The bid call, an effective and efficient form of communication Auctioneers have with their bidders, is just as important today as it was centuries ago, says Paul C. Behr, CAI, BAS, of World Wide College of Auctioneering Inc., Mason City, Iowa.
The “signature” of the Auctioneer, as Behr calls it, gives people a critical first impression, even before they know about the Auctioneer’s history or reputation in the business. The melody and cadence of a chant is mesmerizing to some people — it makes them feel good.
“People’s eyes light up … the Auctioneer is Americana at its best,” says Behr, who adds that most people have favorable views of professional Auctioneers.
The chant, Behr says, is what attracts most students — probably 90 percent — to World Wide.
He says he advises his students not to complicate the bid call. An effective chant is one that places numbers into a smooth rhythm and excludes complicated or copious amounts of filler words.
“Sometimes Auctioneers, when they slow down, they sound faster,” Behr says.
The public often doesn’t realize how much work it takes for an Auctioneer to perfect his or her bid call, says Larry Meares, CAI, GPPA, of Southeastern School of Auctioneering, Pelzer, S.C.
Meares says bid calling is an art, and those who want to hone the craft and become great at it must practice regularly — more than once a week at auction. He recommends that Auctioneers, whether they’re beginners or veterans, record their chants and listen to them regularly, as if they were bidders in a crowd.
A successful bid caller must learn how to adjust his or her chant for auto, real estate, livestock and other specialties in the profession. The chant is more technical today than it was a few decades ago, as Auctioneers must focus more on bidder psychology, adjusting their techniques throughout an auction to make sure sellers get the best returns, Meares says.
Still, Meares says the bid call is probably not as important as knowing the business end of the auction profession.
Rich Haas, of Continental Auctioneers School, Mankato, Minn., agrees with Meares. Although all three auction school principals say younger students, in particular, are most attracted to the bid call, Haas says good sales skills and strong business acumen are most important to the success of an auction professional.
“There are some people that can’t say ‘one now two,’ and they’ve been very, very successful Auctioneers,” Haas says. He adds that a successful Auctioneer creates a high buyer-to-product ratio, attracting as many people as possible to each lot in a sale.
Auctions, though, are still highly social events, Haas says, and the bid call will always be an important part of the profession. The open outcry, he says, is a popular sales method for several auction specialties.