For some it has been a year filled with more estate sales than they can handle, and for others, it may have been slower than they would like due to competition, not finding quality sales, a challenging traditional market, etc.
Let this article serve as a gentle reminder to always work on sharpening your skills and business image as you face an industry, client base and public that is ever-changing.
The following are some ways that can help you achieve an even better first impression to your prospective clients, colleagues and professionals you want to market to:
1. Create and maintain a marketing plan that includes public speaking and/or mass mailings to top referral resources in your city.
It takes time and a little money to do so, but well worth it if you do this in a consistent manner. It doesn't really matter what method you choose to do this; just stay in the sites of those you intend on converting to referral resources. Remember, out of site, out of mind. Secure your foothold by being consistent.
2. Review your Interviewing techniques.
Today's consumer is savvy, has numerous tools at their fingertips and can choose from many in our industry. How will you stay at the forefront of your client's decision making? What can you do differently that will have more of a "WOW" factor?
Create an Interviewing/engagement package to present to your clients. ASEL® has already done this and can be found here on the ASEL website. ASEL places a heavy emphasis on the interviewing process, as this is the first face-to-face impression and can mean the difference between you getting a good sale or not. Demonstrate your worth!
3) Beef up your credentials/certifications.
Take classes, specific training or appraisal classes. Earn certificates in Persian Rugs, Native American baskets, American Antiques, Mid Century Modern, etc.
4) Update your marketing material and/or website.
This should be done as you and your company evolve, but it is also good to do it every three years or so. Hire a graphic artist, create a smart tagline, choose colors and logos wisely. Colors and logos alone can attract or detract clients.
5) Change your email address and voice mail message to reflect your company.
For example, a business phone may be set up so the only thing the caller hears is, "You have reached 701-888-1212." They do not hear a greeting, who you are, or that you will call them back promptly. Give the caller the best possible impression with a professional greeting.
The same is true for email addresses. If your company's name is ABC Estate Liquidations, why have an email address like "email@example.com?" It should reflect who you are so the people trying to contact you know who you are without question: Joe@ABCEstateLiquidations.com would be a much better choice.
6) Have a close colleague or two critique your website and marketing material.
Remain open to their suggestions. Sometimes all it takes is an objective third party to offer great advice you may have missed because you are so close to it. What do they like/don't like? Do they prefer the colors, logo and is the content easily "readable?" Does it get your main points across succinctly as possible?
7) Join networking groups in your city.
If you are already a part of one, try another. Expand your exposure to these groups and potential referral resources. There are business groups, faith based groups, Chamber of Commerce, Women's groups, etc. You just have to ask some professionals in your city when and where they are located.
8) Promise yourself to reach out to at least 3 local "Associated" businesses in your community that you have never met before:
Moving companies, financial planners, realtors, professional organizers, medical community, senior groups, etc. You just never know where a potentially huge referral source can be found.
9) Avoid negativity.
Negative talk, drama, not-so-nice competitors, etc. Put that energy into something creative for you and stay focused on your goal.
10) Go into it with a positive attitude.
11) Use your energy wisely.
Many of us in the industry are workaholics! There must be a balance between work, family, fun, etc. Sometimes taking time for you means a refreshed you with a clearer mind and more focus. Use this energy to your benefit.
12) Continuity of company, owner and employee appearances.
All of your company materials should have the same logo, same colors, slogan, etc. The same is true if your company has matching uniform shirts, aprons, etc. Make sure everyone's appearance is professional. Many clients notice how we look and carry ourselves when we show up for an interview.
I once had a client tell me the estate sale company who interviewed before me looked "like they just rolled out of bed and never even combed their hair." Guess who didn't get the sale?
13) Update your contract.
It is necessary to keep up with our ever-changing industry and additional clauses are needed for extra protection. Always take the time to review your contract with the client and answer any or all questions they may have. This can potentially save major problems later on.
14) Respond professionally and confidently to negative reviews online.
Not responding can be perceived as an admission of guilt and/or simply not caring. Don't sweat the small stuff, but DO correct what you can with a positive rebuttal.
15) Update/Upgrade your staff t-shirts or aprons, displays, signage, etc., for your sales.
Is there a better impression you could be leaving to set you apart from others? Refresh and Renew!
16) Don't go cheap (as tempting as it is).
Invest in quality in as much as you can afford; company letterhead and business cards, company forms, top-notch staff and promotional materials. Think quality.
17) Look at some of your competitors as assets.
Why not meet for coffee 3 times a year to reconnect and talk about the industry and how you can help one another; even become a referral source for each other. Remain open to what can come from these kinds of relationships and you may be pleasantly surprised.
18) Do things differently than you have been.
For example, consider sending out email thank you notes to your estate sale attendees list or consistent buyers who have helped your business to be successful. Thank your clients as well and always ask for a testimonial and a referral. You won't get it if you don't ask for it.
19) Make it a goal to get your company name in the news.
This can be a special humanitarian article on anything from good deeds to finding a valuable item in an estate no one realized they had until you discovered it and sold it for $$$.
20) Remember why you got into the estate sale business in the first place:
To help others, be your own boss, solve problems, flexible schedule, etc., and let that motivate you through the year!
If you enjoyed this article, there are many more found on the ASEL site below, for both the public as well as for members only. ASEL believes strongly that an educated client is a happier client and our goal is to educate them through estate sale professionals like you. ASEL is currently offering a membership discount exclusively for EstateSales.NET members! Join ASEL for only $99 using the affiliate code ASEL#1 by following our membership link!
©2016 The American Society of Estate Liquidators® No part of The American Society of Estate Liquidators® articles, whole or partial, may be used without Julie’s written consent. Email her at Service@ASELonline.com.