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NOTABLE! How can I Fastlane my current business?

Discussion in 'General Entrepreneur Discussion' started by tonyf7, Oct 31, 2016.

  1. tonyf7
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    tonyf7 Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Almost four years ago my uncle and I got laid off from a small local furniture store. We were collecting unemployment.

    My uncle is in his 60's and has over 35 years of experience in repairing appliances. I remember sitting on the front porch of the apartment I lived in at the time reading some self-help book I can't remember the name of, waiting for my unemployment direct deposit to drop, when an idea struck.

    "Let's repair and sell used appliance."

    I put an ad in Craigslist that morning. "We buy nonworking appliances". I got a call from a guy who's Kenmore dryer wasn't heating.

    I called my uncle and we went to this guys second floor condo, gave him 30 bucks and hauled it out with no dolly, just pure man power. We loaded it in the back of my uncle's green Dodge Caravan and took it to his house. He had all the tools we needed so we went to work.

    About 30 minutes later he had it working again. I cleaned it up with some bleach water, took some pictures, posted it on Craigslist and later that day sold it for $140.

    Profit!

    We've been doing that ever since and now we have warranty repair contracts with Sears, LG, Amazon Home Services and a couple of other small insurance and moving companies. Our work mainly consists of repairs now but we still manage to sell some appliances out of our small shop here in town.

    Although I'm happy with our progress I've had some lurking concerns for a while now.

    1. Even though I've learned a lot about appliance repair from my uncle, it'll take a long while before I get to his level of expertise. He's not getting any younger and if something were to happen to either one of us, the business would crumble. It cannot work without either of us which also violates the commandment of time that @MJ DeMarco mentions in his book.

    2. Lack of control. Since the majority of our work now comes from our contracts with Sears, LG, etc., that puts us at their mercy. If they decide to terminate our contracts we're back to square one. We don't have real control of our income in that aspect.

    3. Scale. We can physically only service a small town here in Arkansas.

    The good thing is there's definitely a need for affordable used appliances, especially given the price of buying new these days. The same goes for repairs. It's usually a lot cheaper to repair than to go out a purchase another appliance. So many people know nothing about appliance repair so there's a huge knowledge gap.

    A few things that have crossed my mind to Fastlane this business:

    1. Hire some people. Human resource seedlings as MJ calls them. Set up a business that can run without me. Only roadblock to that at the moment is money. We make enough for only the two of us.

    2. Create a system that is franchisable. Wouldn't know where to start but I'm sure there are resources out there that I can learn from.

    3. Create some kind of content system like "Start An Appliance Repair Business In Your Garage With Little To No Money Using Craigslist".

    4. Start some kind of Craigslist-like site but specifically for appliances only.

    I'd like to know what the community here thinks about all this. I'm open to any and all ideas.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2016
  2. G-Man
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    G-Man Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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  3. tonyf7
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    tonyf7 Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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  4. GuestUser450
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    You can't really "fastlane" a business, given that much of it is structurally inherent to the model.

    I'd say sell, after you apply #3: Content System.

    A book sharing your story and methods could do well for lead gen and profit but also as a brand builder for valuation. Promoted with the usual media, a DIY youtube channel, possibly affiliate deals with appliance parts supply co.s; you could grow ancillary products and services to max out your business to sell and fund the vehicle you want.
     
  5. tonyf7
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    tonyf7 Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    These are some great ideas. I particularly like the brand building. Becoming a household name to DIY appliance repair or the go-to brand for starting an appliance CL biz.
     
