Auction Listings Are Vital to the Success of Fundraising Auctions

Fundraising Auction Tip: You should always provide potential bidders with a printed Auction Listing of both your Live and Silent Auction items at any Fundraising Auction. A printed Auction Listing is vital for several reasons:

An Auction Listing informs bidders of the order of sale, and what is coming up next. If you keep your bidders guessing, they will simply not bid.

If bidders are not 100% certain of what they are bidding on, they will not bid. A printed Auction Listing should answer any and all questions about what is being sold in order to encourage bidders to bid as much as possible.

Bidders often need time to plan their bidding strategies, especially on multiple and/or larger value items. A printed Auction Listing helps them to do that.

Couples often need time to consult with each other about what they are willing to spend on something. A printed Auction Listing helps them to do that.

Potential bidders need to know the specifics, the benefits, and the restrictions on any item they are going to bid on, especially on travel and/or other higher value items. A printed Auction Listing should answer all of their questions, in writing.

After bidders see that they have lost an item to another bidder, a printed Auction Listing makes it easier for them to re-strategize on what else they can bid on.
Printed Auction Listings generally come in 3 forms:

Printed in the Event Program or Auction Catalog.

Printed on loose sheets of paper and hand-inserted into the Event Program or Auction Catalog.

Printed on loose sheets of paper and hand-delivered to all attendees, or left on each dinner table in the room.
Auction Listings cost practically nothing to produce and they can make the difference between the success and failure of a Live and Silent Auction. You should never conduct a Fundraising Auction without one.

A Case Study

Let me share a real-life experience with you. Once I was hired to conduct a Fundraising Auction for a nationally renowned organization. The event was held in a major hotel, in one of the country’s largest cities, with several hundred “black tie” participants attending. It was an extremely professional event, with the music, singing, lighting, speeches, and awards all perfectly timed and choreographed. Everything was done to perfection… exception the Fundraising Auction.

Although I had signed an agreement to serve as their Auctioneer nearly one year in advance of the event, no one bothered to contact me for any advice or help. Approximately one week prior to the Auction date, I contacted the group to see if they had replaced me with another Auctioneer. But they said that I was still their man.

Upon arriving at the event I asked for a copy of the Auction Listing. I was told that there were none. I’m not sure whether they felt that the Auction Listing wasn’t necessary, or whether someone forgot to have them printed. This was never made clear. When I asked what I was to use at the podium, I was told to copy the list of Live Auction items from a committee member’s computer. It took me about 30 minutes to copy three pages of hand-written notes in order to prepare for my role as their Auctioneer.

I knew that they had created a PowerPoint program showing the various Live Auction items. When I asked whether the PowerPoint slide order corresponded to the order of sale I had copied from the committee member’s computer, I was met with a blank stare. The committee member left to check the slide order, and returned to let me know that the slide order did not correspond my notes, and he provided me with the correct slide order… hand-written on a paper napkin. This forced me to re-arrange my three pages of hand-written notes before taking the podium.

There was a Live Auction Table with descriptions of the Live Auction items that were to be sold, but the table was not clearly marked, and it received significantly less attention than the Silent Auction Tables, which were clearly identified. Since the Live Auction Table was located adjacent to the “Raffle Table”, it appeared that most people thought it was part of the raffle and therefore paid very little attention to it.

According to the event program (which did not include an Auction Listing), I knew approximately when I was to begin the Live Auction. At the designated time the Master of Ceremonies announced the start of the Live Auction to the several hundred people in attendance, and introduced me as Auctioneer. As I approached the podium I realized that photographs of award winners were still being taken… directly in front of the podium where I was to stand… which required me to stand aside for several minutes until the photographers were done. Can we say “awkward moment”?

As the photographers cleared, I approached the podium and began my Live Auction introduction. Approximately one minute into my introduction, the “Raffle Committee” approached the podium and stopped my Live Auction Introduction in order to pull the 8 or 9 Raffle Winners. These drawings lasted about 5 minutes. Upon it’s conclusion I was allowed to resume the start of the Live Auction.

When standing at the podium two intense and extremely bright spotlights were pointed directly at the podium. The lights were so bright that I literally could not see the center 1/3 of the room. I could see the tables on the right, and on the left, but was totally blinded when looking straight ahead. It took perhaps five minutes before the spotlights were turned off.

While at the podium and describing Lot #1, I had to ask someone to start the Lot #1 PowerPoint Slide… because apparently no one was assigned that job.

