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National Auction Round Table Part 2: Relationship between Auctioneer and Agent

In this Part two of our video series, our auctioneers discuss the need for strong relationships between auctioneer and agent for a successful auction day outcome

Other videos in this series

TRANSCRIPT

Steve Carroll: I want to talk the relationship between the agent and the auctioneer. You know, there’s never going to be a time when that’s more critical. If agents are listening to this or watching this, and we’ll just open this up to the floor, what advice would you give to agents? And I know every market’s a little bit different, so obviously just take the question with the context of your market. What advice would you give agents?

Andy Reid: I think one of the big things I’m trying to say to all my agents that I’m working with is you’ve got to work harder to keep your buyers on the hook through the campaign in a big way. I think customer service on the buyer’s side of things has just gone and hit the floor almost in a lot of cases where, because of the volume, they’re just going, “Oh, you know, there’ll be another one rock up.” So there’s not really a massive issue.

Whereas now we’re seeing a great deal of parity between supply and demand. Agents really do need to focus on making sure that they keep the buyers warm on those properties, keeping them in communication on a regular basis. Even if it’s just through SMS. Something nice and quick and short that’s not too intrusive but shows enough endeavour that you actually care about them wanting to be at the auction, as opposed to just treating them as another number.

I think that’s a really crucial point in this market because we’re seeing time and time again, I’m going in there on a Saturday, having spoke to them on a Thursday or a Friday and they’re telling me before the auction day, “Yeah, we’ve got four or five registered bidders, we’re gonna be rocking and rolling, it’s gonna be great.” Get there on the Saturday, 15-20 minutes before we’re supposed to rock-n-roll, and they go, “Oh, no one’s turned up, Andy.”

Karl: Secondis: There’s no rock and there’s no roll.

Andy Reid: Yeah, there’s definitely no rockin’ or rollin’! I’m asking them, “Did you speak to them? Did you speak to them on Friday? Did you speak to them this morning?”
“Oh, no but we spoke to them at the start of the week.”
Well, I’m sorry guys, but you can’t really rely on people to do that when you’ve got multiple properties coming on the market now and sharper agents that will just go and, you know, show a bit more interest.

Steve Carroll: Yeah, that’s a good point. Over here, what do you reckon?

Will Hampson: Communication’s critical. Written, verbal, and face-to-face. Getting face-to-face with your vendors on a weekly basis through the campaign. And for the agents as well, communicating, as was touched on before, with the auctioneer, where that’s at the start of the campaign. First week of campaign, half-way through campaign, that communication between agent and auctioneer, so the auctioneer, when they arrive on the day, knows exactly where the auction’s at. And knows what to expect on the day. It’s critical. And I think the agents aren’t perhaps as experienced with that vendor communication, sitting in on their normal meetings with their colleagues and gaining that experience and hearing that dialogue is what they need to do.

Steve Carroll: Yeah, absolutely.

Karl Secondis: I think following-up from what we’re saying, obviously, in the market where people are taking a massive hit on price, just upping the ante with the touch-points in communication with vendors because the more you touch and communicate with your vendors in the territory, off in their states, so it’s often text message, e-mail or phone, you can’t get that face-to-face. But really upping the ante in that space, so when you do have an offer on the table, it’s more likely going to be a real conversation because there’s a higher trust level because the communication’s in a good place, and then the vendor’s more likely to trust your advice, you know, if they’re going to be taking an $80,000 hit.

Andy Reid: With regards to communication, don’t be afraid to use tech. Like FaceTime, Skype, you know, if you can’t physically get there, then do a FaceTime. I mean everyone’s got smartphones now. I’ve found that to cut through a lot of the anxiety because the only reason why vendors become anxious is because of the fear of the unknown. 

Karl Secondis: That means I’d have to get dressed for work though.

Andy Reid: [laughs] Yeah, you just do a news reading, wear your board shorts under here, and then make sure you got a table covering you!

Steve Carroll: Absolutely! James, you had a point?

James Keenan: The relationship between the agent and auctioneer’s important. But I think as an auctioneer, you’ve gotta add value to the agent. And I think one of the ways you can add value, and certainly what I do with all the agents that I work for, I give them the opportunity to introduce me to the vendor if that’s what they would like to do. In particular, when you’re really busy on a Saturday, and you’re going from auction to auction, what I do with a couple of the guys that I do a lot of onsite auctions for are Shaun Stoker and the inner-city east market, who are particularly good at what they do, on a Friday morning, I give them the opportunity to go and meet all the vendors if they would like me to.

