Buying a Mule

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2013: Buying a Mule
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Stan Howe Helena, Montana on Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 01:19 pm:

When I go teach at auction school I always tell the students about looking over a mule. If you start at the front end of a mule and check his eyes and his teeth and hearing and then his front legs and his feet, go on to his back and down his back legs, he may just look better and better. But finally you get around back and take a look and realize that when you hook him up to a plow you are going to be spending a lot of time looking at what kind of an ass he has. Or is. Reminds me of some of the threads on here where somebody starts off with some good information and then gets in to name calling and diatribes about one thing and another.

Oh, well, off to the slave in the shop for a few more hours this week before heading off to the state auctioneer's convention to listen to everybody brag about what a wonderful auction business they run, how they've never had a bad sale and how much money they made last year.

I'll be telling my mule story since I am on the panel of "Getting a start in the Auction Business" for the new guys. Advice from Unca Stan: At the end of the auction, make sure they haven't seen your back side, that all they remember is how bright your eyes were and how good you looked up front.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gilbert V. I. Fitzhugh on Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 01:38 pm:

Stan, you have a way of cutting to the quick. Keep it up!

Gil Fitzhugh, Morristown, NJ


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim Thode Chehalis Washington on Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 02:05 pm:

Reminds me of Packie. A real sharp looking mule.


But I spent some time laying in trail watching his back end as he went on his own personal emergency mission.

He did turn out fine in the end:


Jim


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Noel D. Chicoine, MD, Pierre, SD on Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 02:22 pm:

Stan, I have to say you have an uncommon amount of "common sense". Thank you.
Noel


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Joseph Geisler on Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 02:45 pm:

Good story!!!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Norman T. Kling on Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 02:54 pm:

To get this topic about Model T's, you could spend a lot of time listening to the motor, kicking the tires and checking out the radiator, but don't forget to look at the dash! You will be seeing a lot of it!
Norm


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve in Tennessee on Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 06:13 pm:

Sold my mule "Kate" a few years ago and have regretted it ever since. She worked, rode and drove. What was I thinking?

My dad taught me three main things about mules and horses:

1. The only good horse is a tired horse.

2. No hoof, no horse/mule.

3. Children and mules should be broken by the time they are three years old. Its too late after that.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Darren J Wallace on Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 07:02 pm:

Well put Stan!

This site serves many purposes:

The sharing of knowledge,stories,facts & fiction about model T fords,and sometimes other antique cars.
Making friends as a result of a common interest in Model T Fords,and sometimes other antique cars :-)

I am grateful and blessed to have found so many friends and info through this site.

I think some people need to play a little nicer here. This is a positive place.

There will always be someone we can learn something new from, regardless of their background,age,and past experience. That is something I truly believe is worth being thankful for.

People will always have differences of opinions.How we deal with that through the expression of thoughts on this site should be how others could benefit from it.

I don't know if I've worded things right or not...just trying to contribute a positive note to Stan's well thought out Mule story.

My uncle used to say: I'd rather be a fool,than open my mouth and prove it :-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By George_Cherry Hill NJ on Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 07:38 pm:

Wow Stan, good story...but them Montana mules must be from feral stock! :-)

My wife and I have always been into horses and for me a 16 hand horse is just a jaw dropping experience period...the Missus on the other hand always liked a thorobred that was on the shorter side as she jumped competitively well into her 30's and felt she had better control. (until Kiki just decided to fault one day at a jump well into the sequence and she went over instead and the stirrup slid up to her ankle as she did and then Kiki panicked tearing every ligament in her knee!).

Last year we were on a farm and from afar I saw what appeared to be a Palamino golden colored horse with flax colored mane and tail and going about 17 hands, maybe more. It was love at first sight for me, even the missus was impressed. We get closer and I say "bulky chest but still nice in proportion". A little closer and I said "Has a butt on it but still graceful" and as I got closer yet it was 'oh my, what big ears you have' and it STILL didn't register! Took until I was about 10 feet away and finally said, 'This is one heck of a mule!"

It was absolutely gorgeous and as we worked with it through the day its temperment was the same as a yellow lab! I wanted to bring it home :-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By mike dixon on Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 09:47 pm:

how ironic, just completed my auction school today in st louis, missouri auction school. im starting a consignment auction any advice? thanks


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dave Dufault on Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 09:53 pm:

Know what it is that you are selling !


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Stan Howe Helena, Montana on Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 10:48 pm:

Well, I could probably write a book on starting out on your own without working for somebody else. I've never worked one day for anybody in the auction business, quit my school administration/teaching job and went to Missouri Auction School in 1982. I've done a lot of things different than the conventional wisdom about auctions, most have worked for me, I've had 397 commercial auctions, countless benefit auctions and it has been a good business for me. Not exactly Barrett Jackson but good for Montana and for me. For many years we were the number 1 antique auction company in Montana. That is not true anymore. We are however, considered to be one of the best if not the best of all the collector car auction companies in the state. We have had the largest and most successful collector car auctions most of the last 10 or so years. Jason Shobe from Lewistown also does very well in the auction business and has a very good reputation for selling collector cars. He is 250 miles from me so we don't butt heads directly too much.

