Taking your “side hustle” to that hallowed place where it replaces your full time income… is accomplished by a series of uncovering sources of new clients, while doing a great job serving your current clients.
Business books talk about this in theory all the time. Actually doing it has a cumulative effect.
Just stack the work you did yesterday, on top of what you did the day before… by staying faithful moving forward you can eventually build an empire.
Another Report of Mobile Screen Repair’s Progress on Shoestring101
In today’s post, I’ll walk you through an actual, evolving Shoestring business that started with the goal of making an extra thousand bucks a month. We started it while you were watching… and have kept it going this whole time.
After faithfully following the Shoestring101 marketing principles day after day, it now grosses three, four hundred dollars a day most weekdays. Even more on weekends.
More importantly, this simple business promises to do much, much better than that. Very soon.
Many folks say, “I’ve got twenty years’ experience”, but what they really mean is that they have one year of experience, in which they’ve done the same old, same old thing every year–twenty times in a row.
Step by Step: “Side Hustle” to Full-Time Income
You’ve been watching the story unfold with my screen repair business.
At first, it began as a challenge I took on this very site, saying that I could start with less money than an evening out to dinner and a movie… and turn it into over a thousand dollars’ profit in 30 days.
Getting Off Our ASS and Getting the Word Out
The first iteration of our marketing was to buy signs.
Six signs cost $62.66 and we put them in busy intersections.
The fact that we already had a great USP… “We Come To You!”… caused the phone to ring before we had all the signs out.
But our journey didn’t stop there.
Because along the way we figured out how to force Google to send us business for free.
Side Trip – An Accidental Discovery Grabs PILES of Bizness
We learned about all the free online places to post the service: Craigslist, Facebook, Facebook Pages, Facebook Groups, YouTube, Fixr.com, Yelp, Google+, and using Fiverr to post to dozens of free directories.
This led to the accidental discovery of how to get local SEO juice, even when you don’t have a website!
I have a whole article on how to force Google to give you multiple front page listings for free in your local area.
I want you to finish reading THIS post, but by all means right-click on this link to bookmark this other powerful post to read later:
This ^ was the next iteration for both my screen repair and my martial arts studio: getting leads and clients for FREE from Google.
But that’s not where we stopped.
Finding Barrels of Fish to Shoot: Multiple Customer Avatars
Now that the unpaid advertising had taken over (I haven’t really used any form of ‘paid’ advertising for two years) we started to dial it down to focusing on specific customer avatars:
- Real estate management companies
- General Contractors
- Roofing Companies
In other articles here on Shoestring101, you saw where I targeted these specific customers.
When a real estate management company started using us as a preferred vendor, I went to Melissadata.com and purchased a list of all the other local real estate management companies. Cost around six bucks… then just a few phone calls later we started to fill our dance card.
So real estate management was one category of client to appeal to. But after enough real estate agents called to get an ugly screen door fixed as a cheap facelift for a house they were selling, we got the picture and started to target real estate agents.
Read on to see the practical application of one of my central ideas
Sacred Cow Slaughter: Business Cards are a Waste of Money
Elsewhere I’ve written about the utter uselessness of printing business cards. A much better practice is to get the other party’s card! True story: Mobile Screen Repair had its first $500 profit day before I ever had biz cards made.
It’s kind of a crapshoot, really, to give someone a card and hope that they’ll call you.
Can you imagine if, instead of getting a girl’s phone number… you just handed her your own contact info? Might work once in a blue moon, fella… but I wouldn’t count on it.
Yes, at one point or other it may make sense to you to have business cards made. But in my thinking it’s one of the last steps in marketing, not the first. Go ahead, make ’em up if it makes you happy… but realize that biz cards are for repeat business, not for getting it in the first place.
Case in Point: Instead of Handing Out Your Card and Hoping
Now, if you want to score business for real… here’s what I advise to do instead of handing out your biz card like snowflakes.
To truly generate new business and bottom line money, get their contact info instead. Leverage THAT into something much bigger. Here’s an example of how that might work:
An agent from “the Platinum Group” asks for my card, says he’ll hand it around at the office.
Now, most folks would give him a handful of cards and stop there.
Instead, I asked for HIS card…
….”liked” the brokerage he works for on Facebook…
…giving me the ability to instant message with their social media person…
…which invited me to come in and put flyers into the personal mailbox of each of 45 agents.
