Monday, December 28, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Most of the business details are pretty boring, but suffice it to say I've learned a ton about how to run a little operation, management, organizational skills, and most importantly, how to provide excellent customer service. MTB has a great Yelp.com rating (currently five stars), and I'm working on plans to expand the business nationwide. It'll be a pretty simple thing, this expansion, but ideally there will be Truck Buddies in every major city by next summer.
I've fallen flat on my face a few times, too -- literally and figuratively. I've dropped a couple of appointments due to scheduling snafus (all my fault), and I've woefully underestimated a couple of jobs, resulting in insufficient manpower and many, many hours over what we planned on. (One customer even refused to pay for half the move, and honestly, I had a hard time arguing with her about that one. Again, my fault, but it still hurts to realize I basically worked for six hours for free. Ouch.)
Now, we've got about a month and a half of peak moving time, but it definitely feels like change is a-comin'. Probably because we're moving this Friday.
I don't recall ever being so excited about a move before. In many ways it's going to suck -- I have a LOT more stuff than most of my customers have. (Lol. Of course, a lot of my stuff is giveaway stuff from my customers.) I can only afford to pay a few of my guys for a few hours, and I don't expect them to work for free. So, I'll be doing most of the heavy lifting.
Still and all, it's an awesome little place. We're escaping our "filing cabinet for people," a seven-storey apartment building, and heading to a nice little Cape Cod single family home south of Old Town. Here are some pics:
This apartment building was a compromise. We didn't know what we were going to do, and it was near an area we liked, and it was clean. But apartment living was never our thing. It became less so over the last year -- long hallways, sporadically working elevators, parking stickers and tow trucks. Don't get me started on the partiers above, across, and below us. One of them called my wife a vile term when she asked them to be quiet. (He got a visit from Arlington's finest after that).
But now we're moving to this nice, quiet street. We'll have MUCH more room -- including a gigantic upstairs office area. No more doing my work in the bedroom!
It's amazing what a difference a new place makes. Whatever's coming up next, I think I'm ready.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Found an awesome motivational post on a new blog today (new to me, like almost everything).
Entrepreneurs are ruling this recession.
Why? Because they’re hungry and they’re motivated. That means they can’t spend their whole day getting caught in the fame game or in office politics. It means when they go to a conference or a networking event, they’re not there for the booze. They’re grabbing handfuls of business cards, talking to people, and then following up. And they don’t just say they’ll email you after the show. They really do. Actually, they email you as soon as they get home. They’re nurturing leads and finding clients and creating opportunities. They’re marketing themselves. They’re not tuning in to Oprah this afternoon to get Twitter tips from Ashton Kutcher.
In fact, there’s not even time to whine about how unfair the world is and how this recession is taking away their business. Because they’re out there finding business from places you wouldn’t have even thought to look. Or maybe you would have, if you worked as hard as they do. That’s the thing, people don’t want to work. They want a job and a paycheck. And those cushy jobs with those cushy paychecks are the first to go. Because really all those people are doing is taking up space. So it’s not so much that the recession came around and took your job, it’s that you allowed yourself to become expendable.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
I have to admit--until I saw the hippo, I wasn't sure it was real either...
Not many animals in these pics, but it was tough to get any good animal shots with his face in them. Nonetheless, I think you'll be able to see that his cuteness has grown by at least 53 percent.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Sigh...one more thing for The List.
If anyone got it, please feel free to tell me what you think of it, even if your first response is "Don't send me anymore spam, you free market capitalist spamming pig!" Seriously--I want to know what you think.
If you're reading this and want to get the newsletter, which is full of useful info and even a way to make some cash on the side (with no obligation on your part), can sign up on the home page. It's on the right-hand side "below the fold," as they say. Here's the link: MyTruckBuddy.com.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Just think about it--new, crisp, strong boxes. Mmmm... They're strong, they're reliable -- just like your Truck Buddy.
Okay, enough cheese. Bottom line? The prices are good, they're delivered right to your door, and you'll be helping me to keep my son diapered and fed. (I get a small percentage of the sale, and it's VERY small).
Go here to get your boxes now!
The amount of money I made is also a new record, but for modesty's sake, I won't brag about it here. Besides, it's not THAT much money...
