Jim: Joel and Jessica, welcome to the show.
Jessica: Thanks for having us.
Joel: Hi, thank you!
Jim: Hey, good to see you guys. It’s only been a few weeks ago we were all together in Tampa.
Jessica: That’s right!
Jim: That was phenomenal, but it just flew by so fast. You two are a couple that I’ve really been eager to get to know a little better, so I’m excited about this show. I want to jump right into your story.
Jessica: Alright, well, I’m Jessica. This is my husband, Joel. We’ve been married for literally, forever. We were high school sweethearts. We grew up in northern Indiana. We decided against going to college and we decided that he was going to join the Air Force instead. We spent 21 years traveling the world, going to lots of different countries and lots of different states. We have four children. We have two older children who are already married and grown up and have given us almost seven grandchildren; my daughter is pregnant with number seven.
Jim: Wait, whoa. You guys have seven grandkids?
Jessica: We do.
Joel: Almost. We have six.
Jessica: Yeah, almost.
Joel: Seven is on the –
Jim: You guys got married when you were like, ten and twelve, right?
Jessica: Yeah, pretty much. Pretty close.
Joel: Yeah. We were teenagers.
Jessica: We were young, yes.
Jessica: It was Indiana, so what else do you do, right?
Jim: Hey, watch it! I’m a Hoosier as well.
Jessica: Yeah, so our two oldest have moved out. Our son is also now in the Air Force. He’s stationed out in Arizona. Our other daughter lives pretty close by, and so we get to see our grandchildren from her all the time, which is wonderful.
Jim: Aw, that’s great! Thank you for serving, Joel, and thank you to your son as well. That’s a very significant thing in our household as well as many listeners, as well. Thank you so much for that.
Jessica: Our two youngest are still at home. We have a 15-year-old daughter and a 12-year old son. We’re still kind of homeschooling. We’re attempting to homeschool them still, as well.
We’re in the Air Force, like I said, for 21 years. We were living overseas in Germany and we knew that it was time to retire, because our children were moving out. I was tired of flying back and forth to see my grandbabies, the ones that they had started having. Joel decided it was time to go ahead and retire and be done with this Air Force thing. We looked at our budget and said, okay, we’ve got to do something to help supplement our income. We started looking at the internet and seeing what can we do. What can we do to kind of make some extra money? We found Amazon. We found selling on Amazon. The first thing that we found was where you actually utilize print on demand, where you’re printing out a design on a mug or a t-shirt.
Jim: Oh, okay, and when was this? How long ago was this?
Jessica: In 2016.
Jim: Okay, about five years ago.
Jessica: Yup, mm-hmm, so we thought this was perfect, because we were living in Germany at the time. We had no concept of VAs or prep centers or any of that kind of thing. All we had to do was put these designs up on these products, launch them on Amazon, and the company would fulfill them and send them to the customer. We’re like, this is beautiful. This is perfect. I started putting designs up, making all kinds of designs, because I thought that was super cool and lots of fun. Then Joel’s like, “Well, how about I give it a try?” I’m like, “Okay, whatever. Why don’t you try it?” He puts one design up, and that design, I am not kidding, has sold almost every single day until –
Joel: It sells every day and sometimes multiple times a day.
Jessica: Truly, yes, it sells every day multiple times a day, for the past –
Jim: Phenomenal, I love it!
Jessica: We obviously still – that’s still a part of our business, not a huge part, but it’s still part of our business.
Joel: Every time that it’s being fulfilled, I think to myself, I need to spend more time on this. I need to get back to this and do a little bit more of this print on demand stuff. Other things take time, too.
Jim: Sure. You guys haven’t really touched that business in some time, I take it. It’s just running on autopilot. The work you did a long time ago.
Jessica: Yeah, we hired someone to kind of do the fulfillment of that because it’s kind of tedious and time-consuming every day to sit down and place the orders, so we hired somebody to take care of that end of it for us. We’ve also launched that product on other platforms as well, Etsy and eBay and whatnot. It’s pretty hands-off. We just see the check – well, it’s not a check anymore, but the deposits come through.
Jim: That’s pretty cool. I love it. We probably need to put together a little mini-course or something on that concept for the community and get you guys into training others on how to do that. Sounds like you got some – and I know we’ve got some other people in the community doing that same sort of thing as well. We haven’t talked about it in a while, but the promotional companies, right?
Jim: There was actually a course in the Proven Amazon Course on that. Had you guys seen that or been through it, by any chance?
Jessica: We have seen it, yeah. I looked at it quite some time ago, so not any time recently, but yeah, it’s been a while.
Jim: Okay, yeah, I’m just curious if that was overlapping with the concept that you guys are talking about here.
Jessica: It’s pretty similar. We don’t have to purchase the products from the promotional company. It’s fulfilled through the suppliers.
Jim: Yeah, I got you. It’s more like a drop-ship arrangement.
Jessica: It is, yeah.
Joel: Yeah, it’s basically –
Jessica: I was avoiding that word.
