Few people understand the work that goes into an auction. I think some believe that somehow everything mysteriously appears on tables ready to sell. Believe me, there’s a lot of work that goes into preparing for a sale. For a consignment sale the auctioneer must
- Obtain the items to be sold. Many times people have told me that they have things to sell, but later change their mind or decide they don’t have time to get the items to you in time to be processed and sold.
- The people who help me work my auctions are contacted to make sure they are available. I have some wonderful people to help me, but they are not always available. When they are not, I have to find back-up help.
- I contact a lady who provides food for the auctions. I receive nothing from her sales, but I know that people like to eat at auctions. Her presence is a service to my buyers.
- Since I don’t have my own auction center I rent an excellent space, but I have to schedule my auctions to avoid other events that may have already been scheduled in the building.
- Items usually arrive in boxes which means I have to remove each item and list it on a consignment contract that I will give to the seller.
- Many of the items I will sell will be photographed to be shown on auctionzip.com so people can see what I will be selling. I usually have between 125 -225 pictures posted for each sale. This takes a lot of time!
- Each item is numbered with the seller’s number. Fragile items are wrapped for protection. Everything is placed in plastic totes with the seller’s number on the outside of the tote so I know who belongs to every item.
- I prepare an ad for our local newspaper that will run on Friday before my auction. I have to remember the paper’s deadlines or my ad will not run.
- Flyers are printed to be placed in various locations and mailed out to my previous buyers.
- Mailing labels are prepared, the flyers are placed in envelopes and mailed out to my buyers about five days prior to the auction.
- We set up the rented facility the day prior to the auction. This requires us to set up tables, chairs, a podium, and space for the cashier and clerk to work.
- Once the room is set up we begin hauling everything that will be sold to the site. Totes are stacked up in a row. Furniture and large items are placed on a side wall. We usually have to make several trips from my storage area to the rented facility to get everything there.
- We have to unpack each tote and place items on the appropriate tables. We will normally sell a few hundred pieces in a sale so this takes considerable time. Once everything is out we have to arrange it in a way that is appealing and makes sense to the buyers. We usually do not finish this aspect of the set-up until the day of the sale.
- On the day of the sale we put up directional signs on the highways, obtain sufficient change for the cashier, set up our sound system, and arrive early enough so people can preview the items we’ll be selling.
- My sales typically last 3-4 hours. When it ends we will help people load their purchases, stack the chairs, put away the tables, tear down everything we’ve set up and make sure everyone has paid. If items did not sell we will load them back on my van to store for the next auction. The trash is hauled to a dumpster.
- On the day after the sale I will tally all the paperwork. This involves adding up the sales for each consignor and writing their checks. I have to make sure that everything balances out, and if not I have to find the discrepancy that caused the unbalance. The money is counted and deposited into an escrow account. Final settlement paperwork is prepared for each consignor, and that paperwork, the tickets for the items they sold, and their check is placed in an envelope to be mailed at the end of the week.
- Now it’s time to begin preparations for the next auction.
As you can see, to have a successful auction a lot of preparation is required. The same is true of any endeavor. Any small business you run requires a lot of preparation before you sell anything. A winning sports team doesn’t succeed unless they do a lot of preparation before the game. Someone once said that it’s not enough to want to succeed, you have to want to prepare to succeed. I believe that’s true.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing sexy about preparation. It’s often done behind the scenes so you’ll seldom be applauded for the preparation you do. The applause will only come later when you begin to enjoy the success for which you’ve strived to obtain. As John Maxwell wrote in Talent Is Never Enough: Discover the Choices That Will Take You Beyond Your Talent, “Spectacular achievement comes from unspectacular preparation.”
How much time do you spend preparing yourself to lead your business or organization to succeed? How much time do you invest in preparing your team members to succeed in their roles? How much energy do you use in preparing yourself and your team to win? You cannot ignore preparation if you want to enjoy success.