Live Auction Time!

Auction time!  In the last installment we talked about some key components of the live auction that are often times just as important as the items you are offering to your patrons (sound, lighting and dining arrangements).  And, they are VERY important!  But, make no mistake – the Live Auction is all about the show, and the show is how your Auctioneer interacts with the crowd, how he speeds up or slows down his “chant”, how he splits a bid going from an even to odd number of bidders in the room and knowing the proper progression from $500 to $5,000.00.  And you thought it was just getting together some items and letting the local weather man or volunteer number chanter take over.  I can assure you the weatherman or local media personality is no more qualified to perform these duties than an auctioneer is at performing theirs.

Let’s talk about items:  How many items?  What type of items? And in what order?  Test question:  How many of you remember how many items we should have in our silent auction?  Is the answer (a) as many as possible (b) how ever many fill up the tables we are given or (c) about 20% of your attendance?  If you picked “c”, you are correct!  Now, the appropriate number of live items is 20% of THAT number.  So, if you have 300 attending, the silent auction target number is 60 items and the live auction target number is 12.  With those numbers, you will create a demand factor that gives you the best chance for high dollar bidding.

Next up – what type of items?  One of the best exercises you can do with your committee is for each member to separately write down their top 5 items they’d bid on if money was not an issue.  If you find common items among your group, that’s a good place to start procurement.  A REALLY good way to know what items are selling well is to hire Granger Thagard and you get a copy of our “Hot List” and you have a clear path to success.  But, good free advice is to think about syndicate bidding.  That is, big ticket items that 4, 6, 8 or 10 people can enjoy.  What you have done by doing this, is exponentially increase your bidding potential from a single checkbook to 4 or 5 checkbooks (think dinner for 5 couples or beach house with 4 rooms) – and you’re off!  Time to have an auction!

Next entry, we’ll talk about marketing your live auction and preparing your crowd to BID!

Happy Bidding! – Joey

Live Auction!

Hello Everyone!  I know you all missed my post this past week, but I figured that since it was July 4th last Monday, not many of you would have read it…or, would have thought your BBQ was more important!  Also, I just returned to Birmingham yesterday from a trip to Orlando.  Nope, no mouse house – I was taking a Benefit Auction Specialist certification course.  What does that mean?  It means that what we at Granger Thagard have to offer your next benefit auction is even greater now.  One thing I learned as well (and this should be comforting to you), is that we could have taught the course.  My instructor prescribes to many of the same philosophies that we do…probably because they work.  Ok, so now you are caught up on what’s been going on with me.  Time for some auction advice!

At the end of the last blog, I said we would start a series on live auction.  Here goes…

The LIVE AUCTION will likely be your largest “night of” profit center.  The mistake many groups make though is they put decorations, food, speeches, etc. as priority over the live auction.  Ask yourself if you’re having a banquet or a fundraiser.  If you’re having a fundraiser, you will want to structure your evening to give you the best chance to raise funds for your cause.  The timeline of your evening becomes one of the most important factors.  Every bit as important as the timeline is the sound and lighting.  You need dynamic sound to hear and bright lights to see.  “In-ceiling” sound systems and sound set up for a luncheon presentation are not sufficient.  You need a professional sound company to provide your sound – work that into your budget now!  Notice that I have provided the two most important factors to a successful live auction, and we have yet to talk about the actual auction.  The lesson is that there are so many factors in addition to the actual selling of items (and there are more than the two that I have mentioned so far) that make you successful.

Lastly, I want to leave you with one aspect of your benefit auction to ponder that will make a huge difference in how much your live auction makes.  That is seated dinner vs. the standing heavy hors d’oeuvres event.  Your event will make more money as a seated dinner – it’s a fact.  Often times, it’s not that much more to have a seated dinner than to have an hors d’oeuvre event.  Last year, benefit auctions performed by professional auctioneers made $15 billion and the most successful events reported were from events where seated dinners were the food component. 

Next blog…more on the live auction.  We might even talk about the auction itself!

Happy Bidding!  Joey