Joel: I think you have to be careful with who you’re working with. You want to make sure that you can trust that they’re sending out a good product, that they’re going to fulfill the item within the time frame that you are saying that it will be fulfilled by. You’re basically putting your account reputation in the hands of somebody else. If you go down the road of doing print on demand, make sure that you find a manufacturer or a fulfillment center that you trust.
Jim: Yeah, it’s the same responsibility you have as if you Merchant Fulfilled a product, right?
Jessica: Right, that’s right.
Jim: Amazon’s expecting you to ship out on time, so if you’re leaving that in someone else’s hands, you could get yourself in trouble if it’s being drop-shipped.
Jim: You’ve got to have a good, solid relationship there, for sure. It sounds like you guys don’t have very many eggs in that basket anyway, at this point.
Joel: Right, it’s not –
Jessica: No, not huge.
Joel: It’s not huge, it’s just small and consistent.
Jim: Sure, I love that part of the story, though. I just wanted to fill in some gaps because I know people are like, oh, I haven’t heard that before, that sounds interesting.
Jessica: Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun.
Joel: We did that for about a year.
Jessica: That was our very first Q4, was in 2016. As we were kind of in the process of learning more and more about that business, we realized that there are people who went to the store and bought stuff, and actually sent it in to Amazon and sold it on the platform. We were going, wow, that’s really cool. We should try that. We couldn’t quite figure out how to do that living overseas in Germany. I was coming back and forth a lot to see family and whatever. We still just couldn’t wrap our brains around it. We bought the PAC course and I became a coaching student. Then we went to our very first – at that time, it was called CES. We went to CES-5 in Florida, I think it was, Orlando, Florida.
Jim: That was our second time in Florida, right.
Joel: Thank you, by the way, we were scholarshipped into that CES.–
Joel: Thank you for that.
Jim: I’m learning so much about you guys. This is great. I didn’t even realize that. Okay, well, you’re welcome in retrospect. I’m so glad we did that.
Jessica: We are, too, because we went to that conference, and as we walked out of there we said, we are never going to miss one of these conferences ever again. We made some really great relationships. We’ve met people that we actually still talk to today that are still our friends. We learned so much that it was incredibly valuable to our business. We said we will never miss one of these again. We haven’t, except for of course last year when it was canceled. We’ve been to all of them since. That was a huge stepping stone in our business.
Jim: That Orlando event, it’s bringing back memories. You guys mentioned you hadn’t thought about it in a while. Remember there was a hurricane that blew through right before we had that event.
Jessica: Yep, right.
Jim: I have this great idea: I’m going to take my family down about a month beforehand and just enjoy three weeks or so of fun and sun and go to Disney, and then we’ll do the event, nice and relaxed and ready to welcome people in from all over the world. A hurricane blew through while we were there. We drove – I think it was 16 or 18 hours to try to get to Atlanta to avoid this. The eye of that storm went right over our hotel a week before the event. Should I have had insurance for this? I don’t know. It was crazy. It ended up being a phenomenal event, as they’ve all been.
I love the backstory of how – that’s how you guys got started, too, because that event came very close to not happening, but it did, thank God. You guys were a part of it, and it was a tremendous event. I love that that’s where your roots in our community started. That’s so cool.
Jessica: Yeah, so after that event, Joel – I came home a little bit before he did, bought a house here in south Georgia where we live now close to my grandchildren. Joel started doing RA, just your normal, run-of-the-mill going to the stores, looking for product, going through the clearance aisle, looking for sales.
Jim: Scanning barcodes.
Jessica: Scanning barcodes, yeah, absolutely, coming home empty-handed, maybe coming home with a hundred bucks worth of stuff. I was doing the packing and shipping. We were doing this, at the time, on our bedroom floor just putting together these little bitty shipments. Then we started getting a little bit bigger and we’re like okay, we can’t do this on the floor anymore. We need to do something a little more smart here. We need to – let’s move it to the dining room.
Jim: Big move.
Jessica: Okay, we’re moving to the dining room.
Jim: Moving on up.
Joel: We’re proud of that. We had –
Jessica: We really were.
Joel: We showed it off to our friends and anybody who would pay attention to us. We were proud of that dining room space. We had a floor scale and everything.
Jim: That’s awesome.
Jessica: So we’re prepping product right now in our dining room. No one can eat, but we have a little place where we can prep our product. We’re growing and now product is now spilling out into the living room and we’re going okay – I remember one Q4 – we have these French doors that come from our dining room into our living room. We had to open the doors up and move the couch and set all these tables up. It took up our entire living room. We were going okay, we have to do something. This is ridiculous.
We tossed around a couple of different ideas, but what we finally landed on is that we were going to add onto our house because I didn’t want to go get a warehouse space in town. I didn’t want to leave my house. I wanted to be here where my kids are. I wanted to come run in here and do something real quick, I wanted it to be close. We decided to add onto our house, and that’s actually what you can see here behind us.
Jim: I was about to ask. For people who are watching this episode on YouTube, it’s the big open space behind you guys, looks great, perfect for prepping, in my opinion.
