Tips and trends for staging a government auction in 2011
Governments are raising revenue in 2011 through auctions, including police impound, state surplus property, GSA Auctions or sheriff’s sales. 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: On your firm’s website, you prominently mention the Denver Auto Impound auction that Schur Success Auction & Appraisal manages. Is it important for government agencies to find an auctioneer who has a robust web site where they can publicize upcoming events?
Rich Schur: Absolutely. The marketing of the auction is the key. A used power drill is a used power drill — its value is not as it sits. Its value is how many people want to bid on it.
Govpro: So, local and state governments need a publicity machine to alert prospective bidders to an upcoming auction?
RS: Exactly. Every municipality is going to do things a little bit differently, as will every auctioneer, but the combination of the two (government entity and auctioneer) is what makes the event successful. We’ve been fortunate to have the contract with the city of Denver for more than 20 years now. Together, our marketing is phenomenal. We get every penny out of everything we sell and don’t leave anything on the table.
Govpro: How many attendees do you get at a typical Denver auction?
RS: It depends on the nature of the auction. But when we do the warehouse sales that are posted on the site, those sales will get anywhere from 150 to 300 attendees, depending on the weather and other factors, and that’s a sizable crowd for that type of event. Those sales have police evidence, city surplus, and lost and found items from the airport.
Govpro: Do you have an online component where people can bid online, or do bidders have to be at the auction or sale in person?
RS: We do both. We sell some of the merchandise online exclusively. For a municipal auction that we posted on our site recently, we had 30 items like cameras, electronics, and other higher dollar items. For some of the other merchandise, its value doesn’t warrant posting it online, so we offered that merchandise live. We’ve worked out a deal with the city that we’ll sell merchandise in the manner that will bring the most revenue for that merchandise.
Govpro: So, how do you see 2011 shaping up?
RS: 2011 is going to be a mixed bag, and my prediction will be less equipment going to auction. A weaker economy means lower tax revenues, which in turn means restricted budgets. Most government agencies have limited if not completely eliminated buying new equipment, which means they have to rely on their current inventories to last longer and do more work.
Not buying new equipment means not selling old equipment. As fleet directors are being asked to do more without buying, they really have to keep their fleets. I predict that we’ll continue to see sales, but likely less quantity, and likely older equipment with higher use.
A change in the economy for the better will also help agencies improve their budget positions, but that takes time for the cycle of the economy to catch up to the budget process.
Schur covered the basics of “How to stage a government auction” in a previous post.
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