Part 8 in a series
As you begin making preparations for your upcoming bull sale, here's a checklist that provides a good organizational frame work of what needs to be done – and when you need to do it.
Twelve to Ten Months Prior
• Establish what kind of sale you will have; select potential sale dates, identify possible sale help
• Establish your sale budget
• Determine how you will market your sale cattle (i.e., through the use of an auctioneer; through the use of a silent auction, and so on)
• Plan your advertising schedule
• Identify potential sale animals
• Establish a sound feeding and health-management program
• Determine matings if you will offer bred heifers
• Start the gentling process early
Ten to Eight months Prior
Finalize the sale date.
Hire an auctioneer and/or sale-management firm. Hire an auctioneer who knows your product. The auctioneer must be knowledgeable about the breed, pedigrees, sires used and the cattle's true value. The auctioneer's fee is usually one percent of the gross sales or a one-day minimum fee plus expenses. Sale-management firms are professional individuals that have the experience and expertise necessary to handle the magnitude of details in a timely manner. Their assistance may help you avert an unsuccessful sale. For their services, sale-management firms are paid a fee, usually five to ten percent of the gross sale total depending on services rendered.
Check availability of and reserve sale facility.
Eight to Six Months Prior
Start a mailing list of potential buyers.
Advertise your sale on a personal basis. It's important for people to recognize you and your program as well as your cattle.
Start placing your notice of your sale in targeted livestock publications. Many magazines publish schedules of events such as sales.
Six to Four Months Prior
Finalize the sale offering. Make sure all sale animals are registered and performance information needed for the catalog is sent to the breed association for processing.
Schedule a photography session for advertisements and the catalog. If you are not experienced at taking your own photography, hire a competent professional photographer. Poor photographs hurt important first impressions.
Arrange print advertising in the publications you have identified as being the most effective for your sale. Keep in mind most publications require a 30 to 60-day lead time to receive your advertising materials and produce the magazine. Most publications have staff that can help you design your advertising. (Refer to section on creating your advertisements.)
Start preparing your catalog. (If the catalog will be inserted into publications for distribution, start this process as early as possible.) The presentation of the sale offering in the catalog is critical in creating interest in your sale. Use professionals to help create a catalog that identifies and describes the sale animals in a manner that will help the potential buyer's decision to purchase your animal. Budget between 1%-3% of the total gross sales for your catalog, depending on catalog size, number of pages, photographs, color use, etc.
Materials needed to submit to the designer and or typesetter are:
1) Pedigrees of sale cattle
2) Photographs and logos
3) Performance information, EPDs and accuracy values
4) Breeding dates, pregnancy status
5) General information such as date, time, place, sale headquarters, sale-day telephone number, map to ranch or sale facility, transportation arrangements, hotel information
6) Schedule of events, letters from the owner, manager, sale management, past customers
7) Sale staff: auctioneer, sale management, and livestock publications personnel
8) Terms of sale
9) Honored guests
Four to Two Months Prior
Start intensive pre-sale advertising.
Contact your breed association to get the most accurate and up-to-date EPDs on sale cattle and plug revised numbers into sale catalog.
Catalog should be ready for the printer (if it is not being inserted into a publication). Allow for enough catalogs to be printed to cover your mailing list, 100 extra for requests and 200-300 extra for sale day.
Two Months Prior
Double check sale-day refreshments, food and social details. If you plan to have a meal catered, visit with the caterer about the expected crowd. Ask your auctioneer or sale-management firm for assistance in estimating the crowd size.
Six Weeks Prior
Mail special invitation letters to previous customers, special association members and breeders.
Start contacting prospective buyers over the telephone or by personal visits. Let them know you have something of value to them.
Invite breed association personnel, auctioneer, livestock publications personnel and sale-management to your ranch to view your sale offering. These people visit with numerous potential buyers every day. Word-of-mouth promotion can greatly help your sale be a success. Sale cattle, as well as herd bulls and service sires, should be presentable to visitors.
Finalize the mailing list, which should include the following:
1) Previous customers
2) Ranch inquiries
3) Catalog requests
4) Ranch visitors
5) Association mailing list
6) County and state cattlemen's associations
7) Sale management buyers list
8) 4-H and FFA groups
One Month Prior
• Mail catalog.
• Tag all cattle according to the catalog lot numbers.
• Schedule radio advertising on your area farm stations.
• Finish ranch clean-up, painting and prepare for visitors. The sale offering should be close to headquarters and in pens or pastures that showcase their quality.
Two Weeks Prior
• Remind auctioneer and sales force of sale date.
• Re-check sale facility, public-address system, microphones, and electrical outlets.
• Set up pens for sale day and easy handling of cattle.
• Finalize food, refreshments and social arrangements.
• Ensure seating arrangements are sufficient and safe in the sale and eating areas.
• Make sure roads leading to the sale location are clearly marked.
• Order any office supplies needed by the sale clerks.
• Telephone potential customers to make sure they received their catalogs and answer any questions.
• Check with your breed association to see if EPDs on your cattle have changed. It's possible that the association could have run a new cattle evaluation.
Three Days Prior
Transport all livestock so that they are near the sale facility and in presentable condition. Insure the sale facility, pens and speaker system are ready. Prevent last minute problems on sale day.
Re-check details with your veterinarian, clerks, sale crew, brand inspectors and ranch personnel.
Handle any motel needs, airline pick-ups and transportation needs requested.
Finalize breeding information, performance updates or additions, deletions or corrections to the catalog. Make sufficient copies of the supplemental information.
Organize the sale order so that the cattle or lot numbers that have generated the most interest are at the front of the sale.