Meeting with a benefit auctioneer


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September 23, 2016 What is that Auctioneer Saying???

Most all of us have attended an auction at some point in our lives.  It may have been an antique auction or a real estate auction. Do you remember the rhythmic “chant” of the auctioneer? There are also automobile and livestock auctions. Regardless of which type of auction you’ve experienced, you’ve been exposed to an auctioneer’s chant or “song” if you’ve been to an auction.

In my opinion the chants of the livestock or automobile auctioneers are the prettiest chants among the auction industry. They have a beautiful cadence and I LOVE to listen to them. These auctioneers mostly sell to experienced buyers and dealers, people who attend numerous auctions often.  Because this type chant is rapid fire it can sometimes be difficult for the novice to understand.

Some auctioneers own auction houses where they sell estates, antiques and general merchandise. These auctioneers have a lot of merchandise to sell in a short timeframe and average about an item a minute.  Though their chant is a bit slower than the livestock or automobile auctioneer it is still a fast chant.

A real estate auctioneer has an even slower chant.  Many times these auctioneers are selling to first-time homebuyers who have never attended an auction, much less bid on a property at auction. Because the prices are much higher than at other types of auction the auctioneer will slow things down to make sure they are being understood and allowing bidders time to make decisions. These auctions can take 5 to 10 minutes.

A benefit auctioneer may be an individual whose sole focus is helping nonprofits or it may be one of the auctioneers mentioned above who helps nonprofits with their live auctions on occasion.

An auctioneer may have several styles of chants they use depending on who they selling to and what items they are auctioning.

An auctioneer’s chant consists of numbers and words.  The numbers are the dollar amounts bidders have currently bid alternated with the amount of increase the auctioneer is attempting to reach. These number are repeated over and over while auctioning a particular item or property.  In between these numbers are filler words.  These words help create rhythm for the auctioneer.  Each auctioneer’s filler words are different, much like each auctioneer’s chant is different.  Think of a chant as a signature, unique to each auctioneer.

In the fundraising auction world, we call auctioneers who sell livestock, automobiles, antiques, real estate, etc., “commercial” auctioneers. There is a huge difference between a commercial auctioneer and a professional fundraising auctioneer who holds the Benefit Auctioneer Specialist (BAS) designation.  A fundraising auctioneer not only chants to sell the live auction items but also consults with the nonprofit.  They give counsel on the timeline of the event, share info on the best-selling live auction items, provide training for volunteers and offer their expertise on a host of other details with a fundraising mindset.  The fundraising auction is conducted quite differently from a commercial auction. For one thing, the chant involved is much slower and is very entertaining for the guests (plus alcohol is usually involved). And fundraising auctioneers are ambassadors for the nonprofit who understand the mission they are helping raise money for.  They consistently incorporate that mission and encouragement for the donors to give into their chants.

If you are seeking an auctioneer for your next fundraising event, I suggest you find one who focuses on fundraising and who holds the BAS designation. These men and women attend continuing education courses that are specific to helping nonprofits raise money.  Ask which services these professionals can provide to assist you throughout the planning of your event. Ask for references as well then talk to other nonprofits who have used the auctioneer’s services.

The auctioneer you choose for your event is one of the most important choices you will make. Make the wise choice by going with a Benefit Auctioneer Specialist and you’ll maximize the fundraising potential when the big day arrives.

Make every minute a revenue generating minute!


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