Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. - Thomas A. Edison
Two years ago, a friend’s wife looked me straight in the eyes and told me I should learn to repair appliances. We talked about how the need is everywhere and how it would be a great business. I had some vague, lofty vision of what my next business was going to look like. I just couldn’t see the intersection of my dream and appliance repair. So I ran from the idea for a year and a half because it didn’t look or sound like something I wanted to do. The opportunity was dressed in overalls.
This past week I got a call from a lady that was interested in one of my appliances. She said that her dryer had died and wanted to pick one up from me. She said that they had a nice Kenmore dryer they had tried to fix themselves, but hadn’t been successful. At that point I had a decision to make. Do I offer a trade-in discount to get her old dryer? I had to think quickly. I figured it was probably somewhat of an easy fix with the symptoms she listed off. So I told her that if they brought their dryer over, I would see what it would take to repair it right in front of them. If that failed, they could just buy my dryer like they had planned to.
They arrived and we brought the dryer into the garage. Within a minute I had the dryer torn apart and my multimeter out testing the components looking for the culprit. I found the broken fuse almost immediately and replaced it with a new one. After plugging it back in we noticed that the dryer belt needed to be replaced as well. So we took off the other part, vacuumed it out while we had it open, replaced the belt and put it all back together. We then started it back up and their dryer was as good as new. I charged them $75 for the two parts and the labor. They were very happy as they saved $75 and had a very nice working dryer. I gave them more than they were expecting, and I treated them right. They didn’t need a new dryer. I never left my garage, made a quick $70 profit, and walked away with a clean conscience.
A neighbor called me a little over a week ago asking if I could come take a look at his dryer. Again, I already had the parts on hand. After driving over to his house, I swapped out the parts and put the dryer back together in about 10 minutes. He paid me for my time, and had already given my family a large portion of grapes from his grape harvest this summer/fall. Again, I felt great. As I drove home, I was just kind of shaking my head at how I was now being called to neighbors houses to repair their appliances.
My good friend Matt called from Hawaii a few nights ago because his dryer had stopped heating. So over the phone, I walked him through how to take it apart and test out each component. We finally located the problem and I walked him through a temporary fix and sent him a link where he could find the part he needed. The dryer was back up and working before the phone call was over. That was awesome; remote appliance repair!
Two years ago I knew almost nothing about appliances. As time went by, a midst my buying and selling, I started coming across more and more appliances that needed to be fixed. At first I would just scrap them all, or sell them for cheap to other repair guys. Finally one of the guys I was selling the broken appliances to, in a moment of mercy, showed me how easy some of the repairs were. That changed everything. I realized the next logical step was to start repairing them myself.
So, Peter (friend that works with me) and I started tearing apart every broken washer and dryer that would come in. (of certain brands that are worth fixing) The amazing thing was how many of them we were able to repair, clean up and then resell. It has changed everything. The entire business model has changed because of this recent development.
I never planned on buying and selling on Craigslist. I never planned on buying and selling appliances. I never planned on repairing them. I had a dream of starting my own business, working for myself and living a flexible and enjoyable life with my family. I was, and still am, willing to work hard for it. That’s the key ingredient. A hunger and desire to bring about my goals and dreams. Everything else has just unfolded as time has passed.
As my friend Chris often tells me, “The door of opportunity often opens behind you.” That is my encouragement to you as well. Work your tail off. Pursue your dreams. Even if only on the side for a period of time. I think you will be surprised where you end up. I sure have been.
Check out and like the new ReCraigslist Facebook page. I posted a picture of our big find in a dryer last night. My goal is to write things that you believe are worth sharing with your friends. Hope to see you over there!
– Ryan Finlay