Best Practices, Finishing Touches, Operations, V9I3

Shed Lots, Zoning Boards, and Other Options

When it comes to battling boards, zoning committees, and city councils for setting up shed lots, they can differ from place to place.  

Here is what I can tell you if you are a brand manager looking for new lots and new dealers: Stay away from town altogether, if possible. It may be hard to do, but I will explain in a minute.

The rub with all of them, including homeowner and property owner associations (HOA and POA), is that the folks that run them love to say no. They also love fees and conditions, so trying to appease them is often a huge waste of time and money.  

Now with that said, sometimes the best spots are going to be in town and there may be no way around it. In those cases, remember the person that you are speaking to behind the glass most likely doesn’t understand your business model or what you are trying to do. So, don’t take the first “no.” 

Walk in with a game plan of knowing what they need from you and have it ready. That means being ready to defend and explain your project. 

Look for like businesses in the area that are already doing something similar and use them in your example.  

Keep your cool and stay friendly. It is easy to get frustrated, but remember they hear it every day. Be calm and patient and realize that even if you submit everything right the first time, it may take months to get a decision.

Before pulling your hair out wrestling with the local government bureaucracy, understand that some of the best locations are out of town and in the county where most times little or no restrictions exist.  

My background as a dealer manager for a major shed builder taught me something about scouting lots and new dealers.  

Residential city lots are small and, in most cases, fenced in, so if your focus is selling to developments in town, you will be limited to smaller yard inventory, selling far fewer big-money cabins than the guy outside of town with a big inventory lot. This is why you won’t find many dealers like me in the city limits. 

Historically, shed manufacturers who are not selling to big retailers like Home Depot will search for other primary businesses to piggyback off. Feed stores, gas stations, auto parts, car lots, etc., are examples of businesses that can create a line extension selling sheds along with their primary business without having to involve new permits, etc. 

Avoid these as well if possible. They don’t care about you or your sheds as much as they figure if they luck into a sale once in a while its pocket money.  

When scouting a new dealer, I would drive through a town and get a feel for its size and personality. Then, look at traffic flow in and out of town and near busy suburbs.  

I want a few acres on a busy highway with the ability to enter the property easily like a turn lane or, even better, a stop light or sign where a stopped car can’t help but notice.  

Find a dealer who is ready to make selling your product the primary basis for their income. There are lots of semi-retired people who want to stay busy, make money, and be their own boss.  

Give me an old guy that wants some time out of the house, enjoys talking with people, and has some personality, and I will give you a successful shed lot.

A big, super-size lot in the country with lots of inventory will get folks’ attention in and out of town and establish your lot as the place to go for good deal, high-volume sales.

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