Questions You Should Ask when Hiring an Estate Liquidation Company
Although we want your business, we cannot say that we are the only reputable company in Oklahoma City. If you want to compare offers from other reputable companies, we will be happy to recommend estate services we feel operate in an honest and competent manner. The following list is questions you should ask any company you are considering hiring them.
Do they accept credit cards?
With more people carrying credit or debit cards than checks, accepting credit cards is a very large part of any sale. Even the smallest sale can run at least 30% in credit cards and it is not uncommon for sales in Nichols Hills and Edmond to run over half the sale in credit card sales. In 1998, we were the first company to accept credit cards at every sale. Any legitimate company should accept cash, and credit cards.
Do they have a website?
On any given week, your sale will be competing with up to 30 estate sales, hundreds of garage sales, and several auctions in the OKC Metro, and those who get the first traffic, often make the most money. Although there are obvious areas that attract shoppers more than others, a website with pictures and a detailed description is the best way to entice customers to come to your sale first. Remember, you want customers to buy your sofa before they buy one somewhere else, or run out of money; you do not want to be last on their shopping list.
The lack of a website indicates a company that is a hobbyist or amateur. In 1999, we were also the first estate company to create our own website.
How much will they spend on advertising your sale?
A good, effective ad for an estate sale will cost about $300.00 for the weekend. If a company is only spending the minimum amount on advertising, their ad will get lost in the dozens of larger ads for estate sales. Customers often judge estate sales by the size of the ad placed. After all, if the ad is small, they will not think the sale is worth attending. Do not be fooled by companies that use only Facebook, Craigslist, or street signs as a means for advertising, as you will not get enough traffic for your sale to be successful.
Do they use their name in their advertising?
We are proud of the job we do and we always place our name in every ad so our customers know the sale will meet a certain standard of cleanliness, size and conduct. Many customers tell us they look for our sales in particular because they know it will be worth attending if we hold it. However, many companies have ruined their reputations to the point they must hold 'anonymous' sales, or keep changing their names, because if they advertise using their known names, very few people will show up. Many customers will only attend a sale that lists the agency conducting the sale.
Do they collect sales tax?
Every estate sale must, by Oklahoma law, collect and remit sales tax. If the company does not comply with this, then you and your estate will be held liable for the sales tax owed.
Did the company give an estimate as to how much the sale might run?
Estate sales are very hard to predict. A great sale may do very well on one week but very poorly the next, depending on weather, competition, or other local events. Even with over 1,000 sales in our past, we do not like to predict how much your sale will make. However, there are some companies who will overstate the amount the sale will run to impress you, just to get the job. After the sale is over, they will offer excuses as to why the sale failed to reach the estimate; by then, it is too late. Alternatively, a company that turns down your sale, but tells you to expect an unusually high figure, may be trying to make the company you hire look bad by setting up unrealistic goals.
How many people will work during the sale?
You want a sale to be adequately staffed, but you do not want it over-staffed. A well-staffed sale should have at least 4 and up to 6-8 workers for a normal sized sale. Some companies dramatically over-staff, which leads to employees that are just hanging out with each other, instead of helping a customer. These companies have to charge more to cover this expense, which is an approximately $150.00 per person cost for the weekend, and this could cost you easily thousands in unnecessary fees.
What days do they do host their sales?
We have held over 1,000 sales, and we can assure you that the best days are on Saturday and Sunday. Sales on Thursday and Friday only attract the under-employed, unemployed, or retirees that already have a house full. Your ideal customer is 30-55, has a professional job, and works regular hours Monday through Friday. You will notice larger, professional companies, like ours, only do Saturday and Sundays sales, and only the amateurs and hobbits hold sales on weekdays.
How many sales per month do they hold?
We perform 3-4 estate sales every month and have held as many at 8 in a single month. This shear number of sales allows us to be very current on pricing trends and the demand of antiques and collectibles. This consistent work also allows us to maintain a full time regular work force that is trained in sales, antiques, set up for estate sales. We also collect dozens of additional names every week for our email list and this has given us the largest email list in the estate sale business. If a company holds only one a month or less, they simply cannot maintain a trained work force, cannot keep up to date with pricing trends, or stay current with what's hot and what's not.
Do they use security?
We rarely use security because we see it as a waste of your money. Over the last 40 years and 10,000 estate sales in Oklahoma City, only 2 have ever been robbed, one of which had a security guard. Hiring security will cost about $300.00, a cost that will be passed onto you and your estate one way or another. Hiring security does not stop theft or deter shoplifting. Hiring security will, unfortunately, intimidate some customers from shopping your sale and you could see a 20% drop in sales.
How long have they been in business and can they prove it?
We can prove how long we have been in business, but not every one can. The fact is there are about 20 estate sale companies advertising they have been operating for 10, 15, or even 20 years, but started less than 2 years ago. We have detailed records on the starting dates of most estate sale companies and will be happy to share them with you. Can you trust a company who lies about its history with your estate and the proceeds from it?
Do they have an antique or resale store?
Never hire an antique store or resale company or anyone that buys for resale to host your sale. This is a conflict of interest in the estate sale business because the people you hired now have the power to name their own price for your items to supply their shops. Many dealers do not attend sales ran by other dealers since they know they won't get a fair opportunity to buy. We closed our antique mall 14 years ago, in 2001, to focus on estate sales, and we do not buy for resale and only offer estate and consignment services.
Do they bring their own items for resale into homes?
Again, do not hire companies that do this as a general practice. Not only is this practice illegal in most OKC metro cities, these companies will try to sell their own items before they sell yours. If you both have a toaster for sell, whose toaster do you think will sell first? Shoppers avoid these sales, as they know that many times they will see the same items several sales in a row or at various antique stores around town.
Are you welcome to visit the sale and check on how the sale is progressing?
We never tell a client they cannot check the progress of our setup or to not stop by to see how the sale is the sale is doing. If a company tells you that you cannot do this, you need to ask yourself "Why?" and "What are they hiding?". Only dishonest businesses do this.
What happens to the sale leftovers?
Everything left over at the end of a sale still belongs to you. You may keep it, donate it, give it away, or, if you need, we can get rid of it for you when you are ready. We encourage you to see the leftovers before anything happens to them to make sure you know what is remaining. Many companies automatically have everything donated the moment the sale is over, without allowing you to see it. While this is a convenient concept, it allows unscrupulous companies to overprice something to not sell, then they can get it for free because it was "donated" and resell it later. Once again, we do not buy for resale. Make sure if items are being donated that you and inspect them beforehand.
Do they do presales?
We do not host presales because we want to give everyone a fair chance to shop. Many companies do a presale to 'select clients', which is a turn off to general shoppers, who know they were not given a fair opportunity to buy. This will result in lost sales to you.
Do they have other jobs?
We do not have other jobs, as doing estates is our full-time job. We devote 100% of our time making your sale a success and we are not distracted by outside factors. Many companies only do estates for fun or as a hobby, and do not care about the true success of your sale, because they make their real money with their job. We take our job seriously, and work diligently and professionally to make sure you have the most benefit from your estate.