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Were any of us born auctioneers? Well – maybe close – in that our father or mother was an auctioneer and we were bid-calling at age 2. Or, we had family in the business, and grew up around the auctioneer, clerk and cashier. However, for most of us, it was much later in life that we decided to join this exciting profession.

I can still hear my grandmother telling me that I should, “finish my studies,” before I played in her back yard. Finish my studies? What child wants to do that? For that matter, does anyone want to do that? Am I ever glad I did finish those studies my grandmother was referring to, because I sure didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Want to be a doctor or lawyer? Count on years of college, and thereafter graduate school. What to become a dentist, architect, accountant, teacher, astronaut, nurse … the list goes on; they all require extensive schooling – no matter that your father or mother is currently practicing in the profession that you hope to join. Yet, many people wanting to become auctioneers, even today, question the need to go to auction school. I can hear them saying, “I know all I need to know to be an auctioneer …”

Why else go to auction school? We think there are seven auction school benefits:

  • Develop good habits, before learning bad habits. Yes, habits are hard to break, and so they are much more beneficial if they are good habits, versus bad habits. “Dad always said to open the bid up if there is a tie bid.” Dad evidently didn’t know that tie bids don’t exist. “My mom always said to say the buyer number, and then the price.” Here again, mom wasn’t teaching standard bid-calling practices used all over the world. Learn the right way and be able to teach your staff and others working with you good habits too.
  • Experience many different points of view, and a more complete perspective. Many students come to auction school, or otherwise enter the auction business with only one business plan or model. What auction school can do, and has done for thousands of students over time is expose them to other auction business models, and types of auctions. Come to school thinking only about selling cars at auction, and become the foremost real estate auctioneer? It can happen, and has happened.
  • Discover the auction business from people who are passionate about it. Auction school instructors are generally passionate about the auction method of marketing. Auctioneers like to talk, and love the business they are in, and therefore love to talk to students about it. Too, auction school instructors are motivated, in that the more auctioneers out in the business world – doing it right – the more the auction profession benefits and the more business there is for all of us.
  • Share your learning experience with others much like you. How was that very first day of school when you were 5 years old? Did it help that there were other 5-year-olds there with you? Of course. The auction school learning experience allows students to learn from instructors, guest speakers, and each other. Sometimes the best person to ask about a topic or technique is a fellow student, who wants you to succeed just like you want him to succeed.
  • Expand your knowledge of all aspects of the auction industry. Auction schools cover much more than bid-calling. How do I draft an auction contract? What ethical challenges do auctioneers face? How are liens researched prior to auction? How do I learn to clerk, register buyers and settle auctions? What other business relationships will I need to develop? And, of course, how will I setup my own business and make money at it? Some say the auction itself is only about 10% of the entire job of putting on a successful auction; auction schools teach that 10% — and the other 90% too.
  • Find lifetime friendships and possible business partners. Need some help on your first auction? It’s a good chance you can call an auction school classmate and get some help. Some of the best friends and possible business partners result from relationships made at auction school. By spending time in class, and time before and after class, auction school students typically become very close and it’s not unusual that these relationships sustain for years.
  • Learn what you didn’t know you didn’t know. Auction school instructors often have decades of experience in the exact field aspiring auctioneers want to practice. Wouldn’t it be likely that instructor experience would save those students from making some of the same mistakes they made in their careers? The cost of attending auction school is probably less than one unhappy client, a few unhappy buyers, certainly less than that first lawsuit alleging your breach of fiduciary duty.

Wouldn’t you advise anyone wanting to become a professional to get the necessary training? Don’t you encourage your children or grandchildren to “finish their studies?” We think that alone is sufficient reason to attend auction school. But, even without that treatise, attending auction school can be one of the best investments you can make in your auction career.

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.face book.com/mbauctioneer. He is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.