Conducting an auction for a company that is still in business always presents new opportunities and new challenges for our team. When we typically start the auction process, we are the only ones at the premise and have limited resources. Often times we have to figure out access (locks, alarms), utilities (lights, heat, air, water), and discover environmental issues we are otherwise unaware of. When the company is still in business this is not the case. These are a few important aspects of the auction process that change drastically when a company is still open and operating.
Entering a fully functional business means we reap the benefits of the employees working at the facility. Food, water, and access to bathrooms are luxuries that we typically aren’t accustomed to when entering a new premise. Also, we have a group of experienced employees working around us. This gives us the opportunity to inquire about the equipment and how to best present it so can maximize its value come auction day. There is typically a nice comradery with employees of the business were working with as well. They love asking questions about the nature of the auction business and find themselves as a part of the process as the day of the sale draws near. Working in more of a controlled environment also benefits our customers on the day of the auction. The action surrounding the auction as well as the knowledge that the equipment we’re selling is still being used gives the bidder a sense of confidence.
In a typical auction, we arrive having to ferret out any and all items we can make saleable and ready for an auction. When the business is still up and running, we are often provided with an inventory or equipment list. This puts us a few steps ahead as we’re able to more easily envision what the flow of the auction is going to be. There are rarely day of auction additions and we have a much more cohesive preparation process. That also leads our promotional efforts be to a much more targeted and refined. Once we access a premise we’re always on the countdown clock towards auction day and when we’re preparing items for sales in a business that’s open it lessens the amount of surprises we find with a business that has been shuttered.
Promotion in this case is always tricky. We have to be careful to give our customers the best idea about the items being offered while maintaining the integrity of our client who is still in business. We field many inquiries from prospective customers who are curious to see why this successful business is conducting an auction, if they are still in business, and how long they may still be in business. As a third party, contracted to auction off a portion of the contents of the business we often times do not have the answers to these questions. This bodes well for us as many of the people asking questions of this nature end up coming to the auction out of curiosity.
Working around the schedule of a fully functioning business puts us on a stricter work schedule. The company prepares employees and resources for our arrival so it’s important that we coordinate dates and times to prepare for the auction. This process is negotiated by executives of the business whom we are working for and gives us a great understanding of how involved he/she is in the everyday operations of the business. In the days leading up to and including the auction the process is much more efficient and precise to adhere to the scheduling needs of our client.
Removal is the process we have the least control over. We set up shop to collect money and work out post auction issues in places where employees of the business were working to has full access to our operation. Beyond that, successful bidders also must work within the everyday operations of the business. Parking, rigging, and removal of equipment is typically completed in an open environment with a multitude of successful bidders also removing their purchases. We have to be very organized to ensure these successful bidders do not disrupt the flow of the ongoing workday. Lastly, upon the conclusion of the auction process we work closely with building management to leave the premise in the same condition as we found it.
In summary, preparing for, conducting, and supervising the auction process in a functioning business has some unique challenges not appreciated by the seller, nor by the buyer. It takes a professional auction company with many years of experience to overcome some of the obstacles mentioned in this article to ensure that both the buyer and the seller have satisfactory auction experiences.