When a potential customer arrives at WeBuyCars (WBC) looking to sell their vehicle, they are met with a tablet station at the door.
They are required to enter the details of their vehicle so that it can fall into the valuation waiting list.
Each WBC “buyer” then has a tablet on hand where they can see which cars are waiting and attend to each customer as soon as possible.
A potential customer’s vehicle is then taken through the valuation process.
The valuation process starts with a WBC buyer taking a short test drive, where they assess the gearbox, throttle response, handling, suspension, and the general ride – and to check if any engine warning lights come on.
After the test drive, a car is parked at a secluded spot, and each part of the vehicle is diligently inspected.
The buyer’s tablet presents a checklist of mandatory and optional photos that every buyer must take of each vehicle that comes in.
The checklist covers everything from full-body shots to in-depth photos of elements such as the engine oil cap and bonnet hinges.
Every part that is assessed in the inspection is then rated on that particular vehicle’s profile in the company database as either below average, as expected, or above average.
The buyer also looks at the WBC database to see how that model has performed at its branches, in terms of profits and losses, since the company first opened its doors.
Depending on these factors, and the individual condition of a vehicle, a buyer will present a potential customer with an offer to buy.
Preparing for the showroom
If a person decides to take the offer to buy, they are guided to an admin desk where the needed paperwork is completed. The company said that a customer could have the money in their account in less than 10 minutes if all their papers are in order.
While this is taking place, WBC’s newest purchase is already on its way to the wash and valet centre, which is the first stop of many.
Here, it undergoes a deep cleanse and gets a new sticker on its windshield to officially make it WBC stock. The sticker can be scanned by WBC to see the valuation results of that vehicle.
After a wash, the vehicle is sent for a mechanical inspection that is performed on-site by Dekra.
The Dekra inspector draws up a report of the mechanical condition of the vehicle, which is then posted on the online advertisement to show the customer exactly which faults or potential problems that vehicle might have.
Certain vehicles might be sent for light repairs before being made available to the public, too.
If everything is in order, the vehicle is taken to its next stop – a 360-degree photo booth. On an average day, this booth sees a several dozen cars pass through its doors.
The photoshoot is the last step a vehicle takes before it goes on sale to the public.
WBC said they strive to have every vehicle on the auction blocks the first morning after it is bought – and if a vehicle’s auction period expires without being sold, it is taken to the showroom floor.
Alongside the window sticker that provides all the necessary information about the car, WBC also gives the vehicle an “A” or “B” rating based on its individual risk profile.
Category A vehicles can be bought with cash or through a finance deal, whereas category B vehicles must be bought outright and are usually in below-average condition.
A WBC buyer we spoke to said most vehicles are sold within two weeks, while extremely popular models such as the VW Polo Vivo have sold in as little as eight hours.
If a car is on the floor for too long, the company will either lower its price or send it to another WBC dealership – where it might have a better chance of finding a new owner.
WBC said that it receives around 45,000 applications per month through its various channels, and that every submission is looked at.
WBC buys roughly 17% of these vehicles for its showrooms, while other applications are sent on to dealerships, or rejected.
While there were no specific numbers mentioned, WBC said it prefers making smaller profits on a large volume of cars over placing big margins on its vehicles.
Potential profit margins are calculated on a case-by-case basis, and a few vehicles have even been sold at a loss in the past.
The company added that it wants to increase the applications it receives to around 55,000 per month, and it is doing so by making it easier for the customer to reach a WBC buyer.
WBC has installed several “buying pods” around less-populated areas in the country, where anyone can park their vehicle and get it valued. WBC can also send a buyer to a customer’s home or place of work, and evaluate a vehicle then and there.
Additionally, the company said it is able to send a buyer just about anywhere in South Africa if there is a car that need to be looked at.
A big thank you to WeBuyCars Midstream for making this article possible.