I have a roster of about 12 guys and -- get this -- one girl. She's an intern at a nearby organization. In fact, I got three interns from that organization. I have no idea why I'm paying them what I do. After all, they get to see a free market capitalism experiment up close and personal.
One of my guys--my main guy, in fact--just got a truck so he can be my first franchisee.
Another guy I had to get off of Craigslist (when all my regular guys were busy) is seriously considering getting a truck this weekend. I've worked with him twice, and I like his entrepreneurial spirit. His eyes lit up both times someone stopped us on the street while we were working to ask if we had any cards.
I have a good system in place for generating leads, scheduling, executing moves, pricing, processing payments, and processing contact info.
I've learned Web design.
I'm about to launch my newsletter, and I have several small businesses to feature.
And you know what? I'm tired.
I love what I do, but I'm tired. I'm at the point I've been working toward for a year and a half--the "too much business" stage. My marketing efforts are beginning to pay off, and I've only begun to implement them. And yet, it's almost more than I can manage by myself. This is a very good thing, but it means that long-worked-for time has arrived: I have to expand. Even with 48 moves, it's barely enough to support my family. A slight price increase will help, but I can't rely on that alone. I need to spread the work around.
One problem: I'm woefully ill-prepared. It's not a roadblock, though. I just need to figure it out like I've been figuring everything else out all this time.
As I write this, I have these work-related injuries:
* A bruised back from where I wedged myself into a doorway with a box. (Kind of hilarious, but painful too...)
* A sliced calf from where I didn't clear the trailer when I stepped over it--while holding a couch.
* A bruised torso of indeterminate origin.
* A stomach problem that feels like an ulcer.
* Miscellaneous hand-scrapes, cuts and bruises from various things.
And yet, I'm very, very happy. I don't think I'll ever have to work for anyone else ever again. I now realize how easy it is to create wealth on your own.
I knew that doing this would never pay all the bills, and that's why I've been working on Project B, or what I'm loosely calling my "Small business marketing plans." At first it just involved copywriting. But I quickly realized that small businesses need Search Engine Optimization, a complement of communication devices like newsletters, special reports and social networking updates. And I'm getting interested potential clients like crazy.
I helped a repeat customer move to and re-move her stuff from the Home & Garden Show in D.C. a few weeks ago. As an experiment (because I had the time) I wandered the cavernous convention hall and stopped at the booths of various business owners.
"How's your Website working for you?" I'd ask. Most said "Fine," and didn't want to pursue my obvious pitching. But a few were almost begging for marketing help. One guy liked my off-the-cuff suggestions so much he repeatedly asked for more consultation. (He needed my help, too. I can't disclose the domain name for his site, but it had the word "fart" in it so prominently that nobody could miss it. Totally by accident, too.) Another is interested in how I can help her sales copy.
And there are more...
Who knows where all this will lead, but I'm telling you, if you want something, it's there for the taking. Just go and do it. DO IT. "Waiting for your ship to come in" is for losers. Building your own damn fleet IS possible, and easier than you think once you get started.
Thank you, God, for teaching me the right things at the right time in this, what has turned out to be the right place. Thank you.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Anyway, completely un-prompted, he tells the story of his buddy who works at the Smithsonian who has a pine cone that looks just like, in his words, "a turd." With great gusto, he recounted how his friend would put the pine cone in his pants while on his rounds, and then, in a crowd of people, grunt and shudder until the pine cone fell out of his pant leg.
Cooky thought this story was hilarious. My customer and I looked at each other as though the elevator opened to Wonderland, and I could tell he was also holding his breath. Whiskey fumes, I think it was, filled the elevator.
When the door opened we went our separate ways.
I don't think I'm going to the Smithsonian for awhile...
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Hmm...that came out wrong. Let me explain...
One of my TRUCK BUDDIES who HELPS ME WITH LARGER PROJECTS left his CHANGE OF CLOTHES in my truck. I'm referring to Stu, whose picture and bio you may now view on the MyTruckBuddy.com staff page. Stu works for the organization I worked for until recently. Despite his traitorous allegiance to said organization, from which I was laid off with about a dozen others, I still value him as a trusted partner and buddy.
Anyway, he left his work clothes in my truck, so I kindly offered to bring them by the old office.
The receptionist let me in without much more than a glance. (So much for security--I'm, as Limbaugh says, a harmless, lovable little fuzzball. But I am a former employee who was laid off with no more than five minutes of notice). I ran up there, met Stu in his office, and dropped off his clothes. We "duded it up" for a minute, as my wife says, and I headed back toward the front door. That's when I heard the voice of the organization's president.
