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I'm going to start an auction revolution

Date: 25 July 2007

The Insider is a fleet manager with years of invaluable experience

If the likes of Manheim and BCA would only follow the Insider's radical plan of action then we would see better returns for fleets.

The more I think about it the more I'm convinced: the auctions could be making me more money.

My thinking got sparked by two random conversations. First with a secondhand car dealer, who complained that private punters were pushing up auction prices. The second with a regular punter, a friend of mine, who complained how painful the process actually was.

Residuals are okay at the moment, but they could be better. To improve things I believe the auction houses need to revolutionise the way they sell cars. It took a weekend painting the sitting room to come up with them, but I can now exclusively reveal my blueprints for the revolution. BCA? Manheim? Sit up straight and pay attention.

Like many people, my friend was convinced his not-so-local auction was the place to go for a bargain car. Fleet-maintained, diesel hatchback, motorway miles, decent spec. The place had to be crawling with them.

But how to go about it? Both BCA and Manheim allow private buyers to hunt specific cars by browsing (for a fee) the auction catalogues on-line. Trouble was, the BCA site he used wouldn't tell him what similar cars actually sold for, so only had the guide price to go on. He also had resign himself to taking time off during the week, only to risk getting outbid when he got there.

“I realise the traders wouldn't like it but instead of kow-towing to them, the auction houses should be run to seduce the private buyer.”

The Insider

His first choice was a common model, but often he'd find just one suitable car at specific auctions. He decided the odds were too long and went to the car supermarket instead. Result: one less bidder.

Make more

Fast-forward to the post-revolutionary era, an era in which fleet managers are making more for the company come resale or getting cheaper lease deals.

Instead of kow-towing to independent traders, the auction houses are now run to seduce the private buyer. The biggest sale of the week is scheduled for Saturday. The websites are a joy to use and the catalogue is free to browse. Auctions lots are no longer parcelled into companies, but by car type. Family hatchbacks, 10am; superminis, 11am; executive saloons, 12.30pm etc, etc. There's a small test track on site. An independent assessor is available to give the cars a once-over. You can trade your old car in.

I realise the traders wouldn't like it, and initially the leasing companies and main dealers wouldn't think much of it either - too bitty, too scrappy. But once they'd seen the demand and prices rise, all other concerns would melt away. Come on guys, let's make it happen.