Silent Auction Strategy #2: Stagger the Closing Times of your Silent Auction Sections

Posted by Amanda Foran on May 31, 2011

Your goal as an auction coordinator is to maximize your silent auction proceeds. In order to do this, you need to make it as easy as possible for each bidder to bid as high as she’s willing to go for each silent auction item.

With this in mind, one of the most important things you can do is stagger the closing times of your silent auction sections.

What does it mean to stagger closing times?

It simply means that each silent auction section at your event will close at a different time. This frees bidders to focus their attention on winning one or two items at a time.

Imagine, for a moment, that you are a bidder at your auction. You’ve singled out several items that you must win, but each of those items happens to be in a different corner of the room. You’ve placed your bids and are waiting until the final seconds to swoop in with a winning bid. How do you choose where to situate yourself? Do you need to draft a bunch of friends and family members to stand guard over the bid sheets you won’t be able to reach? How do you decide what you really want? If the bidding ended at different times around the room, you wouldn’t have this dilemma.

Staggered closing times give your bidders enough time to place their final bids when a section closes, then shift their attention to the next round of items that is about to close. More bidders competing for fewer items at once will drive bids higher, and your organization will make more money.

How much time should I leave between sections?

You don’t want to lose momentum between silent auction sections. After all, part of the point of dividing your silent auction into sections is to maximize pacing, create a crescendo, and build momentum toward the most desirable items and toward the live auction. With this in mind, plan for a minimum of 10 minutes and a maximum of 45 between the closing times of each section. At most events, silent auction sections will close 15 to 20 minutes apart.

Do you have any other words of wisdom? How much time have you found to be optimal? We’d love to get your input.

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