426 : Mendy Lipszyc – Take stock of the skills you are learning on Amazon – They might come in handy
So, good lede? Yes Mendy does not sell on Amazon any longer. (He might come back someday) But he honed some pretty strong skills and took advantage of them to find (create) an opportunity after Amazon. Great episode if you want to find out with people who you know longer see posting in the Facebook groups. If this is a phase in your entrepreneurial career then make the most of it. Learn everything you can. Learn what you like and more importantly what you don't.
Are you looking forward to 2020 are you looking forward to finally having better control of your business and knowing your numbers? Hi everyone. I'm Anna Hill, CPA e-commerce seller and founder of the popular accounting. We will go Facebook group and my podcast, Amazon accounting podcast. I repeat the phrase, know your numbers so often because I believe that is the key the top sellers have that makes the difference to their success. They can see what is working and more importantly what isn't working. They make adjustments on the fly and they get to do it every month because they have good, strong monthly financial statements. Now, I know it sounds intimidating to figure out how to get from where you are now to that place of having monthly financial statements like these top sellers have. But that's why we created the course Amazon accounting simplified, which will help you understand what it takes to set up, maintain and really manage your business.
With QuickBooks online in the course we break down step-by-step all that is necessary to know your Amazon specific business. Learn how to handle cost of goods, sold, inventory operating expenses in so much more. We even teach you how to reconcile your Amazon statements so that you know how much you've earned from Amazon. We will help you understand what it takes to systematically get accurate monthly financial statements so you can be better prepared for success in 2020 finally, Oh, we'll even help you get ready for the tax returns when it's tax time. So this is the year you're finally ready to take action and this is the year that you want to get control of and work on your business and not in your business. We are here to help. The course can be started at any time and we'll allow you to pause, understand, and implement what we have learned and what we've taught you from real life e-commerce examples before moving on to the next stage. Each section builds on each other with easy to understand and even easier to implement solutions for your business. Access is for lifetime. And you also have access to the free private Facebook group for all other students in the course. So if you're ready to take on that journey, then get the course. Please go to accounting. We will go.com forward slash momentum and get the course Amazon accounting simplified. Thanks so much guys. Once again, this is Anna Hill, CPA e-commerce seller and founder of the popular accounting. We will go Facebook group.
Welcome back to the e-commerce momentum podcast. This is episode 426 mentee Lipschitz. Mandy, uh, when you hear the date, how long ago? Since him and I talk it blow your mind, blew my mind hitting his two. We were really shocked and when he reached out to me and I knew that he's not selling on Amazon anymore, and I thought to myself, huh, that'd be interesting to talk to somebody. Um, his perspective is great. He took advantage of his time selling and applied it and now he's that much better at what he does. And in the after call, I, I we didn't, it didn't come out in the conversation. His time selling made his life so much better. It gave him perspective and man, wouldn't you like to have perspective? 20 years ago I would, I wish I got perspective 20 years ago or 19 years ago or 18 years ago. I might have it now, but I didn't have it then. And man, just think of how much further you would be. Well, he's a good example of it. Let's get into the podcast. Very interesting. And we'll come back to the e-commerce woman in podcasts. I, I'm going to take it back. I'm going to take us all the way back. Way, way back to my first year of podcasting. Mandy Lipschitz number 17, August of 2015. Welcome back. Mendi
Well, and, and this is going to be a story of life after Amazon. And so I'm going to jump to the conclusion, which is Mendi no longer sells on Amazon, but he still has an online presence and we're gonna talk about all that. But life has evolved for Mandy and his family and that's kind of the reason you reached out to me. Correct,
exactly. You know, uh, we've spoken before, you know, I always enjoy your podcast and you know, I feel, I felt that as I continue this journey of life, things just change and you know, you take lessons from what happened prior and apply it to your future successes as well.
I think that is just so smart. I mean, um, I think it's Dan Wentworth who says this a lot. You know that this is a vending machine business. You know, you want to make your money as much as you can and jump out, you know, and now jump out his relative. He doesn't plan on jumping out. He's been jumping out for 20 plus years. So I don't mean it that way, but meaning that knowing that there is a life cycle, more than likely in a lot of this business, and if you're creating a brand, for example, you might sell that brand. I know a lot of people that have sold their brands or I know a lot of people who developed a brand and then the brain got consumed by competitors and they're no longer in that brand. Right? You, you know, a lot of those same people. So I think your approach, uh, the evolution of your business is an interesting story. Okay, so take us back. You were selling and six figures on Amazon, right? You've really figured it out. You really, you were, you were making some big buys at that point, correct?
Yeah. You know, we started off, as you know, back in the day and retail arbitrage and we built on our business, didn't add it. Our online arbitrage. And then at a certain point we found our niche and you know, you kind of develop, you always want to change what you're doing, et cetera. We found a niche that was working well for us and then we were doing a bet, $150,000 a month in sales at our best.
Well let me ask you, how did you find your niche? Because I think that's, that's interesting cause you, I mean you had an unusual niche, but how did you, how did that light bulb go on that? This seems to be a natural for us.
So my niche, my niche per se was actually a lingerie and it was unusual sizes. Lingerie. Now, something most people don't realize is most women are wearing the size broth they go through their life, not realizing that they don't need to be uncomfortable. Um, my wife luckily had been educated about wearing the right size bar. Um, and unfortunately for her, the closest place to purchase it was about a two hour drive away from us. Okay. And you've got to get fitted every, you know, year, because your bra size changes constantly. And so every year she would make a drive to the keys, two hours each way. You know, it was a full day trip. And she called me from there one day during our, uh, during our early days in the business. And she said, you know, this bar is $150. You know, does that make sense? What's it going for on Amazon?
