By Leonard Pecker
A successful online self-storage auction requires some planning and organization. While this takes a bit of time, the results are worthwhile. It all begins with creating a great listing. Following are some guidelines to keep in mind.
Online auctions attract a great number of regular buyers who will log on to the auction site, sometimes several times a day, to view new and upcoming sales. Because of this, it’s wise to list your auction as soon as you know the legal sale date, even if it’s several weeks away.
Not only will this entice more bidders, it’ll draw traffic and awareness to your storage facility. When the auction officially starts, there should be an acceleration in the bidding process, as bidders have had an advance view of the unit contents. At the same time, the listing serves as legal notification that an auction of a delinquent locker will take place, which might encourage your tenant to pay the arrears.
While some self-storage operators believe in a long auction duration—one to two weeks—a three- to five-day window is sufficient to attract a large number of bidders and empty the units quickly. Obviously, the quicker a unit is sold, the faster the bidder pays, which is good for the storage business. Long auctions tend to attract bids in the last few days, as many bidders won’t return to view the listing until the auction is near its close. On the other hand, a duration of less than three days can result in some bidders missing the auction entirely, which defeats the purpose.
Choose an Open/Close Time
An online auction should start on a weekday, not a weekend or legal holiday. It should also start at 10 a.m. and close at noon or 1 p.m., which allows both parties time to communicate during business hours about payment and pickup. Written notifications of winning bids are sent automatically to the buyers and sellers.
In the case of posting multiple units, you can stagger the closing times by five minutes. Many bidders are bidding on many units simultaneously. A five-minute delay between each auction end time will avoid anyone being shut out and allow people to continue bidding. Of course, it’s to your advantage to attract as many bids as possible.
Multiple, quality photos depicting each unit’s contents are the most important selling tool for generating maximum revenue. Clear, sharp, well-lit, well-focused pictures are essential to attract buyers and the highest bids.