A missile silo home is just one of the items Don marketed on Ebay. Don is known on Ebay as the “Big Ticket Ace” for marketing big ticket items like an actual missile silo home on Ebay among many other cool items.
This was an exciting interview. It is almost hard to believe. Don Peters is a guy that sells weird and expensive items on eBay. He is known as the “Big Ticket Ace”. He started out selling stuff in his house, but then found a niche selling items like a missile silo home on eBay. Enjoy the interview.
David: Don, so give me some background as far as, you know, what you’ve done for a living before eBay.
Don: Ah, yeah, right out of college, I went to the Citadel, which is kind of a military college, down in South Carolina. A second generation—my Dad went there, and went into the Army immediately afterward, and flew helicopters, starting-off in the Army, and then got into airplanes and helicopters. Then, I got out and got into the IT world. One of my good buddies was an IT consultant, and I had a computer science background, so then I went into work with him as a consultant and, basically, I’ve been a consultant ever since. I’ve been project manager for USAA insurance company, and Computer Sciences Corporation, where I was handling multi-millions of dollars in projects. Then, basically, in Spring 2002, I got laid-off from Computer Sciences Corporation as a project manager, which was a very good six-figure job as an outside consultant. The project ended and they couldn’t fund us into the follow-on project because I get paid too much. They had to lay me off, and I didn’t know when that other project was going to be funded, so we were just kind of in limbo. So, I just started looking for work all over the place. I was an outside consultant, you always have your game ready, so I couldn’t find anything because the job market was crashing, unemployment was rising, and it just happened to be one of those time periods, it was just a bad time to find a job, especially as a project manager. So, we were living in New Jersey at the time, my wife was eight months pregnant, and we had just bought a brand-new vehicle, overwhelmed in debt.
David: Now, did you have any other kids?
Don: I had one kid, and we had a second one on the way and then, this happened, and you get use to a certain lifestyle—a six-figure lifestyle. You know. But, we did save a lot. We put away a lot in savings, and I couldn’t find a job anywhere. I went on unemployment, and couldn’t find work up in New Jersey, we decided we’d come back to Texas and find work here because we’re both from Texas, and we went out to New Jersey for community. So, we came back to Texas, and couldn’t find work here either.
David: And you’re still trying to get in the IT field and stuff, right?
Don: Still trying to get in the IT field.
Don: A management job, trying to get anything, actually. But there was just nothing out there to be had, so I started selling stuff out of my house on eBay just to have some cash, and getting rid of all the downsizing and everything else.
David: Was half the stuff you were selling just stuff in your garage?
Don: Tape sets, all of my, equipment, any kind of electronics, you know, whatever was not tied down, pretty much. I didn’t have my whole house full of storage to use. So, I got rid of everything I could, and I ran out of stuff to sell. Therefore, I thought, gosh, you know, I could sell stuff for other people, and I came up with a name: www.IwillsellyourstuffonBay.com and cause someone—had read somewhere that you just tell people what you do, and it’s part of your name, and makes it easier. So that’s what I did. Kind of a long name and everything, but eBay came after me, and they said I couldn’t use the word eBay, then I changed it to www.Iwillsellyourstuff.com and that’s basically been the company since.
David: Wow, now, have you had—do you have any experience whatsoever? I mean, I know you got a computer science background, but, yeah I mean, did you build websites before? Did you? You’d never Done anything, you just said, “Okay, this eBay thing is huge.”
Don: I’d been on eBay as a buyer, bought a lot of stuff on eBay, and tried selling a couple of times, and it was pretty easy to sell. So, I knew it could be done, so I wasn’t afraid to go and just jump in and start doing it. Plus, I’ve always been on the Internet, so I’m kind of savvy, you know, some Internet savvy., When people were on AOL, I was already on the Internet, so I already—I was kind of ahead of the game in that aspect.
David: Wow. Alright, so what are your websites?
Don: www.Iwillsellyourstuff.com. That was the main site that started it, the whole thing.
David: Okay, now what type of stuff? When you started selling, I read that you had put business cards together, and you were passing business along. What type of stuff, just, other people’s stuff that was sitting in their garage? Nothing real unusual, really?
Don: Right. What happened was, I started going to a couple of local businesses that had items to sell, refutable items—one of them was a car dealer, and with him, we sat down and worked out this thing were we could sell his cars on his lot. He basically had a consignment lot. We would do, you know, do car sales on eBay, give the opportunity to people that didn’t want to leave their car on the lot. They could sell it on eBay that way they could drive around with the car and still have it out there for sale. I mean that was my first real customer. I went up to him, and he said, “Yeah, that’s a great idea.” It was that easy. Then, we started going around to local businesses, anybody I could find, and looking for things to sell. You know, just odds and ends, antiques and stuff. Then, I went to a family reunion in Connecticut, and I ran into a cousin of mine. His name is Bruce Francisco, and Bruce is a developer. He owns a property in upstate New York in the Adirondacks. It’s an actual missile silo that was retired from the air force. He and his cousin bought this missile silo. I mean, think of it as a tube, going down into the ground, about 180 feet straight down. Where this missile would actually, stand, and be ready to launch from underground. You know, the doors would open-up, and it would shoot out. You’ve seen the pictures.
