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Make more moving municipal surplus 

by League Communications Specialist Jessica Wells

It seems like everything can be done online these days – paying bills, reading books, and even ordering groceries. So why not move municipal surplus auctions online, too?

According to GovDeals Marketing Manager Molly Nations, online auctions can bring in 20 to 40 percent more profit than a traditional live auction.

"It’s a better option than a local public auction because at that type of event, you may not get a lot of turn out," Nations said. "There’s only a few people that show up, and weather can be a factor. We have a worldwide audience online with a much higher bidder base. More bidders relay into higher prices for your surplus."

In addition to being more profitable, bidders don’t have to travel to an auction, which reduces the carbon footprint created by traveling.In the United States and Canada, GovDeals has 7,783 government sellers ranging from fire and rescue to cities to transportation authorities to school districts. Last year, 664 North Carolina government entities sold more than 11,700 surplus assets generating more than $13.9 million in revenue.

GovDeals is one of the League’s vendors endorsed through the Preferred Partners program. These select vendors are subject to the League’s oversight for an added level of quality assurance.

"Making sure we have happy clients and buyers is what the program is about," GovDeals Mid-Atlantic Region Representative Robin Bradley said. "My mission has been to provide them with the most innovative and effective marketplace."

The Town of Kernersville is just one of the League’s members that had great success moving its auctions to an online platform. Since 2007, Kernersville has sold $429,859 through GovDeals auctions.

Kernersville Finance Director Franz Ader said the town sells anything from paper to garbage trucks – during the last auction, Kernersville even sold a police bear mascot head for $25.

"That was an odd one – I wouldn’t pay $25 for that," Ader said. "But most of the stuff sells, and most people pick it up."

Kernersville does not ship items, so buyers must pick up their purchases. If they don’t pick up, they risk losing the privilege to use GovDeals services, and the town is able to charge storage fees after a set amount of time, which is usually 2 weeks according to Ader.

Each Kernersville auction brings in about $75,000 to $110,000, but large items like garbage trucks have sold for $90,000 alone in the past. All of that money goes back into buying replacement items or the general fund to support other town services. According to GovDeals, 92 percent of auction items sell, and if it doesn’t you aren’t charged for your listing. The 7.5 percent fee for items sold covers everything including access to a Client Services Representative who can answer your questions and help make your auctions successful. GovDeals also provides targeted advertising for expensive or unusual items after conducting market research to determine the best buyer audience at no additional cost. For instance, if the Town of Kernersville were selling a garbage truck, Nations said that particular truck might be listed on www.trashtrucks.com or www.contractorshotline.com linking back to the GovDeals auction to create more traffic.

"It’s a very reasonable fee for what you get," Ader said. "There are other services out there, but we’re very satisfied with the support provided by GovDeals staff."

If you’re interested in starting an online auction through GovDeals, please email Robin Bradley or call at 828-527-7705.