For those of you listening to my pod (and for those of you who aren't, check it out!) you've been hearing some Remote Local entrepreneurs come on and tell their stories, be it the one who started it all for me, Rohan Gilkes, or more recently Amar Ghose (apparently my brother from another mother), or Y-Combinator Alum Donald Spann.
Recently Johnny Robinson, who's been on the pod before, came on to brainstorm and whiteboard some remote local business opportunities on the podcast and I thought it would be a good time to connect some of our thinking on that episode with some of the lessons learned from those Remote Local entrepreneurs.
Consider Average Ticket Amounts
If you're building a SaaS, like Amar, or a virtual call center, like Donald did, the average ticket amount is less relevant, as scaling allows you to reach a much larger TAM (total addressable market) than a traditional services business, which is constrained by employees and by working hours.
An idea that both Johnny and I liked, but has a low average ticket amount, is mobile detailing. Positive aspects of that business include:
- like many cleaning businesses, it's highly fragmented
- there's not likely to be a big player in town
- those doing well either don't know how to scale or don't want to
- the opportunity to leverage hosts on Turo, the Airbnb for cars, for new customers
But that lower ticket amount (we estimated around $50 for our car-conscious corner of the world, SoCal) means you're going to have to detail A LOT of cars to build a decent business once you've taken care of your subcontractors and other overhead.
Is It Nice-to-Have or Need-to-Have?
But a problem with mobile detailing that I see is that it's a "nice-to-have" service. Those sorts of services are not recession (or lockdown) proof. One that is a bit more recession-proof is painting. Johnny and I have both followed some people advocating for this as an idea. It's the opposite of mobile detailing in that instead of a low ticket amount and frequent repeat customers, you have a very high ticket amount and rare repeat customers (except for touch-ups or add-ons).
While we are both advocates of Remote Local businesses, we are willing to concede that sometimes you will have to spend some time on the ground in the beginning setting up those remote systems. Painting, for example, requires a license in some states (like California, possibly the most anti-business state in America) but not in others (like Texas, where all the cool kids are moving these days).
We also don't yet have the technology to do a virtual bid on a paint job (though I half-jokingly maintain that drone window washing will have it's day — Johnny totally disagrees) so you will definitely need someone going out to client sites in-person. You can hire someone to do that, but you probably want to at least see how that process goes yourself.
My brother-in-law recently got his home set up with a Nest and he says if he had to do it all over again, he'd hire a professional. The reason? Something I like to call the PITA — Pain In the Ass — factor. It's definitely a reason why MaidThis has a roster of customers (only a few individuals love cleaning, and we hire them!) and would apply to a smart home set up.
Johnny agreed, seeing it as a sub-niche of A/V contractors, people who help set up home theater or great audio experiences in people's homes. With such a new niche, the traditional publicity routes of Local Service Ads will be less useful than really getting involved with local Facebook groups.
Local Facebook groups were something Donald Spann used to his advantage to build Vicki Virtual: he was watching for consistent pain points in these groups and thinking about businesses that could solve those: a call center was born.
These four factors are not be-all/end-alls. But they are plenty to get you started as you continue the beginnings of your Remote Local journey.
This article was written by Neel from MaidThis Franchise, a remote-local franchise opportunity for people looking to escape the rate race and reach financial freedom. Learn more here.