Don: Then to the side of it, there was a two level, round, underground complex where the mission control center was, and where the people stayed at night. It was all underground. So, he has a runway beside it, and he built a sleigh. Kind of like a ski sleigh, on top of the opening above the missile silo. So, what he had was an aboveground home, and then he went down into the basement into another home underneath the ground, a two-level missile silo in the complex. Then, you went through this tunnel, and then there was the big, huge shaft, which nothing was done with that just a bunch of metal and stuff. Raw metal. Which has lots, a lot of opportunities, too, because you could actually construct 2000 square foot apartments, you know, by putting a floor in. Probably put about, I think, about seven floors. You could get seven underground apartments if you wanted to with this place.
David: Wow, this thing’s enormous, isn’t it?
Don: Yeah. So I said to Bruce, I said, “I’ve got this new business I’m selling on eBay,” he goes, “aw, that’s great!” Because, I wanted to put, you know, this missile silo on eBay, but I don’t know how. He said, “Well, we’re a perfect match!” and we cut a deal. We started work. He is a great marketing guy, knows a lot about marketing. You know, getting in the news, so we were in the news all the time, but I learned secrets of how to do that, and how to get into USA Today, Good Morning America, Today Show, etc. We were getting on all the shows, and the sale of this missile silo got a lot of attention. We had thousands and thousands of newspaper reports, and articles, and interviews and everything else on TV and radio and everything. So the first month, we didn’t know what it would sell for. I said, “You know, man, what can we do, we can put it up with a Buy It Now price of 25 million,” we had no idea, and just see, but nothing happened the first month. We got some tire-kickers. The second month, we had two people bid on it, and the winning bid price was 2.1 million.
David: 2.1 million?
Don: Yeah, 2. 1 million. So, we had a sale, and it was great. We ended up getting on, 60 minutes, too, for the sale, and everything. Free publicity!
David: Well, and now, it’s not the largest transaction, you know, in eBay, but it’s the largest real estate transaction on eBay, isn’t it?
Don: At that time, it was the largest real estate transaction on eBay. The sad part of the story is the actual sale fell through.
David: My goodness. Who was this person that did that?
Don: He didn’t want to be revealed or anything, but basically, he was in a lawsuit with his company because he lost his leg during work. He was under a compensation suit, and supposed to make tens of millions of dollars. At the same time, he was at the final stages of this suit, and we had already qualified him because he was supposed to have the money within six months. So we were all good, and everything was great, and they had a weird deal going on. We were getting ready to close, and he was getting ready to settle the suit, and a tornado came through, and they canceled the court appointment. This tornado came through the thing, and then something happened, and their lawyers found a loophole, and found a way to cut him out of this whole deal, so now, he’s back in court again or whatever, trying to get that money. So, they had to stall the deal. So, anyway, that fell through a year and a half after we’d done the sale. On eBay. So, what happened to me in that time period, I thought, “Oh my God, this is a great opportunity because look: I can sell 2 million dollar items. “Not much work, I mean, it was a little bit more work, but not much more work than selling a bunch of little things. In that year and a half, I started going out and looking for other unusual items to sell. The motivation from selling the silo lead to other ventures. I came up with—,while I was in a chat room, chatting with someone about the missile silo, and this guy goes, “Yeah, what you should do is put one of these airplane homes next to the missile silo, ha-ha-ha. “So, I went and looked, and I saw this site, and it was this picture of an airplane, kind of over water, attached, and the boat going underneath it, and I thought, “Kinda hokey,” so I called the guy up. I said, “Tom,” Tom Bennington, the owner, I said, “Tom is this thing for real, can you really make these?” He goes, “Yeah, I have the patent and everything else.” Another opportunity.
Don: I said, “I’d like to sell these on eBay for you.” He said, “Okay, you know, whatever,” and we cut a deal.
David: You’re talking about homes—actual airplanes that are made into homes?!
Don: What it is an actual 727. He guts out the plane. He’s a parts dealer, so he takes engines off, sells them, takes all the seats out, sells it, parts, instruments, all that stuff’s gone. What’s left was the shell of a body, and he would have to cut it up for scrap metal. He hated doing that, so he designed this way that you could actually live in it like a home. It sits on a pedestal about five feet off the ground, up to, I think about 20 or maybe even 30 feet off the ground. The airplane rests on this, and it rotates 360 degrees my gosh. Kind of like a rotating restaurant.
