Hi everyone, my name is Dominic and welcome to the Dadapreneur blog. Dadapreneur is a place where both aspiring and established entrepreneurs can learn to leverage their time. But first, let me tell you a little about myself. I’m currently 31 and married to my beautiful wife Juli. We also have a wonderful 18-month-old daughter Elizabeth together. We live in Yardley, Pennsylvania on the Delaware River, Juli works in HR and I have my own business which allows me to be home full time with our daughter. We travel frequently by car and are trying to see all 50 states. However, this did not happen overnight nor was it easy. Let me tell you a little about how we got there.
Selling New Cars
I got my start in the retail new car business. I started there after getting my Economics degree at Penn State because there weren’t many opportunities during the Great Recession for recent college grads with mediocre grades. I also started there because it was fun, I liked cars, and it offered the potential to make a ton of money right out of the gate. What I didn’t know was that you were required to make work your number one priority forever unless you owned the dealership.
In the beginning, this didn’t bother me as I was a 22-year-old kid going home to an empty apartment every night. I lived with my old college roommate, but his job had him traveling all the time so I basically lived alone.
Cars Are No Longer Fun
Things changed for me when Juli and I moved in together after getting married. No longer was I coming home to an empty house, but I was missing someone I loved. I was trading time with her for time trying to make money and this didn’t sit right with me. Some days I was scheduled to leave at 5, but if a customer insisted on showing up at 7:30, guess what? I wasn’t leaving at 5. This happens a lot in the car business. I didn’t realize how much of a sacrifice staying late was until I had a family. I really started to dislike the aspect of never seeing my wife. So much so that I started giving away half deals so that I could see her more often. This affected my income and performance dramatically. Something had to change. I was no longer fit for the car business and my dream of owning a dealership just wasn’t worth the sacrifice to me anymore. There had to be a better way.
What To Do?
I knew I wanted to do something that allowed me a flexible schedule because her job allowed 4 weeks vacation a year and I was currently allowed only 5 vacation days and none of them were to be on Saturday. I also wanted something that paid what I was making before I got married because the car business really can be quite lucrative if you’re properly committed.
The biggest struggle I dealt with was lack of time. I was already working crazy hours at the car dealership. How would I add more time to working on this while trying to spend time with my wife? I decided it was best to work while I had downtime at the dealership in secret. There’s a lot of downtime in car sales, and salespeople all want to commiserate together every chance they get. This itself was a struggle as I didn’t want anyone to know what I was doing.
My biggest question to myself was what do I do instead of sell cars? It’s all I’ve been trained to do since coming out of school and there aren’t many career moves from here that pay well and don’t revolve around a dealership schedule. I also wondered what if I quit my job and fail? Will Juli support me in this journey? I pondered my situation, but really had no answers.
My situation came to a head in December of 2016. I had my 2nd month in a row at the bottom of the sales board by a considerable margin. My sales manager called me in for a “performance review.” For those of you not in sales, you get reviewed periodically and it’s normal. Those in sales know a performance review is the “if you don’t sell more you’re getting fired” meeting.
After that meeting I really kicked things into high gear. Not selling, but figuring out what I wanted to do. I worked too many hours to get a second job, and I was pinned to a desk most of the week. I did have a good internet connection and a private office though. It was one of the few times I was thankful for selling luxury cars because the salespeople had their own offices. I knew I had to do something online to make some money in the background to at least to cover my bills if I got fired.
I Start To See The Way
While talking to my customers, I noticed those with the lifestyle I desired all owned their own businesses. They were able to take off when they pleased and didn’t have to go out every day hunting for dollars to survive. They’d all created systems that paid them whether they were present or not. I started searching for ways to make money online and waded through the sea of scammers and get rich quick schemes.
One of the lot guys had an Instagram following of 65,000 people and he was pulling in $2500 a month before he set foot in the dealership from it. I thought to myself, if this 22-year-old kid can make money while he sleeps, why can’t I? Because I can’t take good pictures and I suck at Instagram, that’s why.
If I Can Sell Cars, Why Can’t I Rent Cars?
I finally came across an ad for a startup that allowed you to rent your car to Uber drivers similar to the way people on AirBnB rented their houses to travelers. I loved the idea because we had so many drivers coming in with bad credit and no car. I could put some of them in my cars if we couldn’t help them get one for themselves. I figured once the car was on the road and they were paying for it, it would make money in the background while I sold. This was my “aha” moment.
