Opinions on Garage Organization Business

sTiZZiTsTiZZiT subscriber Posts: 1
edited August 2007 in Selecting a Business
So I`ve been having a lot of thoughts about this recently since I`m a car guy / tinkerer / diy person and love a clean organized garage.  I have also recently done all that I`d offer on my own garage and enjoyed the transformation and believe there is a local market for it.Offerings:-Floor epoxy (professional grade) with 5yr warranty-Three different levels of Garage cabinets from $50/cabinet to $400+-Organization - slatboard wall for hanging tools, bins, etc.-Lighting as customer desiresI would visit the client`s house and offer a free consultation and draw up a quote based on what they`re looking for.  I would return to complete the job at an agreed upon date and time.  We will move all of their items out of the garage (there will be a limit listed in the quote of course).  We will then apply the epoxy, install the cabinets, and apply the wall organization products.  After we are finished we would move the items back into the garage for the owner to put away.  I`m not sure on this yet, but we may be able to offer a partial organize service whereby we actually put some of their items away for them.  I know the baby boomers and elderly would greatly appreciate this.There are other businesses that do this so it is not a fresh idea however it doesn`t seem like there are many in my area.  The question is why not?  Is this a profitable business?  Is there a demand for it in my area?  Is this something YOU would pay for?  I believe the reason is the lack of marketing.  I myself was looking for a company to epoxy my garage floor and didn`t find one until after I had bought the cheap o version from home depot.I am looking for input from other people who may be in the market for a service like this.  This advice coming from a potential client and entrepreneur would be very, very helpful!  I am open to all comments, suggestions, and constructive criticism!Thanks all!
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Comments

  • RetiredMemberRetiredMember subscriber Posts: 0
    This is an excellent, well thought out idea, go for it. It`s certainly not new, but with some sharp marketing and an added twist or two, you should do well in most modest to well-to-do areas.
    I would add one convenience that others likely do not...
    Have on-site storage trailers or cubes for the clients small-stuff secure storage whilst you`re redoing their `everyman`s castle.`
    If you lived in my neighborhood, you`d have my business - if you stored my rather expensive jewelers tools & precious metals stock securely while you worked over my 2400SF 4-car mini-domain and jewelry factory-workshop.
    Time to start drafting those business and marketing plans!
    Nick
  • sTiZZiTsTiZZiT subscriber Posts: 1

    I would add one convenience that others likely do not...
    Have on-site storage trailers or cubes for the clients small-stuff secure storage whilst you`re redoing their `everyman`s castle.`
    If you lived in my neighborhood, you`d have my business - if you stored my rather expensive jewelers tools & precious metals stock securely while you worked over my 2400SF 4-car mini-domain and jewelry factory-workshop.
    Time to start drafting those business and marketing plans!
    NickNick,Thanks for the great reply!  As for on site storage, I was thinking about using the PODS company.  I have run some quotes and it looks like it would be reasonable to rent one for a month.  PODS has great customer service (i used them for a move) and their equipment/procedures are top notch.  The added bonus (which I just thought about) is that I could hang a temporary banner OVER the PODS banner which would be good advertisement for the company.  The only hitch I see with someone like yourself is the value of your items.  I`m not sure if this should or would be covered by home owner`s insurance or my business insurance.Have you ever looked into having your garage "renovated"?  Do you have a budget in mind for what you would spend on a floor solution (epoxy or tiles), cabinets, lighting, or organization or any combination of them?  The epoxy is a very labor intensive job so it has a large markup (from other company`s quotes).  The cabinets, lighting, and organization usually just have a "hang fee" associated with them.  Ideally, I would obtain them for contractor pricing and my margin or "hang fee" would be the difference between the retail pricing and the contractor pricing.  This all depends on what discounts I can obtain.
