Under the hammer
The old adage that one man’s treasure is another man’s trash is a saying which has paid dividends in auction houses across the world for years.
Housing association London & Quadrant is banking on it still being true and is using the world’s biggest auction house as inspiration for tenants to start-up their own businesses.
The association’s eBay training programme may not be the first in the country (L&Q themselves admit they got the idea from Knowsley Housing Trust) but it has proved hugely successful in just a short space of time.
Inside Housing went to one of the classes to meet with the lecturer, tenants and the team behind it all to see how the pilot course is going.
Despite minimal promotion (the course is only being put on in the association’s south-west London region and was only advertised through message boards) the eBay business class has seen a huge uptake.
L&Q officials told Inside Housing that when putting on something like this they would normally expect 12 or 13 people to take advantage.
Around 70 have shown an interest so far and a mixture of ages, ethnicities and tenancies have turned up to find out the secrets of online success.
Mary Reed, 60, of Richmond, signed up to the free course to get rid of some things from her home and is now considering starting a business.
‘My children have left home and I recently have a bit more time as I have just retired and I am trying to sort things out in the house and there are some things which are too good to car boot,’ she said.
Going, going, gone
Most people would assume the classes would have dozens of people hunched over computers following the orders of the person in charge.
Mark Buckingham, a top rated seller on eBay and director of online training company Netseeker, has created a much more intimate affair with the course split into two groups – beginners and intermediate.
The class Inside Housing saw, intermediate, is a mix of advanced sellers and eager ‘newbies’.
Each of them gives their opinion of particular eBay pages, good and bad, and the main selling points of each are brought to the fore.
The idea being that at the end of the course, each person has the best possible chance to set up their own successful eBay page while evading the pitfalls that many stumble into.
Mr Buckingham said: ‘The people taking this course can take their businesses as far as they want to, limited only by the items they source.
‘Not everyone needs to aspire to making a huge amount of money, for some they might be quite comfortable making a little extra pin money.
‘For others, whether they are entrepreneurial, they may have the opportunity to become a full time seller.’
L&Q has said the course is only being run as a pilot but that each resident will be supported if needed and will be encouraged into further business training.
The association said it will review the success of the course in due time and then consider rolling it out to other areas.
Mr Buckingham’s top tips for success:
- Research your market on and off-line.
- Have some experience of eBay as a buyer.
- Register as a business seller and set up an eBay shop.
- Consult the HMRC website and understand what you are obliged to do as a business.
- Start selling small items, build up a good feedback and have fun.
- Be creative and think of things which may not have much competition.
- Offer a great experience for the buyer by communicating clearly with them.
eBay facts and figures
- $4.9 million – Price for a Gulf Stream Jet, the most expensive item ever sold
- Three seconds – How often a woman’s handbag is sold
- £61,000 – Price for a prehistoric mammoth skeleton
- 20 – High street stores using eBay
- 120,000 – Registered businesses using eBay
- Volkswagen – Most searched for car
- Next – Most searched for clothing retailer