The Dealer’s Guide to Manheim Auctions

Dealers guide to Manheim Auctions
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Manheim is the industry standard for wholesale vehicle auctions.

As the largest auction house in the US – and consequently, the world – Manheim moves millions of vehicles each year and is one of the best sources of used vehicle inventory for dealers.

However, due to their sheer size, Manheim auctions can be tough to navigate. They are daunting for first-timers, but even seasoned veterans can get turned around.

In this Dealer’s Guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about Manheim Auctions. We’ll also share our best practices for using the Manheim fleet of tools. Whether you’re visiting a live auction or buying vehicles on OVE, this guide will help you get the most out of each event.

Want More? Read ‘6 Tips to Win Your Next Dealer Auction’ 
Manheim locations around the world. Source: Manheim

Manheim locations around the world. Source: Manheim

What sets Manheim apart from other auctions

Manheim is by far the largest and most extensive vehicle auction house in the country. Not only does it boast the most live auction locations, it also has one of the most popular online vehicle marketplaces.

There are three main products in the Manheim portfolio: Manheim Live Auctions, Auction Simulcasts, and the Manheim Online Vehicle Exchange (OVE).

Manheim live auctions

Manheim operates more live auctions around the country than any other company. Source: Automotive News

Manheim hosts the biggest traditional live auto auction and operates the biggest network of locations.

The first Manheim auction started in 1945. Now in 2018, there are more than 145 physical locations spanning 5 continents. It doesn’t matter where you are– there is bound to be a Manheim auction site nearby.

Simulcast auctions

manheim simulcast

The Manheim Simulcast lets you participate in live auctions from the comfort of your home or office. Source: Manheim

If you can’t make it to a live auction, Manheim offers plenty of options to stock vehicles without leaving your office.

Simulcast is an online platform that allows users to participate in live auctions that are streamed on the Internet. The interface allows you to place bids just like all other buyers in the lane.

Simulcast lets you bid on multiple vehicles simultaneously at auctions around the country. You can also use your favorite pricing and appraisal tools while placing bids from your computer.

The only downside to using the Simulcast is the inability to review vehicles in person. However, Manheim offers online tools to help mitigate the issue.

OVE: Online Vehicle Exchange

OVE – Online Vehicle Exchange is Manheim’s digital automotive marketplace. It’s available around the world 24/7 and has more than 25,000 vehicles listed at any given time. Any dealer can buy and sell vehicles entirely online at OVE.

Dealers who want first dibs on a vehicle can bid and buy cars on OVE before they get to the live auction. That’s also why dealers like to sell on OVE; they can dramatically reduce turn rates by selling vehicles before they hit the lane.

New vehicles are added to OVE every minute. Dealers who want to find the freshest inventory look to OVE first.

8 Tips to Get the Most Out of Manheim Auctions

Manheim auctions are one of the best resources for stocking inventory, but they can be difficult to navigate.

We’ve been to more than a few Manheim auctions in our day, and we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. Here are 8 tips for how you can get the most out of your next auction. These tips apply to live auctions, simulcasts, and OVE.

1. Register Online Before the Auction

Manheim auctions are only open to dealers. Dealers can create an AuctionAccess account to register for Manheim events. You will also need this account to access the Simulcast or OVE.

We highly recommend registering several days before your Manheim auction. After registering, you can browse Manheim’s run list and other resources to prepare for the big day.

2. Know Your Inventory Needs

Having a successful day at a Manheim auction requires research up front. You need to go into the auction with a strategy for acquiring the vehicles your dealership needs.

Developing your inventory strategy starts with knowing your best sellers, your fastest sellers, and your most profitable units. You can use a car appraisal tool with built-in inventory management to make this research easier.

vincue inventory levels

This VinCue chart shows the number of vehicles a dealership has sold (shown as the wider column) compared to the number of vehicles currently in stock (skinnier column). Source: VinCue

3. Research the Auction Online

Dealers can make use of Manheim’s extensive tech solutions for streamlining their inventory strategy and help them purchase vehicles at the optimal price. One such solution is the famed Manheim Market Report, or MMR.

