A new year always brings with it new beginnings. If you’re starting an estate sale company and becoming a professional estate sale organizer or liquidator you’re in the right place!
We at EstateSales.org are home to thousands of estate sale professionals who advertise their companies and upcoming estate sales with us.
They also use our online estate sale auction platform to market and reach thousands of estate sale shoppers nationwide.
We reached out to some of our member estate sale companies to get you the information you need if you’re thinking of becoming a professional estate sale organizer.
Hearing their stories may inspire, motivate or even change your mind, but at least you will get a lot of details, and information that will help you make an informed decision.
Cost of Becoming an Estate Sale Organizer
The cost will vary depending on your business plan which should include marketing, advertising, printed ads and listing your estate sales online in order to get leads and shoppers to your sales.
Today’s estate sales are different from the past. Social media plays a big part in building an estate sale audience and reaching potential referring sources.
The cost will also vary whether you do it all yourself or hire a professional marketing consultant to help you.
Having all the pieces of the puzzle in place is the first battle, now what?
Generating estate sale leads can be a daunting task if you’re not experienced. Knowing the ins and outs of estate sales, how to efficiently stage a sale, market, advertise, and actually sell the contents of a home are your next steps.
Trial and error can be costly, this business is a people business, honing your estate sale customer service skills is very important in order to maintain a good reputation and longevity as an estate sale liquidator.
The initial cost is half the battle, the cost to maintain and grow your business is something you must also take into consideration.
Estate Sale Liquidator Licensing
Many estate sale companies are owned by licensed appraisers, real estate brokers or licensed auctioneers, but there isn’t a specific license required by law for an estate sale liquidator yet.
The American Society of Estate Liquidators or “ASEL” for short, is headed by Julie Hall and is focused on providing an industry designation certification along with specific courses tailored for new estate sale companies or existing ones to grow their business.
They support their members with sample policies, brochures, estate sale contract templates and ongoing educational training and sessions.
We reached out to Julie Hall, founder and executive director of ASEL to get her professional opinion on becoming an estate sale industry pro.
What’s the most important thing a new estate sale business owner should prepare for?
Julie Hall: “There are many important things to think about. An estate sale professional wears multiple hats at any given time. Among the most important things to prepare for are moving forward with Ethics at the forefront, a professional Contract, clear communication with the client and buyers, strategic marketing and hiring the best staff. Each day, each sale, is a learning experience.”
What defines a successful estate sale organizer?
Julie Hall replied, “Success reflects a company’s mission statement. Some people may feel selling down to the bare walls is success. Others feel the key may be their human relations and selling skills. Success is actually a combination of all of the above plus much more.”
She continued, “The ability to promote ethics and integrity, build trust, encourage positive client relationships, an absence of complaints and achieving what the client needed and wanted. At the end of the day, success is an “inside job” knowing you did it all to the best of your ability.”
Most accredited licensed professionals (Realtors, lawyers, doctors) are required by law to maintain a continuing education schedule each year. There is no such requirement for the estate sale industry. Should an estate sale organizer do that anyway and why?
“Absolutely! Knowledge = Power. There is so much to know and learn in our business. Continuing education and pushing one’s self to learn more demonstrates both personal and professional initiative, growth and a commitment to ourselves as well as the estate sale industry.”
Many companies rely on us as an online resource to train their existing and new staff members, and use our estate sale business tips to improve their services. If you’re starting an estate sale company, you’re welcome to use it as a resource to excel as an estate sale organizer.
Estate Sale Organizer Liability
Like any business, there are liabilities to consider. You must protect yourself, your employees, and your clients from any potential liabilities or injuries that may occur.
Once you form a company, insurance should be a top priority on your list of things to do. The estate sale business is labor intensive, setting up an estate sale will require moving furniture, getting into tight spots, attics, basements, and heavy lifting.
You’ll more than likely have to rely on a few employees, and that’s where workers compensation insurance will come in to protect your company, your client, and your employees if an on-site injury happens.