And I pulled it up on Amazon. I said, Hey, there aren't many sellers. There's no, uh, Amazon fulfilled sellers and it's $150 is what it sells for on Amazon. We should reach out to the wholesaler. Um, at that point in time, I was already doing a call seal in the clothing line. I had a number of shoe, all sale accounts, um, as well as some other clothing. And so I reached out to them and I knew that the profit margins on clothing, you know, should be pretty decent on $150 bra. So I reached out to that company and that was our first Val lingerie vendor,
you know, so if you think about this, right, those listening. Okay. So pay attention to what he's saying. So he did RA learned, paid his dues, figured it out, watched and found a particular items. And I'm, I'm assuming that before that particular bra, you sold other bras, right? Uh, just as part of your RA, is that fair?
yeah. Okay. So you, you had learned that you'd learned that there's a market for it, so it's not a big deal to sell them, but then you realize that this specialty issue is, like you're saying, is that if people really pay attention to their body, that these things are important and, and so therefore people will pay a premium because that two hours of your wife's life that she could get back now is huge. Right? I mean, that's huge amount of time. And so the fact that you had already made the jump to wholesale or partial wholesale, getting past asking to be a wholesale vendor, right? You did trade shows or could, I've seen you at trade shows. She should shoot ones especially. So you've gotten past that. So again, these are skills that he's been building. All right. So when you go back and listen to Monday's original, you know, he was in sales so you could tell by his voice, he's very good at sales, but then he takes and applies it to all these different things and you come along and I don't want to lose this though. I think this is really important. Many you, you weren't able to just jump as soon as you joined an Amazon to go have that comfortable discussion with that wholesale vendor and get that unique bra you built all along, paid attention and learned, and then you were able to do that. I don't think you would have had success in the beginning. Is that fair?
It's definitely a fear thing. You know, you've got to know it. I don't call it sales. I call it relationship building. Okay. Okay. Ultimately, whether you're on the buyer end or the seller end, you're creating a relationship of trust. Okay. And if someone trusts you, you can do business. If they don't trust you, I'm like a really bad experience. I had tried to buy used cars today. You're not going to do the business. Um, actually let me jump back in time a little bit. I don't know if I've previously mentioned as about one of my early jobs being with New York life as a life sales insurance agent. Have we ever mentioned, discussed that the fire
Absolutely. So I want to share one of the most, I mean we all have experiences in life, which was really just a life changer. And so let's jump back to when I was 18 years old. Okay? When I grew up, I was always the guy that was socially inept. You know, if there was a party, I was the guy hanging out by the wall hoping to just disappear. And that was, I just lacked confidence. And at around age 19, I was looking for a new job and somehow I found a job. I applied for a job as a life insurance sales agent for one of the largest New York life, uh, branches in New York city right next to the parents central station. So I go in, they give you this aptitude test, which back then was pretty new. Nowadays most jobs make you fill them out.
And I still to this day don't understand what they saw that they said, okay man, D go ahead and take your test and let's get you started. So I show up for my first day and it's classroom training like two, three weeks before you can do anything. And the first thing they do is, which we've all been there, they go around the circle. Okay everybody introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about yourself. And as somebody who's lacks the confidence that I did at the time, that's the point where you want the ground to open and you just get swallowed off. Right? So there I am sitting in this circle when you know, looking at, Oh shoot, five people to me, four people before me, three people. When I come to a realization, not one person in this room knows me. Okay. So first of all, I can portray whoever I want and that becomes who they think I am.
And second of all, if they think I'm an asshole, these aren't my friends. I don't know anybody here, what do I care? And with that thought in my mind that came up to my turn and I just came off as I'm mr brash Trump and it's coffee. I'm going to be the number one New York life sales agent in this office within six months. Okay. And that was one of my light bulb moments that changed who I am. Okay. And it makes me, it gives me the ability to project that and be mr confidence and not necessarily always want to be mr asshole, but you know, be mr confident, build those relationships and get where I need to be. Okay. Now fast forward, I'm going to share a little secret about my trade show experience cause I know it's me and you have been on the circuit long enough.
We've been by some of the same trade shows. Um, you know I used to go to a lot of trade shows in Vegas, but clothing shows, the laundry shows, shoe shows, et cetera and close out shows. And I'm going to be honest, every single trade show I went to, the first 20 minutes or so I was back to being mr 18 year old. I'm not confidence, but I would force myself to do it and as soon as I started getting the first person who was willing to talk to me, it would just turned on and I'm like, see, you can do this, you're mr confidence. Um, and I would be right back on my rhythm and be able to build those relationships. Okay. Because essentially if you've got a relationship, I always say if you trust the person you're doing business with, if they trust you, you can sell them anything.
That makes sense. So you can turn that on and you turn that off. Is it now wrote for you? Meaning like, like you said that you know in your current business, which we'll get to but it just comes right out because it's, you flip the switch. Okay, I'm on. And then flip the switch because the risk there Mindy, is that could suck the life out of you to where I tried to be. I always say that when I try to be on all the time, like when we go to these conferences and Andy Slamon's always says the same thing. You say it, you're talking to hundreds of people. I mean, cause everybody you know wants to talk to you. Right. So you talked to hundreds of people. By the end you're exhausted. It's sucked the energy out of you. Do you experience that in any way?
No, I don't think so because to be honest, I love who I've become. I love being mr. confidence. Okay. I enjoy helping people, talking to people, those relationships. I love it. The only aspect that I really, I was saying about beginning of trade shows and it still is, I will even say today at times, if I have to every, every now and then to keep my skills fresh, I'll do some door knocking and the first 15, 20 minutes, even though I know the results are guaranteed, I know if I go out and do the right things, I'm going to succeed. Okay. Every now and then those self doubts creep up. And I think, uh, you know, Koby Bryant just passed away. It's a shame. Um, but I just saw a quote attributed to him or something along the lines about how he had had his self confidence issues as well.
So, you know, you're talking about one of the greatest basketball players out there, you know, who we know, if we put Coby boy hits on the court and tell him to take this many shots from the free throw line, X amount of percent he's going to get in. Yeah. He may miss the first one. He may miss the second one, but if I tell him to throw a thousand shots and he's going to get 800 shots in or whatever, his percentages, right? So that's the same thing in every business out there. You know, if you apply yourself and you put yourself into it, you know you're going to get the results. And that's what I tell myself every time I go out is, you know, Hey, get past that. Even if there's something uncomfortable, get past that because that's where you succeed.
Well, the other thing you said earlier is you knew you can help people. So you're going at it from a point, look, I want to buy your merchandise and sell it at a price where I can make money. So win-win, right? Uh, and I'm gonna pay you and I'm, you can trust me to pay you. And that kind of thing. I think there's, you know, it's funny, I just came from a trade show last week and it's such a different conversation than it was even four or five years ago, because back then Amazon was so new to all these companies. I approach it differently. I assume every single booth at these trade shows now sells on Amazon a hundred percent. Matter of fact, I found a toy company, uh, I'll tell this story. Um, they, you know, I grew up, I liked the product. It's very inventive.
