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auctioneerwithcaneAs an auctioneer and auction school owner, I was asked several years ago about the correct criteria to use when hiring a contract bid caller (auctioneer.)

I had already given this some thought, and dug around in my file cabinet to find where I had written the word: Practical.

The word practical suggests suitability for a particular purpose. Exactly — what would those traits be which are suitable for this particular purpose?

A contract bid caller is generally someone hired to bid call for someone else — typically another auctioneer or auction company. For instance: An auction house has a larger than usual inventory and needs to sell in two auction rings instead of one. The auctioneer owner would call another auctioneer to see if he’s available to act as that second auctioneer — a contract bid caller.

The auctioneer owner maintains his primary seller representation with his clients. We discussed that here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2009/11/18/what-do-auctioneers-owe-their-clients/. The contract bid caller would owe these same duties to those clients as well as to the auctioneer owner.

However, our focus here is what criteria this auctioneer owner would use to choose this contract bid caller. We submit these nine criteria:

    1. Product Knowledge — If the contract bid caller is going to be selling horses, he should know about horses and the horse market; if he’s selling jewelry, he should know about jewelry and the jewelry market; if he’s selling real property, he should be familiar with real property and the real property market, etc.
    2. Respectful — Contract bid callers need to be openly (and privately) respectful of their employers, fellow employees, other staff and the bidders. Having good manners, being courteous, humble and gracious are good contract bid caller traits.
    3. Appearance — The contract bid caller needs to be dressed and groomed appropriate for the venue. Jeans and a clean shirt may be appropriate for some auctions – a suit and tie for others – and maybe a tuxedo for others. Further, certain logo company wear may be provided and/or required.
    4. Competence — A contract bid caller should be skilled in bid calling technique. To that end, most will have practiced extensively and are comfortable with suggesting opening bids, bid increments, timing, pace and clarity.
    5. Trustworthy — If a contract bid caller can’t be trusted … trusted to follow directions, trusted to follow through on promises, trusted to keep their word … then they aren’t a good hire. Trust is a paramount characteristic of a contract bid caller.
    6. Immediacy — A contract bid caller must be prompt, on-time and on-schedule; when the auctioneer owner wants him there at 9:00 a.m., he need to be there by 9:00 a.m. If property is to be sold in an average of 30 seconds per lot, for example, then that pace should be maintained.
    7. Compliant — Contract bid callers must be knowledgeable about the UCC 2-328, with special attention to bid increments, reopening the bid, restricting bidding and bidder retraction (we discussed common misconceptions here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/the-15-most-misunderstood-things-about-the-ucc-2-328/.) Knowledge of the laws governing express warranties by affirmation, promise, description and sample (UCC 2-313) is also prudent.
    8. Adaptable — Many auctioneers conduct their auctions in their own “style.” A contract bid caller needs to adapt to the style of the auctioneer owner. For example, if selling choice is usual and customary, and/or keeping the bid between two bidders is expected, then those customs should be replicated.
    9. Loyal — Simply put, being loyal is putting the interests of the auctioneer owner ahead of one’s own interests. The contract bid caller should be mindful that the auction is not his event, but the event of the auctioneer owner. We discussed this in more detail here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/auctioneers-attending-other-auctioneers-auctions/

Many auctioneers (including our company) regularly hire contract bid callers to assist with auctions. We respectfully submit this list be used to judge the qualifications of those being considered for such work. It is the criteria we use.

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.