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Appliance Flipping

Discussion in 'Business Models, Niches, Industries' started by G-Man, Sep 7, 2016.

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  1. G-Man
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    G-Man Legendary Contributor Read The Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Not my business, but one I just bought from that I thought I would share:

    If you go on Craigslist in my city and search for used appliances, almost all you find is one repeated ad for used/refurbished washer& dryer sets and fridges. I go down to this place, buy a nice clean set for dirt cheap, and the owner is on the phone negotiating with someone to BUY the set they have listed on Craigslist. From what I can understand of Spanish here's what he's doing:

    1. Call everyone that lists their appliances on Craigslist, give them a lowball offer, but offer to pick up and pay same day
    2. Clean up said appliance and re-list on Craigslist offering 90 day warranty and same day delivery and installation.
    Anyone who's thought of buying an appliance on Craigslist knows the logistics are a huge pain in the ass: Going to a stranger's house, having to arrange to meet without them flaking, finding a truck and some people to move it for you, etc. He removes the hassle for both buyer and seller.

    This guy removed a huge pain point for the price of some cheap warehouse space and having his wife sit there posting ads all day while her kids go bonkers in the lobby.

    Just thought I would share. It's easy to get distracted from focusing on removing simple but real pain points in people's lives. This dude provides a lot of value to a lot of people with a simple idea and relentless execution.
     
  2. amp0193
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    I did this for a year. Fixing and flipping appliances.

    It's difficult to scale... as to get yourself out of the biz, you have to find skilled repair techs, or train them yourself. The costs of delivering appliances, and then going back to fix them if they break a week later were frustrating. @mikeyjd is making this exact thing happen, however, because he's amazing at systems & efficiency. You want to widen the mileage of your delivery range to gain more customers, but as you do that, you're also doubling the time investment and fuel cost if you have to go back for some reason.

    Ultimately, what killed it for me was supply/demand. When I was really cranking out machines, I would have like 24 ready to go... and I would go days without phone calls. I was on Craigslist, my own website with adwords, phone apps. There was a fair amount of competition in the DFW area, however, NO ONE is doing any sort of internet marketing. I was the only dude in the city with a website, and I was getting cheap leads through it. If I was more central in Dallas, I probably would have got more traffic... but that's the trouble with such a business, is that it's so LOCAL.


    A model I liked, was applianceswap.com. They would hook up buyers with local "trusted" dealers. That was more fastlane, as they were leveraging the backbone of appliance techs, without actually having to move any machines themselves. It looks like it didn't work out, however, as the site's homepage is redirecting to something else now.


    However, it's a great way to hustle together some cash if you have a truck and some muscle.
     
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  3. G-Man
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    The fact that it's difficult/impossible to scale did occur to me, but, it was very interesting to see the hustle.

    I think the most off-putting part of the customer experience was having to drive to the guy's shitty warehouse. I almost wonder if you couldn't replace the entire operation with roving box truck trucks that carry the inventory, and give the drivers mobile POS devices. The biggest difficulty with that model would be people calling your truck out to their place, then not buying anything. It's a common problem, and I haven't seen a really elegant solution yet. Must mean there's opportunity there.
     
  4. amp0193
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    Another difficulty with a roving box truck, is simply the time it would take to move around machines. Oh, they want the one in the back... fuck, now I gotta move 4 washers out of the way. I had 30+ machines in my one-car garage at all times... there was a lot of time wasted shuffling machines around.

    I think the best strategy, is to clean and paint your machines, so they look pristine, and take great pictures in the sunlight. My pictures were better than anyone elses, and most people just wanted me to deliver what they saw on the ad. I would say that less than 10% wanted to come by my place and check them out before hand. Most were content to just see it running after I hooked it up in their house. Before I quit, I was planning on building a spinner stand to take 360 spin photos/videos of each machine for the website, and was going to take videos of each machine running, to up the trust level even more.