Finding The Right Car
I decided that if I was going to make this new Uber rental side hustle work, I was going to need the right car. I knew people were going to put a ton of miles on the car and I wanted to have no emotional attachment to it in the likely event that it wrecked. I needed something simple, good on gas, easy to fix, reliable, and cheap if I was going to make money with this. If this one car made money, all I needed was more cars and I would have my own business. I figured I needed about 4 cars to leave the dealership and cover my bills, and 8 to make what I was making before. I now had a plan.
From the beginning, I knew insurance was going to be a sticking point. I called a bunch of insurance companies telling them what I wanted to be doing and about the insurance the app provided while the cars were rented and everyone turned me down except one. I finally found someone who would cover this car as a rental for rideshare. I put the policy in my own name, bought my first car and it was rented instantly almost every day for a month. I bought another and the same thing happened. I had 2 cars on the road making money in about 3 weeks.
Staring Down The Barrell Of A Gun
My dad rightly suggested that I form an LLC to put a layer of security between my personal assets and the cars if I wanted to scale. I called my insurance agent to talk about the feasibility of moving the policy to an LLC and I got the response, “You’re doing WHAT with the cars? That’s not covered!” After a long, stunned pause, I replied, “I told you from the beginning what I was doing. You’re kidding right?” After her denying that I told her, I said it didn’t matter but I need a policy that will cover rentals for rideshare in an LLC. I was told that she had to talk to the owner of the agency and to give her a week to get back to me. Ten days went by with no call so I followed up. I was told they are still working on it and to be patient. Two days later, I get a letter from the insurance company dated the day after my initial call. It stated that I misrepresented myself and that they would no longer be covering me for anything ever after April 30. This was like March 20. It was a punch in the gut. I now have two cars I don’t need with insurance expiring in a month. The house of cards was collapsing. I immediately hopped on Google and started trying to find a policy.
I can tell you with good certainty that I have talked to almost every insurance company in the United States. I was making daily call lists 10 agents long trying to find a commercial insurance rental policy. A rental car policy is pretty easy to get, but once you mention rideshare they hang up. I had agents in Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and even over at Lloyds of London in the UK trying to find coverage. No one wanted to cover a thing, at least not at a reasonable rate. The only quote I was getting was for Taxi/Limo coverage at $8,000 per year per car. The cars were going to gross $11,000. That was not going to work.
Dodging The Bullet
I remember being right up against the deadline on like April 25th. I had kept one insurance company in the dark on purpose because if I had to, I would just tell them the cars were mine personally to get coverage and buy myself some time. In the meantime, while contemplating pulling that ripcord, I came across a SMALL rental car insurance agency in Mississippi. They consist of 5 people. I called the salesperson (there was only one) and explained to them what I was doing and if they could help. She mentioned that they had a few members doing that on a similar app that didn’t have the rideshare element, but she couldn’t give me an answer until she spoke to the owner. However, the owner was at a destination wedding and wouldn’t be back until Monday. Monday was April 28th. I asked her what her thoughts were personally and I still remember her voice. It was the sweetest, southern drawl sounding, “Don’t worry sweetie, our director is very forward-thinking and we’ll see if we can get you some insurance. I’ll call you one way or another.”
This is the only agent I believed so far about a callback. She was my only hope and I feel like she knew it. Monday came around, with no phone call. I did get a call at 9:05 Tuesday morning and she was beyond apologetic. Apparently her director’s flight was bumped and she couldn’t speak to them until “after supper” Monday night. She called the owner at home from home.
The Call That Changed Everything
“As long as you can provide proof that the cars are covered when they’re ridesharing, we’ll write the policy” she said. I almost dropped the phone I was so surprised. I was also waiting for the astronomical price quote, but this policy would cost just a little more than my personal policy. I was officially in business. I sent the papers in and bound coverage with 24 hours to spare.
I was able to form the LLC, get financing for 2 more cars, and make the leap to be a business owner on June 14th of 2017.
The experience really taught me what work is and that if you want something bad enough, there is a way to achieve it. It certainly will not be easy, but it can be done. This process also has taught me a whole new way to look at the world. Most people look at the world very linearly. You go to school, get an entry-level job, try to get the next job up, and the next job up and so on. You have to wait or ask for every promotion. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you want to make more money or be your own boss or work your own hours, you can build a business yourself without having to ask anyone to do it. It certainly wasn’t the easy way to get what I wanted, but it was the only way.
