January 20, 2021, 07:07:54 AM

Author Topic: Tips for a successful self owned business/Drifting Dad Performance  (Read 231 times)

Offline freeskier7791

Hey guys,

Have not been on here much, life is pretty busy, especially when you start your own business!  I just formed an LLC to make the side work I do more formal.  I am focusing on FB stuff since there are few companies doing it and I have the most experience with that.  Business has been decent, but keeping me busy for sure.  Does anyone else own their own company?  What are some good and bad experiences/tips?
https://www.youtube.com/thedriftingdad
1985 Mazda RX7 GSL Drift Car

CCVT

Offline cholmes

Re: Tips for a successful self owned business/Drifting Dad Performance
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2021, 03:06:37 AM »
I've co-owned an LLC internet company building parts for classic musclecars for about 15 years. Lessons learned:

1. Design and build your own parts. If you buy wholesale to resell, someone will always undersell you. We do resell some inexpensive parts like fittings at low profit, mostly for customer convenience.

2. Go for quality; you'll never undersell the Chinese on price, you've got to do it on quality. Our parts are routinely some of the most expensive on the market, and worth it.

3. Shoot for selling prices that are at least double what it costs to produce your parts.

4. By "build your own parts", I mean final assemble and test. Farm out routine machine work and metal fab work as much as possible, but....

5. You've got to be able to do some machine and fab work yourself, to modify products for special order, and to make prototypes.

6. Know what the hell you're talking about. Based on your posts, you do. Customers expect you to be an expert.

7. Hire a good accounting firm to prep your taxes and help keep you out of trouble. Listen to them!

8. You're gonna need a good website. Unless you design sites for a living, for God's sake don't do this yourself. We have a guy who works in I.T. at a state job that we hire as needed for site updates, etc. He keeps track of his hours, when he gets to about 10 hours we pay him. Think it's about $30 / hour and worth every penny.

9. Accept paypal and credit cards only (or cash, if in person). Nothing ships from us until the card clears, no exceptions ever.

10. Use U.S. postal service Priority Mail flat rate boxes for shipping, if possible. As long as you use their official flat rate boxes, it's ONE HALF OR LESS than UPS or FedEx for similar or better delivery times. Used to be REALLY fast -- 2 to 3 days cross country -- but now takes double that since Trump put his buddy in charge of the postal service.

11. Our warranty is 90 days unconditional, half price for life. Yes, that means that we've had customers who bought a starter from us over a decade ago and worn it out, get our newest design starter for half price; that's $150 off! Remember (3) above? Doing that means we can do this without losing money, and it's one hell of a reputation builder. Two important points:
    a. Warranty for original purchaser only! I'm assuming you will sell direct and not to wholesalers.
    b. Our WRITTEN warranty is 90 days only, and doesn't cover parts used in competition. This is a liability CYA. Like
        everyone in this business, in real life we warranty parts used on race cars when it's justified. Having a restrictive
        written warranty also protects you when somebody does something stupid and wants you to pay for their mistake.

12. Be prepared for some seriously stupid people to buy your parts, screw up the installation, then call you to bitch. These people NEVER read the instructions, and get offended when you suggest they do so. If I had a dollar for every "ASE Certified Expert Mechanic" who did this.........well, I could at least buy a great dinner!

13. Speaking of instructions, write them carefully, and use plenty of photos / diagrams in them. Since a lot of people instantly throw them away, make sure these are readily available on your website.