  • sTiZZiTsTiZZiT subscriber Posts: 1
    What you described is garage remodeling, not garage organization - except for the fact that you may offer "partial organization service".But what is the main problem with garages?  (I have a carport so I`m asking you.)  Is it that people don`t have good places to keep things, otherwise they would have an organized garage?  Or is it that people have unorganized garages because they are unorganized people, or see the garage as "just a garage"?A business must solve a problem.  I know you are looking to do that but I think you need to clearly define the problem.  Get to the root of the matter.  Why are garages the way they are?  Is it simply because of a lack of storage, shelving, cabinets, hooks or is it something else?I tend to think the organization aspect of the business would be your major competitive advantage.  I think you could get into it the way home or office organizers get into it.You mention you like a clean, organized garage yourself.  Then I am sure you have your theories and methods behind it all.  Go deeper into it!  Think of the typical things people keep in garages and come up with systems to organize it.  The advantage of a garage is that they all share a similar layout.  (Cars drive in from this side, everything else is a wall and may have doors or windows.)  Design a standard organization method that can be easily modified for the variations in the different garages.  (Tools on this side, gardening stuff over here, bicycles hang there, etc.)  This could work in a modular way like closet design.Whether you put people`s stuff back in or not, you create the framework for the organization solution.  You could even come up with a cool looking labeling system for the standard garage stuff categories.I think you have a fantastic idea but you need to tap into what people REALLY need when they want their garage redone.  Plus you still get to do the hands-on cabinetry, flooring, etc. which it sounds like you enjoy as well.
    Steve,You made some great points that got me thinking.  From the people I`ve talked to, it is definitely an organization and storage problem.  Clients typically want an organized and cleanly garage but do not have time to layout a design, purchase a solution, and implement it all.  Additionally, once they learn the benefits of an epoxied garage floor (looks, ease of cleaning, durability), they`re sold.  You are exactly right in saying that I need systems of organization!  If I can provide the client with a clear cut solution and price I will have a much better chance of closing the deal.  I believe the best way to approach this is with packages.  I`d like to offer say 3 flooring packages, 3 cabinet packages, and 3 organization packages.  They can be mixed and matched and scaled depending on garage size.  Of course I can sway from those but for someone looking for a quick, easy, affordable solution, that may be the best method.I really like the idea of the cool looking labels!Thanks for the great ideas and keep the comments coming!
  • RetiredMemberRetiredMember subscriber Posts: 0
    I checked with my insurance agent... she informs me that as long as it is located on or adjacent-to my property, and under a secure lock and key (as secure as it now is, or better), it`s covered the same as if it were stored in my workshop/garage under my personal, home & business property policies. (It`s the same as personal property temporarily stored in your locked vehicle... the homeowners policy generally covers that too.)
    To ease your mind, you could require a signed liability waiver from your clients... but also inform them they`ll need to check with their insurance agent for coverage as well. You could offer insurance as an option... see your own agent about getting a blanket liability policy to do that.
    Nick
  • sTiZZiTsTiZZiT subscriber Posts: 1
    Wow Nick, thanks a lot!That makes sense and I really like your idea in regards to the waiver and optional insurance.The next thing I`m going to do some research on is how to offer financing through a third party bank.  That should help with the somewhat large financial burden a client would face if they wanted a complete solution.
  • ModJulieModJulie subscriber Posts: 1
    Have you considered approaching local homebuilders to offer your services as an "option" to the new home or an added service?
    I have numerous friends who built new homes and then went out and bought a bunch of stuff to try and organize the new garage.  It ended up being a very unorganized process and very haphazard.
    If a new homeowner could roll this service/products into their mortgage, it may be an attractive package that they would be willing to spend more $$$.
    Also, it would be so nice to move into a new home with the garage organization already in place.
