AS 59: How Ryan makes 500k/yearly revenue selling on Amazon FBA, Writing Books
23 Sep 2016
Ryan Reger came on the show today and details his successful Amazon business, but his true passion is helping others build their business. He is the author of Real Wholesale Sources, Private Label the Easy Way and co-author of Beyond Arbitrage.
What you’ll learn:
- Ryan Reger’s journey into entreprenuerialism
- How he started in craigslist then learned about FBA
- FBA strategies
- How craigslist changed over time
- Conferences Ryan reccomends
- How to stay in stock properly
- How to start private label with very little money
- How you can use replenishment alerts
- Strategies for focusing on what your doing and why it’s so important
- Wholesaling techniques
- Books Ryan has written
- Furniture and big items, shipping, delivery logisitics
David Aladdin: Welcome to the show, Ryan.
Ryan Reger: Thanks David, glad to be here. I’m going to check out that key word King, I’mwriting that down when you were talking so.
David Aladdin: Yeah, it’s awesome. Yeah, welcome to the show.
Ryan Reger: Thanks.
David Aladdin: Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself.
Ryan Reger: Yeah so, I started in 2008. I was running a political campaign up in Indiana and we lost in that year so I moved to Texas. I knew the only two things were happening, that I was moving to Texas and I was getting married and so I had followed a guy named Jim Cocker who I knew you just had on your show, not too long ago. My mentor I read his book “Silent Sales Machine” back in 2002 or 2003 and I’ve always been interested in an online business and running a business for myself and so didn’t really make sense until that point, when I didn’t have anything else to do or to turn to. My mother in laws and wife had some whole sale sources of furniture and they were doing a very part time on Craig’s list, putting ads just in local Dallas Fort Worth area. And so I told my wife, “I think we can really make this a business” as you guys know you need to get a job and so.
David Aladdin: You know that’s actually…
Ryan Reger: What’s that?
David Aladdin: That’s the problem, when you have a wife before you start the online business.
Ryan Reger: That’s right.
David Aladdin: You have to marry after the online business.
Ryan Reger: That’s right. Well actually to be honest, to be in fairness with her. She was actually pretty supportive. She say’s “you know what, she did say that you know you can totally do this Craig’s List thing with furniture. I would like for you though to at least look for a job as well and so I did do that but my heart was really in the business and so. The lord blessed it David and grew. In 2009 we did 250 thousand in sales just in furniture, just on Craig’s List, just in the Dallas Fort Worth area. It was a lot of hustle though. I was driving, going to the hold sell warehouse to get the furniture and drive it to the costumer. My father in law allowed us to borrow his open air trawler. So I hooked it on the back of my wife’s two, 97 Toyota forward runner and hold it all over Dallas Fort Worth and delivered furniture and it was. Man I can’t imagine doing that now but it was a great start. In 2010…
David Aladdin: If you think about it, like.
Ryan Reger: Yeah?
David Aladdin: Before we both got into this gig, we had regular jobs.
Ryan Reger: Yeah.
David Aladdin: you were in the politic realm and I was…
Ryan Reger: Oh you did too?
David Aladdin: No I was an engineer.
Ryan Reger: Ok, cool.
David Aladdin: But yeah, right. When you start doing that with Craig’s List you are pulling over 200 grant so.
Ryan Reger: Yeah and…
David Aladdin: If you had to do it again, I would do it too.
Ryan Reger: I know. I was thinking “Gosh I wonder if I could get somebody to do that for me. To do that part for me”. But you know there’s only so much time and so we are going, even though somebody else can probably do that hustle for me I would still have to be you know kind of in that business a little bit and it’s just not where my heart is but it got me started. We learned how to sell furniture on Amazon merchant fulfilled. We got in touch with freight companies so then we started expanding to Craig’s List outside of our area and shipping nationwide and then.
David Aladdin: Let’s take it back a few steps before we start going into the scaling of the kingdom. So why did you choose furniture in the first place?
Ryan Reger: It was because it was my lowest hanging fruit when I just got started. So my mother in law and Melanie my wife had, my mother in law had a regular job that they had some whole sale sources of furniture and she was in charge of those accounts for her job and so. She had a side business and she turned her home into a show room, put brand new furniture in there, put some adds on Craig’s List and have people come by our house and order furniture from a catalogue based on the samples in her home. She was doing this very, very part time but when I got involved I thought “Man, we can really… If I could sit here all day and post ads, we could really make this a business”.
So that’s what I did and it turned into being my wife doing the ads and then me after we started getting order, the one that would go do all the deliveries so I choose furniture because it was just what was in front of me at the time.
David Aladdin: very interesting thing. I’ve been noticing a pattern between guests. They always have a connection to the product that they started selling. So it looks like you went into furniture in Amazon as well right? So it was because, it was some type of connection via your wife in this case that got you into that niche.
Ryan Reger: Yeah, absolutely. I call it your low hanging, your lowest hanging fruit when I go around speaking. I just tell people what is your lowest hanging fruit and so for your listeners this will give them some things to think about is. What do they have access to that maybe I don’t in a typically. Is there, are they currently working a regular job that they have access to sources that somebody else wouldn’t. Do they know, do they know people in certain industries?If you are a doctor do you have access to home health care stuff that would be very hard for me to get an account with? Just all kinds of stuff like that, I mean sometimes people’s inventory that they can get access is right in front of them they don’t even think about “oh man I can sell that on Amazon”. So.
David Aladdin: What was, how did you get it up to 200 thousand a year?
