In recent years, the story of automotive retail has tracked the story of retail in general, with the customer experience going from in store to online. But Gettacar, a regional online dealer based in the Northeast U.S., has decided to go the opposite way.
The Philadelphia-based firm, which operates in seven Northeast markets, recently announced a strategic pivot, going from an online pure player to an omnichannel business with virtual as well as brick-and-mortar stores.
To mark the change, the company has rebranded to “Getta.”
The pivot is still in its early days, but Getta CEO Yossi Levi said the company has already agreed to buy four traditional, physical dealerships in the Northeast, stretching from Upstate New York to Washington, D.C. He noted the first deal will close in the next 60 days.
It’s a counter-intuitive step for a company that until lately seemed happy to ride the coattails of online pioneers like Carvana and Vroom.
But Levi said it’s all about offering customers a choice.
“We still are online, but now we’re online and also in store,” Levi said. “All we’re doing is just giving our customers more options. That’s the big advantage of this model.”
As well, the company sees an opportunity in boosting the technology games of smaller, independent dealerships that haven’t kept pace with the industry.
Levi noted that the U.S. has about 25,000 independent car dealerships and that the average age of their business principals is 72, many of them without a succession plan.
“That’s just a mind-boggling stat,” Levi said. “It just shows the opportunity.”
Getta hopes to take over many such dealerships, building on their local brands and customer bases, and improving on service. Getta typically sells 200 to 400 cars per month, Levi said. But with the expansion, sales should exceed 1,000 units per month by the end of the year, he said.
“The landscape for auto retailing has just gotten so sophisticated,” Levi said. “We come in, we bring our infrastructure, our reconditioning and inspection center, bring our tech, our logistics, all our teams, and we’re able to make these businesses a lot better.”
Essentially, Levi would be doing what he’s already done with his father’s dealership, Danis Auto Sales, one of the largest independent car dealerships in suburban Philadelphia. Levi grew up in that dealership, working the sales floor from his early teens. After college, he started Gettacar with a friend as a separate business, but quickly merged it with his dad’s dealership. The combined online/in-store business now looks like a blueprint for the newly incarnated Getta.
Getta, which employs about 100 people, including 15 at a tech center in Israel, will expand by acquiring independent dealerships with annual sales in the range of $30 million to $200 million, Levi said. For now, the company will focus on the Northeast in order to get maximum benefit from its single reconditioning center, a 10-acre facility in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia.
Asked if the firm had raised funding for acquisitions, Levi said, “On that topic, there’s some exciting news in store,” but he wasn’t ready to disclose details. To date, Getta has raised $48 million, with its most recent funding round closing in February 2021 for $25 million.
The company is looking to push south and into the Midwest, as well, Levi said. But as a first step into a new region, it would need a new reconditioning plant, and those take two years to develop, from search to launch, Levi said.
“We want to be a national player, 100%. That’s been an ambition since day 1,” Levi said. “But it’s one region at a time.”