I’ve just completed the first major step towards launching my own premium “designer” door handles / knobs business by importing 300 sets of these in various designs at a very decent price. Take a look:
I actually have a mix of both premium and economical (stainless steel, plainer design for offices etc) door handles but my main focus is on the premium ones as you see above as they have the highest profit margin.
I also have some product catalogs printed which showcase all of the products my supplier has. However, note that I currently have only 300 sets in stock of 30 different models. The lead / delivery time on these from my supplier is at least 30 days.
So I have the stock, I have the catalog, the door handles look awesome and are well built but now my main question is: I had a good first sale to a personal friend of mine, but how do I grow this business further?
Now I know you must be thinking I’m nuts just importing these and then wondering how to sell these, but let me give you a little background info on how I got started with this business.
I actually run a web design firm and have never done an “offline” business in my life. I had a client and a friend who runs this same exact business since the past 5 years, importing door handles from country X, selling them in India under his own brand.
He does around 40 lakhs+ per month with his business as the margins are great and he has established clients. For example the average handle you see here costs ~ Rs 500 – 700 and sells for Rs 2000 – 3000. Some larger pull handles cost Rs 4000 and sell for as much as Rs 12,000 to Rs 14,000.
I also knew who his supplier is and infact I’ve sourced my inventory from the same supplier as him. I just decided to go ahead and import the 300 sets first because I was getting caught in a lot of ‘what ifs’ like what if they don’t sell, what if I lose my money etc.
I thought to myself if my friend is doing 40 lakhs+ monthly with this business, if he is able to sell these, why shouldn’t I be able to sell some as well? So I just went ahead and placed my order with the supplier, and got the delivery last week. Meanwhile I also got my product catalog and some packaging boxes with my branding designed.
The one thing my friend didn’t share with me, as you can guess, is his client list. 😉
I have a vague idea about his clients from my time in his office listening to him on phone – it seems most of his clients are builders / construction firms, hardware stores, architects in different cities in India.
Now this is where I need your help, rodinhoods.
If you were in my place what would be the next step you take in order to get your first order?
What I’m thinking is I could either hire a salesperson or just try and find out some builders / under construction buildings and show them my catalog and a few samples.
I could visit some hardware stores and offer them to carry some samples of my stock for free and just keep the money if they sell those – and then if they like they can order more from me as I’m sure they will love the profit margins.
Beyond that I’m really lost on how to go about the task of getting the first order and get this business off the ground.. note that I am a web designer with absolutely no clue about how offline business works – this is my first attempt.
My current inventory of 300 sets cost me around Rs 4 lacs including shipping / customs etc.
So the average cost per set comes to Rs 1330/-
Most of these handles are sold in the Rs 4000 to 5000 range (with lots of exceptions..like bigger pull handles which sell for 10k to 15k). Currently I’m looking at selling these for just 1.5x multiple to get the first few clients.
I have already visited 3 builders who are construction small 4 storey apartments in my city, they loved the door handles — but their apartments are still months away from the finishing stage and they just told me they will contact me once they are near that stage. So no order from them.
I sold one pull handle for Rs 4,500 which cost me Rs 1200 to a small mid-end restaurant here.. but that’s a guy I know well and the sale kind of happened “by chance” as I was showing him my catalog and he instantly decided he needs one particular handle for his front entrance.. I went to my home came back with the handle and that was my first sale. So in a way I already had my first sale but obviously selling just one door handle to a close friend doesn’t mean anything. Haha.
Update: I had my first proper sale with a total profit of around Rs 50k (see comment below) as of 25/09/14
So guys I think I’ve already written a long essay and don’t want to bore you anymore. Please help me with the sales and marketing aspect of this business.
Also like I told you in the beginning, I currently have inventory of only 300 sets / 10 sets each of 30 different models so what happens if say I get a large order from someone for like 20 or 50 sets of a particular model? My lead time from the supplier is at least 30 days. How can I tackle this problem while still keeping the client and his order?
P.S. I thought of launching a website and selling these online but I think thats a stupid idea – who will buy door handles online? Heh.