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Toyman!
Toyman! MegaDork
1/20/22 7:26 p.m.
gearheadmb said:

One business I always considered starting was an after hours auto repair just for fleets. When a construction worker needs his truck fixed he spends several hours just swapping his tools into another truck, then a few more hours swapping them back when he gets his truck back. I would work second shift hours doing the normal stuff that can be done in one night, fluid changes, brake maintenance, the stuff that makes up 90% of auto maintenance. Then have it back to them before they need it the next morning. 

This would be a pretty good niche. I'd be willing to pay for that. I frequently have my guys do oil changes and brake work because it's easier to pay them to do the work than it is to spend the time transferring to the spare truck and back. If I could get that work done after hours and keep my guys doing what they do best, I'd be money ahead. 

If you set something up in Charleston, SC, give me a shout. 

 

spitfirebill
spitfirebill MegaDork
1/20/22 7:49 p.m.
SV reX said:

In reply to dculberson :

Thank you. 
 

Its a turd of a building, but I love the spot. I've always had a soft spot for orphan properties. 
 

I feel really good about this one!

Have you located there or are you still in Cola?  

spitfirebill
spitfirebill MegaDork
1/20/22 7:57 p.m.
dean1484 said:

A business  that I think would do well where I live would be a mobile sharpening business. Charge a minimum plus a per item fee.  There is nothing in my area that I know about. A small transit van set up with basic tools and power would get you 90 percent of the way there.  The rest would be operator skills.  
 

I looked in to getting a bunch of our cutlery sharpened and it was not a cheap proposition.  
 

 

I'm amazed that a couple of people have mentioned this as a source of income.  My FIL once worked 4-5 jobs in the years before I met his daughter.  One of them was he carried a knife sharpener up and down two main streets in downtown Columbia, SC and would sharpen all the knives at the many restaurants and grocery stores that were located there.  He made good money way back then.  He also would cut meat at several of the prominent restaurant in town as well.  He would only work a few hours a couple of days a week at each one and it was after his regular job as a meat cutter at Swift and company.  He eventually opened his own meat market and died a wealthy man.  By God he was one hard working man and he earned it.  

RX Reven'
RX Reven' GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/20/22 8:01 p.m.

I have fourteen of these binoculars on three piers along the Southern California coast.

I wouldn't recommend trying to make the business a sole source of income as that would force you to go for quantity over quality.

Instead, I cherry pick high traffic protected locations that I want to visit so beach not city.

Pre COVID, the income was twice what it is now but I don't have any intention of shutting the business down.  I worked my way through college with these machines thirty years ago and I'll be retiring before too long so taking care of them will give me something to do.

One thing I enjoy about the business is that I know absolutely everything there is to know about them...seen it all a 100 times - know exactly what to do - frequently get calls from the manufacturer asking me how I deal with various issues.

In my regular job as an engineer, by definition, everything is new, everything is unknown, you're never completely sure what to do or how something is going to turn out.  That kind of work is engaging and stimulating but sometimes, it's just comforting to do a job where you totally know what you're doing.     

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy MegaDork
1/20/22 8:07 p.m.

In reply to RX Reven' :

If we were voting you and the cheese sandwich guy, if he's real are the coolest businesses to own.   This is awesome.  

yupididit
yupididit GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/20/22 8:17 p.m.

In reply to SV reX :

Your property sounds interesting. Do you have pics? I'd love to stay there when you're ready. 

RX Reven'
RX Reven' GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/20/22 8:23 p.m.

In reply to Datsun310Guy :

Thank you for that Datsun310Guy.

My grandparents brought the franchise to the west coast in the early 40's.  On my sixteenth birthday, I got my drivers license and immediately hopped into the work van (Chevy with a big 454) to service the machines as my grandfather was very ill and just held on long enough for me to start driving.  My seventeen y/o daughter likes the business and has been taking care of them with me.  I even have a note hidden in the first machine we service that reads "you can do this Sarah" incase I suddenly croak and she's on her own.

yupididit
yupididit GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/20/22 8:24 p.m.
Steve_Jones said:
yupididit said:

In reply to Steve_Jones :

How do you even get to buying one or those buildings?

They pop up on commercial listing sites like loop net every so often. The issue is the ones making money only pop up when someone is retiring and the ones not making money, you don't want. 

 

 

I have all kinds of questions. I've been googling etc.  

How does an average middle class guy with no debt but has no business get a loan for a commercial property?

It looks like the dp requirements are pretty high, like more than I make a year lol. And the other requirements are not in my realm. I don't have business credit, I don't have anything for collateral. My personal finances are pretty good and I have a decent chunk of cash saved up. 

 

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
1/20/22 8:57 p.m.
spitfirebill said:
SV reX said:

In reply to dculberson :

Thank you. 
 

