Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Don’t get “stung” – check for liens

When I was 8 years old, I was walking with my neighbour in a farmer’s field. I’m quite positive I was up to no good. This is not based on memory but probability. I remember what happened next though vividly. I was following my friend through a culvert to get home and I stepped on a wasp’s nest. I was covered. Screaming, we both ran all the way home. My Mom was in the kitchen when I burst through the door. I was screaming that I got stung on my thumb. My thumb was hurting so much! I don’t know why I was fixated on the pain in my thumb. I was covered head to toe in wasp stings. But the only pain I felt was my thumb. My first experience with being “stung” was a dandy….

Of course, in the real world we use the word “stung” in an entirely different way. Usually, we refer to it as being “ripped off” or “cheated”. We say things like that customer “stung” us for thousands of dollars. Being stung in a transaction is painful. Like stepping on a wasp’s nest. Its just a different kind of pain.

I was almost recently “stung” again. In the fall, when kids’ hockey was officially cancelled, I thought maybe I would enjoy the winter months getting a snowmobile. I decided to buy used because it was an impulse buy, and a buddy of mine searched the classifieds for a toy that was priced right. He buys a tonne of stuff privately so he was a great help.

After countless conversations with sellers, I was getting really frustrated. About to give up, we came across a great deal in Waterloo. I immediately contacted the guy and negotiated a price. My buddy was going to pick it up with me the following weekend. Then my auction instincts kicked in. I requested the serial number of the sled. The guy didn’t respond right away. I asked again. He sent it over to me and right away admitted there was an unpaid lien on the vehicle. Essentially, he owed the bank for the sled. He assured me that he was going to take my money and pay off the loan. He was a nice guy; he probably would have. But what if he didn’t….

Just because you have ownership of a vehicle, it doesn’t mean it is free and clear. Banks have rights to repossess vehicles that they are owed money on. Regardless of whether the ownership has changed hands. I could have bought that sled, and a bailiff could have legally taken it from my driveway the next day.

My friend was in shock. He buys all the time privately from the classifieds and had never checked this. He is lucky that he has never been “stung”.

At the auction we check every item purchased for liens. We don’t accept consignment unless it is lien free. The last thing we want is you purchasing a vehicle through the auction worried about if the vehicle has a lien on it. Rest assured; we have taken care of this for you.

When you buy at North Toronto Auction, you can buy with confidence. Vehicles are free and clear of all liens and encumbrances. The only stings that you need to worry about are from our flying wasp friends….

Thanks for Reading,

Matt

Monday, March 22, 2021

My father in law is a hoarder. He hates parting way with stuff. But inevitably my mother in law wins and he lets go. This past weekend they decided part ways with their leather sofa set. It was in good condition, only a small tear, but otherwise still very useful. The problem is, they had no idea what to do with it.

I have bought & sold many small items before using a classified application. This app is really easy to use and I have had some success with it. I told my in-laws I would help them out and post the sofa set on the app for them. Success! We posted the sofa set on Saturday and it was picked up Sunday. It really couldn’t have sold faster but…….

There are always things that could have gone better.

First is setting the price of the item you are selling. In the auction business I “speak” vehicles and equipment. My father-in law asked me what I thought his sofa set was worth. I immediately said $300. He thought this was way too low. He said $800. I figured he was crazy, but we agreed to post it for $675. By the amount of inquiries, we were both wrong. It sold for the $675 easily. There was no negotiation. I couldn’t help wonder how much more money we could have gotten. “This would never happen at the auction”, I thought.

Second is dealing with the so called “tire kickers”. Message after message of inquiries from people who truly have no intentions of buying the item. We got low ball offers then people would not respond when you seemed in favour. I had requests to deliver the item, take even more pictures, and respond to questions like “what colour is it?” I kindly responded that it is blue, even though I wanted to reply “Are you serious??? There are 12 f**&%! pictures included!” Apparently, Blue didn’t go with their walls…

And finally, the part that always makes me the most nervous is the pick up of the item. I hate giving my address to people. I try to give my address at the last possible minute, but it always makes me nervous. They have some great online suggestions for this process, but moving a sofa set to a third-party location wasn’t feasible. I agreed to stay with my in-laws until the stranger came to their house and paid. Good thing I did, the buyer (super nice guy by the way) showed up in a truck, alone. He needed help loading. My in-laws never could have helped out. I helped load the truck, and as a result am heading to the chiropractor right after I finish writing this blog.

At the auction we are striving to take some of these pain points out of the buying or selling process. We have launched a new mobile application to assist you. The auction process makes sure you don’t leave money on the table as we have a competitive bidding process. The auction provides qualified buyers and has a seamless inspection report process so the meaningless inquiries are a thing of the passed. Most importantly, our process allows you to use the auction facility as a third-party location. We are the middle-man in the deal, and make sure it is done safely.

To be clear, I am not saying don’t use the classifieds. I do all the time, and I own an auction. But there are many times or circumstances that the using our process is just easier. Or safer. Or more profitable.

