In 1993 I decided that I wanted to own my own business, but had no idea what I wanted to do with myself. One day I was asking my older brother for some ideas, and he recommended that I start a board up service. I thought for a minute….. Board up service….. . As in 24 hour emergency board up service?
My brother did emergency board ups in the 80’s so he was able to give me the necessary info on starting my own boardup company. I asked him if there were enough broken windows in the San Fernando area to provide me with enough board ups to make a living, and he said that he used to board up about 5 broken windows a night.
I never thought that the demand for an emergency boardup service could be so high. When I was 12 or 13 years old, I remember tearing down the highway at midnight, going on emergency calls with my brother and how exciting that was. My brother taught me that there was not just one technique, but many different ways to complete a board up.
I remember thinking “how is he going to do this job now?” Sometimes the broken glass would be hanging dangerously out of the opening, and he was always confidant on the removal. Sometimes he would grab the broken plate glass with his bare hands! And he would take big bites out of it Other times he would break out the glass with a flat shovel. No matter what the situation, he knew how to safely remove the glass and board up the window. After we would finish he would take me to every 7-11 store we could find on the way home , and play about $5.00 in video games (kung-fu).
So now I need to know how much to charge for a board up. My brother used to make $45.00 per job, but he worked for someone else, and they charged $75.00 for the service. With that info, and it being 10 years later I had no idea what to charge.
Opening a board up company has a very low overhead start up cost. All you need is a truck, saw, drill, 9/16 wrench, a few sheets of plywood, a license, insurance, a business name, a business card, and a whole lot of hustle.
With that said. Board up Doctor was born. I started Board up Doctor in 1994. I thought that Board up Doctor was a genius name that flowed well, and in many ways represented the trade with its various challenges . For example: 24 hour emergency service, or the reconstruction of a car crash board up, the dedication, and flexibility to complete each type of job like a surgeon. I know this sounds a bit overboard, and it is but there are similarities.
In 1994 I registered Board up Doctor with The City of Los Angeles as a sole proprietor.
I now had a name, the next step was designing the Board up Doctor business card. I went with a plywood back round with 24 hour emergency service in the top right corner, and Board up Doctor in bolt print dead center, 24 hour emergency pager number in the lower left corner, and my name in the lower right corner. It was simple, and to the point.
I borrowed the first Board up Doctor tool set from my girlfriends father.
All I needed now was a truck, or van to get to the job in. The only problem was that I had a Saturn car, and a few hundred dollars left over from what I saved while I was in the Army.
All of my friends said I was crazy, and fed me a bunch of negativity about starting Board up Doctors. They couldn’t see the demand for board ups even though I explained my brothers success in the 80’s. I didn’t want to listen to them. I and wanted to prove that I could, and looked forward to the challenge, however, my friends did plant some doubt, but not enough to stop me.
Since I had some doubts as to the success of Board up Doctor I decided to hold off on trading in my car for a truck, and advertise the business first, to see if I would get any emergency board up calls. I opened the yellow pages and looked up all of the glass companies that had big adds.
I cold called them to make my introduction, and set up meetings to discuss board ups. To my misfortune I set up my first meeting with a large glass and mirror company (they owned another company, my competitor. I didn’t know this at the time, nor did they tell me) The owner of company sat across the counter from me, smiled and said he would be more than happy to provide Board up Doctor with board ups at $185.00 per board up. He even went so far as to say that this was the rate to charge all of the glass companies if I wanted them to call me for board ups.
I felt relieved that I had closed my first account, and now knew what to charge for my services. For the next 5 months I must have went on about 50 or so meetings with other glass companies quoting this rate, they all said that they would call me for their board up needs, but no one called. I thought all this work I’m doing, all the positive feedback from these glaziers, still no work. I started getting depressed, and really started feeling my friends doubts. I was frustrated, and had to figure out exactly what I was doing wrong.
I went to the the home improvement store, and priced out material at $8.00 per sheet, and nuts-bolts at 20 cents. I immediately cut my rate $185.00 to $50.00 per opening.
Feeling beat I went to my brother for some advice. He asked me if I had contacted a large insurance company. He explained that they insured franchise storefronts, and they always kept him busy in the 80’s. I looked them up, and got their number the next day.
I had a great conversation with the owner, he said he was looking for a new board up service because their current board up service was over charging them. I said Board up Doctor will charge you $50.00 per opening, he said “wonderful, do you have insurance?” I lied and said yes. He said “great, I will come by your place in two days on Wednesday to see your operation.” I said “I look forward to meeting you.”
Oh No!!! Oh yessss!! I don’t have a truck, any wood, I didn’t have insurance, and most of all I didn’t have any money to get any of this!!! The Vice president of this large window brokerage company was coming to my place in two days.
I had to act quick. I called my Dad, and explained my situation. He had an old broken down van that didn’t run that I could use for appearances. We drove around to all the glass shops that night and picked up all their used board up material outside their shops. The next day I went to my moms house, and asked for a small loan to purchase business insurance. She gave me $800.00.
Wednesday came I had 30 sheets of plywood, a broken down van, and liability insurance.
The meeting went well. I said I planned on getting a fax machine to fax invoices, and was also getting a cell phone to answer calls directly for better service response. I thought that was pretty cutting edge board up technology at the time. I was told they liked helping new businesses get off to a good start, and promised me 10 board ups a week.
Finally! Board up Doctor closed a real account, a real big one.
I traded my car in for a new 1994 Ford Ranger, and saddled up. Board up Doctor was ready to respond
30 days went by, and still no work. I began to get nervous, and then… ..the 1st call came. Board up Doctor was off to its first emergency board up in 1994.
Now I own and operate AllenEmergency.com. The finest board up service in Southern California. In addition to 24 hour boardup services for commercial and residential accounts, we provide roof tarping, shrink wrap and more.
Call us today for a free quote. 818.859.5423 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org