Ryan Reger: My gosh just posting adds. Well you also got to think too. Furniture you know if you are selling stuff on Amazon a lot of times its lower priced 25 and 30$ but if you are selling furniture that is four and five hundred dollars you know, that adds up pretty quickly. So the 250 thousand figure sounds really big and it is big. But it wasn’t like we were selling you know 20$ widgets you know, it was 500$ orders so that does add up quickly, but it was just posting adds all over, posting a lot.
David Aladdin: So and this was like new furniture right?
Ryan Reger: Yeah brand new. Absolutely brand new furniture.
David Aladdin: So you, kind of got the in whole sale the furniture and then…
Ryan Reger: Yeah and the beautiful thing about it was that we could post the ads and we didn’t have to have any inventory, so we didn’t actually go pick up the item and pay for it with the whole sale company until we got the order.
David Aladdin: Awesome, so you had an unlimited amount of inventory technically.
Ryan Reger: Yeah pretty much yeah.
David Aladdin: Pretty cool. Need to figure out how to do that with my business.
Ryan Reger: yeah. SoI mean if we…
David Aladdin: Seriously I’m having storage logistics issues right and I’m in that weird transition phase of being able to you know maybe 10% of it in my garage in like a very neatly stacked fashion all the way up to the selling its crazy and then the rest is going straight or until another local warehouse. But very cool. Okay, so…
Ryan Reger: We have a source locally, yeah in Naples you can find somebody that you know find a whole sell company potentially so.
David Aladdin: Yeah. Okay, so in 2009 that was the Craig’s List year let’s move after that. What happened?
Ryan Reger: Yeah, so we started, we sold furniture trough 2010, 2011. Well actually 2010 we actually opened a share room a small share room, did that for a year found out we hated that because we were stuck to the store whether we were busy or swamped, we were still there. And so we kind of missed being able to work from home in our pajamas but in 2012 then…
David Aladdin: Those don’t look like pj’s over there.
Ryan Reger: Yeah, no. I’m not wearing pajamas now but we. But some days I do, somedays I wake up you know got shorts and a t-shirt on and that’s what I’m wearing you know, it’s nice to be able to do that you got that freedom. But 2012 like April we woke up one day and saw that most of our ads were getting flagged and removed. We believe it was a competitor so on I guess there’s auto flagging software so your listeners might be familiar with Craig’s list if there’s anything that is inappropriate or just whatever, usually because it’s inappropriate. Users can flag it and if you get enough pins or enough users saying that’s inappropriate Craig’s List will remove it. Well there’s this software that will constantly pin it and we think a competitor did that and so one day our business went from a lot to very little and that was kind of how we turned in, I mean the Lord had it all planned out. So we met Jim Cocker that same year, I won an auction from him. His book “101 Free Marketing” just came out so he did an auction on EBay for that book.
David Aladdin: His free marketing book is working right now
Ryan Reger: Yeah exactly, that’s right. It totally is and.
David Aladdin: No, he is an awesome guy, I had a great talk with him.
Ryan Reger: He really is an awesome guy. I got to meet him and honestly David the lunch that changed my life, Idon’t say that, that’s a big statement but meeting him, he became my mentor. He is now one of my really good friends but I woke up that day, that the auction was over and or going to end and I knew I just had to win that. So I told my wife what I thought it was going to cost to win it and she’s like “Wow! That’s a lot” and still a lot of money. We bet it and won a got a…
Ryan Reger: How much did you guys spend?
Ryan Reger: It was 1500 dollars so for us at that time was a ton of money, that’s still a decent amount of money. but that was a lot for us back then and so it was kind of a leap of faith but my parents live in Indianapolis, near Indianapolis and Jim is there and so instead of the 30 minute phone call that he promised to the winner. I asked him if I could take him out to lunch, instead he took us out to lunch and spent two hours with us and just poured into us knowledge and told us about Amazon FBA. So, we thought “Man, that’s the way to go.” All this heavy furniture that we are shipping all over the place.
We continued to do the furniture up until pretty much in the last year, but focused more on FBA so our furniture business kind of declined because our focus was on… We saw the power of FBA immediately, we didn’t have to you know, deal with all the freight companies and all the headaches of you know, shipping, merge and fulfilled. So we went heavy into FBA in 2012 and then in 2013 I found private label so, it’s kind of been a trajectory since 2013 has been focused way more in private label.
David Aladdin: Ok, so you’ve been in private label for three years now and you are at 200 to 250 thousand before that?
Ryan Reger: Yeah that was in 2012. Our business grow in 2000… Sorry 2009 was 250 thousand in sales, 2010, 11 and 12 it grew because then we added FBA. We were, I think 2013 we did 850 thousand in gross sales something like that. I remember speaking at Jim Cocker first CES conference and he had me come up and talk about it, so it was 850 I think in 2013 and then just last year we did 500 and some thousand on Amazon because now my focus has been much more on information.
The books that I’ve sold in the courses that I have, the mentoring and that kind of stuff that’s really what I enjoy doing like, last night I did a webinar with my partner Jenny Hunt on Holiday Edition private label and how to take holiday toy trends and turn those into potential private label products. And the interaction with the people that’s what really I enjoy. People asking questions and just giving them knowledge, I enjoy the teaching side of it. So, that’s kind of what my focus has really been for the last you know, couple of years honestly.
So, my sales have not been as much as they were before but that just because, there’s not you know, everybody only has 24 hours in a day so can’t spend it on products and information. I mean I need to do better to get it automating for sure. But my heart is in the information so that’s kind of where I’ve been focusing.