  6. Andy Black
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    Andy Black Any colour, as long as it's red. Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Read this thread:

    Maybe listen to this radio interview I did, where I talk about that story, and where it's lead me:

    Definitely listen to this recorded call with @Random_0:


    Some thoughts off the top of my head:
    • There's a LOT of search volume for appliance repairs out there.
    • It's evergreen - I've campaigns running since 2009 with very little change.
    • It's high volume, low ticket, and deemed quite urgent by consumers.
    • Click-to-sale-rate is high for the right visitors from the search engines.
    • Get into many properties and drop fridge-magnets.
    • Team up with other contractors for up-sells/cross-sells.
    • Nail how to do it for your city, and become less reliant on Sears, LG, etc.
    • Learn how to do it for your city, and work out how to scale to other cities.
    • STOP doing the coal-face work.
    • Start thinking of yourself as a business owner, not as an appliance repair guy.
     
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  7. Random_0
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    Random_0 Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    It's a common thing to see confusion here of how to 'fastlane' a people run company

    MJ Demarco calls it a human resource system

    1) Find a repeat set of customers
    2) Sell to them individually
    3) Delegate each step/process/etc to somebody else
    4) Tweak and adjust your processes until the system is completed from order to delivery

    Oh, and target densely population regions with a reasonably high population
     
  8. Jon L
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    Jon L Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Not that you could necessarily do this, but here is a (very) fastlane approach to appliance repair. At the very least, it will open your mind to what is possible.

    I know a guy that does consolidation of companies. What he does is finds a series of companies in an industry like yours (where there are a lot of small players, and everyone is engaged in small-time thinking). He offers some of the bigger players a buyout. Then, he puts together either an IPO or a private company that he then sells to private investors. He brings in top-notch management to oversee the new company. All this results in:

    1) The original company owners get a premium for their company
    2) Investors get a good deal
    3) He gets a 20% equity stake in the resulting company
     
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  9. tonyf7
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    tonyf7 Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    We actually get some pretty decent business from people who find us on Google. And you're right, it's deemed urgent by most people. Many don't even ask for an estimate and just have us do the repair.

    "Start thinking of yourself as a business owner, not as an appliance repair guy." - Thanks for this. Don't think I was really thinking like a business owner.
     
  10. tonyf7
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    tonyf7 Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    #3 would require having someone on payroll. Would getting a business loan be a good idea for this?
     
  11. tonyf7
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    tonyf7 Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Damn! Had no idea this was even possible. Reminds of my how mortgages are lumped together and sold.
     
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  12. BigBrianC
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    BigBrianC Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Try to get monthly contracts with people that sell appliances? Their customers call them and say their stuff is broken, you go fix it. The seller pays you a flat monthly fee, regardless of how many repairs you do. Some months you'll profit, some you won't but the important part is that it'll be recurring. That'll allow you to hire a contract worker, train them, etc.

    Your first step should be shifting to working on improving your 'business, not working in it. Take Andy's advice.
     
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  13. Jon L
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    Jon L Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    don't get a loan. Loans are for businesses that have proven business models. (you have 5 locations and you want to open a 6th in a similar neighboring city). Loans for a business like your are bad news.
     
  14. tonyf7
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    tonyf7 Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Everyone else here sells new appliances which comes with a one year warranty. Some people get extended warranties. Our contracts with Sears, LG, etc., is pretty much what you're talking about. They pay us a flat fee for our services on their warranty claims.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2016
  15. tonyf7
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    tonyf7 Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Thank you for this advice. What makes loans bad for a business like mine?
     
  16. tonyf7
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    tonyf7 Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Andy, just read the Adwords thread. Very useful but I did find navigating Adwords a little confusing. I'll read up more on it but wanted to ask, searches for appliance repair in my area (according to Adwords Keyword Planner) is only between 10-100 per month. Kind of low don't you think?
     
  17. Jon L
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    Loans are like Monopoly money...If you have $50k in your bank from a loan, it makes you feel like you're more successful than you are. As with everything else, employees are more expensive and time consuming than you realize. You'll hire someone for, say, 25K/year, make $10k in revenue on them and repeat. No big deal because you have so much money in the bank, right? "I'll eventually figure this out," you tell yourself, "and then I'll start making money." Well, at the end of the year, you will have used up the $50k, and you'll barely be breaking even on your employees. Or, maybe you'll get lucky, who knows? The point is that a loan allows you to compound your mistakes.

