Jeff Morris is a lifelong Memphian and has been an auctioneer since 2003. While real estate and personal property auctions continue to be his daily business focus, he also enjoys performing Benefit Auctions in and around the Memphis area. To date, Jeff’s efforts have assisted charities to raise over $5,000,000 since 2007.
Charities who have worked with Jeff include:
American Heart Association
Ronald McDonald House
ALSAC / St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital
Bret Favre’s 4-Ward Foundation
Germantown Performing Arts Foundation
Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi
Shelby Farms Park Alliance
American Cancer Society
American Red Cross
Junior League of Memphis
Memphis Charitable Foundation
Germantown Arts Alliance
Carnival Memphis Krewe’s for Kids
University of Memphis
Ian’s Friends Foundation (Atlanta, GA)
Shuzz Foundation (Miami, FL)
United Way of Miami, FL
Monogram Loves Kids
Habitat for Humanity
Jeff will work with your organization to make sure your Live Auction event is a huge success! Successful live auctions start with early planning, attention to details, good cooperation and a great auction committee.
Why hire a Professional Auctioneer vs. a local personality?
A profession auctioneer may charge a fee but in fact costs you nothing. In fact, a professional auctioneer will more than pay for himself/herself by obtaining higher returns for the hard work your auction committee has put into your event. The saying is true, “You get what you pay for.” Gambling on the performance, advice and overall effectiveness of someone who lacks the experience in carrying out a live auction is risky to say the least. Just because a local personality may not charge you a fee for his performance, they usually cost you more in lower values achieved at the live auction.
Tips for a Successful Live Auction
- Number of Live Auction Items.
Keep the number of items in the live auction to 12 or less. Seldom does a live auction event benefit from having more that 12 items.
- Presentation of the Live Auction Items.
Develop a PowerPoint presentation that sells the sizzle. Have great slides or video that makes the live auction item exciting and a must have. I like for the audience to have three ways to know what is being offered at a Live Auction:
- Print the items in the catalogue. This is a great place to put ALL the information about the item, including exclusions, blackout dates, availability, etc.
- Have a separate area of the Silent Auction just for the Live Auction items and
- the PowerPoint presentation.
- Avoid Artwork, furs, furniture, fancy rugs or high end appliances.
These items are very personal items and difficult to sell. Most are straight forward retail items that people are not likely to bid up as they have clear idea of the value. The ideal auction item is something that 100% of the bidders want to own, therefore work hard to find items that have the widest possible appeal and will get people fighting over it in a live auction.
- What Order should we put the items.
Work with your auctioneer to determine the best Order of Sale. Never put the most desired, most valuable item at the end of the auction. We see the most successful auctions with the most desired and valuable items in the “fat” part of a bell curve. Start out with a few items that are the least valuable, ramp up quickly to “get the money” then trail off in value.
- Sound System.
Have a great sound system! This cannot be overstated. Sound clarity and volume is critical for the auctioneer who is “talking fast” for the audience to hear every syllable of what he/she is saying. This also saves the auctioneer’s voice so that he/she may make 100% to the end of the auction. I also prefer to have a hand held microphone, not a lavalier or corded microphone.
- House lighting.
It is imperative that the auctioneer have enough lighting in the house so that he/she can see the eyes of the audience. People’s intention to bid is broadcast by their facial expressions and their eyes even before they bid. A spotlight on the auctioneer makes it impossible for he/she to see the audience and to retrieve the bidder’s numbers once a high bidder is declared.
- Bid Numbers.
I have seen some charities try to hold a live auction or a Fund-A-Need without assigned Bid Numbers and it usually turns out poorly for the charity. It takes a little more work on the front end, but pays big dividends at the end of the event, both in terms of bid amounts and collections from successful bidders. The bid numbers should be a minimum of 2-inch-tall black numbers on a light background. Some charities will print the bid number on the back of the program, which works.
- Paddle Raises / Fund-A-Needs.
I like to do these at the end of the auction. Some charities like to have a short video between the live auction and the Fund-A-Need and this is perfectly acceptable only if the video is short (2 to 4 minutes). Nothing will kill the momentum of the live auction more than a long video or long winded speaker.
- When should we have the Live Auction.
This is just as important as anything discussed so far. People get bored quickly once they have completed their dinner. At seated dinners, I like for the program to start as soon after the last entrees are served. Keep the awards, speakers and thankyou’s short, concise and on time. The Live Auction results will suffer if the program starts late and runs long. People have a very short attention span; the live auction has to start on time and be quick. For timing budget purposes, the auctioneer will need 2 to 2 ½ minutes per auction item, plus time for the Fund-A-Need.
How to Engage Jeff Morris
I require an Auction Agreement to be completed and signed before I will lock down a date for your event. Please call early (several months) for certain dates. Saturday nights in the spring and fall stay fairly full, so contact me early to make sure you have a professional handling your auction event.