Manny: Thanks for having me.
Jim: It’s a pleasure.
Manny: I’m excited.
Jim: I can’t wait to get into your story.
Manny: Yeah, it’s crazy.
Jim: Let’s hear it, man. Take us through it.
Manny: I guess it all started, my wife and I – she’s from Brazil. She came here on a student visa in 2013. We actually met at a bar, which is funny because neither of us drinks. We met at a bar in 2014 and we actually got married.
Jim: In Brazil?
Manny: No, she was here. She was here on a student visa.
Jim: I got you. Where is she from? Sao Paulo is my guess because that’s like half the population, right?
Manny: Yeah, no. In Brazil, there’s that big bulbous part that’s above – Sao Paulo or Rio are more south. She is in the middle of the big ball part. It’s a city. We call them pear trees.
Jim: Yeah, I’d never of it.
Manny: Yeah. They call it a small town, but it’s like 500,000 people.
Jim: Right. She’s here on a student visa and you guys meet. How old are you guys at the time?
Manny: I was – I’m horrible with ages. I was 26, 25 and she was 24, 23. In Brazil, they have a program where she could come over here on a visa and then she is here for a year, a year and a half doing part of her program, and then she goes back there to finish the program. We actually met at a bar. We got to know each other and stuff. Then we actually got married after four months.
Jim: Wow. How long ago was that? What year?
Jim: Wow, okay.
Manny: We were married for almost seven years now.
Jim: Man, that’s incredible. What a great story. I’m sure that’s a whole great story right there, four months.
Manny: That was very quick. She still had her return plane ticket to go home. She went home, said goodbye and stuff to her family because she was going to come live here. She didn’t realize it might hurt her visa contract that she has to stay there for two years and there’s no way out of it. Right after we got married, she had to go back. She ended up staying in Brazil for three and a half years while we did the visa process.
Jim: You guys were married and she was living out of country for three –
Jim: Did you go visit? How did that work?
Manny: Yeah, I visited her twice. The problem was it was right around when the Olympics were held in Brazil. All of the prices of everything skyrocketed. It was like $3,000 for a round-trip ticket. We just can’t afford it going back and forth.
Jim: What a rough start, man.
Manny: Yeah. Then she finally got here.
Jim: Good for you guys sticking it out.
Manny: Yeah. It was tough, but she finally got here in ’18. Now, she’s been here since ’18.
Jim: I bet if we had her here to share her part of the story, there’s a lot of interesting twists to this. That’s incredible, but good for you guys.
Manny: Thank you.
Jim: What’s driving you towards having an Internet-based business? Talk me through that a little bit.
Manny: I’ve been entrepreneurial for a long time. At one point, I was selling stickers on Etsy. I would make my own stickers in Photoshop, and then I was selling them to people like vintage stickers and stuff, customized. I used to buy cellphones off of eBay and then resell them on Craigslist, that kind of stuff.
Jim: Wow. I’ve heard of people doing it the other way, but I love it. You flipped the script. I love it. You’re buying them on eBay then selling them locally on Craigslist.
Manny: Yeah, it was crazy. I was buying – at the time, they were – this was like beginning smartphones. We still have a lot of flip phones out there. They were like military-grade or construction-grade flip phones. I would buy them for 25 bucks and then I’d sell them for 75 on Craigslist. I had tons of people that love them like construction workers and people in the military, places where you might drop your phone, break it or something like that.
Jim: That’s pretty incredible. It amazes me the number of people who still don’t shop online. You can flip from one site to another. You can go to Craigslist to eBay, eBay to Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace to eBay, eBay to Amazon. I mean, it’s just endless possibilities. It’s incredible. It’s just incredible. Hit the sales and wait a couple of months and it’s back to normal price on just about any online website. Flip it anywhere. The opportunity is incredible. I’d never heard eBay to Craigslist though. I love that. That’s a first for me in 20 years. I’ve never heard that.
Manny: It worked really well. Then for a while even, like years after that, I was like, “I’ll go back to it and see,” but those phones didn’t really exist anymore because smartphones were the thing. I was actually buying old iPhones and then selling them, reselling them locally too on Craigslist and stuff. I’d buy them for 100 bucks then sell them for like 300 or whatever.
Jim: I’ve seen plenty of that.
Manny: Opportunities out there.
Jim: Buying local. There’s all kinds of opportunity. Buy local, flip online for all kinds of items. That’s great. I think if you max that model out, it’s $100,000 a year or so income. That’s hustling for most, but those opportunities are out there for sure.
Manny: It was a lot of watching the auctions on eBay. I’d put in the price that I wanted to pay. If I didn’t win, go to the next one, like that kind of thing. It was great. I like doing that stuff. I always felt like I wanted more. I would work at doing sandwich delivery, something like that, and I always felt like, man, I want to do more for myself.
