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  • How do you know if it’s working?

    updated 1 year, 1 month ago 0 Member · 1 Post
  • Margaret

    August 29, 2021 at 5:13 pm

    Hey guys. I’m a college student who has been running a mobile car detailing business for almost exactly one year now. This post is going to be really disjointed and probably not super coherent but I hope someone who has been in a similar position reads it and can help. Progress has been slow but present. We started in September 2020. Over the winter months we were able to gross about $1500-2500 per month. Most went to overhead but oh well. May we took off and only got about $900. In June we did about $4k, July was about $5k, and August dipped a bit from that (haven’t tallied the whole month yet, but that’s my suspicion anyway). In June I hired my first full-time employee. He quit 4 days in because he said he couldn’t handle the 30 minute commute. C’est la vie. Hired the second full-time employee in mid-July. He’s been doing wonderfully. I had him start going on jobs alone at the start of August and he’s only received 4 critiques, 2 of which were clearly just from people looking to get a discount. But I feel like quitting. To be totally honest I haven’t been able to pinpoint why. I’m sort of just sick of this business. But I think these are my 4 biggest reasons: 1) I don’t feel like I’m actually progressing or building upon earlier work. 80+% of our customers come from Facebook posts on buy/sell groups. I know that the business is still very young so we can’t expect significant business from word of mouth or repeat business yet, but it still feels like if I ever take my foot off the gas we’re going to come to a crashing halt. I’ve tried more “scalable” customer acquisition methods, but I haven’t been able to get any to work effectively. We have 15 5 star reviews on Google with 5-7k people viewing our page per month, but only a small handful of leads come from it. Yelp hasn’t done anything. PPC has a CAC of $120+, making our net margin about 5% on those customers. Sometimes that balloons up to $200+, seemingly without notice. 2) I am so sick of dealing with customers. I know that this comes with the territory of having a service business which has such as large gradient between a good job and a bad job, but the few customers who are impossible to please makes it so that I get anxious for literally every job we do. I recognize that this is probably just a mental thing that I need to move past. 3) I don’t know if this will ever be big enough that it justifies the time I’m spending on it. I know that businesses like this take 3-5 years to reach some level of maturity. In order to find the right customer base, figure out the right systems, etc. But my biggest fear is that in 3-5 years I’m going to have burned through all of my personal runway and at the end I won’t have something big enough to warrant all of the opportunity cost. 4) The stress of having an employee counting on me is really straining me. Every time I have to tell him that there’s no work today I feel like shit because I failed him. I failed to get a job for that day so that’s money that he needs that he won’t be getting. I try to be really fair with him and give him bonuses and such, but just knowing that he’s counting on me really stresses me out. I’m also very nervous about this upcoming winter because based on last year I don’t know if I’m going to be able to get enough business to give my employee the hours he needs. As is the business is starting to slow down and it’s only August. I do have some ideas on how to expand and scale customer acquisition (direct mail, retargeting old customers, expanding into leather repair, getting an actual garage space for higher-end services), but I’m very nervous that if I start to scale even more that I’m not going to be able to get any business and I’ll just be in an even worse position than I am now. I just need some guidance on how to know: 1) Is this working? If not or unclear, how do I know it’s time to quit? 2) Does this have the potential to actually grow into something worth my time? 3) (I know this is probably not a question anyone can give a definite answer to) How can I actually create a robust lead generation “machine”? ​ Some more specifics: ​ Current Investment: ~$30k personal money, $5k debt, ~$10k reinvestment / expenses Current Equipment: 1 Work Truck (Worth around $10k) 1 Work Van (Worth around $10k) All Detailing Equipment (Pressure washer, vacuum, steam cleaner, extractor, generator, rags, bottles, sprays, etc etc) Leather Repair Equipment Current Overhead: Rent ($900) – I rent a small garage with 4 parking spots in the middle of my service area. This is where we store all the supplies, keep the trucks, and use as our base of operations. I know this expense isn’t ideal for a mobile business but I live over an hour away and wouldn’t be able to store any of our equipment or vehicles anywhere. Insurances (~$400) – There’s way too much insurance needed for businesses. This includes commercial auto for both vehicles, worker’s comp, unemployment, general liability, renter’s insurance Internet / Electricity (~$175) – I know we probably don’t need this but I do a lot of the work on the business from our garage so this expense just enables that. Currently, based on the above costs and labor costs, we are profitable. Over the summer, not factoring in weather cancelations and such, we’ve done about $4500 in revenue per month. So about $3k after fixed costs. Wages are about $1500 per month, bringing net revenue to about $1500. Of course all of this gets reinvested at the moment. If you include reinvestment into new equipment and such, we have been sitting at between a $0 and -$1k net cash flow per month. I’ve spoken with a business broker in the area and she said that based on the low revenue and the very young age of the business I probably wouldn’t be able to get more for it than I would by just liquidating the assets. – by /hq/kidhotel – –

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