Pre-winter blues eliminated with inventory moving
Heading into the winter months, many powersports dealers aim to sell aged inventory before walk-in business slows down. For the first time, Freedom Powersports, a 2016 Power 50 dealer, launched its own online powersports auction to move product before winter kicks in.
On a Saturday in November, Freedom Powersports hosted a five-hour auction featuring hundreds of ATVs, motorcycles, side-by-sides and personal watercraft units. “We wanted to clean up our inventory and get rid of a lot of aged units before we hit the blackout months,” said Sarah McVean, marketing director for Freedom Powersports.
The dealership used Facebook and a large Google AdWords campaign to get the word out about the auction, as well as a text message to its customer base. Rather than focusing on a 50-mile radius from each dealership, Freedom Powersports launched a nationwide campaign. Interested buyers could preregister for auction at FreedomPowersportsAuction.com.
“We had over 1,300 people pre-register for our auction, which is a huge amount of people. We were really happy with that amount, because if we can close on even 20 percent of people who are biding, we are in awesome shape,” McVean said.
Since the auction took place solely online, the dealership group could include inventory from all 14 of its locations throughout Texas, Georgia and Alabama. Deliveries of the bikes took two to five days, depending on where buyers were located.
“Because it was an online auction, there really weren’t any boundaries. We got some pretty good deals on shipping costs, so we could just factor that in,” McVean said. “As people were bidding out of state we had a chat service that allowed them to figure out what the shipping costs were and answer questions to that extent.”
While the total amount of sales is continuing to grow, McVean said the dealership is quite pleased with the initial results. “We had a great deal of success. We’ve been extremely happy with the immediate results of the auction and the residual results,” she added.
Freedom Powersports has seen sales come in following the auction as well, from those who didn’t make the highest bid but still saw the inventory that the dealership was offering.
“Let’s say someone bid on a piece of inventory and they didn’t win. They are able to see what store that piece of inventory is located at, and they can go look at it now,” McVean added. “We also know who the highest bidder was who didn’t meet the reserve price, and we reached out to them to pursue closing that sale.”
McVean said the dealership sold about what they expected to during the sale, and the team is very excited about the continued business and success the auction has brought to the dealership.
“This is the first time we’ve done this, and we’re really looking forward to growing that part of our business,” she said. “We’ll be doing it again.”
Of the segments offered, it was no surprise that motorcycles sold the best overall. McVean said that this was due in part to motorcycles making up much of its inventory.
Communication and training were two of the tools that McVean says the dealership used to host a successful auction. “The COO of our company, Daniel Arriaga, and I have really worked closely to learn this whole system so that we could help relay that to the dealership, and then there was also training for all the general managers about how the powersports auction was going to happen,” she said.
The general managers communicated with the bidders via live chat, where they were able to walk potential customers through the auction process.