I’m in dangerous territory. I don’t want to cover apps on this site. There are a dizzying number of apps available for both travel and automotive and any attempt to cover the market will only leave gaps. Chasms even. So it’s with that disclaimer that I want to discuss Honcker.
Although Honcker is available today for Android and shortly for iOS it’s less app and more platform. That’s why Honcker is something to watch.
Honcker is car leasing on your phone from quote to delivery.
I downloaded Honcker on an Android phone and it’s not a pain free process. We need to be fair, it’s Honcker 1.0, and there should be a hurdle or two if you’re about to lease a car on the web. Yes, the entire process occurs on the web.
I had a long talk with Nathan Hecht, the founder of Honcker, earlier today. I wanted to know what gave him the moxie to wander into the automotive industry and demand that dealers change the way they function. The answers were both unsurprising and delightful.
Moms and Dads listen up because Nathan Hecht’s father did something that we should all be willing to do (but probably aren’t).
As an eight year old Nathan was involved in an accident that injured him and broke his collarbone, there was a small settlement. It was $12,000. As a young teen Nathan started studying the stock market and his father gave him the $12,000 with instructions only to “invest wisely”. An entrepreneur was born. He’s amassed money and lost it, built and sold two business since then, and for the past 18 months Honcker has been his passion and his day job.
In trying to lease a car nearly two years ago Nathan found that he couldn’t get a real price online, there was zero transparency, and no possibility of an internet based transaction. He’s been investing wisely since the age of 13 so he wisely decided to invest time and money in fixing the car leasing dilemma.
As someone who has sat on both sides of the table I recognize there’s a problem with car leasing. I’ve only noted it as a problem for the customer, not the dealership, so I found it to be shocking that Honcker got two of America’s largest automotive dealerships to agree to entrust their business to them. Keyes here in Los Angeles is certainly not a chain that I’d consider to be forward thinking or particularly tech savvy. Their website is more branding than sales tool and their incessant radio ads about Keyes on Van Nuys is the earworm that nightmares are made of. A list of things to do in Los Angeles including visiting the Keyes family of dealerships and the 405/10 exchange made it into the Simpsons. Both are sites where many an Angelino has experienced involuntary rage and unnecessary waits.
It’s impressive that Hecht was able to create a platform that would make the car leasing process simpler. Every customer wants ease and if we only have to visit a showroom for a test drive we just might be overjoyed.
How did the team at Honcker create a platform that dealerships were willing to use? Not just any dealerships but Keyes on the West Coast and Staluppi’s Atlantic Group on the East Coast.
In the pre-internet world I sold cars and I think it’s the most fun I’ve ever had at a job, certainly it was fiscally rewarding. My rewards came because no one knew what the true cost of a car was. Twenty years later and not much has changed. We do have TrueCar and Edmunds, neither of which should be dismissed as both have altered the car buying process but you can’t click and buy a car on either site, they simply generate leads for sales teams.
According to Hecht, Honcker appeals to the dealers because they control what inventory is included in the app. The cars are added by VIN number with full descriptions. You’ll view your car with your exact trim level and all the accessories, insurances, warranties and financing, then click to complete the deal and the dealership or, in some instances, an outside concierge will deliver your new vehicle.
Currently BMW, Audi, Mercedes and Toyota lease used cars. Honcker does not currently support this but may at some time in the future.
Honcker is able to help buyers take advantage of all relevant rebates, preserve their time, and not shop under stressful circumstances. If the dealerships price cars well on Honcker this could be a nearly pain free way to make purchase that should be fun but seldom is.
Honcker dealers are the beneficiaries of big data mining, which enables them to put the right car in front of the right buyers. This frees up their time and resources and opens them up to a new way of interacting with customers. Since the internet has stripped away a lot of the car industry’s pricing secrets Honcker seems like a next logical step. Steps are still scary and sometimes slippery.
I signed up for Honcker today and was assured that my credit would not be affected. I’ll follow up in a couple of weeks and let you know if that was true.
I’m not in market for a lease at the moment. My last lease did involve a deal done over the phone along with delivery to my home but that’s not typical. I was able to accomplish this because I have friends in the industry. There are fraud concerns and frankly dealerships historically haven’t needed to provide that level of service for vehicles other than exotics. If you’re new to town don’t bother with Honcker, you’ll need your drivers license and your insurance card to match with both names and addresses.
I’m curious to see where Honcker lands. It’s time for the automotive industry to be disrupted and when you have two of the biggest dealerships in the nation committing to a platform we’d all be wise to pay attention.