Traditionally car dealerships have been taxed with overcoming a major schism in their business plan: Most people don’t like to shop at car dealerships, yet most people are sold on a car only after having a chance to test drive it. That’s where Seattle startup Tred comes in.
Tred’s simple aim is to cut out the notorious sales-driven car dealership experience that keeps potential customers from ever setting foot on a showroom floor. For a $19 fee, shoppers can visit Tred’s website to peruse new cars. If they find a vehicle that seriously perks their interest, Tred will have up to two of them delivered to their home or office for a 15 mile test drive. Electric and hybrid vehicle test drives are free.
In a further attempt to reduce sales lot pressure, Tred works with local dealerships to have “auto experts” deliver cars to shoppers’ homes and accompany them on ride along test drives. From The Seattle Times:
“They’re very good at presenting cars in an informative way, not a sales-y way,” said Tred founder and Chief Executive Grant Feek, noting that bonuses hinge on positive customer reviews. “They don’t make any more or less money if they sell a car.” (1)
If the test drive goes smoothly, Tred gives shoppers the lowest possible price a dealer is willing to negotiate. It’s a flat offer, although the actual purchase still has to be made at the dealership.
Perhaps the biggest name in the auto industry that can vouch for the effectiveness of Ted’s experimental business model is former General Motors Chairmen and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner. Tred touts him as their most venerable backer and a guy who knows a thing or two about selling cars.