2017 Results Just In!

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airkooledchris
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Re: 2017 Results Just In!

Post by airkooledchris » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:30 pm

Ive mentioned this over at TS before as well, as the baywindow forum has drastically cut back from the volume it once had as well....

There is a huge group of baywindow bus owners who post dozens of new threads every single day, most of which who could use a LOT of good advice - and appear to be willing to pay for it - on FACEBOOK. I know, the design of the system is horrendous.

If the technical forums become monetized, I would highly suggest someone monitoring the nonstop posts coming in from there and respond back with links to technical articles that can be viewed with a moderate subscription first. Well shot and edited video's would do absolute wonders as well, just outlining a single day going over some basic's of your bus. (adjust the brakes, set the timing/idle/dwell?) - as an introduction to what it could offer.

Unless you 'grew up' with these forums, people aren't spending much time on them anymore. Yes, they are 100% better for every reason, but it's not where the new bus owners are going to share their stories and ask questions. Worse yet they are giving each other terrible advice on a semi-regular basis, though a few of us are trying when we can.
1979 California Transporter

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tommu
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Re: 2017 Results Just In!

Post by tommu » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:08 pm

Perhaps you need Social Media manager.. Instagram and Facebook are calling. Maybe not for direct contributions but certainly a presence there would bring you to attention of needy owners.

Jivermo
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Re: 2017 Results Just In!

Post by Jivermo » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:23 pm

Some excellent points here. I like this discussion.

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Amskeptic
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Re: 2017 Results Just In!

Post by Amskeptic » Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:29 pm

Ronin10 wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:59 am
I think monetizing the forums without evolving the experience would fail.
Me too, that is why I must make the interactive trouble-shooter clear concise and correct. The Technical Forums would all be there, available and seriously seriously edited. Right there, it would stand out from the herd of confusion on theSamba.

Ronin10 wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:59 am
the younger crowd prefers other mediums - photography, video, podcasts, 140-/280-character soundbites, etc., mediums digested quickly while on the go and certainly via a mobile phone. I don't see much future for a tech-based forum based communication format unless it's really brief and allows lots of quick back and forth with an expert.
No way. I am not going to subject myself to the quick back-and-forth riot of misunderstanding that I have plenty of experience with in real time. I am not going to cater to the youngsters need for hand-holding and idiotic over-exposition. As a matter of fact, if someone needs the troubleshooter, I hope they are stranded and outside the buzz of their unconscious usual day.

I expect anyone with a desktop or iPhone or tablet to be able to access the trouble-shooter that guides them through simple yes/no questions. Do you know of an interactive troubleshooter devoted to cars? How about an interactive troubleshooter that is like working with me?
Ronin10 wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:59 am
Going forward for the IAC experience, I think there is a future, but I think it requires a significant rethink of how this works. Maybe you and Robbie coordinate efforts, swapping halves of the country every other year.
Why would I do that? Am I cashing out, diluting my relationships with people? Not yet.
Ronin10 wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:59 am
Maybe make a point of hitting the bigger VW shows and offering on-the-spot one-hour blocks of time for consulting/diagnosis. Leverage your disciples.
No, I am not able to do my best work when I am thrust upon a totally unknown vehicle with a totally unknown person. But leveraging my disciples sounds like fun. If I have a subscription model for access to the Technical Forums and troubleshooter, then disciples would need to sell it as:
non-distracting
accurate
thorough
without the stress of a thousand different experts weighing in and arguing with each other
Ronin10 wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:59 am
An internet business model that I'm really seeing gain steam in non-ACVW areas and to which you've alluded to is a membership model where the general forums as they stand remain open to the general public, but your knowledge (via tutorials, one-on-one tech support, etc.) remains behind a membership firewall.
Well that is what I have been communicating here . . . . :scratch:

Ronin10 wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:59 am
Usually I see this done in the form or quick 5-10 minute video which can be informational or simply a video log of your travels and appointments, but that would require Colin to do more than dip a toe into the internet age. He would need at least get a good smartphone.
Why on Earth would I need a smart phone?

