If you attend a lot of auctions, you are probably used to dealing with both owner auctioneers and freelance auctioneers. Many auction houses are owned by auctioneers who call their own sales. Many are not. It has become more and more common to find auction houses that are owned by people who hire outside freelance auctioneers to call for them.
There can be any number of reasons for this. Let’s take a quick look at just a few:
- An auction house is a business like any other. In order for a business to be viable the owner needs to recognize his or her own strengths and then concentrate on successfully performing the tasks associated with those strengths. The owner then needs to hire other people and place them in the jobs that he or she is not so good at. Someone might have a great head for business but that doesn’t mean that same person can stand up in front of a room full of people and entertain them.
- Some auction house owners who hire freelance auctioneers to work for them are actually auctioneers themselves. Giving credit where credit is due, these auctioneers who don’t call their own sales recognize that they cannot emotionally separate themselves from their businesses. Calling their own auctions when their auctions do well is one thing, calling their own auctions when they do poorly can be a real problem. Some auctioneers recognize this as a weakness and will pay freelance auctioneers to call for them. In other words, they go out and get someone who doesn’t have a dog in the hunt.
- An independent auctioneer can provide an added sense of respectability to an auction house. They are a good defense when an auction house gets complaints about how bids were handled and/or how merchandise was sold. The majority of these complaints usually come from people who do not understand how auctions work and therefore they sometimes make incorrect assumptions. When an auction house is presented with such ethical concerns by customers, the house can legitimately say that everything was done in accordance with the rules and regulations of both the auction house and the state board. They can remind their customers that their auctioneer is an independent who is paid a flat fee or a small percentage of the sale. No freelance auctioneer would break the law or do anything underhanded when it could jeopardize his license or livelihood just to do a favor for someone else.