I paused. This guy is like many men who've built an organization up from nothing--in his case, with just a rented closet of an office and a rented computer and VCR. Now it's a $12 million dollar organization. He's brusque, intimidating, no-nonsense, and the object of scorn for quite a few people in Washington on the other side of the political fence. In other words, a kind of guy I can respect, but one who it's no fun to work for. While in his employ I was a writer. Not a particularly good writer, but not particularly bad, either. But this man is a relation to one of Washington's celebrated literati, a man known and respected for his mastery of the English language. In fact, my former boss studied under that giant. Once, my boss called me into his office to rip something I wrote to shreds. He did, however, leave one paragraph which he said was "quite good."
Anyway, I heard this man's voice and I paused. But then I caught myself and thought "What the hell am I nervous about? What's he going to do now...fire me?"
So, I just walked around the corner into his view, said "Howdy," and started down the stairs. He and a vice president were joking around, and as I passed by he yelled down the stairwell, "Anybody who gets me a bailout gets a bonus!"
To the man I could barely ever muster a few feeble words while looking at my feet, I said, "I don't think the government gives bailouts to organizations like this!" (That would have been funnier if I could elaborate on the character of the organization).
He was somewhat confused about how or why I was in the building, but I don't think he recognized me. "I'll give you a bonus if you get me a bailout!"
Funny. "I'd rather have a salary, if it's all the same to you," I said.
He snickered and I went down the stairs.
Hey, I thought it was funny.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
That hutch is only $425 or so, by the way. Me and TJ, one of MTB's main moving dudes, both thought it was a really good deal for such a nice piece.
Perhaps I should mention that I don't often go "antiquing" with my guy friends. Or by myself. Or with "girlfriends." We had to go to Lucketts Store for very manly reasons--the lifting and delivering of two GIGANTIC bookcases to McLean. It involved heavy lifting and grunting and smashed fingers WITH BLOOD. So what if we were excited about lovely home furnishings. You got a problem with that?
Monday, March 16, 2009
It was really simple--I'd just show up somewhere with some cookies and hot chocolate, give them out for free, and hand out some cards.
Well, I picked the big hill at the Masonic temple for the location. In retrospect, I should have realized it might not have been optimal. Yes, I did hand out some cards, and that was good, but the vast majority of the cookies and hot chocolate I gave out went to kids. And, as we all know, kids are notoriously bad tippers--if they have any money to pay for goods and services in the first place.
Next time--a better, more adult location. Not to mention that it's probably never a good idea to park your vehicle where kids congregate to hand out treats.
Anyway, here are some pics of that frigid day.
Yes, I suppose I have. None of my pants seem to fit anymore, and when I cinch up my belt, it scrunches them up so as to look like a denim bag wrapped around my waist. On the plus side, I've got pretty good biceps and pecs for a naturally small guy. I may not look like much, muscle-wise, but I assure you, there's something there. If you doubt it, I'll crush your head with my pecs of destruction.
Anyway, that got me thinking. I probably have 2-3 entrepreneurial ideas every day, but I never have the time to act on them. THIS one is actionable right now, though.
Here it is--it's very simple.
Want to lose weight? Come work for me. I'll put you on a weight-loss regimen that'll burn fat, build muscle, and tone you. Best of all, it's ALL NATURAL. Exercises include:
The armoire lift.
The sleeper sofa shuffle.
The entertainment center heft.
And many more...
Want to burn fat? I'll get you to do the "long haul." This basically means carrying an item 100 yards or more. Some movers charge extra for this, it's so effective.
Looking for a full body workout? I'll put you on the advanced program--The armoire lift, down stairs, and walk it 50 yards or more.
I guarantee that at the end of my program, you'll look great, feel great, and will no longer have to put up with meaty jocks kicking sand in your face at the beach, as is my understanding of such things.
You get all this for the low-low price of $40 per hour. You show up to the job site and we'll get you started right away.
Hurry up and call. Space in the MTB Total Body Stimulus Plan is limited!
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Heh, well, sort of.