David: Restaurant. Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Wow.
Don: So, he designed it, got the patent, got it all creative, and set it up so you could have rooms on the inside. You could have the wings as decks. You could put a Jacuzzi in it. It’s really nice.
David: So you found this guy, and you wanted to sell his stuff.
Don: I found him, and I said, you know, can I put this on eBay for you? We had a sale within three months. Three months? Wow. He’d been putting it in, like, the Robb Report, or one of the high end things and gotten no success. With eBay, three months later, I sold my first one.
David: Wow, what how much money are we talking about, as far as, what are these airplane homes going for?
Don: They cost 300,000 dollars. I get 10 percent of anything I sell.
David: 300,000 dollars! Wow, and you actually had somebody in 90 days, buy an airplane home. That’s amazing.
Don: We’ve had two more since then. So, I’ve sold three, now. I haven’t got paid on those yet because they haven’t been built. However, I just got a note from one of our buyers, the third buyer, he’s up in Connecticut. His name’s Dave Kayer. He got commercial land, and he wanted to put this plane on top, and it would be an awesome billboard or something. All in all, part of his office complex, and what happened was the town was fighting him. They said, “No way, we’re not going to do let you build here. “So what he did was, he became part of the town You know, officers, city representatives, something close to the town mayor. He didn’t make mayor, but he got into the system. He said, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”
David: You’re kidding me.
Don: He just wrote me, and said, he thinks it’s going to pass in the city. So, once he gets done, we’ll begin construction on his airplane. So you’ve got three of these under your belt, you’re just waiting for the money to come in.
David What type of other stuff does, I mean, have you been selling, you know, since your first transaction of the missile silo? What other things have you been doing, as far as big ticket? Anything that comes up that’s unusual?
Don I get a LEGO White House that’s unusual, all the way to a lot of high-end stuff, paintings, like Picassos, murals.
David: So, how do you find this stuff? You hear about somebody, or you just call them up? What’s that?
Don My people find me, and they ask me to sell their stuff for them.
David Wow. Well, you’re out there now, I mean you’ve been in Good Morning America, and thousands of newspaper articles now, so I guess the traffic’s definitely coming to you now.
Don: So now, I’m really choosy because I have three Internet businesses now, so that’s a small part of my business now. I only take very high-end business, right now. I’m working on a transaction for a hotel in Costa Rica, five and a half million. In fact, a call comes in today to see whether I’m going to represent them. I have an island property in Lake Superior. Now, we didn’t have a sale at the auction site; however as soon as the auction was over, I had four buyers that were fighting for the property. We have one right now, and it’s under contract for 1.9 million. But again, it’s a very high risk thing, you’ve got to wait. So, by the time this books out, I don’t know if I’ll have been taped to that one too. You know, the weirdest thing about it, you sell one because you have a hundred million dollar items. If you just sell one, you’re doing pretty good at just 10 percent, you know, and you’re right, it doesn’t take that much extra time to just list something, just taking pictures, and list something on eBay. Yeah, because it’s a lot of fun and work now. So I can be picking and choosing. So I like to have maybe one or two properties a year that are about a million dollars. About a hundred thousand dollar income per item, if it sells. So, if I can represent two that sell in a year, that’s on it. That’s how I’m moving my business to that kind of level.
David: Well, cool. Now, do you work full-time or part-time?
David: Full-time. Okay. What are your other businesses that you do?
Don: Well, I have a business called, www.infobonus.com, which spawns from the www.Iwillsellyourstuff.com
David: Okay, and what do you do on there?
Don: Let me tell you a story. But basically, there was a guy named Greg Reid, he’s the Millionaire Mentor.
Don: He found me selling high-end things on eBay, but he wanted me to help him, show him, you know, the roads, how to do eBay. We came up with a plan to sell him on eBay, so we sold him as an inspirational speaker on eBay. It was the first time Done. He got so pepped-up, and I was telling him my story, and he goes, “You know what? You need to talk to a guy named Steven E, and tell him your story, and get it into a book. So I said, “Here’s my story: I went from unemployed to selling big ticket items on eBay, blah-blah-blah, and living the life I love. “The series that Steven E has is Wake up, Live the Life you Love.” So, I told him my story, he said “Great, write it up,” and I wrote it up. We got it in a book, and about four months later, that book became a number one best seller.. It was like, seventy authors had a story in this book—a compilations book. As for the authors, we all helped to make it a number one best seller by using our friendships to help sell the book. Throughout the process, I learned the system and the formula to become a number one bestseller. There’s a system and I turned it into a kind of automated business. But, what www.Infobonus.com does is collect bonuses. Bonuses would be like I have a bonus called “The Five Steps to Get Started on eBay.” It’s an audio series, and a guy named Thundy Melundras, he’s a famous radio announcer in San Antonio. He interviewed me over a period of two or three months. So, I recorded these interviews, and it was basically a step-by-step how to get started teaching people on the radio. I packaged it up, and I made it into a free product that I gave away to people. I mean like twenty dollars, but I give it away free, and hopefully they like my stuff, and they’ll buy other stuff from me. —All in all, there are speakers out there that have products. They would give away in order to expose you to their products. Altogether, I collect all these bonuses into my system, and I bundle them with books that make them sell. So, if you have a book that you sell for $14.95, you can get 3,000 dollars worth of bonus materials for buying that book.
