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Friday Q&A with John Brock: The Catch with Craigslist

Each week, we’ll interview one of our experienced Finance Officers for a brief question and answer session about something interesting from the week, along with tips and tricks to make your finance process easier, and their unique perspective on the industries and customers we work with.

This week, we caught up with John Brock in our Kansas City office who talks about a deal where he ran into some roadblocks when trying to work with a seller on Craigslist, and how he was able to add value to the customer in the end.


Q: Hey, John! Thanks for talking to me today. It sounded like you had a deal recently that was a little more difficult. Can you fill me in on some of the details?

A: This one funded this week, I think. This guy was trying to get a brand new dump trailer, and a bucket truck. Actually, he originally just came to us for the bucket truck, and then he asked me if there was any way he could get a higher approval so that he could include a dump trailer, which we were easily able to accommodate, right? But from there, is where it really got interesting. The dump trailer was with a dealer who was pretty straight up. It was a brand new dump trailer, and they manufacture them, right? However, the bucket truck was with a guy off of Craigslist.

Q: Classic Craigslist sale?

A: Classic Craigslist sale. We were working with that guy, the seller, to obviously try to get everything that we needed from him in order to complete the transaction. Well, that seller also requested financing from us while we were in the middle of that deal, and we were unable to approve him. So that put an interesting twist on the dynamic between us and them as a seller.

Q: You don’t see that every day, huh?

A: Nope, you don’t. And so, as I tried to weave through that, I think I was able to at least maintain a good dynamic with that seller in order for him to continue working with us. Unfortunately, I think what ended up happening was, he put that truck back into work. I think some work came about that he was able to utilize that truck for, and so he put it out on the street to work, and did not want to sell it any longer, although he wouldn’t tell us that. He kept on saying, yeah, I want to sell this truck, I’ll get this stuff to you, like the copy of the title and all that kind of stuff.

Q: So that’s a couple obstacles right off the bat. Anything else come up?

A: Well, the biggest one was that we had already had agreements done for this truck, and we were basically ready to go. We just needed the copy of the title, right? And ultimately, it came down to where, I kind of had to make the call for my customer, because he didn’t know how to deal with it. I told him, hey, start looking for another truck, because I don’t know if this one’s going to happen. He found another one that he liked, but I was trying to explain to him, you know, this will be an all new agreement. This is kind of not completely starting over, but moderately starting over.

Q: Rough. How did you progress at that point?

A: Weighing those timelines out with the reality of the situation with the customer, I just kind of had to bite my tongue for a little bit and say hey, our best option right now is just to have this seller, this craigslist seller, finally come around and get us the stuff that we need. Eventually, it came down to the point where it was just no longer worth waiting, and so I had to make the decision to pull the trigger to re-do docs completely for the other truck, and so, all of that was a fun process. The biggest thing there that I think really provided a lot of value to the customer, was that during that entire transaction, which was over a month’s period, I was constantly in contact with the dealer for the dump trailer to keep him on board, which was difficult. He was, especially towards the end, pretty much asking, “is this thing ever going to fund?” Which, granted, it was a lot better than me just saying, here’s a promise, here’s a promise, and provide false promises without knowing how long this thing was going to take. To be honest, the dealer of the new truck wasn’t exactly the best either. They didn’t correctly complete documents multiple times, even with direction, but ultimately, we were able to get the deal done, and everybody was happy. Granted, by the time we got the dealer for the dump trailer funded, that dealer was, I think, perfectly fine, saying, “I understand these things happen”, although he wasn’t all that excited before it got funded. When it got to the end, things were a lot better. And so, that was a difficult situation, in multiple ways.

Q: That can really happen with Craigslist sellers.

A: That’s true. We’ve had a lot of great transactions with Craigslist sales, but in this case, I had given our guy a lot of warnings that we were going to go somewhere else if we didn’t hear anything back, so ultimately, I just let it go.

Q: That’s what we seem to hear in a lot of stories with the finance officers, the more private the sale gets, the more variables there are, because there aren’t a lot of standard practices of business with private sellers, so that’s something that seems to be a common thing we would advise with anyone looking for equipment, be prepared with private sellers to deal with all of the variables. It can be a great experience, or you could potentially run into some roadblocks.

A: And that’s something that, you know, I always tell my dealers whenever they say, “well do you guys work with private sellers, can I work with this guy from Craigslist” … Yes, we can, but there is going to be a lot of different things that could come up, so be prepared. Ultimately, we got to avoid the issues with funding and all of that stuff.

Q: Well, I’m glad to hear everything worked itself out in the end.

A: Yeah, most of the issues dissolved once we got to funding. We just needed a little patience.

Next week we will check in with another one of our finance officers. Stay up to date and learn more from our valuable resources at www.AmericanEFS.com/The-Bottom-Line