The REIQ Auctioneer of the Year is a coveted title, an event that attracts the best auctioneers in Queensland in the hopes that a win (or second placing) will provide the stepping stone to greater successes professionally and also at the Australasian competition level. But aside from the glory of a title win, there are good reasons that every auctioneer should regularly enter auction competitions.
Former REIQ Auctioneer of the Year (2015) Mark MacCabe said auction competitions were commonly regarded as excellent training tools. He said that competitions provided an opportunity for rookies to mix with the most celebrated and experienced auctioneers in the business.
“When you’re learning the ropes, that exposure to the leaders in your profession is so important. It gives you an opportunity to compare yourself against those giants and see where your weaknesses are and what parts of your call you need to improve,” he said.
He also said the pressure of competition day was not for the feint-hearted.
“It very quickly sorts the wheat from the chaff because that pressure of having your professional peers watching you flub through some very tricky auction conditions is a great leveler. You think you’re going into the comp full of confidence and one question from a bidder can unravel you,” he said. “There’s no hiding form that and all your peers can see it. It’s also an opportunity to watch how the best in this game recover and what they do when they stumble. They don’t go to water, they keep going.”
LJ Hooker National Auction Manager and REIQ Auctioneer of the Year finalist (2017) David Holmes agrees that the exposure to the best in the business is critical.
“Iron sharpens iron. My call gets better every time I enter an auction competition,” Mr Holmes says.
“When you’re calling auctions on a Saturday you’re just doing what you’ve always done and there’s not a lot of room for improvement. What competitions do is put you on a stage and you’ve got a chance to watch other auctioneers which is something you don’t get to do on a Saturday because you’re calling your own auctions,” he says.
“So you get to see other styles you get to experience new ways of presenting things, be that terms and conditions, be that filler lines, be that the way you can say numbers, terms and bits and pieces that you use. It’s all valuable experience that you wouldn’t get anywhere else,” he says.
The constraints and conditions of the competition actually force rookies to step up their game and improve, according to Mr Holmes.
“Any rookie auctioneer can watch YouTube and a bunch of competition calls, but it’s not about how you present the terms and conditions or how many bathrooms or how lovely the living area is,” he says.
“It’s about how you then handle the flow – can you add up the numbers, can you keep talking, have you got enough filler lines, do you know how to converse as well as adding up numbers as well as trying to coax the next bid as well as thinking about the negotiations you’re about to do with the vendor when it doesn’t quite reach reserve?” Mr Holmes says.
The competition can also be cruel, exposing weaknesses and revealing flaws in an inexperienced auctioneer’s call.
“A lot of rookies have no structure around any of that and that’s what the competition forces, and I see a lot of guys who are fantastic if they were just delivering a speech – fantastic – but as soon as it comes to the interactive part when they’re working with the bidders they go to jelly. They don’t know their numbers they have no structure they have no flow and they have no coping mechanisms for when they’re trying to add up numbers or trying to coax out that next bid. They don’t know what they’re doing, they lose control,” he says.
Reigning REIQ Auctioneer of the Year Justin Nickerson says every auctioneer should enter every competition they can.
“The reason every auctioneer should enter all the auction competitions they can is because it’s a way to keep learning new skills and a way to keep improving and as auctioneers that’s what we should be doing all the time – striving to continually improve,” Mr Nickerson says.
“An auction competition is the best simulation we can create for this scenario and it’s the best way to improve your skills as an auctioneer,” he says.
Like Mr MacCabe and Mr Holmes, Mr Nickerson agrees the training provided by a competition is invaluable. It provides an education that contributes to the auctioneer’s professional knowledge and even though it’s a simulated environment the auction competition can deliver real-life lessons.
“I’d rather handle a question or a legal challenge for the first time in a competition rather than handle it for the first time out in the field where my licence is on the line the agency’s licence is on the line and my legal mistake, if I get it incorrect, could actually cost me and everyone else an awful lot of money,” he says.
Former three-time winner of the Australasian Auctioneer of the Year Mark Sumich says training is king and learning the ropes by attending all the competitions, entering every competition you can, is the best way to improve.
“It’s not easy and many rookie auctioneers are afraid of embarrassing themselves. What they don’t understand is that everyone who is a success today has done exactly that, they’ve learned the hard way, they’ve failed in competitions, but they’ve applied themselves. That’s the only way to be the best. You have to put in the work if you want to beat the best,” he says.