Just a quick blog this weekend about books and my progress with Frank Florence’s coaching.
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:
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:
- 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.
- Signed 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!