Have a business but I'm not making ends meet, improve existing business or start new one?

16 replies
I run CCRRefills.com that sells packets to refill Braun® Clean & Renew® cartridges (and sell the same product on eBay and Amazon) and while I sell 600+ packets per month it's not quite enough to make ends meet. These sales come with no marketing whatsoever (other than listing on eBay and Amazon), so I'm hoping that with some marketing I may be able to get them high enough to make ends meet.

I'm wondering if I should work on increasing the sale of this business or start a new business. What would you recommend as marketing for my current business? I know sometimes my customers post on a Canadian deal site called RedFlagDeals which normally brings in a tsunami of sales and while looking for an american equivalent heard of SlickDeals, but none of my customers ever posted there and I'm quite sure I'm not allowed to post about my own products so I'm hoping I can find someone with a SD account that could post about my product.

About starting a new business, I'd want something that can run itself and requiores no shipping as my existing business already takes up most of my time as I manufacture the product myself.

What should I do to increase my income? Work on increasing sales of my existing business or start a new one?

Thank you
#business #ends #existing #improve #making #meet #start
  • Profile picture of the author AceOfShirts
    I don't know about the legality of it after the Amazon review problems, but there are a few gigs on fiverr that will post to SlickDeals.
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  • Profile picture of the author Catherine Bueno
    Hello there,

    I see your predicament in here, and maybe this could help you. Since you sell Braun Clean and Renew packets, which is basically used for shaves, have you tried selling shaves as well? Maybe what you can do is to make it a combo: Braun Clean and Renew Packet w/ Braun Shave at a lower price compared to buying separately.

    Also, I think it is a great idea if you sell other personal grooming products, just to make profits bigger.

    Regarding starting a new business that could run itself, it would be best to know what you're good at except for selling the product mentioned above. Are you into website development, or writing? Know what you are skilled or willing to be skilled at, because that's your starting point.

    Best of luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author Tom Addams
    You can't turn your back on 600 sales a month.

    Provisional advice:
    • Sort out the web design.
    • Discover what else your customers need.
    • Collect your customers (newsletter).
    • Monetize, and help your customers.
    If you can grow an email list of buyers, you practically have a license to print money. So, I'd sort this business out, getting it working efficiently, and then simply duplicate the entire model within another niche - and keep on doing that.

    - Tom
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  • Profile picture of the author Chris-
    Paid traffic can work well, but will need some testing.

    Compare the different options including AdWords, Bing, PPV, PPL, etc. then once you've got a profitable system, it is usually easy to up-scale by buying more, or implementing a similar strategy on one of the other paid-traffic options.

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  • Profile picture of the author DeanJames
    @aabonline - If 600 sales per month (20 per day average) isn't enough to make a full-time income for you online then if the market is there you either need to SCALE or sell something with higher margins. The physical overhead required in packaging tangible products means that when you scale it you will need to employ people to help (which is an added cost obviously) or you need to move into FBA where Amazon will take care of that for you in return for a cut. You need to know your numbers inside out and look at scaling what you are doing or moving into a business where less physical overhead is required and/or products with higher margins. I know a guy that was turning over $180,000 a month and he was broke because he didn't know his numbers.
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    • Profile picture of the author aabonline
      Originally Posted by Tom Addams View Post

      You can't turn your back on 600 sales a month.

      Provisional advice:
      • Sort out the web design.
      • Discover what else your customers need.
      • Collect your customers (newsletter).
      • Monetize, and help your customers.
      If you can grow an email list of buyers, you practically have a license to print money. So, I'd sort this business out, getting it working efficiently, and then simply duplicate the entire model within another niche - and keep on doing that.

      - Tom
      To clarify, I sell 600 packets per month, but get about 200 orders per month, so an average of 3 packets per order. I do plan on getting a new design soon. I do collect emails and send a monthly email with sales which helps but still doesn't get my sales as high as I need them.

      What do you mean by "monetize and help your customers"?

      Originally Posted by Chris- View Post

      Paid traffic can work well, but will need some testing.

      Compare the different options including AdWords, Bing, PPV, PPL, etc. then once you've got a profitable system, it is usually easy to up-scale by buying more, or implementing a similar strategy on one of the other paid-traffic options.

      Chris
      I did try AdWords a few times but it always ends up costing about as much or more than the profit it brings. Would tweaking things on AdWords or using one of the other ones maybe work better?

