PSB 123s: Making the most of out of auctions

1. View condition reports. “Make sure you take the time to view the powersport product’s condition reports and photos prior to placing a bid,” said Evan Davidson of ADESA. “It is always helpful to know your budget before you bid on a particular unit, so set a maximum for yourself early on.”

2. Know auction’s terms and conditions. “Read the auction’s terms and conditions and know what the fees are prior to bidding,” advised Brian Livingston of “The auction fees can make a difference between making money and breaking even, so know where you need to be prior to the auction start.”

3. Study seasonality. “Be aware of the seasonality of motorcycles, depending on where you are located,” said Ricky Kelley, owner of Harley-Davidson of Columbia in Columbia, Tenn. “A dealer in Florida doesn’t have the same season as a dealer in Montana, so market values vary by weather and region of the country.” Kelley suggests dealers consider buying in different auction locations at different times of the year to get the best market value.

4. Verify documents and mileage. “Make sure the items you are buying have the title and any other documents needed to be registered in your state,” Jim Woodruff of National Powersport Auctions (NPA) recommended. “Each state has different regulations, and it is up to the dealer to know their state’s regulations. When previewing units, pay close attention to mileage; certain states (like California) require a vehicle with an out-of-state title to have over 7,500 miles before it can be sold retail.”

5. Pay attention. “Listen carefully to all announcements by the auctioneer during the sale,” said Pete Trench of Manheim Specialty Auctions. “If you’re at the sale in person, make sure the auctioneer or ringman can see you when you want to bid. If you’re online, click the Bid button, and your bid will be recognized in real time.”

6. Meet the auction staff. “If you attend an auction, get to know the auction personnel who touch the product you’re bidding on,” Davidson suggested. “Department managers, account managers and condition report writers can be a good resource when it comes to making the right purchase.”

7. Don’t let your emotions take over. “When the auctioneer begins chanting, and arms are shooting up around you, it is easy to get emotionally invested in the item you are bidding on. Don’t! This behavior will cost you additional money,” Woodruff said.

8. Consider reconditioning costs. “You’ve got a responsibility to your customers to deliver a quality product when you get it back to your store, so when you buy a product, you want to be aware of reconditioning costs because you don’t want to sell a badly conditioned product,” Kelley said. For example, a bike with bad tires isn’t going to be worth the same as a bike with new tires.

9. Don’t forget about transportation. “Now that you’ve purchased your new inventory, you need to settle up and arrange transportation,” Trench said. “All of the auctions have multiple transportation companies available to give you a competitive price for transporting your motorcycles/powersports [units] back to your store.”


10. Be realistic when selling. “Know what your items are truly worth and be realistic about expectations,” Livingston advised. “Too often dealers take the time to clean and transport units to the auction only to bring them back home due to unrealistic reserves. Set your reserves to get them sold. When reserves are met low, the sale typically goes higher.”

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