    There is a market for mid-price used machines, if you can deliver a high-quality, working product, and generate a lot of trust to the buyer. There is an opportunity here to make a killing, with a very high entry barrier, as you'll need to franchise out into more cities to get any real scale. I just didn't enjoy the business enough to make it work.


    Another note: when demand was slow, I looked into every possible trucking option to see if it was at all possible to have machines trucked and delivered out of city, to increase the customer base. I don't remember what the costs were... but it really wasn't feasible at all from a profit or price standpoint.


    Last tip: If someone wants to give appliance hustling a go, here's the #1 money maker: Offer Free Delivery in exchange for their old appliance. Most broken washers/dryers need $10 or less in parts to fix, and 30 minutes or less of work. So, there's your free inventory.
     
  5. G-Man
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    Thanks for the ideas. I'm also going to look into simple lead generation for existing guys. There has to be a way to position yourself to remove the basic pain point of logistics without opening a full-on repair operation.

    I'm also in DFW by the way. I bought my machine down on Harry Hines.

    Was this a side-thing for you? It sounds like you were operating out of your garage, yes? Did you have your own truck with a lift gate, or did beast those things in and out of a pickup?
     
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  6. amp0193
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    There is definitely money in this model. I was pivoting into a lead gen or subcontracting model, when I decided to drop the whole thing and commit 100% to my ecommerce stuff. I'm telling you... No one is internet marketing, no one. I read 3 or 4 @Andy Black local lead gen posts, and was able to secure very cheap clicks for myself. The guys who are running adwords, are targeting only the most basic, obvious keywords... and they don't have matching landing pages with city names and all that.

    I'm in Denton.

    It started as an evenings/weekend thing when I was a teacher. Then, I committed 100% on my summer break, to really go after it, to see if it could pay the bills. It made me less than my teaching paycheck, with longer and more gruelling work hours, so I gave it up.


    And no, I opted for the cheapest working F150 money could buy... $2,200. And before that, I operated for a year with a utility trailer behind my honda civic. I got really good at man-handling appliances. Got a couple of huge fridges in/out there by myself. A lift-gate would be a must though, if you were going to do this seriously.

    [​IMG]



    Applianceschool.com is where I learned to repair washers/dryers. The owner runs a blog that I read and have contributed to in the past. $150 for all you need to know to get started. The associated forum and/or youtube could quickly answer my repair questions when I came across a new problem.
     
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  7. minivanman
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    Yes, very difficult to scale. That is my problem now. I can sell more but that means I need more time to repair, paint and deliver. Not to mention I'd need more time to sell. The original poster said it seemed like an easy business, just get some appliances and have someone answer the phone.... I wish. I could be a millionaire in no time if that was the case. I could hire someone but I have a lot of experience with employees and with only 1 worker it would be very tough. What if they quit? What if they call in sick for 1 day or 3 days? 1 worker is hell... I've been there before. 3+ workers is really needed for less stress.

    I actually saw your Civic & trailer in Park Glen on Beach street a year or 2 ago. I actually thought you was going around picking up things by the curb. I didn't know you sold washers and dryers. I bought a 2001 Dodge mini van ($1300) to do my deliveries. Very easy working out of the van, weather is never a problem and great mpg. If needed I can fit 2 washers and 2 dryers at a time.

    I was going to retire from another business I've had since 1998 so I tried the washer and dryer business 4 years ago. I lasted about 3 months but I really liked it. I had 2 partners back then and they flaked out so we closed up shop. So now I've been back at it about 1 year and doing better than ever at it. Once I learned some tricks of the trade it is easy now.... just time consuming but I like it.
     
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  8. amp0193
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    haha, no way! I don't remember doing any deliveries out that way... but I did so many that's it's possible.

    Yeah, that van sounds great. There was a number of times where I had 6-8 appliances being hauled around, but you could easily do that with a cheap utility trailer behind the van.


    The toughest part of the job is getting the labor necessary to scale. As soon as I took on a full-time repair guy, the quality control went down, and I had to deal with more returns/repairs after the sale.

