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Auto Auction of Montana

Auto auctions today face many challenges, some are as old as the auction business itself, and some new challenges have arisen the past few years as car buyers have shifted more towards online purchases of wholesale vehicles and away from in-person purchasing.

As the business evolves to meet the demands of the modern marketplace, so too must the solutions that help auctions market their inventory to potential buyers. In this case study, we will explore how one auction, Auto Auction of Montana, has overcome these modern challenges and improved the service they provide their customers by implementing the Black Widow Imaging system.

Quote from Steve Gertsch

Steve Gertsch of Auto Auction of Montana is not unlike other auction operators in this country. He concerns himself with consigning as many cars as he can every week, reducing his arbitration, keeping up with the ever-increasing number of virtual auction solutions available to his consignors, managing a quality team of employees and providing the best possible customer service to his consignors and his buyers. One of the many ways he accomplishes this is by striving to post timely and high-quality photos of his inventory every week along with a full and complete condition report (CR) for all of his inventory. As with other auctions, completing and providing these services can be complicated by many variables, such as staffing challenges and malfunctioning equipment. As Steve has seen a shift away from in-person bidding and more towards online bidding, he’s well aware that quality photos and CRs are more important today than ever.  

Industry Paint Points

What Steve observed was that competent CR writers could produce anywhere from 24-32 CRs a day. As Steve was analyzing his process and looking for ways to improve, he discovered that a CR writer could perform as many as 50-55 CRs a day if they were not required to take photos of a vehicle. But how effective is a CR without images? And if they still wanted images, who would do that work? As with many other auctions, Steve received a majority of his inventory the day before and of his sale, further compounding the problem of getting a CR for all his cars, and taking quality photos. His results were common: rushed and incomplete CRs, and photos (if 100% completed) hastily taken in poor lighting, and/or angles. The combination of these factors was not going to allow Steve to provide the quality product he so sought to deliver to his customers.  

The solution to his problems was Black Widow Imaging. Capturing so much more than consistent, high-quality images, he quickly saw the payoffs. “I can confirm that 100% of our vehicles now get photos. Black Widow has made it dummy proof. All you have to do is drive it through the lane and within 10-20 seconds all exterior photos are handled. And the best thing is that it takes less than 60 seconds to train someone to use it, it never takes a day off, never calls in sick, and photos are 100% accurate and perfect every time.” Gertsch shared. The built-in software automation and efficiency of the workflow has his staff consistently going home at 5pm the days before the sale. Capturing more time for everyone. Not to mention labor savings with no more overtime or additional staff requirements. And because his CR writers are not taking their time to capture photos, they have more time to complete their CRs every week, increasing the number of CR throughput almost double to 48-52 vehicles/day.

Vehicles Processed

The Black Widow Imaging system helped Steve achieve his goal of providing quality, timely photos and condition reports well before the beginning of his sale consistently every week. This gives his buyers more time to view the sale online as well as the confidence in the listings, generating more online sales. Even on their D-Lane, high mileage, vehicles they are seeing an increase in online purchases due to the high-quality images and accurate details consistently available. All of this resulting in increased revenue.

It felt like a big investment up front. We are a stand-alone, independent auto auction where every dollar counts. We found that the system more than paid for itself in the first six months. The numbers will speak for themselves.

Black Widow improves the product you offer your customers, cuts overhead costs, saves on hassles of hiring and training, and helps you sell more cars for more money. Using it we have been able to streamline our staff, cut overtime, and pay our good people more money.” Gertsch explained.

Black Widow System Solution Bullet Points

Black Widow Imaging has helped put Auto Auction of Montana in a competitive position against the virtual online auction services as well as streamlined their process, allowing them to capture more consistent images, details, throughput, labor savings, buyer confidence, digital sales, and revenue. As Steve said himself, “Black Widow was a godsend, and we would never go back.”

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