Home Based Business Franchises On The Rise

For decades, franchises have been a staple of the American economy, but the barrier to entry has typically been several hundred thousand dollars (if not millions). Franchises offer the stability and success rate of a well known (and well proven) brand and business strategy, while still requiring and employing many of the entrepreneurial skills required to run a startup. A growing trend in the last few years, however, has been the advent of inexpensive, and highly lucrative, home based business franchises.

The businesses range from lawn care and home maintenance franchises like CleanPro USA (an entirely innovative spin on carpet cleaning), to entirely web-based franchises like L&L Opportunity (a home based business that delivers groceries directly to the customer’s home) and this home based segment of the franchise market has taken off over the past few year, quite unexpectedly. While a home based business is attractive to many people simply because of the fact that you get to work from home, the recent recession and the rise in technological advances over the last several years has made the prospect of starting your own home based franchise more attractive than ever.

A struggling economy is bad for just about everyone, and just about every industry, but one thing that seems to thrive when the economy doesn’t is home based businesses. This is not to say that home based businesses only succeed in poor economic times, but rather; starting a home based business entails investing in yourself, and that is one of the best investments you can make in an unstable economy.

The economy, however, is not the only reason that home based businesses have seen a bump in popularity lately; technology in general (and the internet specifically) is allowing sophisticated businesses, that typically would have taken an entire staff to operate, to be run out of a home office, sometimes by a single person. Having the ability to advertise, take orders, ship product and schedule services all from a website makes the entire process for many home based businesses much easier (and much cheaper) than ever before.

Franchisors have capitalized on this new market as well, enabling budding entrepreneurs to start and run their own home business without any formal training, and without even having a “million dollar idea” of their own. While many people unfamiliar with the category might associate the word franchise with fast food restaurants and chain-stores in the mall, there’s a vast number of franchises available today that can be operated with as little as one employee and can be started sometimes from anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to tens of thousands, depending on the particular type of franchise.

An important thing to note when digging further into the world of home business is to know the difference between legitimate home businesses and work from home scams. Drive through any metropolitan area (or browse the web for 20 min for the matter) and you’ll no doubt come across someone claiming that you can make upwards of ten thousand dollars per months working from home without any real effort or skills needed. Make no mistake, there’s still no such thing as a free lunch, but modern technologies have enabled legitimate home business opportunities, just know what to look for. You can find legitimate franchises through a reputable franchise broker; unless the franchise you’re looking at has been recommended by someone you personally know and trust, or by a reputable franchise broker that has vetted the franchise and made sure that it’s legitimate, don’t take the risk. A sure fire way to spot a scam is when you’re promised a lot for very little. A real home business will require a lot of hard work to get started, and will require hard work to maintain it.

Eric Stein has always had an entrepreneurial mind, and when the economic downturn hit he turned to the internet to seek an additional means of income. It was the lack of information available in one source that lead Eric to create with his business partner Home Business Bug.

Hiring An Auction Company

Estimating your assets value:

Typically, one of the first questions a business owner will ask me is, “how much will the assets bring at an auction”. After taking the time to review the assets, the auctioneer should give the client a conservative estimate of the sale based upon his experience and the current market trends. It is important that the company give realistic expectations so the seller can make informed decisions based on their best interest.

Compensation and Expenses:

Is the company you are considering working for you or against you? The agreement you decide may determine this.

A business owner should carefully consider how the auction company is compensated. The most common commission structures include: straight commission, outright purchase of assets, guaranteed base with a split above to both auctioneer and seller, guaranteed base with anything above going to auctioneer or a flat fee structure.

In a straight commission structure, the company is paid an agreed upon percentage of the total sale.

In an outright purchase agreement, the auctioneer simply becomes your end buyer. The company purchases your assets and relocates them. While this can be an option in some unique situations, keep in mind that they will want to purchase your assets at a very reduced price to make a profit at a later date.

In a minimum base guarantee, the auction company guarantees the seller that the auction will generate a minimum amount of sales. Anything above that amount either goes to the auction company or split with the seller. While a seller might feel more comfortable doing an auction knowing that he is guaranteed a minimum amount for his sale, keep in mind that it is the best interest of the auction company to secure a minimum base price as low as possible in order reduce their financial liability to the seller and secure higher compensation for the sale.