    The easiest way to start is to get a couple of part-time delivery guys, if you can. Local college kids needing beer money are great for this. You just get their available schedule, and then schedule deliveries/pickups with customers based on when your college kid can get it out there. Getting myself out of deliveries was a game-changer.

    My #1 tip though, is offer "free shipping in exchange for your old broken kenmore/whirlpool/estate washer/dryer". This really kept the inventory coming. I wouldn't do free deliveries on GE or other shit washers/dryers.

    Also, be sure you're up-selling. Charge for curbside delivery. Charge an extra $20 for installation and hookup. Charge for hoses. Charge for dryer ducts. Get an air compressor and a skipper and you can add a vent clean out for $40. Just try to maximize the average customer order to make the drive out to their place worth it.
     
  9. Greg Rutkowski
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    I like this guys,

    You are on to something here.

    A General Contractor I know removes appliances out of flips and remodels and sells them to an appliance flipper for $50-75. He has a storage container full of them and it is a way to generate some side cash. Can you say bulk purchase???

    I don't understand why it would be difficult to scale this though. The way I see it, this is definitely a local thing. The cost of shipping get's too high to make money after a certain distance. The way to scale this is through Intentional Iteration. Probably Franchise model, but chaining may also be able to work. "We Buy Ugly Houses" made a fortune franchising.

    I like what you guys have said about the whole delivery aspect of up selling, that is cool.

    Buying used appliances in bulk is the way to go though. This pick one up drop one off thing is cool but thinking too small.

    Just my two cents.
     
  10. amp0193
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    amp0193 Platinum Contributor Read The Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Yup, the next level is bulk purchasing inventory. I did a couple of bulk purchases from re-habbed apartment complexes. I'd pay $40-50 for "as is" washers/dryers that I knew were a good brand that I could work on.

    Yup, I really tried to figure a way to make the numbers work on national shipping. Not happening on used appliances.

    This is the big money. Right now, there is no nationally recognized brand of used appliance dealer. There's a couple strictly "appliance repair" chains, but no used appliance dealers. I got out of the biz, but the opportunity is RIPE for someone who can do internet marketing and franchising. There was not one competitor in the entire Dallas metroplex who had a website with inventory, except for me, for the year that I did this.

    I think the opportunity for the used dealer market is great, because of the incredibly low quality of new washers/dryers being sold in stores these days. They are built to fail in 4-5 years.

    It's just a part of the strategy. If you have to go out to their house to make the delivery anyways, might as well get a free piece of inventory out of it, that you can fix for $20. I would say 40% of my deliveries yielded a new piece of inventory. Bulk purchases would be the ideal way to get inventory for the 60% of inventory that is gone after the deal is done.
     
  11. Greg Rutkowski
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    It sounds like a decent opportunity to jump on. I'm sure the wheels are turning right now for all of the forum lurkers.
     
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    I offer different delivery prices. $19 driveway drop-off. $39 deliver and hook-up + $15 over 5 stairs (plus I will need help from buyer). I usually make the buyer get at the top of the appliance dolly so they do all the work. lol I don't have to offer free delivery to get free washers and dryers, if they have a set they usually want me to haul them off for them. I have a really nice Whirlpool set that I got for free that I'm going to sell for $300.

    We live in an upscale apartment with a garage so I have several problems. I can't pull the units out until after 6pm and I have no water or 220... so here is what I did. I found a guy that doesn't speak English very well but was trying to sell washers and dryers. He has a connection, so he gets them in bulk, repairs them if needed and gives me a guarantee on them so if a customer has a problem, I bring it by his place, he fixes it and I take it back to the customer. I buy them from him and bring them to my garage, clean them and paint them. I always change the dogs no matter if they need it or not. That way in my ad I say things like, "The agitator has new gears". I get them for $ .75cents so no big deal. I tried to make a paint booth but it didn't really work very well.... I was having trouble with the fumes and mist. I didn't want the mist to get on a car in the parking lot and get in trouble. So, I've started rolling the paint and to my surprise it looks better than the spray.... who knew! We have been looking for a house for 9 months but the nice ones sell as fast as they come on the market.

