CarSolve: Local Online Auction Format Simplifies the Car Selling Game

Owners at fair photo
Courtesy of CarSolve

Long gone are the days of “haggling” or even the “handshake deal” to buy a car thanks to a collection of innovative platforms that have sprouted over the years, all designed to help you find the right buyer for your car for the right price. Amongst this fleet of options lies CarSolve, an online car-selling platform that connects sellers directly to an ensemble of dealerships via auction. But just how does it all work?

“It was becoming clear, especially during COVID, how these online solutions for selling your car outside of the dealership ecosystems were gaining a lot of traction,” says Joe Cain, Co-Founder of CarSolve who spent many years in the golf industry before pulling out his big dog and taking a swing in the world of automotive auctions. “We asked ourselves ‘what’s the solution sellers are looking for?’ That was our starting point and we ran from there.”

CarSolve, founded in Vancouver in March of 2023, was a perfect professional progression for owners Joe Cain and his business partner Norm Hardy, who actually had quite a bit of experience in the world of car auctioning before CarSolve’s launch. Together, Cain and Hardy would do a deep dive into how their business could differ from the rest.

CarSolve logo
Courtesy of CarSolve

“A lot of the existing online auctions are great but the majority of those offers that are generated are based on an algorithm,” says Cain. “What we wanted to do was present our really strong local dealer network to sellers, helping the dealers acquire a prime inventory all while offering sellers a safe, trusted, and convenient car selling experience that will establish a fair price for their vehicle. The long and short of CarSolve is that it’s the first consumer-to-dealer digital auction in the Pacific Northwest, but nobody is really even doing this in the country.”

So, just how does it all work? Simple.

First, you list the car via CarSolve’s site. This will involve submitting a series of information and up-to-date photos of the vehicle you wish to sell so that the CarSolve team can provide the seller with the best and most accurate assessment.

“We’re going to give you a full market report,” says Cain. “We’re going to give our best assessment based on comparables, vehicle market data, etc. At the end of the day we want you to tell us what you want your reserve price to be! The goal is to sell it, so we have to be realistic, but you never know what it’s going to bring at the auction.”

Next comes the auction itself, which will run for 72-hours. Even cooler? CarSolve allows you to login to their web app and watch the bids come in for your vehicle in real time.

List Watch Sell graphic
Courtesy of CarSolve

“At any point in time you can accept a live offer,” says Cain. “I would say 95% of sellers let the auction process run all the way through but sometimes you do get sellers who are happy with a specific offer and need to pull out of the auction early. That being said, if the auction doesn’t generate an offer that meets your target price, you then have an option to counter the highest bidding dealer.”

As it pertains to pricing, CarSolve only collects a $249 fee if an offer is accepted.

“We have a very high success rate,” says Cain. “One cool thing about our service is that it also connects sellers to these dealerships once the car drop-off takes place. Around 35% of our clients are actually buying vehicles from the dealership we connect them to in order to purchase their vehicle. It’s been a fun, full circle process.”

One question that you might be thinking is just how thorough is the application process? Don’t worry, we talked with CarSolve to uncover just that.

“We do a really good job with our applications,” says Cain. “We do our due diligence in vehicle history checks, and the photo process is pretty extensive, looking at things like the engine bay and pillars. One of the things we’re working on right now is an affiliate partnership third-party pre-sale inspection location to assess the structural and mechanical integrity of a vehicle before it heads to auction.”

As of today, CarSolve has doubled units in revenue month over month since they went to market in June.

“History shows people typically go into selling their car with a shield and armor on, ready to fight,” says Cain. “When we engage with our clients there’s often that barrier we have to break first. We offer market reports and suggestions through our experienced appraisal team; simply put, we’re here to partner with the public, building that bridge between the public and the dealers. We like to think of ourselves as the translators for that intimidating language that scares so many people.”

Today, albeit early in its inception, CarSolve seems to have a firm grasp on this business strategy as demonstrated by doubling down on a variety of patents specific to their service, paving a future that will hopefully limit competition while maximizing client satisfaction, for both seller and dealer alike.

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