Jim: Yeah, you want to own something that feels legit. You don’t own your own business type of thing. You’re very much gig economy. Have you ever had like a 9 to 5, show up to work, get dressed up kind of gig or have you been like bouncing from gig to gig, gig economy kind of guy?
Manny: I used to have a lot of different jobs just to try them out. I’ve had a few that I stayed at for quite a while. I like doing the delivery because you would get tips too. The harder you work, the more money you make. You know what I mean?
Manny: I always like that kind of model. I hated the whole, you’re only ever going to make this much. I always wanted to work my way up.
Jim: I was talking to a guy who worked here in the states. It’s called Shipt, S-H-I-P with a T on the end, Shipt. I was like, “Hey, if you don’t mind telling me, how long have you been doing this and about what do you make an hour? What do you clear?” He’s like, “I clear about 30 bucks an hour if I hustle. I’m good at it.” He says, “I know what ZIP codes and what days to work and when to take some time off because it’s dead.” He said, “When I’m working, I’m making about 30 bucks an hour.” I’m like, “Man, there’s people going to college getting four-year degrees, going into debt a couple of $100,000, making half that per hour. The opportunities are out there, man.”
Manny: I actually went to college two different times. I went for – I don’t know. Have you heard of Globe University?
Jim: Spell it, Lobe?
Manny: Globe, G-L-O-B-E.
Manny: I don’t want to go super into it, but they’re basically like a scam college. They ended up going out of business and stuff. I did that for like a year and a half. Just recently, had all that taken care of. I owe them $50,000 for a year and a half. I didn’t even graduate and all that kind of thing. I went for six months of massage therapy too at a tech school.
Jim: You picked up some skills there I’d imagined. I mean, is that something you held onto a little bit?
Manny: Yeah. I love the business part of it. My plan was to own my own business because my cousin had done that. She went to school for massage therapy and worked in a spa for a couple of years, and then she opened her own business. She was making like 75 an hour and now she makes 200 an hour, whatever. That was the plan, but I didn’t love the whole having to work constantly with your hands and everything. You get arthritis really bad and stuff.
Jim: Plus, your time is limited. You’re training hours for hours still, right?
Manny: Yeah, you only can work so many hours in a day. It’s something unique. When we first started doing Amazon stuff, my wife was working hourly at office max. She was working 40 plus hours a week. They always wanted her to work more because it’s hard to find people. I was working third shifts as an independent contractor, 350 miles a day, four to six days a week on third shifts.
Jim: Wow, that’s a lot of miles.
Manny: Oh, yeah.
Jim: Three hundred miles is about where I draw the line. It’s like, can we fly? You do that every day.
Manny: I was delivering pharmaceuticals to nursing homes around the state. It was good. I was making $20 plus an hour, which is better than a lot of hourly jobs around here. I just felt like a zombie all the time. I’m so tired. I would be sleeping while she was at work. She’d be sleeping while I was at work. We’d see each other for a couple hours a night. It was just too much. I was actually watching TikTok because I watched them for financial stuff and there’s a lot of people that do different advice on things. I don’t know if you know Dan Bach on TikTok.
Jim: I don’t do TikTok. I guess I’m too old, I don’t know.
Manny: I think at some point, he was part of the group, the Silent Jim group.
Jim: Okay. He’s been in our community, probably our free Facebook group, or maybe he took the Proven Amazon Course or something at some point.
Manny: Yeah. I saw him recommending books for Amazon sellers because he’s an Amazon seller out of Chicago.
Jim: Gotcha, okay.
Manny: He was talking about this stuff. Then I asked him, well, what about podcasts and stuff? Because I was driving 350 miles a day. I had tons of time to listen to podcasts. He had told me about this podcast. I just basically binged this podcast within a couple weeks. I probably listened to all of them.
Jim: I’ve often wondered who holds the record for listening to every episode the fastest. Most episodes per day would probably be a good way to gauge it. I’ve heard some crazy stories, but going through all of them in a couple weeks is up there, man.
Manny: The average episode is probably, what, like 40 to 50 minutes, something like that.
Jim: You’d know better than me at this point.
Manny: Then I was driving 8 to 10 hours a day. Some nights, I would literally just the next one, then the next one, then the next one, then the next one. That’s all I was thinking about.
Jim: That’s incredible. I’m surprised you’re not completely sick of my voice yet, dude.
Manny: Oh, no, you’re great.
Manny: We still listen to them. Actually, just listened to a couple yesterday while we were driving out to get some food and do some sourcing.
Jim: I’m honored. Truly, man, thank you. That’s cool. I appreciate every single listener out there. I love when listeners turn into guests too. It’s so cool.
Manny: Yeah. We were getting really into it and we had purchased the PAC and we started going through that. We did the basics or the 101 and the 0 to 100.
Jim: Yeah, the replenishable course.
Manny: I had always heard of getting into this business as like – you have to buy 10,000 of these private label products and have it sit in your house and then you have to do advertising. You have to do all that kind of stuff. I honestly hated that model. I did not want to invest that much into something that you don’t know. I loved the Replens. That was what we really were getting into.