In a flat fee structure, the auctioneer agrees to show up for the sale and call the auction. There is no incentive for the auctioneer to get the best prices for your assets. The auction company is compensated regardless of the outcome of your sale.

What is the best option for business owners? In my experience, an agreed upon straight commission structure. This puts the responsibility on the auction company to offer the best outcome for everyone involved. There is an incentive for the auction company to work hard for both parties, set up and run a professional sale, get the highest bid and sell every item on the inventory. Successful auctions translate to a higher bottom line for both the seller and the auction company.

Auction Expenses:

In most auction agreements the expenses to conduct an auction are passed to the seller. If the auction company pays for the expenses, it is simply absorbed in higher commission rates.

All expenses should be agreed upon in advance in a written contract. Typical expenses will include the costs of advertising, labor, legal fees, travel, equipment rentals, security, postage and printing. A reputable auction company will be able to estimate all expenses based upon their experience in previous auctions. An agreement should be actual costs charged as expenses, not an estimated amount.

Advertising is typically the highest cost in conducting an auction. The auction company needs to set up an advertising campaign that will promote the sale to its best advantage and not overspend to simply advertise the auction company.

Once the auction is complete, the auction company should provide a complete breakdown of all expenses to the seller, including copies of receipts within the auction summary report.

Buyer’s Premium:

What is a buyer’s premium? If you attend auctions regularly, you are very familiar with this term. The auction company charges a fee to the buyer when they buy an item at auction.

The buyer’s premium has been around since the 1980′s and is standard auction practice. It was first used by auction houses to help offset costs of running brick and mortar permanent auction facilities. Since then, it has spread to all aspects of the auction industry. It is prominent in online auctions and allows auction companies to cover added expenses incurred from online sales.

It is the responsibility of the auction company to provide clear disclosure of the buyer’s premium to both the buyers and the sellers. Those not familiar with auctions are often taken back by the buyer’s premium. They looked upon it as an under handed way for the auction company to make more money. Reputable auction companies will provide full disclosure within the auction contract, advertisement and bidder registration.

Typically, an auction company will charge online buyers a higher buyer’s premium percentage than those attending an auction in person. Extra fees are incurred with online bidding and are charged accordingly to online buyers. This provides the seller a level playing field for both online buyers and those attending the auction in person. Without the buyer’s premium, there is no way to do this.

Pre-Sales:

We’ve all been there. We’re looking forward to attending an auction only to find that some items were sold prior to the auction date.

As an auctioneer with over thirty-six years of experience, I can honestly state that pre-sales will hurt an auction. When a company decides to liquidate their assets, it is easy to sell off high-end pieces of equipment through online sources, equipment vendors or to other businesses. The seller receives instant cash and avoids paying a commission to an auction company.

Auctioneer’s find themselves appearing to acting in a self-serving capacity when potential clients say they are planning to sell off parts of their inventory prior to an auction. It’s hard not to consider the auctioneer’s commission when they warn you not to pre-sell anything. Yes, the auctioneer wants to earn a commission on those sales but it is more important that the auctioneer protect the sale from potential negative backlash that comes from pre-selling. The buying public knows when an auction has been “cherry picked” prior to the sale and it reflects in their bidding. It becomes a sale of “leftovers” and that impacts prices.

A buyer who purchases prior to the auction usually does not attend the sale. They already bought equipment at a good price with no competition. If they do attend the auction, they tend to let others know of their great pre-sale purchases which again, impacts prices and the overall excitement of the sale.

It is important to understand that auctions work best with a complete inventory. You want competition on your higher end equipment. The easy to sell items make it possible to gain respectable prices for hard to sell items.

When a business owner decides to liquidate their equipment assets, there is only one opportunity to do it right. Hiring a reputable auction company will assist you with a professional, orderly and timely liquidation.

How Important Is the Fundraising Auctioneer to the Success of Your Event?

I want you to think about the term “Fundraising Auction”.

