For some guys, their cars are like their children. The only difference is a car doesn’t last forever.
Selling a car isn’t easy and there are only two options – take it to a dealership and hope they offer a fair trade-in value or take a shot and sell it on your own. The first option is much easier but a car owner stands to lose a little more. The second option takes a ton of work and creativity but could result in way more money to spend on a new ride.
At just 25 years old, John Hairabedian is president of HGreg.com, a growing North American pre-owned car dealership in Miami, Florida. Thanks to a progressive philosophy for selling cars, HGreg boasts over a dozen locations in the U.S. and Canada, along with the largest inventory in Canada. They’ve quickly become one of the top 10 independent dealers in all of Florida.
We asked John some tips and tricks on how to stage and sell a car to get as much money as possible, how to maintain a car while still driving it every day, finding the true value of a used automobile and a little bit about his rise to the top of the pre-owned car business.
What are some quick tips to make your car look as good as possible?
Making your car look as good as possible is a lot like taking proper hygiene. There are things you do daily (shower, shave) and things you might do weekly or monthly (manscape, get a haircut). When it comes to the upkeep of your car, you would clear out items daily and get car washes and waxes regularly. And like you would visit a dentist or a doctor, it’s important to stay on top of your car’s maintenance visits.
It’s also important to fix minor things before they turn into bigger problems; such as chips in the windshield, chips in the tires and little scratches and dents in the car. Even if you spill coffee on the console, clean it up right away instead of letting it become a bigger, more permanent stain.
It’s better to take a few minutes every day to do a proper inspection of your vehicle, rather than spending hours and hours of your time every month.
What are some staging tricks?
1) Get your car ready by cleaning it inside and out. Vacuum and clean the interior of the car. Remove any items from the back seat. Fix tire chips, fix the rims and any dents. Get your car waxed from the wheels to the body of the car. These are little things that cost you very little money to do, but will get you more money for your vehicle.
2) Use a professional camera and ensure you cover all angles of the vehicle (wide shots, close-ups, etc.) from the inside and the outside.
3) Be mindful of lighting and background. When taking your photos, use a clear background – don’t take photos in a messy garage. Set up the shots in your driveway or in a place with a lot of natural light. Lighting is key to taking nice visuals.
4) Fix your headlights. Headlights tend to get foggy. Getting them clean will you run you about $100. Your car will look much more new, vibrant, and will get you more dollars for your vehicle.
5) Write descriptions that show the car in the best possible way. If it has low mileage, mention it has low mileage. Use verbs that build confidence and draw excitement.
6) Be available for appointments. When putting your car on the market, you need to be available for any viewings you might get contacted about. The first appointment you receive is often the most important one.
How can you keep your car looking good and still drive it around?
You are better off not driving it and storing it in your garage!
But if you need to use it, continue with your maintenance services. If you’re driving it in the winter, watch out for any salt that erodes the metal. Fix any little scratches quickly before the problem gets worse. Make sure to clean out the car every night and do a quick wipe of the interior and exterior every day.
Purchase rubber car mats for the driver and passenger seats. Clean them out at the end of the night or vacuum them weekly.
How can you find the real value of your car?
It takes a lot of research! Look at classifieds, websites and base your car’s value on the quality and mileage of cars in the similar make and year. You can also take it to a dealership (like HGreg.com) and get it appraised. There are some dealerships that only purchase cars from the public and are able to make an offer on the spot. This is a good alternative if you would to sell quickly.
How should you price it out?
Price it out by basing it on the quality and mileage of similar cars in your area. Start in the middle and don’t price too aggressively. You can always do minor price adjustments or major ones. Pricing also depends on how quickly you want to sell. You can strategically price it below the most inexpensive car available at the moment.
If you’re not in a hurry to sell, you can price it higher and wait for the right buyer. You also want to take in consideration the time of year you sell your vehicle. Your chances of selling a convertible in the winter may be slim, and by the time spring rolls around, your vehicle can seem like “old news.”
How did you get into this business?
My father is in the car business. I first started in the automotive industry shoveling the snow off of the cars in the lot as a kid. Then as I got older, I got interested in technology and wanted to branch out on my own. I founded a tech startup and sold that business when the opportunity with HGreg.com came up.
I initially had no intention of coming back into the industry, but I guess the strong values of family, tradition, and perseverance came over me. I sold my tech business and became a part of HGreg.com. What sold the opportunity for me was the ability to merge my technology experience with my car industry background that was just so ingrained in me that I didn’t even know it was there.
How did you rise through the ranks so quickly?
I don’t think there is a magic formula. It’s all about hard work, constantly innovating and putting together a great team. We’re always putting ourselves in the customer’s position. What is the customer’s pain points? How can we alleviate them? How can we make it better? For us, it’s not adding more bells and whistles; it’s about making things seamless. I’m a big believer in doing the right things all the time, and that often leads to success.
What are some tips for other people your age on climbing the corporate ladder in a short period?
I think you need to surround yourself with smart, great people you can trust and who can challenge some of your assumptions. I challenge them, they challenge me, and we grow together.