David Aladdin: Well there’s, you know, there’s like five sides to the business if you want. I mean you have got the information, he software side the actual product side…
Ryan Reger: Absolutely. That’s good.
David Aladdin: …which is a lot of fun. I love the product side, as much as I love the information and software side. They are both all very challenging, I mean in terms of information the information changes daily, seller central keeps changing all their policies and.
Ryan Reger: Oh yeah.
David Aladdin: And re doing stuff. Ok, so… Go ahead.
Ryan Reger: Yeah, keeping on top of that with your podcasts.
David Aladdin: Yeah trying to you know, trying to push the limits of what we actually think is possible and I think, I think it’s very easily doable to 2x to 10x our businesses. It’s all based on like, what we believe in, so.
Ryan Reger: Yeah, that’s right.
David Aladdin: Okay, let’s. So let’s go into some of those strategies after 2012 the 2013 when you got into FBA. With the heavier items, can you talk about that? Like what kind of strategies did you deploy in that regard?
Ryan Reger: Yeah, so we just all march and fulfilled because all of the and I don’t know if Amazon has changed the rules on weight limits and stuff but it used to be 150 pounds for FBA and it had to be only in one box. So most of our furniture was in multiple boxes because it was knocked down furniture, that people had to assemble and so it wasn’t even an option for FBA. So, we were, we’d literally get an order from Amazon and then email and it was all drop ship too, so it was really perfect. One of our main sources, we were able to just email them the order, the costumer information, tell them what they ordered, we would get the bill of lading from the freight company, this is all LTL Less in Truck Load shipments and send them the shipping label.
The truck would go pick it up from the warehouse and take it to our costumer wherever they were in the United States.
David Aladdin: I feel like that process could be very time consuming right? Like.
Ryan Reger: It was, yeah. If we had 10 orders in a day it was. I’d probably sit there for an hour an hour and half doing orders. But it was really profitable too and so.
David Aladdin: For sure.
Ryan Reger: Yeah, but it was time consuming and it’shonestly David something that you know, looking back I could had a VA doing that for me.
David Aladdin: yeah, the problem is…
Ryan Reger: And I wanted to try and it just didn’t work out.
David Aladdin: Yeah. I talked to a guy yesterday all about acquisitions. He mentioned you know, some people, they will try the VA route and then for whatever reason it doesn’t work out or some type of trust issue with the VA you know, what if the ship a couch to a second. Seriously that’s kind of like the worries that I have like when I do it.
Ryan Reger: That is true.
David Aladdin: I give them complete control of my inventory but what if I wake up the next day and a thousand units are missing?
Ryan Reger: Right, that’s true.
David Aladdin: It’s just like the bread and butter of the bid, you know. Right now I can’t afford that kind of…
Ryan Reger: Right, right. Yeah I get that.
David Aladdin: What happened with your VA? Are you able to share that?
Ryan Reger: Oh sure, well it just. Trying to think, we had gosh. It was the logistical problem, she was actually really, really good. I’m trying to think what did us, then my mastermind group just grabbed her up for the deal site that we have. It just became, I still had to do a lot of the work of it even after she did and I had to go over and check the work because we are talking, it wasn’t like we are talking 20$ alright. It was a 300$ item to 1200$ for a bunk bed and so I just had to be in it. I’m still in it, you know I wasn’t able to completely just let it go so I was like “Man, if I’m doing this. I might as well just be doing it” and then I know it’s done right.
So, probably issue more was with me; maybe didn’t give her enough control but you know, it was because these were expensive items for sure. So, nothing against her, she did a great job.
David Aladdin: yeah, yeah, no. What about…
Ryan Reger: Just to play, play more in hand.
David Aladdin: what about, could you just…
Ryan Reger: What’s that?
David Aladdin: Can you give us some insight into how the return worked for very large items like that?
Ryan Reger: Oh my God! That was a pain.
David Aladdin: Yeah, I’m guessing.
Ryan Reger: So essentially, if we made it very hard. We put it on the back end of our Amazon account you know, returns were only accepted you know, for these reasons. But as you know people can do A to Z guarantee claims, that happened a few times and that’s painful because essential we just gave them free piece of furniture. We just said “here just…” Because it was almost, if they had already opened it up and tried to assemble it, there’s really no way to return it. We could but it would be in pieces and to call the freight company and say “Go back and pick this up.” I mean we would be out hundreds of dollars, so. Yeah that was a pain.
David Aladdin: It would cost like, I remember I shipped the car I own today via truck and so, I’m guessing furniture is kind of around the same realm of the cost of like shipping a car, I mean if it is a big couch you know.
Ryan Reger: Yeah it was. We could ship, well we had good shipping rates. So the ship bunk bed to Florida was honestly only like 150 bucks.
David Aladdin: That’s not bad at all.
Ryan Reger: Yeah. So but then if somebody wanted to return it, they expected. You know the Amazon people expect free returns. If it’s a 10$ item no big deal, yeah we will pay the five dollars to have you ship it back but, to have to it 150$ back that meant I was out 300 because the freight company is not going to say “Oh yeah they returned it. We’ll let you have that for free, you know, we are not going to”. They still charge me.
David Aladdin: I think the eco system of Amazon is kind of, I mean it’s awesome but there’s a huge weakness towards the seller in regards to. They put us kind of vulnerable toward every single buyer.
Ryan Reger: Yeah, That’s true.
