By Donna Frake; Now Media Group
Carol Miller knows how to call for a bid, the sound that sells in the auctioneering world.
The Oconomowoc resident and owner of Bailey’s Honor Auction and Estate Services, is a leader in the industry and in recognition of that, was inducted into the Wisconsin Auctioneer’s Association’s Hall of Fame earlier this year.
With 20 years of experience in the auction industry, she has distinguished herself at both the state and national levels. Miller was the 2010 Wisconsin State Champion Auctioneer and a finalist in 2013 in the National Auctioneers Competition.
She traces her love for the business back to her childhood.
‘My parents used to go to auctions all the time and I was always fascinated by the stories that accompanied old items. I loved going to different auctions and sales; I loved the history of them. I was always around it, because my parents collected,’ she explained.
Off to auction school
Miller, a UW-LaCrosse grad, was a recreational therapist in her first career.
‘After I had children, I was looking for a career change. I was looking for an alternative job where I could be a little more flexible. I did a little bit of brokering for collectors. That kind of morphed into doing some antique shows and markets. All of that really surrounded itself with auctions, and I just loving going to them — everything about them. From the auctioneer to the relationship that you had at auctions, and the community the auction represented,’ she said.
‘After my second daughter (was born), I decided I was going to go to auction school. In 1993, I went to the Worldwide College of Auctioneering in Mason City, Iowa. It is one of, if not the, premier auctions schools in the country. It has probably produced more auction champions than any other school.’
The course runs between 11-14 days.
‘It’s a very intense education and they have a lot of follow up education. Once you are a graduate, you can come back and audit. I have been back once for a few days for brush up classes,’ she said.
Her education in the field continues.
‘Right now, I will start my second year of a three-year course called the Certified Auctioneer Institute. Only about 6 percent of auctioneers in the country complete that. It is an advanced education program for auctioneers put on by the National Auctioneer’s Association, which I’ve been a member of since 1993. You’re learning from all the top professionals. It’s business education, a lot of technology and how to advance your business for best practices in the industry,’ Miller said.
For the program, she goes to Indiana University for one week, for three consecutive years.
For Miller, the best part of her job is the people she connects with.
‘I enjoy the people. They invite you into their lives and you have the opportunity to sell their assets, be it their business, their real estate, or their personal property, to assist them in transitions.
‘Most people we work with are transitioning from one thing to another. We get an opportunity to assist families during a time of loss. For some people it can be overwhelming. We can respectfully help them with their assets and treat those assets as if they were our own. We market them to the best of our ability and get them into the hands of other people who are going to appreciate them they way they did.
‘These things were very important to them (the family member who passed), and sometimes families have a hard time with that. But you can only take so much of another person’s life into your own,’ she noted.
‘Those are the things I like, the stories, the history and the opportunity to form relationships with customers, client and fellow auctioneers,’ the hall of fame member explained.
Miller said auctions are one of the preferred methods of asset disposition, and the field is expanding.
‘There is so much being done with auctions now. There are online auctions, simulcast auctions, traditional live auctions. It’s really cool,’ she said.
The online offerings provide a diverse marketplace, with an opportunity to reach a worldwide audience.
‘Every asset needs to be evaluated individually to see which auction delivery system works the best. Maybe it’s the live auction, or having simulcast, which means while you’re having the live auction, you’re also broadcasting it on the Internet,’ she said.
‘We come in and do a preconsultation. The market is going to tell us what the value is. We evaluate whether we think that particular asset can we meet your expectations through the auction method. Certain things sell better than others, that is just the way the market is,’ Miller said.
On the state level, Miller has served as a director and through all the chair positions to vice-president and president of the Wisconsin Auctioneer’s Association.
‘I was very active and instrumental in the educational aspects of the association, both from our annual seminars, conventions and continuing education program,’ she said.
‘I actually served two terms as vice president, and an extra term as president-elect. It gives you a great opportunity to assist other auctioneers in the state and help keep our association strong,’ she said of her involvement.
‘On the national level, I have been member for 1993 and regularly attend the conventions across the United States. I have served on a women in the auction industry committee for the National Auctioneers Association and am involved in the national auctioneers certified program right now,’ Miller added.
Good way to buy, sell
Bailey’s Honor has become a bit of a family affair. Both Miller’s two daughters worked with the business while going to school and now her husband, Todd, has joined her.
‘I think we’re going on our fourth year of him being full time, which is great. He comes with an IT-technology background, so it has allowed us to expand in those areas. I think our ability to catapult our business and really make some great strides has come since he joined us fulltime.,’ she said.
In addition, the business also features a service for nonprofits.
‘Another arm to our business is benefit auctions. I do a lot of fundraising and consulting with nonprofit organizations and use my auctioneering skills to assist them in raising funds for their groups,’ she noted.
Miller advises people to consider auctions, whether as a buyer or a seller.
‘It is a great way to sell and purchase items. It’s a great way to go; it’s fast, fun and really transparent for the buyer and seller. Everything is upfront,’ she said.