Business At A Glance
Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? No
If you’ve got a flair for demonstrations, people skills and the gift oforganization, then an in-store demonstration service might be thebusiness for you. You’ll contract with food brokers and other suppliersand manufacturers to show off their products via your own on-call,personally trained demonstrators.
People are more likely to purchasegrocery products after tasting them, and customers of other types ofgoods can also be enticed by something they can see in action, feel,hear or smell, all of which makes the demonstration business valuableto brokers and manufacturers as well as store owners. You can startsmall and grow big–some demonstration companies manage as many as2,000 to 20,000 demonstrators in several states.
You’ll probably startoff by doing the demos yourself and hire others as your company grows.The advantages to this business are that you’re always on the go sothere’s no time to get bored, you can work from home, and your start-upcosts are minimal. Many owners of in-store demo businesses have abackground in the grocery industry. This is helpful but not an absolutemust. The must-haves are strong organizational skills to keep track ofyour demonstrators, their assignments and the materials they’ll need tobring to each job; and top-notch administrative skills for paying yourpeople and making sure you get paid. People skills are anothermust–you’ll be dealing with lots of personalities, from store managersto food brokers to your own demonstrators. You’ll also need a flair fordemonstrating products and for teaching others how to do the same.
Yourbest clients will be supermarkets and warehouse superstores like Costcoand Sam’s Club, but you can also sell your services to departmentstores. Offer free demos to supermarket managers. Once they see howwell you do, they can connect you with food distributors andmanufacturers or hire you themselves–some stores offer demos of theirown recipe ideas. You can also contact distributors and manufacturerson your own–if you’ve got access to a computer or a typewriter, makeup a letter describing your services and requesting an appointment,then follow up with a phone call. And don’t forget companies other thangrocers–lots of products lend themselves to demonstrations.
You’ll eventually need a computer with a laser printer and a faxmachine, but to start with, you don’t really need anything but a phoneand a car to get to your demo sites. You can hire your staff asindependent contractors or as employees, depending on the laws in yourstate. This can be a sticky area as far as the IRS is concerned, so besure to check with an accountant when you reach the hiring stage.
Sincedemonstrators supply their own equipment, you’ll need an electricfrying pan or griddle for serving those hot tidbits, a card table onwhich to operate, and a wastebasket for used paper napkins andtoothpicks.