Storage Wars’ Dan Dotson takes a 20% commission on every storage unit he auctions

If you’re a fan of A&E’s Storage Wars then you’ve probably wondered how much money Dan and Laura Dotson take from every storage unit they auction off.


Well a recent Storage Wars episode shined some light on what the Dotson’s company, American Auctioneers, takes for every unit they sell. During that season five show, Laura Dotson gave away how much she and her husband Dan make auctioning storage units during an argument with a buyer.

The commission, according to Laura, is 20%.

The episode: “The Man in Black is Back…” featured the return of the show’s primary antagonist Dave Hester.

In his two year absence from the show, Hester started a competing auction service. Clearly Dan and Laura weren’t happy. So when he returned to the show donning a shirt that says “Dave Hester Auctioneer”, Laura (who was working alone that day) was furious and took exception.

Laura confronted Hester and after some back and forth about what Laura could and could not do as an auctioneer, she screamed at Hester:

“THIS IS MY AUCTION. I’m getting commission from this auction and I am going to take 20% from you today too…”

There it is. Now this doesn’t mean that the Dotsons take 20% commission every time, but clearly it’s not an arbitrary number that Laura made up on the spot.

[UPDATE] Another episode during season 3 confirms that Dotson takes 20% of each locker sold. In “Dial C for Chupacabra” Barry ends up purchasing a unit for $1 and when he goes to “pay the lady”, he throws a handful of change onto the table saying: “Your commission is twenty cents” to which Dan signals to a pile of pennies “I’ve got it right here.”


How Much Does Dan Dotson Make a Year On Storage Units?

That episode didn’t just give away the commission that American Auctioneers charges storage companies, but Laura also divulged more business trade secrets, bragging to Hester:

I sell three thousand auctions a year!

No kidding, Laura. I get that Hester is annoying, but there’s nothing you can say to make him change. He’s an a-hole (and good TV).

Now that we’ve got the 20% number and the number of storage units they sell annually, it’s not hard to estimate how much the Dotsons pull in every year.

Let’s be conservative and say the average storage unit auctions for a final bid of $300. With the 20% commission applied, each locker would make $60 for Dan and Laura, conservatively. Take that $60 profit and times that by the 3,000 lockers sold a year, then it’s simple math (that I can plug into Google).

If the math is right, Dan and Laura Dotson make $180,000/year ($60*3000) from auctioning storage units.

The cost of doing business for American Auctioneers is negligible when compared to other businesses. Outside of some marketing materials, all the Dotsons have to do is fill out some paperwork, have a working car to drive to the storage facility, talk fast and don’t forget to pay the lady! DONE.

So that $180,000+ is pure profit because their business doesn’t have any inventory to worry about, equipment to maintain or employees to cut checks to unlike the actual buyers of the units.

If any of those numbers go up (commission, average locker sale price, lockers sold), then that’s just more money in the bank for the Dotsons. No wonder Hester wants to get into the auctioneering business.

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One thought on “Storage Wars’ Dan Dotson takes a 20% commission on every storage unit he auctions

  1. So when you add in the commissions, the taxes, the cost of throwing out garbage, the time it takes to go through and to move all that stuff, these people really aren’t making much if any money. Maybe the people on the show are making money because of the television show. Otherwise it just doesn’t add up very well in the end

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