The better the deal that someone is getting on an item(especially if it’s a need, not just a want), the less likely they are going to flake out. People know when they are getting a good deal, and when they find one, like a fish, they aren’t going to want to let it get away. If you are pricing your item on the higher end of the spectrum, often times people are going to be much more hesitant about pulling the trigger on the purchase. If your price is just average, do you have features or qualities about your item that is going to separate it from the other 20 items? Features may include original box, scratch free, extra accessories, very little use, extra clean, free delivery etc.
Communication exclusively over email tends to lead to more flake outs. Email is less personal than talking over the phone, and it’s easier to let someone down via email than it is to have to call them back. Once you’ve spoken with someone on the phone, you have their phone number and they are more likely to follow through. At the very least, it will increase the odds that they will call you back to tell you their car won’t start and now they have to pay for car repairs and can’t afford your item. You can also disable email responses and force someone interested to call you directly. This is a great way to weed out flakes!
3. Post good pictures
You need to have good pictures of your item. Your pictures establish the potential buyers first image of you. If you take a picture of a chair in your dark, cluttered garage, it’s going to scare people away. They are going to think your entire house is a hoarders house and you somehow were able to pull this chair out from the rubble to try and sell it. Take the chair out onto your front lawn (my favorite), where the light is good and there is a nice pleasant backdrop. I can’t stress how important pictures are. Price is huge, but pictures will cause people to second guess showing up.
4. Post a clear description
Put up a clear description: plain, simple, and to the point but don’t tell the item’s entire life story. The more you can reassure someone about an item they are thinking of purchasing the better. “Works great, it’s plugged in, test it out, like new, very little use, has been in a display case, we don’t smoke and pet free environment,” are all key phrases to help people know exactly what they should expect when they arrive at your house. Any doubt will increase flakes.
5. Sell your item in season
If you have a great price, great features, another question to ask would be, is the item in season? Are you trying to sell an air conditioner in the winter? If so, someone might recognize it as a good deal but they are also much more likely to change their mind and bail when they realize it’s 30 degrees outside they aren’t going to use the a/c for another 5 months.
6. Have a plan in place before people call
A. Free items
The first person responds within a minute of your posting saying they want it and asks when can they pick it up. Ask them where they live and how long it will take them to get to your place. Give them this amount of time plus 30 minutes of grace time to pick it up. So if they live a half hour away, you can tell them, “nothing personal, but if you aren’t here in an hour I’m going to let the next person in line have the item.” Don’t give them your address unless the clock is ticking and they can leave right then. If they can’t leave right then, tell them to give you a call back when they can leave and you will let them know if you still have the item. This solves a lot of problems. Flakes usually have a hard time committing to specific times. Remember that. I’ll say it again, don’t give your address to someone until they are going to leave, no matter what. Otherwise, they are reserving for themselves but are unable to come get it right then.
B. For sale items
Before you take your first phone call, you need to decide how long you want to wait for your item to sell. Would you like to sell it within an hour, half a day or day? Take one call or email at a time and whoever can come first gets it. If someone says they can’t come until later in the day, like I said above, have them call back when they are ready to leave. You will let them know if you still have the item when they call. Just know what you want the transaction to look like before you post the item, and don’t allow other people to call the shots. It’s your item, your time, your house etc, you are calling the shots. The best way to attract flakes is to allow them to schedule a time, even days later to come look at your item.
As much as we despise those that flake out on us, most of us have flaked out on others ourselves. It’s going to happen, but the above tips should reduce the occurrences. I’d love to hear some of your funniest flake out stories. The excuses can sometimes be legendary!