Jessica: It is, yep. It’s connected to our home, which I think is great because if you go out the French door this way, there’s my pool and my hot tub. If we get tired of prepping, we can go out that way. We’ve got a playground out this way for those grandkids. I can watch them out the window. We just have this beautiful space that we can do a little bit of everything. We can work in here. We can play in here. We hosted church parties in here. It’s a great space.
Jim: Man, that’s so awesome. Well, Joel, I want to hear from you a little bit. I guess you were listening to this recap, this rapid fire recap, anything that we missed or left out from your perspective?
Joel: Yeah, I’m very thankful for the opportunity that I’ve had with being able to resell on an Amazon platform. I’m thankful for the tutorial and the lessons that we’ve had and advice that we’ve gotten and coaching that we’ve gotten from your group There was someone else in the beginning; I don’t remember his name, but it was one of the types of things that you get into where once you get into it a little bit, they want you to drop $10,000 to buy a container of stuff from China. They had great plans to move it all and sell it all on Amazon, but I just didn’t feel comfortable with that.
Jim: You’re talking about a different program that you were considering, right?
Joel: Yeah, a different program; I don’t remember who it was.
Jim: We wouldn’t call them out anyway at this point. I know exactly what you’re saying. We’re doing all the work. Any time they’re like oh, we’ll do all the work for you, that’s – you got to be super cautious. I’ve yet to see any of those offers like that last more than a few months. Man, they reel in a bunch of people, but they just don’t last. Yeah, good job avoiding that.
Joel: Yeah, I think once we found your community and started learning the business or the different aspects of the business through your communities was when we realized we were on the right track. There’s still things that we’re learning every day. We’re both coaches now. We both have people that we’re coaching. You continue to learn how to do things better. You continue to learn that sometimes you need to go back to what you started with and do the basics again because that’s what worked in the beginning. As you get off track a little bit and get the strategy, you can go back to those things and continue to find those items that are profitable just by doing the basics.
Jim: The basics really work, yeah. Just this morning, I was noticing one of our top ASINs. It’s the same product; we sell it on two or three different listings, and we’re selling a lot of it lately. I just thought, when’s the last time someone went in and checked and see if there’s any other listing that have that product in it. We don’t have a process for going through and checking – and we all should. If something’s really flying off the shelf, one of the first things you should do is go okay, where else is this product sold on Amazon? There’s probably opportunity there, too. Within just ten minutes, I found another ASIN. We could’ve been using it all along. Why haven’t we been? I don’t know. Whose job is it to check that? We don’t have a policy for it; we should. That’s another $200 a month that should be going into the bank account that’s just been sitting there the whole time. You notice those little things. There’s always a bunch of them.
I want to dive into just a little bit the dynamic. You guys said you’re coaches on our team, and you guys are doing a phenomenal job. The back-end of this story is Jessica’s actually a coaching leader and Joel is one of our newest coaches who is working for a coaching leader who has a team. How’s that working out? I want to get an update. I haven’t talked to you guys about that yet. We’ve had that arrangement here for a few months. How big is your team now, Jessica?
Jessica: I only have three people on my team right now.
Jim: Being Joel’s one of them.
Jessica: Joel’s one of them, yeah.
Jim: Where’s he rank? I’m just kidding.
Jessica: We won’t say. No.
Jim: I love – the way our coaching program is organized is we have coaching leaders with teams and they have coaches under them and so there’s a support structure there if you have questions or whatever. How many students have you coached now total, Jessica, and maybe between the two of you as well? How deep into this are you?
Jessica: I want to say we’re up to about 70 between the two of us.
Joel: I’ve just took on my fourth student last week.
Jessica: Yeah, the majority of them have been mine, so yeah.
Jim: Right, that’s so cool. I just love it. I love that conversation I had with Joel. One of the things we do is I’ll get to know each new coach as they come on board and have a conversation. This was the first time we’ve had this arrangement where husband or wife, spouse of any kind, is joining the team of the spouse who’s already well experienced. I think it’s the coolest thing. I just love it. I want to see those evaluation reports. I can’t wait.
Joel: Yeah, right? That’s probably something I would enjoy because that’s the reason that I guess I hesitated when she started with coaching was knowing my background in the military, I’m very – when it comes to learning or developing a skill, I want it to be very structured, and I knew the coaching program was not necessarily designed that way. What I’ve seen over the last year-plus that she’s been coaching is that it works with the design that you’ve built. As I’ve paid attention to her and what she’s teaching her students and how it’s working, I’m like eh, I can fit into that.
