Why Your Coin Dealer May Ask you to Pay Them for Their Time
We were recently approached by a gentleman with a large collection who is potentially interested in selling his coins. We regularly deal in large estate collections, and in recent months have had a huge influx of requests to evaluate estate collections. We explained to the individual that we’re happy to evaluate his collection and shared with him our buy rates on standard items that typically don’t require an in-person evaluation. We also provided him with a range of what we’re able to offer on his collectible or numismatic coins as a percentage of the market value. This is commonly referred to as wholesale pricing.
When we shared with him that we’re happy to meet with him, but that an evaluation or appraisal fee will apply if he doesn’t sell his collection, his tune changed, and he decided to hold off. We explained that there’s never any pressure to sell a collection, but that we need to be compensated for our time – especially considering that this would likely be a multi-hour appointment. While some coin dealers may advertise that they provide “free appraisals,” you typically get what you pay for. These aren’t thorough evaluations or appraisals, but rather a brief scan of the collection with typically a lowball offer to follow.
A coin dealer in one of our networks recently commented that the general public doesn’t feel as though coin dealers should be paid for our time, which is likely an opinion held by a number of folks. The purpose of this article is to explain why your coin dealer may ask you to pay them for their time and provide insight from a coin dealer’s perspective so you can better understand how the industry operates.
Experts in all fields are compensated for their time
There’s a common misconception that coin dealers are not highly skilled and provide minimal value. We’ve addressed this topic in another recent article, so we won’t go into tremendous detail, other than to share with our readers that most coin dealers have an expert or mastery knowledge of coins. It’s been said that it takes 10,000 hours to master a subject or skill and considering most coin dealers have been in business for five or more years, the assumption is that most coin dealers are experts in their field.
When you seek the advice of a professional in a field, the assumption is that there’s going to be a fee for their services. For example, a doctor will typically charge you $100 for five minutes of their time, an attorney will charge you hundreds of dollars an hour for their services, and a highly skilled accountant or CPA will also charge substantial fees. In fact, there’s such high demand for a certain tax accountant out of Puerto Rico that he charges $1,000 and stays booked up for weeks if not months in advance.
It takes many years in the coin and bullion industry to not only become proficient, but to become an expert. While coin dealers aren’t healing you from life threatening diseases, providing legal advice, or helping you to reduce your tax obligations, they offer a valuable service. They typically do so at a much lower rate than the other experts noted above, and oftentimes evaluate collections worth tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. In other words, the service is inexpensive relative to the value of your items.
Coin Dealers are in Business to Make Money
While most coin dealers have entered the industry because of their love of coins and currency, it is ultimately a for-profit business. In other words, coin dealers are capitalists. Like other businesses and business owners, they must allocate a finite number of resources, including time, capital and labor to maximize profits.
When a coin dealer sets aside hours to evaluate a collection, they are forgoing a number of different tasks that could generate revenue and profit. Granted, if a coin dealer is evaluating or appraising a collection and ultimately purchases the collection, then in our opinion, it’s not proper to charge an evaluation fee. In other words, they’ve chosen to spend their time acquiring the collection with the expectation that they’ll be able to sell the items in the future at a profit, which is their compensation.
We’re oftentimes asked what we do all day. From the public’s perspective, we simply meet with customers to buy and sell coins and bullion and have plenty of extra time on our hands. This is certainly understandable, but we frequently tell our customers that the real work doesn’t begin until after we acquire a coin collection. Rarely does a coin collection consist of the same types of items. As an example, we frequently itemize coin collections and have a hundred or more different line items.
Very few items sell themselves, so all these different items need to be marketed to different outlets or potential buyers, which can be a time-consuming task. Obviously, when a coin dealer is evaluating a coin collection, these responsibilities aren’t being carried out, which means that the items will sit on the coin dealer’s shelf until he or she has freed up time to tackle this project.
A coin dealer’s overhead expenses are higher than you may realize
When you visit a coin dealer, whether in an office environment, like ours, or a traditional coin shop, it may appear as though the overhead costs are nominal, but that’s far from the case. We’ll run through a list of routine expenses incurred by coin dealers, not in an attempt to gain sympathy, but rather, to share with you the operating costs so that you can better understand why a coin dealer always needs to focus on income generating activities.
The rent expense for office space or a retail store is the most obvious expense. Besides that, there are insurance costs, utility costs, labor or staff costs, supply expenses, marketing expenses, advertising fees, website and hosting fees, internet service, phone system expenses, coin dealer network fees, and business license fees, just to name a few. While your average coin dealer doesn’t like to think about all these expenses, the reality is that we need to do a good bit of business every month just to break even. During slower months and times of the year, many coin dealers don’t take personal distributions, as they need to maintain enough capital to continue to operate.
These expenses, while substantial, are of course a part of doing business. With this in mind, most coin dealers put in long hours to make sure that they’re able to meet all of their customers’ needs and are always able to pay their staff, regardless of the market. This by no means is intended to come across as a complaint, as we are blessed to work in an industry that we love and have a passion for. We share this information so that you’ll better understand why we charge for our time when providing an evaluation or appraisal without a corresponding purchase or sale.
In conclusion, we’ve shared with you three reasons why a coin dealer may charge you for their time. We began with the fact that coin dealers are experts in their field, and as in the case in most fields, experts are compensated for their time. On a relative basis, coin dealers charge much lower fees than many other experts.
While we love the coin and bullion industry, we’re also in business to make a profit. Yes- we’re capitalists! Therefore, we need to make sure that we’re properly utilizing all our resources, including time, labor and capital. If we spend time evaluating a coin collection, don’t purchase the coins, and don’t charge for our services, that means that we need to put in extra hours to make up for this lost time. There’s only so much time in the day, and while we love what we do, we also love our families and need to make sure that our business isn’t capitalizing all our time.
Lastly, a coin dealer, no matter where or how they operate, has significant monthly overhead fees. A good amount of business needs to take place before a coin dealer can begin to realize a profit. These expenses are all part of doing business, but need to be factored in with respect to how a coin dealer utilizes his or her time.
We hope that today’s article provided you with some insight on how a coin dealer operates and why they likely charge for their services. As mentioned above, we never charge customers fees when we purchase coins or coin collections. When we do charge for our services, our fees are very reasonable – especially considering that we take a team approach with respect to coin evaluations and appraisals. Contact us today to see how and why we’re different from the competition. We look forward to hearing from you and earning your business.