Auctioneering is a team sport. Modern auction companies conducting 21st-century business employ people in auction jobs that require a wide variety of skills to be successful.
In addition to specialized positions, auction companies require many of the same type of individuals as any other company. Many people think an auction is just bid calling – the rhythmic sound that many North American auctioneers make when selling. But, the bid calling is just a small part of an auction operation, especially in the advent of online auctions. The auctioneer remains an important role within a company; however, many traditional responsibilities evolved over time from part-time tasks to full-time positions within an auction firm. For many, auctioneering is a full-time job, and when they are not selling they might be doing some of the jobs below.
Here are seven auction profession jobs that don’t involve calling a bid, but are no less critical to an auction’s success.
Auction manager or coordinator
Once a seller and auctioneer sign an auction contract, the auction firm often engages an auction manager. This person takes over to help coordinate everything from marketing to load out. The auction manager works with set up labor, marketing managers, and other auction professionals to be on time and on budget. Auction managers are resourceful and task-oriented individuals accustomed to working under pressure. They must pay close attention to details and timelines. It is not uncommon for auctioneers to also serve as auction managers on their own projects and those of other auctioneers in their organizations.
The auction clerk records the sales price, lot quantity, and successful bidder’s number or name correctly. Auction clerks may also record the description of the items or lots if not done beforehand by an auction cataloger. Traditionally, this job involved pen and paper; however, increasingly auction clerking uses a desktop computer or laptop. The auction clerk might also be responsible for managing the software that runs a simulcast or virtual live auction. Online bidding/clerking software mimics the traditional pen and paper but requires a clerk to input real-time bidding activity. This also allows for communication between online bidders and the auctioneer. The ability to stay focused and pay attention to details is a requirement for this team position.
Auction cataloger or report writer
Preparing a lot or item description and taking representative photographs is the primary task of the auction catalog. In some asset classes, this person is a conduction report writer or inspector. Depending on the position this person writes the condition report or relative quality of a lot. An individual in this position often becomes an expert in the asset classes in which they work. With the growth of online-only auctions and online bidding at live auctions, this position is one of the fastest-growing opportunities in auctions. It often requires familiarity with a computer or mobile software and willingness to learn detailed information about assets.
Show me the money! The auction cashier accepts payment for lots won at an auction and keeps track of all funds collected. At live auctions, the auction cashier also typically registers or records bidder information and issues bidder numbers or bid cards. The cashier might also help handle and distribute important paperwork related to purchases at the conclusion of the auction. This is a frontline customer service position and often helps to answer questions and assist the rest of the auction team.
The ringperson or ringman, sometimes called fundraising ambassador, bidder assistant or bid spotter is an extension of the auctioneer at a live event. Originally, the term ringman referred to the person working the sale ring, a circular or oval area at a livestock auction, but the position has grown over time. Regardless of the setting, a ringman works with bidders to answer questions about the bidding process, field questions about the lot being sold, and relay bids to an auctioneer.
A bid spotter typically just relays bidders and does not have the same level of interaction with bidders. Ring people might be on the phone, standing with a bidder or relaying bids from bidders spread out over a large area. A successful ringman or ringperson is outgoing, quick on their feet, and understands the auctioneer and the auction process. For this reason, ring people often are auctioneers as well. At a well-conducted live auction the auctioneer and ringmen will work seamlessly to facilitate bidding and rapidly sell assets.
At large live auctions of automobiles, real estate, horses or livestock, a seller ambassador will interact with the seller(s). This individual has an intimate knowledge of the auction process and helps inform and guide sellers through the auction process. In a reserve auction, the ambassador will relay to the auctioneer if bidding is near to the seller’s reserve price. Seller ambassadors are a customer service position focused on communication and hospitality.
Auction closing agent
When an auction is over, especially a real estate auction, there are still very important tasks to complete. An auction closing agent will help guide the auction transaction from auction day to the closing table. They work with the high bidder(s) and other real estate agents to ensure required forms are completed accurately and timely. An auction closing agent coordinates with surveyors, title companies, insurance agents and previous tenets to ensure closing is on time and per the contract signed on auction day.
As auction profession growth continues, auction firms and businesses will need to fill jobs with individuals from all backgrounds. In addition to the above-mentioned auction-specific jobs, auction companies also need information technology, accounting, human resources and marketing personnel. There is a place for everyone in the auction profession and multiple paths to success in the auction industry.