Hiring An Auction Company

Estimating your assets value:

Typically, one of the first questions a business owner will ask me is, “how much will the assets bring at an auction”. After taking the time to review the assets, the auctioneer should give the client a conservative estimate of the sale based upon his experience and the current market trends. It is important that the company give realistic expectations so the seller can make informed decisions based on their best interest.

Compensation and Expenses:

Is the company you are considering working for you or against you? The agreement you decide may determine this.

A business owner should carefully consider how the auction company is compensated. The most common commission structures include: straight commission, outright purchase of assets, guaranteed base with a split above to both auctioneer and seller, guaranteed base with anything above going to auctioneer or a flat fee structure.

In a straight commission structure, the company is paid an agreed upon percentage of the total sale.

In an outright purchase agreement, the auctioneer simply becomes your end buyer. The company purchases your assets and relocates them. While this can be an option in some unique situations, keep in mind that they will want to purchase your assets at a very reduced price to make a profit at a later date.

In a minimum base guarantee, the auction company guarantees the seller that the auction will generate a minimum amount of sales. Anything above that amount either goes to the auction company or split with the seller. While a seller might feel more comfortable doing an auction knowing that he is guaranteed a minimum amount for his sale, keep in mind that it is the best interest of the auction company to secure a minimum base price as low as possible in order reduce their financial liability to the seller and secure higher compensation for the sale.

In a flat fee structure, the auctioneer agrees to show up for the sale and call the auction. There is no incentive for the auctioneer to get the best prices for your assets. The auction company is compensated regardless of the outcome of your sale.

What is the best option for business owners? In my experience, an agreed upon straight commission structure. This puts the responsibility on the auction company to offer the best outcome for everyone involved. There is an incentive for the auction company to work hard for both parties, set up and run a professional sale, get the highest bid and sell every item on the inventory. Successful auctions translate to a higher bottom line for both the seller and the auction company.

Auction Expenses:

In most auction agreements the expenses to conduct an auction are passed to the seller. If the auction company pays for the expenses, it is simply absorbed in higher commission rates.

All expenses should be agreed upon in advance in a written contract. Typical expenses will include the costs of advertising, labor, legal fees, travel, equipment rentals, security, postage and printing. A reputable auction company will be able to estimate all expenses based upon their experience in previous auctions. An agreement should be actual costs charged as expenses, not an estimated amount.

Advertising is typically the highest cost in conducting an auction. The auction company needs to set up an advertising campaign that will promote the sale to its best advantage and not overspend to simply advertise the auction company.

Once the auction is complete, the auction company should provide a complete breakdown of all expenses to the seller, including copies of receipts within the auction summary report.

Buyer’s Premium:

What is a buyer’s premium? If you attend auctions regularly, you are very familiar with this term. The auction company charges a fee to the buyer when they buy an item at auction.

The buyer’s premium has been around since the 1980′s and is standard auction practice. It was first used by auction houses to help offset costs of running brick and mortar permanent auction facilities. Since then, it has spread to all aspects of the auction industry. It is prominent in online auctions and allows auction companies to cover added expenses incurred from online sales.

It is the responsibility of the auction company to provide clear disclosure of the buyer’s premium to both the buyers and the sellers. Those not familiar with auctions are often taken back by the buyer’s premium. They looked upon it as an under handed way for the auction company to make more money. Reputable auction companies will provide full disclosure within the auction contract, advertisement and bidder registration.

Typically, an auction company will charge online buyers a higher buyer’s premium percentage than those attending an auction in person. Extra fees are incurred with online bidding and are charged accordingly to online buyers. This provides the seller a level playing field for both online buyers and those attending the auction in person. Without the buyer’s premium, there is no way to do this.

Pre-Sales:

We’ve all been there. We’re looking forward to attending an auction only to find that some items were sold prior to the auction date.

As an auctioneer with over thirty-six years of experience, I can honestly state that pre-sales will hurt an auction. When a company decides to liquidate their assets, it is easy to sell off high-end pieces of equipment through online sources, equipment vendors or to other businesses. The seller receives instant cash and avoids paying a commission to an auction company.

Auctioneer’s find themselves appearing to acting in a self-serving capacity when potential clients say they are planning to sell off parts of their inventory prior to an auction. It’s hard not to consider the auctioneer’s commission when they warn you not to pre-sell anything. Yes, the auctioneer wants to earn a commission on those sales but it is more important that the auctioneer protect the sale from potential negative backlash that comes from pre-selling. The buying public knows when an auction has been “cherry picked” prior to the sale and it reflects in their bidding. It becomes a sale of “leftovers” and that impacts prices.