Jim: I want to dive into that a little bit more. I love that you brought that up, Joel, because our coaching program is about 16, 17 years old at this point. Literally everyone who had an e-commerce coaching program at the point we launched ours is long gone. Pretty much everyone who launched one five years or more ago is long gone. Those programs just don’t last in this industry, but ours has. I love that you’re coming at it from an angle of military. Everybody knows the KPIs. Everybody knows the procedures. Here’s the things you’re going to learn, Step 1, Step 2. Our coaching program’s not like that. I’d love to hear you unpack your perspective on how it’s different and why it works even though it doesn’t have that super structured feel. What’s your experience, man? Just four students in, but you’ve seen Jessica doing it for a while now, and as a military guy, I’m very curious
Joel: I think I would naturally like to have a lesson plan when I sit down with the client or student that I can go through as an instructor or a teacher and make sure I’m helping them meet their objective. It’s based on a metric that I can determine if I’m a successful teacher. I think that’s what it comes down to, me wanting to gauge or judge my skill as an instructor or a teacher or a coach. If you don’t have that metric to go back to, then I guess you have to get more personal with the person that you’re coaching and you have to really understand what it is that they’re gauging success on and help them get to that point with basically the time, resources, and tools that they have but also the knowledge and experience that you have as a coach.
For me, in the beginning, I thought I’d be much more comfortable teaching a lesson plan, but that’s okay if it’s not comfortable for me. I can get outside of my comfort zone if needed if it helps somebody else and if it makes me a better person in the long run as well.
Jim: Yeah, it’s more relational. You can’t argue with the results, either. I mean, that’s what I fall back on. I received a fair amount of pushback over the years, like ah, we need a core, base curriculum. We have that; that’s the Proven Amazon Course. A coach is more of a – like you said brilliantly, Joel, where’s this person’s trying to get? What assets do they have? That’s a true coaching experience. You guys are both in CrossFit; we could probably borrow some lessons from there, I imagine. I haven’t done it myself. You guys are both pretty active in it, but one of the first things you probably do is you set that bar of okay, here’s where we’re at. Here’s what we’re capable of right now, one push-up, half a pull-up, run a quarter-mile, and pass out. Where do we want to be six months from now? What are the incremental steps to get us there? That requires someone who actually cares, who listens, who cheers you on those little victories. It’s much more like that versus if CrossFit was like okay, day one, everybody does five pull ups, go home. Day two, everybody – it’s not like that. Everybody is coming from different advantages and backgrounds. I think those two worlds – it’s more like CrossFit than it is a workbook that everyone is going to go through step by step, right?
Joel: Exactly, and that’s a good analogy because in that CrossFit world, the things that pay off the most are consistency and hard work. It’s the same thing with business on Amazon. If you’re consistent with what is working and what proves to be working and just stay consistent with that and put in the hard work, it’s going to pay off and you’re going to reap the reward.
Jim: That’s good. I’m fond of saying frequently that the rules for success in all the important areas of life are exactly the same. I think we just discovered and unpacked another one. It’s all about working hard consistently, doing it for others, lone wolves don’t succeed in CrossFit or in business or in relationships and important areas, got to have others doing it for others, commitment, consistency. This is good stuff. We should probably package this one as a course or something. There’s a lot of good stuff in there. What are you thinking, Jessica, as we’re going through all this?
Jessica: I’m excited that he is a coach on my team because it’s another person that I can rely on. If we have a student that I need to readjust or go somewhere, I know that I can trust my husband. I know he’s a good teacher. He’s been doing this for a while. We’ve helped a lot of people. We taught a lot of people how to do Amazon before we did it formally for Jim Cockrum Coaching. We would have people come over to our house and stay with us for three days and we do these little mini conferences where we show them how to pack up a shipment, show them how to scale, show them how to source.
Joel: Take them out.
Jessica: Take them out shopping in the store. We had several groups of people, just people we didn’t even know, and they would come to our home and we would show them how to do this. I know that we’ve been teaching people and we like doing that. I really enjoy seeing these people succeed and they text me and say, “I just sold something,” that’s the most exciting feeling to see somebody else hit their goals.
Jim: If you guys are open to it, we do some of that. I didn’t even realize – it looks like you have the space. Let’s talk after this episode. If you want to do it, let’s send some more people your way because we’re getting a lot of people signing up for our onsite where we either travel to them or they can travel to us types of trainings. We’re having a lot of success with that and students are loving it. We need to talk offline. Didn’t know you guys were set up for that. This is good.
Jessica: Yeah, I have a couple of other tremendous coaches on my team as well. One of my guys is really great at wholesale. Another one of the guys is really active in the replens community. If I threw out his name, you’d probably recognize it. He’s always answering questions. He’s super helpful, just always right there giving someone the right answer. I have a couple of great guys on my team that I can really rely on.
Jim: That’s phenomenal. I love the way our coaching program’s built out. It’s taken on a life of its own. Literally every coach on our team, if I could spend more time with them, I would benefit because they’re just so full of knowledge. They’re doing the business. I love that. I didn’t intend for this to be all about coaching but you guys are doing such a great job and it’s such an interesting dynamic. Two coaches, I don’t know if I’ve ever had two coaches at the same time on the program. This is cool. I want to hear more about your story and your business. So far all we’ve unpacked is the printables and that’s a tiny piece of your business now. Let’s dive into where the rest of your Amazon business is built.
