You might have read in my prior editorials that I don’t believe the current physical auction is the wave of the future.
Counters and their inherent lines should be a thing of the past, with counters creating the “them and us” mentality. My view is that customer service representatives should be floating through all aspects of the auction, with mobile devices that can access any customer’s information and serve him instantly.
Your traditional counter staff is titles, registration, payments with an office manager. Ponder if every one of them was mobile, with tablets and smart-phones, hip printers, in the arena, in the lanes, at check-in, all able to access and answer any of your customers’ needs.
Think productivity, when your payment clerk has a line, and our registration clerk has no customers. Think no separation between you and your customers; it’s an integrated interface. In these days of e-titles, automated payments and gate passes on mobile apps, everyone should be into sales and marketing.
But I digress from the key issue at hand. The bigger issues are heat, cold and gas fumes that make the physical auction experience distasteful at times. And these are issues for which there are solutions. No physical auction in this country cannot be modified to change these negatives into positives, just as we corrected so many inherent safety issues in the past.
Nothing makes me shake my head more than seeing block heaters, fans and AC on the block for employees and sellers, with nothing for the buyers who are the core of auction success. Two things I attempted to use in this regard were at Manheim’s Anaheim location, called CADE, in 1995, when we reversed the car flow from exterior to interior viewing by bringing in six to eight units into the building and created an updraft system in the lanes and under the blocks to extract the fumes from smokers.
In 2015, I modified Dealers Auto Auction of the Southwest with downdraft coolers, a huge overhead fan and mister systems to drop the interior summer heat by 15-plus degrees. But it’s 2019 now, and the technology allows us to totally correct the issues of heat and cold and create an incredible environment for all our customers and employees to enjoy.
Just ponder solar-powered heat pumps with updraft systems in every auction and dual entrance and exit areas, that maximize the productivity of those systems.
Ponder the entire vision from the moment you enter to the moment you leave:
1. You arrive and walk in with no counter check-in — just a customer service representative if you have a question, as your smartphone app has assigned you a digital bidder badge that doesn’t require a paper sticker on your chest.
2. You know you don’t have to walk to a non-existent front counter, as every sales representative and customer service representative has mobile access to your account and can assist you with anything from arbitration to titles, to gate releases.
3. Lane leaders all have mobile technology to assist you with any questions on any vehicle, along with the auction’s website having every vehicle and its information in real time for you to review, including scannable VINs for AutoCheck, Carfax and other apps to read.
4. Prior to and during the sale, enjoy the in-lane internet and concierge center and HD simulcast in each lane.
5. During the sale, enjoy the 75-degree average and ongoing temperature. Freezing and sweating are a thing of the past.
6. Post sale your buys with your app, have your unit’s gate pass scanned as you drive out, contact arbitration online and communicate with your sales rep, by phone, text or email, and your invoice is sent to your mobile device.
What are auctions waiting for to create this new wave of physical auction? I know if I was still working, any auction I managed would have this implemented by the end of 2019 and blow away my competition.
As always, just on man’s opinion.
Jim DesRochers is a past president of the NAAA and a winner of the association’s Industry Pioneer Award.