I liked the concept and I'm like, huh, that's interesting. And I S I look on Amazon and sure enough they're selling their [inaudible] and they don't have enough photos. And so we get talking and, and I'm like, well, we sell on Amazon. And he goes, yeah, we have somebody. And I said, do you have a second person? He said, no. So needless to say, we ended up being the second person because I added value to his conversation. So I assume they all have, they all sell, but I gave him something, something of value. Right. That's the approach you're talking about. But that's what you say you're going to help them. I want to buy that, sell their stuff, but I'm going to pay for it. So it's not like they're doing me a favor, you know, I'm going to be doing them a favor too. I mean, that's kind of the way it's suppose, isn't it? And that the way [inaudible]
before you get, give me for you that that's what it's about. I mean, if you look at the greatest salesman out there, and I'm going to be honest, it's part of my, what I do now, it's the first thing I do. And every client that I walk into, every potential client that I walk into, my goal is first of all, and I say it to them straight out. I say, listen, first thing I want you to know is I want, when I walk out of here, whether you hire me or not, I want you to have gained something that for the rest of the life you're going to have this information. And I go ahead and give them right at the beginning some information that's going to be useful for them. Okay. Because you've got to give before you get
well, that just makes common sense. And the fact that you're doing it. Continuing on. So back to where we were, you, uh, created this whole, you built these building blocks. It didn't and I, I get this a lot cause you know, most people listen to my show where newer sellers, you know, you outgrow me and I don't get offended by that. I, I understand that. That makes perfect sense to me. You're a newer seller. You're coming along. Every one of these challenges we have all gone through. So we've got a lot scars from going to those trade shows. Right? Many. How many times were you told, Oh no, nine, nine 99% of the time. Right.
there are a lot of nos. But then when you got a yes, like you said, that builds the confidence. And then when you have success record and you could bring, go back to those clients and say, are those potential site? Well this is a client of mine. This is a client of mine. Or you know, we buy from them, we buy from them, we buy from them. Now all of a sudden it's a different discussion because if they trust you, you, it, it opens the door. So we've all been through this, but it took time to build this. And I think that's one of the coolest things about Mindy's story is that he got to that place of uniqueness and identifying your niche. Okay. So we got to the niche, uh,
custom lingerie. I'm just going to jump in and add something that you just reminded me about. It's actually pretty funny. Um, and it goes to relationship building as well. If you remember Dave Shannon and Senate love Dave Shannon. Yep. Yep. So you did a podcast with Dave a little bit after you did with me and I listened to it and it was actually one of my favorite episodes that you did. Um, and I said, wait, I'm in the shoe industry. I wasn't really, I wasn't in a all seal very much at that point. I wasn't doing any laundry at that point. And I said, you know, this guy's doing seven figures. How do I not know this guy? Cause he wasn't on the radar in anybody's books at that point. And so I reached out to Dave and I said, Hey Dave, let's talk. It's a shirt. Here's my number.
We call. We spoke for an hour and a half the first time. And then he said, Hey, you know what, there's this trade show in New York. I'm planning on going to and me, you and Dave ended up going to that trade show. You remember that one? We had lunch somewhere. Yeah, we had lunch somewhere. Yep we did. We did. So anyways, that was my first shoe show and I went in and ready to get a bunch of notes and I got a lot of notes and however going on your points once you get some, there was one company I had never heard of at that point. Okay. And, but you know, I went to each one and tried to get an account and it was bionic. Are you, are you familiar with bionic? Okay. So turns out that bionic is like one of the top five or seven largest shoe brands out there actually. But I didn't know that, but I went up and I had to, you know, cocky confidence, I can help you guys and I've got an account with them. And that was one of my most valuable accounts. And then once I found out how valuable it was and et cetera, it was like writing my own ticket with most shoe companies. When I came in and I said, listen, Hey, here's some of the brands I work with, I work with bionic, I work with. It's instantly you have that relationship building credibility. You've got credibility. Exactly.
So, so you build this, and again, this is, you know, maybe it's like a, like a kind of a like Dave Ramsey call it like a, what he does, his debt snowball. It's like pushing you, right? All of a sudden you start to get this momentum right with what you were describing and then you take and you apply it to the lingerie industry. And as most people, and I S I assume Andre works the same way, so that $150 bra, you're paying Keystone 75 probably for it. Correct.
we sell socks. We sell socks and they're way better than that. Yeah. So it's Oh, minus five. Okay. And then you gotta pay shipping, which should be a percentage, but they're not a lot of weight. Okay. And there's not a lot of weight. Doesn't matter. It's not, they don't take up a lot of space. Um, when you buy a bras, are they by the size each one unique or are they giving them to you in some kind of case pack arrangement where a predetermined case pack [inaudible].
So that goes back to specialty sizing. You know, if you were to go buy some of the cap companies that are pretty much small, medium, large standard sizing, et cetera, they may do a case back. But overall you're actually buying it by the single.
Okay. Beautiful. Well that's the way you want it ideally in that world. Right? Because that's when you can pick and choose the premium stuff. Okay. So you take and you apply this, and what do you do with this? You used to tell an Amazon, but you have this different idea. Talk about that.
So after seeing the success on Amazon, okay, but you know what, among all my buddies has the lingerie guy, um, and talking, you know, my wife's friends [inaudible] I gotta say it always made for great ground stations. So when we were, um, over by friends' houses and you know, the wives always, you know, teasing me about knowing more about laundry than they do. Um, but you know, the common theme I'm getting from all of these people is, you know, there's nowhere for me to shop. Okay. I live in Miami. Okay, well, we lived in Cincinnati, which is much smaller than Miami. My wife had her choice of two stores in Cincinnati where she can go shopping for these brands. And we come to Miami and the closest paces in places in the keys, a two hour drive each way. So I said, okay, there's gotta be an opportunity over here. You know, let's go ahead and experience at the time we're flush with cash. From our Amazon business. So we'd go ahead and dump cash into, you know, I chose to look kosher, found the store, great learning experience, learning retail, totally different ballgame. And the flip side is it's going to open my doors to some accounts that don't want an Amazon sellers.
