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Frequently asked questions on online auctions

Hundreds of powersports dealers forgo the cost of traveling to auction facilities and instead bolster their preowned inventory by bidding online.
It’s a service that each of the auction companies that sell powersports vehicles provide. Powersports Business posed some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about online bidding to Karen Braddy, general manager of specialty sales for Manheim, as well as used National Powersport Auction’s online information to provide answers to those FAQs.

Is there a cost simply to view the auction online?

Generally there is no cost to view the vehicles online, but in most cases dealers must register before participating in an auction. Braddy noted dealers can view multiple sales across the country at the same time. “Minneapolis and Milwaukee sell their powersport and motorcycle products on the same Wednesday of the month - the 4th,” she said. “So if you wanted to buy Arctic Cat products from Minneapolis and Harleys from Milwaukee you can participate in both sales online at the same time.”

Can you view the inventory before the start of the auction? If so, generally, when are the units viewable before the auction?

Generally you can view the vehicles before the sale. National Powersport Auctions provides a “preview page,” but also cautions dealers that not all units in each auction are available for purchase online. At Manheim, Braddy says dealers can see presale lists as early as a week or two before each monthly sale. “But keep in mind that the Simulcast presale list is considered a work in progress and incomplete up until sale time, as we are registering units continually up to sale time,” she said.

Do you have to be present for the entire auction to bid on a specific unit?

Braddy said Manheim provides a “proxy bid” service, meaning dealers don’t have to stay online during the entire sale to buy the units they want. The proxy bid allows dealers to set a maximum bid price and then the computer will do the bidding at the appropriate time. “Now if there is a unit that you just have to have, you would want to be online for it to be sure you are the winning bidder,” Braddy said. “But there is a way auctions try and take the waiting out of the sale. We all assign units by a ‘lane’ and a ‘run number’ so if you know what time a lane will start selling, you can gage an approximate time that the unit you are interested in will ‘cross the block’ based on how long it takes the auctioneer to sell each unit. At most auctions an auctioneer will sell a unit every 2 minutes or so.”

Are their additional fees to be paid if you order online rather than in-person?

National Powersport Auctions notes on its Web site that it charges a $25 fee for any units purchased online. Braddy says for a live sale Manheim has a “small premium on top of the buy fee.”
— Neil Pascale

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