So I’ve written about vision. Now I’m going to put it into practice. I’m going to close my eyes and dream. I’m going to dream long and I’m going to dream vivid. I’m going to dream in color but there are a few black and white spots. I’m going to dream about a night spent in my perfect auction. I’m dreaming about that one perfect auction like that one, full, soft, supple, perfect kiss. You close your eyes, feel the embosom, and then lose yourself in the vast and glorious sensuality. And when the kiss is over and the lover has slipped away you spend the next six months in a warm and tender flutter of reflection. OK – it’s an auction but stay with me it could happen.
My perfect auction is the type of night that leaves everyone at the end going “This evening has forever changed me. This evening has inspired me. This evening I have made the decision to support this charity and for the rest of my life I will give to this.” That’s what I’m dreaming.
In my perfect auction there would be medallions, only they wouldn’t be medallions. Medallion sales are when you sell a necklace, an arm band or something for a certain amount and when they’re all sold the winner of the numbered medallion would get to choose one item out of the live auction before it’s sold. Think Lottery or Super Bowl pool betting – Can’t say that, but its close. You could sell as many medallions as you have guests, make your money, and then give up one item in the live for it. Only in my perfect auction they wouldn’t be medallions, they’d be blinking blue.
I’d like to thank Stanwood Rotary who is brilliant with this. They do a medallion at their auction. What they purchase are these little pin on blinking blue lights. I’ve never seen anything like it. So instantly you’d see these blinking blue lights on guests walking around and you knew they bought a medallion. It became a status symbol during the evening. I, being the quiet, shy, reserved, East Indian I am, was all over it!
“Ah blinking blue thank you for buying a medallion in our drawing! Ah thank you – I see another flashing blinking blue light to thank you for your purchase of a medallion. To those who aren’t blinking you’re not thinking of what you can win if you’re lucky number is clinking in the bucket. If you win you pick an item out of the live auction before it goes on the block -it’s yours! Hope to see you blinking blue too!”
It was brilliant. It was the most moving thing to see everyone seated at dinner and there was a sea of blinking blue lights going off everywhere. It showed such support and solidarity for the club and the cause. In my perfect auction everybody would be blinking blue in the perfect venue.
In my perfect auction we would start with the decorated venue. I’ve seen airport hangers, school gyms, and ports with uneven floorboards reformed into palatial paradises of celebration and esthetic beauty. I’ve seen hotel ballrooms and billiard rooms changed with imagination and energy. It all depends on who is the leader and how vividly they can dream. If that’s you-it’s time. It’s time to be bold, be true, and beware of those that try and discourage. Some of the best design teams I’ve seen are almost manically myopic in detail and color as they lay out their plan and seek a team to build it. I hope that is you.
In my perfect auction the venue has that personal touch with ribbons and bows, name tags and place settings. It has wall decorations and lights. It has brave sweeps of bright and dark, hues and romance. It starts in your mind as a full and uninhibited free sprawl of imagination and then is put into words and impressed upon the minds of the masses that will use their hands to solidify your thoughts.
There is a theme to this auction. It could be Spain, Paris, the 50’s, Casino Royale, or Fred and Barney. Whatever your committee has thought up – it’s a theme that excites them. It involves costumes or some apparel changes from the normal. The theme is in the program, in the room, in the décor, and in our minds. We have for one evening left our mundane and busy lives and entered into an ethereal world of your devising.
In my perfect auction there are greeters out in the parking lot. They are gregarious and carbonated – carbonated like bubbly not intoxicated like drunk. There are gentlemen in the parking area with umbrellas. If it’s raining they will escort our beautiful female guest into the building without rain smudging their detailed and dainty appearances. The greeters are welcoming:
“I am so thrilled you are here thank you for your support of______”
“Paul is that you? How are you?”
“Joan so good to see you – welcome to our auction!”
“Alice you look resplendent – are those hair extensions or have you been stealing your husband’s Rogaine prescription?”
”Peter how is the prostate these days? Stronger flow? You’re walking so much better.”
“You can’t believe what item 23 is in the live auction! It is amazing how beautiful they’ve made up the place wait till you see it! What a gorgeous necklace Nancy there are two one carat diamond earrings on silent table two you have to see that will match perfectly.”
Greeters are pre-selling and creating an excitement even before they walk into the building.