So let's pause here. So you open a brick and mortar, brick and mortar. Okay. But before we go there, it's different than a general where you're going to fill the shelves with all this inventory. So I don't want people to think that he, uh, had a front little space and a giant warehouse in the back full of inventory. Um, to me, and this, I don't know how many years ago we were, we were in Atlanta together and we were talking about this, the genius part about that. It's kind of like these mattress companies, people opened up, you really just had a showroom, correct?
No, actually not. Okay. So my transcript was also a little unique and what I want, I wanted, again, I know from, I'm not, I'm a guy, so I did go through the process, although my wife always tease me that I need to get fitted one time. So I know what it's like. But I know what I know from hearing my wife that, you know, if you're a woman you can be sitting in this dressing room. I'm trying on all these different bras for half hour an hour, sweaty, tired, not in the mood of being there. So I want them to create a luxury, nice, enjoyable experience. So, you know, we built large dressing rooms. Okay. We had bottles of water in the drastic group. It was a very comfortable experience. So you had the front of the store was just really some, um, several sides hanging up as well as very elegantly designed.
You know, I wanted it to be a classy place, an artsy type of place where people enjoy coming to. And we kept just about all the sizes and stop now, you know, some of, if they want this special fashion designs that would be special loader and whatnot, but most pretty much the experience was they walked in the store. If they came with their husband, he sat up front, they were escorted back to this nice dressing room with plenty of space and arm chairs and just a nice comfortable experience. And the fitter would bring back sizes that she thought were right and you know, first determine the size. And once they determined the size, she bring, um, different designs in that size. So that it was more like, I guess the personal shopping experience when you're sitting there relaxing and everything was brought to you in the changing room.
Hmm. Okay. So that, so it was really a boutique approach, maybe that's the better term. Correct. Yeah. Okay. So it wasn't, it's not like a general brick and mortar. It's a boutique. So the clients that are coming there are very unique and very specialized. They would, you would be able to fit them, find out what they want and then, um, did, did you think that they were going to be repeat customers? Is that the model that you're building it on? Absolutely. Okay. So it was, it was geared towards that. That's the thinking. Okay. So one location or did you think of multiple locations. Okay. How long, how long did you have that location? I want to say it was about a year and a half. About a year and a half. Did you continue to sell on Amazon while you were doing that? We did. In fact, we did a unique combination.
Okay, so you had it ready to go, you were doing, it was a seller fulfilled prime, is that what it was? Exactly. Okay. And so you were shipping out every day, looking back, looking back now it's closed. Did it in a bad way or did it close because you made a decision to go a different direction and please be honest, I'm not going to judge you.
Absolutely. You know, end of the day, there were a lot of changes that happened at the same time, both in an in the Amazon world that are affected our online business and therefore that affected cash flow, which in turn affected the store as well. The store was, let's just say it wasn't a money lost. Um, it didn't really make much either.
Okay. Okay. So it's a kind of a push and when you get up every day and at the end of the year, um, when you have a push, you've got to sit back and say, was it worth it? When you think back, you know, and I know we're on the other side of it now, do you think it was worth it?
It's a great question. I'm, it was definitely worth the experience, the knowledge, it gave me the challenges that make me a better, better at what I do. Okay. Okay. From a purely numbers standpoint, no, it didn't add up. Okay.
All right. So in the end, you know, cause we, you know, you hear this or you heard this a lot back in the day, Oh open a brick and mortar cause then it gives you access to get more wholesale accounts, you know, and all that kind of stuff and that there is some truth to that. Okay. Um, but now looking at looking at now where brands are saying they want a brand representative so they have one Amazon account representing them, that kind of thing. That changed that whole world. Yeah, you can get an account but you're not going to get the majority of the business because they're going to, they've narrowed their focus. We've lost so many wholesale accounts because they chose somebody who's better at running their business for them. And I understand that. I respect that. If you invested a lot of money into a storefront, you could be talking a lot of problems. Is that fair?
Yeah. I mean one of the big, jumping ahead over here, one of the biggest things on Amazon tele faces is high cost of goods. Meaning we can be caring. If you want to be a successful Amazon seller, if you are a special salad, all right? And Hey, even if you're not a successful seller, you may be holding onto 200 300 $400,000 cost of images.
It's hard how and when you have, when you have a brick and mortar, you have salaries, right? You have a, you know, rent. Obviously your rent there is a little more expensive than a warehouse rent. I would assume. It absolutely is a lot more like four or five times usually. Yeah. Um, what other, what other costs come with that?
Um, I mean, you've got the employee cost, the overhead costs. Now the biggest costs that I would say that we had there is we had to have a lot of inventory. Now the turnover in the store is nowhere near as high as Amazon. Okay. So when you're holding out to $50,000 a cost of inventory, just so that you have the product in the store, um, that product is not moving nowhere near as fast as Amazon and they can, can create, uh, issues.
Okay. So our goal in our business for our Amazon inventory and we have the other businesses, but our Amazon inventory, 60 days, that's our turnover. We want to turn over that inventory in 60 days. That's our target. So we're very careful what we buy. Um, what would you say it was in the retail business? What would you guess?
Four to six months. Yeah. Because usually you'll see three months of payment terms. Right? That was the way it used to be. 90 to 120 days used to be 90 and then it moved to 120 because that would be that by the time the vendor was or the store was able to sell through in 90 days, they were able to pay their bill and their vendor would wait for 90 days to get paid. So that kind of makes sense. Um, did, did you, like you said you took that same inventory and put it up on Amazon, but my bet my guests on that specialty stuff, certain sizes or certain types sell better than others, but because you had to have a full suite of products, that's probably one of the big challenges. Correct?
Absolutely. I mean, you had to, you know, you didn't know. Again, we're talking about items that you order single units. Okay. Sometimes, you know, the better sound size of your sound to three. Um, my best selling sizes on Amazon were maybe five a units a month from Amazon. Okay.
yeah. Well that's fair. Right. Your average sale is a high, but, but is it also a distraction having the retail versus Amazon? Um, I mean to me that would be, seem to be, cause you had different challenges. You had, you know, your focus differently. Is that, could you explain a little bit of that, your experience with that?
