Many auctioneers tend to specialize. For instance, maybe an auctioneer chooses to only sell coins, or only sell pottery, or only sell firearms, or only … whatever. In this way, he or she becomes “known” for that type of property, likely securing more of the same due to their specialty.
Of course, many auctioneers don’t specialize and sell a variety of properties. There’s not necessarily a right or wrong way to do it. However, when people have a particular type of property, they tend to seek out an expert — often times a specialist — to help them sell that property.
As a seller, there may be merit in seeking out a specialist as such an auctioneer may have a mailing list, certain contacts, past buyers, and likely more knowledge about the subject property than other non-specialist auctioneers. Such experience is likely to help a seller net more in proceeds.
Auctioneers who specialize can run into some “dry spells” in that if that niche is too narrow, it’s likely there is an equally small seller pool available to him or her. As a result, it may be prudent for such specialists to have alternative auctioneer work — maybe as a contract auctioneer, appraiser, or other such jobs to supplement income.
Could an auctioneer have two specialty areas? What about three? Four? More? We wrote before about auctioneers specializing in everything — which is really not specializing in anything: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2018/03/30/im-an-auctioneer-and-i-specialize-in-everything/.
Certain specialty areas tend to represent a vibrant seller’s market for a while, and then maybe more so a buyer’s market for a while, or even longer. For example, say there’s an auctioneer who specializes (or maybe specialized) in Ford Model A and Model T automobiles. Those were really in demand in the 1960s and 1970s but not in terrific demand today.
Specialist auctioneers can encounter boredom or even burnout by selling the same type of property all the time. Auctioneers who don’t specialize often tell of the constant thrill of encountering a variety of types of properties. Of course, many auctioneers have hobbies — they might fish, hunt, travel, crochet … or even have an unrelated business to run such as farming to keep things interesting.
Some so-called specialized business plans don’t specialize on a certain type of property, and rather on a certain circumstance — for example, probate, bankruptcy, domestic, downsizing, etc. which would likely be a specialty in why certain property is selling, but not a specialization in regard to what is selling.
Should an auctioneer specialize? I think it’s likely the merits outweigh the concerns, but it’s up to each auctioneer to decide for him or herself. It’s not that if you ever specialize that you can’t change your business plan and handle other types of property, or other types of situations, or vice-versa.
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.