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Let’s talk about problem-solving. One of the biggest criteria I used to decide whether I would buy a storage unit was, how many problems would it solve. I bought a lot of furniture. One of the things about furniture is that it is practical. People buy a kitchen table and chairs because they need one. They buy a washer and dryer because they need one. They buy a sofa set because they need one.
I have sold a lot of regular, run of the mill plain stuff because someone needed that particular item. That’s how I bought my units. What worked for me in the business was focusing on things that people needed. This is the problem-solving scheme that I had.
When I’d look at a unit, the door would go up and there were several things that were going on. It’s kind of hard to explain how many things were going on. I like household units since my business model was based on things that people need. If I saw a refrigerator, then I knew there was probably also a washer and dryer in the unit. Those things sold well. They solved problems.
My whole focus for that business was to buy things that people need. That’s not a hard sale and you don’t have to dress it up. When you look at a storage unit, you need to decide what is in the unit that people need versus things that they want.
I’ll give you an example. I bought a unit and it had a real Rolex in it. I was able to sell it on eBay within a month. I listed it two times and two people bought it and flaked. This is something that happens a lot with really nice items.
People want these items, but they may not have the money. They can be a hassle. About 90% of the jewelry I got, I sold for scrap value unless it was really outstanding or something I was going to give to one of my lady friends.
Predicate your business on solving problems. You have to figure out what works well for you where you are. You have to figure out what’s going to work for you and your town based on your ability. The core of my successful businesses is solving problems.
Going forward, that’s what you’re going to have to do for your customers and clients. The internet has given the consumer more power than they have ever had before. More people are doing comparison shopping. It is hard to just sell on price anymore. Sometimes it’s just going to happen. Some things are just a commodity.
To be successful in the resell business, you have to fulfill regular needs on a consistent basis. The items with the “wow factor” are so few and far between that they won’t keep the lights on. When you do get those items, a lot of times they aren’t a quick sale.
So, #1 – figure out what your town needs. Then figure out how you can solve problems in your business. The number one problem with buying storage units is the logistics and the storage. You should solve those problems first before you get really heavy into the game.
Every storage unit is different. I would always try to look at each unit and determine how many problems it would solve for my customers. If you just look at the unit and like the stuff in it and evaluate it that way, you could get in trouble.
When you’re looking at a unit, you’ve got to start adding up your money really quickly. In this business, you develop an eye for quality. I bought this one unit that had sports equipment in it. I saw a bicycle wheel and thought about all the cycling enthusiasts in Atlanta. The wheel looked like it was from an expensive bike because of the way you could take it off. All I could really see was the bicycle wheel and some totes.
In terms of bidding, sometimes it is better to go first and sometimes it is better to go last. You need to know who you are dealing with. I knew who I was dealing with. It was a man’s unit, and a big one. It wasn’t full though.
During the bidding process, you have more opportunity to look in the unit. While the bidding is going on, I am working my light trying to see as much as I can and I spot a motorcycle fender. I turned my light off but I didn’t move from the unit because people bird dog you. The bidding had gotten to $400 and then they said going once, going twice and then I bid $500. I got that unit for $500.
One of my students had to start the business working from his apartment. If you’re trying to work from an apartment and have no storage space, you need to get two storage units. You use one for staging for sales purposes and the other one to store as much as you can. He grew the business, and at one point he had two storage units and two staging units.
This guy was an average guy who didn’t get a lot of respect. Once he started making some money with the business, he said his mother and father started to respect him. Before that he said, his dad had never said he was proud of him. This was a 32-year-old man and his dad had never said that to him.
Starting a business is supposed to be challenging. In spite of the fact that we live in a society that wants a 4-Hour work week, this is not the norm. I even bought that book. This is my opinion of that book. It’s a good book if you are going to start an internet-only based business. It doesn’t apply to the storage auction business.
Essentially, what I’m trying to say is there is going to be a grooming period where it is going to be hard. Expect it and don’t give up. If you go through that period with some gusto and determination, you’re going to come out of it much better off.
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