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Lorainfurniture

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1. Location:  Probably one of the most important decisions.  You must think about who buys the most used appliances.  Typically you want to seat yourself in an urban area, ideally in a poorer community.  This has 2 benefits: A: rent, or purchase of space is cheap, B, you are near most of you clientele.  Most of your customers will be lower income, nearing poverty level.  Finding a location that is generally around other retail stores is a bonus.  

In order to make a decent living selling used appliances, you need space.. The more the better.  Your showroom should be minimum 1500 sq ft, and you need another that much for testing/ storage etc..  Ideal case would be around 5000 sq ft, one level.  

2. Merchandise:  Where does one find an ample supply of decent used appliances?  Hopefully you will be in a location where the "trucks" (appliance delivery trucks) will just find you.  Take care of the good ones.  When you see a truck on a street doing a delivery, STOP, give them your card with your cell #.  These guys work late, and its not out of the question to meet them at your place at 8pm to unload some treasures.  Another option is the companies that "wholesale" used appliances.  I personally don't care for it, as you are buying stuff that has already been picked over at least 2 times.    Final, and least effective option is to buy the crap off of craigslist.  You run the risk of buying utter junk, and potentially buying something full of roaches.  

Some of the stuff you get will be beyond repair.  Either missing too many parts, or so damaged that it is unsellable.  You need to part those machines out and list the parts on ebay, or amazon. etc .  The common stuff you should be keeping in inventory.  Further, you don't need 100 direct drive motors, thats just hoarding.  Keep 5, sell the rest. Money fits a lot nicer in your pocket then electric motors.  

DONT STORE BROKEN APPLIANCES!  I can't tell you who many dealers I visit boast their mountain of scrap (untested) appliances.  Its like "wow, you have 100 broken appliances, you really are going places!" FIX the stuff, clean it, THEN its ok to store.  Instead of storing scrap metal, you now have valuable inventory.  

Its important to sell ALL major appliances.  Stoves, fridge, washer, dryer, dishwasher, microwave, built in appliances, etc.  Don't limit yourself to any specific brand, style, etc.  I know of a outfit that only sells direct drive washers.  I can understand, they are easy to fix, parts are cheap.  They would leave the red LG steam washer, which I would in turn buy, clean out the drain pump, and sell for $400. I must admit, GE laundry kind of sucks, but you already know that.  

 

3. Operations: Ok, so you are already a technician ( I hope), How can you sit in a store all day and still get service calls done? If you don't have a spouse, or family member to watch the store while you are out, hire someone.  This is the tricky part, and truth is, the hardest part about being a small business owner.  People are lazy, stupid, and worse, you could hire a thief.  Hiring the right people is difficult. Just remember, the next one is always better than the last one.   

 

You need to manage your time effectively.  When you first open, you aren't making enough money to quit your day job, so you continue to do that.  You have to juggle running a store, keeping your day job, and still finding time to fix appliances. ( and still exist to your family too)  The thing lis this: your store will fail if you don't put enough time in to it.  If you are not willing to work morning until night, 7 days a week, (initially) don't bother.  

Delegating responsibility is paramount.  You can't do it all.  

 

Respond, comment, question. I will make a part 2. 



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Samurai Appliance Repair Man

Posted

Thanks for taking the time to set up a blog and post all this hard-earned info, Lorain! I'm glad you posted this in a blog because it makes it easier to find and doesn't get buried by new topics. This is sure to benefit other techs thinking about getting into this business. 

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Thanks for you insights. I really hope there is a part 2.

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"DONT STORE BROKEN APPLIANCES!  I can't tell you who many dealers I visit boast their mountain of scrap (untested) appliances.  Its like "wow, you have 100 broken appliances, you really are going places!" FIX the stuff, clean it, THEN its ok to store.  Instead of storing scrap metal, you now have valuable inventory. "

How many unrepaired machines do you keep on hand? I would say I have 80-100 total usually. My concern has always been a lack of good inventory to repair when needed. We keep 100+ machines finished with that many or less waiting in the wings or at various stages of the preparation process (cleaning, pictures, paint etc..).

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Lorainfurniture

Posted

16 minutes ago, mikeyjd said:

How many unrepaired machines do you keep on hand? I would say I have 80-100 total usually. My concern has always been a lack of good inventory to repair when needed. We keep 100+ machines finished with that many or less waiting in the wings or at various stages of the preparation process (cleaning, pictures, paint etc..).

Unfixed I would say less than 50.  I usually stock almost 100 finished pieces on my showroom, and another 200 ish in a warehouse.   We really tear through them when they come in.  

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mikeyjd

Posted (edited)

22 minutes ago, Lorainfurniture said:

Unfixed I would say less than 50.  I usually stock almost 100 finished pieces on my showroom, and another 200 ish in a warehouse.   We really tear through them when they come in.  

If I had an ebay store I believe I would be in the same boat regarding that. I test each machine and make a note of needed repairs. I like to batch repair for efficiency reasons. I normally do 7-10 dryers once per week. Another day I'll do 5+ fridges. 

My dad is my washer repair tech and comes in once a week and does 5-10 of them for me. All parts (drums, agitators, plastic rings) are precleaned on the direct drive stuff, so he can focus on repairs.

I have an old stove tech that picks up 3 gas stoves at a time and takes them to his garage to work on them at his convenience. He picks up 3 and drops off 3 whenever he finishes a batch usually about twice a week. He just charges me for whatever he thinks is fair. Usually $20-50 per unit depending on the presenting issue. He saves parts like an old hoarder so I rarely ever have to purchase boards or valves (he's probably got 500+ of each. If it's one we don't have he'll usually sit on it for a couple weeks before asking me to order it as he has a knack for finding the ones he's looking for at the scrap yard.

I have a full time cleaning lady. She's amazing. I never have to clean anything lol...

I do most of the needed painting, but my wifes sister is taking over that duty slowly.

I have a delivery tech that also works at the scrap yard 1 mile from my shop. He calls me whenever they get good units and they hold them for me and sell them to me for $.15/lb $21 for a dd washer. $15 for a dryer. They also let me trade weight on any parts I want to pull, so I can normally grab at least a couple displays and valves if they haven't been crushed yet. Sometimes I'll walk away with a dozen timers I've payed .03/lb for :)

I've been selling them to a notable refurbisher up till now, but I've been saving the confirmed working and digital ones for about a year now and have several hundred ready to list along with a significant amount of other $20+ items. I have high hopes that the ebay store will help cover growing expenses.

 

Edited by mikeyjd

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