It also takes pressure off them a little bit because it sort of gives the vendor the opportunity to have a chat to someone else. I don’t interfere with what they’ve done, I don’t interfere with the process they’ve put into place, but it’s another voice, and I think it just shows that it’s a team operating here. And that you are all together.
And it takes excuses away. I find the vendors can’t turn around after the event and go “Well, you didn’t do this, you didn’t do that.” We sort of go, we tick this and we tick this, you know. We’ve done everything. It’s up to you now if you want to sell.

Steve Carroll: AJ, what are the frustrating things for auctioneers?

AJ Colman: As I said, Adelaide’s quite conservative, and a lot of buyers play close to their chest. They play games, and, you know, “Look, I’m gonna put an offer forward, I’m not gonna be here on auction day.” And I hear all the time, I get there on auction day, and the agent says, “Ah, Fred, nice to see you! I thought you weren’t coming.” You know? So we get a lot of those strategies played by the buyers. But one of the things that I think our agents should be doing more of … So I have a totally different business model. So what I do is I don’t look at volume, I look at quality in my marketplace. 

And I have 90-minutes between auctions so that I can work with my agents during the open inspection, talk to, build rapport with the buyers, call the auction, and I’ve still got time to negotiate and put that deal together. It’s a whole package. Adding value, as you said. Means my numbers are all a bit limited, but I do it because I’m passionate about it and I love it. And I want to be the best in the marketplace. 

One of the things that I see in the marketplace is the agents won’t talk to the buyers. Okay? So I say to my agents, “Look, go up to the buyer and say ‘Hey, how you feeling? What’s your buying strategy?'” They don’t. So I do it. And the buyer says, “I don’t know.” 

“Well the outcome you want is to walk away with a contract and the home of your dreams. So you need a strategy for that. So let’s have a talk about this. And I’m here to assist you, here to help you with that.” So that’s one of the things that I would like to see our agents doing. 

The other thing that I get a lot of as well is I tend to be, not just the auctioneer for the agents, but also their social worker. So, they’ll ring me, and they’re stressed! “Oh, I might have one or two people.” And I’ve got to talk them through it. Because I believe, as well, the outcome of the auction, the buyers and the marketplace can sense how the agent’s feeling. So the agent needs to be positive about the process. Positive that they’ve ticked all the boxes, and then that flows through and the buyers are feeling more comfortable. When they’re feeling comfortable, they will bid and buy. 

Steve Carroll: That’s good advice.

Gavin Croft: You know when you’re in those situations, and they’re not doing what they should be doing, if you want to use that language. There’s always a reason why an agent won’t do something and won’t behave in a certain way that we’d like it. And those opportunities, we talk about adding value in the transaction, they’re the moments that I think we can really add it and help them. 

So what I do, I’ll give you an example, I’ve just come in from New Zealand, so I had interim auctions in New Zealand last night. The agent said to me, “We’ve stopped. Can you step in and do this?” And I go, “No, no. This is your job now.” You know, between, we’ve stopped, we’ve got a gap. She goes, “I don’t know what to do!” 

I said, “Good, let’s talk about it.” So we sat there and we talked it through. “What do you want to achieve?” And the whole thing for her is there’s a fear around doing it. And I said, “Look, you’re role is here. You’ve got listening opportunities out in front of you on the floor. This your opportunity to demonstrate, ‘I can do it.’ And I love to do it, just like you love to do it, but this is your opportunity to demonstrate your value-add in the marketplace.” 

“So my role is to make sure I get engagement from the buyers, and we’ve got that, we’re run out of steam. Your role now is to provide some oxygen back into the auction and this is what I need from you.” And the speed at which they do that, the understanding at which they do it, and coaching them through is the gap. And the real opportunity out there to do it. So, the real value for me is in the coaching piece, is to say, “I’m not interested in sitting and talking with your vendor and doing your job for you,” more so “I’m interested in helping make sure that you actually really understand how we can do this well. And what’s your role and what’s my role in doing it.” And making sure those roles are really defined well. 

For me, I don’t add value sitting in front of a vendor. Because that’s the agent’s job. That’s what they get paid. But that’s in mind. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, but it’s certainly the way I view it. But that ability to continually push them out of their zones where they’re really comfortable, and actually get them thinking in different spaces, because the reality of what we do, it’s just a negotiation, it’s just the speed at which we move is different. So it’s still a private treaty, but it’s just got real speed added to it. So getting these guys to think two steps ahead before it unfolds is where you need them to be. So for me, it’s just sort of looking at it in that way. Not to say that’s right or wrong.

