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Old 06-02-2016, 11:21 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Could Someone Make Money At This?

Hello All!

Anybody who saw my intro knows that I have ZERO experience with this and is scratching their head thinking, "Why the hell is this chick asking if you can make money at this?" Let me explain and then I hope you can answer some questions.

I've recently been let go from my job in Corporate America and I'm pretty happy about that. My intention is to drive for Uber while I work on my pet project - starting a re-entry program for the formerly incarcerated where I teach them entrepreneurship.

One of the ways I'm hoping to support the non-profit is with business ventures. I just had the thought that if I find a couple of guys who are mechanics, electricians (you guys can tell me the skills someone needs to do this right), then maybe I could help a couple of guys get their first one going so they have something in their portfolio to do this on their own.

Here are the questions I have:

1. What is the cost of the AVERAGE school bus conversion? I've seen vids of guys getting cool stuff from the dump (kitchen cabinetry for instance) and I figure I could build relationships with builders, etc. to keep costs down. But I wanted to know how much one could reasonably expect to spend in order to do this so that I can figure out other stuff down the line, such as:

2. How long does it take? Assuming you did this as a full time job - roughly how many hours do you think the average conversion takes? I want to know how long it takes and how much it costs to find out what the potential income for my guys would be. I'm thinking 2 guys with the right skills can get the job done in an efficient amount of time, but maybe I'm wrong about that.

3. What are the most important skills? Auto-mechanic skills I figure would be imperative, but maybe not. Maybe, assuming you got a good bus, that's the least essential skill. The type of thing where you could hire a guy to fix whatever and then the rest is the conversion. But I'm not sure if having those skills ties into other jobs. I've seen threads about lights (exterior I think), batteries, etc. There does seem to be a lot of questions about electrical in general so I figure having someone who got electrician training would be beneficial. Iron work? I see that a lot of this starts with framing with steel. Carpentry? Plumbing? I mean I can clearly see all of these skills are needed, but if you guys are doing these things completely on your own in some cases, then I figure if I have 2 guys with the most important skills then they can cross train to learn the couple of other things that would help.

4. How marketable are these? Those of you who are doing this as a labor of love may not know, but because you all are swapping parts, buying parts etc. I figure you might know just how popular this is so that I could figure out how lucrative it might be. With my non-mechanical skills, I figure I'd be in charge of finding all the stuff needed to do the job, decorating, marketing, and keeping the whole process moving.

This literally occurred to me last night so it's technically a "half-baked" idea. Originally, a lot of the types of businesses I thought of for the guys would have much less overhead and be more service oriented to truly get them started, but because this endeavor would be a team effort, I started to think "Go big or go home."

As a GUESS I figured it might be sold on average for $30K (some more, some less), $10K in parts (if one is thrifty) and 2 months worth of work with 2 guys making it a little over $6K each for 2 months, but this is a GUESS based on nothing. My numbers are likely way off, but I was keeping to round figures.

Anything you can offer would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 06-02-2016, 11:37 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YMIHere View Post
Hello All!

Anybody who saw my intro knows that I have ZERO experience with this and is scratching their head thinking, "Why the hell is this chick asking if you can make money at this?" Let me explain and then I hope you can answer some questions.

I've recently been let go from my job in Corporate America and I'm pretty happy about that. My intention is to drive for Uber while I work on my pet project - starting a re-entry program for the formerly incarcerated where I teach them entrepreneurship.

One of the ways I'm hoping to support the non-profit is with business ventures. I just had the thought that if I find a couple of guys who are mechanics, electricians (you guys can tell me the skills someone needs to do this right), then maybe I could help a couple of guys get their first one going so they have something in their portfolio to do this on their own.

