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Seeing is Believing in the Lanes

The split between dealers who attend in-lane versus online auctions is on the rise. While two-thirds of auction buyers still attend live sales, sellers are seeing a difference in lane attendance on sale days. Dealer concern became evident to Manheim Pensacola General Manager Dustin Ruffin when he began to get questions such as “Where did the big crowds go? You used to have more buyers in the lanes.”

Recognizing this trend would continue, the Manheim Pensacola team was determined to help dealers understand the growth of online sales participation.

“When we told our clients there were a number of dealers online, I don’t really think they believed us,” said Ruffin. “Then I went to a fish market one day and took a number and it dawned on me that we could do that.”

The team installed a simple “Take a Number” system with a digital readout to indicate the number of online buyers participating in the sale via Simulcast. This manually-controlled counter, operated by the block clerk in each lane, offered sellers full insight into the number of potential bidders attending the live sale activity in their lane via Simulcast.

“We intentionally did not post any explanation for the numbers to see if anyone noticed and then the questions began,” recalled Ruffin. “Once we were able to show them online attendance with a number, it became more real. Now they are getting used to the idea that buyers also exist beyond the lanes. I catch them looking up there.”

Manheim Pensacola’s number system helped clients gain confidence in online sale participation however this move unexpectedly sparked a new set of questions. Now sellers wanted to know why some lanes, specifically commercial lanes, had far higher numbers of online buyers for their vehicles.

“The very first week we posted the counters, a dealer stopped me and asked what the red number meant. When I told him it was the number of online buyers participating via Simulcast, he asked why other lanes had more online participation than his lane did. The answer was simple,” said Ruffin. “The lanes with the most online bidders run vehicles with condition reports. Our online buyers rely heavily on condition reports to learn about reconditioning needs, assess value and feel more confident about a purchase when they cannot actually kick the tires.”