      Originally Posted by DeanJames View Post

      @aabonline - If 600 sales per month (20 per day average) isn't enough to make a full-time income for you online then if the market is there you either need to SCALE or sell something with higher margins. The physical overhead required in packaging tangible products means that when you scale it you will need to employ people to help (which is an added cost obviously) or you need to move into FBA where Amazon will take care of that for you in return for a cut. You need to know your numbers inside out and look at scaling what you are doing or moving into a business where less physical overhead is required and/or products with higher margins. I know a guy that was turning over $180,000 a month and he was broke because he didn't know his numbers.
      Again to clarify, I sell 600 packets per month, but get about 200 orders per month, so an average of 3 packets per order.

      I am planning on using Amazon FBA.

      Thank you
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  • Profile picture of the author writeaway
    I checked out your site and the layout is extremely simple. It doesn't look like it's updated to today's design standards.

    I suggest you reverse engineer your competitors' design elements.

    Next, I would suggest you do content marketing and drive traffic through cheap FB ads.

    You then boost conversions through AD RETARGETING.

    Also, make sure you integrate list building into your sales process. This way, you can keep selling to a growing percentage of your customer base.
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  • Profile picture of the author Gambino
    First things first, I would sell "a 500ml or 16 oz bottle of 70-99% isopropyl/rubbing alcohol" as an add-on upsell.

    Second, the site could use an upgrade. The design is very outdated and there's way too much text to read through to get info that should be glaringly obvious.

    Third, your pricing structure and options are set up very poorly. Direct people to what they should do, right now, there is no direction and too many options. I would sell them in sets of like 1, 5, or 10.
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    • Profile picture of the author aabonline
      Originally Posted by makaih View Post

      Maybe you could change your pricing model to a monthly subscription and grow your revenue, as well as make your business more sustainable
      Because one packet lasts for 3 months, it would need to be a subscription that's 1 packet every 3 months, and selling only 1 packet in an order isn't as profitable as selling 2 or more in an order. Maybe a yearly subscription of 4 packets?

      Originally Posted by Gambino View Post

      First things first, I would sell "a 500ml or 16 oz bottle of 70-99% isopropyl/rubbing alcohol" as an add-on upsell.

      Second, the site could use an upgrade. The design is very outdated and there's way too much text to read through to get info that should be glaringly obvious.

      Third, your pricing structure and options are set up very poorly. Direct people to what they should do, right now, there is no direction and too many options. I would sell them in sets of like 1, 5, or 10.
      The reason I don't sell the alcohol (or a premixed solution which was my first idea) is that firstly just the weight gets the shipping price to a point where the added shipping costs many many times the cost of buying the alcohol locally (it's about $1-2 in stores, but probably $10-15 to ship). Secondly, because it's flammable, it would need to be shipped as dangerous goods, getting the shipping price to beyond absurd amounts.

      I will be getting the site redesigned soon. What should be glaringly obvious but isn't?

      What would be the benefit of selling only packs of 1, 5 or 10 vs allowing any quantity to be purchased?

      Thank you
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        Here's some basic business advice that many people either don't understand or lose sight of in the heat of battle.

        There are only three ways to improve your profits:

        1) Sell to more people. (Increase the number of orders)

        2) Sell more to each person. (Increase the average order size)

        3) Sell to each person more often. (Increase order frequency)

        If you can do all three, you will see exponential growth in your revenues.

        In your case, I would focus on 1 and 2.

        For #1, you've seen influxes of orders when someone posts on a deal site. This suggests that you work on finding more deal sites. Not all of them require that customers post the deals. I haven't looked, but I'm guessing that there are also Facebook groups that function the same way.

        Does your shopping cart offer coupon capability? Offering coupons opens up a whole other realm of deal-type sites (sites like CouponMom come to mind).

        For #2, look at your pricing. It's complicated, with all the different quantity prices and odd numbers. I get into that more below.

        You might also add a simple link to a page offering wholesale pricing for bulk orders.

        Originally Posted by aabonline View Post

        I will be getting the site redesigned soon. What should be glaringly obvious but isn't?
        Since you are making sales, I wouldn't get too crazy about the design. Adding some graphics or color elements to highlight sections might be all you need.

        One thing I didn't notice was shipping information. Are you offering free shipping? That's a selling point you should exploit. If you don't, that's a good place to explain why buyers need to acquire the alcohol on their own.

        [Correction: I just noticed that you do offer free shipping to the US and Canada. This is one of those things that should be obvious, but isn't.]

