You may have already been to an auction, so you think you know all about it.
But do you?
Do you really know what goes on (cue music: duh duh Duh) behind the scene of a well-run auction?
I bet you don’t.
Let’s look a little closer.
You see someone calmly and cheerfully checking-in customers. Asking your name, seeing if you’re in the database. Adding you to the database if you aren’t by typing in your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail. Printing out a bid card for you. Often this person will be checking-out customers as well. Telling you your grand total. Accepting your cash, check, or credit card. Printing out an invoice.
What you don’t see: Learning how the new computer system works, only to have it lock up on you. Discovering that the printer is out of ink. Switching to the old, hand-written bid card…reprinting bid cards and locating the people to give them the new one. Double-checking to make sure that you get what you pay for and that you pay for what you get. End of auction reckoning: making sure that final figures are correct for the auction house, for the consignor, for the buyer.
You see the auctioneer with his hammer in his hand. Telling jokes. Interacting with the crowd. Rattling off his chant into a microphone so everyone can hear. Trying to entice bidders to go just a little higher on their bid. Yelling “Sold!”
What you don’t see: The hours that the auctioneer has in setting up an auction. Visiting with consignors and determining commission rates. Going out to pick-up/collect items for sale in the auction house. Spending time at an on-site auction sorting through things and determining the best way to lot things. Deciding which workers to work which stations. Testing out the sound system and running to get new batteries.
You see ringers holding up items for people to bid on. Maybe being goofy. Maybe being quiet. Always getting the object to the front of the crowd for the next bid. Perhaps delivering the item to the customer. Spotting bidders in the crowd for the auctioneer.
What you don’t see: Trying to remember what lot the bidding is currently on so the next numbered lot can be found and delivered to the front in a timely manner. Studying the pieces ahead of time to be familiar with what is up for auction. Trying to figure out the auctioneers mind with un-lotted items. Does he want this? or Does he want that?
You see the clerk sitting at a computer. Sometimes walking with a clipboard and hand-writing sheets out if the computer isn’t working (or at a site where internet is not an option). Recording the item, which bid number purchased it, and for how much.
What you don’t see: A pen running out of ink. The computer not going to the next lot. Trying to learn new technology. Frantically keeping up with the fast pace of the auctioneer. Remembering numbers. Lots of numbers. So that when check out comes it all works out great. Tearing apart auction tickets and sorting them into the correct bid number slot. Tallying up auction tickets for check out (if there is no computer software).
You see the staff member who is bidding for all the absentee bidders that couldn’t make it to the auction. Holding a clip board with a list of items and bids and bid numbers. Placing bids on the floor against others who want the same item. Sometimes winning it, sometimes not.
What you don’t see: Waiting until about a half hour before the auction starts to print out a list of absentee bids. Cross-checking the print out with bids that have come in via telephone or in-person to determine who has the max bid.
You see a nicely staged auction floor. Some items have lot numbers written on them. Some items are in small boxes called flats with a mixture of things. Items are lined up around the walls, or on tables for people to look at during preview hours. Someone is selling food. Yummy food. Chairs might be set up for sitting in (for sure in an auction house).
What you don’t see: The hours spent cleaning auction items so they aren’t full of dust from the attic. Determining which items should go in which box lot (because obviously the hammer shouldn’t be in the same lot as the wire whisk). Moving items to a central location for auction (either the auction house, or a designated place outside a home). Taking pictures and editing them. Uploading them to the website for on-line auctions and/or absentee bidding. Listing items for auction on the website, including name of item & details (brand name, condition, etc.). Creating an advertisement so people know about the auction and what is up for sale at the auction. Running flyers around to area businesses. Finding a person to do concessions. Locating and contracting a Port-a-Potty for on-site auctions. Finding out there is no internet and making last minute adjustments. The list goes on…
Now you think you know what goes on behind the scene of a well-run auction?
Well, you’re a lot closer to the truth now than you were before.
A good auction takes a lot of work to make it run smoothly. Hopefully your auction experience with Hueckman Auction is a great one, whether you are a consignor or a buyer. See you at our next auction!