If you've had a trash removal business for some time, you know there are occasional days when your schedule is light and you wish someone would call with a new hauling job or two. There is a perfect sideline business for junk haulers that can fill those vacant spots in the schedule and produce some extra money. Best of all, you don't need any new supplies to perform the work. The sideline is attending storage unit auctions, and there are three ways to profit from them.
According to the self-storage industry, one in ten American households now has a storage unit. Most use a storage unit to store what won't fit in their homes. But with the down economy, more and more folks are using storage units because they have lost their home, but don't wish to give up their possessions. Others are in the middle of other life disruptions, like a move or divorce, and intend to go get their stuff when they have a place for it again. All these storage units have created a business opportunity for haulers to make money by helping move the property in and out.
The first profit opportunity is to attend storage unit auctions with your truck or van to help the winning bidders haul away what they've just bought at auction. It is quite commonplace for bidders to win more bids than they planned, and need help hauling it all away. In most states, the law, and the managers of storage facilities, require that the winning bidders clear and clean out the storage unit within 24-48 hours, so they regularly need some assistance. Also, many bidders are not aware that storage facilities will not allow them to use their trash bins for the unwanted junk. Someone must haul it away - why not you?
It's best to check in at least a half-hour in advance of a storage unit auction so you can park your truck in a visible location for the arriving bidders. This will also give you time to pass out business cards to those who may need your hauling services.
The second profit opportunity is to introduce yourself to the owner or manager of the storage facility. Let them know you're interested in any hauling they may need, as some abandoned units are full of junk, and attract no bids whatsoever! The manager still has to clean out the unit before it can be rented again, and that's where you come in. Often the storage facility managers you meet at auctions become a regular source of new jobs, as there is a constant turnover of units.
The third, and most interesting, profit opportunity is to actually compete in the auction as a. As anyone who has watched the popular TV series, Storage Wars, can tell you, competing an auction can be an adrenalin-filled activity. A winning bid can be a lot like a lottery ticket - either a bust or a treasure trove. Here are a few tips to get you set up right so you increase the odds of a bonanza and reduce the chances of a washout.
1. Your local yellow pages will have contact information for all the storage facilities, so you can call to determine when they schedule their auctions. Post all the information on your calendar or in a day-planner. You can also go online to find auctions in your area. Do a basic Google search for "storage unit auctions - your state." Another online resource, auctionzip.com, allows you to discover auctions by zip code, with an online calendar of all auctions for the current month in your area.
2. Essential tools. Bring a powerful flashlight to scan bigger units, a bottle of water for hot days, padlocks for each unit you bid and win, a notepad and pen to record information about opening and selling bids for units and cleanup supplies, such as a broom and garbage bags to finish cleaning storage units you've won bids for.
Definitely, bring enough cash to cover your winning bids. It's amazing how many winners don't realize until they arrive that checks and credit cards are not typically accepted for payment. Include enough to cover the security deposit required in case you fail to clean out the unit after emptying it.
3. Make sure to get on the registered bidder list, if that's required, and sign a bidder's agreement.
4. You will not be allowed to go inside the storage unit, so use your high-powered flashlight to look for treasures from a distance. If you spot high-end brands, designer labels or high-quality furniture, that's a tip-off to the overall quality of the items in the unit. Bear in mind that most self-storage customers put their most valuable items at the back, so shine that flashlight deep for any visible clues!
Think like a detective when checking a unit. Usually, a tidy, well-organized unit has more potential than a junk-strewn, disorganized unit. A unit that is used on a regular basis, with trails of dust and footprints on the floor has less potential, as the tenant has likely been back to remove any valuables. If the contents are commercial rather than household items, chances are good you'll be able to make money when you sell the items, with fewer "dogs."
5. Set a limit, so you don't get mesmerized in the bidding fever and spend a lot more than you planned. It's hard to make money when you're in a bidding war with other bidders. Remember when you're bidding, that about half of the items in a common unit will be junk and need to be hauled away to the dump or recycled.
After you've observed a few auctions, your notes will give you average opening and selling bids for different size units. This is valuable information. As an example, if you know most 10x15 units start at $ 60 and end at $ 200, you may want to pass on an auction with an opening bid of $ 150 for a 10x15, unless you've spotted something truly expensive during your flashlight inspection.
6. Don't limit yourself to just one venue to sell the items you've won. In addition to the always popular garage or tag sale, try eBay, swap meet and a free ad on craigslist.org. The more exposure you get, the speedier you can turn your treasures into cash.
7. If the items you've listed on eBay fail to get bids, pull the listing and give the item to your favorite charity or put it out at the next garage sale. Don't waste your energy trying to get a price that is unrealistic. Often a high minimum bid price is the problem, so dropping it to a bare minimum will often produce a number of bids. Your time is worth money, so price items reasonably so they will sell quickly and you'll have funds for the next auction.
Beware not to get so addicted to storage unit auctions that you forget this is a sideline, not your main business! Yes, it's thrilling to participate in auctions, but unless you are very lucky, your hourly wages will be less than you can make doing trash removal. Another warning - now and then, you'll encounter a "blind" auction. In a blind auction, the storage unit door is closed and padlocked, and bidders are asked to bid "blind." Much like a casino, the odds favor the house, so be extra careful if you encounter this type of auction