Stay In Your Lane

Any good used-car manager knows lane discipline is critical to winning at the auctions, especially in today’s margin-compress environment.


I recently reconnected with an old friend and one of my most reliable magazine columnists, special finance guru Greg Goebel. We talked about the keys to inventory success this year and beyond. In fact, my recommendation last week for conducting a credit bureau analysis was all Greg. This week I wanted to talk about another one of his recommendations: having discipline in the auction lanes.

Specifically, I wanted to talk about the importance of knowing which lane, auction or sourcing channel gets you the right vehicles for your market, your operation, and your finance sources. Yeah, it could be a GSA or CarMax auction, running buy-back ads on Facebook or working Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. It could also mean standing in the off-rental lane vs. spending your day at the auction in the lane with one-owner, local trades.

Yes, winning at the auction could be as simple as being in the right lane. But I bet you knew that. The hard part, as Greg told me, is having the discipline to stay in your lane.

Greg also shared a recommendation for those of you clicking onto those online auctions. He said buyers need to talk to dealers who have experienced the digital auctions their considering. What you need to know is how well the auction’s condition reports reflect the true condition of the vehicles going through its digital lane.

Hey, condition reports can vary from auction to auction. Sometimes things get missed; sometimes bigger operations get preferential treatment. It’s why Greg recommends against buying older, high-mileage vehicles from an online auction.

My last comment on inventory sourcing has to do with vehicle history reports. See, today’s car buyer has been trained to look for things like vehicle history, damage, accidents, and ownership — factors that will impact how you price a vehicle. So, not only do you need to consider what’s on a report when appraising a vehicle, you need to know how something like an insurance claim impacts how you price it.

This content may express opinions and ideas that are not intended to be official statements from DealerSocket, Inc.



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