When choosing a benefit auctioneer there are a few things to keep in mind. First, like many other things purchased you'll get what you pay for. The "free auctioneer" is not free; he or she will cost you by lacking essential skills professional auctioneer will have. For example, the "free auctioneers" lacks in being able to increase the bids clearly and rapidly as a professional would. Furthermore the "free auctioneer" also lacks in knowing when to increase and decrease the bid increments and many do not know what to do with a tie bid. There is are skills the professional auctioneers have mastered and that is not only the auction chant, but it is also reading the crowd and understanding what method, bid increment, and how to get that extra dollar. The "free auctioneer" many times is a friend, comedian, politician, or just and inexperienced auctioneer of the fundraising committee and out of the kindness of their heart will volunteer to be the auctioneer. That may come back to bite you in the end; be warned on average the "free auctioneer" costs $150 per live auction item; if your event has twenty items that loss is substantial - $3,000 If is more than just the live auction at your event then you can double that number.
Secondly, there are a few characteristics that your professional auctioneers should have:
#1 A clear and understandable auction chant for the benefit auction crowd. Benefit auctioneers must be more clear as their audience are not weekly live auction goers like many of the livestock and auto auction buyers are. If the auctioneer is hard to understand then guests will be reluctant to bid.
#2 Provide consulting for the event planning process. For example, The Professional Benefit Auctioneers should know how many live auction items to have verses silent auction items, what sells best in the live auction, how to correctly make silent auction bidding forms, how to properly set up and order the live and silent auction, the correct method and timing of the paddle raise, when live auction and silent items should start, open, and close. The auctioneer should be able to provide your group with new money making ideas and provide other services if need be such as sound, bidder cards, clerking forms, live auction clerk and professional bid spotters. When choosing a professional auctioneer be sure to test their knowledge by asking them about some of these things.
#3 The auctioneer should have good references and be a member of a state or national auctioneering association.
#4 Finally, the auctioneer should to be fun, entertaining, and energetic creating that competitive bidding atmosphere to bring in the big dollars. Your guests should have a great experience and want to attend next year's event.
Be sure you have a contract written contract that states what the auctioneer is to provide and how much it costs. Most auctioneers in the benefit auction world will generally charge a flat fee and charge depending on location and size of the event. In the Portland, OR market I have seen professional auctioneers charge from $2,000 to $4,000 for their services.
If you need more tips call Morgan Auctioneers at (541) 993-6799 and ask for Marcus; we would love to help make your event a big success.