Ronin10 wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:59 am
Remember what I said about the time it takes to write these posts?
Andrew
Yeah actually, I have gained some experience over the past decade with "the time it takes to write these posts".
Colin
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,845 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . . 112,885 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 78,899 miles

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asiab3
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Re: 2017 Results Just In!

Post by asiab3 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 1:49 am

Ronin10 wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:59 am
Going forward for the IAC experience, I think there is a future, but I think it requires a significant rethink of how this works. Maybe you and Robbie coordinate efforts, swapping halves of the country every other year.
I've helped out people when they have asked me, but I do not, in any way, want to interfere with the IAC process. I love my visits, and drinking beer at the Lab, but like I said in my post, there is a stark difference in knowledge here, and I'm still learning. We can all help while we learn Andrew, just like how Sven used to tell me how much he learned from you. :)

Colin, now that you've explained a bit more about your ideal electronic troubleshooting/diagnostic flow pages, I see where you're going with the PM subscription and exclusivity. Do you feel like you are overwhelmed with technical questions and requests over PM or other private communication channels? I've been toying with the idea of high-quality videos on tune-up basics, and starting a business where customers could "commission" a technically excellent video where I would perform the operation on my car, shoot the process, edit, and add technical commentary.

When I was on my Midwest trip, I asked $400 a day for all, except for one customer who loaned me their car for two weeks. After flights in, meals on the road, gas for the SUV, and time off work, I ended up about $50 richer than if I would have stayed at home and worked my part time teaching job. In the future, I will never do a "flat rate" day without a time cap. A few 15-16 hour days (plus travel time) really made me feel my thirties approaching… But then again, twelve work days in a row bookended by air travel might do that to anyone, I suspect.

I'm at my posting limit, because my eyelids are getting heavy, and this new diet has me tired earlier… Life can wait for me. :)
Robbie
1969 bus, "Buddy."
119k miles with me.
296k miles on Earth.

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Ronin10
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Re: 2017 Results Just In!

Post by Ronin10 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:20 am

Colin, maybe it's the limits of text-based communication, but it sounds like you've committed to a particular path forward and don't want to explore other avenues. With that in mind, maybe this discussion would be better off identifying the barriers to your business endeavor and finding ways around them.

I'll suggest a handful of challenges you seem to be facing:
  • Your body will only let you do this for so long. Can you say for how many more years or at what age you anticipate you'll stop traveling for appointments?
  • Stating the obvious, but every year there are fewer and fewer ACVWs on the road, specifically buses which seems to be your bread and butter, and with that comes fewer and fewer potential customers. And of those potential customers, a great many don't want to work on their cars, they just want them to run and be enjoyed. In my mind, this is a severe limit on the IAC endeavor. Have you identified a threshold (# appointments, cost/appointment, etc.) where you can't break even and decide to pull the plug on the effort?
  • I expect most of your customer base can only dump so much money into their vehicle in a given year. That means you're competing for ACVW dollars against projects that need to be done, crummy aftermarket parts that we were duped into buying, redoing work from the shops that claim to know how to work on ACVWs, etc. I know for sure that if I had known I had to rebuild an engine this year, I wouldn't have had the funds to put towards an IAC appointment.
  • Just like ACVW money, you're competing for ACVW time. I've tried evangelizing on your behalf to get others in the Seattle community to sign up for more appointments, but many struggle with the uncertainty of "when" their appointments will occur as much as they do with the "how much". A lot of people don't want to burn a vacation day to work on their car, but wouldn't mind committing to a weekend day, if that could be guaranteed. A lot of the time, planning six months in advance is simply too nebulous.
  • The pop culture wave of nostalgia and love for all things vintage seems to be drawing a younger crowd into the ACVW scene. In my experience, they're the biggest demographic shopping for ACVWs, even if it's only tire kicking. If you can't find a way to connect with the younger owners in the hobby, I expect you'll continue to struggle to make this financially viable. I generally don't have a great overall impression of the community, but like it or not, #VanLife fantasies are a major force in this hobby going forward. I think a minimal effort which would provide a lot of bang for your buck might simply be to post your travel and appointment pics to Instagram. Bringing in younger owners would hopefully fill in some of the travel gaps, making your trips efficient.
Long duration post again as I write, rewrite, and rethink. My employer is not getting their money's worth out of me.
Oscar: 1976 Sage Green Bus, Stock Motor, Solid Lifters, Manual Transaxle

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whc03grady
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Re: 2017 Results Just In!