Be Careful What You Wish For. . .
Having my own business allowed me to have the flexible schedule I always wanted, but having 10 Uber cars on the road became a circus. People would wreck at 2AM and I’d have to deal with it, Someone used one of my cars in an armed robbery, I had to repossess one because they broke off contact for a week, people are always getting flat tires, the list goes on. I started this quest because I wanted time to see my family and I do, but I always run the risk of having to run out at a moments notice. There is never a day where I can truly unplug. It was time for another change. At least now I had the confidence knowing I created something from nothing once. Let’s see if I can do it again. How else can I use the internet to make money?
The Ad That Hooked Me
I was watching something on YouTube and an ad caught my eye in the upper right-hand corner. “WARNING: This video will make you want to quit your job!” My spammy senses immediately started tingling but I clicked anyway. What single video can possibly make me want to quit my job? It was a video about affiliate marketing. It simply explained that on the bottom of most major websites there is a link for affiliates and an affiliate is basically the commissioned salesperson of the internet. If you bring someone to their site and they buy something, they pay you a commission. This is exactly what I had been doing for cars for the past three-quarters of a decade. I bring them into the dealership, they buy, and I get a commission. It sounded perfect.
It Seemed So Simple
The video made it sound so simple. You place an ad, collect an email address, send them to an offer. If they buy, great, you send them other offers periodically. If they don’t, you keep marketing to them until they do buy. My mind was blown. You can make money like this from a computer? I had to know more. Of course, the person doing the video was doing so poolside at his $10 Million mansion in Las Vegas and saying this could be yours too if you signed up for his free webinar. I knew this wasn’t going to give me all I needed but I was going to take anything he was offering free.
Here Comes The Sales Pitch
In the webinar, he pitched the $99 training class which I got because it was pretty cheap for the 12 hours or so of videos it included. Besides, if it made me money, it was a good investment. If not, I’d blown $99 on far worse things at the bar. In the class, he pitched a $10,000 superclass to which I said, “no effing way!” I was in a sales funnel but didn’t realize it. In the $99 class, you scheduled a coaching call where they basically tried to sell you the $10,000 class and why you needed it. I got frustrated with everything and decided to try and figure things out on my own.
I Find Out Nothing Is Free Online
Thing is, there aren’t many teachers out there for affiliate marketing. I mean there aren’t many good teachers that aren’t trying to sell you some super high ticket master class. Everyone seems to give out just enough to make you curious and get you started, but they all lead you to a point where you’re stuck. Imagine going to a school where the first week of everything was free, but each teacher made you pay a full year’s tuition in order to take their single class to pass the test. That’s what it felt like trying to learn affiliate marketing. I was hooked on the concept and grasped the concept, but was clueless on how to start building a following or capturing email addresses without being spammy. I had all the desire in the world but no knowledge of how to get things done.
Until I Found Spencer
That’s when I found Buildapreneur on YouTube. Spencer, the channel’s host, does things differently. Rather than give a little away and make you pay thousands for the rest of the how-to’s, he gives away all of the how-to’s and shows you the products he uses and recommends them.
Of course he gets paid affiliate commissions from the products you buy along the way, but he’s giving the knowledge away free and these products will all help you make money in the process. This was like going to school for free and all you had to do was buy the books and pencils the teacher recommends. This is what I had been searching for in the sea of spam for 2 years.
I binge-watched all of his episodes on YouTube (there are many) and in one particular episode he mentions the “One Funnel Away Challenge” administered by Russell Brunson and ClickFunnels. It is a guided challenge where you create a sales funnel in his software for your online marketing business in which you are given a task and 24 hours to complete it every day. In the end, you have a working sales funnel and if you don’t, you have the complete understanding and blueprint of how it all works.
Where was this 2 years ago? This is exactly what I was looking for. It only cost $100 and I was getting everything. No crazy masterclass upsell, no spammy looking offers, no get rich quick promises, just good honest knowledge from two honest Mormon boys.
The Challenge That Jump Started It All
The “One Funnel Away Challenge” and the teachings of Spencer and Russell showed me the keys to making a living online and truly having time freedom. As my online business grows, I will be moving out of the rental business altogether. This will give me life on my terms with the ability to truly unplug. Stay tuned for updates and episodes to follow. There are so many other parts to the story above and you will hear about my many grand adventures in due time.
For the next part of the story, click here. The rental business kicks my butt and I’m forced out early. . .