Congratulations John Deason
I hope this finds you well. It was about this time last year that we spoke for the first and only time – I had just finished grad school, and was in the process of exploring opening an independent dealership here in Raleigh. Most of my professional career has revolved around the car business in one way or another, and had become familiar with you from the articles you write for Digital Dealer. It prompted me to buy your book, and I read it in a weekend. I called to find out more information about vAuto. That morning we talked about different philosophies of managing a used car inventory, and how vAuto might be the right fit for someone like myself. It’s funny how fast things can change. This time last year all I had was a dream and some ideas written down on paper. To be honest, you were one of a select few that didn’t think I was crazy.
January of this year I formed a company, and signed a lease starting February 1st. I hadn’t acquired much wealth in my life, but I took everything I had and went all in the car business. I moved into a facility that has only 1500 square feet and no drive by traffic – I am sitting in a small warehouse in an industrial park. Your software costs more than my rent. I don’t have a direct lending source, although I do have a small floor plan account. I also run a buying service, but the bigger vision has always been to sell cars on a larger scale.
June was my biggest month so far, and for the first time since I have been open the business made money. I am starting to play offense with vAuto – 3 cars in inventory at the start of June netted 7 retail sales, and I have the deals to prove it. The most exciting thing to me are the possibilities for growth that exist when I have more cars to sell. I feel confident in my abilities with the program, and my cost is going down with each car, with each car being a better buy than the one before. As it stands now inventory is turning 22 times a year. I am in final negotiations as we speak to move into a much larger facility later this year, and have just secured additional funding to go purchase inventory. I’ve also getting ready to hire another employee, which will be two more than I had when I started. I’m going to buy as many cars as I can, and grow the business systemically and methodically.
The investment in vAuto has been made because of my belief in your idea and the principles you are teaching, and my struggles with it to this point have been self inflicted. My background doesn’t include years of franchised dealer experience, and it’s taken me some time to figure out how to use the program. I’d been a part of a large independent used operation before, but it was rooted in traditional retail practices that are becoming less relevant by the day. I had to unlearn some things, and relearn some others. I’ve been cautious with it up until now for that reason, and planned on it taking some time to overcome the learning curve. I made some mistakes along the way, and chances are I will make some more. Failure has always taught me more than success. I feel like with each car I have gotten better, as I know not only what to buy, how much to pay for it, and how much to sell it for. I’ve just got to figure out how to hit more auctions at once to find cars, so it’s important get my arms around buying by proxy.
It is one of the true pleasures of my life to know and work alongside Tom Murphy. Every time we talk he challenges me, and he has made me better in a hurry. He is one of the smart guys in the room, and one of the finest people I know.
All of the talk in the world isn’t worth much, and to be honest, I haven’t proved anything to anyone yet. I’m a very small player in a very large pool. In a lot of respects the jury is very much out on what will happen, and there is still so much work that has to be done. There isn’t a plan B for me- I’m in this for the long haul. The proudest day of my life is when I got a dealer license. My definition of success comes from building a business that is sustainable from scratch, not from increasing the size of an existing operation. By that standard of measure the business is moving along very well, and is tracking ahead of schedule in spite of the mistakes I have made.
My dream is now a reality, with a front door and a key. My business is starting to grow, and it’s all been possible because of a conversation we had about a year ago. Reading your book has truly changed my life, and I am very excited about what the future holds for me. I wrote you today because I know you didn’t have to listen to me much less take a chance on someone like me – a lot of people didn’t take me seriously. That said, for those that believe no explanation is needed. Right now Dale, I owe you a debt I can never repay, and thought you should know what I have been up to since we last spoke. Thank you for taking a chance on me – history is going to show that you were right to do so.