If you were selling trucks at auction, wouldn’t you want as many bidders as possible?
Last month, TruckCenter.com of Northfield, Ill., an Internet-based market for trucks and related services, auctioned off $2.2 million in used trucks. But the auction was private; only certain bidders were invited.
The real-time auction was conducted on the Web for an unnamed manufacturer of medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Bidders were exclusively from the OEM’s dealer network.
"This ability is great because it creates goodwill for the manufacturers," said Joe Minogue, Director of Operations for TruckCenter.com. "It allows them to stay out of the middle."
Some OEMs formerly conducted equipment auctions for dealers by phone, Minogue explained. "The dealerships would be mad because (the OEM) sold for the wrong price or they didn't call back fast enough or whatever reason."
According to Minogue, private auctions on the web end the confusion of phone auctions. "Dealers are bidding against each other so they are not mad at the manufacturer," he said.
Private Web auctions appeal to more than just OEMs.
"Let's say ABC finance company who has 200 repos, and they're a publicly traded company. They don't want it recognized in public that they have 200 repos that they need to get rid of tomorrow because that could alter their stock price," said Minogue. "It's information being released that shouldn't be released except during normal filings. They can have a private auction and it doesn't become a major issue. That's why it's an interesting idea, especially public companies."
Private auctions are indeed private, said Minogue, even though TruckCenter.com is a public site.
"If you had logged on to our site (during the August private auction) you would not have known; you wouldn't have seen it. But we had 41 dealerships that were on line during that auction," he said.
Of course, you don’t need an invitation to visit TruckCenter.com. Private auctions are actually a small part of what they do.
"We set up the ability for truckers to find trucks in different parts of the country. They can browse, look to the full specs of the truck, make an offer on the truck, finalize the transaction right down to financing. They can even have the unit delivered to their home," said Minogue.
"So we have plenty of dealers who put their trucks on our site, who have sold trucks to people they would never have been able to reach before. At the same time we have owner-operators viewing trucks that they may never have known were out there before."
TruckCenter.com is also showing America’s burgeoning used truck inventory around the world.
"We have sold trucks globally. We're making more and more contacts that way. That facilitates some of these trucks going into international markets that need them," said Minogue.
For now, TruckCenter.com only operates in English. But Minogue said international business took off faster than they thought it would. That means other languages will soon be spoken on TruckCenter.com.
Maybe even Chinese?
"We have some contacts there already," said Minogue.