I was hoping to get some feedback regarding a service idea that I’m debating whether or not to pursue for some side income.
For about a year now I’ve been successfully selling items for friends and family on craigslist. We have an arrangement where I take full control of the selling process, removing them from the equation altogether. I take the item to my home and do everything from cleaning it (if needed), taking excellent photos (including staging the item, if appropriate), researching comparable sales (to determine the appropriate price point), creating the ad listing, corresponding with customers by phone or email and eventually meeting with the customer to finalize the sale. For my services I receive 50% of the sales price.
The benefit to the item owners is that they don’t need to deal with the hassle of the sales process – buying an ad in the paper, dealing with “tire kickers” emailing or calling them, negotiating over price, haggling with strangers at their doorstep, etc.
I work from home, which affords me the time and opportunity to correspond and meet with customers. Having done this for a year now, I found that I really enjoy the sales process. I’m very good at establishing a rapport with potential customers and love the feeling after I’ve closed a sale.
I see an opportunity to extend this service beyond just friends and family. Two potential markets I foresee: 1) people moving who can’t take items with them; 2) baby boomers who’ve accumulated a life’s worth of possessions and are looking to downsize.
My questions to you are:
(Of course there are many more details that I’ve left out of this post, but I’ve rambled enough already!)
Thanks for any comments you might have!!
eBay 'trading assistants' or consignment sellers, have done very well with this idea in the past. I wouldn't be willing to pay 50% of the sale price though. Maybe 20-25% tops. Otherwise, to me it's not worth bothering.
I think it's a great business model and I have done this on a small scale as well. I would to hear more about how you market your services. You might want to consider writing an eBook about this business model.
I think the % depends on the final sales price. I don't think somebody who asks you to help sell a vehicle is going to want to part with 50% if you sold their car for $2000 or even $1000.... I would set a cap maybe around $150-250 is the highest fee I would charge for assisting you selling any large ticket item online, but definitely for small prices items say under $50 I would charge around 40%, its about your time and effort selling items for people. If people just don't understand eBay/Craigslist or online selling at least they can get something for their stuff vs. trying to sell it in a garage sale which IMO is not fun anymore.
If you want to pursue any more details on online selling consignment, visit Skip McGrath's website http://skipmcgrath.com/ and get the eBook course he sells about eBay Consignment business, it's a very good read and has some good legal documents in the book.
I think your idea is very viable. I created a similar company, helping people sell items (www.Greenskyselling.com)
I primarily help small businesses sell items and have had a lot of success selling on Craigslist. I think your idea is really cool and can work. Also, I know people don't like meeting up with complete strangers from Craigslist to sell there item, so what you do, can solve a big problem.
If interested, I would love to talk more with you about this.
I would to talk with you on the phone and possibly interview you about your business for a membership forum I am on with about 4000+ people.
Email me at email@example.com and let me know when is a good time to talk.
I think you have a solid idea here and a proven track record to work from. I used to do something along these lines by purchasing items locally on craigslist and then reselling them to a larger market on ebay (it worked).
Viewing this from the user's point of view, I would first of all echo Rob's thoughts in that anything more than 25% seems too high for me to consider (then again, I like selling things so I may not be the best barometer). And I agree with Doug that you'll need a cap for expensive items where the percentage results in a ridiculous commission.
Another thought I had was, "Why doesn't this guy just buy my stuff directly?" What I mean is that as someone in your target market looking to unload my stuff, it may be more appealing for you to just purchase it from me and get it off my hands/mind immediately. You can offer me whatever you feel is reasonable for my stuff and make whatever profit from it you will - I don't care much about how you're selling it after it leaves my house.
This seems more straightforward, but it also doesn't set you up as a offering an actual service - you become another guy looking to buy stuff.
Just some thoughts to consider.
Echoing Dustin's thoughts... Have you ever seen the show American Pickers? Why not "pick" the items people are trying to sell, pay them as low as you fairly can, and turn around and resell the item on Craigslist or whatever.
If you're great at researching prices, likable, and enjoy negotiating, this seems like a home-run.
I can see it now... Craigslist Pickers
I've also been considering a similar business idea and I've already worked with someone who wanted to sell a lot of their items but didn't want to go to the effort of posting them for sale herself. I have one question for you - what if the item doesn't sell? Do you lower the price until it does, or do you have a flat fee for items that don't sell?
Piggybacking on Dustin and Mike's ideas. You might want to have both buying outright and a percentage of final sales price for your business. If you are someone who can find valuable items at estate sales and the like you can pick those items and then sell on your own. On the other hand I'm sure you will find many folks who are to busy to deal with Craigslist folks and would be happy to pay a commission on what you sell the item(s) for.
Your idea of working with folks who are moving is great because they are going through all of their stuff at that time. You could have a flyer with you when you are driving around town and when you see a for sale sign in the yard place the flyer on the door. Or have someone do this for you (high school/college student).
Tony's right. That's a fantastic idea! You might also be able to network with realtors or real estate companies. A lot of times agents will complain that it's hard to show a cluttered house to prospective buyers. This would be a great time for them to mention your services.
Additionally, I wonder if you could market to self-storage people. I bet most of them would like to sell some of their stuff if only it weren't for the hassle.
I've been looking into this a bit more, and under Craiglist's own website FAQ's, there is this:
"Can I post ads on craigslist on behalf of others as a paid posting agent or posting service?
Offering a posting service, or acting as a Posting Agent is prohibited. Violators agree to pay liquidated damages for each posting made."
If I read it correctly, it seems to say that what you're doing above is prohibited. I do know some businesses do this (and advertise, such as Green Sky Selling below). Anyone have any explanations for this?
Kelly, I also saw some lawsuits filed by Craigslist against people acting as posting agents. The dilemma, as I read it on another website, is that Criagslist says that you can get a license to act as a posting agent, but there is no documentation on how to get that license, or if that license even exists.
On the surface, it looks like a great idea, but I'd like to hear from Craig about this posting agent issue as well.
Best way to test the idea is print up some flyers and hit the neighborhoods.