Tag Archives: how to become auctioneer

Ringman profession might be good place for younger generations to get their start

Excitement and energy at an auction not only comes from an Auctioneer’s fast-paced bid calling and management of a crowd, but also from the rapid movement, subtle communications and bidder encouragement that comes from professional ringmen.

Professional ringmen help bring in more money at auction, say National Auctioneers Association members.

“Having professional ringmen in a benefit auction will pay for themselves tenfold,” says Jeff Maynard, BAS, President and Chief Executive of Maynard & Associates, Tempe, Ariz.

Angie Meier, of Champion Auctioneers Inc., Ennis, Texas, agrees a professional ringman can significantly increase auction sales.

Auctioneer and RingmanPro skills

Being a professional ringman, or bidder assistant, requires skills that are crafted through years of experience with auctions, NAA members say.

“Ringmen need to understand exactly where the bid is, where the bid needs to go, what the audience is, who has the money in the room and be able to know an individual bidder — whether they will be bidding again or not,” says Letitia Frye, CAI, BAS, PRI, of Letitia Fry Auctions, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Basic skills that set the most talented ringmen apart from the rest are “posture, professionalism and a clear diction of voice,” she says.

At auction, ringmen might use different terms to confirm bids. Every Auctioneer/ringman team has its own style, molded by the individuals’ personalities.

“I have found that the word ‘yes’ is much more powerful for benefit auctions than the different ‘yep’ or ‘yea’ chants,” says Kathy Kingston, CAI, BAS, of Kingston Auction Co., Hampton, N.H.

Evolving profession

The role of the professional ringman at auctions has been gradually changing.

Not only must a ringman use skills acquired through auction experience, he or she must learn a set of skills necessary to read people through body language, members say.

“The ringmen help develop that synergy and together we can really bring that room to life,” Maynard says, referring to the relationship he has with ringmen while working as an Auctioneer.

Learning about a person based on his or her facial expression can be challenging.

“There is a lot more of a psychology and a strategy involved,” Frye says.

Teamwork

Frye says most movements by a ringman have meaning known only by the Auctioneer and other bidder assistants. These actions can be as subtle as adjusting a necktie or brushing hair.

“Ringmen are watching the movement in the room and giving a vocal or a visual response to the Auctioneer,” Frye says. “There is a constant communication. The Auctioneer is never alone in the room.”

Ringmen and Auctioneers work together to control the room, she says.

“Your team must really understand you. It is like having a great dance partner. When I move left, they move right,” Frye says.

Ringmen have different ways of communicating with Auctioneers. Each Auctioneer and ringman crafts his or her own form of communication with one another, Meier says.

“When you work with an Auctioneer so much, you can have a conversation with them through their chant,” says Meier, an instructor for the Texas Auction Academy.

Ringmen might have personal influence on bidders. They can touch bidders on their shoulders and encourage them to bid again.

Maynard adds, though, that the winning bidder is not the only person of importance. Those who they bid against are just as important, as they are the ones who often drive prices higher.

A handshake and a smile when the bidding ends shows losing bidders they are appreciated, Maynard says.

The ringman plays an important role in benefit auctions, he says. The personal contact is important because benefit auction bidders might be less familiar with auctions than bidders who attend other asset-specific sales.

“They infuse some excitement into the event. Ringmen are extremely beneficial to the Auctioneer, the nonprofit and the audience,” Maynard says.

There might be a good opportunity for younger generations to get into the auction industry and learn its inner workings through being ringmen.

The profession provides Auctioneers a chance to mentor younger generations in order to allow them to have an opportunity to make a good living in an industry they should be proud of, Frye says.

“It is a very honorable profession and an aspect that often goes overlooked. What ringmen truly do add to the bottom line is unbelievable,” Frye says.

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How to finance an auction startup

Starting a new auction business can be hard but rewarding work, filled with countless hiccups and obstacles along the way.

But even the best business idea cannot succeed without a solid financing plan. Options abound for financing a startup, from traditional routes such as personal assets and bank loans to newer methods like microloans and crowd sourcing.

The following summarizes some of the most common options for financing your small business.

Personal assets

Using personal assets is the most common way people finance startups, says Dorothy Browning, Director of the Kansas Women’s Business Center, which helps women develop and execute business plans.

That can include home equity loans, personal savings or even credit cards. Each has advantages and drawbacks.

Home equity loans are based in the equity potential borrowers have in their home. They come with low interest rates and flexibility, which makes them an attractive option.

“The risk is you are putting your home on the line,” Browning says. “If things go south, you could lose your home.”

Some turn to personal savings or 401K plans, which experts say is a sound option if those accounts are healthy. But they warn people should not drain their entire accounts.

Credit cards also are a popular option, but business experts urge borrowers to practice extreme caution. Roughly 44 percent of small businesses surveyed by the U.S. Small Business Administration say they used credit cards to finance their ventures.

“Credit cards are so easy. It’s like an invisible line of credit,” Browning says. “Some people can rack up a lot more debt than they plan to. But frankly, for a lot of people, it’s their only option to start a small business.”

Friends and family

Next to personal assets, loans from friends and family are the most common method for funding a startup. These loans tend to be informal with no business plan, but Browning still recommends drawing up a contract.

“If you think you can show up and face everyone on Thanksgiving, friend and family loans are great,” she says. “Just make sure everyone is aware that most businesses do not turn profits for the first year or two.”

The bank

Traditional bank loans are a long shot for most startups, says Whitney Peake, an Assistant Professor of Business Management at the University of North Texas in Denton. Banks typically require collateral for loans, she says, pushing them out of reach for most new business owners.

“Startups are too risky for the majority of banks,” Peake says.

The Small Business Administration does offer banks and private institutions some loan guarantees, which means the agency will cover defaults in case of business failure.

Micro loans

New businesses can try to secure a micro loan, which is run by the Small Business Administration.

Under this program, the SBA works with intermediaries, or nonprofit lenders around the country. The intermediaries receive money from the SBA. They use it to make small loans, no larger than $50,000, to businesses in their geographic area.

The average loan size is $13,000, according to the SBA, and interest rates vary between eight and 13 percent.

Crowd funding

Crowd funding, or social lending, is one of the newest and most creative ways to fund a startup, and business experts say the practice could help redefine small business financing.

Websites like http://www.kickstarter.com, http://www.prosper.com and http://www.lendingclub.com allow entrepreneurs to list loan requests and details about their business plan. Investors can lend as little as $25.

Projects posted on Kickstarter range from a musician’s first full-length album to technology inventions. One recent client received $15,000 from lenders for her high-end cookie baking company, Browning says, and she sent investors samples of her product.

“This is the newest innovation and a great, low-risk way for entrepreneurs to secure funding,” Browning says.

The mix

Funding a small business can be challenging, so many people take a “layered” approach, which means money is brought in from several sources, Peake says.

“Perhaps a small business owner needing $100,000 would use $50,000 in personal savings, $20,000 in loans from a local lender and $30,000 from family and friends.”

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