David: And so, it creates an irresistible offer, and a lot of people buy the book to grab the bonuses. For example, if you walked into a store and you saw a Colgate package of toothpaste that you needed, and a Colgate with a toothbrush attached to it, which one are you going to buy? Easily, the one with the toothbrush.
Don: Even if you just need toothpaste that day, and you saw one with the toothbrush attached to it, you might buy it anyway. So, and that’s the concept, and we have an automated system for authors. In the last year, now, I started this business, I started building it in August of last year of 2004. Later on, we launched it on January first, with the first book, and, we made the book a bestseller. Since then, I’ve made one book a month, a best seller. So, I have a hundred percent track record. Every book that uses my system has become a bestseller.
David: And what is that website again?
David: Okay, so you’ve got, those two sites. What’s that one that you actually, market as?
Don: Oh, the third site I have is Big Ticket Ace. One of the co-authors in the book, his name’s Joel Christopher. We’re on the phone, all the authors are on the phone talking about how we’re going to market this book, and Joel Christopher says, “Oh my god, you won’t believe this, Don, but I’m having a Big Ticket seminar in January. Would you—can you speak at it?” I said, “Yeah!” I sat down with Joel Christopher; we created a product to sell back in the room, and I spoke at his seminar the first time standing up, so they kept calling me Big Ticket Ace, so I became this Big Ticket Ace, Since then, I’ve sold more than five items because an Ace is someone who shoots down more than five airplanes, or whatever in a wartime. So, I had this aviation persona background, and everything else, it came out because I sold Big Ticket things or Big Ticket Ace. Anyway, I did a speak at his seminar, and spawned off a product to teach people how to sell big ticket items. You know that I sell for about a hundred bucks, an audio product, so that’s a spawned off business.
David: You actually have your own product for teaching people how to actually do what you’re doing?
Don: Right. www.bigticketace.com.
David: Wow and they can get that for like a hundred dollars?
Don: A hundred dollars and then, what I found was that there’s people that wanting to do what I do, but don’t know how to get started. So, I have two other programs: the scout program, where you can go out and find help to sell my properties for me, let’s say I have an airplane home, and you have a buddy who would like to buy one.
You put him in touch with me, and I’ll split my profits with you. So you do the scout-drop for me, and I also have the bird-dog program, where people go out, and they’ll go find whatever to sell, bring those to me, and if we make a sale, then I split profits with that person. People work for me. It’s great.
David: Wow, so there’s no risk. You just put contacts together.
Don: No risk for people, so if you know somebody who wants to buy an airplane home, you can make a couple thousand dollars on the sale. Those two things kind of spawned off—and that’s where I got the Costa Rica motel. I have a guy who lives in Singapore He put me in touch with those guys, so he’s my bird-dog. He’s finding me, people that want to sell stuff. So, I don’t have to go out there and hunt them down anymore.
David: Wow. Man, that is really good.
Don: I split-up to 33 percent, on a million dollar property, that’s 100,000, you could make up to 33,000 dollars.
David: 33,000 dollars?
Don: Just by finding that property and bringing it to me. We make a sale. It’s weird because when I first started, “I will sell your stuff.” I didn’t know where the path would lead me, so it got me to the book, which led me to the bestseller “thingamajig,” which led me to the Big Ticket Ace. It’s just, weird how it’s all interconnected, you know?
David: From unemployed to like three Internet businesses?
Don: I actually have one more Internet business.
David: You do? What is that? What is this one?
Don: Although, I didn’t really count the Big Ticket Ace as an Internet business.
Don: Kind of goes along with Big Ticket and will sell your stuff. But, the other one is www.apachebillet.com.
David: Apache what?
Don: Apache Billet? Billet is spelled—it’s a type of alin.
