Put simply, the ultimate goal of any remarketing program — whether vehicles are sold at a local auction or an online one — is to sell vehicles you no longer need for the highest possible price. While the two types of programs share the same goal, managing them is often very different. Here’s how to give your online program a boost and make sure you’re getting a healthy revenue stream from the used vehicles you remarket on the web.
1. Expand Your Buyer Base
One of the clear differences between selling vehicles at a local auction and remarketing them online is the opportunity to reach a much larger audience of buyers — so be sure your online platform is truly extending beyond your local territory.
“The single biggest mistake fleet managers make in remarketing vehicles online is to assume that they can use a local auction company that has also added on some online bidding features,” said Joe Lane, national director, state & local government, GovPlanet/Ritchie Bros. “A local company adding the ability to place a bid online doesn’t ever produce the sustained high number of auction bidders that are achieved by larger, international auction companies that have invested millions in search engine optimization, key word purchases, bidder enrollment, pre- and post-sale marketing support staff, and publicity.”
What to do: Work with an auction company that attracts a global market. But before you bring them on board, investigate potential vendors’ web traffic stats to ensure they’re really expanding your buyer base.
2. Increase Your Sales Frequency
Oftentimes, fleets will hold monthly auctions, waiting to open the next until last month’s has closed. But think of it this way: If a used car dealership only released inventory once per month, might they miss out on sales? The same can be true for monthly online auctions. Holding auctions on a more frequent basis (if allowed) can open up more opportunities for sales — and Lane said the speed with which fleets move assets can have an impact on price. “Every day of delay in remarketing, the asset drops further in value,” he said.
John Littler, western U.S. business development manager for GovDeals, also suggested adopting a “sell now” mentality. “In order to avoid assets losing value, sell them as soon as they are declared surplus,” he said. “This will allow for a constant flow of revenue as well as space out any workload involved in the auction process.”
Another option is to offer a “buy now” feature. Just like eBay, a buyer doesn’t have to wait for an auction to close — and you don’t have to risk losing that customer while he or she waits. “A dealer’s needs fluctuate. A percentage of their needs come from customers asking for certain inventory,” said Chad Shoemaker, CEO, Flexco Fleet Services. “If dealers have the option to ‘buy now’ or have online inventory that changes on an ongoing basis, they can increase their sales and not have to wait for the next sale and potentially lose their customer because of the time lag.”
What to do: Test a continuous sale and/or a “buy now” option. Add inventory as it becomes available and have a consistent flow of inventory available to buyers.
3. Match the Platform to the Vehicle Type
Sometimes the frequency of the sale should depend on the vehicle type. For instance, Lane said a weekly, standard online auction may be perfectly appropriate for “run of the mill” assets like used sedans, but highly specialized fleet equipment may need to be featured in highly specialized, specifically marketed auctions to attract a narrow band of buyers. Still other assets may require a timed auction where buyers are given both a bid now or buy now opportunity. Why does the platform matter? It helps you optimize the selling price of your fleet assets.
“The fleet manager who smartly works with a company that can offer a complete suite of solutions based on which auction modality would yield the highest resale returns and will save a lot of duplication of effort and wasted processing time,” Lane said.
What to do: Recognize there is no one-size-fits-all platform. Ensure your vehicle remarketing vendor has multiple auction platforms in place so you can match the appropriate platform to the asset type.
4. Boost Buyer Confidence
One downside of online auctions is buyers don’t have the opportunity to literally “kick the tires” on your equipment. So, do it for them. “Provide as much information as possible to your buying network, to maximize total disclosure and minimize buying heartache with your online remarketing,” Shoemaker recommended. “Make sure your buying network has the most information available, in order to make intelligent buying decisions.”
For Littler, that means being transparent about both the attractive features and the drawbacks of your vehicles. “In order to get the most return and to avoid potential buyer complications, market your assets as accurately as possible,” he said. “To best achieve this, attach service history reports, note the current condition of the asset, and include photos of any known problems and/or added valuable aspects of the asset.”
To give buyers the information they need, Greg Berry, founder & CEO, Municibid, said it can be easy for fleets to put their best foot forward online. “There are some simple low-hanging fruit items that can add significant value to their fleet. Properly inflate tires, install a new battery, and wash the car before photos are taken ... all of which could add thousands of dollars to the sale price,” he said.
What to do: Give each asset a mini makeover. Then, post high-quality photos of the vehicle from every angle, inside and out, along with a video walk-around and a video of the vehicle starting and running. Be thorough with the information you provide and be honest about the vehicle’s condition.
5. Offer Buyer Protection
In addition to giving the buyer all of the information needed to make an informed decision, Shoemaker said an arbitration program can also boost buyer confidence. “A well-defined arbitration program protects the buyer and gives them peace of mind that if something major was missed on the posted condition report, then they can work through the issue with the seller,” he said.
What to do: Offer a strong arbitration policy and honor it for your buyers.