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And, so far almost every online platform (once with enough data and/or enough money on the table) has decided to do one of two things:
- Turn on the very auctioneers who provided all this data
- Sell-out to (and/or merge with) a company who will turn on these very auctioneers who provided all this data
If you are in the auction business, you know what we mean by turning on the very auctioneers — competing against them by taking consignments directly from sellers, thus bypassing the need for auctioneers, and providing less than acceptable customer service to these same auctioneers thereafter.
I have brought this up with several people in the auction business over the years who still partner with these same online platforms, and in some cases have pursued to even develop new relationships.
Actually once, I was referred to a quote from the 1974 movie The Godfather Part II where Michael Corleone said, “My father taught me many things here — he taught me in this room. He taught me — keep your friends close but your enemies closer.”
Closer? I’m not convinced this particular advice is prudent. The closer and more trusting we auctioneers have been, the more lies we hear. “We’ll never compete against you,” has essentially meant, “We will compete against you.” — or you’ll have to pay for the very data you’ve helped the platform collect …
I don’t necessarily have a solution, but doing this same thing over and over again expecting a different result … well, I think we know how that is often characterized — or maybe we don’t? If there is an answer, it’s probably taking this information and forging a new strategy.
Could auctioneers, collectively, create and maintain their own platform? Could auctioneers otherwise partner with an existing platform to ensure a say in the future of said platform? Maybe there are other options.
It’s worth mentioning that these largely treasonous online platforms can run their models however they want, and they do. However, we auctioneers have to be coherent enough to know we continue to be lied to, and we have a right to pursue other solutions to our needs.
“Can auctioneers trust any online platform?” For some, obviously past experiences dictate they can’t. For others, I’m suggesting a healthy dose of skepticism. I would have thought that all auctioneers would have recognized these patterns, but apparently not — including me.
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, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College of Business, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School and Faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University.