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Ten mistakes made by rookie auctioneers

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Ten mistakes rookie auctioneers should avoid.

Whether you're selling the contents of an estate at a live auction, a business closeout or just about any other auction, there are some basics that must apply. Here are ten no-nos in the auction business that rookie auctioneers often make.

  1. If you don't got it, DON'T advertise it! So many times auctioneers will advertise something they are promised from a consignor, but they don't have it in their possession yet. Murphy's Law dictates that if it's a popular item, and someone travels a long distance to bid on it, the consignor will not follow through and bring the item. This can make for a very upset auction customer.

  2. Don't over advertise. I've you've got a decent general merchandise sale, don't try to tout it as a high end antiques sale. Much of your crowd will be savvy dealers and they won't trust your listing if you greatly exaggerate what you have.

  3. Don't under advertise. I suggest at the minimum, using auctionzip, facebook, handbills and local newspaper classifieds to get the word out about your auction. It's also critical that you put together an email and snail-mail list.

  4. Not having ample inspection time. Preview for any auction is important. Have at least two hours for people to inspect before the auction, some auctions allow inspections the day or even the week before.

  5. Don't try to hide flaws or defects in the merchandise. It's OK to sell all your items “as is – where is” thus eliminating the need to point out defects, but don't try to hide them either. That's just tacky and it's not going to help you in the long run.

  6. Not taking credit card payments. These days it's simple to process credit cards through your cell phone, so there's little excuse for not having the capability. You say you don't want to pay the credit card fees? (They're usually about 3.5% of the purchase price) You'll average 10% - 30% more to your total sales.

  7. Having too many reserves. Ugh, nothing will throw a wet blanket on a hot auction like a bunch of reserve bids. The audience just hates them. Try to have as few reserves as possible. No reserved items is best!

  8. Not having food and drinks. You don't have to serve fine wine and cuisine, but at least have fresh hot coffee, soda and water to drink and some kind of snack at the bare minimum.

  9. Not having plenty of boxes and wrapping. If you don't have plentiful packing material your crowd will have to scramble for it when trying to take care of purchases. This makes for distraction, distraction is your enemy.

  10. Not enforcing noise and crowd control. Auction halls can get loud and noisy if you don't address this, it creates a big distraction, distraction is your enemy.

  11. (OK it's a top ten list, and this is #11, but this auctioneer wants to make a point that it's better to undersell and over deliver than vice-verse)Not having your license # in all your ads. In many states where auction licensing is required, it's a strictly enforced rule that you must have your license # in EVERY form of advertising that you do.

Good luck and have fun up on the auction block!

More auction articles can be found at www.auctionwally.com

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