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silhouette-woman-and-manSophie had never hired an auctioneer before. In fact, she’s never attended an auction.

However, with the death of her father, Sophie asked around and was told to contact an auctioneer. So she did — in fact she contacted two.

Karl Miller, Auctioneer arrived at Sophie’s father’s home on Tuesday night. He sat down with Sophie and discussed her situation, and then toured the 14 room farm house commenting periodically on items in view — a nice Waterfall bedroom suite — a desirable 1950’s kitchen table and chairs — a wonderful old flat wall cabinet … and so forth.

After the preview, Karl and Sophie sat back down in the living room. Karl went over his suggestion for a onsite auction to be held in about three weeks. He went over all his fees and costs and his marketing plan.

Sophie was impressed with Karl and had only one question for him: What did he think of Ernie Klock, Auctioneer?

Ernie Klock had visited with Sophie at the farm house on Monday night. Sophie was impressed with Ernie’s plan for an onsite auction as well, but was curious if Karl could shed any light on Ernie and his operation.

In other words, “So tell me about this other auctioneer …”

Generally speaking, an auctioneer being asked about another is a great opportunity to speak favorably about the other auctioneer, while pointing out how his service or product differs (and is better) than his competition.

For example, Karl might say:

    “Ernie is a great auctioneer and has a very successful business. In fact, when we need a second auctioneer, Ernie is the first name that comes to mind. However, we have larger mailing list, more experienced staff and a greater knowledge of antiques and collectibles than any auctioneer in this region — and we feel we are the best auctioneer for your auction.”

My friend JillMarie Wiles offered some great thoughts on this type of situation:

Diplomacy and tact is always a favorable choice when asked to rate your competitor. I love the saying “Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause.” If someone doesn’t show up for an auction I address them privately but publicly I praise those who did a good job. (Shannon, I admire you for making a better choice.)

If a client asks my opinion on a competitor I ask them why they are asking and then find a positive solution rather than spending time on bashing the person in question. If a fellow auctioneer calls me and asks my opinion on another auctioneer I am very reserved and use only my first hand experience, not the gossip or rumors that they might be hearing.

My focus is always to treat others the way I would want to be treated. If someone is making fun of another person or talking behind someone else’s back what makes you think you are so special? People like that lack discretion and if they will do it to someone else, they will most certainly do it to you. It works both ways. What you say about others says a lot about you.

Any auctioneer in business for any time at all will be asked about a competitor. Auctioneers need to remember that such a question is an opportunity to showcase oneself in regard to their own competencies and capabilities as well as how they speak about their competition.

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. He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Hondros College of Business, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School and Faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University.