Part 9 in a series
Using the following basic, common-sense principles can help ensure your bull sale is successful, profitable and well attended.
First, make sure you're on time. There's nothing worse than a sale that's late or disorganized – because these things reflect on your management. Make sure you're there before your customers start arriving. Make sure refreshments or meals are ready to be served before your customers are thirsty or hungry. Make sure the auctioneer has the technical support he needs, and that he's set up early and his equipment is functioning properly. Make sure your ringmen have adequate time to meet with you, to discuss your sale order, and to meet with many of your customers prior to the actual sale. Make sure you have informational materials about your operation accessible and in place long before people start evaluating your offering. And, make sure your sale starts on time.
Second, have a good crew on hand. Make sure everyone who's helping with the sale has a name-tag that can be easily seen by customers. This makes it easier for customers to know whom they need to approach should they have questions or assistance. Your crew should also know precisely what their sale-day duties are, where they need to be, and when they need to be there. There's nothing worse than a big crew of people – stepping all over each other -- who don't know clearly what their duties are. Some should be solely responsible for cleaning and prepping cattle. Some should be in charge of keeping pens clean, and bunks and water tanks full. Others should be responsible for meeting directly with customers, while others should prepare the meals and refreshments. The most important thing is that you look organized and well managed, and that your customers are happy with the service they're receiving.
Third, prepare, prepare, prepare. Know your cattle – and know your customers and their needs. A lot of producers will spend hours in the weeks leading up to their sale talking to customers about their operations and breeding programs needs in order to provide them with a list of bulls or females that will best match their operations. This is an excellent way to build demand for your cattle – and an even better way to form long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with your customers.
Fourth, meet with everyone who attends your sale. Make them feel welcome. Be a “people person.” Don't just talk about cows; talk about their families and build friendships with your customers. Give each person a personalized tour of your offering, provide them with suggestions on which cattle they should invest in, and show them genetic and performance information that will help them in their buying decisions.
Fifth, provide a good meal. Don't cut corners here. Your customers have driven many miles to attend your event, spent hundreds of dollars to get there, and they deserve a great deal of hospitality from you and your operation.
Sixth, prepare your “sale-day” speech well in advance. In your remarks – prior to the auctioneer taking over – be sure to thank everyone for coming, explain briefly your commitment and breeding philosophy – but most importantly, make everyone feel welcome. Single-out an important customer – or even a new one who's never been to your sale before -- and thank them publicly by name for their support of the event. Keep it brief, though, because people are there to buy your cattle – not listen to you talk.
Seventh, after your cattle are sold, provide additional thanks to everyone who came to your sale. Let them know that you think they made an excellent purchase (this is key), and ensure them that you'll guarantee the animal should something go wrong with it in the future.
Eighth, make sure financial transactions are handled quickly, discretely and professionally. Again, once purchases are finalized, make sure your customers are thanked and that arrangements are made for the animal's shipping to its new location. If the customer is transporting the animal home on the day of the sale, make sure someone is available to help them load the animal up.