Jim: Yeah, because you can ease into it. You can take your time and inch into it slowly over time. You’re putting money in the bank before you make any big investments. That’s the best way for me to sum it up. What was your impression early on? Did you have some exposure to the private label model before you jumped into our community? Did you have something contrasted against?
Manny: I had a friend that had done it a little bit. He had bought like 500 or something, which wasn’t the 10,000. I think he probably still has 100 of them sitting at his house years later. You never know how that’s going to go. If you look it up online, that’s what everybody says. Make your own product or get into private label or something like that.
Jim: You know why that is. You’ve heard a few episodes. You’ve heard me talk about it. Why do you think that is? What’s your theory? Do you agree with some of mine? What’s your take? Because you’re right, if you get on Google or if you go on YouTube and say, “Hey, I want to learn to sell on Amazon,” 98% of what you’re going to hear is that model.
You could find your own product, launch your own brand, fill your garage with a bunch of units from China, which by the way, costs about five times as much to ship as it did just six months ago. Factor that in, buddy. You’re in for tens of thousands of dollars before you make your first dime, but that’s the model everyone’s talking about. Why do you think that is? I think I know. I think I’ve got a pretty solid theory, but what’s your theory?
Manny: I think that it’s just a holdover. I think that that’s how business used to be run. It would be like, okay, you have to buy 10,000 of these and that’s how you started. Keep going. I feel like we need to move into the future. I feel like the big businesses like Walmart and stores that you would go buy replens at, regional stores are a big one for us. They can ship the stuff way cheaper than we can.
I don’t have any place – like we just moved into a new place, but our old place that we had started our Amazon business in, I couldn’t get a pallet of something delivered there. Where am I going to keep it, that kind of thing. I don’t know. I feel like it’s a holdover and I feel like people just don’t really know about the replen model. They don’t think like, “Oh, I can’t possibly make any money buying something from Walmart and reselling it.” But you definitely can.
Jim: There’s several thousands of us in this community doing it all day every day, that’s for sure, right?
Jim: Yeah, that’s a good theory. I really like that. The way business has always been done is take huge risks and hope it works out someday. Why wouldn’t you do that when you’re starting an Amazon business? We don’t do that here. We’re like, “Take tiny, little bitty risks and one out of every two or three of them really pays off and you can ramp up.” You’re putting money in the bank before you’re digging a hole. You’re building that mountain before you dig a hole.
The other model is like, hey, dig a huge hole, and hopefully, someday you can fill it in and then build something. It’s like no, let’s just start building something now. Let’s start putting money in the bank now. I think the other reason too that private label, Manny, is popular is because as someone who’s created courses and been around this industry for a while, you’re going to see the big launches, the big shiny object launches are going to be around these multi-thousand dollar courses that take you six to nine months to figure out if you’re doing it right or not.
The industry loves those courses because by the time you figured out if you’re doing it right or not six to nine months from now, you’re beating yourself up if it doesn’t work instead of asking for a refund. I’ve seen it in this industry. That’s the way the real estate courses work. There’s so many of them out there. They’re just total scams, but you don’t know until you’re – and you think, “Well, I learned some new skills. Maybe it was worth it in the end.” Like, no, you just wasted a ton of money on a dead end and it’s sad. I’m very proud of what we’ve built here, but I want to dive into your story. When did you start doing it right? What did it look like and feel like? What did you guys do?
Manny: We heard a lot of stuff about books, so we were like, “Okay, let’s go to Goodwill and scan some books.” I bought a Bluetooth scanner. My wife would hold the phone and I’d just start scanning until she got a beep of a good one, or whatever. We did that at multiple Goodwills and we learned quickly that you can definitely find books. I think we found a couple 100 or 1,000 or whatever that we scanned. There’s a lot of ones too that you would open up and you start seeing there’s writing in it or something. It wasn’t a very scalable model for us.
Jim: It’s tedious. Plus, storage. Three or four years ago, books were probably where we started a lot of people out. Storage has gotten so much more expensive now unless you’re willing to ship them yourself in your house somewhere, organized. It’s a tough model now, it really is.
Manny: I know too books don’t come in a plastic package. You don’t know 100% if they’re new or not. You could miss one page that’s scribbled in or whatever, and then you ship it out. The customer is like, “Hey, I got this.” It just didn’t really work for us, but we decided to look at it. We kept doing Goodwills in the beginning and we were looking around at other things in Goodwill.
We actually found a lot of sealed board games and puzzles and things like that. The Goodwill has a huge ROI. We’re making thousands of percent ROI sometimes on the stuff, but it’s not sustainable. We did that. We would do a trip out east, and we’d do a trip out west, and we’d do a trip south. Then a couple weeks later, we’d go do that same trip, we wouldn’t find anything. In the beginning, I don’t think anybody had really sourced there that much, and then we found a lot of stuff. Then later, we would try it again and we’d find nothing. It was just like, “Well, we can’t depend on this.”