David Aladdin: You know if the buyer wants their stuff back, even though it’s perfectly conditioned item. They are going to get their way, if they don’t our accounts get banned. So the way to go about it is always refund them.
Ryan Reger: Yeah that true, it’s frustrating.
David Aladdin: Technically, I guess with the furniture side they would get the item for free, right?
Ryan Reger: Yeah that happened a few times. When we were just like here you just, most of the time it was, people honestly most of the time were honest. They would just, they got it and there was a scratch and most of them. We could just send them a replacement piece if it was just on one side of it. That wasn’t a huge deal but if they got it like “We just don’t want this”. That became an issue and so we’d have to work with it, get on the phone and say “Hey look it’s going to cost you this much to send it in”, and some people didn’t know about the A to Z guarantee claim and so of course we didn’t tell them, that you know “Hey, if you want, you can just hit this button and we are in trouble” So…
David Aladdin: What other problems have you had along the way to get to where you are at?
Ryan Reger: Oh my goodness.
David Aladdin: It’s the best to learn, I feel like.
Ryan Reger: Yeah, I made so many mistakes gosh. Running out of stock on private label items, buying the wrong thing. Oh man where to start.
David Aladdin: Alright, running out of stock? This is an issue I think every single seller has had in the history of Amazon. When did you start perfecting that part? What did you do?
Ryan Reger: I just, well in the book “Private label the easy way” talk about the replenishment alert that’s the big thing. If you just set up replenishment alert that will help out some of it. In mine is just to be honest with you a more of a lazy issue becauseI just would even ignore those emails from Amazon which is stupid. But I would, most of my suppliers were in the United States and so it was a whole lot easier for me to replenish than somebody who has to order form China and wait a couple of months. So, sometimes I just didn’t want to deal with ok, having to figuring out how many I wanted to order you know, to me that’s like working in my business, I rather work on my business and think about the bigger things.
Again this is where I probably need somebody to kind of manage the day to day little minor task that I don’t do so well.
David Aladdin: By the way for everybody that’s kind of going to listen to this podcast, he’s got a really cool book setup in the background, beats my book setup.
Ryan Reger. Really you like that?
David Aladdin: I’ve been trying to build like an awesome, like an educational like, just like a creative environment just to work you know every day. Kind of like the way you’ve set it up and that’s like…
Ryan Reger: Oh cool.
David Aladdin: Deal one.
Ryan Reger: Oh thank you I love my office, but we, my office sometimes is my couch, sometimes is my porch outside with the fountain running. That’s what I love about working from home. I could be in a coffee shop and get stuff done. I literally have the freedom to go where I want and my business can run. I mean I can be in my wife’s, my brother in law/Sisters in law running orphanage in Guatemala. I can literally be in Guatemala and my business still runs so.
David Aladdin: That’s awesome. So you talked about running out of stock, for me like I’ve been doing the high velocity route, I’m trying to sell you know… So for me like, I see like the stocks, the stock slowly running out. My order has been placed like three months in advance. It’s not like I have control over.
Ryan Reger: Yeah you don’t.
David Aladdin: replenishment alerts side of the business. But very cool! What other issues have you had so far?
Ryan Reger: Oh man. Probably for me honestly is focusing, because there’s so many good ideas. You talk to these people on these podcasts you probably get ideas, “Oh man, I need to do this”. You know, you interviewed Jim Cocker my friend John Bollard and Cynthia Stein and they are doing all these cool things, things like. Man I could be doing that business and John bollard runs warehouse and they can “Oh I should open up a warehouse and do a FBA prep service”. So for me honestly it is filtering the ideas that are out there. I am a perpetual optimist. I see and Jim says this, Jim Cockrum that I see 100 dollar bills flying around all over the place and it’s like which ones do I grab? I can’t grab them all, I don’t have the time to grab them all and I shouldn’t grab them all. neither should anybody that is listening to this, you are going to get in data with course after course, you follow different people they are going to come out with this course and this course and they are all good content, most of them.
But you got to focus and like focus on what you are good at, focus in what you are talented about, what you are passionate about. So for me honestly, that’s the, that’s probably the struggle is not to look at all these shinny other objects. Implement just one thing in my business now, get that going and figure out what’s next. So, that’s always a struggle for me just too constantly to be focused on one thing or just a couple things and not get distracted.
David Aladdin: The part of focus goes a long way too. I think the only way to learn that technique though, is actually failing because you have jumped into too many things and I am definitely guilty of this as well.
Ryan Reger: Oh my gosh.
David Aladdin: But…
Ryan Reger: Yeah you have, if you are really like me, you havelike a thousand courses on your hard drive that you’ve never opened up.
David Aladdin: Oh no, not even its worst. BeforeI got into Amazon, I was a consultant/web developer.
Ryan Reger: Ok yeah.
David Aladdin: And I took percentages of businesses…
Ryan Reger: ok.
David Aladdin: And so I was involved in like six, seven businesses. Had 20% of each one.
Ryan Reger: Oh man.
David Aladdin: And now, the problem was once you take that equity you are responsible for the quality of the website and everything and my focus started to be everywhere and when that happens, you’ve got no focus.
Ryan Reger: That’s right. Yeah, that’s right.
David Aladdin: I think it’s impossible to learn that until you actually…
Ryan Reger: Right. Until you actually get into it and feel like “man I’m strung out in lots of different directions.
David Aladdin: You know actually… In respect to that. The way I’ve combat it, is. I’ve listed out each company that I own and the percentage that I own and I divide my time and respect to that.