Post by whc03grady » Wed Nov 15, 2017 2:16 pm

This is an excellent conversation, as I believe Jivermo already stated. However, I get the feeling we're talking past/over Colin somewhat, e.g., is the financial angle the primary angle? I got the impression he was more worried about his impending physical collapse more than the dough.

So, I propose we all meet at my place this weekend to hash it out, followed up by a few small projects and continued beer drinking.
Ludwig--1974 Westfalia, 2.0L (GD035193), Solex 34PDSIT-2/3 carburetors.
Gertie--1971 Squareback, 1600cc with Bosch D-Jetronic fuel injection from a '72 (E brain).
Read about their adventures:
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MonoCone
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Re: 2017 Results Just In!

Post by MonoCone » Wed Nov 15, 2017 2:48 pm

I have followed the IAC Journey for a long time. I have never met Colin but I seem I know him well.
I turn 65 in a few weeks. I am old - I admit. I am fine paying competent folks to do work on the buses that I can no longer do or do not want to do. (Robbie I may be contacting you about a couple of window installs soon.)
Looking at Colin's numbers I can only say you must be *NUTS* to do your tour every year. Including travel, what is your NET hourly return on your time? It cannot be much over the soon-to-be $15 hourly minimum wage in California. I assume to call of the open road is the big attractant.

Honestly, with your incredible knowledge you could set up a permanent repair shop in some place with plentiful VWs and life a comfortable life.

I know:
You probably do NOT wish to set up a shop.
You probably do NOT wish to deal with employees.
You probably do NOT wish to deal with municipalities and all their rules.
You probably want to stay close to upstate NY to be close to family.

I just do not see how you can keep doing the tour. The body has a limit and we do not wish to see you find that limit.

Respectfully, Larry
To Really Live You Must Go Back to the Mountains.
The Mountains are Where I Am and What I Am.
69 Westfalia 1600 DP; 2002 Eurovan Camper
When you elect a clown, expect a circus.

Formerly posted as OB Bus on this forum - many years ago....

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zabo
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Re: 2017 Results Just In!

Post by zabo » Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:04 pm

Ronin10 wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:59 am
the younger crowd prefers other mediums - photography, video, podcasts, 140-/280-character soundbites, etc., mediums digested quickly while on the go and certainly via a mobile phone. I don't see much future for a tech-based forum based communication format unless it's really brief and allows lots of quick back and forth with an expert.

I agree with this to an extent-

Colin and I have discussed this topic a bit - In the end I think the only way to really monetize any type of technical tool would be to create an iphone/android app.

Users could download it for free or 99¢ - the initial download could contain a few free procedures and a sample of the step by step trouble shooting tool.

Users could then download articles (writeups of any procedure, timing, door vapor barriers etc) as an in-app purchase of x amount.

The step by step diagnostics with real support from colin could be also be purchased in-app but for a higher price.

I do think users would expect and find helpful videos of certain procedures, and if they purchased the step by step diagnostics it would be great for them to be able to upload an image or video to get colins diagnosis.


I don't think a web based version of this would garner much interest and would also be much harder to monetize.



Creating a tool like this for the web or as an app will not be cheap or easy.
60 beetle
78 bus

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Ronin10
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Re: 2017 Results Just In!

