Veteran Auto Dealer Enjoys Retirement Selling From His Laptop On eBay Motors

September 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Rob Chesney - Also by this author

Michael Melchiondo has been in the car business since 1949, riding out the ups and downs of the industry during that time; but never had he expected to find his biggest business success in the period after he retired.

When Melchiondo decided to retire in 2002, he wanted to find a part-time business that would both keep him active and generate extra income. He had bought several items on eBay, eventually becoming a self-proclaimed “computer junkie.” So he elected to try selling vehicles on eBay Motors as his retirement business.

“What started out as listing a couple of vehicles per week as a test quickly turned into sales of 10 to 15 vehicles per week,” Melchiondo, owner of Michaels Auto Center in New Hope, Penn., said.

Early in the testing of their eBay sales channel, Melchiondo and his brother found they were able to sell vehicles on eBay that had not come close to finding a buyer at their own location.

“I had vehicles that would sit on the lot for three months without generating any interest,” he said. “On eBay Motors, I was able to sell them in South Carolina in seven days for more money than I would have been able to get on our lot.”

Convinced the experiment was not a fluke success, Melchiondo sold the car rental agency he had owned for 25 years and went into business with his brother selling on eBay.

“I kept my dealer license and a small lot to store the vehicles, and that was about it,” he said. “I have no overhead.”

Melchiondio is responsible for taking pictures of each vehicle, writing the description and completing the sale, while his brother is in charge of purchasing inventory. Their strategy has been to buy vehicles and sell them “as is.”

“We may post a vehicle with a dent in it, but we make sure to take a picture of the dent and write it in the description,” he said. “We’ve found buyers out there specifically looking for vehicles to fix up.”

Melchiondo’s approach has produced a thriving business that is acclaimed by car buyers. His feedback from customers on eBay Motors is over 99 percent positive.

“We’ve sold everything from high-end Mercedes sedans to antique cars to cars that have to be towed out of here,” Melchiondio said. “In addition to selling vehicles all across the United States, we’ve sold nearly a dozen cars to buyers in Europe, 15 to people in the Caribbean and one in Iceland.”

Melchiondo has found that eBay Motors is an amazingly successful tool for moving inventory quickly and efficiently, and he believes it’s a much more cost-effective technique than other sales options.

“It costs the same amount to list a car on eBay for seven days, reaching a national market, as it does to list it in the local paper for one day, where it’s buried, and where the audience is limited by the circulation,” Melchiondo said.

Because of the success he has found on eBay Motors, Melchiondio has no desire to run his business any other way.

“We do business solely on eBay Motors,” he said. “We don’t entertain customers who come to our lot. I like selling on eBay Motors, and I’ll continue to do it. The advantages are clear.”

While some might not consider Melchiondo’s typical day as “retirement,” he enjoys working with eBay Motors as a way to meet his retirement-job goals.

“At my age, I don’t want a true retirement,” he said. “I’m not ready to sit at home on the couch and watch soap operas all day.”

But his eBay Motors sales do allow him some leeway from the typical sales job.

“When someone isn’t picking up a vehicle, I can go sit by the pool all day with my laptop and manage my auctions,” he said.

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