Ryan Reger: Did your time up, that’s perfect yeah, that’s really really good.
David Aladdin: And I try to look at that as much as possible.
Ryan Reger: Yeah, that’s really good. I use a program called Trello, TRELLO that’s helped me out a lot actually.
David Aladdin: I’m a wonder less guy. Did the Trello route and I didn’t like it.
Ryan Reger: Ok, what’s the one you use?
David Aladdin: It’s called Wonderlist.
Ryan Reger: Wonderlist, okay.
David Aladdin: The cool thing is, I’ve been kind of talking about it in previous podcasts about you know, I need to find a way to divide out tasks that each person on the team. When you get about 10 to 20 people that are doing all diffrent tasks on the team, you can do that all in Wonderlist by….
Ryan Reger: Oh cool.
David Aladdin: Assigning specific.
Ryan Reger: Yeah Trello would not be good for team like project managment. It’s more for like one on one, just like me doing my own stuff.
David Aladdin: Yeah and it can do that too but, and it’s free so I’m not trying to up sell you here.
Ryan Reger: oh very cool, Wonderlist ok. No, no, no, I’ll look at it. Absolutely, I’m always up for new tools and yeah, gosh im always learnig.
David Aladdin: Yeah, yeah. No that’s awesome. So you got focus, that was one of the issues running out of stock was another big issue. I have both of those issues as well. So let’s talk about strategies moving forward after the issues that you have. What have you done to build your businesses bigger?
Ryan Reger: Just for me probably the biggest thing is meeting new people. the first CES confrence that Jim Cokrum put on in Orlando, I met my MMA master mind guys that’s John Bollard Jr., Kim Kelly, Barrington Machintosh, Lance Wolf, Eric Hardwick, Mike Pinko and Roy Strout and they are my buddines and we get on the phone almost every week and talk Amazon,we talk about our businesses. We’ve actually turned into a business now, we have conferences.
David Aladdin: We should, they should create a town for all Amazonians to just sort then…
Ryan Reger: Yes, I will!
David Aladdin: Because I feel like we always have to do this web camera stuff.
Ryan Reger: Yes that would be awesome, wouldnt it?
David Aladdin: You know let’s just go to starbucks, we will talk about today’s sales.
Ryan Reger: Yeah that’s so true. But for me getting in a master mind group was huge because it’s so easy in this business to be all alone in your own little corner of the world and feel like, because not many people understand what we do. You would say you sell stuff on Amazon and people say “Oh I thought they just sold books” and so, its so awesome to be around people that get you know, when you say FBA you Pl you say RA and OA and they are like “What are you talking about?”. But you know everybody else that you get in a master mind group people understand you and they get what you are saying.
So my business exploded when I got around other people and leveraged their knowledged and instituted that in my business.
David Aladdin: I feel like that is such a huge vacum of, you know that you can talk about right there.
Ryan Reger: Oh my gosh, yeah can put a whole podcast or multiple podcasts on getting around other people. Going to conferences, I was just at Jim’s last conference CES National a couple of weeks ago, I met more people.
David Aladdin: What about, let’s say like, let’s say like someone is like afraid of approaching someone they don’t know but you kind of know like… Jim Cockrum for example, I’ve talked to the guy for a podcast but you know i have never met him in person. How would I approach Jim Cockrum in a way that build a long term relationship there?
Ryan Reger: Oh it’s easy, because he is so approachable and so, he is just a reguar guy and he will tell you “Im just a regular dude” Even though he is a internet rockstar you know its not like going up to you know like Michael Jackson or somebody like that you know. he literally is so approachable such a down to earth guy, for him that would be easy but you know anybody like that just, if you say that what would mean a lot to somebody like that is “I read your book Jim and its meant so much to me and look what I have done”.
He loves success stories so like for you David I would say you know if I was meeting you I would say “Hey man I watched some of your podcasts, now my business has grown like one tip I learned on this podcast grew my business you know, this amount…”, just talk about, because you put a lot of work into these podcasts so hearing somebody say that they got value out of it, that’s the ultimate thing for you it’s the ultimate compliment that this is your baby, you put a lot of work into this so going up to somebody and just say “Hey I read your book and it meant a lot to me ” or ” I followed you since…” for Jim it would be for me, I followed you since 2002, I read your Silent Sales Machine book and ow you know, look what I have done because of getting into your comunity. That’s really all you would say and you got a friend.
David Aladdin: Those are good tips. You know, for me I have never been to a conference yet. Because I feel like I just have been hustling in this like international command centre over here. I haven’t been able to distribute my time. I want to say in the best possible way lie, everyone is going to these conferences I’m like “Dude but I got to build my business right now; I got products to ship out”. How am I supposed to do that?
I got to give you guy’s super kudos for like going to these conferences you know, taking part of your business income and spending it for your learning.
Ryan Reger: It’s good to invest in yourself. People invest what 200 thousand dollars to go to a four year college and they can, you can spend a couple of gran learn just as much in a conferance in two days and you know build you business of, of just that. So it’s totally an investment and it pays off.
David Aladdin: Its interesting you brought that up, I like someone commented, I can’t remember who it was but they came up to me and they were like “I’m thinking about going back to college” and I did the whole college thing.
Ryan Reger: Here, me too.
David Aladdin: Looking back, if I could tell myself I would take that money and build a business I’m not going to lie.
Ryan Reger: I know.
David Aladdin: It’s so expensive.
