Rowlan Hill | Crain's Phoenix

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Rowlan Hill

Background:  

Phoenix-based Blue Leaf Estate Auctions takes the stress out of planning, organizing and staffing a traditional estate sale, tag sale or yard sale, resulting in a better experience and results.

The Mistake:

Not being more selective.

When we started our business, people would call us and say they wanted to have an auction or a sale. So, we’d go see them and there wasn’t much stuff there. We’d come to find out that they’d sold all the good stuff themselves and were stuck with the box of boots, the sofa and things of that nature. 

Our heart goes out to them because we want to help them. We want to help everybody. But those are the ones that inevitably complain that they didn’t get enough for their stuff and they write bad reviews about us.

We now have a line of questioning that we’ll go through to make sure that everything is on the up and up.

The Lesson:

So, we’ve become very selective. We’ll take a small estate, but we have to believe that these people are sincere. If they’re concerned about the value of plates hanging on the wall at $20 apiece, but we’ve seen them posted on Craig’s List, we’ll drop them. 

We’ve become wary of getting conned by the dealer that rents a house and then calls us under the auspices that it’s his parent’s house and he wants us to sell all of their stuff. They’ll set up a fake sale. We now have a line of questioning that we’ll go through to make sure that everything is on the up and up.

We learned that lesson the hard way. We got hit by a lady up in Prescott, who wanted us to come up and sell her stuff. We came to find out that she was a dealer. When we got there, she didn’t want us to sell anything. She wanted to sell it all herself.

She just wanted to use us for our “Blue Sky” – all of the people who follow us online and with social media. It's all of the friendships and relationships we have with buyers. We advertise and promote where we’re going to be and then all of our followers will turn up. It’s all of the goodwill our business has to give.

Follow Blue Leaf Estate Auctions on Twitter at @BLEstateAuction.

Photo courtesy of Rowlan Hill

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