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Selling Point

Bidding on the success of eBay auction assistance pays off.

This story appears in the November 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Kenny Byrne remembers trying to auction his old cell phone on eBay. Running into problems including fraudulent payment, he knew he wasn't the only person experiencing difficulties. But now, as an iSold It franchisee and area developer in western Washington state, Byrne's sure neither he nor his eBay drop-off customers will be running into those problems again.

In 2004, Byrne, who has a background in technology and software development, opened his first location in Puyallup, Washington. He has since opened a second, and his stores are the top two iSold It franchises in terms of volume. He knows that the right employees are critical to his success. "Most people don't realize what it takes to sell on eBay," says Byrne, 39. The sales team must create descriptive listings, take professional- grade photographs, handle customer service and prepare items for shipment. Byrne also employs a seven-person team of product specialists who boast 100 years of combined auction experience and can evaluate collectibles, antiques, art and more.

The tremendous growth of eBay drop-offs has presented some technological challenges. Keeping track of inventory and the cost of goods sold tested the franchise's database system, making an upgrade necessary. While working out the kinks, Byrne kept the business moving ahead, building his inventory by purchasing items from closing businesses, estate sales and liquidators. "We're not just sitting around, waiting for people to walk [into] our stores," says Byrne, adding that importers and manufacturers are using iSold It to distribute their goods. He's also signed a deal with a nearby Costco Business Center to liquidate their returned items.

Byrne's number of satisfied customers is growing, and he counts himself among them--he finally sold that old cell phone.