Your Guide to An Estate Sale Business Plan and Requirements

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Like any business, proper planning leads to success.  An estate sale business plan is a good idea whether you’ve been in the business for a while or just starting out.

Here are some things you should know about putting together an estate sale business plan and what estate sale business requirements must be maintained.

Why Have an Estate Sale Business Plan?

Consider it a road map of where your business is headed and how.  A business plan is a documented description of your business’s future.  A strategic way of keeping you on track to success.

A business plan has a point A and a point B.  Where you start, and where you want to end up, with documented steps along the way.

When you first start, you won’t have the same experience, liabilities, abilities, and resources.

In the future, your business will grow along with your experience, abilities, and resources.

Having a plan in place gets you there.  You’ve heard people ask “What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?”, well the same applies to your estate sale business plan.  Where do you see your estate sale business in 5 years?

  • Multiple locations
  • Business Sold
  • Multiple sales in the same week
  • etc…

How to Write a Detailed Business Plan?

Begin by writing a snapshot of your business which includes a description of your business and what you offer.

Analyze your local market and document the information by researching your industry, where you think it’s going, current estate sale market, and local competitors.

This gives you a quick view of where your business is today and where you’d like to see it go.

By analyzing your local market and competitors you’re able to better understand what changes you need to make in order to get to the successful end result you’re looking for.

Analyzing Estate Sale Competitors

Luckily this information is easily available by viewing their current online activity, type of sales they hold, areas they serve, and the services they provide.

As an estate sale business, if you’re in an area that has a competitor offering clean-out services and you’re not, it may be something you need to add to your list of services immediately or in the near future.

If you’re in a busy location and you see the current competitors holding multiple sales in the same week, it will pay to analyze how they are doing that and outline the steps you need to take in order to get there.

Key Elements in Your Estate Sale Business Plan

Business Summary & Description

Put together a summary of your current business, its structure, and a description of your current services.

Local Market Research

Spend the time researching your current local market, and outline the details.

Include local area demographics, how many estate sales are held on a regular basis in your area, who your top competitors are and the highlights of their services.

Current Business Structure

Outline all the employees and management staff you have, even if it’s just yourself and spouse for now.  Detail whether you plan to hire new employees and when.

When you outline the details of everything, you’ll find that you can clearly see your business in one big picture, where it is, where you’d like to see it go and how you can plan to get there.

An estate sale business plan is a road map towards your future.

List Your Services

Some estate sale companies offer various services that compliment estate sales.  From auctions to consignment, appraisals, and clean-out services, make sure you outline everything.

If you only provide estate sale services, but part of your company growing includes you providing additional services in the future, outline those future plans also.

Make sure to include any differentiators you may have.  If you hold a special license, have experience as an auctioneer, or you’re a licensed gemologist, make sure you include that in your list.

Sales & Marketing

Planning is one thing, but getting there is a whole different story.  In your estate sale business plan, make sure to outline the sources you plan to use for estate sale advertising, marketing, and direct sales.

A great business always has a strategic and aggressive marketing plan.  In order to achieve your marketing objectives, outline:

  • Introducing a new service that compliments estate sales
  • Entering a new territory in your local area
  • Holding sales on different days from what your audience is used to
  • Growing your base of shoppers and followers
  • Cross-selling online and on-site based on certain products
  • Entering into long-term relationships with lead generating professionals that send you clients
  • Increasing profitability by increasing efficiency along with strategic pricing

This is just a few of the responsibilities a business owner has.  If you’re busy running the sales yourself, you may need to rely on others you hire to handle some of these responsibilities.

Even if you can’t afford to hire someone right now, plan on it.  By writing things down in a business plan, it will serve as a continuous reminder when you get sidetracked by your daily business dealings.

Financing

One of the most important part of running a business, especially an estate sale business.  Keeping estate sale employees busy isn’t easy if you’re not always running sales.

Luckily, an estate sale business doesn’t always require a physical location and can be started as an at-home business, however, there are expenses to consider.

Begin by deciding how much money you will need in the next 3 to 5 years in order to achieve the results you’re looking for.

As you begin to make a profit, your business plan will be a reminder to put money back into your business in order to get where you want to go.

Whether you plan on hiring additional employees, advertising to expand to nearby areas, getting a specific a license you don’t currently hold or buying equipment and vehicles.

Financial stability in any business is important, but if you don’t have a plan, you can end up wasting money on unnecessary things that don’t help your business grow.