There are many safety courses available online, getting your employees well trained and prepared for the tasks at hand will help you avoid many injuries.
Besides physical injuries, there are reputation injuries you’ll want to avoid if you want to stay in this business. Many companies will hurt their reputation due to small misunderstandings with clients or family members involved in the estate sale process.
Establish a safe proof estate sale contract that clearly outlines the responsibilities for each party involved. If any misunderstandings or issues come up, always refer back to the written and signed contract between you and the client.
Getting Estate Sale Leads
If your business is in order and you’re ready to organize estate sales, it’s now time to generate estate sale leads.
You have many options available, but you must be willing to make the initiative. Knock on doors of referring sources such as Realtors, attorneys, funeral homes, probate courts, and even other estate sale companies in your area that are willing to refer estate sales to you when they are over scheduled.
At a minimum, you must have a simple website for potential estate sale clients to find you when searching for your services in the local area.
Get estate sale leads by listing your business on EstateSales.org and other industry listing sites. We get thousands of visitors to our site each month from all over the country looking to hire estate sale professionals.
Begin by telling family and friends about your new venture. It’s more than likely someone you know will refer you the first estate sale.
Get on social media for estate sale leads by connecting with neighbors and other professionals in your local community.
We recently posted a question on our Facebook group for estate sale professionals to get you an inside look at what you may face on your road to becoming an estate sale organizer: “What is the biggest hurdle you had to overcome when starting your estate sale company, and how did you do it?”
Bonnie Frederics with Arizona Estate Sales & Liquidation LLC said “My biggest hurdle was not having enough funding to do the appropriate amount of advertising, promotion, networking, office admin, bookkeeping, etc. to keep up with my peers. But when you own a business it’s a 24/7 job and you just can’t give up when you get tired or disappointed. Too many people are counting on you. 11 years later, I’m still here.”
Melissa Spors Hubbard with S&H Estate Sale Service, LLC said “The biggest hurdle was just getting my (business) name out there. Fliers to lawyers, realtors, networking at business events, and handing out cards. Once I started getting sales, I haven’t looked back and marketing now is mostly word of mouth.”
Your reputation is the key to success in this industry. Maintaining a good reputation will help you generate new leads and referrals.
Everyone you come in contact with is a potential client, therefore it’s important to treat everyone you face with the utmost respect and professionalism.
Holly Gorman with Lenore and Auntie Glads LLC Estate Sales said “Gaining the proper knowledge and resources to conduct an effective and profitable sale. I always think back to my first, very small sale, and wonder, did I miss anything? Not a day goes by that we are not researching or learning about items we may have never come across.”
The struggles you will face may be similar when becoming a professional estate sale organizer, but may also be different.
Geographic location, competition, and demographics will have a big part to play with starting and maintaining your estate sale company.
Attending a few local estate sales should give you a general idea of what they’re like, although it will not shed much light on what happens behind the scenes before the sale or after the sale ends.
We spoke to Martha Garcia, owner of Grasons Co in the LA Valley, an independently owned and operated estate sale franchise after she replied to our question mentioned above by saying, “My biggest hurdle was myself. Being a minority, it was hard to set my mind that I could do any interview. I knew my company was great, just had to focus that I was good enough to get any job.”
Were you new to the estate sale business or did you have experience before starting your own company?
“Before buying a Grasons franchise, I helped manage estate sales with someone else, but that didn’t give me much experience on the business side of things. Handling the interview, contract signing, clean up after the sale, etc… things happened so fast, I started getting leads and was simply not confident enough with the interviews”
How did you overcome it?
“Practice makes perfect! Being a member of the Grasons Co Estate Sale Franchise, relying on others within our company and reaching out to my corporate office. They helped me by having me join other franchisees during estate sale interviews to get the practice and confidence I need. I’ve never looked back since.”
Whether you start on your own or buy an existing business or estate sale franchise, having confidence, and a passion for what you do is extremely important.
People are attracted to a confident business owner that believes in what they do and are willing to do it with a passion.
