Amazon Account Reinstatement and Suspension Prevention
April 12, 2015

Books, Automation and Coaching


Toppling booksJust a quick blog this weekend about books and my progress with Frank Florence’s coaching.

Books

Yep. Not nearly as sexy as some of the other topics out there but a steady-eddie money maker. With Frank Florence’s ScoutBotPro (see below) I can now find high-value books on Amazon for a low price that I turn around and resell on Amazon for a higher price. I was skeptical at first but I’ve gotten some pretty cool deals. So far I don’t see this replacing my book business or books being a fully automated solution for me (there aren’t enough of these deals every day), but I appreciate it as a supplement. It brings me opportunities I wouldn’t have found by myself. I control the rank and the profit I want to make and the little robots send me deals that match.

It is fun to have a new way to find books, but the bread and butter of my book business are still book sales, thrift stores, discount book stores and a few happy surprises (my car wash was giving away boxes of books yesterday day for free – weird! Wonderful!).

I went to a book sale yesterday where I was the only scanner. In two hours my worker and I cleaned the place out. I will easily make $1,000 from this haul and I spent $113 plus two hours of my helper’s time. Everything was well below 1M in rank, most were below 500K.

Experiences like this are why books are so cool and why I highly recommend books as a starting point for new sellers who may not have a lot of budget to spend on inventory. Even when you do have money to buy new inventory, you may want to consider books because of their high returns, their ubiquity and low cost to purchase. I sell books on Amazon every single day.

I teach a class on book sales twice a year in the Dallas area. I have one coming up next week. If you are serious about books, you should consider this class. Besides the training, we work the sale hands-on together. Since I am right there to see you scan, I can help you figure out what might be causing “inventory blindness” and fix it on the spot. I only offer these classes twice a year because when I’m with you, I’m not scouting for myself. The classes are small so I can give everyone personal attention and answer everyone’s questions.

In case you missed them the first time around, here are some of my most popular blogs about books and how to work a book sale:

How to Work a Book Sale

My Interview with Amazon Bookseller Nathan Holmquist

Coaching

I promised to write about my experience automating my business with Frank Florence’s coaching. Having declared my desire to be automated by the end of the year to over 4500 of my readers, I’m highly motivated to succeed! I gave myself more than six months simply because I am actually running three businesses and I knew that they would slow my progress somewhat.

Boy, was I right about that! My reinstatement and other consulting services have taken off like a rocket and I’m busier than I ever anticipated helping other sellers get reinstated. Interestingly enough (for me anyway), that has actually forced me to automate and delegate a lot faster than I thought.