Honestly, it wasn't, my focus in the store really was probably limited to maybe five hours a month, excuse me, five hours a week, six hours a week. Um, because I had a good staff in place to handle it. Um, the elements that I was involved in was pretty much product selection, which was combined with the Amazon business regardless. Okay. Meeting with vendors, et cetera. Um, as well as placing orders and a weekly staff meeting. So, you know, I will place orders once a week for, take me several hours and that was it.
Okay. So you were able to step away. Let me ask you this because I was just thinking that through a question for me. You're in Miami and you're selling kind of a, you know, a high end product. Were your Amazon the same as your Miami buyers?
So I got to say this was one of the coolest things was that there were many times. Now here's the thing again, you're buying a unique size, okay? Your fit size is going to be, you know, we all look at what was the Amazon metrics that show what percentage of people were happy with the fit. Okay? You're going to be way off when it comes to boss, you know, you're not going to have 90% satisfied, okay? So many times that return rate I think was about 18%, 20%. Um, and again, you know, that's all built into your margins and whatnot. But end of the day, many times the customers would purchase it on Amazon, see that it didn't fit, happened to notice on the mailing address that this was a local store and find us in cost and say, Hey, we have this site and can we return it to the store? Absolutely. Come in and we'll show you other stuff. It's that and then you build a customer.
Ah, okay. All right. So there's value there. Is that, is that kind of the concept right now where, where that Amazon pitches Coles, you know like, Hey, will you accept our returns and that customers walk in and you were bringing new customers for nothing. When Mandy, right now it's your job to sell them. Right? You think that's part of the pitch? Is that kind of the same concept?
I have no doubt because nothing beats having a customer walk through the door. You're done. But one thing, whether you're brick and mortar store, whether you're an Amazon seller or whether you're a, your own eCommerce store is get eyes on you. Okay? So whether it's walking through the front door, whether it's looking at your listing on Amazon or coming to your website, you know, that's what you want to do. So if you tell me all I have to do is offer a free service for customers to return it. Absolutely. I'll do that all day. Okay.
Definitely. Um, anytime a pass, almost every time that a customer was returning something to our store for our Amazon things, um, we would see a, we would see a CLI. Would you see more revenue per customer? Did you see more? Exactly. If they were returning one draw from Amazon, they were coming into the store and buying three, four flaws.
So is that your advice then to brands that are store brick and mortar stores? If there's somebody listening that if you're interested in getting customers, like you say, it's just so hard to get them in advertising being what it is, offer things for sale. And then in there have a return policy to come back to you. Absolutely. I like it. I think it's smart. I just think it's really smart and like you said, it would be great to, I mean some of my customers, some of the stuff we sell, I don't want to know who they are that would scare me to death. But some of them I would like to know. All right. All right. So you opened this store, you two things for a year and a half. What was the decision in closing it down?
Okay, so at a certain point Amazon got to love their algorithm changes, right? So cashflow is King. Amazon decides to flip their algorithm and almost overnight, you know, our sales started dropping. Okay. And sometimes you can figure out what that algorithm change is that caused that change. And sometimes you simply cannot. And we went from doing between a hundred $150,000 a month to doing like $50,000 a month. Pretty much. Almost. Almost overnight. Yeah. So I mean, you can imagine the panic. I mean, we hired a Cynthia to do a full audit of our account to see if there's any issues there, couldn't find anything. Uh, we tried all kinds of big staging keywords. This, that end of the day. Um, you know, when you're holding inventory that's long term and you're not turning over product and you know, it can start causing cashflow problems.
Let me ask you this, did, I mean looking back now, cause you're on the other side of it a couple of years, do you have any clue? I mean it did, did, did the market just change? Is that really what it is? Determined.
So I or did the number of other ad sellers, we believe that algorithm is that changed. Okay. So we were going up as a seller against some major companies. Okay. There are several major brands out there that specialize in this. Okay. And they have their own websites. They also have, some of them have brick and mortar stores chains and they have significantly higher inventory than me. Okay. So in hindsight, what we believe is a in large contributed to this was there used to be the benefit that if you were a fulfilled by Amazon seller, you got the buy box. Right.
Yeah. They and or they could have been paying for that. I mean that's very well could have made a commitment that gives them, yeah. Interesting. Okay. So, and this is one of those things that if you listen to my show, you hear me talk about this all the time, they never call an ask Mindy, here's what we're getting ready to do on the algorithm. What do you think? Right? Nobody ever called you to say, Hey, so things are gonna change outside of your control. Correct. It sounds so stupid to say it, but it's the truth. Things are going great and then all of a sudden they're not because they made a change for them because that's what they have to do. They have a responsibility to themselves and there are always repercussions. Somebody is always, you know, when you get the buy box, that means somebody else didn't get the buy box. Right. So that means it's affecting them. Right. And so it's just so important to understand that you've got to build a [inaudible]. I mean, is it a pivot point that you can pivot quickly? Would you say Mandy or what would you say?
So I will add that as well. Yes. You need to be able to pivot very quickly. Okay. I mean, you need to be able to turn on a diamond. You know, that's something we used to do a lot of. Um, but in this case there was, to be honest, we also delayed a little bit, you know, it must be temporary. Let's try doing this, let's try, and we tried doing a lot of fixes into them.
Let me ask you this, let me ask you this and be honest with me on this. Could the fact that you had a retail location be a distraction that didn't give you the urgency to act as fast as you could or should have? Or am I just reaching?
Okay. All right. And uh, and I well I mean I think the way you structured it made sense. So you gave it your all because you were so not narrowly focused because you had good system, good team, they were able to handle the other side. So that's a fair, I mean it's a fair question and a fair answer. Um, cause for me, I know I'm so distracted. I'm a one person, one operation at a time focus. So I struggle when I do more than one thing. Okay. So you decide to close it down. What, what, what did you think you were going to do? I mean you had to have some thoughts about what you were going to do.
Well, the idea was, well first of all, let's not focus, let's get shut the store down, see if we can flip that merchandise quickly on Amazon and see what we can do to pipe the pivot. Um, the decision to try to get out of lingerie as much of a focus was by the time we realized there were no other choices was too late in the game.
