Paint, Persistence and the Trunk of a Beat-up Car

Charles White is the owner and president of Magic Auto Touch Up, Inc. and Sprayless Scratch Repair Inc., which are centrally located in Lewisville, Texas. What started out as a mobile reconditioning service out of the trunk of Chuck’s car more than two decades ago has grown into a very successful full paint and body service center offering a number of patented repair and restoration processes that save customers time and money.

Now that the patent on Sprayless Scratch Repair in particular has gone through, the company is offering ambitious entrepreneurs nationwide the exclusive automotive business opportunity to provide this outstanding service in their own protected territory.

And while we’ve heard lots of chatter lately about the mobile office concept, the background on this success story takes the cake. Chuck tells it best:

I started this automotive touch-up venture in 1990 as a result of the personal dissatisfaction I was experiencing on a number of levels at the age of 44. I quit working for a dealer in Pennsylvania and moved back to my hometown in Texas to start this business out of the trunk of my beat-up car.

I had moved in with my new wife, and my first goal was to cover the whole house payment. I attained that goal within the first three months in business. I now have three businesses in the auto industry:

• Sprayless Scratch Repair (SSR), which is now available as a business opportunity given that our patent went through. We provide others with the opportunity to replicate our success by licensing them to perform this valuable service.

• My original company, Magic Auto Touch Up, Inc., which is a full-service body shop and service provider of the SSR process in the Dallas/Fort Worth market, and

• I now have a products distribution center for all areas of aftermarket reconditioning.

All told I went from being my only employee to supporting 29 employees and their families.

Chuck goes on to share his responses to some of’s most popular Entrepreneur Exchange questions:

How does someone know if they have what it takes to own their own business? Tell us a bit about how you made the decision and why.

You must know that you are persistent―that “no” is just that, a “no,” and you have to move on to the next customer. As for how I made my decision to become a business owner, my wages had always been subject to commissions, and I was tired of working for large corporations.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in your first six months in business? How did you meet that challenge?

Revenues were short for the first two months. Other than that, it was coping with the Texas heat. In the summer, I stayed hydrated and did a lot of research on how the old-time frames stayed cool in the summer.

What do you think is the greatest challenge facing business owners today and why? Any suggestions for how to address those challenges?

The government is the biggest challenge because of its obtrusiveness into all aspects of business. I recommend that you get educated about what is going on in the political arena as it pertains to small business, write your congressman and vote!!

What is the single strongest piece of advice you would have for someone just starting out in business for themselves?

Conserve your cash, stay cash-flow positive, and buy a product that works and that has a short learning curve so you can recoup fast (in one to six months).

What would you say is the one thing that new business owners forget about or overlook when they’re just planning/starting out?

They underestimate the complete start-up costs and grossly miscalculate their 60-day revenue. Also, the amount of time that you must dedicate to getting started is much more than you imagine. Just because you are your own boss really doesn’t mean that you can just take off whenever you want to―you actually go from having one boss to 25 bosses (customers) that you answer to, and people forget that.

What marketing strategies have you found to be most successful in growing your business?

I’d say face-to-face presentations; delivering a quality product for a reasonable price; and word-of-mouth marketing and utilizing the internet for that purpose. Demos are also key, along with knowing the answers to any and all questions regarding your product. You’ve got to know your product inside and out!!

What is it about the business/industry you are in that made it so attractive to you?

It was and still is a small niche market that a motivated person can make great strides in when growing a business. And, I have been in some form of the automotive industry since I got out of the military.

After the initial start-up phase in business, what obstacles do business owners face as they try to grow their business and remain successful? Any advice for how to overcome those obstacles?

Finding high-quality employees and maintaining quality control for your clients are the two biggest ones. You have to find someone as devoted to the end result as you are, and that’s tough.

What on-line, software or other resources have helped you the most in managing all aspects of your company? Why and how have they been helpful?

The two books: Quickbooks and Facebook. Quickbooks is one of the easiest formats to use in managing your business. And I have to mention Facebook for the social and word-of-mouth aspects that it provides.

What did you do before you decided to become your own boss, and how have those skills helped you in your current business?

I was a car salesman, and I was also an operations manager for dealer groups. I know what it takes to make a car deal work, and I can teach others about why our products and services are so important to making that happen.

What process do you follow to successfully close on a lead and make the final sale?

Demonstrations and referrals are critical.

If you own more than one business, how have you integrated your businesses to juggle it all successfully?

I feel that it is most beneficial when all the businesses are in the same industry and can benefit one another.

What is your favorite motto and/or quote when it comes to business? Any final words of encouragement and/or inspiration for the budding entrepreneur?

Business is about relationships. When you care about your customers, they stay your customers. If you are willing to work hard, set your goals and achieve them, you will be very successful.