Jim: Yeah, that’s disheartening. Come home empty-handed is disheartening.
Manny: Yeah. We were very much like, “Oh, going home with nothing again. We bought lunch so we actually lost money today,” that kind of thing. Then we started sourcing at regional stores and that’s where we really started taking off. We started mid-July last year and we ended up doing a little over 2,000 our first month in July in sales.
Jim: That’s with the Replens model specifically. Is that correct?
Manny: It was mostly Goodwill and then we were just starting into the replens. We gave up Goodwill after two weeks. It just didn’t work out that much. Then we really started kicking into it after July. We had 19,000 in sales in August. On our first real month, but our second month, we’re almost 20,000 in sales already.
Jim: That’s tremendous.
Jim: When you say regional store, I know what you mean, but help the listeners understand, what do you mean by a regional store?
Manny: It’s like a store that’s only really in your area. We live in the Midwest so it’s just in our area of the Midwest. Basically, the store that we go to is I think just two states. It’s not like Walmart or Target or whatever. That’s a national store where you’re going to have a lot more competition because everybody in the whole United States could be sourcing that product.
Jim: Exactly. We have plenty of people that they only use Target or 90% of their shopping is Target, or only use Walmart. Walmart, something you don’t realize, is very regionally-based. There’s products in certain regions that you won’t find in others. Even in Walmart, there’s tremendous opportunity. We love those regional stores where – the way I say it is there’s not one in every state. Maybe they’re Midwest only, or Southwest only, or West Coast only.
Those stores are gold mines for the Replen model for sure. Every state has them and they’re online too, by the way. You can shop them online too. What I’ll typically do is go to Google and say, “How many, type in the store name, are there in the US?” The first results are going to tell you. There are 33 in the US primarily located in the northeast. I’m like, “Yep, winner.” Those are the stories you want to hit for Replens model specifically.
Manny: Yeah, and that was great. We did regional stores and then we were even sourcing mostly seasonal stuff at the time. You’re really getting down in that niche of specific things. It was a lot of lawn and garden type stuff. In the winter, you’re not going to sell that stuff as much. During the summer and fall, it was really taking off. Then we just grew from there. In August we did 19,000. In September we did 21,000. Then October was actually our best month that we ever did. We did over 36,000 in sales.
Jim: Wow, the third month, $36,000.
Jim: The third full month of doing the Replen model. That’s tremendous. Do you remember what your margins and ROI were approximately? What were you going for there and what were you getting?
Manny: It’s crazy because in October, I forget what it’s called, but the financial rule of 80-20 where 20% of your products – yeah, where 20% are going to make 80% of your money. We kept looking at our inventory. We’re like, “Man, these top five things are really taking off and the other stuff we sell a little bit of.” We only have so much capital to put into it. We’re like, “Let’s put all of our capital into the top 20%.” During October was actually – so 26 of that 36,000 was five products, just five products, and we bought hundreds of them. We had over 100% ROI on the stuff. Then our margin was 30% to 40% during that time.
Jim: That’s tremendous. You guys are getting a great foundation, hitting some good numbers, learning about the winners. Good job, by the way, on paying attention to the – it’s the Pareto, the 80-20 rule. I think a lot of sellers could benefit from that of committing to not letting those top 10%, 20% of your ASINs go dry ever. Stay on top of them. Then pick up everything else as you can, but know which ones your real winners are. If you’ve only got two hours to go out and source, you’re spending it where you should be instead of just figuring, hey, if it’s on the list, I got to buy another one. No, where’s the money? Go after the money. Go after the good Easter eggs first thought process. It really paid off for you guys. That’s a great lesson. I love that.
Manny: We had a $10,000 to $15,000 budget that we were putting into buying inventory. We’re like, “Do we want to put 10,000 of these and then 5,000 of this other stuff or try some new things?” But we’re like, “We know what sells, so let’s put our money into knowing what sells.”
Jim: Yeah, go deep. If it’s a fast-moving ASIN, worst case is other people come in, the price drops, you get your money back out. Maybe you lost a little bit, but it’s a fast-moving product. You can sell out anytime you want. Pull your money back and put it where you want it. That’s really cool. That’s the beauty of this model is it’s like you’re playing a game where the worst case scenario is you lose 1% or 2% or 3% of your money. Maybe a little more than that. The best case scenario is, are you getting 100% ROI? You can go in as fast and deep as you want. It’s a really fun game to play.
Manny: Actually, we did almost exclusively Merchant Fulfill through that time, which –
Jim: Right, you’re shipping a lot of boxes.
Manny: Yeah, we were shipping I would estimate 10 to 25 boxes a day. We were shipping out during October, September, and November.
Jim: Would you have a UPS truck come to your house?
Manny: Nope, we were packing it all up, bringing it down right to the post office.