Give us a call and start selling your stuff today, the auction way.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

I am not a Cat Guy

I am not a cat guy. Actually, I am not even a pet guy. Although, when I had to put down my 16-year-old cat this past July my eyes swelled with tears. It was probably just seasonal allergies of course, because I am too tough to be a cat guy.

I just got off the phone with a guy who has an uncontrollable cat. Apparently, this cat is so crazy that it jumped on his lap, extended its furry paw, and right clicked his computer mouse; bidding on a vehicle at the auction and buying the car. What are the chances?! Well believe it or not, this apparently happens more often than you think. You laugh, but this isn’t the first time I have had a call from a remorseful buyer with cat issues. Unfortunately, it isn’t even the second time….

I’ve had buyers call me to cancel deals blaming their infant children, ex-wife, disgruntled former employee, drunk husband, pocket dialing mobile phone, and lots and lots of hackers. And while I am sympathetic, I always end the conversation the same way; “I’m sorry, all sales are final.”

Many people don’t realize this, but Ontario regulations don’t offer car buyers a “Cooling-off period”. Consumer protection legislation has this in other industries but not in automotive sales. When your feline friend buys a car on your account at North Toronto Auction; It is yours.

However, to put your mind at ease and in an effort to help new to online buyers (even those with crazy cats), we introduced an auction industry first 72-hour online return policy. This is meant to help those people who have made a mistake with their purchase, have had second thoughts, or just can’t come up with a good excuse to cancel the deal. There is information on our website that explains the policy in more details.

With this policy available you can buy with confidence at North Toronto Auction. Hopefully this helps minimize the blame on some of our feline friends.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Canadian International Auto Show

The auto business is cyclical. Typically, we enjoy stronger months in the spring and fall. The summer tends to be hit and miss with sales while the winter is, let’s just say, more miss then hit. After dark days, lots of snow, and lighter auctions, one thing we at NTA always look forward to is the Canadian International Auto Show Auto Show held in Toronto every February. This is a massive event put on by our friends at the Trillium Automobile Dealer Association (TADA).

The Auto Show is like the auto industries ground hog day. It signifies that the Spring market is coming. It is a day that signifies encouragement and hope for the year. The Show signifies Winter is finally coming to an end; bring on the sales!

For us, The Auto show also comes with another key date. The night before the public jam the Metro Toronto Convention Center, the event hosts a “VIP” night for the industry. It is done up perfectly; black tie, gowns, free food, bottomless drinks, rock bands, and all the newest year vehicles in a “Las Vegas” type atmosphere. The first time you walk in to the VIP night you will be in awe. It truly is a remarkable event.

When us NTA owners were (much) younger we took our VIP experience to another level. We used this as our “networking night”. We took advantage of the food, abused the free drinks, and rocked with all the bands. Sometimes we looked at cars, but not very often. We mingled with customers. We mingled with competitors. We mingled with anyone that wanted to mingle. We went to after parties, the parties after the after parties, had some emergency room visits, and always woke up promising we wouldn’t do that again next year. We have gotten tamer over the years, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Advil sales enjoyed a slight uptick every February.

This year though the pandemic has forced the Auto Show to go virtual. I know the TADA will still put on a great show. They always do. Virtual or Live, it still will signify the start of the Spring Market and something for us to look forward to!

Because of Covid-19, I will be missing my first Auto Show since I started in the business in 1998. My mingling streak ends after 22 years. I feel bad for Advil sales. But I will be ready to start a new streak in February 2022!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Why I hate snow

I hate snow. I hate White Christmases. I hate when people say it looks so pretty on the trees. I hate the excitement snow days bring children. But mostly I hate that no one told us that when we started building North Toronto Auction 17 years ago, we picked a great spot for building a business, but oh yeah, its in the middle of a snow belt.

We have 16 acres in Innisfil Ontario, and at any given time thousands of cars and trucks parked in the compound. When it snows, even just a little, it causes a nightmare for us at the auction. We can’t identify window markings, perfectly good vehicles yesterday wont start today, they get stuck in the ice and my pet peeve; snow covered cars look like crap for online photos.

It doesn’t stop there. The auto haulers stay off the roads and don’t bring our vehicles to sell. The buyers wont travel because the radio station is saying it is unsafe; even though the auction is spending thousands to advertise on the same station to tell them to come. Our snow-plow guy inevitably calls in sick, the roof-top furnace breaks, and the salt supplier is experiencing an “industry-wide shortage”. I am cold, grumpy, and feel very sorry for myself.

But it always amazes me how we triumph. The owners head to the yard to help. The operations team work long unforgiving hours. The office staff feels compassion and offer to help in any way they can. Our valued customers become patient and understanding because they have been there themselves. In 17 years, we have never cancelled an auction because of the snow!

I did make myself a promise that I am having a tough time keeping. In April 2020 when the auction was closed for pandemic restrictions, I promised myself I would never complain about the snow again. I would welcome the awful weather, if it meant we could be open again to having auctions .

