Best garage sale customer service tips
Be prepared for all kinds of people to come to your garage sale
- Some will be professional dealers looking for stock, there will be seasoned and casual bargain hunters, there will be impulse buyers and some just out for some fun.
- You may meet abrupt buyers and others who are happy just to have a chat about the weather.
- Some will be looking for one specific item while others will be looking generally for anything that catches their eye.
- You'll have buyers wanting to get you down to rock-bottom prices and others who are happy to pay what you are asking.
Don't judge a book by its cover
- Even casual buyers know that they have a better chance of negotiating down the price if they don't look well-off.
Make customers feel welcomed and at ease to browse
- You're hosting a garage sale and you should treat customers as guests.
- People will drive up to your sale and slow down and look. A wave and a smile will encourage most to stop.
- Be ready to greet customers. Resist the urge to go inside when there's no-one around. You may miss some customers and also some of your merchandise.
- Be excited and enthusiastic.
- Greet all customers with eye contact, a smile and a casual comment about the weather or "How are you today?".
- Don't greet them with "May I help you?". Shoppers will initially like to remain anonymous while they quickly scan your items. If they can't see anything to buy, they will want to quickly leave without any embarrassing attention.
- Offer them a plastic shopping bag when they come in rather than later when they have their hands full. Retailers know that when consumers are given a cart, basket or bag when they enter the store, they buy more items. It makes it easier for customers to collect items to buy which means more sales. This applies equally to your yard sale.
- After they've had a quick scan and haven't left, then ask them if there is something specific they are looking for.
- Perhaps point out something that may be of interest to them or something that you are keen to sell or something that you have noticed other people overlook - then let them browse.
- If someone goes without buying anything, don't take it personally that they didn't like your stuff. Say, with a smile, "Thanks for stopping". This is a friendly thing to do and other customers present will hear this and will make them feel more comfortable.
- Always be cheerful. No one wants to buy from a grumpy, condescending, crabby person.
Keep conversations to a minimum
- Some people will be intently focused on quickly scanning all your tables trying to find a great bargain and don't want to be distracted with idle chit-chat. Leave them alone.
- Others may welcome a chat, so take the opportunity to point out any bargains you think may appeal to them. Don't get too caught up in a conversation with them though as this will distract you from keeping an eye on the other customers and this may be exactly what they want to happen – refer to Best safety and security tips for more information.
- If you get 'caught' by someone who wants a long chat, glance over their shoulder and make out some one behind the person wants your attention and politely say "Would you excuse me, I think I have another customer with a question" then walk over to anyone and just ask if they have a question or happy to browse then try to keep your self busy on the other side of the garage.
A garage sale can be very stressful. You (and whoever else is helping out) will be up late the night before getting ready and you won't get much sleep. You will be on the go from as soon as you get up at dawn dealing with all sorts of strange situations and people. It will be easy to get snappy and cranky. Customers will notice this and not feel comfortable staying around looking at your tables or approaching you to ask a question or to try making an offer.
This means no sales.
Hopefully you have a lot of helpers who can lessen the load and keep yourselves in a fun mood.
Be careful not to complain or talk about the bad manners or undisciplined children of a previous customer
You may be overheard by a customer who is sympathetic to the person you are complaining about and may not appreciate your attitude and leave.
Don't smoke at your garage sale
It will not only turn people off but they'll think all your clothes will probably smell of stale cigarette smoke too! If you need a cigarette, have others mind your garage sale while you go somewhere else.
Keep an eye on your customers
Don't watch your customers like a hawk as that will make them feel too uncomfortable but do keep a causal eye on them.
- You want to notice how interested they are in an item to gauge how firm you can be when negotiating a price.
- You want to be ready to help them decide to buy an item by mentioning how good a condition it is in, or how it could be used or offering to demonstrate it works.
- You also want to make sure they aren't 'shop-lifting'.
Offer a bag or box to wrap purchases
This is a friendly thing to do and often encourages the buyer to look a bit more now that there hands are free again. Other shoppers will notice and feel more comfortable in buying from you knowing you care. Also, offering to wrap a fragile or breakable item may just clinch the sale.
Be ready to offer distractions for tired or bored children
This will give their parents a chance to browse a bit longer and also keep the children occupied rather than them re-arranging your nicely arranged tables.
- Have a blanket on the ground in front of a TV playing a children's video.
- Have a blanket on the ground with some sturdy toys for a bit of 'try before you buy' action.
- Have some cheap coloring-in books (or pages you have printed yourself) and colored pencils on-hand. Try familyfun.go.com/printables for free kids activities, lucky dips, give-aways, coloring, games & puzzles, paper crafts, party printables, etc.
- Have a soap-bubble machine going.
- Hand-out some home-made pinwheels or streamers on a short stick.
- For a big group garage sale you could have face painting, a clown, magician, pony rides, bouncing castle...
Make it easy for garage sale customers to buy
If you're having a group garage sale, make sure everyone who is authorized to do the selling and negotiating is clear if they can lower the price of the other party's items and, if so, they know what the lowest prices are. It can be frustrating for the customer if they have to wait while you keep checking with the item's owner if the offered price is OK or until the owner is free to negotiate directly.