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How successful was the auction?

How did the seller (client) feel about the results?

What is the likelihood the client will hire this auctioneer again, and/or recommend the auctioneer to a friend?

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

What is critical for auctioneers (and anyone in business) is to manage expectations so that clients view the auction as successful, are happy with the results, and are eager to recommend the auctioneer to a friend.

  • If a client is expecting a $50,000 auction and the auction results in $35,000 — he’s disappointed.
  • If a client is expecting a $20,000 auction and the auction results in $35,000 — he’s happy.

Same auction total, but two different outcomes based upon the client’s view of a future state. If the client is expecting $50,000, $35,000 is below what was expected. However, if the client is expecting $20,000, that same $35,000 is more than was expected.

Important also is that typically clients have more than one single expectation. For instance, a client may be expecting settlement by the end of the month, the house to be completely cleaned out, the number of bidders to be over 200, the weather to be nice and sunny …

So, managing expectations also includes identifying those expectations so they can be addressed. If a client is expecting the house to be completely cleaned out, and that’s unrealistic, then that issue needs addressed (managed.) If the client is expecting nice weather, that too needs addressed.

Some expectations are in the control of the auctioneer — such as if the house is completely cleaned out. However, some expectations are not in the control of the auctioneer — such as the weather. Auctioneers will find themselves held accountable more so for expectations regarding issues in their control … but can also be held accountable for issues out of their control … unless those issues are properly managed.

Basically, expectations can either be realistic or unrealistic:

  • For realistic expectations, the auctioneer must endeavor to perform at or in excess of those expectations.
  • For unrealistic expectations, the auctioneer must endeavor to adjust (lower) those expectations.

Therefore, the process for the auctioneer is:

  1. Identify the expectation(s) — what is the client really expecting?
    • Auctioneers must listen for these. Clients will usually drop hints regarding their expectations. Too, auctioneers can suggest future actions or goals, and see the client’s reaction to them.

  2. Measure or gauge the expectation(s) — are they realistic or unrealistic?
    • Auctioneers must have a good sense regarding reality. Auctioneers must study and analyze market trends and values, in addition to knowing their own company’s capabilities.

  3. Counsel the client — especially regarding the unrealistic expectations.
    • Auctioneers must show empathy towards their clients, while giving them good counsel. This is a delicate balance between understanding and appreciating the client’s expectations, but tempering those which are unrealistic.

Auctioneers need to have sellers. Happy sellers rave about those auctioneers, hire those auctioneers again and recommend those auctioneers to others. How do auctioneers secure happy sellers? See their expectations are exceeded.

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.