I'd say the number one thing is to maintain your standards of honesty. Nothing will kill your business faster than a reputation for shady dealing.

Last year at the convention there was supposed to be a seminar on sharing ideas and helping the new people get started. It turned in to a bitch session and nothing came out of it. I had a bunch of stuff written up for it but never got to do anything with it. After advising the new guys to call up and see if they can get their old job back and they won't do it, I advise people these things to start with. Not necessarily in this order or with any real ranking to them.

Number your auctions, "You're invited to the 1st Mike Dixon Auction, February 7th, 2013 ~~ you're invited to the 17th Mike Dixon Auction August 26, 2013, etc. Let's people know you are doing business. We always have a party at 50 & 100's.

Learn to read and write. If you can't write a coherent sentence and do good descriptions you will look like an idiot on your advertising posters. Along with this, learn how to do a coherent web site and update it regularly. It is usually easier to learn better writing techniques as an adult who wants to learn than it was as the class goof off in high school.

Don't buy a Cadillac or a brand new pickup if you make a bunch of money on an auction. It looks like you really hosed somebody on the commission and leaves a sour taste in the mouth of the guy who had the auction. Do it down the road after you've established yourself in the business.

Put SOMETHING away from every auction. Fifty bucks, a hundred bucks, a thousand if you are doing well. Put it somewhere that you won't be temped to touch it. You'll get by without it. By the time you have as many years in the biz as I have you'll have a nest egg. I didn't do that and could have and should have. Now I'm 70 and still working with no money. Too soon we are old and too late smart.

Before every auction, ask yourself: What will be the defining minute of today's auction? What will it be that people will remember from today? Will it be when I had the patience to wait for the lady to ask her husband what the bid was or write the bid I was asking for on my note pad and held it up for the hard of hearing elderly lady bidding on the dolls who wasn't sure what I was asking for or will it be when I lost patience with her and said, "What the Hell, Lady, can't you hear?" After EVERY auction ask yourself: What WAS the defining moment of today's auction? Sometimes, if you are honest, you will not be happy with the answer. Self discipline will do more for your reputation than winning every bid calling contest in the state.

Don't use your podium for 1. Dirty jokes -- some people will laugh loud but most will be offended. Your language will determine your reputation and clientele. 2. Religious views. Nobody wants to know what you believe or don't. This is a business, run it that way. Do your preaching somewhere else. 3. Political views. Read above again.

Know what you are selling. If you don't know, don't try to BS the crowd. They probably know more about it than you do.

Don't argue with somebody in the crowd. Just turn the sound system up a little and sell the next item. Make your decisions and stick to them if you are right. Auctions attract some strange people. If you do need to deal with somebody, try to have somebody who can sell while you are dealing with the guy. Don't let some loudmouth stop your auction. If you do, you are not in control, he is. That situation can turn bad pretty quick.

Video and record everything. That will stop all arguments and there is a possibility that you might be wrong and the person who says you clerked it wrong or whatever may be right. Don't argue, just tell them to wait until the auction is over and you will play the tape. 99% of the time they know they are just trying to bluff you.

I could go on and on.

It's an interesting business. It has been good to me and quitting my teaching job and going in the auction business was the best decision I have ever made in my adult life. Everybody determines their niche in the business, I never wanted the consignment business but a lot of people are happy doing that and there can be a lot of money in it. I always liked elegant antique auctions with high dollar collectibles, big bucks buyers and commission enough that I could have fresh flowers on the furniture and top quality advertising and still know that I was going to make money. My other love is collector car auctions. I just love 'em. Rolling along at 15, 20 30 thousand ~ seeing somebody get their dream car ~ the pageantry of rolling those beautiful cars across the block ~ I love the whole thing.

I also like machine shop/mechanics auctions. I know about a lot of that stuff and know how to set it up so it sells in the right order. That's a big part of a successful auction.

Here is a question I ask everybody new in the business: If you spend an hour a day drinking coffee down at the corner cafe every day, how much time is that in a year??? Figure it out, it's NINE FORTY HOUR WEEKS!!!!! in a year. 360 hours. You can't afford to take a two and a half month vacation from your business at this point in your business.

Best words of advice for any business: Take care of your business or you won't have one to take care of.

Talking about keeping your web site updated, I don't think I have updated mine since last fall but if you want to take a look at it, www.frontrangeauctions.com should get you there. I had to dump a bunch of pictures last fall so it would load for people with slower connections but there is still some stuff on it.

