Manheim's Karen Braddy: We'll stay close to the customer

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Karen Braddy, general manager Manheim Specialty and Heavy Truck & Equipment, on what she gleaned from 2010.

Dealernews: What is your game plan for taking on 2011? What specific changes are you making?
Karen Braddy: We are always exploring options for new products and services that provide value to our customers. In 2011, we plan to:
• Roll out MC/PS certified inspections.
• Continue our focus on dealer education and provide our customers with key metrics and data that help them understand industry trends and pricing.
• Further enhance our auction operations and standardization initiatives, so our customers enjoy a consistent and positive experience at our locations, whether they attend in person or online.

DN: Based on those experiences, what are you going to do differently in 2011?
Braddy: One of our keys for success will be to stay close to the customer. To succeed, we have to seek feedback, stay engaged and understand the needs of retailers, always making sure we meet and exceed them. We have to remain fully committed to their success. If they come up with a new strategy or request a new tool for navigating the marketplace, we’ll succeed by recognizing that and finding ways in which we can help them.

DN: 2010 wasn’t a great year for most of our industry, but how did the market or economic conditions specifically affect you or your business?
Braddy:Despite the tough economic conditions, our motorcycle sales have seen strong growth this year. Sales are up by 23 percent over 2009. We attribute this increase in sales to the focus we put on dealer education in the past few years. It’s starting to pay dividends, as we see our motorcycle buyer base continuing to increase and look to auctions for their inventory. Also, the continued decrease in new units being manufactured has caused dealers to enter the used space or expand their used-product offering. Dealers are realizing how they can make used sales an integral and strategic part of their business model.

DN: What would you add that we didn’t cover?
Braddy: Until we pull out of these rough economic waters, fresh inventory at fair value is what it’s all about. Every specialty retailer already has been forced to reduce operational costs wherever possible. There’s not much fat for them to cut there. At the same time, they are still expected to offer customers up-to-date and attractively priced units. Helping dealers make that possible, and very affordably so, is where auctions really shine. We recognize that the type of inventory for a dealer is changing and that “used” is getting to be more and more a part of their product offering to retail customers. It’s our job to be sure that we are helping dealers understand how to maximize their profits and opportunities at Manheim Specialty auctions, so they can meet the growing needs of the used vehicle buyers that come to their dealerships every day.

More 2010 insights:
Andy’s Cycle Sales of Hazard
Bend Euro Moto
Dothan Powersports
Doug Douglas Motorcycles
Erico Motorsports
House of Harley-Davidson
Indian Motorcycle Charlotte
Kearney Yamaha
Powersports of Joplin
Steve Seltzer Honda
Strokers Dallas
The Transportation Revolution European Motorbikes
World of Powersports