How to stage a government auction
Auctions — police impound, state surplus property, GSA auctions or sheriff’s sales — are one way governments are raising needed revenue in 2011. Govpro.com got some pointers on staging government auctions from Rich Schur of Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Schur Success Auction & Appraisal. Schur is chief operations officer, appraiser and auctioneer for the firm.
Govpro: Do you have any advice for public purchasing officials and other government administrators who might be thinking of staging an auction?
Rich Schur: My first piece of advice is: Don’t do it on your own. There are many good professional auctioneers out there that know the system, that know how to bring a crowd to the sale, whether it’s in person or online. A professional auctioneer is going to know the ins ands outs of getting every penny that they can for auctioned items, through efficient and effective merchandising. No matter what firm a government decides to use, they need to shop around and do some comparisons. A good respectable auctioneer will give you a bid and a quote and will try to be fair about it.
Govpro: So, government officials contemplating hiring an auctioneer should look into an auctioneer’s revenue-generating abilities? How much revenue his/her previous auctions produced? Should they check a prospective auctioneer’s references?
RS: Absolutely check for references, and make sure they are members of a trade/professional organization like the National Auctioneers Association. Most states have a state auctioneer association. Most states, but not all, require that an auctioneer have a license, and even some municipalities require a license. For example, here in Colorado, the state does not require a license, but the city of Denver does.
As long as the city picks the right auctioneer, they are going to be successful. They need to shop around; they need to shop for experience, they need to shop for professionalism, they need to shop for reputation. They need to shop for price too, but just because the city gets the lowest bid, doesn’t mean it is going to get the best deal.
Editor’s note: Go here for links to state auctioneer associations.
Govpro: It sounds like a city or county has to go beyond placing a legal notice announcing an auction to draw a good-sized crowd.
RS: Governments have to run the legal notice to satisfy the lawyers. If cities/counties want to have well-attended auctions, they need a marketing machine to do it, and truly that’s what an auctioneer is. An auctioneer is a professional who works to bring folks to a sale. The calling of the bids and the chant is the icing on the cake. It’s getting people there to hear it; that is what counts.
Schur expands on his views in “Tips and trends for staging a government auction in 2011,” a follow-up Govpro post.
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