        Your search filters are not necessary. You only offer one product, so sorting by product is useless. Each scent only has one product, so filtering by scent is useless. They're all the same price, and there's no benefit from new products vs. old products, so that category is useless.

        I would lose this version of the search filters altogether.

        I would think about doing a how-to video showing how to mix your product with the drug store alcohol. This also gives you a chance to explain why you package your product the way you do (weight, hazardous material, etc.). Post the video on YouTube and Facebook, and embed it on your site.

        Finally, it's good that you have an opt-in form. What's less good is that there's no real reason to opt in. It might be obvious to you, but it won't be to someone hitting your site for the first time.

        Originally Posted by aabonline View Post

        What would be the benefit of selling only packs of 1, 5 or 10 vs allowing any quantity to be purchased?
        It's a way to keep things simple. When people are faced with too many choices, they often opt for the simplest one, which is to not choose at all.

        I would create a separate product item for single products and multi-packs. Since your average order is 3 packs, I'd keep that as one of the options. Then I would pick one more option, maybe 4. Comparing an order of 3@$18.75 to a 4 pack @$22.50 for a full year's worth might help you raise your average order size.

        Change your search filters to sort by package size (1, 3, 4 or whatever).
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  • Profile picture of the author LocalSEOTwins
    I would recommend sticking with your business. It's not easy building a brand but just because it's slow to start doesn't mean it wont be a success. Only selling your products on two sites is not a good idea, there's only so many people using those sites. I would suggest implementing SEO to your site and start targeting people using the power of the search engines. In my experiences, any business can be successful if you're on the first page of Google, Yahoo and Bing.
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    • Profile picture of the author aabonline
      Originally Posted by LocalSEOTwins View Post

      I would recommend sticking with your business. It's not easy building a brand but just because it's slow to start doesn't mean it wont be a success. Only selling your products on two sites is not a good idea, there's only so many people using those sites. I would suggest implementing SEO to your site and start targeting people using the power of the search engines. In my experiences, any business can be successful if you're on the first page of Google, Yahoo and Bing.
      I'm not really starting, I started this business 6 years ago, and while I did get sales to increase significantly, they're still not high enough to make ends meet.

      I'm actually selling on 3 sites, not 2: my own, eBay and Amazon. Actually 4 if you count Etsy but I got 1 sale in several months on Etsy so far (vs. multiple sales per day for the 3 other sites).

      I had a really bad experience with paying for SEO in the past, I was dead broke, not even able to afford groceries, yet someone on a similar forum convinced me to pay them $500/month for SEO that I foolishly kept paying for 6 months which basically got me something like from page 20 to 17, making no difference whatsoever in sales, and throwing $3000 I couldn't afford down the drain. I highly doubt Ill ever try SEO again after that experience as I would have no idea if it will be another complete waste of thousands of dollars. BTW this SEO was for a completely unrelated, dying business. Admittedly, it was like thinking good SEO would get people to buy VCRs again in 2016.

      BTW is there anything I can do against that person? I really feel like it was a total scam and think he's disgusting.

      Edit: How come when I come to these threads by clicking the link in a notification email it takes me to a horribly formatted version of the website instead of the normal version?
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      • Profile picture of the author Mike Anthony
        Originally Posted by aabonline View Post


        What do you mean by "monetize and help your customers"?
        He essentially means - cross sell. find other things your customers want and need and sell it to them. With 200 unique orders per month you are leaving a lot of money on the table by just selling what you do. People pay good money and even LOSE money selling items just so they can acquire customers they sell other things to (besides the initial sale)

        Thats where your site redesign comes in and is critical because at the moment you cannot cross sell or create any kind of upsell funnel. The answer is pretty clear to me. Stick with this business not switch to something else. Add to it. In any given month your past and present customers are probably spending thousands for other related things (grooming, appearance frugality) and thats dollars you can have.


        I did try AdWords a few times but it always ends up costing about as much or more than the profit it brings. Would tweaking things on AdWords or using one of the other ones maybe work better?
        I'd leave that until you have other things to promote. A lot of people do not realize it but Adwords is best used for acquiring customers not just direct sales. People in some niches wonder how others can afford to pay some of those PPC bids but its chiefly because the advertiser is factoring in the value of acquiring the customer over time.

        I highly doubt Ill ever try SEO again after that experience as I would have no idea if it will be another complete waste of thousands of dollars. BTW this SEO was for a completely unrelated, dying business. Admittedly, it was like thinking good SEO would get people to buy VCRs again in 2016.

