Details are Important

Today we start setting up for our auction tomorrow. My grandson, Tyler, and I will begin around 8:00 hauling items to the auction site and spend the entire day hauling items and setting them out for display. We normally work until around 5:00-6:00 and often need to go back the next morning to finalize the set-up and arrange chairs. Once we’re done we can return home to clean up and rest before returning at 4:00 Tuesday afternoon to open up so people can view the items before the auction begins at 5:30.

Most people have no idea how much work is involved in preparing for an auction. I have taken pictures which were posted on and placed the seller’s number on each piece. Many auctioneers will put each consignor’s items on one table without numbering each piece, but it’s too easy for someone to pick something up, look at it, and then lay it down on another table. Even though it takes more work to put a number on each piece it ensures that everyone is paid for the items they’ve brought to sell. After numbering the items I wrap the breakables in bubble wrap and place them in totes to hold until the day of set up.

When we take our first load to the site I rent, we begin by setting up the tables. Then we unload the van and go back to my storage facility for more items. It may take most of the morning just to haul everything to the site especially if there is a lot of furniture or other large items. We break for lunch and then begin taking everything out of the totes and setting them out on tables.  I tend to be rather picky for how items are displayed so this can take some time. Items displayed properly will normally sell for a higher price than just having everything thrown out on tables haphazardly.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and It’s All Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life (Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff Series) has been a best-selling book for many years. I’ve read it, and I agree with much of what it says. However, in business, details are important, even small ones. I was raised at a time when people believed “if something is worth doing it’s worth doing right.” I still believe that.

It’s why I put the seller’s number on each piece. It’s why I am picky about how items are displayed for the auction. It’s why I make sure there are plenty of empty boxes and wrapping paper for buyers to use for their purchases. It’s why I make sure the site is clean, well-lit, and comfortable for those attending the auction. It’s why I tell people to check the electrical items they buy before leaving, and if they don’t work they don’t have to buy them. (I’ve already ensured everything works before I put it in the auction, but that guarantee makes people more comfortable buying the item.) In hot weather I normally wear shorts and tee shirts most of the time, but when I am doing an auction I wear jeans and a collared shirt to have a more professional appearance. It’s why we put a piece of tape on furniture so the buyer’s number can be recorded on the item by our ring people. It’s easy to attend an auction that is selling 10 small chairs and forget which ones you bought. I know because that’s happened to me. It doesn’t happen at my auctions because we put the buyer’s number on each piece of furniture.

It’s why we allow people to return items if they notice they are chipped or cracked and we had not announced it prior to them buying it. At some auctions it’s “Buyer Beware,” but I don’t want to treat my buyers that way. I was recently at an auction when a lady bought a box of DVDs. As she was going through them she complained that nearly all the packages were empty. She had a box full of empty DVD containers. When she complained, the auctioneer told her she was responsible for looking at things before she bought them. He refused to cancel her purchase. I wonder how many of his auctions she’ll go to after that.

Details matter. To get the small things right requires more time and energy, but in the long run it will always pay off. People will have confidence to do business with you in the future. When you serve people well they will want to do business with you again. When it comes to business, it’s good to sweat the small stuff.



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