Beef Cattle Consignment Sales Possible Downsides
Knowing and understanding the beef cattle consignment sales possible
downsides will go a long way in helping you to prepare for and make it a positive event.
What are some disadvantages or potential problems with consignment sales?
Where can a consignor go wrong?
1. Lack of pre-planning ... Deciding at the last moment to consign to a particular
sale, inadequate time to get the cattle in shape, inadequate time to do a proper job of promotion and advertising.
Rush ... rush ... rush with no plan in mind. The lack of adequate planning is the biggest problem and most common
mistake by most breeders. Plan ahead, know what animals you want to sell, where and when you plan to sell and how
will be the best merchandising plan to get the desired results.
2. Choosing the proper consignment sale for your cattle ... Choose quality animals that
you feel sure will sell in the top 25 percent of the current market price structure, at least bring above the sale
average. Other consignors can be an excellent gauge of the potential quality of the offering. If several well-known
breeders are going to consign to a particular sale, the likelihood that more interested buyers might attend will be
good. Therefore, the consignment sale may provide an even better opportunity to put your best foot forward and sell
your cattle to someone who had little knowledge of you prior to the sale. However, there is a risk! You must be
aware that the well-known breeders will come prepared, so you will be under even more pressure to consign a top
3. Selection of cattle for consignment ... The single most important decision is the
quality of your consignment. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. A poor choice of consignment
can do irreparable damage to your reputation and image among fellow breeders. The better quality you bring the
better chance you have in selling the animal for a satisfactory price. Be honest with yourself! Simply ask, "Would
I buy this entry if someone else consigned it to the sale?" If not, go back to the pens and find another
consignment. Most potential buyers will judge your total operation by your consignment to the sale. They will
wonder, "Surely, Mr. Jones consigned one of his better animals? Is this the best that Mr. Jones has to offer? If
so, I'm not interested in any of his cattle ... today or later." Don't let this happen to you. Match your
consignment to the quality that will be at the sale. We all like to keep our good herd replacements, but you may
have to sacrifice at least one good one. Say to yourself, "I am going to have one of the top three consignments at
the sale, not necessarily the best, but one of the top." When the customers, as well as other consignors go home,
you want them to be very complimentary of your consignment. Have them in proper condition, well displayed and
attractive. If consigning breeding age females, make sure that the breeding dates, pregnancy status and service
sires will be in demand by the potential buyers. In other words, sell something that is in demand at the time, not
cattle that were in demand five years ago. Never sell something that you would not buy yourself!
4. Not doing your homework ... Be sure to allow plenty of time to advertise your
consignment to the buying public. Contact potential buyers by telephone, letter or personal visit prior to the
sale. Obtain a quality photo. Good photographs are better than 1000 words! They help sell your product. Never count
on other people, including your breed association, sale managers or field representatives to sell your animals for
you. You are totally responsible for your offering. If someone helps, that is an extra benefit of the consignment
sale, but never count on someone else to do your marketing. That should also be an added incentive to consign
quality. When you consign a quality animal, sale managers and field representatives will want to tell others about
the animal. It's tough for them to recommend a poor consignment to someone if they don't particularly care for the
animal themselves. Try to have a satisfactory bid on your consignment prior to the sale. Hopefully, there will be
plenty of buyers interested in your consignment. But if not, then you are assured of getting your consignment sold
for a satisfactory price because you worked hard merchandising your entry prior to the auction.
5. Poor merchandising effort at the sale ... Arrive early and allow your cattle to
recover from the haul. Provide a neat, clean display area with proper stall identification, animal consignment
information and ranch promotional material. Try never to let a potential customer leave your display area without
carrying some ranch or consignment promotional material with them. Of course, you should try hard to sell your
consignment, but at the same time, you are trying to create an image of your total program, your cattle at home and
yourself. Be professional!
6. Poor sale management ... Too much money (commission) for too little service. Be
aware of services to be rendered by sale management and the appropriate expense. Sale management should appraise
the offering, help establish the sale expense budget, assist with livestock selection, possibly screening the sale
entries if there is not a sale committee assigned this task, handle advertising and catalogue preparation, provide
a mailing list and potential buyers, provide a pre-sale talk and clerking assistance, hire the auctioneer, and make
sure the ring help is competent and works sales for a living and not as a sideline. Ringmen play a very important
role in the success of a sale, and are often overlooked in terms of the value they add to the offering. Some sale
management firms offer additional services for a fee such as fitting, clipping and conditioning the cattle, as well
as food and refreshment coordination. These services are not typical of sale management, and those that offer it
expect to be compensated for these additional services. They will typically do anything that they are being paid to
cover. Sale management is a very tough job, but for five to 10 percent of gross sales revenue, depending upon size
of sale, facilities available and services rendered, sale managers should provide the service and work for the
consignors. Not all sale managers charge the same; they are generally close in terms of commission required to
manage a sale, but some will charge considerably less; those are the ones to be wary of ... you typically get what
you pay for!
Advertising and Beef Cattle Marketing