Jim: Gotcha. It’s part of your daily routine. They were like, “Oh, here they come again,” every time you get –
Jim: That’s awesome.
Manny: They were like, “Yup.” They would see I have a Prius. They’d see my Prius poll up and be like, “Yup.”
Jim: All packed out. That’s great.
Manny: I have two big laundry baskets full of boxes, bring it in. That was a good time.
Jim: Well done, man.
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Manny: They were like, “Yup.” They would see I have a Prius. They’d see my Prius pull up and be like, “Yup.”
Jim: All packed out. That’s good.
Manny: I have two big laundry baskets full of boxes, bring it in. That was a good time.
Jim: Well done, man. Where are you at now? Because that was all about a year ago or so. How’s the last few months been and how’s it looking for your Q4 coming up? Fill us in on the latest stuff.
Manny: Right now, we’re at about 10,000 for the month. Hopefully, we’re going to hit around that 30,000.
Jim: Yeah. We’re about a third of the way into August as we’re recording this. You’re aiming for another 30 this month, okay.
Manny: Yeah. Q4, honestly, we have never really done anything extra for Q4. We just sell the stuff we are selling. I feel like you can really take advantage of Q4, but also I think if you have a good selling product, your stuff’s going to sell just even better during Q4.
Jim: You’re absolutely right. You’ll hear a lot of Replen sellers yawn about December. Yeah, whatever, it’s a good month. Sometimes it’s almost as good as October and sometimes it’s a little better than January, but it’s just another month. I love the stability of this model because we’re selling the boring stuff that people need year-round or for several months at a time, not the Christmas gift that I picked up for 10 bucks and it’s selling for 50. Get them while you can. Fly around town and gather as many as you can together.
There’s an excitement in that model, I suppose, and you can take advantage of it like you said. I strongly prefer the boring stability of the Replen model of ketchup, and cans of green beans, and bug spray, and just the everyday stuff that you can get everywhere easily off the shelf. Are you guys hitting sales for your replens? Are you buying full retail off store shelves? Is that still how you go?
Manny: It depends, I guess. We try to hit the sales. One thing I would recommend people do is at the stores that they shop at, sign up for their newsletter because a lot of the time, we’ll get emails that’s like, “Today, only 12% off for an online order.” You just go on and get 12% and you can get it shipped right to your house, that kind of thing. If we’re making good profit, I’ll buy it at full retail. I think sales are great, but full retail is also very stable.
Jim: You’re not waiting on sales, in other words?
Jim: Neither are we. We sign up for all the rewards programs, the rebate programs, the credit cards that give you two points, three points. Have you ever bought any discount gift cards for the stores you shop at?
Manny: No, we’re on the rewards program though where every – we actually got credit cards through the store too. We put all of our purchases for the store on there and then we get rewards. We get $25 gift cards that we can use to buy stuff.
Jim: Look on some of the gift card websites and see if any of them are sitting around there because you’ll get like a $100 gift card for that store and you can pick it up for 90 bucks. Like, yeah, we’ll go use that. There’s another way –
Manny: Anything to save money, right?
Jim: Yeah. Another way to add some more margin on there for sure, right. I know a lot of folks that hit that. I haven’t taken my own advice. There’s one store actually just popped in my head. I’m going to go do that for as soon as this podcast episode is over because we’re spending several thousand dollars a week in that store. That’s another great – if I can just get a stack of gift cards bought with a discount, hey, that’s another $500 to $1,000 a month in the bank for that one store.
Manny: Yeah. We definitely looked into all the reward programs right away. Right away, we made sure to get our tax exemption license.
Jim: That adds up fast.
Manny: We’re taxed exempt everywhere.
Manny: Yeah. We try to do everything we could right away. Plus, we had started pretty quickly. We had done the Proven Replens Mentoring group with Kate. We were in that group and learned a lot about different things there too.
Jim: Yeah, we’ve got some tremendous leaders in this community. If you stick around and pay attention to what people are doing, and the classes that come out or the opportunities to grow, yeah. Everything we do around here, we try to make it worth 10 times the price you’re about to pay. That’s the baseline we’ve set. It sounds like you’ve had that experience. You’ve invested –
Manny: Oh, yeah, it was great. It helped keep us accountable too. I think that that’s something – some people really need that accountability. I’m that way. My wife is definitely somebody that does everything on her own, but I need some accountability sometimes.
Jim: Yeah, we’ve got that mastermind group now. Jimmy’s running it for us. It’s a small group, 30 to 50 people at a time, the accountability growth. If you’re hitting 10k a month or more, it’s the group for you. That’s the way to go. I’m going to drop that in the show notes so people can check it out as well. I’m glad you mentioned that. What other tips or strategies or any other part of your story that you wanted to dive into while we’re chatting today? Because this has been tremendous content. I’ve really enjoyed this.
