“We are proud to be Danes” Peter Groeftehauge Autorola, Founder and CEO, interviewed by EuroCoc
This newsletter is sent to many car dealers and car traders across Europe. Can you tells us a bit about your company? Many know you by being a sponsor of many trading events and as an auction company. What’s the story? :)
Autorola is an online vehicle remarketing services company. We develop online solutions that support our customers across the remarketing value chain.
We sell cars for various segments like Leasing, OEM, Fleet owners, Rental, Dealerships and Banks. We have been in this business since 2001. Our software solutions are all developed by our own software company called Autorola System Solutions.
It seems like you are opening new offices (new countries) almost every year… Can you give me some figures (cars sold, employees, offices, turnover etc.) that would bring my readers more up to date on Autorola?
Today, Autorola has approximately 360 employees in subsidiaries in 17 countries all over the world; and yes we always have new subsidiaries opening up. With our 250,000 cars handled yearly we are clearly not the largest player in the global market – not yet. In 2012, 30% of our vehicles handled were based on export. Some of our customers think that we prefer to export vehicles because it is so easy online. However, we believe that it is fully up to the vendor to decide if they want to sell locally, nationally, or export internationally in a closed environment, etc. Although we do advise them, concerning sales channels, that we prefer whatever solution suits our customer. Every year we have more than 17 million car views on our websites from interested dealers that want to buy on our platform.
Autorola is originally a Danish company. Denmark, with all respect, is not the largest country in terms of the international car trading business. What was the reason for the company being headquartered in Denmark?
Yes, it is correct that Autorola was founded in Denmark in 2001 and we still have our headquarters on the island Funen in the heart of Denmark. But it is a good question and people often ask us why we don’t move permanently to Frankfurt, Madrid, and so on to be closer to our large customers. To be honest, I think the answer is that we are proud to be Danes. We are well educated, have strong online skills and we have that Scandinavian bold approach that we always think we can do everything better than anybody else. I am not trying to be rude or arrogant but I just think it is part of our Viking culture. But having said that I guess that people employed in Autorola have a few things in common: We love to challenge, we love to deliver first class results, and we are never satisfied. We don’t want to lose that Danish Autorola spirit and culture and perhaps that is the true answer to your question.
Were there any tough moments in the history of AUTOROLA that influenced the direction of the company that you can recall?
Yes, many years ago a great competitor of ours was rude to me and my new company. I promised myself that I would create a great company, with great solutions, and much better service. I think I am definitely on my way to success.
Autorola is certainly not the only auctioning company in Europe. We know BCA, COTW, Manheim... What is the value that you bring to your customers that your competitors cannot match? Or, if you like, where are you radically different?
Europe is blessed with good remarketing companies and I think we should all learn from each other in some way. From day one, we decided to go online and become experts in software development. That combined with a natural interest in our customers’ challenges and the special bold Autorola spirit/culture is perhaps the cornerstone of Autorola. I guess it doesn’t need to be that complicated.
However, Autorola was born online and we see it as our responsibility to take the remarketing industry to another level. That level is online where borders do not matter. It is our vision to make remarketing for both sellers and buyers way more simple than it is today. Soon a dealer will be able to buy any type of vehicle and model whenever they want – easy and simple. Moreover, they will know what the market price for that vehicle is and they will have software tools that support them in pricing their vehicles precisely at any given point to maximise their revenue and profits. 5 years ago a dealer was doing business in their neighbourhood. Now and for sure in a few years the winning (and surviving) dealer will both buy and sell cars nationally and internationally and they will choose very few remarketing partners to support them. We strongly believe that they will choose the ones that have 4 strengths:
- Global insight
- National support in their language
- Software solutions that support their everyday business with buying, pricing, and selling vehicles
- A trustworthy platform with easy to use tools to find, bid, buy, and sell any kind of vehicle and model at any time and anywhere.
Is there any single success in the recent year that Autorola is proud of and would like to spread the news about? :)
Yes, in fact there is one thing.
4 years ago when we, for the first time, entered one of the biggest European events in remarketing we gave a speech in the main room. Nobody really new us or our company name and in fact nobody really cared. Today, 4 years later we are mentioned as a first class remarketing partner in our customer’s speeches at that very same event. That is something that we definitely celebrated internally. You know, we all need to remember to fly on the wings of happy stories.
Autorola has, maybe due to its technological origins, invested hugely in new technologies. Can we look forward to any development that would make it even easier and more profitable to use your remarketing site?
We are developing in many areas, following ideas from both vendors and buying dealers. Every quarter we launch new product features that ease the everyday remarketing life for sellers and buyers. We are doing a good job today, but we still think we have to improve the buying process for our dealer-network. You know, I always encourage Autorola employees to challenge sellers, buyers, and Autorola colleagues to find better solutions to make this complex world simpler.
The trend in recent years is a rising price of second hand vehicles. Where do you think the roots of this situation are and how can it influence car dealers in Europe – both new and used car traders?
This is definitely a sad story.
To my knowledge, European car sales in 2013 have dropped to the lowest in 23 years. One of the only countries to hold their heads up high is the UK. Nowadays, only the really clever dealers celebrate success. At Autorola, we have spent a lot of time understanding the market and the realities that our sellers and buyers face. To us, the core reason is the financial crisis that has forced the manufactures to stop the production of new vehicles. Moreover, I think end-buyers have scaled down and chosen to save money by buying second hand cars instead of new ones. Both trends lead to the fact that the demand for used cars increases and prices rise.
For a dealer to navigate in this tough world it needs to know its position in the market perfectly. The “happy” dealers that we meet today are the ones who are very focused on their position in the market combined with a strategy of buying and selling fast both locally, nationally, and internationally. The winning dealer always strives towards having fresh stock with high demand and continuously adjusted prices. Old stock is a road to nowhere. It is no surprise that Autorola believes that this is a clever, winning strategy and we will do our utmost to support that dealer strategy now and forever.