A buyer who purchases prior to the auction usually does not attend the sale. They already bought equipment at a good price with no competition. If they do attend the auction, they tend to let others know of their great pre-sale purchases which again, impacts prices and the overall excitement of the sale.

It is important to understand that auctions work best with a complete inventory. You want competition on your higher end equipment. The easy to sell items make it possible to gain respectable prices for hard to sell items.

When a business owner decides to liquidate their equipment assets, there is only one opportunity to do it right. Hiring a reputable auction company will assist you with a professional, orderly and timely liquidation.

Is Your Small Business Using Internet Marketing Strategies to Attract Customers Like a Magnet?

Smart business people are leveraging the power of Internet marketing strategies to attract more qualified customers to their small business. Small Businesses that you would not expect to find on the Internet are now using online marketing to draw in customers like a magnet. Traditional small business marketing methods are expensive and the results are not measurable. Positioning yourself as the expert in your field and providing valuable information to your potential customers will magically attract qualified prospects to you. This article will provide valuable small business marketing ideas to help you develop marketing strategies for your small business.

My time is limited, and I have found that using the search engines is a great way to find products and services that meet my needs. The information available on the Internet lets me compare products and services and get reviews from other customers who have purchased the products I am looking for.

Last week I purchased a generator for my home through the Internet, and I needed to find a local electrician to install it. I hate calling people from the yellow pages, so I decided to search the Internet for someone who could help me. I found three different electricians.

Electrician A had very good information on their website about some simple electrical jobs and things to watch out for when picking an electrician.

Electricians B and C simply had a “yellow page” website with a phone number and address.

Because Electrician A had shared valuable information with me first, I already trusted him more, but I wanted to get three bids to make sure I paid a reasonable amount of money for my job.

I sent all three electricians an email asking for a bid on my job. Then I spoke with each of them on the phone to answer their questions and give them directions to my property.

Electrician B bid on the job sight unseen. Electrician A and C both made time to come out to my property and look over the job before bidding.

Electrician A made a couple of good suggestions that actually saved me money and helped me avoid a costly mistake. Electrician C bid almost twice what the other two electricians did.

After getting all of the bids, I chose Electrician A because he took the time to come out and look over my job, and actually helped me save money, even though he did not have the cheapest overall bid. Electrician B, who bid on my job sight unseen, had the lowest bid, but would have actually cost me more money because of the issues that Electrician A had pointed out when he took the time to come out to my property to see the job before bidding on it. Electrician C looked over the same job site as electrician A, but did not give me a lot of confidence when he did not point out the same issues that Electrician A had.

The combination of a website with valuable information to help build my confidence coupled with free advice to help me save money actually won this electrician my business. This is an example of how effective marketing a small business using the Internet coupled with a consultative sales approach can help attract and win customers for your business.

Because of their power to attract customers, I have implemented these Internet marketing strategies in my own small business. I have a website that has valuable information available to the prospective customers who search for my services. Because of this useful information, the customers who find me already trust what I have to say. They know something about me before we even speak with each other. This helps filter out the tire kickers and helps me leverage my time to work with only those customers who truly have an interest in my services as a small business Internet marketing coach.

By reading this article you’ll learn why it is important to market your small business on the Internet. You will learn small business marketing ideas that will attract more customers to you who are already interested in what you have to offer. You will learn how to gain the trust of these customers allowing you to win more business and make more money.

Why it is so important to market your small business on the Internet

More than ever, people start their search for information about products and services on the Internet. In fact, as a business medium, the Internet is growing while many other sectors of the economy are declining. Your customers are looking for you on the Internet…trust me I know this. The question is “are they going to find you when they search?” and if they do, “will they learn enough about you to trust you and contact you to do business?”

Many people no longer think of the yellow pages when they are searching for information about a product or service. The major search engines are the most accessed websites on the Internet. Google has over 91 million searches per day, and Yahoo has over 60 million searches per day, together they represent 151 million searches per day.

Now the population of the United States is just over 304 million and the population of the whole world is just over 6 billion (Wikipedia – Jul 2008). One out of every two people in the United States could be searching for something or one out of every 40 people in the world could be doing the same. This is a staggering number of searches every day, which reinforces the fact that people are relying on the Internet to search for and find quality information.

You can see why, more than ever before, it is important to have an Internet marketing strategy for your small business.

How to attract more customers to you who are already interested in what you offer

Ok…so now we can agree that your business should be on the Internet, but how can you be sure that your business will be found out of all of the others out there? How can you effectively market your small business on the Internet? Probably not the way you would think.