Jessica: Like I said, Joel was doing RA and I was packing, which he kind of got tired of doing that. He’s like, “Oh, man, I am tired of Walmart.” He said, “I’m just going to do some things around the house. Amazon is yours.” I was like, “Oh, okay, I don’t want to go to Walmart either.” I decided to start doing OA and –
Joel: One thing before she gets into this story. Sorry to interrupt.
Jessica: Go ahead.
Joel: Jessica has been very much a learner. She’s always been a learner. She loves to learn. This whole time, these two years that I have been doing Amazon a year and a half, RA, she’s been learning everything there is to learn about selling on Amazon. She had all the knowledge, all the tools that she needed to do it. I learn by doing. That’s the big difference in the two of us. I don’t like to sit down on a computer and go through a module if I don’t have to. As long as I get the basics of what needs to be done, I like to go do it and work through the process as I’m going about it. She had learned about anything there was to learn about it and she took it from there.
Jim: You were diving into replens then it sounds like, Jessica. Is that the point you started doing some replens training?
Jessica: No, not yet. That’s coming. I was just doing normal online arbitrage just selling and stuff. We were doing really well with that. Then we went to a Legends conference, a Legends family reunion in the spring of 2019. Jimmy Smith stood up and he gave a presentation. I believe it was the first time that Jimmy ever spoke about replens.
Joel: Yeah, it was.
Jessica: He stood up there and he gave his presentation. My husband and I were like jaws dropped. He was up all night long and then our whole drive home he didn’t shut up about this concept. He was like, “This is amazing. We have got to do this when we get home.” It wasn’t just the whole replens concept. It was what Jimmy brought forth. He basically gave it a system. He systematized it.
Jim: Yes, which Joel loved. There’s my system.
Jessica: Exactly, Jimmy has everything so thoughtfully laid out from how to analyze, how many units do you need to move at an average selling price to get this kind of profit. It was just perfect. We went home and we hired a shopper and a packer. In the 30 days after that, our business increased by $30,000. We were like, “Oh, I think we’re on to something here.” We continued with our shopper and packer doing the replens and then I still did the OA because I still enjoy it. I like looking for the deal. I like the clearance and the sales. I still very much enjoy that. Our business today is half replens, half of whatever fun stuff I can drum up. I like to do clothes and shoes and so I do that.
Jim: Do you fulfill those yourself typically or are you doing FBA on those?
Jessica: FBA, FBA for everything, we have maybe a couple of Merchant Fulfilled products but we prefer everything goes to FBA.
Jim: Really, I’d like to pause and unpack that for a moment because two questions come to mind. How does that affect your IPI score, to nerd out a little bit for those who know what that is? The other one is, man, you’ve got a lot of stuff. You could be making some serious money on your top ASINs if you’re willing to do some of the fulfillment yourself on those pretty tables behind you, bring someone in to do that. What’s your thought process there?
Jessica: As far as the first part of your question, the IPI, it actually hangs out pretty – we’re actually doing really well. It’s higher than it’s ever been. I think that’s because of the replens. We still have those replens moving through that’s helping out with that score. When I do source clothes and shoes, I’m looking for stuff that is moving really fast, really low rank, really quick turn product.
Jim: You’re doing good research then. You’re not guessing like, oh, I think someone would like this. You’re looking at Keepa even on your OA shoes and clothes.
Jessica: Oh, yes. Absolutely, for sure. As far as the Merchant Fulfilling, I think we would be more interested in doing that if we had some more help. That shopper and packer that we hired back in 2019, fast forward to three weeks ago, they both quit. They are a husband and wife team and they decided that they wanted to move on and do something else. We are so excited that they did that because they’re starting their own business and we’re happy with that. However, it leaves us right at the very moment, it is just us two and our teenage daughter. We’re treading water.
Joel: We’ve brought someone else on board. He’s starting at the end of this week.
Jessica: Yes, he’s just not here yet.
Jim: On that long list of, you know what? We have to try this. Let me bump that concept of FBM, Merchant Fulfill, on some of your top ASINs. Figure out your top 20 or 30 ASINs and take a look at the Merchant Fulfill possibility. You guys could have an extra $30,000 or $50,000 day sales easily in the bank this Q4. If you can get that right person in place in time, I’m sure that’s low hanging fruit for you guys.
Hey, sorry for the interruption. We’ll get back to the show in just a second. I wanted to throw in a quick reminder about our fantastic sponsor Payoneer. That’s payoneer.com/funding, up to $750,000 without a credit check if you’re an Amazon or Walmart seller, great terms, go check out what they have to offer our community. If you’re trying to grow your business and the thing holding you back is capital, they’re a great place to look to solve that problem fast, very flexible repayment terms as well, which is super cool. Payoneer.com, check them out, guys. Back to the show.
If you can get that right person in place in time, I’m sure that’s low hanging fruit for you guys.
Jessica: Yeah, that’s basically it. Last year, in 2020, we missed our $1 million mark by a very small margin. We’re okay with that because we took a whole month of February off to go snowboarding out in Colorado. We’re totally cool. That was fine.
Jim: That sounds awesome. How much of your crew was able to make it? Was it a family thing?