    Just a thought,
    Julie
  • sTiZZiTsTiZZiT subscriber Posts: 1
    Julie,Thanks for replying to my post!  I have considered exactly that and more.  I spoke with a realtor friend of mine (sold us our house) in regards to this.  He mentioned I should also advertise with realtors and their offices.I really like the idea of moving into a house and having the floor epoxied, the cabinets hung, and hooks ready for all that garage junk.  The ironic thing about this concept is that is exactly what I wanted when we bought our house.  I looked all over for someone to epoxy my floor and couldn`t find anyone until after I`d bought the diy stuff from home-depot which isn`t as nice.  I have found that the other local companies pursuing this industry are not doing an adequate job of marketing.I think you are spot on in saying that the customers would want to roll it into their mortgage.  I don`t think that is a problem to setup as you have the closing company cut you a check and you`re done.  I`m not sure what you do if they don`t close though and you`ve already done the work.  I guess I`d have to put some brochures in the home builder`s and realtor`s offices.When I spoke with  my Realtor he asked me why the builder would use me as a sub-contractor when he has his "crew" and they can do the work for $10/hr (cheaper than me).  That was a good question on his part.  My only answer so far is product knowledge, quality and sourcing of the products I use.Great ideas Julie, thanks so much for your input!!  I`ve got to start writing these down!
  • Phil13Phil13 subscriber Posts: 0
    I am also starting this same business. I have been doing a lot of research to find out the best suppliers as ell as making it catchy for the eye appeal. I have been working in sales and installations for years. I have found that if you can really WOW the customer and under promise and over achieve you will succeed.
    One web site I read about this guy does this and he also goes to home and garden shows ect.., but he gets a lot of his work by setting up at car and motorcycle shows.
    If I run across anything else I will be glad to share it. All of the other posts have been very helpful. Thanks!!
  • sTiZZiTsTiZZiT subscriber Posts: 1
    You might also want to get together with some home-stagers, who help
    make a home look good for selling. Another thing is to send out a
    direct mailer to all real-estate agencies and brokers in your area.
    Promote yourself as a "Service Provider."

    Everyone uses the Multiple Listings Service (MLS), which includes notes
    for people who can fix up a house. There are basement sealing
    companies, roofing, driveway, carpenters, etc., and a garage
    fixer-upper would come in very handy. By making sure on your
    direct-mail piece that you highlight the concept "List me as a Service
    Provider in your MLS account," you`ll get some attention.

    Getting together with a staging company is a fantastic idea.  I can at least give them some marketing materials.  As for the MLS, that is also a great idea and I`ll have to talk to some realtors about adding me.  Thanks again!
  • sTiZZiTsTiZZiT subscriber Posts: 1
    I think this would be a great business venture. Search through magazines, remodeling books, websites; make color copies of the photos and collect them into a folder or binder of good organization & remodeling ideas. Also collect photos of organizing products and other renovation materials. Figure out which products will be most popular and versatile, and price your services based on combo packages or a la carte selections.
    Find some strategic partners that will create a comprehensive renovation/reorganization team. Do a couple garage projects and barter with a good photographer to take some before and after photos. Your best marketing products will be in a visual format.
    I would love to work on developing this business concept. This has a lot of potential.Denise,I have been doing exactly what you recommended except I keep it all in a spreadsheet.  I`m still doing lots of research and finding suppliers.  I love the bartering with photographers idea!  Everyone can use a clean garage if nothing other than an epoxied floor or some cabinets.  If you have any further ideas I would (of course) love to hear them!Thanks!
  • sTiZZiTsTiZZiT subscriber Posts: 1
    I am also starting this same business. I have been doing a lot of research to find out the best suppliers as ell as making it catchy for the eye appeal. I have been working in sales and installations for years. I have found that if you can really WOW the customer and under promise and over achieve you will succeed.
    One web site I read about this guy does this and he also goes to home and garden shows ect.., but he gets a lot of his work by setting up at car and motorcycle shows.