Don: One of my businesses, I went to playschool with one of the guys who owns a cutting business. He has these C&C machines that cut alin, and he came up with this grip, a real nice slip-on grip that goes on Suzukimotorcycles, slips right on, and it’s made of alin, and it’s chrome-plated. He wanted me to help him market it on the Internet. So, we built apachebillet.com, where we sell these grips, GSXR motorcycle grips, on the Internet. They’re selling like hotcakes. It’s crazy because everybody’s making the Harley grips, but no one’s been making them for the little Suzukis, and Yamahas, and Hondas, which we’re diversifying.
David: My goodness. Well, they say it’s all about niche, I mean, you market to everybody, you know, no one’s your market, I think that’s what the quote says, or whatever, so right now you’ve got Suzuki people and that’s who’s going to buy it.
Don: I get to keep my aviation theme because both of us are aviators. The alin is aircraft grade alin. So it all kind of ties in, so we decided on Apache Billet for the name of the company.
David: Gee, that’s brilliant and speaking of aviation theme, I’ve noticed, you know, seeing you on different shows like Good Morning America, and different things, you always seem to wear like an aviation outfit. Is that correct?
Don: I wear a flight suit.
David: Flight suit? Yeah, Wow, that is brilliant.
Don: It has all my logos on it, so you know who I am and what I do. The thing that’s great about the flight suit that I’m basically a walking income booth.
David: My goodness. Yeah, totally.
Don: It’s funny, I was at eBay live, one year, and we were down in New Orleans, or something like that. These people all paid hundreds to thousands of all sorts for their booths, and I walked around in a flight suit, and I had people coming left and right, wanting to know: “Here, you want to know how to sell big ticket items. Here’s what you do, go to www.bigticketace.com.
David: So, how do you have any employees?
David: No employees. Okay, so, it’s just you. Do you outsource anything? Is there anything to outsource?
Don: I have to have programmers, so I have to outsource those kinds of things.
David: Like for the web design and things like that?
Don: Well, most of the web design I do myself. I use Template Monster to start, and they usually have good Flash designs, and then, I learned how to change Flash designs. I just got in there and figured out how to work Flash. Hands on learning. I know how to use FrontPage now, so I can create my own sites. So, I’ll take the template and manipulate it the way I want like www.apachebillet.com is totally a template, thus redesigned to make it fit. It’s like the motorcycle was an Italian motorcycle, we had them put a (high used) motorcycle in there, and other. You just make it work. Work the way you want it to.
David: Cool. I mean, what is the Internet lifestyle like, as far as, what is your typical week like, you know, now that you’ve been doing this for, what, three or four years now?
Don: Well, the nice thing is your’re not an employee of somebody else, and you get to enjoy your family.
Don: Some people don’t get to enjoy activities with their kids and watch them grow up. I know guys, I feel so sorry for them, they come home and go out, before it’s light. They leave home when it is still dark. They return when it is dark, so they don’t even see the kids. So, you know, the weekends are the only time, and they have to spend every second with them. It’s just tough because they can’t, sometimes don’t feel like they can discipline they kids because—“what right to they have?”, so their kids go wild and crazy because they don’t see them. They’ve got to be good to them the whole time. So, it’s just kind of a weird relationship. For me, mine is so totally normal, being home, I’m the one who starts the day with my kids. I send them off to school. I cook them breakfast, and I spend time with them in the morning. Then I go in, and I do my e-mails, and I basically catch-up and return all my e-mails. Next, I spend a lot of my time on marketing. How do I increase my market share? How do I increase the traffic to my site? How can I get more new? How can I get more hits? How can I get more sales? Altogether, that what I spend my time doing. Unreal, but really, takes on a lot less stress than having a boss over you, and going to a job that you hate. Yeah, every client is a boss, so you have a thousand bosses. They all have different personalities but I don’t have to punch tickets. I’ve been to some jobs where I’m twiddling my thumbs after the first two hours. That’s how I learned eBay because there was nothing to do at work, so I’d get online and learn how eBay works. But, you have to be there because you’re punching the clock. You know what I mean? So, there’s a lot of workforce out there, people that work in their jobs that are bored half of their day because they have nothing to do. That’s why they socialize! They go talking to their friends. They go to the water cooler. They do everything else because they can’t keep you busy every single day for every hour of the day.
Don: Most people, anyway. So why not maximize your time?
David: Wow, so what type of fees like if you were brokering, what type of fees are you charging for say like real estate, or these airplane homes? Is it just a general, across the board, ten percent, or do you go deal-by-deal?
Don: I go deal-by-deal, but typically ten percent.
Don: So that is what I look for, the real estate transactions, I have to do a flat fee, because, you’re not allowed to take a commission, so I basically give them a flat fee. Upfront is how much it’s going to cost you to get started, and on the back end is how much it’s going to be, and I don’t do automobiles anymore because Texas law says that you can’t, or you’re considered a broker if you do automobiles that are not your own. You can only sell so many in a year
David: Really, as a broker?