Its a turd of a building, but I love the spot. I've always had a soft spot for orphan properties. 
 

I feel really good about this one!

Have you located there or are you still in Cola?  

Kinda both. 
 

I live in Cola. I work in middle GA. My kids live in ATL. I worked in Columbus last year, and that's when my interest in this began. 

Yep.  My life is a mess.

I will likely relocate there when the project is finished. 

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
1/20/22 9:01 p.m.
yupididit said:

In reply to SV reX :

Your property sounds interesting. Do you have pics? I'd love to stay there when you're ready. 

No, not gonna post pictures at this point. I'll have plenty of footage by the time I open.
 

Project is gonna take me a year. 

yupididit
yupididit GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/20/22 9:46 p.m.

In reply to SV reX :

I plan to be around in a year. Lol

jgrewe
jgrewe HalfDork
1/21/22 1:53 a.m.

In reply to yupididit :

Commercial will have lenders looking for 30% down. Depending on the property you may be able to get into SBA funding and then you are looking at 10% down. The problem with SBA is you will jump through their hoops for 120 days and get so fed up with the process you will want to give up and sell a kidney to come up with the other 20% you need. SBA will want you to be using 51% of the space to run your business in though. If the business is "Storage" you might be able to make it work with the existing track record of the building.

Depending on the market you are in you may find a seller that will do a purchase money loan for 15-20% if you have 10-15% down. It will depend on the building. The banks will look at it as them only having 70% exposure so they will talk to you. Even better, find an owner that is looking to retire and see if they will act as the bank. The worst case for them is they keep your down payment and get their building back if you default. It can help their tax situation too.

Steve_Jones
Steve_Jones Dork
1/21/22 7:24 a.m.

In reply to yupididit :

What he ^ said. 

Toyman!
Toyman! MegaDork
1/21/22 7:50 a.m.

Another business I'd consider starting is a rustic campground. That may well be my retirement business. Go somewhere peaceful, buy some dirt with a little stream running through it, and put in about 30 camping spots for old people looking for a quiet place to park their RV. 

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
1/21/22 8:52 a.m.

In reply to RX Reven' :

How does one get into that business? Like do you have to pay some kind of annual fee of something to the city for where they are mounted. I honestly never considered that those would be privately owned. Just curious honestly.

RX Reven'
RX Reven' GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/21/22 11:07 a.m.

In reply to 93EXCivic :

There are several different manufacturers of coin operated telescopes / binoculars.  I believe my company, Tower Optical, is the only one that won't sell you the units.  They maintain ownership of the machines and make a cross country tour once per year to make sure their agents, me, are taking good care of them.

Negotiations are made with each location in terms of what percent of the revenue they will get and I decide if it's worth my effort...high volume, easy access, somewhere I want to be, & low crime results in my being willing to give a little higher percent.

I'll stop there in terms of explaining what happens next between the parent company and myself as I'm a third generation employee and perhaps what happens with other agents is different.

Pro = This essentially is a vending business but unlike soda, snack, etc. machines, I have no inventory to manage, I just sell air and this allows me to operate out of my garage just using a little Mazda CX-3.

Con = My travel distances are much greater as I've got to go to scenic places that draw crowds...amusement parks, zoo's, piers, etc.  I only do piers as I love the beach and it results in a very efficient route up and down the coast.

I'm a morning person so I have no trouble timing my departure so that I hit my first machines just as the sun is coming up, be parked at my final pier before they get crowded, and be home before my family is getting their day going.

I've never been robbed but I carry a monster screw driver in my hand at all times, plausible deniability that's it's a tool not a weapon, and I have been cased twice that I know of.

It's getting harder and harder to find banks that will accept coins...at one point, BofA demanded that I stop giving them coins in sealed, serialized bags, just open burlap, and immediately they started short changing me, a lot, like $30 to $50 per $1,000.  I called the Fed's on them but my case never went anywhere.

I moved to Chase but after a few years, they started blowing me off saying their vault was full and I finally would up at little local bank, Union Bank, that has taken very good care of me for several years now but if they ever sour, I'm not sure what I'll do.

 

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy MegaDork
1/21/22 11:21 a.m.

In reply to RX Reven' :

I'm sure some of the upside is your family started the agreement in the 1940's.   Buying into this program has got to be a challenge or near impossible.  Back in the day the Chicago taxicab medallion ownership was through an inheritance or crazy price   

Still a great story.  

RevRico
RevRico UltimaDork
1/21/22 11:41 a.m.

I gotta say, I'm putting a lot of thought into buying another 2 powered sharpeners and an inverter to run mobile sharpening out of the excursion.