Okay. Okay. And so you had a bunch of inventory that you paid a lot of money for that you probably have to liquidate at this point, right? I mean cause you're not going to get that money. Like you said, that market changed pretty much. Okay. All right. So you do that. Would you, when you look at the skills that you learned through that whole experience all the way from Saturday selling on Amazon, I mean cause you sold for four for three and a half, four years, you know, building a, a seven figure business, I mean a six figures a month, I guess we, I'm going to make sure people understand that we're talking to a man. He got up there and sales and then building out this retail business. What would you say are the key takeaways that you learned that this, the skills that are now that sharpened on you? Maybe that's a better way to say it.
Ah, that's, that's a great question, Stephen. Let me think how to phrase this best. Some of the key skills. First of all, here's one thing I emphasized. You know, I've, I'm not the kind of person that's shy to share my experiences, good or bad with people. And some people look at me like, well, look at you. You feel that a business. And I say, actually, no. Look at some of the most successful business people. And this is something I believe before to look at some of the most successful, richest, wealthiest people out there. Okay. They've done things, they feel that and they learned from their failures. Okay. And end of the day, if you don't take risks, you're not gonna succeed. So end of the day, we had several years where we did very well, lived in very enjoyable life, thanks to Amazon. Um, but at a certain point it was time to say, okay, here's, here's one of the key things. Okay, here's the key points I'm going to make is you have to recognize when to move on. Yeah. Okay. Because it hurts. Don't stay on a Titanic till it thinks, right. And so, Hey, you know what? End of the day, believe in yourself. Okay. Believe in the decisions you make and good or bad and be ready. Be confident in yourself. Okay? So end of the day, I won't, I'm not going to lie. It wasn't an easy decision process. The Hey, this, you know, this was very enjoyable but it comes in end. Um, but end of the day, I'll be honest, the change in algorithm, the business ending, it was one of the greatest things that happened.
Yeah. [inaudible] are we back to 18 year old? Mendi in the corner finally gets the courage to come forward. Is that, is that why you are able to push through that? Now you can just turn again. You just turn, it comes on. Maybe you don't even turn it on. You just realize you have abilities. You know, you can get through this and you'll figure it out.
Exactly. Exactly. I mean, ends of the day, I know I have skills and I can go out and do something else. And so here's something I want to share. By the way, to me, one of the things I am happiest about for the reason it's changed. So first of all, I went ahead as a business person and I looked around and I said, well, what are people around me doing to make money? Okay, Amazon, did that, been there, done that. What else are people doing? And there's several things that I know a lot of people making a lot of money doing. Okay? So I looked and I knew a lot of people who are in the public adjusting business. So I said, okay, let's learn everything there is to know about it and let's own it.
Great question. So basically everybody out there who owns their properties, whether it's homes, their business, property, uh, condo owners, et cetera, should have insurance. Okay. But we sit there paying money every day to the premiums. And then went to have a loss. Insurance companies, I'm in the business of making money.
However, end of the day what happens is, is unfortunately a lot of people are significantly underpaid. Okay. An insurance company goes out there and either they're going to deny the claim or they're going to delay it, et cetera. Okay? So what I do is I basically protect the insured by coming out there and representing them. Now, being in this industry, I've learned the ins and outs of the industry and I know how to get the insurance companies to pay properly. Okay. And then ideal world, it shouldn't happen. Okay. You pay the premium in full, they should pay you in full when there are damages end of the day. Um, I was very involved with the, after hurricane Michael, there was an opportune time that I got into the field. I know many people out there that don't even know what happened in hurricane Michael, but it basically hit the hit the panhandle in what a year later they acknowledged was a category five.
Okay, Steven. I'm not kidding when I say it's devastating when you see what went on over there. Okay. Houses destroyed when I go back there today, there are still houses with trees cutting through the middle of it. Okay. It's much better than it was a year and a half ago. But it is devastating. And when I tell you the stories that I see over there, I saw a lady in her seventies who had significant damage source house insurance company came out and gave her a check for $683 Oh okay. And this is how I met her about eight months after the hurricane. The only reason I met her is because a friend of hers had used me and I had been able to help out. And one day she was talking with her friend about, you know, she was pretty much, she had thrown in the towel because a lot of people think this is the insurance company. Um,
From $683 to $60,000 so, exactly. Exactly. I mean, Hey, I can tell you stories all day. Well, let me ask you a question about that. Do you get paid it just, let's be up front. You do you get a percentage of that? Is that how it works? That you get nothing unless you get something for them? Is that kind of the way it works? That's exactly how. Okay. Okay. Can you say what percentage you get? Is that allowed to be said or is that okay? Okay. All right.
It's a broad statement. So insurance industry is the wild West in a certain aspect. The rules and regulations vary from state to state. Okay. And that's why it's so important to have somebody who knows what they're talking about. Does the research, even if they're, you know, I operate in three States right now. Okay. Um, but I make sure to know every rule and regulation that each state and how it applies. So for example, talk about lawyers. Okay. Many times, you know, like in every industry does the good players in the bad players. Right? Okay. So Florida is very unique when it comes to property insurance in that we have some laws, although there are certain individuals who are trying to change these laws, let's hope they don't pass that protect the consumer. And what that law is is if you have to Sue your insurance company to pay you for is to pay you for the damages and your insurance company recovers.
Even your attorney recovers even $1 on your behalf. The insurance company has to pay the attorney's fees. Okay, there's a standard rate, whatever it is, $350 an hour, whatever. And then the day the attorney gets paid from the insurance company instead of out of your proceeds. Okay. That being, that being said, there's always, there's also attorneys who don't like to limit themselves to those fees and do it on a contingency basis. Again, remember many times they know that there's a large settlement that may be a hundred thousand dollar settlement that may be a 300,000 off settlement. Then if they can get a nice percentage of that instead, sometimes it's beneficial to them. Um, but I will say that there are many times that I, ah, let me backtrack a minute. I hope that didn't come off the ball. I love working with attorneys. I believe there's a very important reason for them being here and it's a process, every place that has to be handled differently.
Well, I was going to say, basically what you're saying is that there are, I mean, maybe this is the right way to say it. There are times when you need an attorney every single time and there are times you don't. And so therefore, right. It might make sense where it might not be. Am I putting words in your mouth? I don't want to put words in your mouth there.
