What We Learned from Bring A Trailer

October 26, 2020

In 2015, who was thinking that the world needed another online car auction site? Well, I know of at least one. All you can say about Bring A Trailer is “Wow!”  It is now the largest automotive auction house on the planet and has changed how collector cars are bought and sold forever. Even more significantly,  they’ve attracted a whole new generation of collector car owners to the hobby. 

Acquired by Hearst Media in June 2020, BaT was taking off like a rocket ship. It is on track to exceed $750M in gross sales in 2020. All with a modest staff of a little more than two dozen employees -- plus a cadre of freelancers. Randy Nonnenberg and his team built something special.

And BaT is a big inspiration for CPX which taught us a few things:

  1. Curate. Curate. Curate. BaT was picky and it paid off. They ensured every car on the site was worthwhile rather than just letting anyone list there. Apparently, less than 1 out of 10 cars actually make onto BaT, so they are all interesting and good cars. This makes the buyers excited and trust what is on there which ultimately results in cars selling for a premium. Everybody’s happy!
  2. Community Is Key. BaT is fun and informative mainly because so many like-minded people are there to learn from and to talk to. This exchange of expertise and ideas is refreshing and well done to them for treating the community with respect. 
  3. Take Responsibility to Solve Problems. Buying cars online has some risk. If a problem comes up, they intercede and help it get resolved. That makes sure that folks have a safety net and keeps both sides pretty happy, as well as protecting BaT’s reputation.
  4. Don’t Be Greedy. BaT takes a 5% commission and caps their take at $5,000. They could make more money, but they played the long game and it paid off as bigger and bigger sales came there. It became critical to building brand loyalty and a positive vibe around the site.

At CPX, we want to hold on to each of these lessons. We don’t want junky parts to turn up. Our hope is to organically grow a community that can share knowledge for years to come. We will also help make sure everything goes smoothly. And finally, our commissions are reasonable and lower than other online marketplaces. .

Thanks to Randy and the Bring A Trailer team for being such trailblazers, we hope we can achieve a fraction of the success that you have with BaT. 

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