Manny: We just listened to a podcast yesterday. I’m so bad with names, but it was a woman that – she had just used Keepa. She only had Keepa. I think you’d just done that with her not long ago. I was like, “Man, I don’t know how she did it without RevSeller.” We use Keepa, RevSeller, InventoryLab. When we were doing a lot more FBA, we were using the Aura Repricer too. I love having stuff that saves me time.
Jim: Oh, yeah, for sure. Yeah, we’re all about building systems and using the right tools. When you’re first starting out – and some people stay right there. I don’t remember the lady’s name either at this point. We could look it up, but yeah, that’s all she used. If I remember, she had like a $30,000 a month business, something like that, using just Keepa, that’s it. I was trying to talk her into some other tools to make her life a little easier for sure.
Yeah, you listed some great ones. RevSeller is beautiful. I’ll stick a link to that in the show notes too. You can make really good decisions really fast as you’re looking on Amazon at any product. You can know if it’s a winner or a loser. All you got to know is how much you got to pay for it. I’m going to go pay five bucks to the store for this item. RevSeller tells you instantly, “FBA, FBM, here’s how much money you’re going to make paying five bucks a unit for that product and selling it for the current rates as shown on Keepa.” Keepa-RevSeller is a power combo for sure.
Manny: We didn’t really know about InventoryLab either and Kate had started us off on that where we started using that. Then it comes with the Scoutify 2 app. We use that every time we’re doing any sourcing in the store. Mostly too because you can make buy lists on it so when you get home, you can just upload everything in the InventoryLab without having to go through and scan the barcode in or put the ASIN in or whatever for everything.
Jim: Yeah, upload your list very easily, and then just throw it all in a box, right?
Jim: That’s beautiful. You guys have a real good system. Is it just the two of you or do you have any other help?
Manny: Nope, just always been us. When we were doing FBA, it was a lot more hands-on stuff. We were buying at the store, bringing it home, do the FBA. Now that we’ve been doing a lot of FBM, it takes an hour or two in the morning and that’s it. I would say our average work week is 5 to 10 hours and most of its sourcing and sending it back to us. We do a lot of OA now.
Jim: Yeah. Then you guys have figured out your hourly profit after all the expenses. What was that? I remember reading it in your bio.
Manny: Yeah, at $10 or at a 10 hours a week, we had made it. This whole year, we had just hit a year. We did 214,000 in sales in our first year and it was over $100 an hour. It was about 110 an hour that we were making or that we put in.
Jim: So 55 each, if you’re both working 10, total 20 hours, about $55 a piece, which that’s not a bad gig. You try to find a $55 an hour job that lets you work any 10 hours a week that you want to work, good luck.
Manny: Especially during the winter too because if it’s blizzarding outside, I’m not going to go source. Where if you have an eight-hour job, you better be getting there, otherwise, you might get fired, that kind of thing.
Jim: Yeah, exactly. You can work on the good days and the days that you want, the times you want, complete flexibility, $55 an hour. It’s not rocket science either. It’s just not. No part of this is complex. It’s interesting to me. You guys have found doing your own fulfillment easier, it sounded like, than doing Amazon fulfillment. Talk me through that a little bit.
Manny: I guess what I figured out or my philosophy on it is doing FBA is high volume, but lower amount of money that you make on each product. Doing FBM was higher profit, but lower quantity that we’re selling. Our one product that we found – it was funny. We were walking through a regional store and I was just scanning stuff. We didn’t even do typing at the time and stuff. We’re just scanning stuff, looking around, and I joked. I was like, “Hey, I should scan that and see what it was,” and it was a $70 product. At the time, we were scared about a buy cost of $70. I scanned it and it was selling for $150 to $200 on Amazon. We looked at the Keepa when we got home. We bought a couple of them. Looked at the Keepa and it had 40 or 50 drops a month on Keepa.
Jim: It’s smoking, in other words.
Manny: Yeah. A drop could be any amount. We’ve had people buy two or three of them.
Jim: For sure. I’m guessing 40 or 50 drops on Keepa represents at least 500 sales a month. It’s my experience.
Manny: Yeah. It was a lot. It would fly. We actually sent those into FBA and they literally sold the hour they got checked in. We were like, “Man, is there another way we can do this?” Because sending them into FBA, you have to wait a week for them to get there. Maybe wait a week for them to get checked in, especially during winter months and with COVID happening last year.
Jim: Yeah, it could take a month to check stuff in, right.
Manny: Yeah. That’s when we actually switched over to doing FBM because it was so much quicker. That’s when we got to the point where we were shipping out like 20, 30 of them at a time. It was crazy.
Jim: I love it. A lot of little good lessons in that story for people doing this, the higher priced items. I tend to – especially if it’s a breakable or even a chance of a return kind of thing, I want to take good care of this myself and go from my house straight to the customer rather than have 25 people touching it, dropping it, doing the 3-foot test repeatedly in the warehouse somewhere. Let’s just get it to the customer from my house.