Some of which I was able to hang and chat with…
…and guess who made it into the company’s “Trusted Vendors” little black book? 😉
Now when an agent has the screen problem… that I can solve… they look me up in their own book.
Does that beat the living snot out of handing a single agent my biz card, yes or no? 😎
Yet Another Customer Avatar
In January this year, you wouldn’t think I would be busy repairing screens.
But a general contractor was doing a lot of repair work for an apartment complex after a hailstorm. Roof, paint, even plants needing replacing.
Oh, and screens.
After doing 120 screens in the first week of January, we figured we just might be on to something with this working for general contractors thing.
So again we hop over to Melissadata.com and get a super-affordable list of general contractors to call on and offer our services.
More than Lather, Rinse, Repeat
So, my very favorite reader… Seeing a pattern here?
We haven’t just been sticking with the “one year’s experience, repeated twenty times”.
Instead, we’ve been striving to find new and creative ways to find lots and lots of customers, while continuing to use the old ways as well.
We’ve been expanding iterating and evolving the process of finding customers.
Or making it easy for them to find us.
So what’s the next big step for Mobile Screen Repair, the pet project of Shoestring101?
Leveraging Relationships: The Next Big Shoestring Step
SO to tell you the next iteration that mobile screen repair will undertake… I’ve got to tell you two quick, seemingly unrelated stories.
First: one of my screen repair customers asked if I had a ladder, and would I be happy to help him replace the “window bead” that a hailstorm recently damaged along with the screens?
I agreed and he showed me the trade. Not hard, really: just pull out the old window bead, use it as a template to cut and shape a new length of window bead, and snap it into place.
Oh, you don’t know what “window bead is?”
S’ok. Neither did I.
So, it’s this stuff that surrounds the outside of a window.
Remember how I told you we discovered a way to get free Google juice and get listed multiple times on the front page of search results for local business?
Well, it doesn’t do you any good to have a kickass system to qualify for keywords… if you don’t know what keywords customers would even use.
SO at first, it seemed that a side service by Mobile Screen Repair was not gonna happen.
Okay, end of first story. Here’s a second:
Another customer told me that just a few weeks before a big hailstorm, he’s on a golf course… and meets the fella that owns the roofing company …the one that happened to refer me.
That roofer gave my customer a business card (wait.–maybe this will undermine my ‘no biz card needed’ assertion earlier– awww, too late) and promised him a 5% referral fee if he got any business for him.
Anyhoo, immediately following the hailstorm… our hero, my customer, goes up and down the street in his (fairly affluent) neighborhood and scores the roofer 21 jobs!
The roofer honored the 5% commish agreement.
That put tens of thousands of dollars into my customer’s pocket.
A Tale of Two Stories
SO these two stories were the germ of my next big move for Mobile Screen Repair.
On the one hand, I’m thinking to expand from just repairing hail-damaged screens into repairing “window bead”… but dunno how to qualify for something most folks wouldn’t search for…
On the other, I’m thinking how awesome it must have been for my customer to pretty much drop a name 21 times and get a five-figure payday out of it.
When the confluence of these ideas hit me.
Since getting new biz from the internet is a breeze for me, due to the hacks I’ve learned…
…and since at least one roofing company (that I already happen to work with!) seem to be okay with a finder’s fee…
….why not simply qualify for the keywords, “hail damage” and grab both markets?
To quote His Sheldon-ness:
The Next Big Step for this Shoestring Stepper
Stepper, that’s my next big gambit.
Not shabby for a business we started (while you were watching) for $62.66.
I don’t know how this idea for growing it to the next step will perform… if at all.
I DO know that keeping your ear to the ground and looking for ways to leverage your business relationships is the way to keep growing.
Who knows? Maybe soon Mobile Screen Repair will be the Mobile Hail Damage Team or some such.
Or this idea may fail miserably and I’ll have done a bit of work, qualifying for keywords but without a payoff.
Either way, you heard it here first.
Whaddya think, guys? Will this strategy of directly grabbing customers that have a need for hail damage to be repaired, and funneling referrals to other professionals work? Or will it be a gi-normulous flop?
Leave me your thoughts in the comments section.
Til my next report,