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  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

What? “Our best auction was the one we never did?”

I’ve attended auctioneer-related classes for over 30 years.

These classes have been held at auctioneer state conventions, national conventions, auction schools and many other venues.

Speakers have included bid-calling champions, state and national office holders and board members, attorneys, comedians, motivational speakers, media representatives and a variety of others.

I think in this 30-year period, I’ve heard a particular phrase maybe a dozen or more times, which is the subject of our writing today.

This phrase is usually couched in a story about avoiding liability, claims of malpractice, and disgruntled clients and customers.

The speaker (an auctioneer most likely) will say, “Well, one of our best auctions ever was one we never did …”

Your best auction was not an auction?

Of course, it’s clear the speaker is trying to say that he or she avoided significant cost and heartache by avoiding an auction where the seller (or auction) was likely going to be problematic.

But how problematic in terms of cost and heartache must this avoided-auction be to be the best auction he or she ever did? Or, even one of the best?

I would guess most auctioneers have had an auction where the gross commissions totaled over $10,000. Many have had events with commissions far in excess of that. So, this avoided-auction would have cost over $10,000?

In other words, compensatory damages, consequential damages, liquidated damages, attorney costs, fines and and pain/suffering would have totaled over $10,000?

I’m not convinced.

I’m privy to auctioneers who even have had litigation resulting in over $100,000 in costs and fees. Yet, those same auctioneers have had numerous auctions with commissions far in excess of $100,000.

Maybe the phrase, “You don’t know what you don’t know” comes into play here? That storm that narrowly missed your barn would have destroyed it if it had been west by 25 feet? Maybe … or maybe not.

Certainly there is risk in being an auctioneer — disgruntled clients, non-paying buyers and a generally litigious-minded society. However, if avoiding business is more profitable than performing it, maybe there are better occupations to consider?

Prudent business practices are just that. But, with reward comes risk — and some risk is indeed prudent. Said another way: Businesses make far more money in business, contrasted with avoiding it.

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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