A common question I field from guests is, “How will I know if I won anything in the silent auction? If I didn’t win anything, I don’t want to stand in the check-out line.”
How can you easily let bidders know they won?
There are several ways to let winners know.
Sure, you can invest hundreds or thousands of dollars into technology … but if you’re running a manual process, the simplest way is to incorporate some signage into your silent auction checkout process. You need to create a bid board.
The bid board signage can be reusable or one-time use. I’ve shared four types of bid boards in this post.
Reusable bid boards are made of a material (a chalkboard or white board) that allows winning bid numbers to be circled and erased each year.
In contrast, one-time-use bid boards are meant to be used once and are constructed of posterboard or foamcore.
Signage SHOULD list the winning bid numbers in numerical order.
This allows a bidder to quickly scan the list and see if he’s a winner.
The signage SHOULD NOT list the names of the winners or specify items they won.
That information is unnecessary to the purpose of the winning bid board. In fact, the only reason a guest’s name would be listed is if the organization isn’t using bid numbers. (And if your group isn’t using bid numbers, why not? The benefits of using bid numbers are well established.)
And for the purposes of a fast checkout, it is irrelevant whether a guest won Item #1 or Item #40, or both. They simply need to know they won something.
Place the auction signage in areas easily seen by guests.
1. If guests must exit the main area from a common door (such as guests leaving from a single ballroom door), the signage can be displayed just outside those doors. Guests will view the sign as they walk through the door on their way to coat check and check-out. Station a volunteer or two next to the sign to draw attention to it, just as an airline will station a representative outside of the jetway to alert offloading passengers of gate changes.
2. The signage can also be posted near the check-out area itself. Put the sign on a easel so it’s at eye-level or a little above for easy viewing and reading.
3. In addition (or in place of) signage, your event can make use of A/V screens by displaying the winning bid numbers on the screen.
A volunteer will need to create a Powerpoint slide once the high bidders are finalized. Save the slide to a handy zip drive and run it over to the individual handling the A/V equipment. He can easily upload the slide and display it to the crowd. While guests enjoy their meal, they can see whether they had the winning bid in the silent auction.
There is a lot of misinformation on the Web on how volunteers should be running checkout.
Checkout isn’t hard, but there are a lot of steps. For the straightforward, easiest process, here’s your tool: Simple Auction Checkout.
This DVD, manual, and the accompanying downloadable tools online have helped dozens of charities iron out their checkout issues and I guarantee it will help you, too.