Working together

Anyone in business is in competition with others in the same field, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot also be colleagues. At my last auction, the person who taught the auction school I attended and is a competitor, brought me a wood plaque he had made for me. It was in the shape of the state of Indiana with my name and other information showing that I was an auctioneer. He had obviously spent several hours working on it. It was a very nice gift from a friend in the same business I’m in.

There are several auctioneers in this area who compete with one another for people’s business, but that does not stop us from working together. One auctioneer has referred people to me when her schedule was full rather than make the people wait. I’ve worked the ring for several auctioneers in the area, and I had one run a second ring in one of my auctions when it was more than could be sold in one day. Several of us use the same ring people and cashier. Two of us check with one another before scheduling an auction to make sure we aren’t both scheduling one the same day. Most of us will introduce other auctioneers attending our sales and ask them to give information on any upcoming auctions they might have. I have left flyers at other auctioneer’s sales, and they have left flyers at mine. One auctioneer called me when he discovered he had forgot to order more bid tickets before an upcoming sale. I gave him some of mine so he would have enough. We are competitors, but we are also colleagues who want to represent this business well.

So often we operate out of a scarcity mindset. We believe there is only so much business, and if our competitors get any of it there won’t be any left for us. We end up in an adversarial relationship with our competitors rather than finding ways to work together to generate more business for everyone. In an adversarial relationship we believe that the only way we can win is for the other person to lose, and some will go to any lengths to make that happen. I enjoy the relationship I share with the other auctioneers in the area because I believe it makes us all stronger.

We should also look at how we can work with people in other fields. There are professional people in other fields who might have clients who need to auction off their personal property. I’ve written these individuals asking them to consider referring those people to me. A maid service might work with banks to clean homes they’ve taken in foreclosures. The same might be true for a lawn mowing service. What other types of businesses might benefit from the services you offer? Zig Ziglar used to say that you can have anything you want if you help enough other people get what they want.

I think it’s a good business strategy to have good relationships with our competitors and with other businesses who might be able to refer their clients to us. Begin to work with other companies in your area and see if it doesn’t grow your business.

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