That higher priced product is what convinced you guys to kick the tires on that whole FBM Merchant Fulfill model. Do the shipping yourself. Like you said, you do get paid more. Amazon charges you some money if they’re going to handle the box 15 times between you and the customer. You save all that money. I love it. Have you found any other high ticket products like that or was that a one time thing?
Manny: No, that’s literally all we sell now. We sell everything around that. I think if you find a really, really good product, you should definitely take a look at everything around it or adjacent to what it could be because I think there’s high chances that a lot of that stuff sells. Right now, we have probably six or seven active things that we sell that are all the same thing and they’re between 60 to 120 buy costs and we’re selling them for $150 to $300.
Jim: That’s a good way to do it. That is a good way to do it, yeah, because a lot of Replen sellers are playing around with that, buy for 5, buy for 2, sell for 12, sell for 25. There’s great money there. We do a lot of that ourselves, but man, there’s some gold in those bigger ticket items for sure, especially if you’re willing to Merchant Fulfill. I think that’s a golden tip right there for sure.
Manny: Yeah. I’ve heard some people, they’re scared to ship it out themselves. Or the other thing too is when you do FBM, you really have to do the customer service side where you get the messages from people. Sometimes there’ll be an A to Z claim or a chargeback or something like that. We’ve had those and we’ve actually won all of them that we’ve had. You just got to keep track of your records. We’ve had a few IP complaints, but we got those taken care of too. Sometimes you just can’t be afraid of that stuff. You just have your business going and see where it goes.
Jim: Yeah, navigate it as it comes. I always like talking to the big sellers, the $500,000 a month guys and like, “Oh, yeah. We only got eight IP complaints last week. It was a good week.” It just rolls right off their back. It’s the way I imagine if we were a bunch of people who own small convenience stores the way we talk about shoplifters. It’s like, “Hey, what’s your shoplifter numbers last quarter?” It’s like, “Oh, yeah, we only lost 1.3%. How about you guys?” Like, “Oh, man, we’re up at 2.4%.”
It comes with the territory. It’s just part of the gig. You’re going to get those things you don’t like and there’s not a lot you can do about it in some instances. It’s certainly nothing to be afraid of because when you do the math, this is a beautiful business model. Your eyes are being permanently suspended. As I always say, any type of topic comes up are ridiculously slim if you get a pro involved especially.
We’ve got some great people. Scott Margulius is in our team and he’s great. Just about anything you could run into, he’s seen it 50 times and will get you through it. It may be down for a few weeks. That’s the worst case scenario. Ninety-nine percent of the time if you’re suspended, man, it’s just you don’t got to worry about it. On that note, what else, man? Any other lessons, any other notes you took down, things you wanted to share with folks? You’ve been a source of some really good nuggets today.
Manny: I was thinking about it because we’re still pretty new. It’s only been a little over a year.
Jim: About a year in, yeah.
Manny: I still have that mindset of like, we just started kind of thing. One thing too is I listen to every podcast and we went through some PAC together and stuff. You just got to dive in at some point. You can’t plan for everything. Honestly, with the replens, you always said – I think my wife got sick of me saying it, but the inch deep, mile wide. If you’re doing that model, doing Replens, if you have a problem or you lose some replens or stuff, you don’t care. You just go to the next one. Find 10 more. I think that you just can’t be afraid just to jump in at some point.
Jim: Yeah, don’t get married to any given product. Keep finding more and the opportunities out there. When you guys look for new products now, how much time do you spend doing that?
Manny: We haven’t looked for very many new products recently, honestly, because the ones that we have, are they good?
Jim: Pretty busy.
Manny: The capital we have is going into buying the old stuff so we don’t have a lot of capital to put in new things because actually, both July of last year, we both quit our jobs. We dived straight into Amazon, head first. We didn’t have other money to be putting into it. It was just Amazon money putting back into it over and over.
Jim: Right, and while these are churning your money, you’re churning your money through on good ROI, fast selling products. You don’t need anything else right now.
Manny: No. The stuff we have has been really good. Even like that first thing I told you about, the thing we found for 70 bucks and we’re selling it for 150. There’s probably 50 people that are selling it now and Amazon’s been on there forever. We haven’t gotten to sell that in a long time, but we have a bunch of other things that we’re selling so it didn’t really matter that much. I think that’s what –
Jim: You go out and find more when you need to if you need to. They’re really everywhere.
Manny: Yeah. Sometimes we’ll be just shopping at the store for ourselves and be like, “Hey, scan that or type it into the Amazon app so you see what comes up.”
Jim: Yup, for sure. They really are everywhere. I think that’s the big takeaway though is challenging people to look at the bigger ticket items. Those can be replens as well. Consider Merchant Fulfilling, ship it yourself. If you’re set up to do it at all, you don’t need a lot of space to do it.
Manny: No, and we buy the boxes from The Boxery. That’s what Kate uses. We just got there. You can get any size box you want. When we find a product that we really like, we’ll measure the product and then buy a box specifically for that product.
