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An auctioneer told me he had a database of 30,000+ … what? He said, “buyers” but I’m not convinced. In other words, 30,000+ people who keep buying over and over again? Who does that? Dealers and resellers do that, but is that what you as an auctioneer are looking for? It’s not.

Dealers and resellers don’t pay retail and buy at a discount in order to resell for a profit. Consumers (and some collectors) on the other hand are buyers who do pay retail (or at least outbid dealers and resellers) but don’t necessarily keep buying over and over again.

When I started in the auction business, auctioneers advertised in the newspaper. That media found largely dealers and resellers. For an “onsite” auction in a residential neighborhood, we would also place a sign and have neighbors, their friends, their coworkers, and their family members show up.

Auctions like this truly maximized price, in that the neighbors and their associates paid top-dollar and for what none of them wanted, the dealers and resellers competed for the balance. Without those neighbors, friends, coworkers, and family this same auction would not have resulted in market value.

Today, auctioneers can’t keep relying on that database of bidders. In order to maximize price, auctioneers have to find those new bidders/buyers who now need what you are selling. And the next auction? You need yet newer bidders who now need what you are selling. If not, your “big crowd” is likely full of dealers and resellers not paying market value.

Further, the newer generations are not into collecting and purchasing property like their parents and grandparents were. These younger buyers buy what they want and then quit buying. A database of past bidders/buyers worked well 20-30-40 years ago, but today it’s a different game.

Auctioneers have two choices as I see it: Facebook (and the like) marketing works well to find those new bidders, and otherwise, an online platform can serve as a marketplace, adding new bidders all the time. In other words, you need to partner with an ever-changing marketplace or you need to address how you maintain an ever-changing marketplace.

If you’re sitting down with a potential seller telling him or her you have a database of buyers, and I walk in next and show how I find the new bidders (who likely aren’t in your database) and tell him or her that your database likely has people who have purchased once, and won’t again — or that they’re all dealers and resellers not paying market value — I’m going to (and should) book that auction.

Is it best to maintain a database of past bidders/buyers and augment that with marketing to find that next new bidder/buyer? You could, but it appears social media marketing, as well as online marketplace platforms, already address this issue, as the former and next bidders/buyers are already there.

You as an auctioneer want all dealers and resellers? Okay, then maintain that database of those folks. If however, you (and your seller) want true market values? Then, you don’t want all dealers and resellers, and likely need to go out and find those consumers willing to pay those prices … each and every auction.

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, and an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and Western College of Auctioneering. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.