Jessica: It was, yeah, except for my son. He was stuck in basic training at that time. He didn’t get to go but my other daughter and her husband and their three girls came with us.
Jim: That’s so great. You took a whole month off and still almost hit $1 million. That’s awesome. We have to cover the margins. What’s your ROI margin? Give me the big numbers there.
Jessica: That’s you.
Joel: We’re gradually doing better with our profit margin. We have on the OA side, and this is why we still do it, we’re at a 28% profit margin. On the replens side, it’s down around the 19% to 20% depending on the month. Like you talked about, IPI, that’s a good reason to work some replens into your business, but it’s also – replens are also profitable. It’s just I guess the unit profit is not as good as some of the other items that you would find. It’s always a go to. That’s what makes it profitable. The other thing that I’ve found in starting this business from a number perspective is, because it turns so quick if you’re being careful on what you replen, because it turns so quick, you can have $40,000 a month in sales with $10,000 to $12,000 maybe $13,000 in cost of goods because turning over so fast and you can get those numbers to work that way, whereas on the other side, it does move a little bit slower so you’re going to have a little bit more inventory to get the amount of sales.
Jim: A little more work, a little slower moving for your profits on the thrill of the hunt model, the OA, the scanning barcodes, the hitting the clearance aisles, which still it’s hard for me to walk through a Walmart without at least glancing at the clearance aisle because I think so many of us started there and played around there and found some gold there. It’s hard to just ignore it but you can. You don’t need it now, which is a nice place to be. I’d like to hear a contrast because you guys are doing a healthy bit of both models, the scanning barcodes, looking for hot shoes, hot clothes that are discounted on sales price, and the boring replen like two bottles of ketchup bundled together, here it goes. We’re selling eight of these a month and making $12 doing it when it’s all said and done, but you ramp that up and you’ve got a business. You guys are doing both. Contrast the two a little bit more. Let’s dive into it a little bit more. Your numbers are right down the middle almost it sounds like, too, from what you said.
Jessica: Yeah, pretty much, yeah.
Joel: I think it’s important to have both because I find that it’s good to have a good base of replens but I think it’s important to also understand the amount of work that goes into sustaining it because it dries up quickly. If you’re not consistent with your shopping, packing, and shipping out to Amazon, that sale is not going to be there to give you the money that you need to do it again. It really comes down to paying attention to what your numbers are averaging out. If you’re averaging a $4 profit on each unit that you sell, how many do you have to sell to pay for the cost of your business and how many do you have to sell to pay for your income? It just comes down to putting in the work and being consistent with it because it’s pretty easy to average those numbers out and then come up with a weekly spend goal and a monthly spend goal, and if you’re reaching those amounts, then you’re doing the job that you need to. That’s what I like about the replens side. It works out the same on the OA, RA side, but I guess what we like to do on the OA, RA side is see how good we can do with those buys so that it increases our overall unit profit. If we can get a $12 or $15 unit profit versus the $4 to $7 unit profit, it helps the business overall.
Jim: Maybe we should do this for the new listeners, too, because we’ve gotten slightly technical. On a scale of one to ten, we’re at a four or five technical. Here for people who are new, they’re like, okay, I didn’t follow some of this. Split out in my mind, if one of your new students was saying, “Okay, you do RA, OA, scan barcodes, look for sales and stuff, and you do replens. Define the two for me.” Is there a clean line that breaks those two into two categories? It sounds like the same thing to a new seller maybe. How are those two different?
Joel: I guess Jessica is a little more strict about replens than I am. In my mind, a replens is there as long as it lasts. Even if I’m going to a liquidation store, like Aldi’s, I’ll count that as a replens as long as they have it in their inventory because it does work out almost the same with other replens that you find in Walmart or Target. It can become too competitive and it dries up for a period of time. Maybe you go back to it in six months and it’s profitable again. In my mind, a replens is something that you can go to weekly and as long as you’re willing to go to another store, it may not be in your local store but you go to your neighboring town and you can go pick it up so that you’re sending it in consistently at least twice a month, we try to get to where we were sending it in on a weekly basis on the replens side.
Jim: It’s boring predictable , easily sourced or maybe lower margin than the exciting thrill of the hunt stuff.
Joel: I find that it’s typically a lower margin, lower price point for most of those replens items that we’re finding. Some of them are on the higher side but very few. It averages out at around a $4 unit profit is what our typical replens are doing.
Jim: How many replens do you guys have?
Joel: Active probably between 350 and 400 that are active. We have 800, 900 that are there that we can go back to and probably add some more to that. We keep 350 to 400 active replens rolling.
Jim: Got you, beautiful. All right, Jessica, what’d he leave out, anything?
Jessica: Not so much. I’d just say that a replens is something that you can buy over and over again at the same price that you can always find it. You can always count on it to cost this much and sell for about this much.
