The role of a bidder assistant is often overlooked because the organization has previously relied upon a team of “volunteer bid spotters” to catch bids throughout the room. This team of volunteers usually consists of board members and their spouses. While this team of volunteers can be commended for their willingness to participate, their knowledge and skill in the auction arena are nil to zero. Often their inexperience leads to lost bids, upset bidders, and a frustrated auctioneer.
The professional bidder assistant is more than a bid spotter. A “bid spotter” waits for a bid paddle to rise and then signals the auctioneer. While spotting bids is a major component, often it’s the smallest part of the duties of a professional bidder assistant. A professionally trained and experienced bidder assistant will recognize a person’s interest and willingness to bid before their paddle goes up. This expertise is honed through years of interacting with bidders at different events and venues. The experienced bidder assistant also knows when a person is done bidding and is no longer interested. One of the worst things a bid spotter can do is challenge or confront a bidder who no longer has an interest in an item.
A bidder assistant uses his skill and experience to walk about the room and locate interested parties. The bidder assistant is trained to recognize the subtle signs of interest and then gravitate in that direction. Once in the area of the bidder, the assistant can communicate between the auctioneer and the bidder to make them feel comfortable and excited about the process of placing a bid. Once the bidder is no longer interested, the bidder assistant will seek and locate a newly interested bidder and then move towards their direction. Professional Bidder Assistants move throughout an audience like a winning chess player moves and aligns their pieces for victory.
Professional bidder assistants also familiarize themselves with the cause, the auction items, and the crowd before the auction. Bidder assistants can be observed reading the entire auction catalog and mingling with guests who show interest in certain auction packages. During the live auction the bidder assistant will be able to answer questions that the audience may have while an item is being sold and also identify guests who previously showed interest in a certain item. The auctioneer many times is unable to field questions during the auction, and a bidder is unlikely to bid if they have a question about an item.
The professional bidder assistant not only helps the audience but also the auctioneer. Many events have competitive and spirited bidding between multiple bidders. An experienced bidder assistant keeps track of the leading bidder, as well as the contending bidders. This allows the auctioneer to stop the action and direct attention towards the benefits of an auction package and then return to the bidding without losing track of where the bidders were. After an item is sold, the bidder assistants will obtain the information of the second place bidder if there are duplicate packages or if the winning bidder is unable to pay for the package that they bid on. All too often the volunteer bid spotter has no idea who is holding the bid, much less who the contending bidders are. Professional bidder assistants have saved the day on more than one occasion by providing information to the second place bidder on an item where the winning bidder backed out of their commitment.
Perhaps the most important function of a bidder assistant is to connect the crowd with the action of the event. Many events have venues that alienate certain sections of guests due to issues with audio or lines of sight. Bidder assistants keep these areas involved in the event and therefore “connected to the cause.” An unconnected guest is likely a guest who is not returning or not engaged to give. A connected guest is one who is committed to the cause and willing to give gifts that make the event a success for years to come.
The above-mentioned roles and responsibilities of bidder assistants more than cover the cost of their professional fee. When making a choice to hire a team of bidder assistants the first thing that every organization recognizes is an increased excitement and enthusiasm in their auction and appeal. Happy and excited guests are generous guests. Bidder assistants create and maintain this excitement throughout the entire evening with their positive attitude and encouragement. As with any professional service, the cost of bidder assistants is far less expensive than the loss of revenue that comes with trusting an inexperienced volunteer. When it comes to budgeting for your event, remember one thing: “It costs but little more to hire the best.”