    Can you hire contract labor on a pay-for-performance basis? Split the profit of a deal with them somehow.
     
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  18. devine
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    devine Bronze Contributor

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    The point is not in translating your whole business into fastlane, that's impossible.
    The point is finding a detail about your business that is fastlane and scale it up.
     
  19. Bananas
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    Bananas Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    One very easy thing you can start doing is taking video of your repairs. Two things:

    You stated if your Uncle became unable to work, you'd fail because you don't know as much about repairs as he does.

    Edit your videos and post them to Youtube and to your own website. Even if you don't know anything about editing a video, you can learn how to to basic cutting, fade ins and outs, and how to put text on the video in one day. Tons of broke people want to know how to DIY their own stuff.

    Just something to consider if you don't want to make a gigantic move right now.
     
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  20. Andy Black
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    Andy Black Any colour, as long as it's red. Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Launch and learn. You don't know search volumes until you're live. The Keyword Planner gives estimated searches for exact match keywords (better known as search terms).


    Don't get a loan. Bootstrap this thing. You're on a journey to become a better businessman. You don't need to make big commitments now that you'll regret later when you've learned more.


    *** Listen to the call with @Random_0 ***

    He's been a plumber for a couple of years working with his dad who is also a plumber.

    The call is week 10 of a "project" whereby:

    Week 1) He starts getting lots of calls. He realises he can't close as well as he used to, and comes up with a theory why.

    Week 2) We design and build a new landing page.

    Week 3) He was right. Now he's getting less calls (per visitor) but is closing more of them, and at twice the price.

    Weeks 4-5) Gets too much plumbing work and is ill from working too many hours.

    Week 5) Makes the critical and pivotal decision to NOT reduce the amount of plumbing work he generates, but to subcontract the work out.

    Week 6) 92 calls and 30 jobs.

    Week 8?) He's the bottleneck for calls. I suggest he uses a call-centre. "No way. A plumber needs to answer the phone."

    Week 10) He's using a call centre and no longer answering the phone or doing jobs.

    Weeks 10+) Stabilising profitability and scaling to other cities.
     
  21. Andy Black
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    Andy Black Any colour, as long as it's red. Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    @tonyf7

    We've neglected to say it, but I think the input you've had demonstrates that everyone is thinking it.

    Well done from going from unemployment to taking your skills and selling them and getting a started on your business journey.

    Well done on all your progress to date.

    Well done on being open to suggestions and putting ego aside.

    Say well done to your uncle too.
     
  22. tonyf7
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    tonyf7 Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Interesting. I can see how that could happen pretty easily. Getting a loan to upgrade our "store front" was what I had in mind. Our current shop is basically a huge storage unit with a really high sealing and doesn't look very conventional. But I think it also makes people feel they're getting a deal when they buy appliances from us because of the implied low overhead.

    Anyways, no loans for me!

    Thanks for explaining.

    Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
     
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  23. tonyf7
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    tonyf7 Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    I've searched YouTube and there isn't really anyone doing this in a way that works. If I were to get into making videos I think making them for other repair techs might be a good idea.

    There are a lot of people going to school to learn how to repair appliances but graduate and don't really know how to actually do anything because all they did in class was study to pass a test! No real world experience or even practice runs on some old appliances. I hear these appliance schools really suck a$$.

    Videos could be a really good resource for them.

    Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
     
  24. tonyf7
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    tonyf7 Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Holy crap Andy! This is EXACTLY what I'd like to do!

    (Except for the getting sick part)

    Didn't have a chance to listen to the recording because kids and halloween but I definitely will tonight.


    Would you mind giving mine a quick look?
    It's a free Weebly page so I know that's probably the first thing I'll need to change. When we started funds were pretty low and I had to go with whatever I could get.
     
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  25. tonyf7
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    tonyf7 Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Thanks @Andy Black

    It's been an exciting journey and based on all the resources in this amazing community, I think I'm only getting started!
     
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