That's all that comes to mind at this late hour. Check out our site here:
http://www.robbmcperformance.com/

Offline Venom13132

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Re: Tips for a successful self owned business/Drifting Dad Performance
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2021, 06:50:06 AM »
i don't even have a business but that was good to read.  I have made and sold some parts in the past and have often thought of expanding and making some more items.  I have a web page and it looks like a 3rd grader did it haha.  Lucky for me I have some close friends that said they will help me update when I am ready to actually get moving on this.
1995 RX-7 - LS1, T56: Feed wide body, Feed CF Side skirts, 57DR 18's, K-Sport coilovers, 99 spec\ tails and spoiler, SpeedHut, Aeromotive, TwinZ Diffuser
2010 Cadillac Escalade: Daily Driver and pulls my 18' car hauler

Offline freeskier7791

Re: Tips for a successful self owned business/Drifting Dad Performance
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2021, 10:08:40 AM »
@cholmes Thank you for all of the info!  Feel free to critique my website http://www.driftingdadperformance.com


I had one bad experience with a package coming apart on me with USPS, so I am using Fedex right now.
https://www.youtube.com/thedriftingdad
1985 Mazda RX7 GSL Drift Car

CCVT

Offline cholmes

Re: Tips for a successful self owned business/Drifting Dad Performance
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2021, 11:02:07 AM »
freeskier, your site looks good! I'm glad your disclaimer is prominent and thorough. I'd suggest adding technical details and instructions next to each product photo.

If Fedex works for you, great. I will say that in 15 years, shipping an average of over 1,000 packages / year, USPS has actually lost a total of 2 packages of ours. I will also admit that if something does go wrong, USPS customer service is not easy to deal with.

Venom, a basic site to get you going is fine, it's just easy to get sucked into hours and hours of site updates and maintenance, so if you've got someone who does that for a living to help you out, that's a real blessing.

Looking back at my post, I sound a little bitter at times, sorry! I do enjoy our business, and 95% of our customers simply buy and install our parts with no problem. The other 5% tend to be the ones you remember!

What REALLY brightens my day is when someone contacts us to tell us how much they like our products. Man, that keeps us going. We try really hard to produce the best products we can.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2021, 11:09:34 AM by cholmes »

Offline freeskier7791

Re: Tips for a successful self owned business/Drifting Dad Performance
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2021, 01:34:57 PM »
freeskier, your site looks good! I'm glad your disclaimer is prominent and thorough. I'd suggest adding technical details and instructions next to each product photo.

If Fedex works for you, great. I will say that in 15 years, shipping an average of over 1,000 packages / year, USPS has actually lost a total of 2 packages of ours. I will also admit that if something does go wrong, USPS customer service is not easy to deal with.

Venom, a basic site to get you going is fine, it's just easy to get sucked into hours and hours of site updates and maintenance, so if you've got someone who does that for a living to help you out, that's a real blessing.

Looking back at my post, I sound a little bitter at times, sorry! I do enjoy our business, and 95% of our customers simply buy and install our parts with no problem. The other 5% tend to be the ones you remember!

What REALLY brightens my day is when someone contacts us to tell us how much they like our products. Man, that keeps us going. We try really hard to produce the best products we can.

Thank you!  I am definitely making more technical documents and install videos as I go.  I will try to make the videos show up on the site.  Right now I am passing the cost of shipping onto the customers, and if Fedex stays reliable then I will keep with them.
https://www.youtube.com/thedriftingdad
1985 Mazda RX7 GSL Drift Car

CCVT

Offline cholmes

Re: Tips for a successful self owned business/Drifting Dad Performance
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2021, 03:13:12 PM »
I do think videos are a good idea, we're overdue on putting them on our site.

Offline Cobranut

Re: Tips for a successful self owned business/Drifting Dad Performance
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2021, 03:57:37 PM »
freeskier, your site looks good! I'm glad your disclaimer is prominent and thorough. I'd suggest adding technical details and instructions next to each product photo.

If Fedex works for you, great. I will say that in 15 years, shipping an average of over 1,000 packages / year, USPS has actually lost a total of 2 packages of ours. I will also admit that if something does go wrong, USPS customer service is not easy to deal with.

Venom, a basic site to get you going is fine, it's just easy to get sucked into hours and hours of site updates and maintenance, so if you've got someone who does that for a living to help you out, that's a real blessing.

