You won a unit at an abandoned storage unit auction. When you are cleaning out the unit, you can be selling large items right out of the unit so there is less to haul away.
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Cleaning Out the Unit
Ask For More Time
If the storage unit business owner gives you plenty of time to get out of the unit, use it to your advantage. If you have days to get out of the unit, take photos on your smartphone of the larger items you would like to sell right out of the unit. Be sure to write down measurements, brand name, model number, year manufactured, etc. to assist in looking up prices these items are selling for and to help in listing the item to sell. Take photos and measurements of large items in the unit and post them on your favorite selling site like Craigslist or a Facebook selling group. You can research how to do that on each site's information page. Get resourceful and creative and find ways to advertise for free. When people contact you, communicate with a potential buyer and make arrangements to meet at the unit to sell it.
Ask Potential Buyers If They Want Anything Else
Take your buddy and the key to your lock and meet the potential client at the storage unit at the pre-determined time. Be patient with the buyer and give them time to look it over. Whether the potential buyer that comes to your storage unit likes the item you advertised or not, let them know that you are selling everything. Always ask them to look around to see if there is anything else they are interested in. The buyer may buy other items out of the unit as well. This is less hauling for you.
Sometimes they buy something we were thinking we might have to pay to dispose of. We have sold many items we were intending to throw away in this fashion, which saved us on transportation and disposal costs. If the person mentions they are looking for something that you don't have, keep note of that with their name and method of contacting them in case you find one someday.
Remember that this is a business, not a hobby! Keep your rental or auction receipt and track your mileage for tax purposes. Check with your accountant to find out all the items that are deductible in your area for this business and keep track. Schedule a time on your calendar to do this weekly or monthly and keep tax items in one “tax area” or “tax tote” so you can find it easily when “tax recording” next comes up on your calendar.
Pick Up The Trash
After the auction, if you have the time, get out of the unit right away. If not, come back later with your hauling vehicle, moving buddy, flashlight, rubber gloves, tape measure and garbage bags. Sometimes units are a mess and you have to pick up garbage off the floor and put it in the trash bags just so you can walk through it. Put on your rubber gloves and pick up all the loose items you can. Put trash in trash bags and put items to sort in other bags or half filled containers or boxes you find in the unit. Keep these separate from each other. Look around to estimate how much garbage you have. If there is about enough for a load, load it all up and take it to the dump for the first trip.
Take The Nicely Packaged Goods
Next, try to take as much as you can in one load. If it looks like it will be more than one load, take all the nicely packaged goods. For example, take plastic storage totes with lids and nicely folded or taped moving boxes. Basically, all the square or rectangular items that will stack very nicely to haul to your sort facility. If a storage unit is large enough, we may get two to three loads of these.
Take Uncovered Boxes, Awkward Packages and Garbage
For this load, you will load in the uncovered boxes and stack them as well as you can. Then add the awkward packages, trash bags full of good items, and smaller items. If your load is full, take it to your sort facility. If not, add garbage until it is full. In that case, stop at the dump first, then head to your sort facility.
Take Large Items
You should be left with all the large items. Some of these large items may be trash. Look at what you have and measure items to see what will fit. If you have enough trash for a load, take that first. Then come back and get the quality large items.
Leave A Good Impression
Always be out of the unit before the deadline. Clean out the unit as best you can to keep a good reputation with the storage unit owners. Because we have left a good impression on unit owners, we have been contacted and offered a unit if no one showed up at an auction. We have also been contacted if a renter wanted to give up the unit because it was owned by a deceased family member. Sometimes we don't even have to pay and the storage unit owners are happy to have it cleared by a reliable person. When you are out of a unit that you have been given days or weeks to get out of, contact the storage unit business owner to let them know you are out so they can rent it to another person. We have known other auction buyers who were not out on time, or that did not empty it completely that were banned from purchasing more units from the facility.
At Your Sorting Facility
When you bring these items to your storage area, put them all in your “incoming” section Take photos and measurements of any large items and advertise those items right away (Craigslist, Facebook, newspaper for example). You want those to get out of your way to make it easier to get to the boxes to sort through. Also, you might as well have people coming over to see the large items while you are there sorting the other items. Don't forget to ask if there is anything else they are looking for! That makes it less for you to have to figure out how to sell later.
Learn even more about this business in our book.
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