Auctioneers ticks are getting on my nerves (again) this morning. Every time someone buys something at the lower end or over the top of the estimate the boy in charge of the gavel says “well bought”. To which my inner voice simply replies “bad estimate”. Anyway. Long sigh.
Things have changed during lockdown. And I doubt things will be as they were for a long time. Then this morning a friend emailed me with an example of an auctioneer who has photographed several pieces really well. By which I mean in a way that imparts the information a customer needs. I commented that they have bucked up their ideas. And then thought, they have, but have the others?
Only yesterday I was considering a large piece at auction and I scoured the 'Important Information', the 'Auction Details' and I even pored over their website, and while I could find how to bid, how to sell with them, their charges (of course), whether they post things, their list of preferred couriers, how to tie my shoelaces, and probably how to wipe my nose, I could not find out whether collection was available. So I rang them. Of course it is sir, we've got a system of appointments. Well, why not put it on your website?
I searched a few more to see how easy it is to find out how to get things. Some auction houses are not making any effort at all. They use outside suppliers like Mailboxes. No thanks, not for me. Move on.
In contrast some are doing their own packing and sending: these interest me. I've used a couple since lockdown began and have been very happy with the both service and the realistic costs involved. But do you think I can find out what happens with larger, non-postal items? Well yes, as it happens. One says we'll hang onto them until regulations ease. What, the goods AND my money. I don't think so.
I looked around the internet (Saleroom) for quite a while. And do you know, of those I looked at I found only one auction house that makes it clear if and how they are arranging collection. Its exactly the same system as the 'one I'm listening to now' use but haven't bothered to tell you. How are you're supposed to know? Osmosis I suppose. How hard is it to put yourself in the customer's shoes and provide the info they will need in an obvious place? The one I found has put it instead of their address on the Saleroom: genius. Answers all the questions in 4 lines. But the rest, of those I reviewed (which is several, but not all) with very few exceptions, need to up their game. A lot.
There's a massive amount about all the things they are not doing 'currently', and plenty of things that they are doing but that are not relevant to a customer (virtue signalling), but precious little about things that are actually what a customer needs to know. Back in the day, long before viruses, the bankers crash, and when Adam was still a lad, I did a marketing degree. Let me tell you, if I can do it, it is not rocket science. But boy, some people make it seem hard. Just …
… I tell you what, just ask me. A new career beckons: stating the bleeding obvious, and charging an arm and a leg for it. Send your applications for help to email@example.com. I have a list. You can buy it.
The auction has been burbling away in the background: he's started saying 'well-bought' to people buying within and/or over (the bad) estimate now. It was already incredibly annoying.
Footnote: I wish I was doing my two or three year old app idea for confidential trade reviews of auction houses … it may not pay (much, or at all), but it would be a massive service: they need weeding desperately.