Despite the popularity of sites like eBay, the world’s largest auction house for collectible cars has never been open to online bidding.
Until the Covid-19 pandemic, what began as a survival strategy — failing in the event that live events never returned — became a strategy that helped Mecum Auctions generate $675 million last year, according to Reuters. At CEO Dave the Magician
This business is located in a small town. Like Walworth, Wisconsin, since 1988, it’s not a small company. Before the Covid: In 2019, the business generated more than $400 million in live auctions across the country. Auctions could attract anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 attendees, the company said.
Without them, Mecum is left with an online bidding process that Magers admits is “quite boring … it’s a fixed screen with numbers on it and you press a button.”
Over four months of lockdown The company has created a new system that uses live video streaming that will make you feel like you are at the forefront of a fast auction. The idea is to make you feel the thrill of bidding on a 1966 Shelby Cobra convertible or a 1968 Ford Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in the movie “Bullitt,” even when you’re sitting on the sofa on the other side of the world.
The system is for adding live events only: Mecum does not only host online auctions. But when the company resumed its live events in July 2020, the number of its online bidders rose sharply from about 50 per event to more than 1,700. People also showed up in person.
“We dramatically increased the number of eyeballs and attendance just because we had people sitting at home with nothing to do,” Magers said, “and this is what they had to do.”
Change the ‘boring’ system
Before COVID-19, Mecum was widely known for its television auctions on the auto-focused television network Speedvision and NBC Sports. It is one of the top employers in Walworth, a city of more than 2,800 people near Wisconsin’s Lake Geneva.
The company is still owned by founder and chairman Dana Mecum. In business with his wife and four sons for decades, the former insurance executive Magers took over as CEO in 2013 after serving as a financial advisor at Mecum.
Seven years later, Magers wasn’t sure what to expect from Mecum’s first pandemic-era live broadcast. “Our thoughts are: when we go back to the auction There will be a lot of empty seats. And there will be a lot of internet bidders,” he said.
He was shocked when he saw that “Every seat in the house is full.” Attendees flock to the in-person event at Indianapolis’ Indiana State Fairgrounds. which can accommodate nearly 14,000 people. Nearly 1,700 attendees were able to finally get in with a live video stream of both the bidders and the cars featured on the auction block.
“The auctioneer knows who you are and talks to you like he talks to someone sitting in the auction,” Magers said.
Not only does the increase in online activity cost attendees, but Magers says the presence of internet bidders from around the world has inspired more vibrant auctions and resulted in higher sales. sell more
“The more people bid on the car, the more The higher the price,” Magers said, adding that Mecum was also experiencing pent-up demand from viewers who wanted to spend money after being quarantined at home during the pandemic — a phenomenon that affected consumers. and business in a variety of markets
“What we saw was that prices started to go up quite a lot during the pandemic because of that competition. [and] because of the resources it generates,” he said, adding that Mecum is on track to easily overtake last year’s total revenue in 2022.
Magers expect more in the future: The company signed a media partnership with Motor Trend Group last year that now broadcasts Mecum’s auctions on Motor Trend’s television network alongside 160 hours of live auctions. online each year
The idea is to reach as many possible bidders as possible. Whether they participated in person or virtually, Magers said, enforcing the company’s internet could make the deal more effective. If live streaming helped Mecum develop a more global audience than cable TV?
“In our hearts, the entertainment aspect of our business Entertaining value of what we do It’s pretty infinite,” he said, “and we hardly scratch the surface of that.”
Disclosure: NBCUniversal, the parent of CNBC, owns NBC Sports.
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