I’m a big proponent of open auctions. Many of them do a marvelous job helping dealers dispose of and obtain different levels of inventory vehicles.

When I look at the buy-sell range of pre-owned vehicles today, it scares me to think small auctions in small town U.S.A. draw mainly buy-here, pay-here dealers. Franchised dealers tend to shy away.

But auctions, large and small, are institutions of higher learning. They teach you about all used-car values, not just the ones of the most-desirable vehicles.

Visit local auctions at least monthly to see what lower-end, high-mileage vehicles are going for. You may even find a unit or two you can use.

Once you become comfortable with those auctions, have a porter go too, driving a car you plan to sell. Beforehand, have the porter go over it, top to bottom, checking fluid levels and putting gas treatment in the tank to clean out the fuel system. Have that car standing tall, even if it’s a rat. 

Get accustomed to walking the auction block. Go with the intent to buy a vehicle your porter can drive back. It’s all part of the job description of being a used-car pro.

Most managers we train today never have participated in open auctions. They’ve never actually gone up on the block and bought a car, much less represented one up there. 

It’s an art form. It’s part of your education. Attend auctions, large and small. You will learn a lot more at them than you will from listening to “Buckshot Jones,” the local wholesaler driving a high-mileage Cadillac.

Auto industry veteran Tim Deese heads Progressive Basics, a training and consulting firm specializing in used cars. He is at PBasics@aol.com.