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If I have used a guiding principle in my business as well as writings on this platform, I would say it comes down to two such thoughts:

  1. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
  2. Just because you don’t have to, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

This isn’t the first time I’ve explored one or the other of these concepts. Yet, is another reminder worthy? It appears so, as auctioneers are somewhat bombarded with a variety of philosophies and sometimes it’s difficult to discern the right path.

Auctioneers make choices every minute of every day. What to charge, what to use to market, what to put in a contract, what to put in terms and conditions, and a myriad of other decisions. There are lots of things auctioneers can do, and lots of things auctioneers don’t have to do.

The law might say you must do something — so we would offer you must. The law also might say you must not do something — so we would offer you must not. Beyond these basic concepts, there are lots of other choices which require insight.

For example, the law says you may (can) reopen the bid — in a certain instance — but should you? If you’re selling materially valuable property, clearly you shouldn’t. Another example? You aren’t required to have an “order of sale” but it couldn’t be more clear you should have one.

Steve Proffitt and Kurt Bachman have always impressed upon auctioneers to do what they should do and should not do, rather than encouraging them to think they “can do” or “don’t have to do.” Kurt graciously continues to write articles for the National Auctioneers Association and otherwise.

Poor choices often are a result of not seeing the forest for the trees (https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2020/07/10/forests-trees-and-policies/.) I don’t have to do this — or I can do something — but long-term people start to notice. A bad habit once might not matter, whereas a series of systemic bad habits tend to catch up with the misbehavior.

I’ve repeatedly told auctioneers when you’re selling material assets everyone pays attention — sellers, bidders, buyers, their attorneys … just last week we received four phone calls from four different attorneys representing auctioneers with very material cases of, essentially, “bad behavior.” They all now want my help.

You can help yourself as an auctioneer by simply considering about what you should do, or should not do, rather than what you can do or don’t have to do. For some, this might be a major shift in philosophy, but worth every minute of time to change your way of thinking, and almost imperative if selling high-dollar assets at 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, Brandly Real Estate & Auction, 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.