My summer adventure at dreamdirt farm real estate and auctions
When I first accepted this internship, I was asked by numerous family and friends, “Where are you working this summer?” I would respond, “I have a summer internship with a farm real estate company called DreamDirt.” Everyone’s response was nearly all the same, “You are working where? Who is DreamDirt?” Eventually they would smile and wish me luck and continue on with their day. But little did they know - by receiving this internship I considered myself very lucky.
My name is Gracie Vatthauer and I spent my summer as the Communications Intern for DreamDirt. I started my internship in May, and today as I write this blog post is my last day here. In a few short weeks I will return to Iowa State University to finish my last year of school studying Agricultural Communications.
When I heard about DreamDirt and their internship, I had the same thought as my hometown friends, “Who is DreamDirt?” I found their website, did a little snooping, and thought this would be a cool internship! I did not know of anyone who worked for an auction company and I am always excited to try something new. I was ready for a great summer adventure!
On my first day, the founders Jason Smith, Nicole Smith, Tom Bradley, and the rest of the team came to the De Soto, IA office and welcomed me with a picnic! That first day showed me that this company has a friendly employee atmosphere. A highlight of the summer was creating the beautiful flowers that hung in the front of our office. I am a total horticulture nerd, so when I was asked by Tom to purchase and take care of the flowers, I was ready!
Planting flowers was my first project for the DreamDirt's De Soto office
Five things to know about auctions and dreamdirt
As my summer went on, I learned five valuable lessons about DreamDirt and the auction industry as a whole:
Putting on a live auction is a lot of work!
Online land auctions work and they are awesome!
It takes a TEAM to have a successful auction.
DreamDirt Auctioneers truly care for the people they work with.
DreamDirt has extremely knowledgeable employees
1. Putting on a live auction is a lot of work! Even though this summer I attended just one of our large live estate auctions, I know how much time and effort went into creating a very successful sale. We had a great turn out to this auction, but the behind-the-scenes preparation for the day took a lot of man and woman-power. A few of things necessary to pull of a great live auction included: a ton of advertising, moving the machinery to the fairgrounds where the auction was held, finding a caterer for food, electricity at the fairgrounds, safety permits, and many other pre-auction essentials. This also included meeting with the family multiple times to solidify their expectations for the day. At the end of the day, our sellers were very happy with how everything sold, and all our hard work and preparation paid off!
Live auctions are a lot of work, but the sellers were extremely happy with the results of the auction.
All of our hard work and preparation paid off!
2. Online auctions work and they are awesome! Before I started at DreamDirt, I loved the idea of going to a live auction. I didn’t even think that land could be sold online because I had never seen it done before. Growing up, my parents and siblings would always go to estate auctions and we would see all of our friends at the auction. Now I see how this can actually be a detriment to the live auction because bidding against our friends can put a strain on the relationship if one outbids the other. This factor is the reason DreamDirt’s online auctions work so well!
I have watched Tom and Jason receive above market value prices for their land sellers during online auctions because all the bidders are anonymous, and all social pressures are removed. One of my first weeks at DreamDirt, there was an online auction for a property near our Mason City office. A few days prior to the auction, DreamDirt received a couple phone calls asking to meet in-person to bid because they did not have internet access. They met in the office and the auction was just as successful. Another huge bonus of online auctions - bidders can bid from ANYWHERE. Just last week during an auction, there was a gentleman on vacation in Colorado bidding on a farm DreamDirt was selling in Iowa! It is amazing to watch the bids come in and the seller’s eyes light up as they sit in the office here with us. That was my favorite part of this summer - talking with the sellers about their memories on the farm. They truly loved the land they were selling and wanted it to sell for market value. Selling your family’s farm can be an emotional process to go through and the DreamDirt team will always help their sellers through it.
DreamDirt can accommodate anyone to our online auctions.
3. It takes a TEAM to have a successful auction. Sometimes we call ourselves the “DreamDirt Team”, but that is exactly what the team is. Everyone in the staff has a specific role to play to make every aspect of the auction successful. From generating interested sellers and buyers, to creating advertising for the auction, to facilitating all the paperwork and legalities, everyone plays a specific part in making sure the selling process is efficient. DreamDirt really strives to create a safe, welcoming, and supportive atmosphere for all employees. Some of my favorite days this summer were when Jason and Tom would say we are having a Team picnic!