Anyway, I've been hearing rumors that people actually READ this blog. (Hello, you in Colorado! I've always loved your state. I saw the pope there about twenty years ago. On a less holy trip, I went to the Springs and got a little bit wrecked. Yeah, just a little...) So, I'll be sure to offer some interesting content. If you read it, I owe it to you to write it. It's our special relationship.
Speaking of interesting content, I'm headed to Luckett's Store today. I'm more excited than a grown MAN should be about an antique store, but what can I say? I was raised by my artsy mom and grandma the first three years of my life. You don't get out of THAT without at least a little touch of artistic appreciation. Hell, I was going to Michaels craft store for years to get supplies for faux column painting and...
Friday, March 6, 2009
I'm not sure what to think about this. Being unemployed (if you look at it one way), I don't have a lot of time to reflect on this crappy state of the union. Heh.
I choose to look at it another way, though. Getting laid off right before Christmas was one of the best things that could have happened to me. As long as I had a great health care plan and regular paychecks, I probably could have gone on forever as a happy consumer managing "just enough" credit card debt. But when you're thrust out into the snow without much more than the shirt on your back, you have to get creative. Especially if you have a family to provide for.
All my life, I told myself that I couldn't do this or that. Being laid off has shown me that I can do almost anything. And if I can do it, anyone can.
So, chin up, my unemployed brethren and sisteren! Don't get down. Turn off the TV and roll up your sleeves (assuming you still have a shirt with sleeves). Time to reconnect with that long-eschewed "can-do" American ingenuity.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Like I said, check it out. Their Website is pretty cool, too.
All I can say is "welcome to the club." Here's a Budweiser for you. None of that light crap. And I'm sorry, but we don't serve Manhattans here. Lol
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
I'm posting this here because he is, after all, the impetus behind MTB.com. When we found out Joe was in the stork mail, that's what woke us from our comfortable consumer slumber. We went from being merely paycheck-livers to entrepreneurs.
So, thanks, Joe. I'll put a little something extra in your allowance when you finally get one in 15 years or so. Of course, by then, that'll have to be chickens because American currency will be useless, but still--chickens.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Please feel free to comment on my efforts. I crave your feedback like the government now craves your income. I promise not to dispose of it as quickly, though. ;-)
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
"how to say no to people who want help moving with your truck"
"people ask me to move stuff with my truck how do i say no"
"yeah this is my truck no i won't help you move"
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Please, somebody help me. He'll wake at any moment. Any sound could set him off. A dog has been barking in a nearby apartment since eight o'clock. Someone is playing hip-hop music. My situation is PRECARIOUS! I have dozens of e-mails to catch up on. I'm starving. I haven't showered. And this is the first time in 48 hours that I've been able to go to the bathroom. So, I'm multi-tasking.
He's sweet, I know. He's a very good boy. But he also likes to whack his head into things, and has a deadly affinity for light sockets. And even if the Boy doesn't kill me, the Mother will. While I merely try to keep our son alive, the house descends into a minefield of blocks, singing bear toys and Tupperware. If she wakes before I can clean it, she'll have my...hands.
Oh no! I heard a sound. Something down the hallway is stirring. Wait--is the bathroom door locked? Oh no! And my pants are still down! Help! No! You can't come in! Get out of that! Noooo!
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Are you sure?
Okay, I've just been informed that the economy is in the tank, they're tearing each other up in the Middle East again, and damn it! The vending machine is out of Chex Mix again...
Okay, composing myself...10...9...8...7...
Yeah, the world's got some problems right now, but that's no reason for pessimism. Times like these really test our character and resolve. (Trust me, this is a good thing). With the right attitude, you come out stronger, healthier and happier. Look at me--in 2008 I nearly lost my home, I was laid off from my day job, and the market nearly killed my fledgling side business, MyTruckBud.com. But I'm still here and more determined than ever to make something of myself and my life. "MTB awareness," for lack of a better phrase, is on the rise. MTB.com traffic is up more than 230 percent. This is a very good thing, forged almost entirely from will and determination.
I'm not normally this peppy, believe me. In fact, as I write this, I'm stymied by some marketing challenges I face. This, several unanswered business questions, and the stress of raising a fussy, mobile toddler could easily bury me under an avalanche of self-doubt and self-pity. But I refuse to let it. And you know what happens when you do that? New ideas and opportunities arise. It's not magic, but it feels that way.
So let's get out there and rock 2009, Washington. I'm going to go find some Chex Mix.