Steve Carroll: But it works for you.

Gavin Croft: I just think that we’ve got a responsibility to make sure that these guys understand auction strategy, get them thinking in a different space, and get them thinking ahead of the game. And when we create that, you know, that’s attached to listing opportunities for these guys. Not just the show.

And then on the flip side, you’ve got these guys looking for some leadership. So, challenging market. And there’s, you can see there’s some real gaps in their practise. As soon as it gets challenging, there’s some real gaps in their practice. And they don’t know what to do. And they’re actually just looking for someone to actually help them with their practice. And I think it represents real opportunity that there’s training, and then there’s development. And one thing this industry is really good at is training. But not on development. And again, that space there, someone in this industry can do that really well is what agents are looking for. 

Steve Carroll: It’s a good point. Pete?

Peter Gourdouros: I agree, sales people are always looking for the opportunity to move on. It’s easy. But you gotta take some responsibility as the leader, as a business owner. We put in place two things, and one of them is with my sales team, every fortnight they have one-on-ones. And we identified that the market was changing around August last year. We could see it was happening. We have one-on-ones with our sales team every fortnight without fail. Our admin, is every week including property managers. So we identify any issues that’s in the businesses quickly. We grab it, nut it out, get it out. That’s how we run our business. So, I believe, if you run your businesses properly from the start, and run it a good operation, that way it won’t walk. It won’t walk. I do believe you 100 percent. 

Alec Brown: In that selling process, obviously there has been in the past a tendency for brands to be brand only, auction-orientated and the freelance auctioneer hasn’t been very prevalent in a lot of, particularly regional areas, or smaller cities. 

I think it’s about, first of all, as a fraternity, us willing to do the hard yards and improve ourselves, improve our call and add that extra value to our clients. But from a seller’s point of view, I think it’s 100 per cent right, the person standing there on the day is that tip of the iceberg and representing your home. You can have the best agent in the world but can be let down by a poorly executed auction call itself. 

James Bell: There is a distinct different between Queensland and New South Wales, Victoria agents, in the way they handle themselves. Especially with the auction process. For me, one of the biggest things that we moved back into our organisation is how we dealt with buyers. I think New South Wales and Victoria are so much more advanced in the way they deal with their buyers, with an auction campaign. I think in Queensland, we’re very concentrated on the vendor, the reserve setting meeting. Why not run a buyer meeting prior to the auction day and actually get your buyers in, get them understanding the process? For a simple change of getting buyers involved in the process a lot more heavily than what we were in the past.

Stuart Benson: My guys who I auction for, who are the higher clearance rate of my clientele, their primary focus is buyer management. Everything they get, and everything they take and everything that’s constructed and deconstructed and extrapolated from their buyer touch points drives the vendor meeting. And then it’s led by reality, it’s led by market feedback, it’s led by context, it’s led by relevant, finger on pulse data. But it’s all taken. It’s not hearsay, it’s not conjecture, it is their finger on the pulse of the market for their property right now.

So they don’t have to worry about, “What are we going to tell the vendor on Tuesday night?” They’ve got it all, because all they’ve done for the last four days is just soak it up and leech it off the market, and they deliver it. So they’ve got a higher clearance rate because, come auction day, all that vendor’s been given is market feedback, market feedback, market feedback.

Steve Carroll: So, James. You were talking about Gavin [Rubinstein] a while ago. What does Gavin do leading up to the auction that obviously makes the whole process so successful?

James Keenan: What’s he do? He follows a process. Now for example, he’s very structured. And that doesn’t vary. I don’t want to talk out of turn on Gavin’s behalf, but structure is everything. And he’s always thinking. You know, he goes to bed at night thinking well, if things aren’t quite rolling with that property what have I got to do, what have I got to change to make that happen? And communication is everything. And he’ll constantly be talking to the buyers. He’ll be constantly talking to his vendors. Because the goal is to match the two. 

And that’s so often that a buyer will look at a property and dismiss it for whatever reason. He’ll go back to them a week later and say, “You know, you came and had a look at that property, you know what you should probably come back and have another look. ‘Cause I’m not convinced, right, in what you’re telling me. I still actually think that you know, you may still want to buy this property.” So I think it’s relationship. Honestly, and relationship with both. So what happens in the end, the vendor trusts him, the buyer trusts him, you get the deal done.

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