Wednesday, January 18, 2006

When the Competition Plays Dirty!

The auction craft is truly a beautiful art form. Every auctioneer expresses him/herself individually and uniquely. The auction industry's history is filled with many such examples of strong-willed, independent thinking, pioneers who blazed the trail in order to make way for the advancement of the auction industry as it exists today. With all of this creativity, free will, independence, and testosterone (My apologies to our female auctioneer readers, but men still make up the vast majority of the auction profession.) being expressed and bantered about by auctioneers it is no wonder that from time to time auctioneers are bound to run into differences of opinion, viewpoints, and perspective amongst their fellow auctioneers. By the time this happens, someone is often dishing it out, and unfortunately the other party is receiving. This is when auctioneers most often hear the phrase common in our industry. �It's a cut-throat business.� The truth: I have not met a single veteran auctioneer in my eleven year career that has not experienced this extremely unpleasant scenario at least once.

Your name and business reputation are being libeled and slandered, and you are mad as hell because of the unfounded rumors. How would you respond? What would you do?

I have suffered such a personal attack against me and my auction company's good name and reputation in the past. When this occurred I knew right from the onset that I was powerless to control this situation, and I hated experiencing that feeling of total helplessness. I was devastated, humiliated, and demoralized. My unidentified assailants were ruthless, as they telephoned and even sent smut letters to my clients. I could do nothing! I realized I had only two choices, I could sink (they win) or I could swim (I win). I chose to swim! I kept my chin up, said nothing, and I chose to focus on a bright future. My business not only increased and prospered, but so did the quality of my clientele and bidders as a result of my actions.

I believe very much in the saying, �Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.� I also believe in the newer pop-psychology phrase, �You get what you give�. The Buddhists also say, �Throw only good pebbles into the pond because the rings always return back to the center.� Recently, I have been made aware that my attackers of the past have also reaped a bountiful crop from the bad seeds they have sewn. Every dog has his day, except now it was my turn to finally pee on the hydrant. Thankfully, I did not have to debase myself in going down to their level, as I just watched from afar as their lives were being adversely affected as a result of their unscrupulous actions. Sometimes people just don't get it!

The NAA has a dispute resolution program in place to resolve differences between auctioneers, but I am not sure that this is necessarily the best avenue to pursue, as you only reveal the nature of your dirty laundry to others. Court proceedings are always an option, but there again this is just another double edged sword that can often cut you just as deep. Unfortunately, if you are suffering such attacks from your customers, then your options are even more limited. The path of least resistance is sometimes the best route, but these are decisions that only you can make for yourself in your business.

Take the high road as often as you can! It's a challenge for sure, and often the road less traveled by many of us, but it is well worth the soul advancement if you can handle it. My father once said, �Tom, you just can't please everyone, and you can only do the best job that you can. I don't worry about what I can't control.� Now that's wisdom!

Tom DiNardo is co-owner of DiNardo & Lord Auctioneers of Anacortes, WA. Tom is an Auctioneer, Appraiser, and Writer.

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