My 2 Cents On Stuff

A column about letting go by Michelle Passoff of Free From Clutter Estate Sales - Oct 16, 2012

Should Clients Disappear At The Time Of Their Sale?

The general consensus is that if you are hiring an estate sale company to set up, market and run your estate sale that you should take a spa day or go golfing and leave the dirty work to the pros at the time of the sale.  In large part, I agree with the perspective that it is better for the client to be absent on the day of a sale, but it is not a hard and fast rule for our company. This is not the case for every estate sale company, so here is my two cents: communicating about your and their expectations about the level of your participation in the sale will enable everyone to relax, reap the greatest reward, and come out the other side of a sale satisfied.

I have found that each of our clients is unique when it comes to how they wish to participate in a sale. For example, one client told us that the keys to her mom’s townhome were under the front door mat and that we should do our job and send her a check.  We never met her because she wanted to spare herself the trip and the trauma of emptying her mom’s house.  Another client posted her son-in-law directly opposite our checkout desk for the full two days of the sale to watch the money change hands day in and day out.  Most of the time when clients want to stay at the sale, we put them to work so they don’t appear to be a bump on a log and in the way. We stationed one client at the jewelry booth to be both salesperson and cashier and assigned another to help load buyers’ purchases into their trucks and cars. Many clients have preferred to stop into a sale from time to time to check on how things were moving along and others have disappeared at the start of a sale and returned at the end.

Since we want our clients to be happy, confident and peaceful about their sale, we are flexible about how they come and go during the sale, but have one stipulation -- on the days of the sale we are ‘boss’.  If we, as the estate sale company, think it is appropriate to drop a price or refuse an offer, we say that it is within our jurisdiction to have the final say.  Negotiation at a sale should not be with the client, it should be with the shopper. And, if the client suddenly decides to be sentimental about any item, they can cry in a corner but not get in the way of its sale!  It can be difficult to see some stuff go out the door, but if you decide to be present at the sale that’s the price you pay.

If you choose to stick around a sale keep in mind that engaging with shoppers about the history of an item can help sell it or squash its appeal.  Sometimes it is better not to recount how you bought the item a shopper wants at a low, low price at a discount outlet twenty years ago or how you repaired a console table over and over until you had to chop its legs down to make it bench.  On the other hand, sharing the history of a painting or an antique may justify a high asking price and romance the sale.

Determine whether or not you want to be present or not at your sale and in what capacity. Discuss this with the estate sale companies you interview to help make your choice so that in the end there are no conflicts and everyone works together as a team.

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