Here are the questions I have:

1. What is the cost of the AVERAGE school bus conversion? I've seen vids of guys getting cool stuff from the dump (kitchen cabinetry for instance) and I figure I could build relationships with builders, etc. to keep costs down. But I wanted to know how much one could reasonably expect to spend in order to do this so that I can figure out other stuff down the line, such as:

2. How long does it take? Assuming you did this as a full time job - roughly how many hours do you think the average conversion takes? I want to know how long it takes and how much it costs to find out what the potential income for my guys would be. I'm thinking 2 guys with the right skills can get the job done in an efficient amount of time, but maybe I'm wrong about that.

3. What are the most important skills? Auto-mechanic skills I figure would be imperative, but maybe not. Maybe, assuming you got a good bus, that's the least essential skill. The type of thing where you could hire a guy to fix whatever and then the rest is the conversion. But I'm not sure if having those skills ties into other jobs. I've seen threads about lights (exterior I think), batteries, etc. There does seem to be a lot of questions about electrical in general so I figure having someone who got electrician training would be beneficial. Iron work? I see that a lot of this starts with framing with steel. Carpentry? Plumbing? I mean I can clearly see all of these skills are needed, but if you guys are doing these things completely on your own in some cases, then I figure if I have 2 guys with the most important skills then they can cross train to learn the couple of other things that would help.

4. How marketable are these? Those of you who are doing this as a labor of love may not know, but because you all are swapping parts, buying parts etc. I figure you might know just how popular this is so that I could figure out how lucrative it might be. With my non-mechanical skills, I figure I'd be in charge of finding all the stuff needed to do the job, decorating, marketing, and keeping the whole process moving.

This literally occurred to me last night so it's technically a "half-baked" idea. Originally, a lot of the types of businesses I thought of for the guys would have much less overhead and be more service oriented to truly get them started, but because this endeavor would be a team effort, I started to think "Go big or go home."

As a GUESS I figured it might be sold on average for $30K (some more, some less), $10K in parts (if one is thrifty) and 2 months worth of work with 2 guys making it a little over $6K each for 2 months, but this is a GUESS based on nothing. My numbers are likely way off, but I was keeping to round figures.

Anything you can offer would be appreciated. Thanks.

This questions has been raised before on here. The consensus is it is not really a viable business. You're starting with a used bus that is well worn, generally 15-20 years old and has lots of miles on it. Then you have to deconstruct everything the factory did in making it a school bus and reconstruct it as an rv, which costs allot of $$$$ to do it right. Then there's the matter of getting the title changed to an rv title if it's even possible where you're located. THEN you need to find a buyer with cash to buy it since most banks are not going to lend money on a bus/rv conversion. Unless you can line up a buyer beforehand, under contract so you have a definite sale and money, to build it to their specifications you'll be building a skoolie on speculation and hoping a buyer will pay the huge asking price you'll need to charge to recoup you're money and make a profit while liking the layout and design you built it to. VERY risky financially. Everyone who builds on here does it for the love of the vehicles and ability to personalize it to their needs.
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Old 06-02-2016, 12:01 PM   #3
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Old 06-02-2016, 12:11 PM   #4
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I hate to be a debbie downer, but it's NOT going to work. NOBODY and I mean NOBODY will buy a converted bus for more than you put into it PERIOD.

Unless you stumble upon some incredibly naive or delusional buyers, flipping skoolies for profit is damn near impossible. 99.99% of skoolie owners lose money on their rigs when they go to sell them.

We had a sale thread recently with an absolutely beautiful early 1990s Thomas skoolie that was fully converted using incredible craftsmanship, one of the best conversions I've seen on this site to date. He was asking $50K and was getting somewhat serious offers in the <$20K range
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Old 06-02-2016, 12:25 PM   #5
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I don't fully understand the idea you're proposing but the point has been well established that there's virtually zero market for built skoolies. Most people who get into this WANT to build their own. People who want an RV go to an RV dealership. Unless there's some untapped market for school-bus-turned-food-truck or bug-out-bus conversions, there's really no market for school-bus-turned-RV conversions. Therefore, if you want to know who you need to recruit first, you'll need some Henry Ford type who is visionary enough to look beyond what the consumer wants and the savvy to shape the market to fit the product instead of vice versa.