The DreamDirt Team provides a welcoming atmosphere.
4. DreamDirt Auctioneers truly care for the people they work with. This can be taken in two different ways. One being the DreamDirt employees, and the other being DreamDirt’s clients. The employees of DreamDirt look out for each other and outside of work are friends. Tom and Jason have created an environment that is welcoming, and everyone feels valued. The work culture is one a company should strive for. Being a female in a male-dominated industry can be trying at times, but DreamDirt respects everyone’s talents and qualities equally. Tom and Jason constantly push the DreamDirt Team to strive for excellence and grow not only professionally, but also personally.
Jason, Nicole, and Tom lead by doing and really care for the people they work with.
5. DreamDirt has extremely knowledgeable and very talented employees. Everyone who works for DreamDirt has an important role, and are extremely talented at that role. To start off, Jason and Nicole created DreamDirt at their kitchen table and now run one of the most successful farm auction companies in the industry. Jason is a brilliant business owner who leads by example, continually builds relationships, and is easily considered an expert when it comes to auctions. Nicole is the brainpower behind BidCapture, DreamDirt’s proprietary online bidding platform. Tom, the lead bid caller and auctioneer, has so many connections around the state of Iowa and the country. Rachel is a great Real Estate agent, and is extremely smart at facilitating online auctions and managing BidCapture. Stephanie is your go-to-gal on understanding the paperwork process of completing an auction. Kristen and Rylee are the backbone of DreamDirt’s outreach and are who I worked with most of the summer. They have a great eye for graphic design, and their creativity is outstanding. They truly know how to deliver the best image of DreamDirt to the public as possible. All of the folks who work at DreamDirt have taught me so much this past summer. This company is so strong because of the people who work here.
Kristen, Rylee, and the rest of the DreamDirt Team have an important role in creating a successful auction company.
DreamDirt is always busy!
Three big adventures we had this summer included the North Iowa Fair, our inaugural Land Seller Seminar, and the De Soto Open House. DreamDirt had a booth at the North Iowa Fair held in mid-July to promote the new Mason City office and launch the new eBook that Jason, Nicole, Tom and Kristen created earlier in the summer. The eBook offers tips and tricks to advanced and effective online auctions in today’s day and age. In preparation for the fair, I created two different flyers: one showcasing DreamDirt’s most successful auctions and the other describing the Land Seller Seminar scheduled for later that week. These were both great talking points to those who stopped at the booth.
The North Iowa Fair was the launching point for DreamDirt’s new eBook; on the table are the Land Seller Seminar flyers and Evidence of Successful Auctions Flyer that I created for the fair.
The Land Seller Seminar series started in late July and was a fantastic success. It was a great and informative event for prospective land sellers to learn more about the process and who DreamDirt is. Before the day of the event, I created multiple newspaper advertisements and social media content. On the day of the event I was in charge of preparing the office, taking photos of the presenters, and welcoming the attendees. The team will be continuing the seminars in late August and September if you are interested in attending.
DreamDirt’s Land Seller Seminars offer attendees advice on selling farmland.
To conclude my internship, I was in charge of hosting the De Soto Office Open House! This event was open to the communities of Adel, Winterset, De Soto and neighboring towns. I coordinated the entire event from inviting the Chambers of Commerce in the area, creating advertisements, hiring a food caterer, renting the seating, and seeing the execution of everything on the day-of! It was a very successful day. I really appreciated how supportive the community was of our event!
DreamDirt had a very successful Open House at the De Soto Office!
Even though many of my hometown friends did not know of DreamDirt six months ago, they do now as I have shared the amazing experience I had this summer. I am so thankful for this opportunity to work with these great people. Even as the summer intern I always felt like my opinion was valued, and that in itself means the world to me. This has been a great summer and I leave DreamDirt with a lot of new knowledge and a full heart!
- Gracie Vatthauer. 2019 Summer Communications Intern