Auction halls are the stock exchanges for the remarketing of vehicles so it is essential that fleet operators ‘plug into’ marketplace intelligence and react as quickly as possible to changing commercial vehicle demand.
Vehicle leasing and fleet management company Alphabet sells 3,000 light commercial vehicles annually, ranging in size from car-derived vans to the largest panel vans as well as minibuses and a wide array of specialist vehicles operated by local authorities.
Although age and condition vary, virtually every vehicle is sold through auction giant BCA at the company’s Blackbushe, Measham and Belle Vue centres with BCA Live Online an additional, and vital, channel.
Occasionally, Alphabet may utilise other auction outlets such as Fleet Auction Group or Shoreham Vehicle Auctions if it unexpectedly has vans to defleet.
“We are reactive to the marketplace, but the key is to react very quickly to ensure best prices are obtained,” said Duncan Metcalf, head of remarketing and logistics at Alphabet, which operates a risk fleet in excess of 100,000 vehicles, of which 16% are light commercials.
Metcalfe, who has 25 years of vehicle disposal knowledge, said: “I am learning all the time and it is very important to keep up with the moving market and tap into any new trends as they develop. Complacency must never develop.”
For example, in the build-up to the London 2012 Olympic Games, Alphabet received marketplace intelligence that rental companies were short of mini-buses in the south of England.
“We heard that the vehicles were making good money at BCA Blackbushe. I quickly got on the phone to my logistics department and we started to steer all minibuses due to be sold to the south.
“It underlines the importance of working with an auction company to ensure they perform a good job in promoting available vehicles so the right buyers are attracted to the auction to get the best bids.”
The majority of vans are being used as a work tool and that, said Metcalfe, must be taken into consideration at the point of disposal.
He said: “Of course we expect the customer to look after the vehicle while in contract, but the chances are that it will have a few more battle scars than an ex-company car and a common sense approach must be applied with regards to damage.”
For example, a wide range of valeting options are available from BCA, and Alphabet applies them on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis.