Furthermore, prior to the development of department stores, rural families had their own methods for dispensing and acquiring needed items and machinery. For small or individual items, a barter or trade might be made to exchange a needed tool or other possession. When many different items were being sold, however, the family would hold an auction. An auctioneer would assist the family in dispensing of their property for the purpose of acquiring needed cash, or if the family was moving and could not bring with them all of their possessions. As time wears on, auctions have become popular ways to buy farm equipment, artwork, livestock, or personal property from estates. An auction dispenses of many varied items in a fairly quick manner by selling one item and moving through the list of goods from start to finish. Auctions have also become a popular way to raise money for charity or other fundraising events. They are fun as well as functional and have grown in occurrence in rural areas as well as in cities.
There are two main facets of an auctioneer’s work: the selling itself and the preliminary preparation and evaluation. It is the latter aspect that takes more time and skill and is less familiar to people. Prior to the auction itself, the auctioneer will meet with the sellers and determine the objects to be sold. An auctioneer will make a note of the lowest bid, called the “reserved bid” that the sellers will accept for each item. If there are legal aspects to be discussed, an auctioneer will confer with the sellers. Appraisal of the goods may take the most time. The auctioneer determines the value of each and compares it to the reserve bid established by the sellers. The auctioneer may make notes as to where they will begin bidding and may set prices they anticipate receiving for certain special items. The auctioneer will also make notes on the type of item being sold, its history, or any unique qualities the item might have. This information can encourage higher bids and interest more for buyers.
Once the evaluation has taken place, an auctioneer must organize the items out in the lot or area where the auction is held. Sometimes, the auctioneer might put out a booklet or guide listing and describing the items for sale for that particular auction. It may also list the sequence that the items might be sold in so that buyers will know when the times they are most interested in will be up for sale. In addition to the booklet, auctioneers organize any advertising to promote the sale. Newspaper and magazine ads, flyers, signs, and pictures can reach people from many different areas and bring in a good crowd. Some rural areas have auctions as special attractions for tourists around summer holidays, such as the Fourth of July and Labor Day or to commemorate town events and local celebrations.
Likewise, in his estimating careers, usually, the auctioneer will organize and set up the auction far enough in advance for people to peruse the area and gain an idea of what the auction might be specializing in. Antique furniture and clothing, farm equipment, and artwork are some of the things sold by auctions. Other auctions concentrate on large machinery or cars, as well as livestock, stamps, coins, and books.
The auctioneer services the buyer as well as the seller. As part of his estimator job an auctioneer should be familiar enough with the potential value of the items to encourage prices or begin bids at a certain price. The encouragement and stimulation an auctioneer provides, however, is offset by the excitement and competition among the buyers. Auctioneers must be quick-thinking and comfortable addressing crowds, not only offering them information about the items for sale, but acting at times as an entertainer. It is common for auctioneers to enlist the help of assistants who bring the items to the auctioneer and keep a steady flow of goods being passed on. In addition, another assistant may be in charge of collecting money, issuing receipts, and keeping track of whom each item was sold to. Most auctions run according to a similar plan: the items for sale are made available to the buyers in a catalog or by being put on display.
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