The most common public perception of an auctioneer is that of a man or woman, holding a gavel, spitting out a torrent of words and yelling “Sold!” as one lot after another crosses the auction block.
The chant, that often-indecipherable string of words, is a crucial, but minor aspect of an auctioneer’s job. From the moment they’ve been contracted, an auctioneer fills several roles: office manager, public relations manager, accountant, traffic coordinator and janitor to name a few.
The single most important role an auctioneer takes on is that of marketing expert. Auctioneers are adept at marketing a client’s property through the appropriate media and reach a specific audience. In large part, their livelihood depends upon being able to attract those individuals most interested, and therefore, most willing to buy a particular item. The ability to market auctions and merchandise effectively comes from an intimate knowledge of the specific types of merchandise, its value, the demand for such merchandise, and the targeted market.
Beyond being able to juggle a number of duties, the prospective auctioneer needs to be personable and work well with a variety of people. During the course of organizing a sale, the auctioneer consults with the seller, field questions from potential buyers and, on occasion, mediates disputes.
The majority of auction companies are independent ventures, although there are some larger regional and national auction houses. Building and maintaining an auction business can be time-consuming endeavor, with dozens of hours of preparation for every hour of the actual sale. Auctioneers often call on family members to help handle sale logistics and staff auctions.
In addition to long hours, an auctioneer’s annual income depends upon the effort and time devoted to the business. There are auctioneers who have become wealthy after establishing their business. But, often, beginning auctioneers get their start working as a part-time auctioneer and holding down another job. Like any business venture, the return in income is largely dependent upon the amount of time and effort spent making a go of the business.
Courtesy of the National Auctioneers Association