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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tips For New Auctioneers

By Walt Kolenda

I often get a lot of email asking about all manner of things in the auction business, so I've written this list of tips that are easy to understand and implement.

Most of the items here are suitable for any newbie in the auction business, but not every statement fits all, so use your best judgment as to what applies to you.

Here are my suggestions in no particular order.

Visit boards, sites and forums as often as possible, auctioneers love to promote their field and are more than happy to give advice, but weigh any such advice carefully to make sure that it applies to you.

Don't wait for work to come to you, start calling banks, lawyers, real estate agents and others in related fields to let them know your in the field and plan to be aggressive and competitive.

If your bidding on a job against another auctioneer and the prospective clients have told you that, say something nice about that auctioneer, then tell them how your different and emphasize your positive traits NOT his/her negatives.

Never be afraid to hire a consultant if situation calls for it. No one knows everything about every field, if you've got a big money job on the line, pay someone to advise you if that's practical.

Do not hire inexperienced bookkeepers or scribes.

Pay your help fair and praise them at least once a night in public, crowds love that.

Treat everyone that comes in with respect, that being said, know when to walk away from some jobs.

The first few auctions you run will stick to you for a long time. DON'T run a junk auction in your first year because that's what you'll be associated with for a long time.

Never advertise a headliner unless you have it in your possession or have a solid contract which states it will be there.

Don't take on consignors who want reserves, you'll have enough to deal with getting started without trying to meet unrealistic expectations.

Stay as far away from minimum bids and reserves as possible, no one likes it when an auctioneer holds back an item.

If you do run a big ticket item and it has a high reserve, make sure that is in your advertising or your going to have some upset Honchos at your sale.

Do not talk trash about anyone, nothing spreads faster than gossip in this business and it will come back to bite you.

Do not get upset with or discipline your workers in front of your crowd.
When someone gets something for way under the money, smile and suck it up, whatever you've just lost in profit will come back tenfold in word of mouth advertising if you take it like a trooper.

Again when something goes under the money, reference it in a positive way to reinforce the instance in the mind of the crowd so they'll remember it.
Never let the consignors or the crowd take over your auction. (They absolutely will if you let them)

Never work for nothing just to get started, you are a professional and should be seen that way.

Have fun on the block.

Study and learn new things in your field often and diligently, but study people ten times more.

On the sites in my source box, you'll find many articles with helpful auction advice.

Good Luck.

For more auction advice and information please go to To see my free online anitques appraisal blog go to

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