What changes do Manheim clients see?
Mostly, Huang said, "it's what's not there."
They still buy and sell vehicles, in the lane, online or via simulcast — which enables a buyer in lane 2 to bid on a car there and a truck in lane 5 at the same time — just as they used to. They may notice, though, that the auction's controlled chaos is quieter.
There are no more printers or five-part forms in the lane. "All the paper is gone," Huang said, with those forms instead handled on smartphones or other devices. A key milestone in every auction's transformation was bundling printers onto pallets and shipping them away.
During bidding, buyers now can get real- time access to lines of credit. That avoids, said Keim, what used to happen: "Oh, I didn't realize I had exceeded my line of credit. I can't buy this car."
But most of the changes affect what happens before and after the bidding.
Before the auction, buyers can register online, get their gate passes and set up their preferences and notifications electronically. Sellers can drop off vehicle titles at any Manheim location.
Afterward, checkout is dramatically different, with no more standing in line.
"They used to get the paper form, go to the counter, and pay by check or whatever," Huang said. Now, arranging payment and floorplanning, as well as ordering a post-sale inspection and transportation can all be done online. Some buyers skip the counter and do everything on their phones while sitting in their cars before heading back to the dealerships, while others return to their offices to tackle those tasks.
Because all data on sales are available immediately online, sellers don't have to go back to the office to tell their accountants what they sold.
With the changes, about 40 percent of purchases are settled through manheim.com for payments and lines-of-credit access, Huang said. "Clients are saving about 30 minutes each week on sales day," which translates to 22,000 hours across all Manheim sites.
Manheim's internal customer-satisfaction scores, measured on a scale of 1 to 100, have climbed "each month," adding 20 points to an undisclosed record high in May, she said.
After rolling out the changes at one auction after another, Manheim deployed the project in April at its largest auction site: Manheim, Pa. Its Puerto Rico auction, because of delays caused by Hurricane Maria, is slated to be the last to get the changes, on Aug. 6. Barnard visited the Pennsylvania auction the first week of May, two weeks after the launch. "They all said it was a nonevent," she recalled. It involved "massive change, but by then [it was] well rehearsed and practiced."