Here’s what I’ve done to date:rosie the robot

  • Signed up for ScoutBotPro and trained my assistant to find and acquire deals for me. I give her a budget and tell her when she can’t buy. This is necessary because I now have access to more inventory than I can possibly buy with my current resources. SBP looks for deals on Amazon that can be flipped in books, beauty, toys and more. I’m using my 30 day free trial to test all the categories.
  • Consulted with Frank Florence. In the beginning he looked at my inventory and gave me suggestions for upgrading my inventory. Now I send questions to him by email and he answers. It is very helpful to have someone to talk to (email to) who has already done this. I’ve more than gotten my $197 worth from the coaching program already. If you missed it, check out my blog about his program.
  • CyberMonkey-lgSigned up for CyberMonkeyDeals from ScannerMonkey. This program is the BOMB! It looks on retail sites for deals and sends you a certain number a day. The deals are distributed randomly so that there are fewer sellers looking at the same deal. I am at the $40 a month level (I get a discount because I’m a ScannerMonkey member) and it more than paid for itself the first week. What makes this program so cool is that analysis tools are integrated into the program for thorough research and decision making. In addition, it is set up for people like me who have assistants. Shem reviews all the opportunities and then clicks the best ones as “favorites.” When I log in, I only need to look at the favorites. As I look at them, I “un-favorite” them so she knows what I’ve seen. It is an excellent system that has led to some purchases I would not have found on my own.
  • Automated my bookkeeping. I gave Shem limited access to all the various reports and statements my bookkeepers need. She uploads them to a private FTP site, the bookkeepers do the work. I use Quickbooks Online so it was easy to give them secure access. This service is costing me $65 a month which is much cheaper than my CPA.
  • Automated Sales Tax – I was already automated but I thought I’d share what I do. I’m in 10+ states. Shem helped me get set up originally and then I went in added all my banking info to each state’s online portal once we were set up. Every month, she uses TaxJar to file my sales tax and record what she paid. The money comes out of my bank account and then she sends me confirmation that the task is done. I can go into Taxjar and look as well. It is all online and very convenient for me now that it is set up.
  • Hired a Lister – Again, I had done this before but I’m mentioning it here. If you can hire someone to process your inventory it is a tremendous time saver. While I’m on the phone and computer helping sellers get reinstated, my Lister is busily processing hundreds of inventory items every week. He works 3 days a week currently. I have a regular UPS pick up on Friday.
  • Focus on Replens/Identified new wholesalers – I look at retail arbitrage as a way to identify items that might be good wholesale replenishments (replens). I gave Shem a list of items I wanted to source, she found them and I made orders. Many, many places have dropped their minimum orders to $300 and some are even less at $100. This makes it easy for me. I’m mostly working with local wholesale sources. For an order of at least $300 they will deliver for free which is doubly awesome. With others the prices are so low that even with shipping I’m doing better than if I bought the item in a retail store. I like local suppliers because I can check them out, go to their showrooms and generally feel confident they are not selling me counterfeits.
  • Trained/training Shem – Not only have I trained her personally to manage most of my Amazon admin stuff and reports, but I hired Brad DeGraw’s team in the Philippines to train her on how they automate Brad’s business and research deals for him. I figured there are things that we don’t do yet that we could – I simply haven’t thought about it yet. Rather than wait for inspiration, I thought I’d learn from an expert. I’ve been training her on how to use my tools (ScanPower’s Webscout in particular which totally rocks online arbitrage – we use it every day) to determine a good deal for me and I’d like to see what else she can learn from Brad’s team. She’ll be in training next week. Brad has a free report on how to train a VA that was very helpful to me in the beginning.

My business is not yet fully automated. It still relies on me for a lot of the purchases. However, I’m making noticeable progress. Because I’m still training my Lister and Shem, it requires more of my time than it will in the future.

I’m in a mastermind group where we are focusing on developing wildly creative bundles and private label items. I have not been able to participate as much as my colleagues (who are kicking ass!) but I have some plans. Now that I have a Lister to actually process the items, it is a matter of sourcing and pulling it all together. This kind of product takes more time than jumping on an OA deal, but I see it as the long-term solution for my business – products that have little competition and that I can sell over and over again.

Stay tuned for another update in a month or so!

Cheers,

Cynthia


Visitors Comments

  • Tony

    I always love checking in with your blog… you are making this a very scalable business… Keep on, Rocking on !!

    Reply
  • Manuel

    another great post Cynthia, thanks for the insights. Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  • Patricia

    Cynthia, super great post as always! I do understand ROI. I’ve just signed up for the free trial of Scout Bot Pro and wondering, what possible did you set your ROI at? If you don’t mind sharing that info and what personally you feel would benefit a business that is trying to grow. I am ‘O’ so needing to Automate and Grow Grow Grow!
    Thanks Muchly

    Reply
    • Cynthia Stine

      Patricia,

      I’m experimenting with my ROI to see which settings bring me the best deals without too many deals I don’t want. This is my way of saying I’ve not quite zeroed in on the perfect setting for me. What I’ve been doing is setting an ROI and then watching my leads for a week or so and then trying something else. Start high and work your way down. You will get fewer deals at 100% than 55%, obviously.

      Cheers,
      Cynthia

      Reply
  • Mark Heppner

    Any conclusions on the Scoutbotpro 30 day trial?