        You are being more than a little short sighted there. I could see you saying you will never hire anyone for SEO again but to mark off getting organic traffic from one of the largest supplier of traffic and sales on the internet is not logical.

        In your case I would pay someone to optimize your site (when you redesign it) for SEO and do everything else myself (link building which brings traffic is perfectly legit for SEO too).

        truthfully in SEO (and I speak as a SEO) theres no reason to pay monthly fees unless your site is always changing. link building is a monthly thing but though content marketing you can do that yourself.

        but again to mark off getting traffic from Google and Bing through Seo (and you are not the only one I see doing that) to me makes little sense.

        P.S. you are getting the feed page when you click the link to come here. Its mostly for mobile but the powers that be already know many don't like it and its still the same and probably won't change.
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  • Profile picture of the author princetotem
    Originally Posted by aabonline View Post

    I run [URL="http://ccrrefills.com/"] (other than listing on eBay and Amazon)
    Have you tried any of Amazon or Ebay's paid advertising options?

    You could use Amazons advertisement option for 'manual targeting' to enter keywords such as Braun® products that your refills go in (be really specific with your keywords, for example, if there is a particular model that your refills go in this would be a good kw to have.)

    I'm afraid I don't know enough about your product and its market to help much more. I would possibly also try to do a bulk refill offer and get on Amazons 'todays lightning deals' list for some exposure.

    Here's a really simple guide to the options on Amazon, some may be more suitable to your product than others.
    http://marketingland.com/field-guide-amazon-advertising-149165
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
    Originally Posted by Mike Anthony View Post

    He essentially means - cross sell. find other things your customers want and need and sell it to them. With 200 unique orders per month you are leaving a lot of money on the table by just selling what you do. People pay good money and even LOSE money selling items just so they can acquire customers they sell other things to (besides the initial sale)
    Originally Posted by Mike Anthony View Post

    I'd leave that until you have other things to promote. A lot of people do not realize it but Adwords is best used for acquiring customers not just direct sales. People in some niches wonder how others can afford to pay some of those PPC bids but its chiefly because the advertiser is factoring in the value of acquiring the customer over time.
    Originally Posted by Mike Anthony View Post

    In your case I would pay someone to optimize your site (when you redesign it) for SEO and do everything else myself (link building which brings traffic is perfectly legit for SEO too).

    truthfully in SEO (and I speak as a SEO) theres no reason to pay monthly fees unless your site is always changing. link building is a monthly thing but though content marketing you can do that yourself.
    Mike and I don't always see eye to eye, but he's given you some real gold here.

    Not sure what to sell them next? Ask them. Make asking what else they have had trouble finding and why part of your delivery process. Then just look for the patterns in the answers. Grab a copy of Ryan Levesque's ASK book if you really want to take a deep dive into the subject.
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  • Profile picture of the author james flynn
    Originally Posted by aabonline View Post

    I run CCRRefills.com that sells packets to refill Braun® Clean & Renew® cartridges (and sell the same product on eBay and Amazon) and while I sell 600+ packets per month it's not quite enough to make ends meet. These sales come with no marketing whatsoever (other than listing on eBay and Amazon), so I'm hoping that with some marketing I may be able to get them high enough to make ends meet.

    I'm wondering if I should work on increasing the sale of this business or start a new business. What would you recommend as marketing for my current business? I know sometimes my customers post on a Canadian deal site called RedFlagDeals which normally brings in a tsunami of sales and while looking for an american equivalent heard of SlickDeals, but none of my customers ever posted there and I'm quite sure I'm not allowed to post about my own products so I'm hoping I can find someone with a SD account that could post about my product.

    About starting a new business, I'd want something that can run itself and requiores no shipping as my existing business already takes up most of my time as I manufacture the product myself.

    What should I do to increase my income? Work on increasing sales of my existing business or start a new one?

    Thank you
    Well there are a lot of things you can do to drive up a sale. 600+ sale by just posting your product on the site is pretty decent and can be increased if smart tactics are used. According to one survey around 67.4% of online shopping carts are abandoned before the customer completes the sale. To prevent that you can run an email recovery compaign to convince your customers to complete the purchase.Set up an account on Shopify as well and integrate it with Facebook store . Apart from that you can also increase your e-commerce conversion rate by generating more product reviews.

    Cheers-James
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