The MMR provides wholesale and retail prices for any vehicle listed in any Manheim auction. Dealers can use the MMR to optimize their acquisition costs and set realistic expectations for their profit.

4. Get to the Auction Lot Early

The best research is seeing the vehicles for yourself (Obviously, this only applies to the Live Auctions). Most Manheim auction locations open two hours before auctions begin. Get there early to inspect the vehicles before they run through the lane.

While inspecting the vehicles, look for obvious cosmetic damage and review the information stickers on the front window. These stickers will include notes about the vehicle’s condition from the auctioneer.

5. Appraise Vehicles Beforehand

The key to a great day at the auction is appraising vehicles beforehand. You need three key pieces of information:

  • Retail Market Value. What is this vehicle worth at retail? The value will change depending on the year, mileage, condition, and demand.
  • Reconditioning Costs. Reconditioning for some vehicles can a thousand dollars or more. Be sure to factor this in when deciding how much to bid.
  • Desired Margin. How much money do you want to make on this vehicle?

Appraisal tools like VinCue make appraisal easy. VinCue will even tell you the demand for a vehicle in your market. You can also use VinCue on the go via their mobile app.

vincue real market screenshot

VinCue appraises your vehicle based on real-time market data and even shows you comparable vehicles in the area. VinCue makes sure you factor in the market price, reconditioning, and your desired gross margin. Source: VinCue

6. Identify Your Price Ceiling

Determine the maximum price you’re willing to bid on each vehicle. Your price ceiling will be based on the market value, reconditioning costs, and your desired margin. Your price ceiling will protect your margins and help you make rational decisions at auction.

7. Listen for Conditional Announcements

Manheim does not own the cars it sells. The company facilitates the auctions and provides a wide range of services to both sellers and buyers, but it always acts as a 3rd party.

This means Manheim itself doesn’t guarantee the quality of any car up for sale.

Sellers are responsible for properly describing their vehicles and announcing any major issues, like frame damage or drive train problems.

Personally inspect each vehicle you plan on buying. Watch out for additional information written on the windows or on stickers. Check which light goes on when the vehicle runs on the lane. It’s located above the auctioneer and indicates the condition of the vehicle. Here’s a rundown what each light means.

Be sure to check the condition report, available in Simulcast and OVE. It’s a score of the condition of the vehicle according to Manheim’s inspection staff. As a rule of thumb, the minimum rating you should consider is 3.5 out of 5.

When you buy a vehicle, go and take it for a test drive as soon as possible. Usually, you can check it immediately after it runs through the lane. Manheim also offers technical inspection services which can identify problems not immediately detectable.

Buyers can raise disputes if the announced condition does not match the real condition of the vehicle. Manheim provides free dispute resolution services.

If there are any issues with the car you purchased, you want to get Manheim on the problem as soon as possible. You can get a price adjustment for smaller issues or even get the deal dissolved if the vehicle is out of service.

8. Arrange Transportation for Your Vehicles

After you buy all the vehicles you want, you need to get them to your lot as quickly as possible.

Make sure you have arranged transportation ahead of time. Manheim usually offers logistics services, but buying these at the last moment will likely cost you an additional premium.

The faster you get them in your repair shop and have the listings up, the faster you will sell them to happy customers.

Get the Most Out of Manheim Auctions

Manheim auctions are an excellent source of new inventory and one of the best brokers in the business. With hundreds of locations, simulcasted auctions, and an extensive online marketplace, virtually any dealer can take advantage of Manheim to stock their lots.

The key to being successful at a Manheim auction is to be prepared. Follow these tips to get ready for your next event. If you want to learn more about other auctions, read our Dealer’s Guide to CarMax Auctions. Good luck!