Hype-based or hard selling techniques no longer work. The way to attract customers to you is to offer valuable free information to the people who find you. They will find you because you will use the same words that people are searching for when describing your products or services. This is called search engine optimization (SEO) and all it means is that when you write the content for your website or blog, you use the words that people are typing into the search engines so that they can find you when they search. If you are using a replicated website, it is very likely that it has not been optimized to be found by the search engines. Search engines hate replicated websites.

Your small business marketing strategy should include writing articles about topics that are interesting to your customers. To do this, you have to figure out who your target customer is, and what they are interested in. This is probably the hardest part of your small business marketing strategy. This is the essence of attraction marketing and is how you will build an audience for your information, which in turn will draw customers to you like magic.

Then it is just a matter of placing your content all over the Internet so that it is found when your customers search. If you are a local business, there are ways to localize your content, so that customers in your geographic area can find you first before you competitors when they search.

How the value you provide helps you gain the trust of your customers

Once your customer types in the search words at the search engine and your content comes up, you have started building trust and credibility in their minds. The more valuable the content you offer for free, the more trust you will build. The more frequently your content comes up, the more credibility you will gain. Securing the trust of your customers is the hardest step in making the sale. Using these small business Internet marketing strategies does this hard step for you, so that when your customers come to you, they are ready to learn what you have to offer.

If the valuable free content that you offer is perceived to be more valuable than that of your competitors, you will differentiate yourself in the eyes of your prospective customer. If your content comes up first on the search engines, you are guaranteed that your customer will see what you have to offer. If what you offer is of value, you have just won a customer.

You too can leverage these ideas for marketing your small business on the Internet

There are many tools that you can leverage today for your small business marketing strategies. Some of these include websites, blogs, articles, images, Google maps, videos, etc. In addition to these, there are many social media options to help build your reputation with your customers. These include such things as Face book, MySpace, Squidoo, and Twitter.

For example, my small business has a website which I use as the hub of my business activities. I have written articles, such as the one you are reading, which are found by the search engines when my target customers type in certain search words. My articles then link back to my website for my customers to find more information about my services. In addition to my articles, I have Squidoo lenses, and a Face book page which also link back to my website. My offline marketing also has the link to my website. Again, the target of all of my marketing is to drive prospective customers to my website where they can prequalify themselves by learning more about my business and requesting more information if they are interested. Notice, I am not chasing customers, nor am I wasting my money on the yellow pages. Instead, I am attracting customers to me through the valuable information that I provide.

You can easily implement these same marketing strategies for your small business also.

If winning more business and making more money is important to you…

If all of this information is a bit overwhelming to you, or you just don’t know how to get started, I suggest that you find someone who can guide you through developing and implementing the Internet marketing strategies for your small business. Find someone who can show you the ropes and teach you what you need to know to be self-sufficient.

Don’t just sign up with anyone who claims to build or host websites, though. Not everyone knows the secret of attraction marketing like I have described for you here. Find someone who understands these concepts and has demonstrated their ability to apply them the way that I have demonstrated it to you when you found this article.

When you do find someone, the more they know the more costly their time will be. Look for someone who knows just a little more than you but who isn’t so good at it they charge you a fortune.

They can show you how to set up your small business marketing strategies on the Internet, or if you don’t have the time to do it, they can do it for you.

Now you know how to easily win more business and make more money.

Leveraging an Internet marketing strategy will help you with the hardest part of establishing any business relationship. It will help you gain the trust of your potential customers before you have even spoken with them yet. You will be able to attract more customers to you, and the ones you attract are already interested in what you have to offer. After that, all you have to do is offer great service and close the sale. These great small business marketing ideas can give you a leg up on your competitors, and help you grow your small business. Now you know why it is so important for you develop an Internet marketing strategy for your small business.

As a customer, I have found that small businesses who provide valuable information to me when I am searching for products or services are much more likely to get my initial inquiry about their products or services. Businesses who are not on the Internet or who have a replicated brochure website are usually not in the running at all. In fact, I usually forget to even look in the yellow pages. My first stop to search is now the search engines like Google or yahoo. I have implemented these small business marketing strategies in my own consulting business. Now I have customers calling me, instead of me trying to chase them or spending thousands of dollars on ads that don’t bring in anyone.

Give me a call or shoot me an email and I’d be happy to spend 20 minutes on a free consultation with you to get you started on the right track.

Becky Lynn Smith is passionate about internet marketing and her goal is to help you leverage the power of the internet to help your small business.