Don: I didn’t want to play that. I didn’t want to fight that issue, so I just stopped selling cars. I had some sweet cars like a ’57 Chevy. I had a 60-something Cadillac that was in a movie, and old trucks. It was pretty cool.
David: My goodness. Well that’s getting a little bit more common, as for selling cars. I had a friend who just, a couple weeks ago, sold his brand new Mustang, 2005 Mustang, on eBay, and he bought a Mercedes. He drove up to Indiana and got it. It seems kind of weird like holy cow. He just bought it off eBay! But, you know, it’s getting more common nowadays, I guess.
Don: Well, one thing that’s good about eBay, first off, when you walk into a store. Okay, could you imagine on the front of the store, there’s a big poster that automatically updates, and on this poster it says, “This is how many people love this store. This is how many people hate this store.” Transactions or whatever, right at the storefront, so there’s a lot of stores where people hate and say, “I would never go into that store again,” and I’d love to be able to put that sign-up. As an eBay seller, I have a sign called my Feedback Rating that tells people exactly where and how I stand with my customers. Currently, I have a hundred percent feedback. Positive feedback. Now, I only have a small number of transactions, just over 400, on “I will sell your stuff.” However, I have three different eBay sites, but “I will sell your stuff” only has 400 because I don’t do a big number of large amounts. I do small quantity but larger value.
David: But you have a hundred percent feedback of 400 people?
David: That’s huge.
Don: Feedback is one thing that indicates what kind of a seller you have.
David: So feedback’s really important on eBay, right?
Don: Sure, well, it’s one indicator.
Don: What I do, when I go to buy a car, you look for some Feedback Ratings. You say, “Okay, they have a ninety-five percent or better rating,” so you go into their feedback, and you see where the negative ones are, and a lot of times it’s just people that were too impatient, who are giving bad ones because it didn’t get sent in time. There are always some bad ones. So, you find out that probably this guy isn’t really a bad guy to deal with and then you can look for things like Square-Trade seal, which will tell you they’re a Square dealer, and ID Verify is the thing in eBay where you can check. ID Verify says that the guy who’s selling is the person who’s selling, not some guy using a fake ID or something. So, when they sell a car, they basically have to tell you everything that’s wrong with it. Because if you went there and it’s dripping oil on the ground, and you look under it, you can cut the sale right there, and say “I’m not buying this, even though I told you I’m paying you 15,000 for this thing, I’m not paying a cent because you didn’t disclose this.” So you can get out of the deal real easy. If someone has to ship it to you and you’re going to send it back twice. The shipment going to cost them lots of money because it’s about 500 to 1000 dollars per shipment. So, when you sell a car, you’ve got to make sure you disclose everything. So that’s the good thing. See, the shifty car dealers of the past, or whatever you see on the street, won’t effectively work on eBay.
David: No. I see.
Don: Those guys will die.
Don: Because their sign says, “I’ve had bad transactions with this guy.” So, buying a car is pretty safe on eBay. Same thing with properties and million dollar items and everything else.
David So cool. Let me ask you this, how do you get traffic to your listings? What are some of the things that you’re getting that makes you stand out and get people to check out your eBay listings?
Don It depends on a high dollar listing, I’ll do all different kinds of ways to market. I’ll do press releases. I’ll submit a worldwide press release usually on the property and use Google Adwords.
David: Google AdWords? What is that?
Don: Google AdWords is a paid advertisement, when you go into Google, and you say, “missile silo,” over on the right-hand side, you’ll see these little squares, and these are paid advertising, paid per click, so you might see my little ad over there for eBay, this missile silo, but it doesn’t cost me a thing until you click.
David: So, it’s very targeted to traffic.
Don: So, I click it through, and it comes right to the eBay advertisement, and if they buy, then great, if not, whatever. There’s a lot of tire-kickers out there, but it’s still another way to bring traffic. eBay has this similar thing called Keywords, and what’ll happen is if you type in, like, missile silo, Adirondack. I can use a bunch of keywords, and what’ll happen is they’ll give me a banner, so even though my listing may not show up on the page, the banner will show up at the top, and you can click on the banner. It’ll bring them right to my auction.
David: Do you pay extra for that type of service?
Don: You have to pay for those things.
Don: And I pass those through to the seller. They pay the fees, and I don’t pay anything. Because I first started, I was selling these things for free, for people, and racking in the fees until what I found out as a perfect example: I had a guy who had a Prowler, a Plymouth Prowler. He wanted 40,000 dollars for it. I caught him a bidder at 36,500. Okay. He refused the bid. He wanted 40,000, okay? So, I lost the sale and two weeks later, I see this Prowler up in the dealership because this is a small town, and I talk to my consignment buddy. He said, “Oh yeah, he was desperate for money, He sold it to the dealership for 30,000.”