    Yeah, the thought of franchising has crossed my mind. More-so because I could supply the used washers and dryers.... that is one of the biggest problems is getting supply but if I can get the supply, I have that problem solved. I have the knowledge how to do it but the will power just isn't there anymore to mess with the people to do it. lol I owned a large cleaning service for 19 years so the less people I can deal with nowadays, the better. Although I never offered the service I have trained on how to clean vents. With my house cleaning business we also cleaned carpet and with the carpet cleaning training I also learned how to clean dryer vents. If I have someone else do the work I'd add it on but it doesn't interest me to do it personally nowadays.

    So when you hired the college guys did you let them drive your civic or did you make them drive their own?
     
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  13. amp0193
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    Wow, never thought to roll. Very interesting.

    No way. I had a truck by that point. Get them covered on your insurance... easy to do with a phone call.
     
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    Yeah we did that with the girls cleaning. Lucky thing too because the 1st day out a girl had a wreck in a company car.

    To the lurkers having big ideas.... it ain't easy. If these were socks we are selling it would be easy but these are big ol' washers and dryers with moving parts and computer boards. Finding a good deal takes time. Then you go and buy it, think you got a good deal, clean it and resell it..... 2 days later the buyer calls because of a problem. What are you going to do? Do you know how to repair washers and dryers? These are the real life problems that if I would have known before I bought my first set to resell.... I probably wouldn't have done it. It's hard when first starting out or atleast it was for me.
     
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    So what do you sell now? Anything I might be interested in buying?
     
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    So what do you sell now? Anything I might be interested in buying?
     
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    I did this course: ApplianceSchool - Learn the Appliance business

    Not comprehensive, but for $150, it's enough to have a working knowledge of the most common washers/dryers, and it gets you started quick.

    That plus youtube was all I really needed to fix 90% of machines.

    I only touched the ones with messed up computer boards a couple of times, haha, not worth my time usually. Maybe for some pro that has the skills... but you're talking time to test the board, and $120 replacement parts. Just not worth the risk.
     
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    I also was a member (one of the first) but I have 2 different views on it. After paying the $150 I found that I could learn way more on Youtube (especially nowadays). But I was not in any way bitter.... I willingly paid the $150 just to find out what it was. I have no problem with that. Now to the point of why I would like to see Ryan in person to have it out with him. I gave him some 'inside' information on something and then he blocked me from the private message board on his site because at that time I was getting out of the business and he didn't want everyone else to know what I told him. That was a chicken(*) move and I would like to knock the hell out of him for doing that. But all in all don't you agree that Youtube has more information on washers and dryers than his 'appliance school'.... which is not a school at all. And come to think about it, I'm not sure he can even legally call it a school. But to be clear, I'm not bitter on wasting money on Ryan, I am bitter because he screwed me over. Also, to be clear about me knocking the hell out of him..... he knows how I feel. On the other hand maybe I should thank him because to this day I use the tactic I told him about yet no one else does; or atleast not to the point that I do.

    What I meant by the computer boards is that one thing, today all the washers have computer boards. Most of the old Kenmore 90 Series type of washers are getting to their end. 3 years ago I could sell the 90 Series all day long with no problems, now if I sell a set something usually goes wrong within 30 days. So I'm moving away from those that are that old. But what I meant was that if a new guy buys a washer, he might think that it works great but it might not.... it could have a problem.... and then what? Even the cheap Amana's have computer boards nowadays. We don't mess with the computer boards either, although I can get them for $68 it's still not worth it right now. But if a new guy buys a washer and the computer is messed up he needs to have a plan and be ready to lose a little money at first. Once I get a house with a large garage, water and 220 I will replace the computer boards.
     
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    As for the 'spinner', that was one of the first things I did back almost 4 years ago now. lol
     
  20. Argue
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    This thread is amazing and exposed me to many new insights.

    I have a really stupid question though. What if I bought these washers and dryers and sold them to a scrap metal yard? Is that viable? Or unnecessary?
     