    If I run across anything else I will be glad to share it. All of the other posts have been very helpful. Thanks!!Phil,I like your suggestions of going to trade shows and the like.  I`m sure those could be very profitable as long as the allow consumers and not just industry.  If you want to chat some time, I`m sure we could bounce ideas off each other and it would be mutually beneficial.  Where are you located (hopefully I`m not competing against you .ThanksRob
  • Phil13Phil13 subscriber Posts: 0
    I am in San Antonio. I have found a few distributors, but I am still looking for more. I would really like to find a local supplier, but I am not finding a whole lot of that. I am  also trying to figure out labor bids. I have called some people for quotes and all I get is they either need to try and sell me something or they are so busy that there minimum labor is $650.
    As far as the trade shows. You should be able to pay an entry fee and set up. The prices are different per show. Hope to hear some more ideas. I have a sales team in place and they are eager to get started.
  • Phil13Phil13 subscriber Posts: 0
    I am working on getting a software that I can take a picture of the customers garage and put it on my computer. Then I can insert the items I sell and install. This way the customer will get a good feel on what there garage will look like when I am done.  I have been told microsoft publisher will do this.
    Thanks for all of your great advice.
  • sTiZZiTsTiZZiT subscriber Posts: 1
    I am in San Antonio. I have found a few distributors, but I am still looking for more. I would really like to find a local supplier, but I am not finding a whole lot of that. I am  also trying to figure out labor bids. I have called some people for quotes and all I get is they either need to try and sell me something or they are so busy that there minimum labor is $650.
    As far as the trade shows. You should be able to pay an entry fee and set up. The prices are different per show. Hope to hear some more ideas. I have a sales team in place and they are eager to get started.I had called a local closet cabinet manufacturer (melamine) and he didn`t seem interested in working with me to come up with my own line of cabinets branded with my company`s name.  He said they also do garages now and then but not too often.  I guess some people aren`t open to new ideas.  This would`ve been a perfect opportunity to break into this market with no investment on his part.  I`m sure he will regret his decision once he starts seeing some of my marketing material around his area. I have decided to stay far, far away from melamine coated particleboard because of how heavy,brittle, and damage prone it is when wet.  I believe slide-lok has a great product and they`re only using the particleboard for the shelves (wish they didn`t) and cabinet fronts.  There`s also another company called GSC and they make a similar product.  I`m still trying to get a hold of slide-lok to find out what their reseller polices are.It sounds like you`re taking a bit different approach than me with your labor and sales crews.  I`m very handy and good with communications and customer service so I decided that I will go on all of the consultations until we have X revenue.  Additionally, the reason I got into this is because I`ve done my own garage.  Because of this I will be leading my crew of 2 or 3 people (inclusive) until I find someone I trust to do it for me.  sTiZZiT2007-8-25 10:17:21
  • sTiZZiTsTiZZiT subscriber Posts: 1
    I am working on getting a software that I can take a picture of the customers garage and put it on my computer. Then I can insert the items I sell and install. This way the customer will get a good feel on what there garage will look like when I am done.  I have been told microsoft publisher will do this.
    Thanks for all of your great advice.Publisher is more for creating marketing materials than anything else.  Even that it does just mediocre compared to programs like Adobe Pagemaker.  If you did want to just superimpose a picture of the cabinets on top of a picture of a client`s garage you`re going to find that perspective and orientation is going to be a major obstacle (because you cannot rotate your 2d images in 3d).  The only way to do this right is to create a 3d model using 3d modeling software that is quite pricey and that involves a decent bit of skill and lots of time.  Once you get your models done for all the cabinet styles you can save them and import them into models of you client`s garage and your total time COULD be less than an hour.  I haven`t investigated the software side of this yet but it was next on my list.  I work with many Pro-E users so I`m going to see what they can do since that program should be overkill.Ideally, if you had lots of money, you could commission custom software to do all this for you.  Even if you outsource it to India, you`re talking lots of development hours which obviously = lots of $.  However, there may be something out there that we haven`t found yet. If you stumble across anything, shoot me a message!!!Thanks!Rob
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