Strategies for Getting the Most Return from Your Retirement Auction

The following is a guest post from former guest, Mark Stock of BigIron Auctions

Mark Stock, Founder – BigIron Auctions

The benefits of an online auction are becoming increasingly apparent, especially for those looking to retire and increase their capital. Being able to showcase your equipment to a global buyer base means increased competition bidding on your equipment. Yet, many don’t understand the whole process of selling equipment online.

The goal is to give you a better understanding of the online retirement auction process, how to get the most back from your equipment, and the relationship between a retiree and their auction representative.

How Do You Find an Auction Company?

Trust in the agricultural industry is hard earned, and you should only work with reputable companies that adhere to practices that bring in proven results. When choosing an online auction company, find one that has been doing business online for many years, rather than a few months due to COVID-19. They have far more expertise in online sales and have a large established buyer base.

Recommendations from friends and neighbors can be helpful when choosing an auction house. If you’re thinking about retiring, and others are recommending a reputable company, be sure to give that company some thought. There are many auction providers but be sure to do your homework to understand what sets them apart from one another.

How Does the Auction Process Work?

The best online auction companies can develop a strategy for liquidating your assets to help you reach your retirement goals. This means identifying what pieces of equipment you want to sell, what dates work best for you, payment procedures, equipment cleaning, and so on.

Once the auction agreement is signed, they’ll work with you to build a timeline for obtaining photos, creating item descriptions and taking videos of your equipment – all essential parts of attracting buyers. To get the best quality equipment listings in front of potential buyers, it takes time. We often hear that buyers love to see videos of the equipment operating, such as combines working in the field or tractors running. Since the best time to do this is when equipment is in operation, sellers should work with their auction representative to schedule a time to take video during this time. Your auction provider should also stage equipment and take photos for the listings. Once that’s finished, they will review the equipment listings to make sure that everything is accurate and ask for service records in case buyers want to see them.

If you don’t have the time or ability to clean your equipment before an auction, finding an auction company that can provide those services should be a top priority. If repairs are necessary, then they should be able to recommend local specialists. They will also ask for service records to establish trust with the buying community. Equipment that is accurately listed and supported by documentation can help bring in higher bids and avoid legal troubles down the road. Additionally, working with an auction provider that doesn’t charge buyer fees and conducts lien checks, so buyers know that sellers truly own the equipment, can help bring in higher bids.

The best auction companies also make it a priority to allow buyers to contact the sellers with questions or to test the equipment. Building an environment of trust and transparency will almost always yield higher returns. Farmers trust other farmers and loyalty and respect runs our industry. An auction company that makes sellers accessible to buyers will have a more confident buyer base who are willing to bid higher. These calls and visits get more frequent as the actual auction comes closer but by working with a full-service auction company, all you need to worry about is connecting with buyers. Additionally, your chosen company should show you the bidding history on your items post-auction so that you have full confidence in the proceedings.

How Do We Get the Word Out There?

While seemingly obvious, it is paramount to the success of the auction that people know there is an event happening. Experience has proven that most people are typically willing to travel about 250 miles to pick up purchased equipment. This means that the local community needs to know it’s happening. Full-service online auction firms specialize in getting the word out and making your auction both an online and local event.

Every retirement auction has its own unique set of challenges to overcome. Sometimes that means that a marketing campaign needs to be designed with those specific hurdles in mind. Typical marketing includes a presence on digital, print and radio. For larger items, it’s typical to have outdoor signage.

What’s Auction Day Like?

In my experience, auction day is incredibly exciting, when all the planning and hard work finally come together. You’ll have the opportunity to keep engaging buyers and tracking current auction prices. It’s always an incredible moment when an item brings in more than what a seller is expecting. Just prior to the auction closing, your auction provider should start calling those who were outbid to generate more interest in your items, which can help increase the competition.

Once the auction is over, buyers and sellers need to coordinate on how purchased equipment will be retrieved. The auction provider should be able to help schedule removal dates if needed, but our sellers typically manage the pick-up of equipment.

Some Final Tips

Best-of-breed online auction companies conduct UCC checks and, if a lien is found during the check, the auction companies will communicate with the seller to find a solution. We also see that when you sell multiple pieces of equipment as a package, it typically does better than selling a single item. The more value the buyer sees, the more enticed they are.

The online retirement auction process can be complicated during an already emotional time but getting value back for your assets shouldn’t have to be. When you work with an honest and transparent auction company that has your best interests in mind, the process is simplified and can even be enjoyable.

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