Jim: Well put. Then everything else is the thrill of the hunt treasure, buy it while you can because it probably won’t be here next week kind of stuff. That’s exciting, too. I love it. We dove into your business, a little bit about your family. I know you guys homeschool, too. That’s been a consistent theme in our community. We tend to attract a lot of homeschool families. There’s plenty of families that aren’t homeschooling as well. How is having this business active under the roof, talk us through that a little bit. What are some of the challenges you’ve seen? What are some of the benefits you’ve seen? Not to go too deep into this because I know this could be a whole podcast theme for 50 episodes. We may do that at some point because there’s a lot of demand for it. Just hit the highlights for us.
Jessica: Homeschooling for us, some days we’ll get it done and some days we won’t. We try to be very flexible. We get the kids in here in the prep room with us and sometimes they’ll read to us or they’ll sit here right beside me and work their math while I’m on the computer searching for product. We try to mesh it all together. We’re trying to all work together. When Joel goes out, he doesn’t do as much RA as he used to. He’s been starting to do it again a little bit, go out shopping. He takes our 12-year-old with him, our son. Our son has learned how to read a Keepa chart and he has his own phone and he scans products. He can look at the Keepa chart and say, “Okay, this looks like a good one. What do you think, Dad?” Joel will say, “Yeah, this one’s a winner.” Caden will make some money off of that particular find. He’s making money –
Joel: It always pays to take him along. He does really well.
Jessica: He’s actually really good at it. Our 12-year-old, he does that. He does sourcing. Our 15-year-old is hands down one of the best packers you will ever find. She is very diligent and she works pretty quickly. She is very thorough. She’s very meticulous. She’ll let me know, “Hey, Mom, this has a mark on it or whatever. We can’t sell this.”
Jim: She’s the one that catches the expiration dates. That’s Ty in our family. That’s our Ty.
Joel: She’s very typical is slow is smooth and smooth is fast. She’s very thorough, very good.
Jessica: She works in here. We don’t pay her enough, I’m sure.
Jim: We won’t let her watch this episode.
Jessica: No, we won’t. I count that as part of their school. They’re learning how to be an entrepreneur. Neither of my children have said – my first two were a little bit different, but my second two, if you ask them what do you want to be when you grow up, they don’t talk about going to college, they don’t talk about getting a job. My daughter, Bella, will say, “I’m going to start a business. This is what I’m going to do.” My son, he’ll be like, “I’m going to start a business.” Both of them are very entrepreneurial. They’re always trying to figure out how they can make money creatively. They don’t even think about going to college and just getting a job. I think that’s pretty cool.
Jim: I do, too. It may be controversial in some places. I picked up on a couple of things you guys said. I just want to challenge a couple of things. Specifically, you said, “Sometimes we get school done, sometimes we don’t.” I would disagree with that. I think that being in an entrepreneur’s household and running a business with mom and dad is better than anything they could get out of a book or out of a classroom with a stranger up front of the room teaching a bunch of people the same age.
Joel: I agree.
Jim: It’s better. You guys get school done better on the days where the books stay closed, I would argue, than on the days where they have to go – and yeah, you need some basic math. Yeah, we have to hit some of these. We need to understand the history of our nation and there’s some things we’ve got to hit, but as a homeschool family, too, our oldest is 24, our youngest is 15, we’ve gone through the homeschool thing for quite a while now and we’re seeing how the kids are turning out based on this very loose system very similar to yours. Sometimes it’s like, hey, you know what? It’s a nice day. We’re going to the zoo. It’s going to be empty because it’s the middle of the day. We get all of the zoo workers who are passionate about what they do to ourselves. You can ask 100 questions. That’s better than any textbook on giraffes you could sit in a classroom. We have that experience. I’ve become very passionate the longer I’m in this homeschool entrepreneurial circle. Man, it’s hard to beat.
Without meeting your kids, I know your kids because I know how these kids turn out having been through that type of environment. Our kids are best friends with each other. They’re super sharp. They know what they’re passionate about. There are certain subjects they just don’t care about and I’m fine with that. You don’t have to be good at everything. I believe in the law of specialization. That’s biblical even. What are you made for? What’s that core? We don’t need 150 different subjects and go deep on all of them. That’s not necessary. I don’t want to maybe put anyone off or offend anyone by this but I’m becoming more pro-homeschool all the time. I see great families like yours and many families in our community. One of the challenges I hear sometimes, maybe you guys could tackle this with me, I just had a guest on the podcast, after we stopped recording here a couple days ago, I was talking to him about homeschooling. He’s considering it. He said, “No, I don’t feel qualified.” He’s running a successful business, got a great marriage, very entrepreneurial in mind, and he just doesn’t feel qualified to homeschool. What do you guys say to people who say something like that? I’m curious.
Jessica: I would say that anybody would be qualified because who’s the best expert on your child than you? You know that person’s strengths and their weaknesses. You know what they need, where they need to be challenged, and where they need to rein in, and where they need to be pushed forward. I would say anybody who is a parent is qualified.
Jim: I completely agree. We might have to start that podcast Facebook group at some point because we have a lot of people with some strong opinions on this subject. I think a lot of families – and many families have considered it and jumped. There have been a record setting number of people who have their kids home. I don’t know if I want to send them back to the school building. What do I do? Hey, let’s teach them business. Anything on that subject, Joel? Anything pop to mind before we move forward?