David: You’re kidding me!
Don: Like, two weeks after he turned my bid down. So, it was just like people get greedy and they don’t take a good bid because sometimes underbids are so good. $36,000, $6,000 more than he gave it away for to the dealership. So, it was taking the risk, I was losing. I ended up losing a lot of money starting up, and then I said, “I’m not doing this anymore, they’re going to pay for every listing.” So, I make them pay for the listing, I make them pay everything upfront.
David: So, Don, do you have any competition? Like, you’re really the first person I’ve ever heard doing this.
Don: No, in fact, I’m the trail blazer. Down with Makewood Men and Winterford VPs and there’s no one else doing this—at least a couple of years ago.
David: Now, Makewood, she’s the CEO, right?
Don: She’s the CEO, yeah.
David: Well, cool. How important is it to like build a brand? Like I’ve noticed, you’re brilliant at branding, and you’re wearing the flight suit, as you’re going out or whatever.
David: Has that helped you?
Don: Absolutely. I mean, I was at a seminar where they actually had children at the seminar, and hell was just breaking out because I’m a pilot and before I even spoke, I would just walk around with my flight suit on, and talk to people, and so they knew immediately I was the guy who was going to be talking big ticket on eBay to really communicate more effectively. People come up, talk to me. I think branding is very important. Absolutely, brand is what makes a lot of companies. Their brand is so key that’s why eBay said, “You can’t use our name in your company because we don’t want to dilute it,” you know?
David: Gotcha, yeah.
Don: It’s a very important thing. So, I think if you could figure out the niche or the brand, mine just all tied together perfectly. I mean with the airplane homes, being an aviator, and you know what I mean? It was an airstrip at the missile silo. It was too much, too easy for me to not go with the aviation theme.
David: How many, roughly, how many hours do you think you work per week doing this business?
Don: It fluctuates and goes. I probably work longer and harder than I ever did with any company.
David: And it is yours, too, I found out. I’m an entrepreneur as well, you tend to work more, because it’s yours, it’s your passion. Is it the same thing with you?
Don: Yeah , I am actually at work 24/7, the phone rings all the time, and the e-mails come in, and I answer them, but I don’t physically have to sit there at my desk for that entire day. Make sense? So I may have a 16 hour or 20 hour day of work, but actual sitting in front of the computer may only be three or four hours. The rest of it may be some phone time, and then the rest of it’s whatever I want to do.
My days are long when I’m producing more work for myself, when I’m working on the next deal, or doing the next thing, or improving my sites, or looking for traffic that’s when I spend a lot of time in front of the computer, and really have the long days. But, typically from making sales and stuff like that doesn’t take long in a day. I mean those kind of things don’t take long. It’s all the marketing and saving and traffic generation.
David: Yeah. What do you think the biggest key is to your success, as far as a characteristic that you’ve had since you’ve started or whatever? If you just narrowed it down?
Don: Not quitting.
David: Not quitting? Wow. It seems like the trade with everybody, I just read a thing about, John D. Rockefeller, the famous guy from Standard Oil —from the early 1900s in American industry. He could have said anything, and he said: perseverance, and not quitting, makes all the difference.
Don: When the missile silo thing fell through, I was devastated. That was a nice 200,000 dollar check, just stuck in my pocket, so I could’ve quit right then, but I knew that there was more to this. Plus, I had been working on my business for that year and a half anyway, and that kind of devastation can make people quit. But, I think that’s one of the main things.
don’t quit and don’t listen to the nay-sayers. I don’t know how many times people have said, “When are you getting a job?” When I hit hard times, and there are hard times, there are times when before this election came up, nothing was selling at Big Ticket. I was selling small stuff just to keep up and stay alive because everybody’s holding on to their wallets. Now, their wallets are wide open again, so you know, it’s cyclical.
David: Let’s just say that I’ve been working a job for 10 or 20 years, and I hate my job. I want to do something on the Internet. I hear about eBay, but I’m new, I check my email and know how to use a computer, but I’ve never built a website, or I’ve never even sold anything on eBay. What’s the quickest, easiest way that you would suggest getting started on eBay? I’m just a brand new guy.
Don: Okay. The first thing is to go out and buy something.
Don: Something like a two dollar thing, three dollar thing, whatever. Buy something, so you know what the process is like, and you learn how easy it is to sell, buy, and find out all the details. Also, the feeling of what it feels like to bid against somebody and just get in a bidding war.
Don: It’s very exciting, and you don’t know from the stellar point of view that you’ve Done any of the fire-spawning. So, find something that you really, really want, and then start bidding on it. See what it’s like to have someone steal that away from you in a bid, and then you have to go bid again, or whatever. So, that’s the first thing I’d say. Go out there and do it as a buyer.
