Onsite auctions: Reduce inventory, increase traffic and expand your customer list

Publish Date: 
Apr 24, 2014

The selling prices may not be much better, but holding an onsite public auction to move used vehicles provides certain advantages: It brings people into the dealership and, done correctly, it generates a list of prequalified vehicle sales leads.

Kate Ribar, fixed operations director and co-owner at Renegade Harley-Davidson, held her first onsite auction last August at the dealership and is hosting another one May 31.

Not only did the dealership sell 60 used bikes on a sweltering August day, a few of those were immediately traded on new bikes from the showroom, and the shop sold five additional vehicles later to qualified bidders who failed to win anything at auction.

Merchandise sales spiked on auction day. And it was a lot of fun, Ribar said.

Most of the bikes in the August auction brought at or above wholesale prices, Ribar said. This allowed the dealership to save on transportation costs. Online bids helped push prices up; three of the bikes sold online to an independent dealer outside Renegade’s local market.

“Kate is unbelievably creative. She is very talented. She thinks outside the box,” auctioneer Barbara Bonnette said. “She wanted door swings. She picked the worst time of year to do it, and she knew it. It must have been 110 out. But we had a good turnout and a good response.”

Related: Is an onsite auction right for you?

The Renegade who has it made: Kate Ribar

Other dealers follow suit. At least two fellow Harley-Davidson dealers in the region have picked up on the idea and are holding auctions of their own.

Bonnette, who conducted the Renegade event, said she’s fielding now calls from metric dealers as well.

“A lot of people watch Kate because she is so creative,” Bonnette said. “When they saw Kate do this, our phones started ringing.”

Mike Bruno’s Bayou Country Harley-Davidson in Houma offered 75 bikes at its auction March 22; due to its success, the dealership may begin doing auctions annually.