Carvana, the Arizona-based online used car retailer that allows customers to purchase cars entirely online, in celebrating 10 years in business.
The company was founded in 2012 and has since grown to become one of the largest online used car dealerships in the United States. Carvana’s unique approach includes offering a seven-day test drive and free delivery of purchased vehicles to customers’ homes. Az Business talked with Carvana’s Vice President of Customer Experience Teresa Aragon, who was one of the very first 10 Carvana employees.
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Question: What role did you play in selling Carvana’s very first car?
Teresa Aragon: It’s amazing to think about how normalized the behavior has become, but the concept of buying a car online 10 years ago was so new and unheard. Our small team of Advocates were so excited to share the idea of Carvana and all the benefits of buying online versus the dealer experience that they were all too familiar with. The concept for many was too foreign and too crazy and we were often met with a “click and dead dial tone”. We recognized quickly our advocates had their work cut out for them. Each car we sold that first year felt monumental, and oh so special. It meant people were trusting us with their second largest purchase most will make in their life. Fast forward to now, I hear almost every dealership commercial touting online purchase and home delivery, that tells me that Carvana did more than just a great job. We changed the way people buy cars!
Question: What was your first role at Carvana?
Teresa Aragon:My first job at Carvana considering the size of our Advocate Team at the time was similar to a Team leader- I worked right alongside our phone advocates and digi advocates, I took calls, and chats and escalations! It was an incredible time where we all wore many hats and we knew every stage of the customer journey! From sales, to verification, to delivery!
Question: What is one of your favorite memories working at Carvana?
Teresa Aragon:After 10-years of being a part of the Carvana Family it’s hard to pick a favorite memory. But I have to say, getting to take part in our IPO in 2017 and standing on the balcony of the New York Stock Exchange was an opportunity of a lifetime. I always smile harder, get butterflies in my stomach, and even giggle just thinking about it!
Question: What is one of the biggest differences between Carvana then and Carvana now?
Teresa Aragon:The biggest and obvious call out is our size, but the other is how Carvana did really change the way people buy cars, back then we did not have any competitors and today we have dealers trying to build the same infrastructure we built 10-years ago.Which is crazy, to be able to say I got to be part of that!
There are so many things that are different today that it’s hard to identify my “”why”. I would think about it like 10 years ago we were a great idea with a handful of people that were fueled by cold brew and a belief. A belief that we could change an industry one customer at a time. Over the years we have failed at so many things, probably more than we succeeded! But through the failure and success we adapted. We have applied so much amazing technology, and we really are light years ahead of the brick and mortar. When I walk around Carvana today or join a meeting I am amazed at how many talented people we have that bleed that sweet Carvana Blue.
We have some really smart people that still might be fueled by cold brew and still fueled by belief! I’m one of them!
Question: In your own words, What makes Carvana special?
Teresa Aragon: We are like lighting in a bottle. Customers can shop through thousands of affordable vehicles in the country, secure auto financing, purchase, trade in, and schedule as-soon-as-next-day vehicle delivery in as little as five minutes. One of our values is treating every customer like your mother, we really care and you can see it everywhere you look today! I also truly believe that we are tackling incredibly complex problems that will continue to exist for years to come. I mean can anyone imagine a world before Amazon? No one wants to go back to that, we all want the ease and convenience of purchasing online and having more time to do the things you love!
Question: What do you know now, that you wish you knew when Carvana started?
Teresa Aragon: There is a beauty in starting at the beginning and being naive in the challenges one might face and the inevitable ups and downs. We learned a ton from our missteps and are a better company for it.
Question: How did you explain Carvana to your friends and family in the early days?
Teresa Aragon:The easiest way to explain Carvana is “amazon for cars” but that really does not do it justice. We are delivering a very important purchase into someone’s household! It’s really such an awesome experience to be a part of.
Question: When thinking of the first ten years of Carvana, what has been your proudest moment?
Teresa Aragon:When I look at the company today, I can feel the fingerprints of all the early team members. You can feel it in our culture, our messaging, you feel it in the way our advocates communicate with our customers. I’m incredibly proud of fostering an environment over the years with customer advocates that encourages them to bring their personalities to work and connect with our customers in an authentic way. This is demonstrated by our consecutive high ranking customer satisfaction score.
Question: Where do you see Carvana in 10 more years?
Teresa Aragon:10 years, wow! We live so much in a world where I’m focused on the next day, next week or next quarter that it’s a fun question to contemplate. We started with a belief that we could make car buying a better experience for all consumers. I think that today it’s pretty clear that we have been successful not only by making good on that promise here at Carvana, but also driving other used car retailers to adopt more customer friendly practices. To me, our future as the largest and most profitable auto retailer is very clear and in 10 years I truly believe that we will be just that. Even more importantly as our stature in the automotive industry grows we’re also going to be more effective at driving industry change. I would hope that in 10 years buying cars has become an exciting, pain free and transparent process regardless of where you purchase a car because of Carvana and the standard that we have set for how to treat your customers.