Add auctioneering to the job description of Len Hunt, head of Audi of America Inc.
It reflects his growing interest in marketing used cars, especially the certified variety.
He personally auctioned off seven Audis at important auto auctions lately.
“Sometimes the auctioneer gives me the courtesy of auctioning off a vehicle,” Hunt explains.
He usually flies in the night before an auction to entertain dealers and build their enthusiasm for going to the auction the next day.
“I'm going to auctions all over the country in an effort to encourage Audi dealers to attend,” he says. “I know when I go, I can get more dealers to attend.”
He's learning the importance of colors in used-car sales. A green car can go for $2,000 less than a comparably equipped black car, he notes.
Audi residuals have climbed 2% in the last year, says Hunt, citing an independent guide. He notes that higher residuals lower Audi's marketing costs.
“We've tried desperately to increase our residuals because the battle of residuals is going to be the key battleground in this (sales) war — and it is a war,” he says.
Residuals are so important that he created a new department to boost pre-owned vehicle sales. He's focusing heavily on certified used cars. “We're going to try to sell 36,000 in 2004 compared to 22,000 in 2003.”
The pre-owned cars are also an important point of entry for new Audi business. Hunt says 89% of Audi's pre-owned sales represent conquest business. What's more, 20% of pre-owned vehicle buyers will convert to a new Audi eventually, he says.
Hunt adds that the Internet is growing in importance as a sales tool for certified used cars.