RX Reven'
RX Reven' GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/21/22 12:19 p.m.
Datsun310Guy said:

In reply to RX Reven' :

I'm sure some of the upside is your family started the agreement in the 1940's.   Buying into this program has got to be a challenge or near impossible.  Back in the day the Chicago taxicab medallion ownership was through an inheritance or crazy price   

Still a great story.  

Actually, there's no financial buy-in as you don't own the machines...the challenge is in convincing the company that you are both trustworthy and competent.

Money laundering, stealing, putting a professional face on the company, not being on drugs / booze, and being able to figure out how to keep them looking and working well despite their having a fairly complicated clockwork type mechanism (no electronics) that requires tight tolerances to be held in a harsh environment.

My grandfather was an engineer (Civil) and he transferred his knowledge to me and I'm an engineer (Human Factors but I primarily do engineering statistics) and have carried the ball forward for the last thirty years.  Every year, the owners pass through my area and take me to dinner and every year they let me know that I have the lowest down-time, best looking / functioning machines out of all 125+ locations.

I've been doing statistical analysis on the machines for decades...predictive maintenance on spring replacement...process capability analysis on the coin type assessor fingers...regression analysis on the optimal amount of grease...the whole shabang.

The company is too small to have a training program and work instructions are very basic and only cover things like installation; pretty much pure tribal knowledge.

My seventeen y/o daughter is engaged and very bright so she's getting up to speed quickly and is probably already at the 75th percentile compared to the other 125+ people in the country doing this work.

Crxpilot
Crxpilot Reader
1/21/22 12:32 p.m.

In reply to RevRico :

That reminds me of the idea I had to do document destruction for businesses from our little SUV.  Find the businesses that were mandated to shred their stuff but who were passed over by the "big boys" with box trucks and lifts.  I had a shredder I bought from the gov auctions that would turn paper into dust.  Quickly.  110v and low amps.  Remove the front passenger seat, remove the back seats.  Get the paperwork for local document destruction certification.

Offer first 3 shreds free and create a route.  Medical district Monday, law offices Tuesday, university Wednesday.  No markings on your vehicle.  Sell the shred to recyclers or dog food factories ;-)  The paperless office doesn't yet exist.

 

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
1/21/22 1:05 p.m.

In reply to Crxpilot :

I like the idea, but it may be cutting expenses a little too close to the bone...

As a business owner, I'd be hesitant to entrust sensitive records to some dude who shows up after hours in an unmarked CRX with the seats removed. 
 

Kinda like buying a Rolex from a dude in a trench coat with 16 watches on one arm...

Crxpilot
Crxpilot Reader
1/21/22 1:12 p.m.

In reply to SV reX :

Fair, but some owners will shop by price alone if they're just needing to comply.  It's wheeling a full cart outside and bringing an empty cart back in, then handing a receipt to the front desk. 

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
1/21/22 2:11 p.m.

In reply to Crxpilot :

Maybe. 
 

The value of a single medical file on the black market is about $250. A banker's box full of them might have 100 files in it- $25,000

Minimum fine for a HIPAA violation?  $50,000

I don't know too many companies that would shop that just on price.  
 

I DO know companies that would take the risk and choose to not shred it at all.

 

 

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
1/21/22 2:24 p.m.

In reply to RX Reven' :

I had always just assumed that they were owned by the cities. You learn something new every day. 

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/21/22 2:42 p.m.

Here is a price list from the closest place I found that is willing to travel.  Looks like there is some $$$ to be made if you have the tools and experience.

 

KITCHEN KNIVES

Large Knife (7-10" e.g. chef, bread) $7 - $10

Medium Knife (5-7" e.g. boning) $5 - $7

Small Knife (3" e.g. paring, tourner) $3

Ceramic Knives $10 - $20

Scissors $8 - $10

Serrated knives (all) +50%

SPECIALTY BLADES

  Hunting, fishing, tactical, pocket $10 - $25Food processor / juicer, pizza wheels, mandolines, peelers, robot coupe, can openers $3 - $10

MOWERS

  Reel / Scroll Mowers $65

Gas / Electric Mowers*  (Blade ON) $50

Gas / Electric Mowers  (Blade OFF) $25*includes underdeck clean out  

GARDEN TOOLS

  Garden Sheers $10 - $15

Pruners $7

Spades / Hoe / Edgers $8

Secateurs / Loppers $10 - $15

Machette / Scythe $25

Axes / Hatchets $10 - $15

Chainsaws $15 - $25

Electric Hedge Trimmer $25 - $45

OTHER

  Straight Razors $40

Swords $30 - $100/ft

Manual Chisels/Planer Blades $8

Sewing shears $10 - $20

Pinking shears $20

Tin Snips $10

Ice Auger $20

Paper Cutters $35 - $75

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