Whether you are a benefit auctioneer that inspires your crowd or a commercial auctioneer moving inventory any auctioneer regardless of their specialty whether they are a Benefit Auction Specialist (BAS) or not will share with you the value, virtue and how utterly priceless a professional bidspotter aka “ringman” will bring to any event. Its a universal truth.
These dedicated men and women do so much more than you might think. Much like the term “Auctioneer” The term “bidspotter” is too small to encapsulate the expansiveness of the job. A ringman would more aptly be described as a “benefit auction assistant or “bidders assistant” in the context of benefit auctions.
Not only do these individuals perform a myriad of tasks during the actual live auction but with California Coast Auctions, the bidders assistants that I bring have been to so many events that they know how to put out fires before they start from the moment your doors open all the way through check out. They do so much more than just stand around waiting for the live auction to start. They are working with you and myself throughout the entire evening ensuring that we stay on schedule, keep guests happy, keep volunteers on task and ensure that the people we are working with are informed, where they need to be and know how to execute the job they have.
You are throwing a benefit auction and you have already made the right choice to hire a benefit auctioneer – preferably someone with a Benefit Auction Specialist (BAS) moniker; a title earned through the education offered by the National Auctioneers Association (NAA) and experience garnished in the field. I am proud to say that I am one of 19 Benefit Auction Specialists in the state of California. Naturally there are even fewer of us in the Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego County region.
If you do hire a Benefit Auction Specialist (BAS) you can rest assured that the value of a bid spotter / bidders assistant will certainly be discussed…as it should. A Benefit Auctioneer’s job is to provide you with the knowledge and tools to help you raise more money beyond the reach of a live auction and that is precisely what a professional bid spotter will do. Whether directly through the auction itself or indirectly through the tasks performed behind the scenes a professional bid spotter is there to help you raise more money.
Here are just a few of the tasks a professional bid spotter provides on the night of your event.
Throughout your silent auction/cocktail reception there is a flurry of activity. Registration is open and the line is backing up. The silent auction is open as guests meander through the items, the appetizers and drinks are being served, the ballroom is still being set up for dinner, volunteers are trying to sell entry into our various methods of revenue enhancement. The DJ or band is playing. Meanwhile you are trying to mingle and schmooze with your guests and big donors…after all that is your job on the night of the event! But you are busy putting out fires! Trying to find people places and things. With all of this activity anything can and WILL go wrong.
The silent auction is short on pens and the description of the item may not be descriptive enough for a particular guest. The tray passed appetizers are only in one specific area…lets send them over to the registration to make our guests happy from the moment they walk in. There were 14 people that showed up but weren’t on our guest list…we need to find the banquet manager to set up another table. The lighting is too dim, the DJ is playing a terrible song, the volunteers who were supposed to be selling entries have disappeared. The audio from your video is not playing on the house sound system. We need to get our audio guy in touch with the hotel’s A/V guy. You cant find Janice…where is Janice? She is probably on the other side of the reception and you don’t have time to fight your way through a crowd of hundreds of people to go get her. Can someone please find Janice?!?!!?!?! All of these problems can and will get solved by your team of a benefit auction specialist and a professional benefit auction assistant aka bidspotter. These people allow you and the auctioneer to be in two places at once. In fact I/we usually and instinctively spot the problem and solve it before you may notice it. As you know there is also a lot of things that need to occur when its time to usher our guests into their seats.
Lets fast forward to the live auction. This is where you professional bid spotter can really shine and makes a tangible difference in the presentation, execution and a return on their investment.
I have the privilege of working with some of the finest individuals who make their living as ringmen. I pride myself on working with kind, personable and professional men and women all of whom not only know how to assist the auctioneer and the crowd throughout the live auction but they are friendly, presentable and never ever make your crowd feel uncomfortable in the bidding process. There is no high pressure tactics or added stress. They assist me as much as they assist the bidder. In fact they are considered by many to be a bidders cheerleader…this is why they have earned the title of “bidders assistant.”
In addition to relaying information, finding necessary people and doing what the event needs at any given moment They provide information you need me to know during the auction regarding the needs of the event/sale. They can share sensitive information with me during the auction because they have the ability to retain a direct line of communication with the bidders and with you while I am on stage. Do you know how many times I have been told to stretch the program after the auction is over to provide more time for the next performance or so check out can solve a problem?
