Hello again; This week, I am returning to the narrative of my early days trying to build a new business. I promised to talk about some of my early ride listings and how I got them. This covers just a few of the hard lessons I have had to learn since starting out.
The Jewel’s Verne Astroliner my first big sale
As I told you earlier I went to work telling people about the site and trying to get more of them to list their equipment with me. I had wanted to work on a straight percentage of sales basis, but most ride owners didn’t like that idea. The ones that were interested in working on a percentage basis thought the ten percent I was asking for was way too high. The rest either wanted me to add something to their asking price, or they wanted to use the famous or infamous phrase I’ll take care of you. And i’ll admit to being happy enough to get some of those listings that I took them at their word. Yes, I was really green back then. But like I have said before, part of being in business is the education you receive. I continued to send out emails and make calls. Most people didn’t return them. I was new and there were places they could list for free.
My first listing
Actually, the first person to openly list his rides with me was Joe Miller. He had known my dad, and he also knew me. And Jo and his family are all just good people. He listed a tilt-a-whirl, a scrambler, a older ferris wheel, a go-gator, and several generators. I managed to sell the go-gator for him and i played a small part in selling the tilt. The scrambler, the wheel, and the generators are stil for sale. I talk to joe all the time. He and his family operate a traveling carnival in southern Louisiana. If you ever get a chance to meet him, you will love some of his stories about the amusement business. For example he was an army helicopter pilot in his previous life, and his wife’s father was a carnival wrestler known as chief little Wolf. He is also very proud of his kids, grandkids, and great grandkids.
More friends help out
Another family that helped out in the beginning was roger and Hellen brown the owners of magic valley rides. Not only did I know them, but for a while my mom and brother patrick traveled with them booking a food trailer on their midway and then later managing Hellen’s food trailer. They listed a wisdom gravitron, a chance zipper, and a rhubetz round-up with me. I later found out that they never really wanted to sell the rides, but they thought having the rides on my site would help me out. I eventually found out that the round-up was a wedding present. I found out about this when a buyer from Australia wanted to come inspect it towards making a purchase. But they were right, having those three big pieces on the site did make it look a lot better. And I appreciate every one who has ever given me a chance.
My first big sale
I made my first big sale when I learned through the internet that a showman from Australia was looking to buy a portable simulator. He mentioned imax. I didn’t know of anything like that, but I thought a wisdom astroliner might do. It was a early simulator ride built in the 1970’s and 1980’s by wisdom rides. There weren’t a lot of them made, and not all that many of them are still around. I thought if I could help find this fellow a ride, that it would start to get my name out there. So I called and emailed everyone I could think of. My brother Michael had previously worked for Eddie Burlengame owner of Pride of Texas shows. He told me to call and see if Eddie still had his. I did so, and it was for sale. It turned out to be a jewels verne model a larger unit that was one of only four that wisdom ever built. He told me what he wanted for the ride and promised to pay me anything over that number.
I sent the information and photos to Dave Moore, and he decided it was what he wanted. He eventually sent his daughter kirstin and her new husband to check out the ride in person. They had planned their honey moon in the states, and they decided to help out the family by detouring to Eddie’s winter quarters for a couple of days. After they saw the ride, Dave was convinced to make the purchase. I was so happy to have made the sale. I was sitting at home waiting on the check.
I learned my first couple of lessons from this sale. One, you often have to remind busy people to send the check and you can’t be bashful about asking. Once I pointed out to them that it hadn’t been sent, they took care of it right away.
The second lesson had to do with that phrase above his costs. I hadn’t counted on the $3,800 cost of delivering the ride from kansas to long beach california where it could be loaded on a ship. On a $50,000 sale I received $1,200 check and was happy to get it. It also taught me to be more clear with clients about what was expected in the manner of payment.
And it convinced me that I didn’t want to work on a cost plus basis for my commissions any more than I would have to. As a matter of fact I no longer take any equipment on those terms unless I know the person involved and he or she has proven that I can rely on them to do what they agree to when they say they will.
For the most part I’ve ben happy with my commissions. There have ben a couple of clients who didn’t pay, and I will address them later; I am making an effort to be positive and accurate as I don’t want to be sued over these posts.
Some real adversity
I was doing pretty well, starting to gain some clients and increasing the listings on the site when I had a bit of real adversity. I told you that Michael built the site in a way where I didn’t have to know anything about how it worked. Since it was my brother who set it up, and since it was working; I was happy not knowing all the nuts and bolts behind how it worked. Besides, it left me free to concentrate on selling equipment.
Well, Michael got offered an amazing job with Jane Baxter of Floyd and Baxter. He was hired to be her general manager in charge of her independent ride unit which included a mondial space roller and five or six other rides. Michael was responsible for all aspects of moving the rides, managing a staff, filing reports, etc.
He no longer had time to help with the site. and I needed to update some things. I needed to change the listings on the featured items section of the home page and I had just started to think about the value of adding links pages. At first, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I mean I have this site and I don’t know the first thing about maintaining it much less expanding or improving it. I didn’t have a budget to hire a webmaster, and I don’t think I would have been willing to trust someone new with my baby if I had. So I knew that I would have to learn a lot of new skills in order to pull this off. I’m sure most of you noticed the key point here. I decided I would find a way. Since I am writing this post now, you know I succeeded. You will have to come back over the next few weeks to find out just how.
Sharing is caring
This is where I ask for your help by your leaving comments and sharing with your friends and family. Well, first I have to apologize to a few readers of my previous posts. When I transferred the site over to Word Press, my comments were reset to closed. This meant that no one could leave any new comments on my first few posts. I got an email informing me of this, and I have corrected the problem. But I want to say I’m sorry and to remind you that I treasure every comment that I receive. I believe they are a gift of your time, energy, and love. I respond to every one of them.
I also see them as an invitation. Most of the time I will visit at least one of your posts and leave you my thoughts. I believe I have comment luv enabled now which should give you some extra back links. But if I don’t have it installed, please let me know.
When moving the blog to Word Press, I lost my social media sharing buttons. I am in the process of reinstalling them. But for now, I would consider it a personal favor if you would copy the url and share it on your networks. I know this means an extra step, but I’m hopeful my friends will do it for me.
I’m doing my best to live up to the standards of openness and honesty I set out in the first few posts. I hope you will continue to follow me on my journey. I love hearing from you, so feel free to drop me an email. We can talk about blogging, social media, youtube videos, google hangouts, etc; or we can just get to know each other and become friends. I hope to hear from you soon. Thanks and take care out there, Max