087: Speed Addict Cycles – Schad VanLeeuwen

You could say Schad VanLeeuwen was born with motorcycling in his blood. His grandfather had been a national racing champion, and Schad grew up lending a hand in the family parts and accessories business.

To help sell some of their old inventory, Schad began listing it on eBay. Soon, he started running his own company, Speed Addicts, out of his freshman dorm room in Santa Barbara, CA.

Today, Speed Addicts boasts multiple offices, retail space in Los Angeles, and $2.4 million in annual gross revenue on eBay (more than a third of which is global sales!) Schad also racked up a 99.7% positive rating from more than 33,000 buyers in his eBay Store and prides himself on providing best-in-class service to customers across the globe.

Interesting Notes

  • Schad started biking at the age of 4. He grew up biking and was always interested in motorcycles.
  • His family is in wholesale. Schad heard of the family rules to get rid of discontinued inventory. They wanted to get rid of the old exhaust system. It came into his mind to build the stuff on eBay, thereby getting rid of it and make a couple of bucks. It turned out that eBay is the spot to get rid of the old exhaust system. He was doing a dropshipping arrangement from college and it took off from there. By the time he graduated, he was already doing a serious business on eBay.
  • He graduated with a college degree that he never put to work because he has been running an eBay store ever since.
  • His family still rides. They go out and watch races.
  • Schad described his eBay business as pleasure. At times when it starts to feel like a little bit of work, Schad does something different. He plays hockey.
  • He started his eBay business small, with good and funny niches. He sold second hand or used stuff. Over time, he keeps on building it.
  • It took him four to five years doing it full time in a garage until he made one big scary leap. He gets a real commercial space and hires employees at the same time. One employee turned three, and a few contractors.
  • Schad always finds it frustrating when their customers return stuff that is not perfect. And so he uses eBay to sell this stuff as open box. Otherwise, everything in their eBay store is new.
  • He has 15,000 SKUs. And Schad's mission is to go faster. At present, they are still figuring out how to do it. He sensed that it comes down to having templates and processes to download for reference.
  • Most of Schad's stuff is Buy It Now. Since there is a lot of fixed price on eBay, Schad doesn't have a lot to say about where he price things. In their open box stuff, he accepts offers. Every couple of months, he cleans and does away with stuff that is growing roots and does the auction style.
  • For things that are fast moving and sell fast, Schad buys and stock it. Otherwise, he does dropshipping and cross stocking — he orders it once he sells it. When the stocks come, he unpacks, repacks, and ships it. Doing cross stocking is much cheaper than dropshipping. He can control what the packaging looks like with the packing slip and all those stuff that goes with the box.
  • Schad does cross stocking only with suppliers that are nearby. For a much cheaper stuff, it does not make sense to dropship it. So, he does the best offer option.
  • He is not technical when it comes to motorcycle parts. He has a guy, Mr. Bill, that he calls “the parts crew”.
  • Schad's biggest issue is that certain brands are discouraging or forbid selling on eBay. The companies think that if you are selling on eBay you are downgrading their products. But a few have come back and told him that he can sell their stuff on eBay. They realized that eBay is not what they thought it was.
  • He thinks that eBay is moving closer towards the Amazon model. People recognize that eBay is the place to buy new stuff. It is of having an experience of shopping for new and good stuff. eBay is now recognized as a more legitimate marketplace.
  • What Schad loves about eBay? It is its ability to normalize the product. It provides a listing experience without taking away all the sellers branding and character. eBay allows him to have better images or cleaner listing than the others. He has a listing where he gets to brand his self and that is where he excelled over the years.
  • Schad wants to be one of the big players in this space. He thinks that it is time to put his feet on the gas and load the catalog or twist the throttle. They were finally able to afford the tools and the people to take it to the next level. He is ready to turn it up. The kind that he and his team are waiting for.

Advice, Tips, and Tricks

  • To take your business to the next level, Schad's suggestions are:
    1. You have to get processes in place so that your employees can be effective.
    2. Have the right tools for the employees to use.
  • Schad documented all the processes, the How To Do Certain Things, and save it all on the google drive.For a more complicated stuff, he does video screen captures of what he is doing and explains the process. He then uploads it to their private YouTube channel. His employees can refer to it in cases they forget the processes.
  • The technology has lowered the barrier entry. Anyone can be in eBay business overnight. The key is finding the right industry or place. And everyone has some sort of connection to some sort of industry or product.
  • The Keys to Have an Effective Listing
    1. Set up the processes you needed.
    2. Be a wizard in excel, especially if you have to deal with a lot of SKUs.
    3. Use a listing tool.
  • In Schad's practice, they use ChannelAdvisor. It does stuff in big chunks and batches.
  • For taking photos of his stuff, Schad has a photo studio. But in a lot of cases, he relies on the manufacturers' or vendors' photos.
  • When Schad feels burned out, he does some product photography stuff in his studio.

Quotes

  • “There is a buyer for just about everything.”
  • “You have to do something to get your blood pumping.”
  • “It's always good to bet on yourself if it will work out.”
  • “If you want to be in the automotive eBay business, don't try to pull a huge net and sell everything under the sun at once. You can pick and choose an area to win at.”
  • “You can't win all the wars at once. Get focus!”
  • “You get to learn to be not right all the time.”
  • “You are not supposed to try to win with your customers. Give the customers what they want and move on.”
  • “Selling on eBay is my graduate degree!”
  • “Having the individuality and the control on what your listing looks like on eBay is awesome.”
  • “Only do the things that only you can do.” – Jim Cockman

Tools

  • ChannelAdvisor

Contact Information

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