The story of Mats.org is one of vision, virtue, risk, and cars. Mats.org was born in Cincinnati, Ohio during the 1970s, a time when starting new ventures was risky and auto brokers were few. Without a clear path to follow, our visionary founder Chuck Schroth stepped out in faith to begin helping people buy cars. The task ahead was especially challenging given he was a minister, not a car guy.
The car industry is an odd phenomenon in how quickly it became corrupt and how little it has changed over the years. Chuck saw this broken industry and decided to change it for the sake of the people who were getting burned.
He started by building a network of dealerships to supply cars as he, one by one, helped missionaries coming back to the U.S get transportation. These connections were intentional and strategic to solidify a mutual trust. In the beginning, he focused on the logistics and acted as a trusted middle-man making sure customers were getting the right car, a quality car, and paying a fair price. It was a success. For years, Chuck operated Mats.org as a principled alternative to a dealer- an auto broker with an emphasis on helping missionaries. This vision later inspired our team to think strategically on how to operate a model that added the most value to consumers in the end.
To attain this model, you need a well-oiled machine. A quality supply chain eliminates waste and adds value to the customer. What it shouldn’t do? Cause customers to pay for “value” they never receive. So, in order to rid of the waste and truly add value for our customers, we knew we needed control of the process from beginning to end. This first meant we needed to continue the personal consulting model used by auto brokers. Then, we needed to build a large wholesale network. Lastly, an extensive reconditioning and logistics strategy that would give our team the ability to be transparent about the condition. We knew that the sum of these variables would result in the highest quality for our customer’s money. So we did it.
It seems simple, but this isn’t the standard for your average car buying service. This may sound crazy, but it’s taken numerous losses and many process improvements to master the art of providing high quality while not losing money. We pressed on knowing the standard could be met and continued to stay locked in on the goal; make it easier for people to buy the right car. When we deliver cars, we never force a customer to take it even after we’ve bought it, reconditioned it, and paid a driver for the delivery. This makes it crucial to master the art of sourcing high-quality vehicles and to disclose the true condition before delivery. There’s nowhere to hide. If we don’t do that, a customer may turn it down and if this happens, money is lost. Operating under these standards forced us to tighten up the process and through that pressure, we’ve become the best at sniffing out good cars, ensuring both sides win in the end.
We’ve simultaneously become a walking database of car knowledge as each customer requires a unique search. If you’re going to listen to customer needs and match them with the best car possible, you need to have a mind full of car knowledge. You’ll also need to know how the industry works on both sides, the buying and the selling. Your average dealer simply isn’t faced with these challenges. Without the challenge, those skills will never be honed. We search through thousands of cars per month and reject 90% of what we find typically because the cost compared to the condition doesn’t make sense. Take a guess where these rejected cars go? The used car lots that thousands of customers visit daily.
Over 40 years, we’ve been learning this art; an art of discerning which types of cars are best for each unique customer, finding them, buying them, and disclosing the condition information along the way. The path to make this a seamless experience for customers has been riddled with failures but we haven’t gotten there by doing it the way the industry normally does it. In fact, there isn’t a dealer or car broker out there doing exactly what we do. The service we’ve committed to providing is unique and operates in opposition to the agenda of all the other options.
To bring it all full circle, our current team of specialists are trained on the in’s and outs of car buying. They’re experts who know how to buy cars and are genuinely great at helping customers be good stewards of their money It’s taken us years to understand the value this brings. Real knowledge and holistic expertise brings a benefit to our customers that surpasses what they’ve experienced before. That’s why so many of our customers are repeats and referrals. By keeping our eyes fixed on bringing value to car buyers, we’ve become expert advisors. We know our founder and visionary leader would be proud of where we’re headed.
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