Ryan Reger: I thought the exact same thing like man . . . but you know what if I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have met some people that I have met I wouldn’t have gotten into the you know, the career in government that I had before this. So, it was worth it to me.
David Aladdin: Oh you were into government?
Ryan Reger: Yeah, I was government public services. I wasn’t a politician. I worked for several people. . .
David Aladdin: So we did do the same. I was in the goverment as well.
Ryan Reger: Cool. I worked in DC for a while and then I was, worked in Indiana office for a congressman so.
David Aladdin: I feel like we are like from China because most people in China work for the goverment.
Ryan Reger: Oh really.
David Aladdin: And then you know some of them are manufacture owners and government is like, trying to get people to grow their economy.
Ryan Reger: Right.
David Aladdin: Awesome! Alright so let’s look back on, since 2008 what would you do differently now?
Ryan Reger: I would have got into FBA a lot sooner, because I could have, I don’t know when FBA started maybe you do. But I met people like Chris Green who said, he is one of my friends and he got into FBA very, very early. He saw the opportunity right away. So if I was doing internet stuff then when they started it and so I would’ve got into FBA sooner because that’s just the way to go. The old EBay model of having to have items stored in your garage and ship them out when you get an order. Amazon changed all that so, you can scale you business so much faster using FBA, leveraging FBA.
David Aladdin: Let’s talk about the books that you have written so far.
Ryan Reger: Yeah so the first one is “Real wholesale Sources” it’s just a list of over about 200 wholesale sources, mostly online sources that people can open up accounts very easily online and have orderes shipped to prep center, to your house even. I did that and Jim and that’s, man there’s a whole other topic you could talk about as a joint venture partner. Nobody knew my name, I mean still most people don’t but nobody in the internet marketing world or amaon selling world knew my name when I came out with that book. But I partnered up with Jim Cockrum and he promoted that to his huge list and that is how I sold it that way.
So, if people have an idea for a product, man, don’t be afraid to approach these people that have big lists and if you have a good product, theres a really good chance that they will promote it to their list for you and then you start building an email list that way. So did real wholesale sources and then, threw going to conferences I met John Bollard Sr. and his son John Jr. and John Sr. and I partnered up and wrote beyond our arbitrage. which is just talking about going beyond retail arbitrage and online arbitrage and getting in the wholesale. John is the master of whole sale and trade shows, so I co-authored that book with him and then wrote Private Label The Easy Way early 2015 and just kind of built a mentoring program around that and really been focusing a lot on that model because people know that private label is the way to go, but sometimes it just sounds scary to source overseas.
So I really hit a chord with people with it. Want to do private label but either thinks it’s scary or don’t have the money to spend to do a thousand or three thousand units in order overseas. So I stumbled upon a method where you can find supplieres in the United States and just…
David Aladdin: So are you able to talk about it. Let’s talk about that.
Ryan Reger: Yeah, of course, yeah.
David Aladdin: Alright so if I was trying to create some products from the US, US suppliers, made in the US where would I start that?
Ryan Reger: Well it’s not necessarily made in the US. Doesn’t have to be made in the US, I like made in USA products for sure. But even a big portion of my strategy is US wholesalers, which most of the time is imported stuff.
David Aladdin: So I’m guessing there are these people that import these products from China and then they give you a selection of items and you can chose from them?
Ryan Reger: You know well it’s just I mean, a regular wholesale company, so just go to a trade show. So most people look at trade shows as wholesale opportunities, you know buy it for 10$ sell on Amazon for 20. Its usual marked up you know, its called key stone pricing for wholesale but wholesale companies can be your private label suppliers and the advantage of that, is that you don’t have these huge minimal orders. You can literally order like a case of an item, to get started. Now I know I’d usually tell people to order 50 to 100 just because to do the promotion and their promo codes and stuff. You need to have enough in stock to do those and get momentum, but literally like if you wanted to start very small. You can start with a case and do private label, yeah and it’s essentially just switching out packaging and you are getting their permission. You are looking for items that are generic non brand driven. So not an iPhone, not Nike shoes just these generic type items so like this glass here you know, this would be an item that you know theres not one brand that is dominating the market for a glass wear like that most likely.
So you could get a wholesale company that is already importing these or maybe they are maded in the United States and get them to either do the work of putting your logo, your design on there on the packaging or you do the work yourself and just put it in your own generic white box or a poli bag, put your sticker on it and you got a private label product.
David Aladdin: Very cool.
Ryan Reger: So that’s the essence of it but I can go back and tell the story how I got started if you want, but I don’t know what your timing is on all this is but.
David Aladdin: We got about, no, we still have about 15 minutes. I’m trying to figure out, so i guess these guys can supply as much as you need, pretty much.
Ryan Reger: Yeah, pretty much, I mean they are also you know, you understand the order you know bring from China. So in a way they, you are dependent upon what they have in stock locally. But for somebody like yourself, I know already you are sourcing overseas. So like if you are just getting started and it kind of scared you; you can get started with a wholesale company and then if your product started working really well, then you could go overseas and get it done and get it cheaper, for sure you could do that. I just, for me it’s just the ease of being able….
David Aladdin: There’s a lot of work to source from overseas. I would say the weakness with doing the US approach that you are mentioning was you might not, they might run off stock or you may not get it costumized the way you want and there could be other sellers thats, we all are doing the same thing. But I do like the idea, you know you can get into the market and test it out and see what works and how fast you can get a product to launch that is pretty awesome.
