This article has been verified for accuracy as of January 1, 2019.
In an industry that’s wildly unregulated in the United States in 2018, it pays to double check a company’s references and practices before signing any contracts. From Google Reviews and sturdy references to pro tips on making sure they’ll do what they’re promising you, we’ve littered this article with simple steps you can take to make sure you’re signing that contract without any reservations.
1. An estate sale company is always auditioning for you.
How they carry themselves in the meeting is how they’ll likely carry themselves while handling your belongings and selling to customers. Generational, universal human advice applies here more than ever – trust your gut. If you had a bad feeling about them when they came to your home, keep your options open; or bring up any reservations you may have. You want to be on the same page with the company you hire before you vacate your home completely and let them handle your belongings.
2. Reviews Matter, but Be Smart.
Without federal laws mandating how the second-hand markets should be run, there’s logically bound to be some rogue players out there who won’t follow through with their promises. Make sure to read reviews everywhere the company is present online – Google, Facebook, Yelp (not very common), and even the BBB if they’re listed.
Read each review carefully, but pay special attention to whom wrote it. If clients took the extra step to post a review after their estate sales were completed and they got their checks, that company likely left a strong impact on them. Take note! A positive review can give you an inside perspective into how they treat their clients. And notice reviews from customers, too. Just keep in mind that one or two bad reviews from a rogue customer/shopper may not be something to take to heart……..many shoppers want something for nothing and get angry about simple things. The estate sale company is trying to do their best for their client and “giving” things away is NOT in their best interest!
Estate sale shoppers are a tight-knit group of people. At least in our area of business, many of the shoppers know, or at least recognize, one another. They talk to each other; so when one company treats a customer unfairly, the others generally take note. But in the second-hand market, there are bound to be encounters when selling items. Why?
3. Unlike Retail, Customs don’t see Prices as Final
And many times, they’re not. It’s an industry standard for each progressive day of a sale to have higher blanket discounts. Day 1 is usually full price, and the last day is typically 50% – 75% off, dependent on the company’s policies or judgement. Their pricing strategy directly affects their bottom-line and how much money gets put back into your pocket.
The nature of expected discounts also leads customers to think they can haggle prices. Some companies will do this, some won’t. If you’re not sure what your intended hire’s policy is on negotiating prices, ask them.
Some customers may take the lack of negotiations as an insult, too. And they may leave bad reviews that aren’t warranted, so keep an eye out for those. But a company’s length in business and general practices will help shape the type of customers they attract to their sales, which brings us to..
4. Visit their estate sale in person if you can before hiring
How friendly they are with customers, their pricing strategy, and how well they organize their sales and market to shoppers will never be more apparent than when you visit their sale in person. Double check your gut feelings, see how they handle a dispute, and notice if they did their due diligence on pricing.
The difference between a regular-sized check and a “wow” payout comes into play when a company spends extra time researching the items they’re selling to verify market values. It’s easy to slap $20 on a piece of decor, but the brand, age, fine details, and intimate knowledge of it’s desirability on the current marketplace could bring in 10x the “let’s just sell it” price.
5. Can you find their sales on popular estate sale shopping apps?
Every company should be listing on at least one of the standard estate sale listing websites EstateSales.Net and EstateSales.Com. They should also be maintaining an email contact list – most shoppers want to know what’s up. If they go even further to market themselves on social media, Craigslist, that’s a definite plus.
6. Do they take good product photos?
A lot of shoppers, especially the dedicated ones, scope out a sale before they decide to show up. When a company takes quality photos that accurately depict the quality, style, and quantity of items they’re offering at each sale it is likely to encourage more shoppers to attend. That extends your bottom-line when the amount of money you make depends on getting more shoppers in the door.
7. And finally.. temperament matters
There are so many emotions that come into play in this industry – from rogue real estate agents trying to walk the property before a sale ends to stray neighbors popping in during prep week noting that they should get something because they were good friends with the homeowners. In both of those instances, how an estate sale company communicates with them is reflective of how you’re choosing to communicate with them.
It could also mean the difference between selling those furniture pieces your neighbor wanted to drop some serious cash on or them telling all their not to shop because they don’t like the company’s attitude. Pay close attention during your initial consultation to their willingness to answer all your questions. If they’re in it for the long haul and committed to helping you, they should be answering all your questions. If you notice them dodging your questions or providing sketchy answers about their staff or pay-out period, keep your options open.
The bottom-line is to trust your gut, do your research, and most importantly visit some sales to gauge each company’s true business character. If you’re looking for an experienced, dedicated estate sale company in the Johnson County area of Kansas, you should consider Green Frog Estate Sales.
They have a “Next Step Guarantee” where if you submit your home easily online or give them a call they guarantee they’ll help you identify your best next steps, even if it isn’t working with them.
If you’re in Johnson County and think you have enough for a sale, or still aren’t sure, give us a call. We’re ready to help you figure out what your next step might be. We don’t charge for an initial consultation, and we always provide service with a smile.