How does an auctioneer affect a sale? Well, it is in 1 of 2 ways. Either, positive or negative. No in between. It doesn’t mater if it is a livestock sale, craft auction, machinery sale or land sale. A good auctioneer knows where to find the bidders, who are the players, which items should be worth some jack and then they get the rest of the crowd involved. It is a true craft.
I’m not an auctioneer, but I study them and learn from them. The good ones aren’t in it just for the commission check. They truly are in it to see how good they can make a sale. Some are good at advertising & hype. Some are good at knowing a specific type of sale, while others are just fun & their cadence is easy on the ears. No matter which, a good auctioneer can make a good sale great or make a geat sale good. It takes knowledge, crowd sense, research and sometimes, just good old-fashioned skill.
Much like everything else, a good auctioneer finds his niche and then excels at it. In this part of NW OK, when you are having an equipment sale or land auction, then you hire Ira Smith from Mooreland. Reputable, great advertiser and solid on the mic. He knows his audience and the values of what he is selling. If you are selling grass land or older equipment, then he will make you money. Nobody sells used fencing, panels or cattle equipment like him. You can get outbid at one of his auctions and go buy a new panel cheaper. On the other hand, if you are selling, say a 2012 JD S670 combine, then he may not be the best option. Why? That item will sell better somewhere other than NW OK. It is a little out of his “comfort zone”. It has nothing to do with his ability. It has to do with his market. However, if you have a JD 4430 with a loader in good condition, he will get a record price for it. On the side note, he will donate time to sell a trophy auction, premium sale, etc.
I have a good friend that sits on the auction block at two different cattle sales. He knows the cattle, knows their value and makes them bring a good price. Hoss Manske is smooth on the mic and I have no problem selling cattle with him on the mic. Can he sell a goat? Yes. But not as good as some. My point, an auctioneer needs to know the product that they are selling.
If I had a large number of cattle or goats to sell at any one time, then I would want somebody like Steve Bonham. There is nobody that can get through a 100 head of clubbies–bovine or caprine– in less than an hour and still make you money. He is smooth and when he realizes that there is live action, he can shift gears from 50s to 100s to 1000s and never miss a beat. He makes you do your homework as to what your limit is beforehand. If you don’t, you’ll spend a little more. And there won’t be any extra talk or time to realize that “Holy Crap!! I have the bid.”. And when he is ready to drop the gavel, it’s all but done. Not some, stop and give a speech kind of deal to ride a $25 pony. His ringmen have to be used to his speed. He leaves no money on the table.
Another one that is WAY fun to listen to is Dale Cooper. He knows when to tell a story, when to move something through the ring and when to accelerate. He has the ability to make people want to bid on something that they hadn’t considered buying beforehand. I love it when one of my kids goes through a premium sale when he is selling. They always bring more than the average. He is expert at selling pigs and cattle. I will always remember Cooper selling one of Guy Pugh’s pigs at the Circle of Gold pig sale. The pig was sired by “Tiger Paws”. A quick reference to a tiger eating some guy in Vegas and the bidding was off & running. Those that were there, remember it well.
There are goat sales in texas that make me want to slam my head in a sliding glass door because I know ahead of time that it will be too slow paced and we will have numerous bidders locked up like two yard dogs and we will have to have a bid off between those two and those two only. They will spend 5 minutes before every auction laying out the ground rules for this lock up. Other times, you know that you are going to get “run”, so you kind of sit on your hands so as to protect yourself. I can’t imagine how high a Mike Kelly’s 2009 wether sale would have been if Bonham or Cooper would have been on the block.
It is also amazing how many auctioneers donate their time & skills for fund raisers. Auction a cake, an ag mechanics project, a painting or maybe some left-over meat at a trophy auction.
My point through all of this, a good auctioneer will know what he is selling and maximize the price that it brings. They will know which lots should be worth some jack and which ones just need a new home. They will watch how people bid and then sell to their price point.
You can have the fever of an auction with an online sale, but it just isn’t the same. An online auction can’t “run” you. You have to do that to yourself. A live auction gets the fever going that is hard to deny. “Bid one more time, I think the other guy is done. Thank you. Nope, I was wrong. I’m pretty sure he’s done this time.” You look to see who is bidding against you, “Well hell. I pissed away more than that on gas to get here. I’ll do it one more time.” All of this on a goat that should have brought $250 and now you have the bid at $350.
Adrenaline rushing, heart pounding, hand waving and “Oh Hell, how do I hide this from the old lady?” all happens at a live auction with a good auctioneer. Some “will wholesale the bob tail cow because you can’t re-tail her”.