The global pandemic has caused many businesses to change how they operate. J. Stout Auctions was one of those businesses, who decided to build a studio for its online-only auction.
During the course of the past 18 months, many companies have needed to evolve and adapt to a new business landscape caused by the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 has forced many professionals, companies and business owners to think differently about the future and to find ways to pivot in a new direction to keep their bottom line sustainable.
Among those companies is J. Stout Auctions (JSA), a privately-owned, full-service heavy equipment, commercial truck and industrial support auction located in Washougal, Wash. The global pandemic forced a break from in-person auctions across the construction industry, but that did not stop the Pacific Northwest auctioneer from conducting sales. In fact, the pause from in-person auctions caused the company to rethink and revamp its strategy.
Behind a newly-built studio — which carried a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars — JSA moved its heavy equipment to a live, online-only format. JSA also upped the frequency of its auctions, moving from quarterly auctions to now conducting them on a monthly basis.
The live auctions are broadcast via a live stream on three platforms: Proxibid, Equipment Facts and BidSpotter (broadcasts also are shown on YouTube and Facebook live steams). With this new format, the company expects to double its revenue.
"After the first heavy equipment, live, online-only auction, we didn't have the drop-off in registered bidders," said, Ned Burleigh, JSA's inventory manager. "After viewing the auction from the bidders' perspective, we eventually figured out that we needed a way to give the customers the same live auction experience. Live audio was good, but the bidders couldn't see who was bidding for them or against. We needed to build that bidder confidence again. That's when [Owner/President] Jake Stout had the idea for live video. But the question was how would we do it? We could set up some web cams in the warehouse where we were holding the live online auctions, but it was dark and the sound quality wasn't great."
Needing a better setting for its auctions, Stout fully committed to build the studio, and JSA broke ground on it in December 2020. The company conducted its first live stream auction four months later in April 2021. The live auctions emulate exactly how the in-person auctions were run. It features two live auctioneers and four ringmen representatives (Proxibid, Equipment Facts, BidSpotter and absentee bidder). To bring a level of confidence to the customer, JSA allows an in-person preview of equipment three days prior to the auction.
"Our goal is to bring a great bidding experience and confidence to the bidder," Burleigh said. "We want to be as transparent as possible. The live stream gives JSA other opportunities to show what the bidder is bidding on. Now we have video of working equipment that the bidder can watch and simultaneously bid on. It's a new level of trust and confidence that the bidder knows about the equipment. We know this is going to be a game changer in the heavy equipment auction industry." CEG
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