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    1. Shipper_calif is offline

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      #1

      Managing a Growing Auction Business

      Can anyone tell me how to manage my auctions? I have been selling on eBay for quite some time now. Earlier, when I had less items to sell, I could use simple pen and paper, but lately, my sales have increased, so it's a lot harder. We all know that customer service is an integral part of eBay selling, and I don't want to have unsatisfied customers. I have heard about auction management software and systems but have no idea what to buy. So, can all you eBay masters tell me how you manage this?
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    2. RogerSterling is offline

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      #2
      Sure, you just need to understand that eBay auctions seem like a lot of work, when in fact, they aren’t. You don’t have to be a scientist to run your operations. It’s just plain and simple work flow management. All you need to do is decide what has to be done and do it. Planning is essential!
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    3. Biztycoon's Avatar
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      #3
      That’s what the question is--how and what to plan? Here’s a better answer for you. Auction management tends to get confusing because there are so many small things to do. And these small things usually need to be done across functions. For instance, once an auction begins, you need to:

      • Put up your listing, notify the winner, and tell them the package is on its way.
      • Make sure that the inventory is in order.
      • Make sure that you have received the money and that your accounting system shows it.

      First, there are various functions to track, like finance, marketing, and operations. Second, it can get complicated and frustrating if there are different auctions at different stages. There are various approaches that you can take considering the scale of your operations and your technological capabilities.

    4. Jick_Magger is offline

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      #4
      Just elaborating on the points above. You could consider the following strategies:

      Work flow management
      Automation
      Spreadsheets
      Software

      Some of these systems will be expensive to put into place. Look at them in ascending order of your operations. This means that, as the operations get bigger, you should put the next level into action.

    5. Monica_GN is offline

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      #5
      Yeah, that’s true. That’s exactly what I did. I was a small seller, so I could easily manage it with a pen and paper system. But once I got a little bigger, I decided to manage the work flow. All this meant was that I had to decide all the activities that I needed to do to ensure smooth operations and no customer complaints. I then divided my day with respect to these activities. For instance, in the morning, I do all the accounting, and in the afternoon, I do the packaging and shipping. I do my research in the evening and list more items for sale at night. Alternatively, I know someone who had divided the days of the week. For instance, on Monday they would do a certain task, on Tuesday another, and so on and so forth.

    6. RogerSterling is offline

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      #6
      That's a good start, but I do not consider automation to be the next step. Sure, once you have made some money and realize that you haven’t been with your family in a week because you've been too busy, you begin to consider hiring people to do the job for you. The next thing I did was to hire a part-time accountant and a full-time shipping and receiving clerk. Initially, I posted my listings myself but then I got some neighborhood teenage kids to set up the listings for me. The system worked fine, and then I just had a 6-hour day monitoring them, giving them feedback, and paying them!

    7. Jick_Magger is offline

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      #7
      I am glad you got that right! I do things I forgot to mention at this stage, which are very important. This is your transition from being a backroom eBay seller to a corporation. Well, at this stage, it is important that you outsource your work. It could be done by machines or humans--it doesn’t really matter--as long as it is cost effective and you aren’t doing the work yourself.

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      #8
      Well, I’m glad that it worked for Collins, but I have seen a lot of people who tried to do this, and it didn’t exactly work out for them. This transition is very difficult to manage, but it's a very important one too. It could end up that your reputation--built on hard work--gets ruined by part-timers and college guys. So, what should you do to ensure that customer service doesn't take a hit?

    9. Jick_Magger is offline

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      #9
      Well, you could simply make it a priority for your employees. You know what has to be done, but a lot of employees don't feel like they have to. They do what they are told to do and get paid in the bargain. It's your job as a business owner to make sure that your instructions are explicit and that people involved know what needs to be done. There are two rules of the thumb that I use when I manage this way, and they are simple:

      • Use a pen and paper to chart out your process. Consider the people, money, and information that need to be passed on so that this happens effectively.
      • Understand how the processes link together.

      Each time you hire an employee, make sure you know about the activities they will have to perform. Corporations call these job descriptions. Then, make sure that all those involved understand what needs to be done step by step. Include contingency plans in case there is confusion. Give employees a set of standard operating procedures and review their performance. You will be surprised to see after a month or two of training that work is progressing well.

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      #10
      And this is also where automation plays its part. Automation is nothing but mechanizing repetitive tasks. For instance, the person who lists items has to go through the same tasks and routines over and over again. If you create templates, the employee could just look up the relevant template and fill in the information required. It will work just fine. Accounting software helps you in the same manner. Just keep an eye on the patterns that get repeated and can be carried out by machines. They will double your employee productivity.

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