That's exactly what I was going to say. There are times that it makes sense. Um, you know, I always say the first thing you should do, if you have a loss, give a public adjuster a call. He'll be able to sit down with you free consultation, give you an idea of what the plan is. Many times a public adjuster will be the final person you have to hire to get your claim settled. Okay. All right.
All right. So it's really, and, and, and this isn't, you know, again meant to push what Mindy's businesses, but the point is, is that you're, you're specialized, right? So since that's your world, that's all you're dealing with. It's way different than some general, you know, general practice attorney who, who handles them every so often, but he doesn't stay up on it. Yeah, that's right. Any accounting field, like I, I'm an accountant by trade. I never, I never a, I mean I studied tax, but I never specialized in tax because that's such a specialty within the accounting firm. I think that's a good example where an account, just because you're an accountant doesn't mean you're a good tax accountant.
Exactly. And that's every field. And it actually ties back into as I get it, gets a boss. Hey, I'm sure you remember about me that when I got into something I want to know everything there was about it. So whether it was shoes, whether it was, and when I would, when I got into shoes, I sat down with a shoe sales guys and I said, explain to me this, that, that, that teach me, I wouldn't know everything there is cause I want to be the best knowledge about shoes. And when it came to laundry Ray and many people will tell you I was the most knowledgeable person they knew because I would sit there with the company reps and I'd say, explain to me what goes into creating a book. I mean some companies put like 115 pieces I think into a trading. Creating their bra. Is that 115 different elements? Okay. While some companies that's five different elements. So you know, become what it emphasis my career advice for anybody, no matter what field you are, be the best at it by learning everything about it.
Hmm. And learning everything. Like you just described, you're going to a trade show. Yeah, you're going to trying to get accounts, but you're sitting there having developing relationships with the salespeople. There's power in that too, and so that's how you find out the industry secrets and all the what really happens. So. All right, so you take that same approach to insurance when, when you think about some of the skills that you learned or find, maybe, maybe, I don't know if they're learned as a, as maybe as much as they were honed in your Amazon sales any more that you particularly could take and apply to your current business that you could, or you can help people understand how you were able to transition and take advantage of it as a, you know, here, here's why I'm saying this, somebody, because when I'm, when I'm thinking about the title I, when I listened to, when I talked to people, I always think about the title of this episode and this is where I came to so far with this take stock of the skills you developed selling on Amazon because, and I'm not going to elaborate on it in the title cause I have, I'm limited, but because you never know when you're going to need them.
Absolutely. So there's no question that the tools that I had as a successful business owner, as an Amazon seller, as someone who had to go out and do his own things, figuring out what he's doing out, it definitely helped me transition into this. You know, I actually started with the company, part of my getting into this business, you know, before I went out on my own, I first went to another company so that I can learn that knowledge. Okay. And part of that aspect was, it's funny, the first day out they pretty much, I got my license, never spoke what an inspection pretty much. And went out in the field right after hurricane Mike fell and they said, just go start knocking, don't worry about anything, just get contracts signed and we'll figure it out from there. Uh, and what ended up happening was that's pretty much what I did because Hey, I'm a guy, I'm a smart guy.
Listen, I'm going to do this and I'm going to figure it out as I go along and I'll make sure every person is taken care of. Great. And I went out there and I started knocking my first day I started signing clients. And then as soon as I signed a client, if I call back, okay, here's my questions to the guy I was learning from, tell me this, this and this. So know how to ask questions, know how to research. It's no different from when we sat there, you know, compare learning what Rafe meant, what these drops and rates meant, what we've used mean. How do you determine, I mean today you got all these tools, right? But remember the early days when we tried to terminate what shoe sizes sell best, we would manually come comb through those reviews to see how many reviews, not a size nine and a half got. So again, it's the research, um, the skills you got [inaudible]
well I think it's, uh, I think what, Oh wait, let me ask you this, cause I'm, I'm, I'm struggling. I want to be careful how I say this. Do you feel like you failed in any way? Looking back and be honest. I'm, I'm S, well, let me say it this way. I'm guessing that there might've been a point where doubt creeps in and you, you're back to the 18 year old, you know, I'm not good enough or whatever the like back to the Kobe quote, but you push past it is, am I wrong when I say it that way it had to creep in a smidge. Okay.
So I want to take you to, uh, one of the most famous graphs of entrepreneurship. I'm sure you've seen this many times. It's that graph that looks like a stock graph and it goes up and down, up, up, up a lot, down a little up at that and end of the day you're much higher and it's titled, it's life. This is great. I'm going to start my own business. Oh shit. What did I do? I figured it out. Oh shit. No, I didn't figure it out. Okay, this is awesome. I'm finally, I got it. This is going to be great. And I think the person who loses that questioning of there should always be a little bit of self to keep you in check. Okay. So have I failed in life? Absolutely. But you know what, you can do two things when you feel you can own your failure and use it to be more successful or you can let it get you down.
Oh, absolutely. You know, my wife has, you know, from the first day she's been behind me given her backing. Um, and let me tell you, by the way, my wife is the reason for my success. First of all, the reason for my success is my wife and kids. You know, that I want to provide them with a good life apps of course. Okay. Um, but add to that when I started again, so picture this Panama city is an eight hour drive on a good day from Miami. Okay. I would literally leave my house Saturday night at eight 9:00 PM drive through the night, stop my work day at Sunday morning, worth 12 hours in the field and other four hours in the office because I was in the office, etc. And Thursday night I would leave Panama city, drive home eight hours, get home Friday morning, be home for 36 hours a week, rinse and repeat. And of those 36 hours, I was exhausted. I slept a lot of it. So having somebody there who's providing you that support, there's no agonist succeeded without her.
So that's a give and take. Okay. So we're the good news. Okay. There's, there is a good ending to this story is Mandy has clearly found something that probably I would, I would guess that you're probably meant to do. You have the gift of gab. You, you've had the gift of gab, you clearly have some confidence and you're approaching it the right way. Let me help you. If I can't help you, I get nothing. That's kind of a perfect world, right? Because when you do win, they obviously they won. And so that's kind of cool, right? I mean that's, that's probably what everybody's goal in life is, right? Win, win, win, right? Everybody wins.
