Manheim Specialty offers another wholesale option

With 14 powersports sales per month, buyers and sellers have opportunities

One of Manheim Specialty Auctions’ goals is to put powersports dealers who want to buy and sell pre-owned units together, making the process as easy as possible for both along the way.

“We consolidate powersports inventory for (Specialty) branded sales, which are staffed by product specialty experts, which provide our buyers and sellers the information they need,” Kevin Cooper, director of sales for Manheim Specialty Auctions, told Powersports Business.

Manheim hosts one auction per month at each of its 14 Specialty Auction sites in the U.S. And though the company has always been focused on making the process easier for both buyers and sellers, recent investments are driving even more improvement.

Gavel to Gate is a program that Manheim as a whole invested in, to help all of its divisions with internal efficiencies and improving processes for customers. One success to come from that initiative has been the Manheim app, which allows clients to bid on vehicles, pay for purchases, post units for sale, look up condition reports and more. Though Manheim Specialty Auctions, which works in the powersports, boating, RV and commercial truck/equipment markets, is its own division that operates separately from Manheim corporate, the division does have access to the parent company’s resources.

“Our Specialty sales benefit from the technology that we are seeing developed for the car side of our business,” Cooper said. “We register 7 million cars a year. That’s a lot of vehicles, and every day we work to be more efficient in that process, and the motorcycle and the powersports side of our business benefits from that.”

Kevin Cooper (left) of Manheim Specialty Auctions talks with attendees at the Manheim-sponsored Powersports Business Institute @ AIMExpo Kickoff Networking Reception in October.

Kevin Cooper (left) of Manheim Specialty Auctions talks with attendees at the Manheim-sponsored Powersports Business Institute @ AIMExpo Kickoff Networking Reception in October.

However, Manheim Specialty’s staff is specific to the division. Those who write condition reports for powersports vehicles, for example, are powersports experts. With that experience, those reports have become reliable resources for dealers looking to buy. Manheim Specialty staff grades each vehicle on a scale of 1-5, with five being clean and almost new and one being extra rough condition. Each listing is also robust with photos, and any damage to the vehicle is documented in writing and in photos.

In fact, Manheim Specialty’s condition reports have become so reliable that more buyers are turning to the simulcast, bidding via the website or the app, rather than attending auctions in person. Cooper reports that online purchases accounted for 57 percent of Specialty unit transactions year to date through the second week of December.

“The biggest trend we see is the increase of the use of the online platforms,” he said, adding that Manheim Specialty still offers special incentives to customers who attend the auctions in person because those buyers get the physical look and feel of the units.


Another trend Cooper has seen lately is less variance in seasonal pricing, as buyers can purchase units from anywhere at any time. For example, previously, if a dealer in Denver had a bike to get rid of in the winter, he or she would have to take the first price offered. Now that same dealer can sell a unit to a dealer in Florida, who is still enjoying motorcycle-riding season.

“It connects buyers and sellers and puts a market price on that unit. The bidding stops at true market value,” Cooper explained.

For that reason, Manheim Specialty hosts only one auction per location per month. And each auction is at the same time of the month every month.

“We do that so we aggregate and consolidate the like inventory together to get a number of units that attract that mass of buyers that you need to be successful,” Cooper said.

Manheim Specialty only sells to dealers to ensure the best experience for buyers and sellers.

“We want dealers to succeed in the pre-owned segment, so we’re looking for the guy who comes back and buys 10-15 units a month,” he said.

Dealers are definitely returning, too, as Cooper reports Manheim Specialty is seeing more dealer interaction on-site at auctions and on the simulcasts each year.


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