I've been toying with the idea myself but so far cannot get the numbers to add up... There's simply no market for a turnkey bus.
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Old 06-02-2016, 01:40 PM   #6
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I don't think you have a snowball's chance in you know where of making this project fly. IMHO, you should go back to work and, if you wish, make charitable contributions to your favorite cause.
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Old 06-02-2016, 05:05 PM   #7
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You might consider morphing the idea a bit.

One of the problems we have here is ex-cons cant get jobs, cant get credit, and often wind-up living on the street. Not good.

What about training them first in the rudiments of diesel repair, letting them purchase a bus for sweat equity, build it out with recycled/repurposed bits, while they live in it?

Dunno if thats part of your interest or not, but if you are trying to get max mileage from minimum funds, it might be a direction to explore.

Skills + home + stability = potential success.
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Old 06-02-2016, 05:52 PM   #8
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Well, you folks have already given a pretty uniform and complete answer. Hard for the original poster to hear, but good to get a straight answer early.


But since we're talking about resale and recouping costs, how 'bout my case? I want to:
  • Buy a decent bus in VA (2001 or so, conventional, DT466, Allison 2050, airbrakes, full records, no rust, just out of service, probably for ~ $3500);
  • Remove the seats;
  • Pressure wash, spot sand and Rustoleum it;
  • Build rudimentary RV elements for retitling and the trip;
  • Retitle it;
  • Load it with all of our belongings (it will be a live-in moving van for two weeks);
  • Drive it across country; and
  • Sell it when I get to my new home.
I'll be relocating to Idaho, halfway up the west state line, a bit more than an hour out of Spokane.

Think I could get $3500 or $4K with the seats out, some paint, and an RV title, and a successful shakedown cruise across the country?
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Old 06-02-2016, 08:39 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Originally Posted by ol trunt View Post
I don't think you have a snowball's chance in you know where of making this project fly. IMHO, you should go back to work and, if you wish, make charitable contributions to your favorite cause.
Thanks for the fine advice, person-who-knows-nothing-about-me.

Not sure if your comment was about this project, but since you followed it up with your advice of telling me to go back to work I'm guessing you think the entire project is a bust, which is not true.

I'm tired of the soul-sucking atmosphere in corporate. I don't know what you do for work, but it SUCKS. I worked for one of the top 3 banks and in less than 5 years I've had 5 jobs in 4 departments (I applied for two and got shifted fro one place to the next for the others) with 2 layoffs. There is ZERO job security in that place.

Like I said, this was a brand new idea because I'm inspired by what I see here. However there are many other businesses which require far less capital and are more lucrative.

If you're a doubter as to whether the non-profit is viable there are places already doing it quite successfully. Feel free to check out PEP | Prison Entrepreneurship Program or Defy Ventures, Inc.. Or check out this Ted Talk: https://youtu.be/iGpDG_aMciQ



Quote:
Originally Posted by GreyCoyote View Post
You might consider morphing the idea a bit.

One of the problems we have here is ex-cons cant get jobs, cant get credit, and often wind-up living on the street. Not good.

What about training them first in the rudiments of diesel repair, letting them purchase a bus for sweat equity, build it out with recycled/repurposed bits, while they live in it?

Dunno if thats part of your interest or not, but if you are trying to get max mileage from minimum funds, it might be a direction to explore.

Skills + home + stability = potential success.
Hi. Thanks for the input.

The sweat equity thing was a part of it. I have zero experience with diesel mechanic etc. but the thing is, these guys are often trained in prison in these sort of things already. MANY things. As a mechanic, having a record would probably not be the biggest issue, but it's not out of the question either. As far as living in it - probably hard to do without a bathroom etc. I'm guessing it takes a while to pull those portions together and I would guess that part comes much later than framing it out, but I honestly have no idea. I'll just focus on the less complicated projects.
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Old 06-02-2016, 08:39 PM   #10
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Just a thought. Why don't you hook up with the original poster. Maybe you have just what she is looking for!
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