So with only the Auctioneer’s verbal description, and a PowerPoint slide, it appeared that few people in the room had any idea about what we were selling… or when we were selling it… until it was announced by the Auctioneer. As a result, bidding was extremely light and the final results fell several thousands of dollars short of where they should have been
The learning experience is this:

The Live Auction is where you place your better items, and where the real money should be made at any Fundraising Auction. Let bidders know as far in advance as possible what you will be selling, and the order of sale, so they can get excited about the Auction, and plan their bidding strategy accordingly.

Auction Listings are absolutely vital to the success of both Live & Silent Auctions. In my opinion, revenues at this Auction fell thousands of dollars short of where they should have been, because no Auction Listing was provided to the guests.

If bidders are not perfectly clear on what is being sold, including both the item’s specifics, benefits, and restrictions, they will not bid.

When you have a committee of volunteers, especially volunteers having full time jobs and/or very busy schedules, the services of a professional Fundraising Auctioneer can help to keep the committee on track.

And once you retain the services of a professional Fundraising Auctioneer… use the services that you are paying for.

Hiring An Auction Company

Estimating your assets value:

Typically, one of the first questions a business owner will ask me is, “how much will the assets bring at an auction”. After taking the time to review the assets, the auctioneer should give the client a conservative estimate of the sale based upon his experience and the current market trends. It is important that the company give realistic expectations so the seller can make informed decisions based on their best interest.

Compensation and Expenses:

Is the company you are considering working for you or against you? The agreement you decide may determine this.

A business owner should carefully consider how the auction company is compensated. The most common commission structures include: straight commission, outright purchase of assets, guaranteed base with a split above to both auctioneer and seller, guaranteed base with anything above going to auctioneer or a flat fee structure.

In a straight commission structure, the company is paid an agreed upon percentage of the total sale.

In an outright purchase agreement, the auctioneer simply becomes your end buyer. The company purchases your assets and relocates them. While this can be an option in some unique situations, keep in mind that they will want to purchase your assets at a very reduced price to make a profit at a later date.

In a minimum base guarantee, the auction company guarantees the seller that the auction will generate a minimum amount of sales. Anything above that amount either goes to the auction company or split with the seller. While a seller might feel more comfortable doing an auction knowing that he is guaranteed a minimum amount for his sale, keep in mind that it is the best interest of the auction company to secure a minimum base price as low as possible in order reduce their financial liability to the seller and secure higher compensation for the sale.

In a flat fee structure, the auctioneer agrees to show up for the sale and call the auction. There is no incentive for the auctioneer to get the best prices for your assets. The auction company is compensated regardless of the outcome of your sale.

What is the best option for business owners? In my experience, an agreed upon straight commission structure. This puts the responsibility on the auction company to offer the best outcome for everyone involved. There is an incentive for the auction company to work hard for both parties, set up and run a professional sale, get the highest bid and sell every item on the inventory. Successful auctions translate to a higher bottom line for both the seller and the auction company.

Auction Expenses:

In most auction agreements the expenses to conduct an auction are passed to the seller. If the auction company pays for the expenses, it is simply absorbed in higher commission rates.

All expenses should be agreed upon in advance in a written contract. Typical expenses will include the costs of advertising, labor, legal fees, travel, equipment rentals, security, postage and printing. A reputable auction company will be able to estimate all expenses based upon their experience in previous auctions. An agreement should be actual costs charged as expenses, not an estimated amount.

Advertising is typically the highest cost in conducting an auction. The auction company needs to set up an advertising campaign that will promote the sale to its best advantage and not overspend to simply advertise the auction company.

Once the auction is complete, the auction company should provide a complete breakdown of all expenses to the seller, including copies of receipts within the auction summary report.

Buyer’s Premium:

What is a buyer’s premium? If you attend auctions regularly, you are very familiar with this term. The auction company charges a fee to the buyer when they buy an item at auction.

The buyer’s premium has been around since the 1980′s and is standard auction practice. It was first used by auction houses to help offset costs of running brick and mortar permanent auction facilities. Since then, it has spread to all aspects of the auction industry. It is prominent in online auctions and allows auction companies to cover added expenses incurred from online sales.

It is the responsibility of the auction company to provide clear disclosure of the buyer’s premium to both the buyers and the sellers. Those not familiar with auctions are often taken back by the buyer’s premium. They looked upon it as an under handed way for the auction company to make more money. Reputable auction companies will provide full disclosure within the auction contract, advertisement and bidder registration.