A “Fundraising Auction” is an event where items of value are gathered, and then sold in a competitive bidding situation, either in a Silent Auction format, or in a Live Auction format by a Live Auctioneer. And since typically the best items are saved for the Live Auction, arguably it is the Live Auction that should generate a significant portion of the proceeds in any Fundraising Auction.

So why do so many non-profit groups consider the Fundraising Auctioneer to be the least valuable component in a Fundraising Auction?

The Hosting Facility gets paid.
The Printer gets paid.
The Caterer gets paid.
The Liquor Store gets paid.
The DJ gets paid.
The Florist gets paid.
But the Auctioneer … the individual who is expected to raise the lion’s share of the event’s proceeds… is expected to work for Free. And is usually under-appreciated for the professional services he/she provides.

I’m not trying to underscore the value of the invitations & programs, food, booze, music, and decorations. All are important in their own way. But each of these are “Expenses”. It is the Auctioneer who is going to bring “Revenue”… and thus, the “Profits”… into any event. Which is the ultimate objective of any Fundraising Auction.

Here is a real-life example of how under-appreciated the Auctioneer can be. In two comparable events we worked last year, during the dinner portion of the event one non-profit group sat the Auctioneer (me) at a table with the DJ, the Interns, the Volunteer Staff, and other event “Help”. The 2nd non-profit group sat the Auctioneer (me) directly next to the CEO of their organization, where we chatted about how important the pending revenue would be to their organization. Which group do you think valued the services of the Fundraising Auctioneer more?

Don’t ever under-estimate the value that a professional Fundraising Auctioneer can bring to your event. The Auctioneer adds value as a pre-event consultant. And the Auctioneer can change an event from a moderate to a huge success.

A Case Study Once I was scheduled to call an Auction for a major local non-profit group. They represented a very good cause and they had a strong and dedicated following. Their event was sold out, quality Live & Silent Auction items had been solicited, and the Special Pledge Appeal had been choreographed and was ready to go. The facility was first class, the appropriate caterer was booked, and the food was ready to cook.

But quite unexpectedly, some unseasonably inclement weather forced the event’s cancellation. Despite all of the committee’s hard work, cancelling the event was the proper decision considering the circumstances.

So the Event Committee scrambled to re-schedule the event for the following weekend.

They confirmed with the Hosting Facility.
They confirmed with the Caterer.
They confirmed with the Liquor Store.
They confirmed with the DJ.
They confirmed with the Florist.
Since they already had the Mailing List of those scheduled to attend, no new invitations had to be printed as all were contacted by email or telephone. So with everything in place, the group went ahead and re-scheduled the event for the following weekend.

But guess who they failed to confirm? You got it… the Professional Auctioneer. They thought so little of the Auctioneer’s contribution that they “assumed” that the Auctioneer would be available and at their beck and call.

But the Auctioneer already had another Fundraising Auction booked for that date with another non-profit group. It was only hour away from the re-scheduled event, and things could have been easily worked out. All Group #1 had to do was start their event one hour earlier, or one hour later, than the Group #2, and the Auctioneer could have helped both groups on the same day.

But because Group #1 failed to anticipate a possible Auctioneer conflict, because they failed to confirm with the Auctioneer before re-scheduling their event, their preferred Auctioneer had to bow out and they had to scramble to locate substitute “Volunteer” Auctioneer only days before their event.

And it cost them.

Learning Points

The Live Auction is usually where the profits are made at any Fundraising Auction.
A Professional Fundraising Auctioneer can be vital to the success of any Fundraising Auction.
The better Fundraising Auctioneers usually get booked quickly.
You need to recognize the important contributions that a good Auctioneer can make to your event.
Michael Ivankovich is a Bucks County Fundraising Auctioneer based in Doylestown PA, and serves the Great Philadelphia PA area. He has been a professionally licensed and bonded Auctioneer in Pennsylvania for nearly 20 years, has been named Pennsylvania’s Auctioneer of the Year, and has considerable experience in conducting Fundraising Auctions. Michael loves helping groups raise needed funds for good causes and one of his specialties is the “Special Pledge Appeal” or “Fund-A-Cause Appeal” which usually enables clients to double their revenue in a single evening.