Ryan Reger: Absolutely! My first private label product was in 2013. I’m still getting it straight from the wholesale company. I mean, could I go and get it overseas cheaper? Yeah I could, but I have to order . . .
David Aladdin: You have to order a lot.
Ryan Reger: They gave me a quote of thousand units and it would be my products are around 15$. My costs could be 15 grants, could I do that? Yeah, but it’s easier for me to email them and have them deliver to their local here in the Dallas . . .
David Aladdin: Well I spoke to Will, I don’t know if you have ever talked to him.
Ryan Reger: I have not talked to him but I know him.
David Aladdin: Probably like six million yearly revenue.
Ryan Reger: Oh my gosh!
David Aladdin: Just from wholesaling too. .
Ryan Reger: Oh my goodness.
David Aladdin: Apparently he has got the right contacts.
Ryan Reger: Wow! That’s so cool. I love it. What other businesses can you do that, I mean I think he is really young too. I mean like 25?
David Aladdin: He is younger than me. I think he is 22.
Ryan Reger: Oh my goodness, 22 even that’s crazy.
David Aladdin: Alright, let’s do the five secret questions. What’s your favorite book?
Ryan Reger: it’s the Bible, I have learned it, I have based my whole world view on that and I could do a whole podcast on that. It is just, the lessons and even if people arent believeres and believe the way that’s totally fine you know, but the things in there are timeless. The principals on how to run a business, there are things in the book of proverbs that are so valueble. So, I have to say it’s the Bible for sure.
David Aladdin: What CEO do you follow?
Ryan Reger: CEO? Man, I don’t know. I guess anybody that runs their own businesses is a CEO. So I would say Jim Cockrum
David Aladdin: I knew you were going to say that.
Ryan Reger: Just because I learned first from him and so, and I’m constantly learning from him. How he manages a 100 thousand person email list. How he runs a 30 thousand person facebook group and does it with class and but he is just a great guy. I mean really I’ve learned so much from him, not just in business but in life. His family is awesome; I got to know all of them. So it definitely would be Jim. So my advice for people is to get a mentor guys, get somebody that is above you and learn from them and you will go so much far in your business. Don’t do this business alone, find somebody you know, follow David you know, if he is doing more in sales then you are. You want to be doing a podcast follow what he is doing and just learn from it and you just will go so much faster.
David Aladdin: What’s your favorite online tool?
Ryan Reger: Gosh, the one I, probably it’s just because I use it so much Jungle Scout for private label opportunities. Greg came out with a new web app that is, I mean it’s been around for a few months now but it’s different from his Cormack extension. It allows you to pick out private label opportunities much faster just by sorting your categories and your parameters as far as ranking reviews and all that so, I have to say Jungle Scout. I use a lot of tools but that’s the one I use all the time.
David Aladdin: Just out of curiosity you know like, what’s your monthly revenue for the amount of tools that you spend. I mean what’s your cost to run your business. I feel like mine is just been going.
Ryan Reger: Mine constantly goes up, for tools I probably spend, “oh man”…
David Aladdin: It’s almost like disgusting like; sometimes I hate myself for it.
Ryan Reger: I know, I have to sit there and think. But you know what there’s so many, there’s probably some that I’m not even using, that would be the disgusting thing. If I’m using them and its creating money for my business then that’s cool, but if I’m just paying monthly and not taking advantage of it that’s stupid. I’ve made several hundred dollars easily on tools. I would have to sit and think of each one what they cost but…
David Aladdin: Well, I feel like I’m out like a run rate. Already like two to three thousand just like your current revenue cost.
Ryan Reger: But if it’s bringing your business and it’s…
David Aladdin: I know it’s like “Ahhhh” frustrating.
Ryan Reger: Right! Exactly
David Aladdin: I asked this earlier, I just want to run through the question again. What would you tell your 20 year old self to do?
Ryan Reger: 28 or 20?
David Aladdin: 20, 19 let’s say 19.
Ryan Reger: 19 0r 20. Oh man, buy Google stock or Facebook. I don’t know, honestly….
David Aladdin: You know the problem is you couldn’t buy Facebook stock, it goes private, it was like an upper class thing like you can’t….
Ryan Reger: I would have probably… so when I was 20 the internet was just coming around, it was my freshman. I’m 18 I remember my first year of college that’s when I first heard about AOL, Messenger. I mean there was a guy in the school that was messaging somebody overseas and though “Wow! What is this thing”? So I didn’t know about the internet until my freshman year at college. So, I would have told myself to focus all your energy on this thing, because this is going to be what changes the world you know, look at this you know stop spending so much time studying history, which was my major and focus your time and energy on this bruise this is just going to blow up and… So, that’s definitely what I would’ve done.
David Aladdin: Lastly what is your morning routine?
Ryan Reger: I get up every morning and the first thing I did, I usually drink water, start the coffee but I spend time either in the Bible or devotional. I usually don’t check my email until later because I don’t like to be bombarded with you know, there could be something that is bad news or something and that just starts your day off. Like, ok let’s deal with that a little bit later so, definitely time, time spent in devotion and prayer and then just hanging out, chilling. I don’t like go directly right into work usually, I like to kind of relax sip my coffee and get a slower start to the day. Which is awesome, you know, it’s so awesome to not have to be stuck in traffic like most people that go to a job they hate, it’s like, just sitting there in the morning thinking.
David Aladdin: I feel like, I feel like we can’t say that, because there’s going to be people listening on their way to work to this and they are going to be like “What?!”
