Fundraising auctions serve many different purposes – they create a deeper sense of connection within your community, provide tangible value and understanding around your organization’s work, and of course, provide financial support for your cause. It's easy for a guest to come and enjoy bidding on items and socializing – but what about when the night is over and everyone still has to check out?
This is when lines can get long, frustrations run high, and what was just an enjoyable event minutes ago has turned into a huge headache.
Thankfully, there are ways to mitigate the long lines and chaotic checkouts – and not only mitigate, but make them enjoyable!
How to Run a Seamless Silent Auction Checkout
One of the best things you can do to create a seamless silent auction checkout experience is to focus on simplification. The goal of a silent auction checkout is to provide a quick and enjoyable experience for your guests and volunteers, from the moment they enter the checkout line all the way to exiting the venue with their items or vouchers in hand.
We often find that event organizers are either:
a) overthinking their checkout process
b) not thinking about their checkout process critically enough
Our goal at Handbid is to find a happy medium, where we come alongside our partners to think logically about what will create a great experience for everyone involved. Adopting a mindset of efficiency and hospitality is key to creating a stress-free and simple checkout.
One way to do this is to think about the most natural location and set up for your checkout possible. For example, it may seem straightforward to just set up your checkout tables in the biggest open space and move on. But what if there’s a live band playing in that same room? Even if you plan out the most meticulous checkout process, it could end up chaotic because of the noise! So think about how your checkout space will be able to hold up throughout the duration of your event.
Additionally, consider the way your checkout flow is set up. If at all possible, keep your checkout tables close to where your auction items are stored so that wait times stay low and your volunteer item runners don’t have to actually run when they’re retrieving your guests’ items.
The principle of simplification applies to working with volunteers as well – pause and ask yourself:
- What they will absolutely need to know in order to do their job well.
- How many volunteers you will need based on expected attendance (we suggest a 1:10 volunteer to guest ratio).
- If there are any systems in your checkout process that may cause confusion among large numbers of volunteers (and then find a way to change that system!).
The bottom line is to have plans for every contingency. Overplanning may not sound simple, but when you put on an event having thought through dozens of factors for your silent auction process, you’ll be able to respond to any scenario in the moment with ease and confidence.
Listen to the full podcast below for even more advice on
how to run a seamless run a silent auction checkout
Tips for Speeding Up Silent Auction Payment Processing
So now you understand the basics of how to run a silent auction checkout that doesn’t end in disaster. But we don’t just want to avoid a disaster – we want to make it a great experience that’s fast and enjoyable for everyone involved. How? Start by using these five tips:
1. Capture credit cards at the door
Rather than collecting credit card information after the event when everyone is trying to leave at once, provide an option for your guests to input their credit card information into your system when they arrive.
To cut down wait times even more, give your guests the option to enter their card information through their phone. The Handbid app is a great way to encourage a smoother checkout process by letting guests have a fully mobile checkout experience, and the beginning of the event is a great time to show guests how to do that. Handbid allows for partial or fully mobile options, keeping the card on file and making the checkout process easier from the outset.
2. Use an integrated payment system
Handbid provides an integrated payment system as a convenience to you and your bidders so that no one ever has to enter their payment information more than once. The time it takes to fill out payment information adds up quickly, and although the Handbid integrated credit card system may cost a few more dollars than another checkout service, the time it saves you in the long run is completely worth it.
3. Organize your auction items so they’re easier to find
If you skip this step, you may have a bidder who has verified their invoice and paid, but they then have to wait because their items can’t be readily found! When you’ve optimized your event in every other way, don’t let this be the moment it breaks down.
One of the simplest ways to organize your auction items is through a number system. For example, you could label items as follows:
- 100s - 300s are gift certificates
- 400s are big items
- 500s are an item and a certificate
But no matter how you design your system, the point is that you need a system that will tell volunteers where an item is located. It gets hectic at the end of an event - you can reduce that by being ahead of the game.
And once you have a system you like, you can use it time and time again for a seamless process with every bidder, at every event.
4. Encourage your guests to pay from their device
No more long checkout lines – a mobile bidding system allows guests to access their invoices and receipts right from their phones. If they already have a card on file with Handbid, they can pay their invoice immediately. Then when your guest goes to leave, they simply need to show their paid-in-full invoice to a staff member or volunteer to collect their items.
5. Set up a cash/check line
Even if the majority of your event attendees readily adopt a mobile payment option, you will likely have a handful of people who still prefer to use cash or check for their payments. You can create one line for mobile-paying guests to get their items and a separate line for those paying with cash or checks.
To stay organized, Handbid allows you to record cash/check payments manually so you keep all of your transactions in the same system. Since recording these payments takes a little extra time, you’ll maintain a much quicker process by separating your guests out according to payment type.
Final Note on Running a Silent Auction Checkout
Learning to use mobile bidding and payments can be a big transition for your organization and your event guests – but the payoff is so worth it! If you want to see for yourself how ideas about mobile payments can create a more enjoyable and seamless checkout experience for your guests, book a Handbid demo today!
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