Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, I’m back with yet another installment of ‘Finding a New Partner’ and this time we are most definitely mixing business and pleasure. Never the twain shall meet has gone right out of the window. I was about to embark on a venture with the full blessing of my spouse.
I was allowed to go and play with cars..Yay me.
Here was the plan, simple as it was. Buy a car, fix it, sell it, make a profit… It really was business success 101. Hold on though, it if was that easy, shouldn’t every one would be doing. Maybe they are, who knows. Time to set out the parameters.
I had bought my first Jaguar and turned it into a respectful motor, selling it to someone who was going to use it as a wedding car. He had two others the same colour so I’m not sure if mine was going to head the fleet, probably not. He didn’t like my colour coded wheels…what’s not to like…people are so fussy.
It was all new territory for me. The first one was a massive learning curve but if I was going to make a success then it was going to be even steeper. The search began for number two. Before that I needed to be legal…proper insurance for a start, so I could drive nay vehicle without having to change the policy every few weeks..then there would be trade plates so I didn’t have to worry about road tax…that was pretty much it.
It was a bit of an investment but that’s what you have to do.
Ups and downs
I could go through every one of the cars I bought and sold but that would send you to sleep with me along with you. So I’ll give you the skinny. Over the three years I was doing it I managed to put twenty-three of the big cats back on the road. Some were easy some weren’t. That’s just how it goes. One important lesson I did learn was to look at he bigger picture. If I made a few hundred pounds on one and then lost some on the next but was still up..then all was good.
You have to be prepared for the lows as well as the ups. One in particular bit me… I reckon, out of spite. I had worked hard to get it ready for the annual ministry test and it had passed..sweet..I drove it home and parked it on the drive and left it for about a week..other things need attention. When I went back to move it…nothing…engine turned over but no fire in its belly… It took me a month to find the fault… Swap a part…try it..no joy..swap another and so on… You have to remember that most of the parts aren’t available over the counter…you have to order them and wait… Anyway, like I said it was a learning curve.
Not Just About Profit
The good, the bad and the ugly. I had them all. I learnt a lot and made plenty of mistakes along the way. One huge benefit was the business side of it went on to help towards the running of our own cars. My eldest was going though them like they were going out of fashion and my daughter was having lessons and wanted her own car. All of these things I could help with.
It was difficult at first. You were always playing catch up. I wanted to be able to be in a position to buy a vehicle without having to sell one first. It took me a year, all told. I had managed to squirrel away enough to be able to buy a project and have enough to fund repairing it. On top of that I had a reserve ready in case something came along in between that was too good to ignore. Finally, making headway.
That’s was great, right up until my son bought a van that needed a weeks worth of welding doing to it to get it on the road. Bye bye savings and back to square one. Hey, it’s only money and you do what you have to do. I’d make it back, just might take a bit longer.
Like Playing Cards
I’m not a card player or a gambling man of any sort..well I suppose that’s relative…setting up you own business could be classed as a gamble. Here’ the way I looked at it. I was up then down and then back up again. I was relying on others too much to be able to make bigger margins than I was. I could only do so much on my driveway. I knew that. That’s why when I did take a ‘knock’ it took a while to get back to where I was. I was OK with all that.
I enjoyed the satisfaction of taking something that was broken and fixing it..it never gets old. I had kept records and pictures of all the vehicles that had come through my hands and like I said, it was about the bigger picture when it cam to balancing the books. As long as I wasn’t consistently losing money then all was good. Well, almost.
So the time comes when all good things come to an end. Why ? Well two reasons. First Let me explain a part I haven’t really touched on yet, might be repeating some but it keeps it all in context.
The part I enjoyed most about all of it was the satisfaction you get when the car is finally ready. Now, I’m no ‘restoration expert’ I don’t buy vintage cars and strip them back and painstakingly restore them to the glory of yesteryear. I do give them a renewed lease of life and the chance for them to find a new home and owner. Most of the time they went to someone who had ‘always wanted one’ That’s a great feeling right there. You knew that everything you had done was going to be appreciated and that they were happy. Nice one.
Still, the selling part wasn’t one of my favourite areas. It was the ‘fixing’. I didn’t enjoy the process you have to go through..fending off questions, haggling and then the ‘nervy’ feeling that came afterwards when you were waiting for the phone to ring because there was a problem…it may have only happened a couple of times but the feeling was always there.
One Out Of Three Ain’t Enough.
We now know, that although there was some pleasure to be taken from selling it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and the cons’ outweighed the pros’. Then came the buying. This was again, a double-edged sword.
There were a few occasions when I bought in haste on the advice of another, inevitably these turned out to be more problematic. I’m not saying every choice I made was a surefire winner, not a chance. I did, however, do my due diligence as far as researching as much as I could, where ever possible and asking questions before making a purchase. Once bought, then you have to get it home. Sometimes, if logistics were just to complicated, I would have the car transported. That was an expense that would make the whole deal harder in the long run, as far as making a margin.
Most times I would go and fetch it and drive back… This was a part I did not enjoy. I don’t travel well, especially not on my own, which would be the case if the vehicle was a fair distance away. Unfamiliar surroundings, not knowing where you were. Generally being right outside of my comfort zone. Then you had to drive it back. An unknown quantity, every knock and bang making you wonder if you’d actually make it home. Really not the best.
So, the epiphany. I’m not sure exactly when it happened or if you can still class it as an epiphany if you can’t remember when it occurred. It was not an ‘Eureka’ moment, as I wasn’t in the bath. Maybe it had been on my mind more than I was aware and then the curtain was drawn back and I could see, finally.
Two major parts of what I was doing were not enjoyable. The part I loved was not enough. I mean, it couldn’t make up for the dislike of the other two parts…there, I’d said it. Once I’d accepted that for what it was, the truth, it was a very easy decision to stop the whole thing, there and then.
As One Door Closes….
I had looked at the possibilities of trying to change how I did things but it still came down to the fact that the two areas I least enjoyed were unavoidable. With that said, I began to think on how I was going to move forward.
This turned out to be easier than I thought. The practicalities were to offload anything that was related and to turn those things into capital for whatever might be around the corner. There was no need in cutting off my nose to spite my face, so I wasn’t going to close that particular door completely. If something came along that piqued my interest I wanted to be able to explore it, at least.
I went to work at off loading my ‘stock’ and any other related tools and add-ons that I may have acquired along the way. That done, it was time to settle the ‘books’. I’d kept a monthly book which contained all my incomings and outgoings, plus any relevant information on the vehicles I was working on. As well as accountability, it also provided a useful reference tool.
By the beginning of January I was ready to move on. I had broken even money wise and had added considerably to my toolbox. See, there were some positives to be had.
Looking back, I know it was the right choice to make. We can spend plenty of time saying ‘what if’ but that doesn’t exist in the now. I was happy and felt like a weight had been lifted. It was time for a change and although I haven’t ended up where I thought I was going be, I’m more than happy with where I am…If that makes sense…actually,cliches coming, over the moon happy.
It’s easy to continue doing something even when you know it doesn’t make you happy or feel right.There are always plenty of reasons for not wanting to change. Fear of the unknown being one of them, as well as financial constraints, to be sure. Sometimes you just have to trust in yourself and take a leap of faith.
Had I not done so I would not have found myself in my current position which is an adventure into a digital world that I don’t think will ever leave.
Exciting times are ahead and I look forward to sharing them with you.
Please feel free to leave a comment or question below.