Paragon Remarketing is launching online live auctions with no buyer fees, a 100 per cent money back guarantee, and free delivery. Sounds too good to be true – but it’s for real! Richard Aucock chats to the men behind the revolutionary idea
IN THIS business, you don’t get far without a healthy dose of cynicism. So you can imagine our reaction when an email arrived at Car Dealer HQ promising auctions with no fees for buyers, a 100 per cent money back condition report guarantee and free mainland UK deliveries. Oh really?
Paragon Remarketing is serious, though.
Buyers really will not pay a penny in auction
fees – the no-quibble guarantee is real.
It’s heady stuff and very enticing. That’s why Car Dealer hot-footed it over to Thurleigh in Bedfordshire to chat to the brains behind the scheme and find out more.
You probably already know Paragon from their branded transporters delivering new and used cars all around the UK. Paragon Group is one of the UK’s largest and most successful automotive services companies providing a host of fleet, transportation and management solutions.
With more than 355,000 square feet of technical preparation and refurbishment areas and 205 acres of storage facilities at four UK sites – Thurleigh, Upper Heyford in Oxfordshire (formerly QEK), Grimsby and Immingham in Humberside – Paragon refurbishes more than 100,000 vehicles annually and moves some 500 vehicles daily on a fleet of 65 transporters.
Now Paragon has married its existing services with a new online auction and remarketing platform. It’s this tie-up that has made Paragon Remarketing possible, as the firm has been able to reduce costs by utilising other arms of its business.
‘Taking out processes, time and costs wherever possible is our mantra,’ said managing director Peter Davies. ‘It’s the dealers first, and ultimately consumers, who pay the costs of bringing cars to market, including traditional auction fees.
‘Paragon is simply stripping out all possible costs and passing those savings directly on to our buyers – this is how we’re able to offer zero buyer fees.’
That’s the premise, then. You can’t deny it makes tremendous sense, especially at a time when firms are trying to streamline inefficiencies out of their business. But how will Paragon facilitate it?
While touring the mind-bogglingly large site to show us how, Davies explained: ‘Online auctions never realistically had a chance until now. It’s only relatively recently that the internet has become a part of most people’s every day lives – we think nothing of paying bills, banking and making quite large purchases online.
‘At Paragon we believe its time to leverage this now accepted familiarity and confidence in the internet and bring the UK’s dealers the cost savings it can offer.’
But how about that confidence factor? Still unsure about what might be delivered? Davies was both frank and bullish on this front.
‘We recognise that establishing and maintaining confidence in our business model, our systems, in our vehicle descriptions and our customer services will be key to our success,’ he says. ‘But we are very confident. Paragon has a great track record of consistently preparing, in-fleeting, de-fleeting, refurbishing, inspecting and transporting vehicles to the highest standards for manufacturers and other demanding customers. It’s what Paragon does.
‘We offer a simple guarantee; a no-quibble 100 per cent money back condition report guarantee. Anyone who purchases from Paragon’s online auctions – if they’re not happy that the vehicle matches our advertised description, then simply don’t accept it.
‘Tell the truck driver to take it away. No questions asked. No fees charged or withheld. And we’ll have your money back on its way to your account by the next working day.’
That’s quite an offer, Davies? ‘I guess it is, but I also think it’s only fair and good business sense on our part.
‘Why shouldn’t a buyer expect a seller to guarantee what’s being advertised? Paragon does what it does. We do it well. We have skilled people. Solid systems. A track record. That’s why we have no hesitation in providing this guarantee.’
He shows us the indoor photo area that has been built. After multiple inspections, cars will be driven from preparation and valeting, into this zone. Four standard pictures will be taken, and uploaded to the database in minutes. Married to already-downloaded information from CAP and HPI, this generates a complete, illustrated vehicle listing.
Back at base – the comfortable ‘departure café lounge-style’ auction HQ – Davies reveals that all cars offered will be sold exclusively online on Paragon’s bespoke system.
Buyers can also visit Paragon to be at the auction as it is being broadcast live as a stepping stone to moving online.
‘We offer dealers the chance to physically attend our online live auctions, see the cars at their convenience up to a week ahead and then take part using loaned laptops,’ said Davies.
Ops and IT manager Steve Hammond tells us Paragon runs real-time technology, which is extensively used in the US. Two digital cameras will be trained on ex-Measham man, sales and events director Paul Joyce. He’ll conduct live auctions from the HQ which you’ll view over the net as if you were in the room: you take part not by raising your hand, but by clicking your mouse.
‘You can make incremental bids, tactical bids, go fast or slow; you can even virtually stand right at the front of the lectern and make a bully bid, if you so wish,’ says Hammond. ‘It’s a level playing field. Dealers will be impressed how easily they can make this system work for them.’
Paragon also has a portable live auction system. Put simply, it’s a techie-trolley with twin computers which Joyce can use to conduct live auctions from anywhere there’s internet access.
‘We can effectively stage and host live auctions anywhere for closed or open groups of buyers – this way we can provide unique and cost effective special auction events to our vendors and also bring live auctions and social events to our buyers across the country,’ adds Davies.
He is realistic, though. ‘Our biggest challenge is to gain the confidence of our buyers – to help them become 100 per cent comfortable with us, our systems and the business environment we create. That’s why we offer the guarantees we do and why we really are a trade-only auction.’
Malcolm Fryer has also joined Paragon as the new company’s commercial director – you’ll probably know him from two decades at Ford. So, why the move across?
‘I see that this is the future,’ he says. ‘The auction model has been unchanged for years. Just because we’ve always done it like that doesn’t mean there isn’t another way. I think dealers will love Paragon’s online live auctions; the (zero) cost, convenience, credibility.’
This is the start of something big. Get online and register at www.paragonremarketing.com – see the auction catalogues, try out the live demos and, better still, be ready to join in the first online live auction at 3pm on Monday, January 19, with your mouse at the ready!