After working for 28 years in the auctioneering business, director of RE/MAX Auction Services Dene Tucker is one of the industry’s most experienced. Here are his thoughts on what it takes to be a great auctioneer. Is it something one is born with, and what exactly is “it”?
Mr Tucker says that “it”, that elusive X factor that separates the best from the good, is difficult to define.
“It can be many different things,” the director says.
“Just as no two auctions are the same, no two auctioneers are the same. However, I’ve observed that there are certain characteristics that make for a great auctioneer.”
He says that “first and foremost” it’s about being able to put down your ego and not take yourself too seriously.
“The way in which you speak to others and connect with people is also important,” Mr Tucker adds.
“Having personality is a given, but the fast-paced nature of auctions requires an ability to think on your feet and be quick-witted.”
He also says that there needs to be a balance in order to be successful.
“That balance is having a hunger for the deal and a genuine advocacy for the seller.”
Mr Tucker says that auctioneering requires two main skills: theatre and negotiation.
“These are both learnt skills and a strong auctioneer must have the ability to ensure they complement each other.
“Experience takes time, but understanding the process of an auction and learning from mentors and others’ experiences is incredibly valuable.”
But he says that it is a common misconception with auctions that it is all for show.
“Granted, it is theatre with the auctioneer taking centre stage, but there’s nothing smoke and mirrors about it. Quite the opposite, actually, and it is the auctioneer’s responsibility to ensure transparency throughout the whole process. There’s no time to sit on the fence with an auction, so the auctioneer needs to be clear in their direction while engaging and interacting directly with buyers.
“For some, being able to read an audience comes naturally. In fact, there is a skill behind it and it is a highly valuable skill to possess. Understanding and being conscious of body language and eye movement will help in understanding when to push and when to back off. Being able to connect with the buyers is important.”
Mr Tucker adds that the best auctioneers don’t just turn up the day of the auction.
“Communication with the marketing agent and vendor throughout the property’s marketing campaign is paramount.
“Establishing this relationship from the beginning, and being available throughout the campaign, including having a presence at the reserve/strategy meeting and through to the auction itself, is important. On the day of auction, being approachable and mingling with buyers to get to know their motivations prior to auction start will prove valuable.”
On the day, says Mr Tucker, it’s important that an auctioneer gets to the buyers’ level fast.
He says that this comes from understanding their motivation to buy, and results in confidence for both buyer and seller at auction.
“Maintaining these relationships is incredibly important,” Mr Tucker notes.
“From a seller’s perspective, having communication throughout the auction process, in particular throughout the auction call, is vital.”
Mr Tucker says that there is “no doubt” that personality plays a part in auctioneering.
“But in saying that, there is no one type of personality that best suits the profession of auctioneer,” the director adds.
“For some, when calling an auction, a certain persona comes out — almost an ‘alter ego’ in some cases. People are drawn to charismatic people. Whether that comes naturally to them or is part of their stage persona, having a strong stage presence and delivering with confidence will undoubtedly lead to a stronger engagement with the crowd/buyers.”
Do you want to be an auctioneer? Here are three pieces of advice from Mr Tucker.
1. Make sure you experience the auction process first-hand. List and sell a number of properties though auction, and, if possible, have your own home sold at auction.
2. Listen to other people’s experiences and attend as many auctions as possible to get a feel for them.
3. Completely understand and trust the auction process.
And, of course, have that passion. There are great auctioneers. Make sure you learn from the best.