Expanding in 2013

Written by Jenifer Gifford on .

As we head into 2013, I am very excited about a new venture I am working on. We are expanding into a new specialty sale for homeschool curriculum. It won't be my sale, it will be lead by one of my former lead volunteers who feels passionately about this type of sale, but I am going to be mentoring her through this process and walking along side of her during her start up.

There isn't much you can't turn into a consignment sale. The issue that most people face is that they try and do too much, or cover too much ground during one sale. Sometimes you just need to specialize and hone in on specific type of audience. After all, while it makes sense that a homeschool section would be found at a children's consignment sale, most homeschoolers want to browse curriculum without having all the distractions.

There are several used curriculum fairs in Nashville, but the problem is that they rent out tables... which means that you have to visit 50 booths to find the material you are looking for. And there is no opportunity to price shop. As a seller it's great because you can pay $10 or $15 for a booth, but for a buyer, it's a bit of a frustrating experience. Needless to say, we have lots of families that are excited about this new sale. And I am excited for my friend Gaye, as she's very knowledgeable about homeschool curriculum.

One of the things that we have been searching for is a way to utilize my contacts from the sale, and this is a great way to tap into my existing market. It's only a fraction of my existing client base, but I believe this will be a great first step for expanding into specialty sales. This sale will also be a stepping stone into a new business venture that I am looking at in the future. After all, I am not always going to be a sale organizer. But thanks to my current business, I already have all of the key components in place for this new venture, which I could see as my career after consignment sale life. It's all good! You never know where life is going to lead you, and you never know how one thing is a stepping stone to something else.

I'm excited about 2013 and all of the possibilities it brings!

How Frequently Should I have My Sale?

Written by Jenifer Gifford on .

I get a lot of questions about how frequently should you host a sale. If 2 a year is a great side business, then imagine how great it would be to hold 6-12 sales a year! [Insert Buzzer Here] You couldn't be more wrong.

One of the things that make seasonal sales special is the frenzied atmosphere. The more frequently you have them, the less frenzy you have. In fact, if you have a sale next month, why would your customers feel the urgency to come this month? You water down the effectiveness of your sale when you are always having a sale.
Don't forget about your volunteers. They will carve out time for you 2-3 times a year. They won't be able to carve out time for you on a monthly or every other month basis. Without volunteers you have no sale.

If you are interested in hosting a sale on a monthly or every other month basis, you need to think about opening up a store. Seasonal sales work because of the seasonal nature. When you start watering them down with more and more sales you reduce the effectiveness, the frenzy and your volunteer team.

You need to think long and hard about hosting a seasonal sale. If your goal is to have a sale on anything other than a seasonal basis, you need to reconsider your objectives. Remember each sale takes about 6 weeks to host. Hosting on a frequent basis doesn't allow you any recovery time and it takes away from the uniqueness of owning and operating a "Seasonal" sale.

Know When to Call in the Experts

Written by Jenifer Gifford on .

My husband and I have recently been looking for new house. Our little home is tiny (under 900 sq feet) and we are trying to find one that will fit our needs better. After much searching, we found a house that we loved. In fact, it was the kind of house, with the kind of sq footage that under normal circumstances, we would never be able to afford. But it was a foreclosure, and boy were we excited when we had the high bid on it. We were set to close the week of the sale (ugh) but we would be in before Christmas!

One of the things about buying a home from HUD, is that the buyer is expected to pay for and have the home inspected within 10 days of signing the contract. So, after a little research and some recommendations from friends, we settled on a company to do our home inspection. We knew the house needed some repairs, however, according to HUD, the repairs were limited to $2800. We knew there was the standard cosmetic issues... new flooring and paint that we would have to take care of as well.
The home inspectors came in and performed their inspection and slowly but surely, they picked apart what I thought was going to be my new home... and so the report came... our new house needed:
  • a new roof
  • new sub flooring in all 3 bathrooms
  • new toilets and sinks
  • new sub flooring in a 6 foot radius around the front and rear doors
  • mold removal under the downstairs bathroom
  • new sub flooring in the kitchen
  • the gas heat unit needed to be replaced as it was leaking CO2 (in the bedroom my youngest son was about to be sleeping in)
  • the gas hot water heater had been installed on a wooden platform (fire hazard, against codes)
  • the gas hot water heater had signs of flames shooting out the sides and needed to be replaced
  • and again... the hot water heater vent pipe had been installed incorrectly and did not have the proper clearance. It was butted up right next to the eaves instead of having a one inch clearance. The inspector said that was a fire waiting to happen.
  • the insulation had been installed incorrectly in the floor and the roof and had to be totally gutted and reinstalled with the proper ventilation for the roof or insulation, and since the house had vaulted ceilings, that meant all of the drywall had to be gutted on the ceiling as well.
  • all of the electrical wiring in the garage was installed incorrectly and had to be completely re-wired
  • the facia boards need to be replaced from dry rot
  • the dormers were not installed correctly and leaked into the house. They also needed to be completely re-sided
  • the chimney did not have a proper cap and as a result the stove pipe had rusted and would need to be replaced before we could use it
  • one sky light was cracked, but both sky lights were installed incorrectly causing leaking through the roof
  • all of the things attached to the roof had been installed over the shingles instead of under them and caused leaking and water damage inside the house
And if you think that's bad, there were potential foundation issues to boot! But it looked like the perfect house!
Part of me was incredibly angry. HUD had told me that the house only needed $2800 worth of work! But, thanks to the experts who inspected our "house" we found out the real truth. I almost bought a money pit that needed $40,000 in repairs and in 10 years, would the house hold up? Who knows?
My point is, you need to know when to ask for help. When you are starting a sale, you need to know about the pitfalls that you are not aware of. When I look back at the forum and how many times I have posted... "been there done that" and people have been able to learn from my mistakes, things I thought were going to be a good idea, but weren't... well it increases the satisfaction level I get while mentoring these new sale organizers to help them learn what works and what doesn't. I hate wasting money and I am glad that they get to learn from my mistakes.
When I called my husband after the inspectors left, I only got half way through my list when he said "you had me at "needs a new roof". Best money we ever spent." And he's right. When you look at something from the outside without the benefit of seeing from the inside, you are looking at things with rose colored glasses. Moving forward on our house hunting adventures, I know I will gladly hire those inspectors again, even if it means 3 or 4 houses down the road, because a small investment up front means less money out of my pocket in the long run.
So now when my new sale organizers write me to say thank you, I view it in a new light. It's not a big deal to me to put Consignamania out there. But it is like the home inspectors who inspected our house, it wasn't a big deal for them to come out, but it was a HUGE blessing for me. Pitfalls and costly errors avoided... I'll take the experts every time!
I'm so thankful we picked the right inspectors and help avoid a massive money pit!

It Never Fails...

Written by Jenifer Gifford on .

It never fails, there is always some kind of glitch or hang up for every sale I've ever been involved with. Something you can't anticipate. And we've had our issues already this sale too!

Registration opened Monday and on Tuesday the program I was using to automate registrations went down, so no one could register. And as if that wasn't problem enough, our email servers went down all day on Tuesday. Sigh. I love technology, but I hate things out of my control.

There will always be problems and issues you can't foresee. The best thing you can do is just roll with it. Post on your social media pages what's going on so that your customers can be aware of the situation. Don't send out excessive emails about technical problems. That's what your facebook and twitter accounts are for.

Keep calm, it will all work out. Unplanned issues are always going to arise. How you react to those issues is going to determine whether or not the rest of your sale will go off without a hitch.

Copyright Jenifer Gifford 2012. All Rights Reserved.