If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am always thinking of ways to make some money, many online, but I also try some in-person ideas. Over the past few months I tried to make a few hundred bucks by starting a small business selling garage door keypads. This article will tell the entire story, but the short story is I didn’t sell a single unit. Sounds like a lost a lot of money right? Well, in reality I didn’t even lose a hundred.
We moved into the condo we are in seven months ago. We enjoy biking, or rather have to since we share a car, so we are always coming in and out through the garage. We bought and installed a keypad identical to the ones our neighbors for $32. Most of our neighbors already had them because it was an option from the builder for $150. I figured for the 10-15% of people who did not buy it there was money to be made in giving them a deal.
I thought an important part of selling my keypads door-to-door would be to look the part and offer instant installation. If the item is not available, then the customer has time to think about it and that is a barrier to purchasing. I bought six keypads for $32 each and outfitted myself with the equipment in the picture. After a few weeks of excuses I went out and starting ringing neighbors’ doorbells. Many were out but I spoke with two. The first lady had a chain across her door and I thought, who installed that! But neither ended up buying. I realized I don’t have the salesman personality so I asked my roommates if they wanted to try and split the profits.
They were able to speak to a lot more people and the answer was generally that they didn’t get one because they didn’t want one. I should have realized my market was well-off people and money wasn’t the reason that people were not purchasing. They tried and also ended up without any sales.
After giving up I had inventory to sell. I sold all my keypads on Amazon netting around $20 each after shipping and fees. I was able to return the protective glasses since I did not use that but kept the receipt pad ($4) and tool carrier ($16). A business license in Irvine is now free, so I didn’t lose any money on that and I made my business name include my name so I did not have to pay to file a DBA. In all this failed business cost me $92.
The potential was to sell each for $80 and make $48 before taxes per unit. However, what I gained was experience. I had never gone door-to-door to sell something aside from some school fundraiser with my parents behind me. It was scary at first, but I believed in my product so it wasn’t like trying to sell snake oil.
I think it was worth the attempt, but I could have started with one keypad. I guess my neighbors have more than they could want and I don’t think I’ll be coming up with ideas of other things to sell to them.
The people who bought these home for $600,000 probably though $150 was an insignificant amount to pay for an add-on item, but money is money so you need to thing of it in dollars rather than ratios. I bet they still look at gas prices which saving 20 cents a gallon would only save them $96 a year. It is easier to get an addition $100 off the price of a house or car than trying to bargain for $100 off a bed, purse, or cheaper item, so try to get as much saving as you can from expensive items.
As for me, time to think of another business!