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How inviting is the auction?

How does the bidder (customer) feel about participating in the auction?

What is the likelihood the customer will participate in this auctioneer’s auctions again, and/or recommend the auctioneer’s auctions to a friend?

Auctioneers are generally looking for this answer to all three of these questions: Very Good.

What is critical for auctioneers is to manage expectations so that customers view the auction as inviting, are happy to participate, and are eager to recommend the auctioneer to a friend.

We previously wrote about auctioneers managing seller expectations here: http://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/auctioneers-managing-seller-expectations/

As we have written before, when we wrote about The delicate balance of a great auction, auction bidders are generally looking for:

  • Properly advertised and with sufficient detail including what’s selling, how to register, terms and conditions, etc.
  • Accepting a variety of payment options, including cash, checks, credit cards.
  • Free from reserves, minimums and seller withdrawals.
  • Open for unimpeded inspection of the property selling, and reasonable preview opportunities.
  • Complete with disclosure of all known material facts about what is selling.
  • Absent auctioneer schemes such as running the bid, taking bids that aren’t there, and other misrepresentations.
  • Easy pickup (and/or alternative arrangements) of items purchased and/or possession.
  • Providing clear — or at minimum marketable — title.

For auction bidders, it is imperative that auctioneers meet as many of these above expectations as possible; a bidder would have a difficult argument that he was unhappy given an auctioneer doing that.

Then, auctioneers can do more to exceed bidders’ expectations — for example:

  • Remembering the bidder’s name, bid number and other personal information.
  • Buying that bidder a cup of coffee, or sandwich.
  • Helping that bidder with moving, loading, delivery and/or shipping of purchases.
  • Making bidding by proxy (absentee), by phone or via online available.
  • Staying in touch — either by email or phone about upcoming events or items.

However, different from the seller (client) perspective where any one seller can be treated differently than another — such as a different commission rate, different placement in the auction, etc. … the issue of treating bidders differently is a distinctly unique and material issue.

We wrote about auctioneers treating bidders differently here: mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2010/03/08/can-auctioneers-treat-bidders-differently/

While managing bidder expectations is important, the bidder expectations need to be met more so (or entirely) on an aggregate basis, rather than on an individual basis. For instance, offering free delivery to one bidder, but not another, may result in troublesome litigation.

Auctioneers need to have bidders. Happy bidders participate in the current auction, participate in future auctions and recommend those auctioneers to others. How do auctioneers secure happy bidders? See their expectations are met, and possibly exceeded — in total.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. His Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/mbauctioneer. He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.