Joel: No, I think Jessica hit the nail on the head. She’s been primarily the homeschool teacher. I’ve done a little bit more of it in the last year or so but she’s much better at it than I am when it comes to the actual teaching part. We’ve always had that philosophy. That’s the one thing that I think kept our family stronger during military time was that she was always that rock for the kids and they were at home. If I was gone, they still had that stability of a stable family home life and the schedule and everything that mom brought to that. If you can homeschool, if you can make it work, if you get to the point where you’re developing your business where it pays for you to work from home, then bring your kids home with you and let them be a part of it and they’d be better for it
Jim: I completely agree. I haven’t met that entrepreneurial homeschool family that was a total disaster and they regret it. I haven’t met them yet. I’ve talked to hundreds and hundreds of families that have this entrepreneurial spirit. Let’s homeschool them, let’s teach them our values, enough to unlearn that crazy whatever it is they picked up at school today that doesn’t align with our family values. You don’t have to do any of that. We expose them to everything. Some people think, oh, you’re only exposing them to what you believe. No, we studied evolution. We studied all these other theories. Then we said, “Hey, here’s where our family stands on these important issues. Here’s what we believe. What do you think?” We’re able to have these great conversations and use the content and materials and classic literature that we wanted to use to educate our kids. I’ve yet to meet that family that goes, “Yeah, we homeschooled for about ten years and it was just a disaster. We had a business out of our house and it was terrible.” We just don’t meet those people. Everyone is like you guys, like us, like it was beautiful. We beat that topic up probably more than some people may appreciate but I had a good time. As we start to land this episode, which has just been tremendous, thank you guys. This was a longer episode. Any tips or strategies or challenges for the listeners as we start to wrap it up? Is there anything we left off that you guys would like to hit?
Joel: First of all, thanks a lot for having us on. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be.
Jim: It’s just a conversation. We could do this for hours, too, but we have to stop it at some point. Thank you, guys.
Joel: I think what I’m learning with business is that it’s really important to just be consistent with what works. Don’t get distracted with things that may seem appetizing or whatever. If it’s not working, just go back to what works. Then along with being consistent, I need to challenge myself to be willing to learn and step outside of the box sometimes because I can be that lone wolf that doesn’t like to reach out and to learn from others but if you’re willing to do that, it can definitely grow your business because every conference we’ve gone to, whether it’s the Legends or CES or Proven, we’ve come back with something new that we’re going to work on, something new that ends up really being long-lasting and improving the business. If you can have the opportunity to learn in-person, I feel like it makes a big difference for your business.
Jim: For sure, that’s great advice.
Jessica: Yeah, I guess learning not to compare your journey to somebody else’s, to run the mile that you’re in. I’ve run a lot of road races and when you’re at mile 13 and you’ve got to keep going to 26 and you’re thinking to yourself, how am I going to get through 17? How am I going to get through 18? What am I going to do about 21? I think a lot of Amazon sellers do the same thing. My students will come to me and they’ll say, “What am I going to do when I get that IP complaint? What am I going to do if they suspend me?” I just try to encourage them to run the mile that they’re in. Just keep what they’re doing right in front of them. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Just keep moving. When those things come, we’ll figure it out. We’ll run that mile when we get there.
Jim: Some people may say, that’s tripe, that’s simple, but no, that truly is the key. One of my mentors says if I only could give you one secret to success in life and I had to sum it all up into one short phrase, one short thing, the most powerful thing I could share with you to succeed is do what must be done when it must be done. Don’t worry about what’s going to happen. What about this and just become consumed with what if this happens, what if that happens. No, go find more replens today and send them in tomorrow, you’re going to get more money. Go find more replens and build a system and grow.
I love, too, Jessica, that you hit on a little, to introduce a topic, this fear that people have, what if this happens, I know a guy that happens, I know to this day we’ve trained thousands and thousands of students. I know fewer than five people who have been permanently suspended on Amazon, less than five that I scratch my head and go, that’s weird. Two or three of those cases, if they’d been persistent, I’m convinced we could’ve gotten their account back. With tens of thousands of people in our community, you’d think, but yet, so many new sellers go, “Oh, yeah, I heard people get suspended so I’m not going to do that.” You’re operating out of fear and what ifs. I love that advice, Jessica. Just focus on what needs to be done, stick to the basics, do it, and don’t worry about the what ifs, because every challenge you’re going to run into, we’ve run into it 1,000 times already. We’re going to be here to help you. This stuff flat out works, as you guys have attested to. That’s tremendous. What else? Anything else on you guys’ list?
Jessica: I think that’s it.
Jim: Awesome, I love that you guys are part of our coaching program. I’m honored to get to work with you guys. It’s truly a pleasure hanging out with you a little bit today as well. Next event, we’re going to get out on an early morning run I stood you guys up this last one. I think we were all pretty wiped out day three. We thought we were going to do it but we didn’t get out. Maybe next time.
Joel: Looking forward to it.
Jessica: Yeah, next time.