Ryan Reger: Tell those people to keep watching your podcast and listen to these awesome people that you are interviewing and say “Guys you can totally do this” you can have, even if you are not. I’m not a millionaire yet but I feel like it because I can literally, if I wanted to get up at seven, which I usually get up about 07:30/ 08:00. If I want to get up at 10:00 I can, I never sleep that late but you know literally I can do my days whatever I wanted to be and that freedom is worth so much. I was on the phone with a guy, one of my best friends a couple of days ago he says, and “Ryan I envy your lifestyle”. he runs a Mexican restaurant and he has to, he is there all the time he, that’s his life.
So David you and I have so much freedom that we can, we want to get up whenever and drink our coffee and you probably got a nice view from where you are in Florida you can go look out the back and just forget. It’s like, what is that worth, that’s worth so much to be able to do that. So for your listeners, guys get there write it down. I talk a lot about visions and dreams and write down, take pictures of what you want. I’ve done that in my life and I am living the life that I dreamed 10 years ago, it’s so awesome.
David Aladdin: Literally last night I was thinking to myself like, kind of wonder when I would find time to just read a book. Like I haven’t had a lot of time to read a book just because I have been doing a lot of the stuff like I want to do. At the same you know it’s like, I find so much different areas of stuff that I can do now because I work from home at my own speed. When you were working with the government how did you make that transition I guess was it like a full on transition or kind of did a little on the side?
Ryan Reger: So it was easy because yeah a lot of people have to struggle you know, when I do, what point do I quit my job. So I was working on a political campaign and we lost, I was the campaign manager so I was out of a job…
David Aladdin: I feel like we went right to the beginning of the podcast.
Ryan Reger: I had no choice. I either had to make the furniture business work or I was going to have to go get a regular job, which you know what, guys I was fine but I enjoyed doing what I did. There was not really, I mean there was some days I didn’t want to go to work but I literally enjoyed my job and so, that was a good thing, that was a blessing in of itself. But so I had get, I had to do this internet business if I wanted to work from home. So I didn’t really have a choice but to, but to make it work.
David Aladdin: I noticed you mentioned like, someone recognized like your lifestyle of working from home. I guess for a lot of people that are driving to work right now and listening to this you know what, I guess you don’t realize the actual potential of having your full day of work every single day of not being able to come day from a tired day of work and then to start working on your side project.
Ryan Reger: Yes oh man.
David Aladdin: I will say, you know I was pulling 20000 yearly revenue when I quit my job and I knew I could turn it into 60000 or 80000 or 100000 or you know, seven figures whatever. But as long I had double the time I could double the income, that’s the basic equation you know, it doesn’t have to be that complicated so.
Ryan Reger: Wow! Right!
David Aladdin: What about any advice for quitting your job?
Ryan Reger: Oh man I would totally, especially if you have… so, if you guys are 19 or 20 you can live basement of your parents’ house you can Raman noodle’s all day long and so I would say you have a lot more, you could risk a lot. If you are 41 like me and you have a wife and you have kids, don’t quit your job until your side business is at a place that it’s at least making your income what you are doing now or maybe you can afford to live a little bit less. But don’t risk your, you know your kids and your wife and you need to eat so make sure that that’s all done and you can pay your mortgage and all that. Don’t just flat wait cold turkey unless you have a burning bush experience and the Lord told you “Quit your job”. You know, for most folks don’t jump don’t take that move or that leap until your business is to a point that you can live still.
David Aladdin: Good point. I guess sometimes I you know, make it sound so easy. Definitely now like 100 people quitting their job today.
Ryan Reger: Right, no absolutely! Don’t do that.
David Aladdin: Well thanks for coming on the show Ryan, it was awesome have you on.
Ryan Reger: Yeah any time this is fun.
David Aladdin: I think we will have you on, maybe like six month a year down to see how you are doing.
Ryan Reger: I love that. Go to a conference you will learn, I mean you’ll get to meet the people that you are interviewing and you find actually. Number one you will find more interviews because people will be like “Hey, I watched your podcast” and you will be like “hey well why won’t you be on”. But it will just also expand your business all, getting around the people you will just learn so much. So much more can happen in a face to face conversation.
David Aladdin: What’s the next conference? On the horizon or would recommend?
Ryan Reger: Oh there are so many different ones. I honestly don’t go to as many as I should. I go to Jim Cockrum CES every year just because I, it’s now become like a family and I know so many people there. There’s, gosh, there’s something coming up I think next month somewhere. I don’t remember gosh, all these people. There are so many people that do conferences. I think Greg Mercure is going to be speaking somewhere next month I think a guy named Steve Chow maybe putting up a conference at Greg and Scott Volker are doing. So for private label that would be an awesome one to be at. Just like, Google internet marketing conference, Amazon conference and you are going to find a lot of them. My master mind group MMA does one almost every year, we have done two now. I think we are going to do another one in the spring and that’s more intensive Amazon focus training. So if your listeners are interested in that, they can email me Ryan@RyanReger.com.
David Aladdin: Closing statement?
Ryan Reger: Man, just go out there guys, do the work it, you can have the life that you want. Write down your goals put it in, do a vision board, put down, like imagine what your life, what you want your life to be like five years from now. Put that into a picture. Put downs the picture of the house that you want, the car that you want, his life that you want and guys you can have it you really can. There’s so much really god information out there. Watch the podcasts, listen to podcasts like this, watch YouTube videos and put it to work in your business it really does work and you can do it.
David Aladdin: Thanks for coming on the show Ryan. David Aladdin, Ryan Reger out.
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