was $200 and it took a team of 8 guys 3 hours. It would have taken me an entire weekend. I have better things to do with my time, and I hate pulling weeds. I consider that money well spent. The majority of car-buyers are intimidated by the dealerships, don’t want to get ripped-off, and often just don’t have the time or energy to deal with the hassle. So they pay me a few hundred bucks on the second most expensive purchase they will make to so that things go smoothly.
The few times that I have bought cars, I know for a fact that I haven’t gotten the best deal. Not to mention, I wasn’t any good at negotiating either. Next time I buy a car, I will need to get Tom’s help. If you’re like me and want to avoid the hassle, why not use Automatch?
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