Jim: Get the exact size box you need, yeah.
Manny: Yeah, because you don’t want to pay more shipping than you have to. That’s how they charge you is like the amount of space inside the box or whatever. We try to cut down our shipping costs as much as possible. Some of our stuff that we’re selling for 150, we only pay $7, $8 for shipping. I think our model is very different from most people’s because I think most people sell a lot of FBA, a lot of high volume stuff. Ours has always been lower volume, but higher costs and margin on it.
Jim: Yeah, and you’re shipping them yourself in the perfect size box so it takes up as little space as possible. Yeah, I love it. Well, I do an FBA, so space is as much as much as the size of the box for the shipping prices you’re running. What do you use to ship? Are you using UPS? You said United States Postal, right?
Manny: We’re using UPS for everything that we can because their price has been more stable. The post office has been going up a lot recently. Sometimes we ship to Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico a lot, and you have to ship those through the post office, or if it’s a PO Box. It just depends on the actual website. We buy all of our shipping through Amazon just in case there’s like A, Z claims or something like that. It’s way better to buy it through Amazon. We do that, and then we see what’s the cheapest price to ship it there. We want to get it there as fast as possible because I think that that really helps with customer service and getting good feedback.
Jim: Good reviews, yeah. I love it. What else? Any other tips before we start to wrap this one up? This has been a really good episode, man. I appreciate your time, man.
Manny: Yeah, thank you. No, people need to invest in themselves. I think that’s a big thing. We talk about that all the time. A lot of people are afraid to start something like an Amazon business. If you’re working nine to five jobs, you’re never going to get to the top. If you want to be the top, you have to take that risk and invest in yourself. I think that was a big thing that we did.
Jim: Yeah, take that leap and learn some new skills. It’s not a very big leap. It’s not the private label leap you got to spend tens of thousands. You guys are a few $100 in and you’re making some bank, and you haven’t really had to do a whole lot more since then. This isn’t an expensive business model to ramp. Maybe we should charge a whole lot more money than we do, but it’s not a complicated thing nor is it expensive.
Manny: No. I think people, if they want to jump in and do Amazon, they should definitely – if you’re even thinking about it, you should do it. Maybe you need help. That’s what the PACs are for. That’s what the groups are for. Maybe even you need a coach. Whatever you need to do to get to the point where you’re working for yourself, that’s what I always wanted. I think that a lot of people will be a lot happier working for themselves.
Jim: Yeah, imagine you are. It sounds like this is your favorite gig.
Manny: Yeah. I don’t feel like a zombie anymore. I used to sleep – I would wake up, sleep four hours, and then I’d wake up for a couple hours, sleep for another four hours, wake up, eat, sleep a little more before I work. It was just a horrible –
Jim: Zombie mode. It affects every area of your life too. It’s not sustainable, affects your health, mental, emotional, spiritual health, your relationships with your wife. These are all the benefits that you guys are experiencing. That’s beautiful. I love your story, man. I love your contrast, where you were, where you are now, it’s a beautiful thing. I think it’s going to resonate with a lot of folks too. Thanks for all the great tips you shared too. That was real time well-spent.
Manny: Thank you for having me on.
Jim: Awesome episode, Manny. Hey, I’m going to talk to the listeners for just a second and thank them for hanging out with us today and being a part of the show. And what I like to do from time to time – The only thing we ask from you in payment in return is send a friend to this podcast. That’s how Manny heard about it. Have someone else in your life that needs some extra cash, that wants to start a business, that wants to hang out with a bunch of people who are doing this right. Send them to silentjim.com. Tell them to check this out.
That’s all we ask in return for all these great, golden, free tidbits of information. It could literally change your life if you put this stuff to work. We’ve got a community of 66,000 people. We just passed 66,000 here a few days ago. We’re coming up on it. We’re right on the edge of it, let’s say that. It’s free. It’s a Facebook group that’s free. You can go to silentjim.com and see a link to that as well.
The thing we have in common is we’re all trying to use the Internet creatively to launch and grow multiple income streams. If that’s the kind of people you want to hang out with, like Manny and his wife, and thousands of other people around the world who are doing this, come on in and join us. If you’re ready to get started, Proven Amazon Course, like Manny mentioned, a link in the show notes to that as well.
To all the business building warriors out there, you included, God bless you. We’re in your corner. We’re here for you. We’re praying for you. We want to support you and see you win and see you succeed. I hope that comes through in everything we say and do. Until next time. We will see you on the next episode. Talk to you then.
Hey, before I go, one last reminder. Payoneer.com, a tremendous sponsor of this show. You can get 10% off your first fees by going to payoneer.com/funding. Tell them you came from our program. They’re going to take good care of you. Up to $750,000 for Amazon and Walmart sellers. Hey, if you’re needing some funding with some good flexible payback terms with no credit check, you’re going to love these guys. Go check them out.
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