Once you become more invested in the storage auction industry, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of information you obtain: inventory, phone numbers of contacts, information about antiques and collectibles, and lots more. Don’t stress out, and definitely don’t stuff all of your info in a junk drawer and hope it organizes itself. Here’s some helpful tips instead.
Before you Begin…
Even if this is just a part time deal for you, it’s really in your best interest to take this seriously–because it’s still a business, and you should treat it as such. Thus, organizing is going to help you tremendously in the long run. You should set up an “office” area in your home–somewhere that is well lit, with few distractions, and preferably with a desk, computer, and a book case (just like a real office, right?). This is where you’ll be doing all of your taxes, research, and off-the-field planning and preparation. Make sure it’s comfy! If you need some help with the Feng Shui, here’s a great list of tips to help you create a great home office.
Note that the tips that follow are just basic suggestions. Organizing is usually a very personalized project, because everybody gets organized in a different way. The important thing is to find a way that works for you!
Inventory, Gains, and Losses
Aw jeez, I know. I can hear the complaints and exasperated sighs already. This doesn’t sound like fun at all, this is sounding more and more like a lousy office job where you’re crunching numbers all day. Well, it really doesn’t have to be all that bad—as long as you keep up with it. This takes a great deal of self-discipline, but it’s vital to the success of your business—especially if storage hunting is your main source of income and you’re paying taxes on it.
The only time this task would be a nightmare is if you wait till the day before tax day to do it, because at that point, you’ll be grasping in the dark, making guesses at what sold and for how much, and you’ll probably be ready to rip your hair out. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
First off, keep a list of the units you buy (as you buy them!), and how much you spent on them. Also write down any other expenses—buyer’s fees, new locks, gas, and any other money you spend that went towards purchasing this unit (although if you stop at McDonald’s and grab a double cheeseburger, that doesn’t really count as a business expense…). This way, when you start to make money on the unit, you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly how much money you need to make in order to break even, and then profit.
This leads to the second part of your list: inventory. We would suggest keeping a notebook, chronologically sorted, with a brief (but memorable) description of the product, when it sold, where it sold, and for how much. Also keep a section for things you donate to thrift stores; donations are tax deductible, so make sure you always ask for a receipt at the donation center.
Friends in Organized Places
Keep a list of potential contacts whom you can sell to, be it collectors, tradesmen, and anyone else who can help you make a sale. It’s best to keep this list alphabetized and sectioned off by product, with the names of your contacts who are interested listed in each section. The easiest way to do this is to make a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel; that way, you can add or remove contacts with ease. For those of you who aren’t technologically savvy, simply write each contact on an index card, and file the cards by section alphabetically. You can also use a binder and hole-punch sheets as you need them. There are tons of ways to organize; you just need to find the method that works for you. Organizing this information (and any information, really) will make your life a LOT easier when it comes time to sell. Instead of searching through your jeans pockets, or sifting through the junk drawer, everything will be in one place.
If you employ these techniques from the beginning, and actively keep up with them, you’ll have no problem. If you’ve fallen off the beaten path and are trying to make things right….well, it’s gonna take some time and dedication to get back on track. But don’t give up, it’s well worth the effort! Try these techniques out for a month, and you’ll be very surprised at the difference it makes. You’ll have more time, less stress, and most likely, way more success. As long as you keep up with it, you’ll be smooth sailing. If you have one of those Easy Buttons from Staples, now would be a good time to press it.