In 2006, he founded McLemore Auction Company in Nashville, Tennessee.
His goal was to bring a high-quality auction service to owners of real
estate and personal property. However, what he didn’t recognize at the
time was that there are two types of businesses: a lifestyle business
and a growth business.
“I thought I was going to turn the auction business into a McDonald’s
franchise,” McLemore said. “Why not? How hard can it be? I wasted a lot
of time trying to figure out how to make a business like that work.”
McLemore thought he was creating a growth business – something that
would attract venture capitalists. He hired seven full-time employees
and staffed up to seven full-time equivalent employees for large volume
“What I really wanted to do was run a lifestyle business,” he said.
“That’s what attracted me to the industry in the first place.”
He made the tough decision about three years ago to focus on what he was
good at and downsize the business down to just himself, his wife and
one employee – an assistant that eventually quit and wasn’t replaced. He
was able to do all this after he chose to delegate tasks to third
Delegate your phone
For instance, McLemore spent far too much time on the phone taking calls
that could be handled by someone else, so he hired a Portland,
Ore.-based company called Ruby Receptionists as his live-call answering
“The phone is a disaster,” he said of an example of tasks that take away from quality work hours.
Ruby Receptionists gets his auction list on Monday and the team there is
provided with all the information they need to inform callers. However,
McLemore has a two-tiered system set up so that if a caller isn’t
satisfied with what Ruby Receptionist offers, they are sent to another
service that staffs personal assistants who each work with a handful of
clients. They are equipped to handle questions Ruby can’t. Regardless,
it is all part of the delegate system.
There are a number of advantages to this system. First, the people
taking the calls aren’t his employees, so there are no payroll taxes or
compensation or sick days to worry about. It also frees up McLemore to
do what his sole purpose in the company should be – taking care of his
sellers. In fact, McLemore said there are a number of things an
Auctioneer should never do.
“Never design advertising,” he said. “If you’re good at it, it’s because you did it way more than you should have.”
There are too many tasks that take up precious “mind space,” McLemore
said. He recommends that Auctioneers contract with a bookkeeper so that
they never have to pay a bill or open mail; the bookkeeper will hand
over items that demand the attention of the Auctioneer. He said
Auctioneers should contract with a janitorial service so that if you
have an office, it’s always taken care of. And, never hang your own
“Never do the same thing twice,” he recommended. “This is a big thing.
If you have a repeatable process, do it once really well and find a way
to copy it.”
This last bit of advice is something he does with frequent questions he
gets via text message. When he gets a question for the first time, he
carefully jots down a response and saves it on his phone. When the
question comes up again, he just copies and pastes his response. In
essence, he chose to delegate the task of answering repeated questions
to his saved list of replies. The result is the same – it saves time and
accomplishes the same goal.
Delegate your website
McLemore is also testing something he refers to as “live admins.” It’s a
live-chat service that pops up on his company’s website after a user
has visited for 30 seconds or longer. These are actual people trained by
his assistant, Janet, to answer questions that help users find what
they’re looking for on the website.
“It’s shocking how much information is on the website and how people can’t find it,” he said.
McLemore said despite the fact that the auctioneering industry is a
“tough, hands-on business,” when an Auctioneer finds themselves doing
anything other than managing the seller, “that’s a job for delegation.”
“We tend to brag about how much we work,” he said. “It’s a pride thing –
it’s macho. It’s nonsense. What are you going to do with the time you
free up? I encourage you to spend time with your family. Spend time with
your friends, because you never know.”
This article was an excerpt from a presentation given at the 2017 NAA
International Auctioneers Conference and Show. Want even more tips
regarding this topic? NAA members can access the full audio of this
presentation and many others in the NAA Knowledge Center