Good luck, don't get discouraged and quit. Tough it out. The first few will go well because you are new and enthused. After awhile it will get to looking like a lot of work and very little money. Hang in there, you'll get better auctions and the money will come. It's a long term business.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By mike peterson on Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 11:31 pm:

Stans a wise man when it comes to a seller, but a few things from a buyer, if the sale starts a 10am, start it at 10am not 10:15 or 10:30. dont nickle and dime your small items, sell them, keeps people on there toes, dont sell your high priced items last. people dont want to wait around, if their there bidding on a 10 grand car, there not gonna bid on your $20 scrap pile. thats my thoughts anyways yours may differ.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Stan Howe Helena, Montana on Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 11:37 pm:

Good points, Mike. As I said, I could write a book.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Aaron Griffey, Hayward Ca. on Friday, January 25, 2013 - 12:41 am:

In the fifties I worked for an excavating contractor that was an auctioneer.
Even when it wasn't his auction we would take and go to it.
Amazing how much time they'd waste trying to get that extra quarter for some wellhouse tool or broken fork..
By the time they got to the cows many of the cow buyers were gone home to milk their cows and the cows at the auction sold slow and cheap.
I remember one time one of out neighbors had an auction on the 3 or 4 acres that they still had left.
There were several guys that wanted to buy the '40 Ford Deluxe sedan that had 70,000 miles on it and looked like nobody ever sat in the back. Always garaged. The owner insisted it be sold last. They sold it in the middle of the auction and got a ton of money for it.
At first I got a kick out of him practicing his auction songs while he operated the back hoe.
He'd sell stumps rocks and parked cars that were near .
If there was snow on the ground his favorite was selling deer tracks.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Stan Howe Helena, Montana on Friday, January 25, 2013 - 01:03 am:

Conventional auction wisdom is to sell the better, larger items late in the auction to "Hold the crowd." I think that is BS. We sell good merchandise right from the beginning. My bidders know they'd better be there early. At the Redensek auction in Great Falls a couple years ago the second item sold was the Buick Skylark project car. It brought $66,000. Made everything after it seem cheap including the $40,000 57 T Bird and the $39,000 Auburn replica. We had $250,000 in the bank by the time most auction companies would have been half way through the pallets of junk. I can sell $5 pallets and boxes of parts late in the day, those buyers will stay and if they don't it is no big loss. Losing one person who pushes on every big item can cost the auction thousands. If he has to leave or he gets tired of waiting, there goes the commission.

For practice, I still sell the telephone poles along side the road once in awhile. They now have computer programs that simulate auctions that are a very good method of working on your chant.

I am a believer that you have to have a fairly good chant but there is a lot more to running a good auction than what your chant sounds like. Too many auctioneers spend too much time trying to dazzle the bidders with their chant and not enuf getting the money.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Craig Anderson, central Wisconsin on Friday, January 25, 2013 - 01:49 am:

The wisdom in selling the best stuff first is it lets the hopefuls know they're out on those items so they don't have to "wait and see" and not spend ANYTHING early in the sale because they thought they had to hold back for the "good stuff".
Once the big spenders have what they wanted everyone else can loosen up on less expensive items......and pay more for them....... :-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Sanders-Auburn Al on Friday, January 25, 2013 - 02:10 am:

Jim, That is a great portrait of your mule...


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By mike peterson on Friday, January 25, 2013 - 07:50 am:

It would be a good book to read Stan, u have a way with words. and yes i agree too, sell the high price car first, it sets the tone with the rest of them.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jem Bowkett on Friday, January 25, 2013 - 08:06 am:

Many years ago I was at an auction where a friend hoped to get about 10 apiece for a couple of rusty Buicks. The lot before was a Rolls Silver Ghost which made a record price - 65,000 I think. (Oh, to have a time machine!)

Auction fever took off and my friend made 100 each on the Buicks: he was in shock and dragged us into the bar, whiskies all round. Putting the star car in early can give the whole auction a boost.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mack Cole ---- Earth on Friday, January 25, 2013 - 03:44 pm:

I dont why it is but everytime I ever go to a big auction wanting 1 particular item it is allways sold LAST.
It was hotter than heck the day I went to the auction to bid on my 47 pontiac.They sold every car,every nut and bolt and peice of crap they could,and then,last but not least,they sold the 47.Werent many there wanting to bid,just a scrap man and me!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By mike dixon on Friday, January 25, 2013 - 10:55 pm:

thanks stan, paul and marty are good people, had a good time at the school thanks again


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Stan Howe Helena, Montana on Monday, January 28, 2013 - 01:06 am:

Just came back from the Montana state Auctioneers Convention. As usual, lots of big shots telling about all the big auctions they have and have had, how much money they make and what big shots they are. New guys in the business figuring they are going to run all us geezers out in a year or two and guys with a big hat and a razzle dazzle chant winning the contest while us old guys set back and watch. Was fun, saw a bunch of guys I know in the business, even some I like.


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