Sometimes the best services that you can provide as a real estate to get your name out there have little to do with real estate at all. Hosting a community-wide garage sale, for example, is one such service. Like sponsoring a local little league team or volunteering on the board of a charity that you love, a community garage sale hosted by you aligns your real estate services but (even better) with a house-related need. And that could lead to, well, leads!
Why a Community Garage Sale?
With spring just around the corner, spring cleaning is on the minds of every homeowner right now. You’ll be doing them a HUGE favor by giving them a reason to get moving as well as a platform to get rid of it.
A community garage sale hosted by you is a great way to bring value and build relationships with local homeowners.
It sounds like a big undertaking, but with a step-by-step approach and a little help, you can put together a community garage sale that runs smoothly.
Pick a Date
The first step is to figure out a good date. Saturdays, starting early in the morning and running through the early afternoon, just after lunch (7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. is a good window) is a common garage sale time. Look for dates that don’t have major events in the area or the city going on.
Pick a Venue
The next step is to determine your venue. Churches in a central area with good parking and nice indoor auditorium or room can be a great option. A community center or a park with a large covered area are other great spots. Just be sure, of course, to ask for permission and understand the requirements. A contract, as you know in your work as a real estate agent, is pivotal to ensuring all bases (and both parties) are covered. Costs or a donation may be required, which leads to the next step.
To Charge or Not to Charge?
You want a quality garage sale with people who are serious about showing up and selling their items. You can certainly screen people with a simple application form (one page with basic questions). Boulder City, Nevada, hosted a community garage sale and had a very simple form. Additional questions is a need for electricity if applicants have something they need to plug in and test for a potential buyer.
Boulder City also charged a $25 fee to participate. This will cover the venue and tables and chairs you might have to rent.
Charging a fee not only helps cover costs but also ensures that you attract sellers who are committed. With that, it’s important to know examples of items that people would like to sell. One table of five things or five tables of 100 things may be too little or too much and take up valuable space. If you do have a large space, you can charge an entry fee and an extra $5 – $7 per table or table space.
Advertise Your Application
Now you need participants. This is where the marketing magic happens. Send out newsletters, do a post on your blog and post on your social media that you are hosting a community-wide garage sale with limited space. Include a link to or pdf of your application. Give a deadline (about two weeks out from the event) for people to sign up. As soon as you have vetted and selected participants and met your limit, be sure to let everyone know with a follow-up.
In order to assess interest and participation so you can advertise as early as possible, plan your garage sale a couple of months in advance at least.
Advertise Your Event
The other marketing magic happens with advertising your community garage sale. As soon as you have a minimum number of applicants approved, post the event everywhere garage salers are looking: Facebook, Craigslist, every local online calendar, newsletters, your website/blog. For social media, be sure to post at least every two weeks then every one week the month before about the event. Keep it fun by posting photos of a few items in one post that people can look forward to and in another featuring your co-hosts.
Leverage your real estate partners (in fact, you might be able to co-host with them so they promote their businesses, too), the venue’s network and your personal channels to let everyone know about the sale. Be sure to have anyone involved advertise the event to their networks with posters, social media posts and their own website and newsletters.
Communicate with Your Sellers
Communication with your participants is key to making sure everything goes smoothly. Finalize the needs that each one has. How many tables and chairs will each need, do they need outlets, do they need space for a large piece of furniture?
Give them an hour to set up everything and make sure you have a floor plan you can send with their assigned areas. Also include where they should park and enter to bring in their items. You can also provide tips for them weeks in advance to organize, price and tag their items.
Have a Great Event
Every event planner has a run of show that outlines the first moment you set up to clean up the day of. A community garage sale, with so many moving parts, requires the same. It will seem daunting at first, but once you put together a timeline with tasks assigned team members, the entire event will be so much easier to handle.
Think about every step necessary to set up your event. Include (and be sure to ask the venue if possible) setting up your tables, chairs, signage and decorations. The floor plan you created will make this simple, with the ability to make minor adjustments here and there.
Don’t feel as if you have to do a huge event like this by yourself! Ask your staff, family, friends and businesses you typically co-promote with to join in. A wonderful way to give back is to ask people to donate a portion of their proceeds to a select charity in the area. It’s a great follow-up, too, to announce the final tally and to, perhaps, match the donations from your own business and your co-hosts. Make sure they are advertising the garage sale through their marketing channels, too.
At the end of the day, you’ll have brought the community together, pushed families to get their spring cleaning done and aligned your name and real estate business with value and trust to homeowners whose next encounter with you may just be to sell or find their new home with you.