Once you have a sale, feature your estate sale online to get buyers to the front door, and begin building an audience for yourself by collecting their email addresses, and ask them to follow your company on social media for future sales. Before you know it, you’ll have a nice following of people. Use your estate sale customer service skills to maintain and keep them happy.
Got a valuable item you want to sell online? The EstateSales.org online auction is a platform to help you reach collectors, and estate sale shoppers all over the world looking to buy exactly what you have to sell.
Is the Estate Sale Business Right for Me?
There are thousands of estate sale companies nationwide. Some are extremely successful, some are satisfied, and many others shut down soon after they start.
If approached for the right reasons, the estate sale business is extremely satisfying both emotionally and financially. You are in the business of helping people find value in items during some of the most difficult times in their life. If you’re doing it for the right reasons, you will succeed.
Besides physical strengths, which are a must – are you emotionally equipped to handle the feelings and feuds that come with the territory? Are you financially stable to maintain your business expenses and keep your employees when you’re not holding estate sales? This is a question you’ll have to ask yourself before you dive into the estate sale industry.
If you’re a newcomer to estate sales, depending on the area, the competition can be fierce. Longevity, experience, reputation, are all the things you’ll have to compete with. What makes you different?
Once you identify that one thing that differentiates you from your local competition, make sure it is highlighted and evident with every action you make and a part of your marketing strategy.
Liquidator Business Growth
There’s plenty of business to go around and for many years to come. According to American Community Survey data, about 68 percent of baby boomers were still in the labor force (including Armed Forces) in 2012.
There were 76 million people born between the years 1946 and 1964, the traditional window for the baby boom generation.
Some baby boomers are likely to retire at 62. So, let’s say it’s 80 million over 20 years—which still yields 4 million a year. Thus, as a simple round figure, 10,000 a day is pretty close.
As an estate sale liquidator, your job will be to help them liquidate their personal assets if they sell their home to move, downsize, get ill and must be moved to assisted living, or their family members will hire you in the event of life loss.
These statistics only cover a percentage of your potential clients. Although elders account for the majority of estate sales held nationwide, there are hundreds of estate sales held every week due to bankruptcy, divorce, moving across state lines, etc…
As a professional estate sale organizer, you must identify your potential clients, focus on getting your business name out in your local community and maintain a good reputation by holding professional, high quality, ethical estate sales.
Must Have for Estate Sale Organizers
Now that we’ve covered the business side of estate sales, let’s talk about some tools of the trade you will need.
Besides having an online presence for your estate sale company, professional business cards, estate sale contract and amazing signage.
There are some estate sale tools and accessories you will need.
If you don’t have a space to keep all the tools and accessories you need. You may want to add a storage to the cost of being an estate sale organizer.
There are some common items you will need at every estate sale, but each will vary, and you may need special display cases, shelving units, and additional tables at times.
We reached out to a few estate sale professionals in our network to get you some information. Everyone agreed that the most important thing to have is a good team you can trust.
Good help is not easy to find, and is a must when organizing and staging an estate sale.
This is not a complete list, but a few common tools for the trade.
- Tables and Table Covers
- Bags and Wrapping supplies “Newspaper” for your shoppers
- Runners and carpet protectors incase the home carpet needs protection
- Small step ladder for hard to reach places
- Rule Signs (do not cross, watch your step, etc…)
Extra locks incase you need to lock certain gates
- Professional direction signs to your estate sale
- Professional tags for pricing items
- Cash Register
Stacie Boerger with Best Sales by Boerger said “We always have buckets of supplies, we also use an offer box in case buyers would like to make an offer on an item. But one of the best things everyone must have at a sale is a positive attitude”.
We at EstateSales.org take great pride in supporting our industry professionals, and new business owners by providing them with an online platform to advertise their company, list their estate sales, and reach thousands of buyers worldwide via our online estate sale auction.
Are you thinking about starting a company? Have you already started and need help growing? Email us a message. Share your story, and what you’d like to do, if we can’t help you we will refer you to an experienced professional in the estate sale industry to help you on the road to becoming a successful estate sale organizer.