Our job is to protect and prepare you for what could happen. In this format of live theatrics anything can and often does happen. You want to remain in control of your event.
During the auction itself they are doing so much more than looking left while I am looking right. They know through their advanced ability of perception and experience to accepts bids from a pool of bidders most likely to bid higher than others based on bidding habits, attire, behavior etc. They can tell when someone is legitimately bidding, bidding with enthusiasm or bidding in a manner where they want to be unrecognized by their competition. They can arrange and negotiate for the sale of an item that may have not met a reserve by directly speaking with the 2-3 lead bidders off microphone thus ensuring that the item does sell.
They constantly confirm with the lead bidders of their position and the bid I am currently asking for. A novice, energized, slightly inebriated, and often distracted guest needs someone to hold their hand. Remember a lot of your guests have never even been to an auction before.
As an extension of the auctioneer they can ensure that an item that has the ability to sell more than once DOES sell more than once. The last thing we want to do is have our second place bidder drop out. If they drop out because of price they can negotiate off mic to meet the needs of the bidder meanwhile the auctioneer can retain momentum and not slow down the pace of the auction.
The last thing you want is an auctioneer to say , “Sold for $10,000 to bidder number…sir what is your bidder number? yes you sir at table 27…. Sir stop high fiving people we need your bid number please… sir we need to confirm the sale before we can move on.” That moment becomes real awkward real quick!
A Bid spotter is right next to that person to congratulate them, shake their hand and raise their bid number in the air for the auctioneer and confirm the sale. This is also very helpful for your clerks and runners…both your clerks and runners can turn to the bid spotter in their time of need to confirm a location a sales amount or a bid number.
“Bidders Remorse” is a real thing. It is very easy for a guests to get caught up in the emotion, the ego and competition of the auction. They often don’t realize what they have done until after I say “Sold.” It is of the utmost importance to confirm the sale with the use of a bidspotter before any second thoughts of regret set it. Their decision to bid and win NEEDS to be reaffirmed, admired and solidified as a great decision on behalf of your charity.
Now if for whatever reason a winning bidder decides to rescind their purchase (usually because they cant afford it or the people the went in the package with decided to back out) the bid spotter or auctioneer can find that second place bidder and offer it to them at their bid price off mic and without the crowd noticing.
My clients have said, “Zack Krone runs one of the most polished, funny and smooth auctions I have ever seen.” This certainly would not always be the case if it wasn’t for my professional bid spotters who are able to perform tasks that free me up to retain the smooth momentum of the auction.
The goal is to always keep the show moving. Without momentum and bidders confidence you can lose money. If they feel insecure about anything they wont bid. Bidding itself takes a degree of courage which is why bid numbers are so important…but that is a whole other psychological topic.
Breaking up of a tie bid is a such a pain! The audience doesn’t like it, the crowd doesn’t like it and it shatters trust and momentum. No disrespect to our dedicated and lovely volunteer bidspotters. But more often than not they can cause more harm than good. Its not their fault…they have never done the job before! Their ears are not trained or attuned to the chant of the auctioneer…even if the auctioneer is going at a nice even pace. They do not speak the auction language. They don’t know the terminology, they are often unfamiliar with the details of the items or the process of the auction. They are often too shy to be boisterous, loud or as energetic as a professional bid spotter. Therefore they do not garnish my attention to notify me of a bid or notify a bidder that their bid has been accepted. But what is worse is when they spot the bid and I accepted someone else’s bid. What can often occur due to volunteer bid spotter error is a “tie bid.” A tie bid occurs when two bidders both think they they are the first place bidder. When I accept a bid a volunteer bid spotter usually doesn’t know whom I have accepted a bid from so they signal to “their” bidder that they are in the lead when that is often not the case. Now you have managed to annoy that bidder because if they want the item they have to bid again and usually they don’t bid again because they are angry and feel like they are being price gouged. The fallout of this can extend beyond they night of the event too. That disgruntled bidder is not coming back to your event next year,they are not bringing their friends and they are no longer supporting your cause…all due to one miscommunication caused by a volunteer. It is an unrealistic expectation to assume that a volunteer can be on the same page as a professional. I am sure you have experienced it in your own way. Have you ever tried to train someone to do a job that you could do better and in less time by just doing it yourself?
Invest in the quality of your event After all the rate of bid spotter is just one bid and they have been documented to add an extra 10-20% gross profit to your live auction.