In my perfect auction guests would walk up to a registration table with at least four or more smiling staff to assist them so there is never a DMV line at the auction. They would be asked if they would prefer to avoid the long and tedious check out process with a quick pre-register of their credit cards. They would be clearly given directions to where the bar is, where the bathrooms are, and the silent tables with a coffee basket they just have to see, and two toy baskets for their children are awaiting their bids. Every moment is an opportunity to sell what we’ve got!
The bar would be right beside silent table number one. As they are waiting to get a drink they are looking at items and people are buzzing around table number one. There is adequate room for friends to drink and dialogue with each other. The more they drink the better we’ll do! Silent tables two and three are also situated in the most visible spots on the floor. The silent tables are well spaced with items having at least enough space for two people to stand next to each other and write in their bids. Inadequate space is like a crowded parking lot at Costco on a Sunday. As much as you want to get in there you look at the traffic while sipping your martini and think, “Forget it I’ll pass.”
In my perfect auction you have very sexy people walking around with bid boards which have your immediate sellers on them. These bid boards have restaurant certificates, spa afternoons, and other quick sales that require only a bidding number to fill in. Both the husband and wife have their own bidding cards.
In my perfect auction silent tables would have fifteen minute increments between them before they close. The auction would have the perfect sound system on which you could hear me clearly and would allow my team to talk about the items and then close the tables right on schedule.
In my perfect auction guests would be seated about ten minutes after the last silent table is closed, salads would be put down, and introductory remarks would begin. The golden clock has now started ticking. Tables would be well spaced out to allow myself and my team to freely walk the floor and be near the guests. Can I dwell on this for a moment? There are as varied and differing styles of auctioneers as there are differing styles of music. I am a moving auctioneer. I never stay on the stage; I am in constant motion near our bidders. Auctions with rounds that are too close together, that don’t allow me to be mobile, have lost thousands of dollars just because I can’t do what I do best, generate excitement. Please space the tables!
In my perfect auction centerpieces would never exceed the height of eye level so guests could make eye contact with me. In my perfect auction preliminary remarks wouldn’t exceed fifteen minutes of that precious one and a half hours we have to raise money.
In my perfect auction my catalogue reader starts the first item and we are off! At item ten we do the ask. It is the biggest moment of the night and we have met three if not four months before carefully crafting this very special sales presentation. We have talked thoroughly about how it will be presented and what will be said. We have agreed on who is going to say it and how they are going to say it. We have scripted the story they are going to tell and timed it. In my perfect auction there is not someone walking up the mic who has told the auction chair, “Don’t worry I’ll be two minutes,” and then gets a hold of the mic, looks at the power they wield holding three hundred people’s attention captive, and then begin their life story because they just know people will give more if they only knew. In my perfect auction the time of the ask is no more than seven minutes and its planned down to the details.
In my perfect auction there is a dessert dash. Desserts are extravagant, lacy and liquored, and chocolate. You look at them and gain 300 calories before the first bite. They are displayed with lights and tiered platforms. My master of ceremonies is alive and energetic and gets the people racing toward the desserts starting with the highest bidding table all the way to the Oreo and milk table.
In my perfect auction there would be consignment packages. These are prearranged trips and expensive products and services (Cars, Boats, Motorcycles, divorce attorneys – no past baggage just want you to think) – Consignment packages are deals made with travel agents and others sellers to put an item into the auction at a reserve bid that pays the seller his fee and gives the organization a few hundred also. In the throes of competitive bidding if the item exceeds the reserve bid than the organization keeps the money. It’s a wonderful way to raise funds.
I’ve sold trips to Bali, Hawaii, and Italy for a few thousand more than the reserve bid and the residual funds all went to the charity. It’s good for everyone! Sellers get their names and companies in the auction and buyers contribute to the cause. Guests buy beautiful things and the only risk is to see if someone buys at the reserve bid.
In my perfect auction there are at least 40 well procured items in the list with two of those being consignment packages. We sell the remainder of the items and keep the night moving and motivating. The last item is sold – the thank you and goodbyes are a champagne toast and a kiss. Guests are able to leave happy, quickly, and fulfilled.
In my perfect auction the single women are telling the auctioneer what a rock star he is while putting their phone numbers in his pocket. The married couples are shaking his hand and slipping twenties to him for such an outstanding job. Guests are grabbing his business cards, asking for his autograph, and naming the next child conceived from that night after him. People are desperately trying to take pictures with him, chanting his name, and the auction chair bows before him and says, “You are lord and master and what you command my people will do.”
Of course that’s at my perfect auction. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Love you guys.