If one group of people have difficulty with change — it’s auctioneers; and if there’s one group of people who have changed — it’s also auctioneers.
The biggest changes? Probably live auctions to online auctions, and maybe more importantly the changing customer/client desires and demands. In that regard, I found interesting a quote from Disney’s current Chairman and Chief Executive Officer:
…our ability to endure was going to be solely tied to our ability to transform ourselves, and not pursue [a strategy of] ‘We’re going to get through this, it’s a storm that’s passing overhead, and when it clears we’ll be fine.’ We have to be different when that storm clears. We can’t be the same.” –Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company.
It would appear to me that The Walt Disney Company (Disney) has been historically good at anticipating (gauging) customer desires and exceeding expectations; as well, there are many ways to enjoy their offerings.
How many times has someone watched a Disney movie or visited one of their locations and said, “Wow!?” Countless times … and I would add that is fairly expensive to enter one of their parks in California, Florida, Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong or Shanghai.
Let’s step back here …
What are auction buyers are looking for?
Prospect of a deal largely and will only pay a premium if they get an experience along with that [possible discount.] What’s our problem? Buyers not only have to pay for the property, but also a buyer’s premium and that’s not the only cost — it’s often inconvenient, confusing, unfair and/or unreasonable with elongated possession/shipping times. It’s often less than a positive experience and I might just search for what I want elsewhere.
What are auction sellers looking for?
Lowest cost-of-sale and highest prices realized in the shortest amount of time. What’s our problem? Sellers will always look for the lowest priced commodity so a seller won’t pay 15% seller commission if he can find the same service [auctioneer] for 10% … 5% … 2%, and does an auction provide the quickest way to sell anymore? We need to look no further than the traditional real estate market and countless other commodity-type businesses where prices continue to fall and processes quicken, and I might just do it myself.
How can auctioneers learn from Disney? Are we “wowing” our clients or customers? Are we merely selling property or an experience? It would seem those only selling property will always have competition because of reducing our service to a commodity where the only issue is price.
Those selling property along with an experience on the other hand will succeed in finding buyers in the long term. I can’t be the only one who pays more for products coupled with an experience? Disney, Starbucks, Apple, Nordstrom, Amazon and countless other companies sell a feeling — emotion — and not merely tangible assets.
Will sellers choose auctioneers who are providing not only a service but an experience? They do every day. Those auctioneers don’t compete on price, but rather can and do charge more because of added perceived value. This value is not only more buyers because of the experience, but of course higher prices.
In regard to changing once the storm passes, change is constant for sure, but changing for the sake of changing is not often profitable. Imagine the conversations in Coca-Cola corporation when someone said, “We have to change — to “New Coke.” How did that work out?
As we’ll explore in a future story, you are only worth what people perceive you to be, not what you tell me you’re worth and more-so what what you’ve shown me you’re worth by your past actions. For the most part, auctioneers can only charge what people are willing to pay based upon their assessment of your current and future value.
Are you providing an experience? Are you allowing your clients/customers to somewhat customize their particular experience? If so, you might well be perceived as more valuable — and you’ll be more profitable finding sellers and buyers. If not, there’s a change you are right to make as soon as possible. In a way, your own self is (should be) your most important competition.
Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, 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, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and America’s Auction Academy. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by the The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.