Eight months later we are open and selling strong! Its been tough for everyone. But online auctions are being accepted as the norm, and the industry is evolving. Online auctions allow customers to work from the safety and comfort of their businesses or homes. Vehicles can be posted from the seller’s business to eliminate travel in nasty weather. The online auctions are solving the pain points. Weather is becoming less of a factor in our business. Heck, with what we have all been through lately, bring on the Snow, we can handle it!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Seller’s Market – When Demand exceeds Supply

I have fielded many calls over the last few months from disgruntled buyers saying “where are all the cars?” or “I can’t believe how high the prices are!” Well these inquiries are actually a cause and effect phenomena. The pandemic has caused a huge shortage in vehicles and equipment on the market causing prices to skyrocket. If you have something to sell, now is the time!

At North Toronto Auction (NTA), we feel the effect of this as well. For differing reasons, our main consignment sources have been affected by the pandemic causing a trickle-down effect and limiting the number of assets being offered at auction.

One of our main sources of consignment is our many government and fleet contracts. On any given month you will see surplus fleet vehicles from entities such as the Province of Ontario, City of Toronto, Hydro One, Toronto Transit Commission or Metrolinx. All of these fleets trust NTA to sell their consignment in a transparent setting. But the pandemic has caused strain on their fleet management. Staffing issues with closures have affected their operation, auction destined vehicles have been redeployed for emergency use, and the Factories making new cars and equipment were closed; causing delays in receiving their new replacement vehicles. This has led to the fleets having to keep their existing vehicle far longer then normal and sending less to the auction.

Another of our consignment sources is finance repossessions. We work with many institutions to auction assets that have been repossessed due to failure in payment. You might think that in a struggling economy repossession numbers at the auctions would increase. However, many lenders are working with customers through these tough times. Lenders are repossessing less. This has caused a decrease in these volumes, and a strain on supply.

Finally, our thousands of dealers who consign trades and aged inventory on weekly basis have really been affected. Their dealerships have been restricted through government closures; the new car stores haven’t received their 2021 models causing them to lose valuable business. In survival mode, many dealers have been retailing vehicles they would typically send to auction. Again, auction volumes lower and the demand increases.

As we progress in 2021 and things hopefully open back up, volumes will return. We have seen it starting already. But in the meantime, it is no doubt a seller’s market. So, if you have stuff to sell, take advantage. They don’t come around like this very often.

Thanks for reading,
Matt

Tuesday, January 5, 2021


I have to admit, I am not a social media person. Like, not at all. I am on zero social media platforms, have never tweeted anyone, and have limited texting skills. It just doesn’t interest me. But I do read a lot of books, and while one of my favourite business books is called Social Media is Bullshit by B.J. Mendelson , I do think there is value in writing a social media blog for our customers especially in these unique times. This will keep you informed of the changes we are experiencing and how we are dealing with them at North Toronto Auction. Therefore, for as long as I think they are prudent and I have something to say, I will post a blog about industry news and trends and all the happenings at North Toronto Auction.

The first ever blog comes in the first week of 2021. A time where we say good-bye to 2020 which for NTA was one of the most challenging in our 17-year history. In March 2020 our world was turned upside down. With Covid-19 and required government restrictions, we haven’t hosted a live auction since. I feel for staff, auctioneers, and customers who have been affected by this. No one could ever plan for this. Negativity these days is everywhere. You can’t avoid it. But I refuse to have my first blog another piece of negative news. So, this inaugural blog will focus on some of the things we have done since March 2020 to keep North Toronto Auction a premier location to buy and sell your vehicles, equipment, and recreational items….

• The biggest move we made was in March 2020 and we launched our new website at www.northtorontoauction.com and webcast platform . This was necessary to accommodate all of our buyers and seller who were traditional attendees at our physical auctions and keep them enjoying their auction experiences. It has been a huge success and the biggest change we made.

• We created the auction Pro Subscription for our VIP’s. I can’t count how many regulars we have at our auction. People love being part of something. They love purchasing and selling vehicles, equipment, and toys the auction way. We wanted a way that this very important part of our business can enjoy the same benefits as our registered dealers do. We launched the Pro Subscription in May and almost 1000 people have subscribed. The subscribers get access to market reports, entry to specialized auctions, permanent log -ins, and more for only $10 per month. It’s a no-brainer for anyone who loves auctions.

• We became the first auction in Canada (or North America perhaps) that offered our public buyers a no questions asked 72-hour return policy for cars and trucks. If you don’t like, just bring it back. Its an amazing tool for people who are new to the auction way of buying. That being said, we are amazed at how few people use it because they love the car they purchased.

• We started supplying Canadian Black Book Values on all applicable vehicles. The Black book is the industry standard for vehicle valuations. Our buyers now have this information when shopping with us.

• Recognizing money may be tight in these tough times, we partnered with Prefera Finance to offer people another alternative to pay for their purchase. Public buyers can get pre-approved before the auction and simply shop away.

All of these things were implemented this year to assist in transitioning people to online way of buying cars. We talk everyday about ways to make the user experience even better.

In 2021 we have even bigger plans! We will be launching AutoGavel in the next few weeks our new online marketplace which will be a game changer in the industry! Stay Tuned!

I want to thank all of our loyal customers and dedicated employees who have had their lives turned upside down by the pandemic. Our goal is to keep bringing you great auctions, any way we can.

Thanks for reading,

Matt