The Art of the Ringman
Benefit Auctioneers are comfortable in a room no matter the number of people. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t need a little help on occasion.
Scott has a rule of thumb. If the crowd size is 200 or less, he’s able to handle the auction depending on the configuration of the venue. But for every 100 people above 200, he surrounds himself with expert ringmen. As an example, if the benefit auction had 500 guests, Scott would work with three ringman. If there were 1,000 guests, Scott would have eight strategically placed around the room.
The ringman’s responsibilities are to observe the crowd and work with bidders and potential bidders, than pass that information to the benefit auctioneer through designated voice or hand signals.
A ringman’s job is not to just spot bids, but to solicit bids without being confrontational or offensive. That’s why Scott often prefers women ringmen at benefit auctions – a welcome change since most auctioneers and bid spotters are traditionally male.
A professional ringman also knows exactly where to stand as to not block the potential bidders’ view of the action – yet must always be within eyeshot of the auctioneer
And finally, bid spotters must develop a trust and really get to know the people in their section of the room. Knowledge of the items up for auction is also crucial. A quality ringman always completes his or her homework and is able to answer any questions coming from their assigned area regarding a particular item.
In large crowds, professional ringmen play an important role in the success of benefit auctions. By connecting personally with the bidders and helping their bidding voices be heard, the ringmen help keep the momentum of the auction fast paced and exciting – and the charity comes out the winner.