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charityauctionI have read over the years … and some are currently trying to tell me that auctioneers — especially benefit auctioneers — who work as an auctioneer for free don’t provide the multitude of services that an auctioneer provides who charges a fee?

Actually, I believe this most recent discussion resulted from a sales technique exchange, in which an auctioneer who charges more might suggest that a competitor who charges less, “knows what he’s worth,” suggesting the lower fee is a result of less value (and the higher fee results from more value.)

This is a wonderful sales technique, but hardly a well-founded fact when comparing two auctioneers. In other words, if pay dictates service level, then clients should be paying auctioneers as much as they can in order to maximize their return? As well, all an auctioneer would need to do is raise his fee in order to become more valuable?

Asked another way, does charging more as an auctioneer cause the client to receive better service? Does better service cause an auctioneer to charge more?

Let’s look at this in the context of a chance meeting of two auctioneers (scenario A) in an airport:

Airport scenario A: Auctioneer Billy conducts benefit auctions for free and offers basically bid calling services. Auctioneer Charlie charges to conduct benefit auctions, and offers bid calling, special appeal, golden raffle, heads and tails game, and other fundraising techniques.

Airport scenario B: Auctioneer Darron charges to conduct benefit auctions and offers basically bid calling services. Auctioneer Edward conducts benefit auctions for free, and offers bid calling, special appeal, golden raffle, heads and tails game, and other fundraising techniques.

So, if scenario A’s true, then scenario B’s can’t be possible? What if scenario B’s true, then scenario A’s can’t be? Of course not. These are truly mutually exclusive issues.

The old axiom, “you get what you pay for” is somewhat legendary — but remember: the advocates of this old saying are the ones charging more. Auctioneers who charge will, of course, always say that an auctioneer who doesn’t charge (or charges less) is providing less service.

But do auctioneers who don’t charge (or charge less) provide less service? If the answer isn’t immediately apparent … it could be because the two issues are independent.

However, a great sales technique to keep in mind if you are an auctioneer who charges (or charges more): “Well, That other auctioneer knows best what he is worth.” At least if you are the auctioneer who charges more …

How about this story … which comes from a charity interviewing auctioneers a few years ago. An auctioneer arrived and quoted his fee and services, only to find out that another auctioneer had come in prior to him, and that other auctioneer’s fee was less.

Anxious to characterize the other auctioneer as less capable, our auctioneer said, “That other auctioneer knows best what he is worth.”

Just then, another staff member remarked that a third auctioneer had also provided them a quote, and his fee is the highest of all three of these auctioneers. The chairperson of the charity then remarked to our auctioneer, “I guess you know best what you are worth, too?”

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.