Typically, an auction company will charge online buyers a higher buyer’s premium percentage than those attending an auction in person. Extra fees are incurred with online bidding and are charged accordingly to online buyers. This provides the seller a level playing field for both online buyers and those attending the auction in person. Without the buyer’s premium, there is no way to do this.

Pre-Sales:

We’ve all been there. We’re looking forward to attending an auction only to find that some items were sold prior to the auction date.

As an auctioneer with over thirty-six years of experience, I can honestly state that pre-sales will hurt an auction. When a company decides to liquidate their assets, it is easy to sell off high-end pieces of equipment through online sources, equipment vendors or to other businesses. The seller receives instant cash and avoids paying a commission to an auction company.

Auctioneer’s find themselves appearing to acting in a self-serving capacity when potential clients say they are planning to sell off parts of their inventory prior to an auction. It’s hard not to consider the auctioneer’s commission when they warn you not to pre-sell anything. Yes, the auctioneer wants to earn a commission on those sales but it is more important that the auctioneer protect the sale from potential negative backlash that comes from pre-selling. The buying public knows when an auction has been “cherry picked” prior to the sale and it reflects in their bidding. It becomes a sale of “leftovers” and that impacts prices.

A buyer who purchases prior to the auction usually does not attend the sale. They already bought equipment at a good price with no competition. If they do attend the auction, they tend to let others know of their great pre-sale purchases which again, impacts prices and the overall excitement of the sale.

It is important to understand that auctions work best with a complete inventory. You want competition on your higher end equipment. The easy to sell items make it possible to gain respectable prices for hard to sell items.

When a business owner decides to liquidate their equipment assets, there is only one opportunity to do it right. Hiring a reputable auction company will assist you with a professional, orderly and timely liquidation.

Differences in the Types of Auctions That Take Place Around the World

Auctions are those events where properties or goods are sold to the highest bidder. Auctions are mostly public events, where bidders make a series of bids and purchase a particular item for a high price. During auctions, bidders decide the price of an item rather than the seller. It depends on bidders to decide the amount they would want to pay for a specific item. During an auction, a bid is a proof of a legal binding. Bidders agree to pay the amount that they have bid. In a high profile auction, bidders may have to pay a deposit in escrow accounts or give a proof that they can pay for those items.

Types of Auctions:

Different types of auctions take place around the world. Below mentioned are some types of auctions:

1. English auction:
This is a basic type of auction. In this type, people can see the item and then start bidding. Bidders slowly raise the value of their bid until everyone gives up. The highest bidder is the winner. An auctioneer manages an auction, keeps records of the on going bid and decides the winner. Sometimes, the seller will quote a minimum amount for an item to the auctioneer, below which the auctioneer cannot sell that item.

2. Dutch auction:
In this type, the auctioneer sets a particular price and then gradually lowers the price. People in public will start bidding and later decide which prices are suitable for the item. A seller may use this type of auction to sell large quantities of same products to the public. For instance, a seller may want to sell a large amount of hay and will thus, decide to sell this hay to people for the same amount, once a reasonable price is decided.

3. Silent auction:
In this type, the bidders in public will present their bids in a sealed format. These sealed bids open at the same time and bidder with the highest bid wins. There could be a modification in this type of auction. The bidders are allotted a specific period to bid. They can roam in a room displaying the items, and write their bids on an associated sheet of paper. The bidders are allowed to see bids of other bidders and can choose a higher price for an item. At the end of the allotted time, bidder with the highest bid is the winner.

Examples of Auctions:

Auctions can be of two types either public or private. Sellers may trade any kind of items in both types of auctions. Some areas where auctions take place are:

1. Antique auction: An antique auction consists of a trade opportunity as well as provides entertainment.

2. Collectable auction: In a collectable auction, the seller may put up collectables like coins, vintage cars, luxury, stamps, real estate, and luxury for sale.

3. Wine auction: In wine auction, bidders can bid for rare wine, which may not be available in retail wine shops.

4. Horse auction: Bidders can bid for young horses of the best breed.

5. Livestock auction: In livestock auction, bidders can buy pigs, sheep, cattle, and other livestock.

The other examples of auctions may not be public. These auctions are for bidders from corporate levels. Some examples of private auctions are:

1. Timber auction
2. Spectrum auction
3. Electricity auction
4. Debit auction
5. Environmental auction
6. Auto auction
7. Electronic market auction
8. Sales of business auction

Bidders in an auction need to examine the items displayed and decide an appropriate price for an item. Thus, auctions help buyers in getting the best deals and in gaining better profits for sellers.