Looking back at my post, I sound a little bitter at times, sorry! I do enjoy our business, and 95% of our customers simply buy and install our parts with no problem. The other 5% tend to be the ones you remember!

What REALLY brightens my day is when someone contacts us to tell us how much they like our products. Man, that keeps us going. We try really hard to produce the best products we can.

You will need a thick skin.

I don't run a retail business, but when I'm researching a part or a vendor, I keep in mind that the vast majority of happy customers don't post reviews, while those few who had a problem tend to be very vocal.
I try to weight the reviews when reading them, so as to give the business a fair chance.

I also try to remember to give good reviews when appropriate as well.
Even if it's a simple, "works well" or "good deal", I figure it helps to balance out all the negative.
1995 FD, 7.0 Liter stroked LS3, T56, 8.8, Samberg kit.

Offline cholmes

Re: Tips for a successful self owned business/Drifting Dad Performance
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2021, 06:23:34 PM »
Quote
You will need a thick skin.   

Too true. Sometimes, though, the customer complaints are downright funny. Here's a few gems from our past:

1. Customer calls up, "Fuel pump doesn't work at all, right out of the box! Sending it back!" We get it back, he's taken it apart and reassembled it backwards, so it has no inlet, but 2 outlets. We call him, he says "Yep, sure did! Made it easier to plumb, does that make a difference?" Umm, yes, it does. This prompted a redesign to make doing this impossible.

2. Customer buys a starter for his old Y-block Ford engine, brings it back, "What a piece of crap! This thing spins the engine over SO FAST it can't catch its breath, and won't start!" Uh-huh, sure. His "expert mechanic" screwed up the wiring, we gave him his money back. You can't fix stupid.

3. Customer buys an adjustable fuel pressure regulator, calls up, "Car is nosing over at the top end, regulator is crap!" Us: "What did you set the fuel pressure at?" Him: "I dunno, whatever you guys set the regulator at." We don't preset them, as we don't know what pressure customers want, but they go out roughly set to a very low pressure, to prevent flooding on first power up. That's why they're ADJUSTABLE. His response: "You mean now I have to buy a pressure gauge?!" Umm, yes, yes you do. This happens way more often than you'd think.

4. Customer calls up, "I have a small block Mopar installed in a dragster chassis built for a Chevy, using a Powerglide with an adapter (keep in mind a Mopar starter mounts to the bell housing), and "X" brand headers modified to fit the chassis, can you GUARANTEE your starter will fit?" Me: "Nope!" I laughed about this one for days.

5. Customer calls up, another Ford Y-block starter, "This doesn't look ANYTHING like my stock starter, I'm sending it back!" Me: "Then why did you buy it?" Him: "Because it's supposed to be the best! I didn't expect it to look different than stock though!" Keep in mind we have photos of all our starters on our site. We refunded his money.

6. Customer calls up, "Fuel pump won't prime!" Me: "How do you have the fuel lines hooked up?" Him: "Fuel line from the tank in the bottom, fuel line out to the carb on the side, just like stock." Me "That's backwards. See where it says "OUT" next to the hole in the bottom? That's where the outlet of the pump is; the gas goes OUT of there to the carb." Him: "That's just stupid." Of course, this is covered in the instructions......

Ok, just one more:
The solenoid position is infinitely adjustable on all our starters, even after they're bolted up to the engine or trans. We position the solenoids for the best fit in the shipping box, not to "stock position" because that varies from year to year and car to car, even with the same engine.

6. Customer calls up, "My Chevy starter from you guys doesn't fit! The solenoid hits the engine block!" Me: "Did you try adjusting the solenoid position like the instructions show?" Him: "This engine is STOCK! The exhaust manifolds are STOCK! I shouldn't have to adjust ANYTHING, you should have adjusted it for me!" BTW, this was in a '32 Ford coupe. He sent it back, we refunded.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2021, 06:49:18 PM by cholmes »