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    Well, the scrap yard would probably pay you about $10 or so per unit so you would lose a lot of money fast. If you bought a set for $125 and you sold them at the scrap yard for $20 you would lose $105 in your first hour of being in business. lol

    Most guys will look on Craigslist and try to buy from there. Sometimes it takes an hour to do that and sometimes it takes 2 weeks. Then you have to drive to where it is located.... try your best to make sure it works good.... then load it and bring it back. So not only would you lost $105 you would also lose all that time.

    I normally don't buy from Craigslist nowadays because I have access to all I can sell but I still look on CL sometimes. A few months ago a guy had an almost brand new Whirlpool washer & dryer $650 (used only 2 months)... I emailed and asked if he would take $300. He said no way. 3 weeks later on a Saturday morning he emailed me and said he would take the $300 but I told him all I have now is $250.... he said come and get it. lol So I brought it back home, re-listed it for $550 and sold it within a few minutes. lol Now I could do that because I didn't NEED the set to sell but if you only buy from Craigslist and are kind of desperate for sets, you can't really do that. And, most guys do this to pay the bills and eat (I don't). If that is the case, you can't really mess around like that. If you are doing this to pay the bills you will need to quickly give the guy $300 and not try to haggle (already a GREAT price) because it's very easy for them to find a last minute buyer. I'm not saying to not haggle, I'm just saying to not make the seller too unhappy about low balling.... I'm all for low balling.... just don't push it. :)
     
  22. amp0193
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    Dude, you sound bitter, haha.

    His course was well worth $150. $150 is cheap for a course that can have you instantly making money, and you get what you pay for. If it was completely top-down comprehensive he could charge $1200-$2000.

    I went from knowing jack shit to making money fixing dryers in 3 days. Made the money back in less than a week.

    Sure, youtube's great, but you need a base level of knowledge to start. To even know what kinds of things to look for.

    I love Ryan, and have had nothing but positive interactions with him over the past several years.
     
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  23. amp0193
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    I brought a F-150 truck load plus full 6'x8' utility trailer full of scrap washers/dryers/parts to the scrap yard and got 60 bucks. It probably took me 45 minutes to load up and 30min to drive there and back.

    Totally not worth it.
     
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    Rep Bank:
    $1,125
    This is so weird, also in Denton. Any desire to get a DFW meetup going?

    It'd be a great opportunity to network, and further get to know some likeminded individuals here - benefitting your businesses for the longterm.
     
  25. minivanman
    Offline

    minivanman Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

    Messages:
    111
    Likes Received:
    188
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2017
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    DFW
    Rep Bank:
    $1,022
    I am bitter at Ryan but not at his 'school'. Maybe he added more stuff to it since I was there but when it first started it didn't really help at all. I only joined so I could get to the message board, I had already watched Youtube and got an idea of what to do when repairing them. Personally I didn't really need anything to start making money in this business except help on repairing them. As far as any structure of a business, his structure was/is laughable anyway but I guess it could kind of help people get a start. As you said, it was only $150 and that is why I paid. If it had been much more I doubt I would have. Personally I think the message board was worth $150 (to me) but now we are here and this is free so there is not really a need to pay him money. lol By the way, I'll bet you $1000 cash most of his numbers were dreamed up in his head because he kept giving me different numbers... but I never said anything. It wasn't a big deal, I let him feel good about it all.

    As far as interaction with him, we got along great until he blocked me with NO warning when I told him what I was going to post. A real business man would have said... I'd rather you not tell people that. And I would have said Ok since it is his site and his world... I would have respected that. And instead of hating him now I would love him since I got back in to the business. :)

    I wouldn't mind getting together. The only problem would be time. I stay on the internet selling most of the time (or cleaning them and delivering them) so for me personally it would be hard to get away and lose money. For example, since I've been typing this I've sold 1 set, and I'm a fast typer. The guys that have done it before know how it is. You are kind of tied to your computer if you want to make money.
    Do you also sell appliances The Dillion?
     
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