questions for sellers on Lily Auction

lisa_3(5)September 6, 2012

I have been debating if I want to try selling on Lily Auction next year-just on a small scale. I usually take plants to a local sale once a year, but it's getting to the point that I have more that need divided than I know will sell. Plus at the club plant sale, many of the customers (except club members) are only looking for the really inexpensive plants (under 10). While the ones I will have trouble selling would be in the $10.00 to 30.00 range. I would appreciate any feed back from those who sell-as I know some of you do.

What are some of the pro's and con's?

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silverkelt(Z5b/Southern Maine)

Ive bought and sold stuff for a few years there.

Here are some of my thoughts..

1. Look at your competition, most people are looking at pricing, not sellers names, especially if they do not know you. Selling your items for more, will not help.

2. Be honest and truthful, this will build your clientale base.

3. If something goes wrong, communicate and be willing to send the money back.

4. Get a paypal account.. no one wants to drag out a dusty checkbook these days. Be willing to accept funds electronically helps.

5. Use your own pictures if you have them.. as long as they look ok. Its always helpful to the customer to know that this person isnt just taking a ditch lily , slapping on a hybridizers photo and sending them junk.

6. In the end, the customer is the customer. Moody, with high expectations, who want "high" value, for "low" money. Be prepared for it, with enough sells you may see some demanding customer, expect money back, EVEN after you sent a healthy item to them. Its just going to happen.
Over the course of time you should be able to build a clientale base, you can start charing more then your competitors, becuase people know what they are paying for.

Please understand, these are my thoughts, not directed at anyone in particular. Its unfortunate that there are so many scammers.. everwhere. Even on a daylily auction site, but there are.

Silverkelt

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 6:26AM
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dementieva(Zone 9 - Houston)

I think an important concept to reconcile with yourself before getting into selling is to decide whether you are selling plants to get them gone or whether you are selling plants to make money.

If you are selling plants to get them gone (and it sounds like you are), you won't care if you don't make back what they "should" be worth, and you'll be happy just to get enough to cover shipping and the work you do.

And I'm curious -- is it not possible to price your plants lower in the club sale so that people will actually buy them, or does the club sort of impose the prices based on market value?

Anyway, if you sell your divisions on the auction with high expectations of income, it will feel more like an actual job and you might become frustrated dealing with customer service, as Silverkelt says.

Nate

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 7:35AM
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lisa_3(5)

Not really looking at this for an income-though my profit(we only get 50% of the proceeds as the rest goes to fund club projects-not complaining-I like the projects they do) at the garden club sale funds my purchases for that year. I am now to the point that if something comes, something goes so I need to do things with the going plants and the overgrown ones. They do recommend selling things at 'book value' but don't control the pricing. And I guess Nate that (thrifty person that I tend to be) something in me shudders at taking a $30 plant, selling it for $8 and getting $4. lol It wouldn't bother me as much if I took a $30 plant and got $15. I've also thought about selling out of the yard, but I live in a very small town and doubt I'd get many buyers. Plus with a full time and part time job, free time is limited.
Silverkelt-that's kind of what I was wondering-how high the percentage of 'no matter what you do, you can't make them happy' customers you get. How often do people bid and then not pay? I've worked in customer service positions for many years and know how people can be. My Dad sells out of his yard, but the people who come are at least moderately serious gardeners. He rarely has had a problem in 10 or more years of doing it and has never had a check bounce. Sometimes I like to think that people who seriously like to garden and love animals (ever notice how often these two go together)are above small petty thievery-but I really do know better.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 9:25AM
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floota

Geez, apparently the LONG post I wrote on this subject was never "submitted," only "previewed." My bad!

Here are just a couple of tips I've learned while selling on the LA:
* When possible, try to send more that you advertise. I try to never list single fans, as a lot of growers- myself included - are reluctant to try single fans. If you list two fans and can send three, the buyers are most appreciative.
* Specify WHEN orders can be shipped in the write up. For example, those that are being shipped beginning Monday were listed as "Fall shipping only." Inevitably, if you don't make this clear, someone is going to ask you to hold the order until spring.
* Specify also when payment is due. I say, "Payment due w/i 10 days of auction close." There will always be stragglers, but most will go ahead and send. Use the lily auctions system of sending automated invoices. It is very helpful.
* Be prepared to make good if something goes wrong. I've had no complaints but once there was a Mis-ID ( once, a plant had gotten mixed in with another, as sometimes happens), and I sent the correct plant when the buyer notified me. I try to never let this happen, but sometimes plants grow together. Am trying to get more room between everything for this very reason.
* Always use delivery confirmation! There must be something weird going with USPS in Texas, as that is the state where I've had the most problems with orders - packages have been sent to wrong towns, were sent back to original center and re-sent. One package took 2 weeks to arrive and of course plants must have looked awful by then. I offered to replace, but buyer said to let her try to revive them. She later wrote me that they'd all lived and bloomed. Another time a couple of years ago,delivery confirmation showed the package as DELIVERED but buyer could not find it!! After checking with USPS, she and USPS determined it had been stolen after it was delivered. Unfortunately, I had sent the grower the entire plant - some 8 or 10 fans and could not replace this. I offered to send another plant but grower said it wasn't my fault. Strange happenings!

