Saturday, April 26, 2008


KL Nichols

If you have ever looked for a collector vehicle or a part for a collector vehicle, you will know that it is a big world.

One of the biggest expenses to restoring a vehicle is the cost of time and long distance phone calls to find parts. When most guys can’t find their socks, it takes a special person to locate parts!

Some might say that has all changed because of the Internet and all the free long distance vailable today on cell phones and VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) systems. But if anything, it makes the competition worse as the huge amount of pressure put on the available inventory by the Internet and Online auctions like ebay. EBay alone has 140 million users and every one
of them is looking for something to sell! Now that Is Pressure!!

Okay, so you know this, or at least are aware of it. So what? This is where Finders come in. If you have ever dealt with a Finder, you will know that they charge a fee for their services. A Finder takes the pressure off of you and a Finder has contacts that he (I say “He” for brevity here, but one of the best Finders I know is a stunning female type person!) has built up over his

Why am I telling you this? Because you might be interested in being a Finder or at least knowing how a Finder works and what they charge?

A Finder generally is a person who has grown up loving cars. Along the way, they have developed a fairly large mental database of cars, and car parts. You know, the guy who can tell you if a dirty, greasy engine block lying in a dark corner of an unlit garage is a Hemi with out even getting dirty! That is generally the type person who is a Finder, but there is also a place for a detail person who loves to spend time on the phone and online surfing the parts yards websites. Which in either case that is what you do.

Now how do you make money being a Finder, or better yet, what do Finders charge? Since I do a lot of finding, I can tell you what I charge…

Cars are more profitable, you can make a lot more finding a car than a part. Nobody wants to pay you what it costs to find parts; it is just as easy to find a $25k car, as it is a $50 part. So if you are going to be a Finder, get your priorities straight.

If someone just has to have me find a part, I charge a minimum $50 up front and 25% of the cost of the part with a minimum of $50, not everybody can pull that off, but I don’t actually get money, most of the time I get a credit card to charge or I send them a PayPal invoice and most people know that PayPal will Cover their butts in case of fraud, so they are safe using a credit
card or PayPal or a credit card on PayPal. That’s a little confusing, but in time you will understand it.

Give the customer his money’s worth; but don’t spend a lot of time finding $10 parts. Depending on what your hourly fee is, you can also adjust these prices to your hourly fee. But, I have to say, it is a really desperate person who will pay a $1000 to find a $10 part so don’t be dumb!

Now on the other hand, there are Finders fees for classic cars! If, and this is the case more often than not, I have located the car before a Buyer shows up, I charge a flat fee of $100 or $200, depending on how much of a classic it is. If I have no clue where the car is and it is a hard to locate car, you know, a limited production car, then I ask a minimum of $250 - $500 and a percentage of the purchase value of the car, which depending on the circumstances can be
any where from 5% to 10%. I know that sounds like a lot, but considering the services I provide, finding, negotiation, and in some cases I get, at the customer’s expense, an appraisal, plus as often as not, I find the transporter for the buyer. One point here, as a Finder who brings a transporter to the table, you may be liable for any problems with the transporter! Case in point,
I found a 66 T-Bird for a guy in NY and the car was in OK, the firm I used sent a sub-contactor to transport the car, he drove around for a couple of months holding the car hostage and phoning in to the transporter every couple of days wanting more money. Eventually he dumped the car off in NY at a storage lot, which charged $35 a day, we didn’t find the car for over a month.
The transporter stood all of the costs, including the lot storage fee. This is the reason to check out the references of your chosen transporter! Oh yeahthe final cost was over $2500 and I only had to pay $750.

One more thing, if your buyer had purchased the classic at one of the big auctions, his cost of purchase would probably be a lot more than I charge!

Next issue in Part 2, we will talk about How To find cars and parts.

Copyright 2008 KL Nichols

No comments: