A Thesis on Current Trends in the Estate Sale Industry
Steve Berryman, Director of Sales EstateMAX
There are a greater number of novice estate sale companies we are competing with for estate sale jobs now, chasing a clientele that has more options than ever to liquidate using their own means and outlets. This is a “double-whammy” in impact to us. To get a new job, we now have to win twice: We must win the selection by a client agreeing to use our services, and, and our format has to win over competing formats that are in some ways different from our own. We have to stand by our experience and reputation and use progressive marketing techniques to win new customers.
EstateMAX’s primary business is as a “True” estate sale company, processing sales within a home, as a “tag sale” with everything priced. We use a 3-day sale typically, discounting heavily on day 3 and promoting dynamically throughout the event that we ourselves host and monitor. We know from 21 years of experience, that this yields the most cash-for- stuff for the client, chiefly because we don’t have any moving expenses to take goods off-premises to a warehouse setting, for instance, and then we benefit from the added advantage of taking-in local customers who see our many strategically placed directional street signs taking folks right to our door. We have at times made 30% of all sales just from “walk-ins” who never saw an ad, but just dropped in by chance.
Our step one is to acquire a new job. We must differentiate ourselves from everyone from Facebook community pages, to outside auctions, to inside auctions, many of whom do not bring with them extended experience, true knowledge bonafides, process knowledge on marketing, sales, and know how on hi-tech photograph and videography.
We also have the hidden advantage of having a direct following, via our mailing lists and many versions of Facebook dedicated pages our industry. We reach about 120,000 interested potential shoppers, many we know from repeat sales. They know we only accept “good sales.”
The chief problem is that many folks that go fishing for an estate sale company have never done so before, and may have never even attended one in the past. How for them to be the judge? This especially in a “mad-world” where anyone that has ever conducted a yard sale, can talk the talk, and experiment with transferring this process into a house. As there are no licensing or regulatory hurdles in our area, MD, DC, NVA, anybody can claim to be an estate sale company!
In order to differentiate our offerings, and “what makes us different,” there is not but one answer in place, but a string of doing steps just a little bit better is essential. These include, and are not limited to:
*Having as much exposure at the front-end of the game as possible in order to get as many “at bats” or chances to press our format to potential clients. We have and generate as much word of mouth with realtors as possible. We engage our past clients to write positive reviews for us, and to get them to want to introduce our services to their needy friends and relatives.
*We conduct ongoing pro-level photography and videography which is added to our web presence, www.EstateMAXops.com and is cross posted to our own Email distribution lists, many dedicated Facebook pages, and to our own custom ads created to go onto estate sale platforms like EstateSales.net, etc.
*We submit proof of performance directly from all sales to Angie’s List, and do maintain a AAAAA rating going back years, and we hold their “Super Service Achievement Award” for 5 years going up to and including 2019, just announced.
None of the above good stuff is light hidden under a shade! We are presenting this directly to clients and real estate agents, and are producing written articles and blogs that further get our story out.
In the final analysis, to a client that is willing to listen openly, has not made any prior commitment to another company (of format) and is willing to take the time necessary to read our reviews, and stories of estate liquidation conquest, given a fair shake we win the jobs a high percentage of the time.
To beat the trend of greater competition, it must be done actively with extra preparation of marketing materials and methods. Extra attention must be taken to make that first impression on sales leads in the fasted and most positive way.
And care must be taken to look deeply into “hidden objections,” and answer to the ways of Auctions, In-Home Auctions, Facebook Marketplace, Craig’s List, and E-Bay. Again, most sophisticated neighborhoods already have been using the alternative Facebook listings, spoiling existing pricing structures, for several years now.
For instance, it is industry standard, especially in outlying areas, that a fully realized estate sale will return about .24 cents on the dollar, compared to that of an auction, which standards reveal as closer to .11 cents on the dollar.
Also, it cannot be overstated, how much money is lost selling “smalls” not piecemeal but as a lot in an Auction, and it cannot be overstated how much potential is eaten up by Auction companies that truck and cherry pick goods to an Auction House. A TRUE estate sale, as EstateMAX insists on conducting, easily these other methods of liquidating a property in the most productive way.
All of this said, a professional conversation with the clients, impressing them of the differences and company structures is essential. There is much to be learned in order to make an informed decision on what company to choose, but keep remembering, in the vast number of client meetings one is dealing with newbies that you must take the time to spoon feed, give examples, work out timetables, and encourage them ask answers to prove they were even listening- in some cases!
It’s a real war out there, and those that are prepared will come out on top.