Ditch The Gavel: Why Online Auctions Are The Future For Tow Business Owners


Written by Kevin Leigh, Founder & Sales Director, Auction Simplified by TRAXERO

When it comes to impound auctions, ditching the live, in-person route for an online auctions platform, might make more sense. As we all know the hustle of running a towing company. Between late-night calls, wrangling vehicles, and dealing with grumpy car owners, there isn’t much time for fancy footwork. 

Top 10 Reasons Why Online Auctions Are Easier Than Live Sales


  1. Less Liability, More Freedom: In-person auctions mean people milling around your lot, checking out the vehicles up for grabs. This can be a recipe for disaster. If someone gets hurt on your property, you could be on the hook (no pun intended). Buyers will bring their children, and even their pets. At one of our auctions, a customer was bitten by a dog brought to the auction by another buyer. Because it happened on the tower’s property, they ended up settling for a large sum of money and, of course, their insurance went up. With an online auction, there’s no need to worry about crowd control or potential injuries.
  2. Fewer Employees, More Focus: Live auctions require a whole crew – security, registration folks, and of course, the auctioneer. That’s a lot of payroll for a one-day event. Online auctions streamline the process. You just upload the vehicle info and pictures, set the start and end times, and let the bids roll in. More time for you to focus on what you do best – towing! Depending on size, an online auction can be run by one person. We like to call them the “Auction Manager.” This person loads the cars, approves the new online bidder registrations, then receives the money when the customer shows up to take delivery. (Side Note: with TRAXERO’s integration, the cars are already loaded, which simplifies the process further.)
  3. Curb the Crooks: Let’s be honest, there are always a few bad apples out there. Live auctions with open access to vehicles create a prime opportunity for parts theft. We’ve seen bad actors stealing everything from gas caps to keys, and in some cases even purposefully disabling vehicles to make them less valuable so they can win the bid. In one case, a bad actor was removing the ignition coil on cars he wanted to bid on so that future bidders thought the car was a non-Runner. Online auctions eliminate this risk. Bidders see what they see in the detailed photos you upload, that’s it. No chance of disappearing headlights or a mysteriously missing radio.
  4. Wider Audience, More Bids: Traditionally, your auction crowd is limited to whoever shows up on the day. The number of visitors is greatly affected by weather, distance, other auctions in the area, and other factors. Online auctions open the bidding pool to a regional and, in some cases, national audience. This means more competition, which translates to potentially higher selling prices for those impounded vehicles.
  5. 24/7 Convenience: Buyers these days are busy. An online auction lets them bid at their own time, from the comfort of their couch or office. We’ve had bidders bid during the Super Bowl, at 2:00 in the morning, and even while on vacation, all of which would have been eliminated if you were only offering in-person bidding. Online provides a wider window for bidding and can lead to a more engaged group of buyers, further increasing your bottom line.
  6. Streamlined Scheduling: Life in the towing business is unpredictable. An online platform lets you schedule auctions at your convenience, fitting them around your existing workload. No more scrambling to clear your lot for a specific auction date. More importantly, you are not subject to weather restrictions. A snowstorm or a heatwave will not stop the auction from continuing.
  7. High-Volume Buyers Prioritize Efficiency: Most of the bigger buyers will only buy online. They’re not clocking in hours at live auctions – they’re managing multiple bids simultaneously across the country, all from a central hub. Imagine a room full of screens, each showcasing a different online auction. That’s the reality for many major buying chains. By offering only in-person auctions, you’re essentially shutting these heavy hitters out of the bidding pool. An online platform allows them to seamlessly participate in your auctions, significantly expanding your potential buyer base and driving up competition for your vehicles.
  8. Data At Your Fingertips: Gone are the days of relying on memory to track past sales and your best bidders. With in-person auctions, you only have a record of the winning bid, so if something goes wrong, it’s difficult to remember who the next high bidder was. Online auction platforms provide detailed reports on your auctions, including bidding activity, and winner history. This data lets you analyze bidding trends, identify popular vehicle types, and ultimately refine your auction strategy to maximize your return on investment. Plus, you get to see who your best bidders are, and who are underperforming and might need a little attention.
  9. Building A Reputation For Efficiency: Towers understand this more than anybody, our time is valuable. By offering a convenient, online auction platform, you’re showing potential buyers that you understand their needs and respect their time. This builds trust and positions your company as a leader in efficient impound management.
  10. Reduced Administrative Burden: Paperwork. Ugh. Online auctions significantly cut down on the mountains of paperwork that come with traditional auctions. Registration happens electronically, bids are tracked automatically, and most platforms offer secure online payment options. This frees you up to focus on what matters –  running your towing business.