Becky obtained her BBA in Management Information Systems at Texas Tech University. She took a job after college in the IT department at a major oil company in Houston, TX. After 8 years, she went back to school and obtained her MBA at the University of Houston. Becky obtained her Project Management Professional (PMP) designation from the Project Management Institute in 1999.

After leaving big oil, she took a job as the eTechnology Manager for a major mutual fund investment company. Becky’s team had responsibility for over 40 different websites. She learned a lot about developing websites, developing and managing content, and optimizing for search engines.

Five Tips for Selling at Live Auctions

Ah, the old-fashioned country auction! The idea of a country auction conjures up certain images for people. The image of a fast-talking auctioneer offering up an antique table or chair is a popular example.

People who are buying household goods or collectibles are looking to get their items at the lowest price possible. However, the people who are selling their items at auction are hoping for the highest price!

Unless a person is in the business of buying and selling antiques or other items, not a lot of thought goes into how goods are prepared for sale via the auction process. However, if you are one of the growing number of people using auction venues to sell your collectibles or other inventory, there are a few things to learn first about how to sell at auction before you bring a truckload of stuff over to the next event.

Tip 1: Make sure the things you want to sell are a good “fit” for the auction house you’ll be using.

Never bring a load to an auction house without actually having been to one of the previous auctions. It’s important to get a feel for the type of goods that the house sells. For example, at one very rural country auction it was common for the owners to sell live chickens, pots and pans, car parts, and farm equipment.

After close investigation, this would not be the right venue for selling your daughter’s “Hello Kitty” collection. On the other hand, the spare John Deere parts that you bought at last week’s yard sale might be just the right thing for the buying crowd at this auction.

Tip 2: Be sure you clearly understand the terms and policies of the auction house.

Visit with the auctioneer ahead of time. Call to find out what the best days and times are to visit. One of the worst possible times to drop in for an informational visit with an auctioneer is the day of the auction. Call ahead and ask. While you’re at it, find out what are the best days and times to drop your stuff off.

Once you have a little time with the auctioneer, you’ll be able to find out what type of commission he or she takes from consigners (which is you), and what type of paperwork might be needed. Some auction houses send out Form 1099 tax forms at the end of the year. An auctioneer may need to see your identification and have you fill out a W-9. Be prepared.

Find out what happens to your items if they don’t sell. For example, some auctioneers may have a minimum starting bid. If, for some reason, one of your items does not sell, it may be grouped with another one of your pieces. Know the auctioneer’s strategy beforehand so that you aren’t surprised on pay day.

Tip 3: Make sure the auctioneer knows what you’re selling.

It might be perfectly obvious to you that the signed print you are consigning is a rare and valuable piece of art. However, the auctioneer may not know this particular artist. Make a note of anything particularly special about your items, and leave the note with the piece. Be sure to tell the auctioneer about it as well. He or she might determine that this is something to highlight on the company website or in the newspaper listing.

Tip 4: Present your items neatly.

No one likes to have to dig through a box full of grimy and greasy car parts to see what treasures might be in there. Separate the parts and lay them out on a flat, or use more than one box to de-clutter the lot.

There is no need to buy fancy display boxes. It’s easy enough to go to the local convenience store or supermarket and ask if you can have the emptied boxes or flats that they are discarding.

While it’s good to present clean items, take care not to ruin the value of anything by over cleaning. For example, if you find some old cast iron cookware, clean the obvious dirt and grime, but don’t scrub it to its original finish. For many people, this ruins the value of the item. So, clean and tidy and organized is the key here.

Tip 5: Don’t complain to the auctioneer if your stuff doesn’t sell for as much as you’d like.

The phrase to remember here is, “You win some; you lose some.” That’s just the way it is. There are some days where an auction house is loaded with people who all seem to want what you’re selling. There will be other days where the crowd is sparse, and the bidding is simply not competitive.

Remember that it’s in the auctioneer’s best interest to sell your things for the highest possible hammer price. But sometimes, it’s just not going to be a stellar sale. The auctioneer is only human, and is also disappointed if a sale doesn’t go as well as planned.

If you notice that every time you bring a bunch of goods to sell that you’re not realizing as much as you think you honestly should, try another auction venue and compare apples to apples. That is, bring the same types of items to the new auctioneer and compare the results.

Unless the auctioneer is particularly disagreeable or inconsiderate to you or buyers, there is no reason to confront him or her about a sale. If you find you just don’t care for an auctioneer’s style or methods, find another one. Believe me, there are plenty of them out there!

The primary thing to remember as you learn how to sell at auction is that the business is unpredictable at best. You will have good days, some not-so-good days, some great days. The more you sell, the more experience you will gain, and the more enjoyable the business will be.