When Your Number Is Up

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Did you know that car number plates are big business?

Over the last 20 years, prices have risen steadily. The plate, AVH9, for example, cost £450 in the mid-80s and is now worth an estimated £4,700. Millions of pounds are spent each year on these unique and eternally popular status symbols.

Some people choose plates to match their initials or trade. Others buy so they can drop the year code and hide the age of a vehicle. Demand is high for low-cost numbers amongst less affluent drivers to add status and hide age.

The real beauty of personalised number plates lies with the prices people are prepared to pay for them. The person most likely to enjoy plates is you – the broker who’s going to make money from them! It’s a business that tends to weather any storm and actually works even better in a recession. Investors are looking at less volatile investments than stocks and shares.

Best Buy Plates

Having a personalised plate doesn’t guarantee profits. Plates that are most likely to rise fast in price are those with common initials relating to names and trades. Those with, say, JW (for John Williams, Jack Wilson etc) and LOT (for an auctioneer etc) are your best buys.

A plate bearing letters OF is likely to represent more names in the average telephone directory than UYK. So OF 1 would set you back about £16,750 while UYK 1 costs just £2,700. If a personalised plate has a low prefix number such as 1, that’s even better. As a rule, the lower the number, the higher the price.

Be warned – not all plates appreciate quickly. Some investments can even fall in value, sometimes significantly. Those most likely to fall are those quirky letter and number combinations chosen more for fun and fad value than lasting appeal. For example, B10 USE – blouse, potentially. Apart from specific letter and number combinations, rarity is a key factor of price

Be A Broker

A broker simply mediates between people wanting to buy and others with personalised number plates to sell. At its simplest, you offer someone else’s plates for sale in return for commission. Few sellers will actually turn down your offer as you might know someone who wouldn’t otherwise see their advertising. You could make the difference between selling and not selling.

In practice, several other brokers could be offering the exact same plate. One broker may allow others to market the plate for a percentage of the commission passed between the plate owner and principal broker. Once you get this business going, it could expand rapidly with profits for all.

Here’s the big bonus. Unlike the independent car number plate dealer, the broker never has to purchase plates personally, nor the vehicles. The broker is just in the middle, never holds stock and simply mediates between owner and buyer for a percentage.

Test The Market

Choose registrations from those you see advertised in mags like Exchange & Mart etc. There are page after page of ads so you have plenty to choose from. Go for those with common initials like B, C, H, M, N, R, S and P. Avoid awkward letters like U, Q, X and Z.

Now, you have to match registrations with potential buyers, focusing on actual names or reflecting occupations, special interests, etc. As examples, BOW 1 could be a great plate for dog lovers and actors used to taking a ‘bow’. Advertise the plate in dog lovers’ magazines, target at dog breeders, vets etc. You could write to anyone with the initials BOW from listings in telephone directories and the electoral roll!

BET 1 would be great for turf accountants and gamblers, GUM 23 for dentists, and LOT 23 for auctioneers. You can trawl through ads and group similar dog-, vet-, gambler- and auctioneer-related plates together – this can be very effective.

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