    Reply
    • Cynthia Stine

      Mark,

      I tried it in all the categories and I ultimately concluded that there were too many bad deals to sort through and I stopped my subscription. I was getting a lot of emails every day and most of them were bad. Even with my VA going through them, it wasn’t making me the money that I needed it to make me to make it worth paying them to sort through the river of emails. I’m investigating several other similar OA services and plan to write a blog post in the future about my experiences. Essentially, they are all flawed because so much of the process is automated and there is no human intelligence behind what the machine spits out. I’ve tried Scoutbotpro, CyberMonkey Deals and I’m currently in the free trial for Seller Sleuth. I use Evaluate by ScanPower to help me look at wholesale deals. In addition, I’ve trained my VA to search for deals for me independent of any service. HOWEVER, it is taking a long time to get someone else up to speed on how I look at a deal. My VA is super, but she’s not me. There are a lot of deals from these services that look good on paper (pixels?) and then aren’t a good deal when you really look at them closely.

      My goal with using a service is to be able to look at a relatively few deals every day and have them be good ones. I’m not there yet. One deal today, for example, looked great on paper until you realized how big the item was and how much it weighed (a step-ladder). All of a sudden that good deal yielded $2 of profit instead of $37. Seriously, it was that bad. Even with the manufacturer shipping it directly to Amazon for me. Sigh. I would have to charge closer to $100 for that item (that is currently selling for $49.99 MF on Amazon) to make it worth my while. I don’t know how that MF seller is doing it since they are also offering free shipping. Anyway, I understand why my assistant thought that was a good deal and I don’t blame her for not catching the “gotcha,” in there.

      What everyone needs to know is that ALL the services I’ve seen so far no matter how nice the interface and how easy to use have the same types of issues where a lot of the deals are bad when you dig in.

      There is also the problem of other people getting the same deal and acting on it. I have a whole bunch of mason jar accessories that I will seemingly never sell for the right price that I bought through CyberMonkey Deals. With ScoutBot Pro’s book flips, at least, you either got the deal or you didn’t. There was a limited amount to buy and once you jumped on the deal, no one else could. Like I said, though, there wasn’t enough there to make it worth the time and effort for me. I can spend 2 hours at a book sale and walk out with $1,500+ in good inventory for about $300.

      You are getting a preview of my upcoming blog post! Anyway, hope that helps!

      Cheers,
      Cynthia

      Reply
  • Sherry

    Cynthia,

    I am very curious about the coaching with Frank Florence and has it lived up to your expectations. I am considering taking the plunge, but I am not familiar enough with his work to make an educated decision. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Sherry

    Reply
  • Judy J

    What is the next date for your class in Dallas? Thanks…great blog!

    Reply
    • Cynthia Stine

      Judy,

      I have no plans right now. I’m swamped with my consulting practice. When I do have classes I always send out an email and post it in my blog so keep an eye out! I’ll also post it on the DFW FBA group in facebook.

      Cheers,
      Cynthia

      Reply
  • Daniel Levine

    Hi, Cynthia. I hope you’ll answer my question! As you know, I can get an author’s price discount for my books on Amazon. This pricing is much better (almost double my net…except it takes my time) than customers ordering on Amazon directly. Is there any program you know that can place orders on Amazon using my author discount pricing…or must I continue to place the orders manually by going into my Amazon account and ordering fulfillment from there?

    Thank you in advance of your response. Best wishes! Daniel.

    Reply
    • Cynthia Stine

      Daniel,

      I use createspace to manufacture my books which means I can log in to createspace and have books sent to me in any quantity. I often have them shipped ahead to speaking engagements, etc.

      In addition, I send books to customers through createspace for review purposes or if they buy them from me. I make more money than if they buy off of Amazon and it is easy to do online (especially when you have a VA to do it all! LOL).

      If I wanted to, I could set it up so that buyers can buy my book from me on my website and handle their own checkout and everything through createspace. This is completely hands off for me. The reason I don’t do this (yet) is I’m trying to keep my rank on Amazon as low as possible. There is currently more value to me having a “best-selling” book on Amazon than the extra few dollars per book. This is because I have a back-end to my book – my consulting – which I’m trying to support. It is in my best interest that lots of people read my book.

      With my first book I’ve made it so that buyers can also get the softcover from me (it is bundled with the Kindle version – they get instant access and the book in the mail a few days later). It is a well established book and there is no back end. The only money I make is from the book itself.

      Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Cynthia

      Reply

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