Auction inventory now only a keystroke away

Dealers are becoming more and more comfortable with building their pre-owned inventory from the comfort of their office. Or home. Or anywhere that offers an Internet connection.

I always look forward to catching up with folks like Jim Woodruff of National Powersport Auctions and Pete Trench from Manheim Specialty Auctions for our annual Auction/Pre-Owned Focus section. And you should too, as the executives from both companies prefer to talk about ways that dealership can grow their business, rather than stand on a soap box about the greatness of their own businesses. Heck, we’d edit those parts out of the stories anyway!

All of our auction supporters continue to report a healthy industry at the wholesale level.

“Volume has been about even, which has been good,” said Trench, vice president of national accounts for Manheim. “Reposessions are tight, and new and used sales are tracking up. It’s a great sign for next year and the years beyond.”

And if your dealership’s competition is building inventory with movable inventory secured at auction, it’s probably a wise business choice for you to do the same. Lamenting the time or cost it takes to buy at auction is so 2010. More and more dealerships are using the Internet to make their purchases. In fact, Trench told Powersports Business during a recent interview that 1 out of 3 powersports, RV and marine dealers who visit the Manheim Specialty site do so with a smartphone or tablet. Next month, you’ll want to check out Manheim’s simulcast update that will allow bids via mobile devices.

As attendees learned at our State of the Industry webinar earlier this year from Woodruff, NPA’s chief operating officer, that utilization of online wholesale purchasing by NPA dealers is now two-thirds of the volume (excluding factory sales, which are 100 percent online). And the ratio sold via NPA’s eSale channels has grown 350 percent in the last five years. Woodruff credits the growth to reliable condition reporting and product available online as lenders embrace technology.

Those are some serious numbers to consider. If you’re not playing ball at auction from your desktop, smartphone or tablet, you should be soon.

With new and pre-owned sales both tracking upward, it’s a sign of economic strength, and strong sales work by dealership staff.

“Lenders have the money, and people are feeling more comfortable with their situation,” Trench said. “They’re buying toys again. Even the auto industry is having a good year. They’re both tracking along. The old thought process of ‘new down and used up’ in a down economy isn’t exactly playing out that way. People are out looking to buy new or used. It’s a good sign of economic activity.”

So now is the time to build that selling season inventory.

“We know the dealer principal is on the go. It’s a business now that requires you to be less bound to the desk. They’re either on the showroom floor or traveling, it seems like. So the mobile initiative gives them that flexibility,” Trench said.

A recent Manheim Specialty auction had 55 dealers online and just 10 in the lane.

“Dealers are comfortable buying online,” he said.

Power 15 dealers
In case someone stole your copy of the Power 15 supplement when they snagged this issue of Powersports Business from the mailroom or front desk, be sure track down the in-house thief! Along with sponsor GE Capital, we’re proud to announce the inaugural members. Whether you’re the largest dealer in town or the smallest in your state, we believe you can take advantage of their insights on what drives them to success.

Adding to the team
If she hadn’t earned it already, Liz Hochstedler was certainly in line for a no-brainer promotion following a banner 2012 year on the powersports beat. So it was with great pride that I was able to announce earlier this month that Liz has been promoted to managing editor. The Powersports Business brand has grown in print and online this year thanks to Liz’s efforts in engaging our readership. And it’s a pleasure to welcome Tom Kaiser to our staff as senior editor. In addition to a business writing background, Tom has worked on former PSB sister publication ATV Magazine, and still serves as an editor of PSB sister pubs, Snow Goer and Boating Industry.

While we’re at it
It’s also a good time to give a Powersports Business welcome to Peter Jones. Peter received rave reviews at his Profit Xcelerator session last year on compliance, and he’s always been a go-to source for all things F&I by PSB. Now, you’ll be able to gain his insights more frequently via his F&I column. Don’t miss his debut in this issue. It’s an outstanding look at what makes the F&I department successful.

Any room in the suitcase?
About 200 Kawasaki dealers — 50 or so from each region — were honored for their success in Kawi’s dealership sales promotion by receiving an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii.

Other than a team dinner on opening night, it was all play, no business at the 64-acre resort that provided monorail service.

“Unbelievable” is how one dealer described it.

Packing their bags, too
By outsourcing its warehousing to UPS, Triumph Motorcycles (America) CEO Greg Heichelbech said that the company will be relocating its North American headquarters from Newnan, Ga., to a site near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The move to UPS eliminated the need for the warehouse that was attached to the Newnan facility.

Not going anywhere
You might recognize the subject of Liz’s story in this edition on David Roosevelt’s new venture. He formed Ducati Seattle in 1998, after stints with Bellevue Suzuki Ducati Polaris and Lynwood Cycle Barn.

His latest dealership, Seattle Used Bikes, offers only pre-owned and consignment sales. It’s in its infant stages, but his dealership seems to be on to something by providing high levels of customer attention and personal touch.

Dave McMahon is Editor in Chief of Powersports Business. Reach him at or 763/383-4411.


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