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 3:39PM
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dementieva(Zone 9 - Houston)

Ha, I do the preview thing sometimes too. Click preview, switch to a different tab, and forget about my post until I come back later.

Good information there!

Nate

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 7:07PM
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jakejones

I think often, on the auction, 2 fans means 3 or more in buyers' minds esp. for older varieties. You will get a good rep. by surpassing the literal number.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 8:26AM
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northerndaylily(z3b-4a)

"something weird going with USPS in Texas"

LOL. Definitely extends well beyond USPS operations.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 8:57AM
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marbree(z5 MI)

This has been discussed long before, but just in case, may I suggest that you please don't trim the roots?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 1:47PM
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Maryl zone 7a

In this day and age of embezzelment type thefts I refuse to give another party (Pay Pal)access to my checking account, no matter how safe every body else says they are. I also will not send checks to unknown vendors. So please remember paranoid (or smart) people like myself and allow for money orders as another form of payment. Also, in your zone rust should not be a problem. But it doesn't hurt to advertise that you are a rust free garden if indeed you are......Maryl

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 9:04PM
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lisa_3(5)

Thanks for the responses. I try not to clip roots unless it's done by accident because a plant won't come apart. I usually try what I refer to as the chiropractor method. Just try to work them loose with my hands. Works with most except the ones that tend to grow from underneath, they can be tricky. I have never seen rust, thank goodness neither in my garden nor in a new arrival. Floota-we mailed some flowers to a cousin out west and they came up missing for almost two weeks before they finally showed. Isn't it great they are such forgiving plants!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 6:54AM
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northerndaylily(z3b-4a)

"In this day and age of embezzelment type thefts I refuse to give another party (Pay Pal)access to my checking account, no matter how safe every body else says they are. I also will not send checks to unknown vendors. So please remember paranoid (or smart) people like myself and allow for money orders as another form of payment. Also, in your zone rust should not be a problem. But it doesn't hurt to advertise that you are a rust free garden if indeed you are......Maryl"

Good pts. Most.. use a dummy checking account for paypal.. ie: all that account is for. NEVER give those thieves one you actually USE.

Money Orders: should have a reference phone number on them to verify. Some do not..

RUST: funny how once it slowed sales of southern greenhouse operations it was made a 'nuisance' issue. Still affects daylilies differently.. kills some. Then the chem shock.. some arrive and do not flower the next season.. due either too much bleach used as a dip.. or the chems used for same.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 3:25PM
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Maryl zone 7a

Northerndaylily: I'd never heard the rust theory you proposed, but it's very interesting. I do know that I don't consider rust a nuisance issue. I pitched brand new daylilies this year as soon as their leaves became covered in rust. On some I hadn't even seen the bloom yet. What would be the point in getting attached to a rust magnet? Since this thread is not about rust I won't go into that discussion, but believe me if you DO NOT have rust (and not because you are spraying heavily for it), it is a selling point to me and others I know......Maryl

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 11:10PM
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organic_kitten(8)

Well, I am no expert on rust, but I had my first encounter with it on a plant that had been in my garden, (formerly:( rust free garden) for three years when rust made its first appearance.

I figure that living where I do, it was inevitable. If you live where it is prevalent you either consider it a nuisance and deal with it, or you quit growing daylilies.

Kind of like iris borers, I suppose. Shriners tells me they don't exist in my part of the country, but I suspect they will eventually.

You deal with the problems when you have no choice, or you find another obsession.
kay

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 11:59PM
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northerndaylily(z3b-4a)

Maryl.. definitely no rust is the goal for me also. Definitely a selling point.. one of my main issues.

And as Kay points out... the DL is NOT the pest free 'perennial' too often described net wise. Getting plants south means many other risks.

The deep south bred daylily today.. is a cross now between 'greenhouse weeds' and phony internet flower faces. A continuous stream of very average to very poor daylilies sold via the internet. As long as a gullible consumer continues to value this JUNK.. this will not change.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 6:25AM
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lisa_3(5)

UGH-Iris borers those things I do have-will be starting to thin out iris -even though I love the colors just because I am tired of dealing with the things.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 11:22PM
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silverkelt(Z5b/Southern Maine)

I once had a few dozez tall bearded iris, they are just the best cut flowers I can think of, just huge , wonderful, blooms. (though I never really like iris fragrance, its reminds me of cat pee) but I just plant el cheapos now, sometimes put a small order ever few years for a handful, they will all eventually die out due to the borers. So I will not invest that much time or money in them.

In regards to paypal, Ive never experienced any issues with online payments with them. BTW you can set up a online bank with a fdic insured bank (many of them are just branches of thier physical building) and transfer small amounts into it to cover what you want.

Then also set up a paypal "only" email account as well. This will take about a couple hours, but it puts lots of walls in front of someone trying to get information from you.

Truth be told, more poeple will be "scammed" into giving thier money away then anyone ever hacking into an account and finding information.

Silverkelt

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 11:22AM
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