Shutting My Garage Door (Business)

Garage Door Sales KitIf 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.

The idea

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.

The delivery

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.

The losses

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 gains

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!

This entry was posted in Earn.

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