Yes. There was something that this business had made me realize as well. Okay. So I got into this, Hey, I'm not going to lie. I'm not going to say I'm mr altruistic. I got into this because I have a family. I want to provide them an awesome lifestyle and I hope everyone out there has a family that they want to provide an awesome lifestyle for as well. That should be your driving force, but regardless of what your driving force this, um, after I got into this, I realized something very important. I absolutely love what I do. Okay. Because I'm helping people. Okay. It brings me back to one of the best career advice I got from the CEO of Kroger. Um, back in the day when I worked back program, there was a conference for upper management and I was there and he spoke to the conference and he said, among the different pieces of advice, it was, don't worry about money, worry about customers.
And the money will come. Okay, that's what I'm doing now. I am helping people out. I love it. And yeah, Hey, end of the day, I'm making great money. And it actually made me realize there's another thing that I really enjoyed doing and that's, well, it's a lot of the same lines. It's helping people, you know? But if you remember back in the day when I used to have a million dollar seller is teleconference. I'm online and I used to do a lot of coaching and I used to do a lot of free coaching. Okay. I would, if I was driving somewhere, it would be, Hey, who wants to talk to them?
exactly. I'm sure you see this posts many times. And I used to speak by some conferences and the day that it realized, it made me realize my passion is for helping people sell while building this business. The other thing that I plan on getting back into it is a little bit of a coaching and public speaking because it just, I enjoyed sharing ideas with people that can help them change their lives.
Again, you're taking stock, right? And I think the reflective, I think the ability to be reflective, right? Cause you're not hopeless because you found success, right? You've taken all these skills, applied it so you don't end up going down the drain and going down a bottle. Right? Hopeless. You get to take stock and I think that that's the lesson is going back and taking stock and then figuring out the best parts that you missed. The parts that you enjoyed the most was when that light bulb went on when you were talking to that person and are like, wait, what did you just say? And you're like, and they're like, Oh my God. Right. I know that happened and that's, that's very, very cool.
All right, well go ahead and I'm just going to throw in there, add, you know, I know you like your golden nugget and this is something that I was reflecting on recently and I've, uh, you know, and it made me realize something else by the way, I'm just reflecting is, you know, there's that old quote that people say it's about being in the right place at the right time. Okay? To me that's an excuse. Meaning, what does that mean? It means that the successful people who are in the right place and then wealth, though it's more to it than that. I changed that quote. And the way I look at that quote is it's about knowing what to do, being in when you're in the right place at the right time. Okay? We went through the nineties and the.com boom. Right? But how many people made millions and how many people didn't take advantage of that?
Right? Okay. I was, I'm in a group of high level, uh, sellers, um, that number of years ago came up with a great idea. I said, Hey, let's all invest in doing a certain, um, business and everyone, and I said to myself at the time, I said, it's not really my comfort zone, but I know I'm surrounded by successful people. So I'll throw in my $2,000. Okay, let's just say I just sold that yesterday for a very nice return. Okay. So take advantage when you come upon situations, know how to take advantage of it. Okay. Be ready to go outside your comfort zone. Are you ready to take advantage?
no, I love, you know, that's hanging on my office wall by, well, that's it, right? So how does it go? No, what the phrase is, I'm a big believer of luck. I find the, I find the, hold on, let me start over. No, no, no, no, no, no. It's, I'm a big believer in luck. I find the harder I work, the luckier I get, which is, which reminds me of the other quote that's hanging right next to it, which is I believe Eleanor Roosevelt said, don't ever let somebody tell you know, who doesn't have the power to say yes. And that's the way that's got me through many trade shows.
So there is life after selling. Um, there is, uh, and it doesn't mean you failed. It means that that was a transition in your life. When you leave a job and you, for whatever reason, for your, if the company lets you go, I saw somebody Netflix was laying off, right? Netflix is booming yet they're laying off. Why? Because they're making business adjustments outside of your control. If Amazon makes changes or eBay makes changes and it affects your business outside of your control, and it is what it is and you recognize it, there is life afterwards. But again, I'm going to go back to this title of this. Take stock of the skills you develop selling online. Take stock. You learned a lot and you just heard Mindy take and apply his and listened to his success. Dude, I love it. Um, if somebody has a followup question, what's the best way to get in touch with you?
Well, they can reach out to me. I'm always, you know, Hey, reach out to me by phone. I always enjoy talking to people. Um, if there's anything I can do to help, just give me a call and if I can't talk to you right then I'll get back to you. My cell number is (786) 571-8855.
He actually means that people do call, it's like Chris green, Chris screens, phone numbers everywhere. So I was just talking to somebody the other day, I'm like, they were talking about, I'm like, you should ask Chris green that question. He's like, yeah, you're right. And I'm like, his numbers in every place. Somebody call them and you'll actually answer and it is awesome. Okay, go ahead.
Oh, I was just going to say, I think you're going to find that, that, you know, there are many people I look around the, you know, the people I want to model myself after are the people who are out there to help people. And there are so many people out there. You'll see that there. You'd be surprised, you know, for anything. If you decide tomorrow that you want to become it, find out more about rocket science. Guess what? I'm sure if you look up some of the most successful rocket scientists and give them a call or send them an email and say, Hey, can you tell me a little bit more about this? I'm just curious. They'll be happy to share their knowledge. And so never be afraid to ask people for help.
People want to help. They want to feel like they made a difference. And a, it's funny, I get a lot of questions. Oh, like you're, you actually answered. Yeah, of course. I'd answer. Gee, if somebody helped me. Do you think I figured all this out by myself? No, absolutely not. Dude, it is very good catching up with you. Uh, I can't wait to see what happens next. And again, this isn't by accident. You took these skills, you built them into a great successful business, you took those skills and now you're building into another successful business. I love it. Um, I wish you nothing but success. Thank you so much.
Great guy. Great story. Um, I just love a ending like that. Um, but again, it's not by chance. Uh, he put his time in. You heard his story about the time away from family and learning and learning and learning. I, and when he describes going all in, he goes all in and that's his personality. Again, that just doesn't happen. Um, that's not magic. He put his head down, did the work and that's his advice to you and what a great guy. Reach out to him if you want, uh, uh, further the conversation because I think he, uh, he always did that for people and a lot of people took advantage and got a lot from it. Um, very, very strong. E-commerce, momentum.com, e-commerce, momentum.com. Take care.
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