When outlining your estate sale business financial needs think of these common business expenses:

  • Advertising & Marketing Money.
  • Equipment & Vehicles. Whether you need a better car, professional estate sale signs, more tables, a dump truck, etc…
  • Employee Wages. Hiring employees to run sales efficiently or multiple sales during the same week.
  • Accountant Fees. As you grow, you may not be able to handle your own accounting.
  • Attorney Fees. Liability in the estate sale industry runs high.  Sure, every company should and holds an insurance policy, but having an attorney to handle any disputes, estate sale contracts and other documents is important.  Set aside an amount you will use toward attorney fees if needed.
  • Estate Sale Requirements and Licenses. If you plan on getting a gemologist license in the future, an appraiser’s license, rent a physical location for consignment or storage.  Forecast what that cost will be and add it to your estate sale business plan.

If a loan is needed to start your estate sale business, lenders will ask you if you have a business plan in place.  The same applies if you’re looking for investors.

Financial Forecast

Outlining in detail what your current income and expenses are and forecasting what you expect in the next 3 to 5 years will help you achieve the results you’re looking for.

Each step in your business plan compliments the other.  You can’t achieve the results you’re looking for without proper planning.

Revising Your Estate Sale Business Plan

Don’t think of your business plan as something that’s set-in-stone.  Make an effort to review it on a yearly basis.

Many situations change.  The industry as a whole can be affected by new federal or local laws that come up.

Your local market can be negatively affected by a natural disaster, or positively affected if one of your biggest competitors retires, etc…

Your estate sale business plan should be reviewed and revised if necessary, on a yearly basis, but the core elements of where you’d like to see your business in the next 3 to 5 years should remain the same.

Estate Sale Business Requirements

In an unregulated industry such as estate sales, there aren’t many requirements that are enforced or must be met.

However, your plan should include a section about requirements that are needed based on your local jurisdiction or are often expected by your clients.

Your requirements section can include a template of all the documents you use along with any insurance policies, contracts, training documentation, etc.

The goal is to organize yourself as early as possible in order to easily maintain your business and overall growth.

Why Are You in This Business?

Having a business plan is the first sign of showing that you care as a business owner, you’re not out selling stuff without knowing what your next move should be.

Outlining and explaining why you care in your business plan will be one of the biggest reminders for you, your employees, and other team members you share this plan with when things get rough, and they do.

Every business will face an uphill or downhill battle, and your estate sale business plan will remind you of why you started in the first place.

Be clear and honest, list your values, your passions, and why you wanted to build this business in the first place.

By explaining the details of why you care about your business, you create an emotional connection.

Others you share this business plan with will understand and feel the emotional connection also.  They will support your company going forward.

Do You Really Need a Business Plan to Start in Estate Sales?

Many companies have started an estate sale business without a plan in place and continue to operate successfully today.

In an unregulated industry such as estate sales, the industry is constantly changing.  In order to survive and remain at the top of your game, having a good plan in place isn’t such a bad idea.

Even if you’ve been in business for a while, taking the time to put an estate sale business plan together may serve your company well.

We polled the members in our private Facebook group dedicated to estate sale professionals by asking them whether they had an estate sale business plan when they started, and the majority said they had one but many did not.

Remember that a business plan is not something that’s set-in-stone, especially in this ever-changing estate sale industry.  Make sure your plan is flexible and accounts for changes as they happen.  Reviewing and revising it yearly is not a bad idea.

Business Plan Templates

The above information should get you started in the right direction, but if you prefer to use a business plan template, there are many online resources you can use and tailor to fit your needs.

RocketLawyer.com

This is a website that requires a paid membership, but it is a great source for templates and legal forms including a business plan template.

It’s affordable enough for small business and has a wide range of templates and forms to choose from.

LawDepot.com

Another website offering forms on the go.  Find business plan templates and additional legal contracts.

Easy to search, edit, and download.

Microsoft Templates

If you use Microsoft Office, there are templates already pre-made within Microsoft Word for you to fill in and adjust as needed.

Attorney

Having an attorney is not a bad idea in this industry.  From contracts to liability issues, and everything in between.

If you already have an attorney you work with, he can assist you in putting together a great business plan.

Got Estate Sale Questions?

If you have questions or want to share info with others, we’d love to hear from you.  Contact us at EstateSales.org.

Our entire team at EstateSales.org is dedicated to helping professionals in the estate sale industry.

What We Offer

Besides our online platform to advertise your business and local sales, we offer an online auction, lead generation tools, and a hub of free estate sale information to help you start, maintain, and grow your business through proven successful methods.