At the same time Joe Parent, used-car manager for Tom Ahl dealerships, is 130 miles away in Lima, OH, bidding for cars online at Manheim's auto auction in Detroit (see story above), Frank Ghneim is at the auction in person, amid the hustle and bustle.
Ghneim, whose partner owns Grass Lake (MI) Chevrolet, is not averse to logging on and participating in auctions via the Internet.
He does so regularly as a practical matter, otherwise he would be logging too many miles traveling from auction to auction. As a wholesale buyer and consigner, he's bought 1,500 cars in the first six months of this year, 700 of them on the Internet.
Yet he prefers the live action of an auction, from seeing the cars up close to commiserating with colleagues as he roams the lanes.
“Being here makes a big difference,” says Ghneim. “The cars are in front of your face.”
Briefly. That's because bidding is fast, and a vehicle is in an auction lane only momentarily before moving on, replaced by another and a new round of noisy auctioneering.
So it's important to do your homework before entering the mosh pit of a vehicle auction, says Ghneim. He studies detailed lists that describe the vehicles on the block that day, their options, any damages, whether they've been in accidents and if they're off-lease or repossessions.
“There've been a lot of repos lately,” says Ghneim.
He doesn't kick the tires, but he inspects them. “It's important to look a car all over,” he says. “Look for tire tread wear, look for body scratches.” Look for anything that may add to the cost of getting a car in shape for retailing.
Does he enjoy the excitement of attending the actual auction vs. the distant cyberspace participation?
“It doesn't matter,” he says. “Either way, it's all business.”