but I do have a good excuse! (actually more than one)
Been awhile since I updated this blog, but it really has been a busy month!
Working on two auctions for October, and then combined with other personal and business obligations, plus house maintenance etc…well you get the point…like most of us, life can get a little busy!
So I thought maybe this would be a good time to explain exactly what I do in putting an auction together. After all, there are some who think I only work two or three days a month…how hectic could that be?
Before you run out and buy an auctioneer’s gavel and sound system (ok…no one I know uses a gavel, but to make the point), here’s what to consider.
Most of my auctions involve 20-30 consignors. In most cases I make an appointment and then go to the home to see what they have. If the pieces are appropriate, we do the paperwork, and then prepare to send them to auction. If it is furniture, I try and take the photos at the house, although that is not always possible. If I can’t do the photos at the house, then of course the pieces are transported to my storage, I set up the back drops, and do the photos there.
Most small items are packed and I do the photos back in my studio.
The whole photo/website thing is something that didn’t even exist when I got into the business 17 years ago, but now it is an integral part of the business.
I spend a lot of time on the photos, and I must admit I am pretty fussy. I take several shots of each item, select the best, edit them, put them on a background, add text and logo, and then upload them to the websites. Some would argue it is not necessary to go to the time and effort on the photos that I go to, but I get a lot of good response on the photos and website, and I really am not going to change now.
On average, I probably spend over 40 hours a month just working on photos. Fortunately it is also something I enjoy doing, so I spend most evenings working on them. Each auction averages about 150-250 photos.
I get a lot of calls for furniture, and we are pretty well known as a “furniture” auction. Most times there is someone at the house to help me load, but if not, I have to hire someone and we go off and make the pickup.
Each piece is handled at least four times. Pickup at the house, unload at the storage, load again to take to auction, and unload at the hall. This is why I don’t take pianos, and now am seriously going to have to reconsider some of the very large pieces. And chairs. So many people call with chairs!
So each month I am going through this process with 20-30 consignors. Some email photos of the items and drop them off at the hall, but most consignors need the items picked up, and of course I take care of the rest.
There are days when I may do three or four house calls or pickups, and most of the activity is during the two weeks following an auction. I have to get as much together as quickly as possible to meet advertising deadlines for the upcoming auction.
Then of course there are advertising deadlines to meet, and ads to prepare. I don’t do as much newspaper advertising as I used to, but I am constantly working on the on-line advertising. Ads for the websites, daily updates on facebook….speaking of facebook, there is something else that didn’t exist a few years ago, and now is an increasingly important part of the business.
Two days before the auction, I start loading the trucks. Setup day is usually a 10-12 hour day, and then I try and rush home and post more photos on the website the night before the auction.
Auction day is pretty well self explanatory. After the sale we spend about two hours packing up and cleaning the hall, and if it is a daytime sale, it is off to Swiss Chalet for a late dinner!
However, for me the auction is not over yet. There is the paperwork. I send the cheques out within 7 days of the auction, and doing the paperwork for 20-30 consignors, plus getting the banking ready and done, can take almost another two days. It is the only part of this business I don’t really like…but people have to get paid!
The day after the auction I also go through the auction paperwork to make sure there have not been any mistakes. I also track where the buyers came from, how many people attended, how many lots we sold, figure out the average price per lot, etc. I must admit I am a bit of a geek when it comes to auction statistics, but I have done that for every sale I have ever had. It actually now is a pretty valuable reference tool for me…I have stats on almost everything connected to the auction!
Also after each auction I create youtube slide presentations. One video is photos of the auction after it has all been setup, and another is of selected price results from the auction. I don’t know of any other auctioneers who do this, but it is something I enjoy, and the videos get a combined yearly viewing audience of over 5,000 people. Not huge numbers, but it is something I enjoy doing, and now I have a pretty good on-line video archives from the last few years. It is nice to go back a couple of years and see what the auctions looked like!
While I am doing all this, I am also planning and making appointments for the next auction. I must admit that I am pretty lucky because the phone rings on a steady basis and there always seems to be good stuff coming my way.
So there is a little insight into what it takes for me to put on a monthly antique consignment auction. I love doing it, and it is the only business I want to be in. However, like most small businesses, it takes a lot of work and devotion, and it helps if you love what you are doing. It also takes a little luck. So I will leave you with this one quote I read many years ago, and I have always considered it to be so true. “The harder I work…the luckier I get”