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  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

Bid calling matters

Most of the very successful and highly paid auctioneers in the country are paid for one thing: Bid calling.

High-level bid calling encompasses many disciplines in addition to a rhythmic, smooth, fast, mesmerizing chant; crowd control, humor, accuracy, timing, wit, legal compliance, ethics and political correctness are also important.

And those very good at it get paid very well.

This type of work is considered within the auction industry as “contract auctioneer” work — and casually referred to as “bringing in a hired gun,” traced from early references to mercenaries.

For centuries, contract auctioneers have been paid a premium due to their enhanced bid calling skills. Even with the onset of auctions requiring no bid calling at all, these hired guns are highly sought after, and compensated handsomely.

For instance, a highly regarded auctioneer might be paid travel, hotel, meals and incidentals in addition to an hourly bid calling wage of as much as $15,000 — if not more; total expenses can easily reach $20,000 per day.

What does a seller or other entity receive from an auctioneer for this type of compensation? They receive a bid caller who can maximize returns while minimizing liability and other costs.

“But we’re out of pocket $20,000 per day … so how is that minimizing costs?”

A top bid caller can increase bidding, enhance relationships and help secure future business, as well as save the client from potential lawsuits, threats, disgruntled bidders and buyers, and protect from damage to one’s reputation — the net typically far in excess of this $20,000 per day figure.

How does one become a highly paid bid caller?

Auction school is the essential first step, but it is only a first step. Once the basics of bid calling are mastered, it often takes years of practice to perfect a bid call that is considered worthy.

Further, these years of practice can’t only be in front of a mirror — the other important components (crowd control, humor, accuracy …) are rarely formed without actual bid calling with a live crowd, selling for extended periods.

Too, selling in a variety of scenarios, with different property, in different parts of the country or world, tend to form a more well-rounded overall bid call, which is even more desirable.

While most auctioneers earn a living engaging clients to sell their property at auction, and thus earning a commission, there is an increased awareness of the value of premium bid calling. As such, there are more and more contract auctioneers being hired to enhance these clients’ position.

Next time you bump into an auctioneer at an airport or in a out-of-town hotel, and you ask, “So, you make a living as a contract auctioneer?” Don’t be surprised if the answer is a resounding, “Yes!”

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. His Facebook page is: He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.

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