Archive for May, 2009

Bidder Numbers at Auction

May 29th, 2009 1 comment

gavelonkeyboard_212x141Three-digit bidder numbers
I’m going to make the case that larger auctions should start their bidder numbers at 100. More specifically, there should be no two-digit bidder numbers. If you need four-digit bidder numbers (1000+) for your floor bidders congratulations, you’re having one big auction!

With everything that it takes to facilitate a successful auction I want to focus on a very specific function; clerking. From an auction software perspective, the most important person on auction day is the clerk. Why the clerk? No other position (again, limited to auction software) has as much impact on a bidder’s experience. The clerk must be fast. The clerk must be accurate. In fact, a clerk with O.C.D. is probably worth their weight in gold!

Clerking accuracy
The more accurate the clerk is, the less problems you will have at checkout. Every time a bidder disputes the price of a bid, or a wrong item is on their invoice, or an item is missing from their invoice what effect does that have? It sloooooows things down. It causes everyone else in line to wait that much longer as the staff rifles through the manual clerking sheets or listens to the taped recording of the auction.

Fast checkout
If a bidder knows that they are going to have to wait in line to checkout what do they do? They checkout early to avoid the rush. If the bidder is checking out early what are they not doing? They are NOT bidding! If a bidder knows that checkout will be fast, even at the end of the auction, then that bidder is more likely to stay on the floor and keep bidding. If the bidder is bidding the consignor is realizing maximum dollar and so is the auctioneer. Win-win.

What does all this have to do with bidder numbers?
We’re all human and we all make mistakes. We transpose numbers, we miss numbers, we mess up. One thing we can do to help our clerks is to always hand out three-digit bidder numbers. That means we start with bidder number 100 and go from there. This helps because the clerk knows that every bidder number should be three digits. If the clerk mis-hears bidder number 23 they automatically know there is no bidder number 23 and they can ask the auctioneer to repeat the number.

But I already have permanent bidder numbers with two digits!
If you already have permanent bidder numbers with two digits there is still something that can be done to help the clerk. Have the auctioneer say the zero in front of the two-digit number. So instead of bidder twenty-three, say bidder zero-two-three or oh-twenty-three. 

Exceptions to the rule
If you rarely exceed 100 bidders at your auctions then I recommend starting at bidder 10. Why ten instead of one? Because your clerk knows there should be two digits. Clerk hears bidder 7, knows there is no bidder 7 and asks auctioneer to repeat… but you already knew that didn’t you? In this case it makes no sense to add the burden of typing three-digit bidder numbers if you don’t need to.

Change is good
This simple change might only eliminate a few clerking errors each auction but every little bit counts. The point of auction software on auction day is to provide a pleasant experience for the bidders. Fast + Accurate = Happy Bidder and happy bidders come back to your auction. All else being equal, if you and another auctioneer are having an auction on the same day, which auction will the bidder attend? Yours with the fast checkout line or your competitor’s auction where they have to wait 40 minutes to checkout? Your fast and accurate clerk can actually bring more bidders to your auction which gives you a competitive advantage.

Categories: Auctions, Software Tags:

Microsoft Office 2007 Ribbons

May 28th, 2009 No comments
Office 2007

Office 2007

When I first installed Microsoft Office 2007  I hated the new ribbons that replaced the old toolbars and drop-down menus. I especially despised the new ribbons in my favorite Office application, Excel. Determined to not be averse to change – to instead embrace change with the knowledge that change is good – I plodded ahead with the ribbons. I endured the lost productivity of constantly searching out where my commonly used functions were relocated. I justified the slow-going with the knowledge that once I conquered the learning curve I would be just as efficient as I used to be. Well, 18 months later I still can’t find anything without searching, and searching, and searching and I’ve finally given up. Office 2007 ribbons just plain stink! I’m a power-user, and if after 18 months my productivity is still hurting, then it’s not my fault. I gave it a fair chance.

I can live with the idea that some user interface team at Microsoft provided evidence through diligent research that the new ribbon interface helps a subset of users… heck, it might even help the majority of users. What I can’t forgive, however, is knowing that same group of UI experts was responsible for NOT including classic menus too. I HATE the ribbons. HATE. HATE. HATE. If you do a Google search on the phrase “Office Ribbons Suck” you will get thousands of results indicating I’m not alone. The vitriol for the ribbon is widespread and we will be heard! Microsoft should have absolutely, positively included the ability to show classic menus… but they didn’t. Shame on you, Microsoft. 

The beauty of capitalism is that where there is a void, there is someone willing to fill the void. Several companies have come to the rescue with add-ons to Office that will re-create our classic and beloved menus and toolbars. Unfortunately they are not free… but I can assure you they are worth every penny of the $20 bucks or so that they cost. If you are ready to end your misery check these out:

Office – Toolbar Toggle

Excel Only – MrExcel

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