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  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

What? Your vendor raised prices?

Auctioneers can’t ever seem to believe it … a vendor raised prices. It could be software, a platform’s sell-through, training, membership, auction calendar … indeed prices generally go up all the time — it’s called inflation.

I was sitting with a client in her home when she remarked, “I purchased this home for $75,000.” The current value you ask? About $300,000. It would seem as an auctioneer, I should be shocked the price of her real property had increased 4-fold over 36 years.

Of course, not all prices consistently go up. Some products and services actually go down in price with increased efficiency and competition. Do you remember what that flat-screen television cost 10 years ago? Probably costs a bunch less today, for example.

Auctioneers typically seem to attribute any price increase to them with greedy venture capital entities and/or companies looking out only for their shareholders. Indeed that’s how it works … charge all you can while maximizing profit.

However, auctioneers have raised their prices too. Auctioneers have increased buyer’s premiums, seller commissions (in some cases,) fixed expenses, per-hour labor, marketing budgets … come to think of it, our company has done all that, including raising our expert witness hourly rates and retainer requirements.

Ultimately, it’s about supply and demand. When there is more demand than supply, prices go up. Conversely, when there is more supply than demand, prices generally fall. Why do all auctioneers seem to understand supply and demand economics, except when they are the buyer/vendee?

However, there have been instances where vendors have said essentially, “We’re always going to be free” or similarly, “Our prices will never go up.” Of course, those were lies and it’s certainly understandable auctioneers continue to be upset with this type of thing.

In fact, vendor-lies seem to be the most egregious violations of auctioneers’ trust. “We’re working on that feature,” “We will update that soon …,” “Our next version will address that,” “We were just doing some routine (scheduled) maintenance …,” “We’ll never compete against you.” I’m convinced lies will continue and auctioneers should remain skeptical.

Which brings us to another point … auctioneers should no longer believe prices will not go up, nor that they will not be lied to. If the subject issue is not written in the contract, then considering it all “sales talk” may be the best (only?) strategy; even if it is in the contract, there’s really no guarantees in this regard.

Finally, just because our vendors lie doesn’t give us as auctioneers permission to do the same. The more we as vendors are honest with our bidders, buyers and sellers the more business we will receive. Remember how upset you were when you were lied to? It’s really no different for the public interacting with you as an auctioneer.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services, and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, and an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.

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