Don: A few times as a buyer. Then, just find something in your house. Take a picture of it, and put it on as a seller. eBay is so easy to get started: you just click on “Sell,” and it just walks you through the steps. If you know how to take a picture, upload it, that’s probably the most difficult part. So, computer-wise, the other difficult part is just getting the right words out, picking your writing and write-ups that takes some talent sometimes, but if you look at how other people are selling their items, then all you have to do is copy other people, if you’re selling a, clock radio. Go to a guy’s page that has a clock radio and read what they say about it, how they describe it, the pictures that they take of it, just do what they do. It’s that easy.
David: Wow, that’s smart.
Don: Because you can go to completed, you can see where sales really completed and made money. Just copy those guys. That’s how I started off. I copied the guys that were making the best sales.
David: Wow, that’s about as close as a guaranteed sale as you could ever get really. You’re finding someone that’s already successful, and “I’m going to do what he did.”
Don: Yeah, do what he did! If you do what they do, then you’ll most likely get what they get. You know, mimic other people, and do it. Start something off at a dollar that you don’t care about. This clock radio is not worth 20 dollars, big deal, who cares, it’s not worth a penny to you now. Let it go for a penny and see what happens. Someone may buy it for 5 bucks and that’s more than you should ever get for it anyway. So, it’s a good way to find out if this collection I have of Marilyn Monroe playing cards is worth a gazillion dollars. Therefore, you go on eBay and find out they’re selling for $12.50 all over the place, twelve dollars and fifty cents.
David: Well, I’ve got one more question, just again, this is for people because they’re skeptical, probably been ripped off, they’re nervous, fear stops a lot of people. I want you to mention, any products that you have that could actually help people. The quickest and the shortest way possible, just go ahead and name your products, and how they can actually get them, which website, if they search those things on eBay.
Don: Okay, if you go to www.bigticketace.com, that’s pretty much the only product I’m selling right now.
Don: It’s an audio audio eBook. I did the audio, all three hours to four hours, and then I created a website based off that audio, so whatever I talked about in the audio, I made links and references and information, so you’ll be able to click through and find all these things I’ve mentioned: Template Monsters, click here, and it’ll take you to www.TemplateMonsters.com, you know, or if you need to get, SquareTrade, click here, and it’ll get you a SquareTrade seal.
Don: I put all those into a kind of a webpage that goes along with his audio. So, it’s all pretty comprehensive. That’s the main product that I have.
Don: Everything kind of spawns from that, as far as information products.
David: Don, I want to give you the final thoughts, anything that you’d like to add to this interview that may be helpful. Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
Don: I would say, that if you’re in a job right now, and you’re disappointed with it, you don’t have to quit your job to start a business. You can start it while you’re at work. It’s real easy to start on the weekends, start selling stuff on eBay, and taking care of them after you get home from work, finalizing the sale, getting in and figuring how it works. Figuring it out if you even like doing Internet kind of things because the freedom you will get, once you get away from the office is so amazing. I was able to coach my son’s soccer team. I go to every single one of their games. I go to every single one of their practices everyday. I have time for a lot of things that I would have never had time for like my church, and everything else because I can schedule my work around whatever I want. I can compress, if I have a lot of stuff I need to get Done, I compress it into one day, so I can have another day off. We just took off for a long weekend, Thursday through Sunday, camping, this weekend. I can do my work wherever I am, so if I need to go away for a week, as long as I have an Internet connection, I can run my business. I can mix business with pleasure, so I can still go out on vacation, and then come home at the end of the night and do some work and catch-up with e-mails.
David: Awesome. Wow.
Don: So, I would say, start off from work, doing something else. I love Robert Kiyosaki, and his advice to get a multi-level business. Now, I’ve been in multi-level businesses, and that’s where I learned a lot of marketing and sales, and what they teach you in multi-level. So, get into a multi-level business with somebody out there: Shaklee, I don’t know all these people out there, but get in one and get started, learn the trade, learn how to sell to people because you’re learning how to market, sell, which is the key to Internet businesses.
What a great way to get into a business. You get all this great training, and you could do that while you’re still working. Get out there and just sell something off or out of your junk out from inside of your house. Stuff that’s just piling up doing nothing, take a photo of it, put it on the Internet, let it go for whatever it goes for, and start clearing out your house, and you’re going to start a nice little business from that. That’s basically it.
David: Great. Thank you so much for your time, and the information. My passion is actually to help people quit their job, and not settle in life. But go out and actually create something on their own or whatever, and the information that you’ve given us today is going to help inspire someone to actually go start an eBay business up. So, thank you again for taking the time to do this interview.