You’re at a car auction, and you’re asking yourself, “What in the name of all that is holy is this guy saying? I can’t understand a word of it! This is real auctioneer chant!”
You’re not alone. A lot of the time, newcomers to car auctions are utterly baffled by the rapid speech of the auctioneer. But once you know what he’s trying to communicate and how he’s doing it, you’ll get the hang of it. You might be surprised to learn that an auctioneer who speaks slowly and intelligibly isn’t actually doing a very good job.
So why do auctioneers speak in such a rapid-fire method? It’s called the “auctioneer’s chant” and it’s used as a means of moving more items through more quickly. The auctioneer has to sell a lot of cars in a short period of time, and the “chant” keeps things moving. This is the answer on question, why do auctioneers talk the way they do?
A basic chant goes something like this:
All right folks, I have up for auction a 1994 Ford mustang, cherry, lots of new parts, who’ll give me four large?
Four thousand, four, now who gimme four fiddy, got four fiddy, got four fiddy from the man in the back, now who gonna go five?
Fi fiddy, fi fiddy bid, man in the back, fi fiddy, now who gimme six? Fi fiddy bid, who six?
Six thousand! Now who gimme seven, seven on the board now, who gimme seven fiddy?”
And on it goes.
An auctioneer will also use filler words that consist of everything but the numbers. Things like “Pretty, cherry, nice car!” Filler words essentially work to help buyers get a bit of time to determine whether they want to go higher. The “filler” words essentially “carry” the numbers over into the next part of the chant.
Most auctioneers have their own series or combination of what is known as “filler words.” These words are everything except the numbers. Filler words are used to restate the last number bid and to give buyers time to consider whether they want to bid higher. The filler words are carriers – they “carry” the numbers, which are the most important part of the chant.
Why it Works
It’s almost hypnotic. A car auctioneer will create a rhythm in the chant, using phrases that flow, almost like poetry. By using filler words interspersed with numbers, the auctioneer regulates the bidding. The bidder knows what to expect, and the bids keep coming in at a regular pace. The chant also keeps the bids fresh in the mind of the auctioneer.
Keeping the Beat
If you think that an auctioneer almost sounds like he’s singing, you’re right. He’s keeping a beat, creating excitement and keeping the auction moving at a good pace. In the final analysis, the auctioneer can only chant as fast as the bidders bid.
Next time you go to a car auction, or even if it’s your first time, watch how the auctioneer is pacing things. Notice how he’ll adjust his pace between the cars that are on auction, and adjust it for each one. Notice how he uses the “filler words.” If you do all that, you’ll not only understand why the auctioneer talks so fast, you’ll actually understand what he’s saying!