Post by Ronin10 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:22 pm

whc03grady wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 2:16 pm
However, I get the feeling we're talking past/over Colin somewhat, e.g., is the financial angle the primary angle? I got the impression he was more worried about his impending physical collapse more than the dough.
Oops. I may have misunderstood. I thought that finances were why he brought up monetizing the tech forums and partially keyed in on that.

The most pressing point seemed to be that he needed less time on the road. Hopefully he can clarify a bit. Does that mean less time on the road between appointments (i.e. a more efficient itinerary) or less time spent away from "home" (i.e. an overall shorter itinerary)? Colin?
Oscar: 1976 Sage Green Bus, Stock Motor, Solid Lifters, Manual Transaxle

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Amskeptic
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Re: 2017 Results Just In!

Post by Amskeptic » Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:31 pm

zabo wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:04 pm

In the end I think the only way to really monetize any type of technical tool would be to create an iphone/android app.
How much information "real estate" is available on a 6" screen? Would you have to drag your finger around to see all corners of an illustration?

zabo wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:04 pm
Users could download it for free or 99¢ - the initial download could contain a few free procedures and a sample of the step by step trouble shooting tool.
Users could then download articles (writeups of any procedure, timing, door vapor barriers etc) as an in-app purchase of x amount.
... and what would that in-app purchase amount be? And how many in-app purchases would apply?

zabo wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:04 pm
The step by step diagnostics with real support from colin could be also be purchased in-app but for a higher price.
... step by step diagnostics as in the trouble-shooter? At what higher price?
zabo wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:04 pm
I do think users would expect and find helpful videos of certain procedures, and if they purchased the step by step diagnostics it would be great for them to be able to upload an image or video to get colins diagnosis.
... upload an image or video to me that I would then interpret and respond to?
zabo wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:04 pm
I don't think a web based version of this would garner much interest and would also be much harder to monetize.
Creating a tool like this for the web or as an app will not be cheap or easy.
Web-based version, as in a website with web pages that are structured like a river with several tributaries where links (that I provide as necessary) do the guidance? How is that different from an app?
Colin
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,845 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . . 112,885 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 78,899 miles

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Amskeptic
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Re: 2017 Results Just In!

Post by Amskeptic » Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:07 pm

Ronin10 wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:20 am

[*] Your body will only let you do this for so long. Can you say for how many more years or at what age you anticipate you'll stop traveling for appointments?
Any number of years between 1-12. At 70 years old, I refuse.

Ronin10 wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:20 am
[*] every year there are fewer potential customers. a great many don't want to work on their cars, they just want them to run and be enjoyed. In my mind, this is a severe limit on the IAC endeavor. Have you identified a threshold where you decide to pull the plug?
I don't think I'd be happy to work with people who do not want to work on their cars. There is a gestalt here, I have seen it, promoted it, watched its effects, and it is an intrinsic part of the enjoyment of these cars. If you do not want to participate in the care of your Volkswagen, then I strongly suggest that you sell it. My threshold is when I cannot pay my bills. Fortunately, I am pretty cheap to run. 30 carefully executed calls could just keep me out of my savings.

Ronin10 wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:20 am
[*] I expect most of your customer base can only dump so much money into their vehicle in a given year. That means you're competing for ACVW dollars against projects that need to be done, crummy aftermarket parts that we were duped into buying, redoing work from the shops that claim to know how to work on ACVWs, etc. I know for sure that if I had known I had to rebuild an engine this year, I wouldn't have had the funds to put towards an IAC appointment.
What is the point of the above? I have been working within the limits that people are willing to spend each year. I have lost many calls due to financial surprises and we just schedule for the next year. As for the amount people are willing to spend, I am at the ceiling right now as far as my per-day rates. Maybe there will be more two-day or three-day appointments for more intricate work, but my business model does not work well with advanced restoration projects for one-day appointments.

Ronin10 wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:20 am
[*] Just like ACVW money, you're competing for ACVW time. I've tried evangelizing on your behalf to get others in the Seattle community to sign up for more appointments, but many struggle with the uncertainty of "when" their appointments will occur as much as they do with the "how much". A lot of people don't want to burn a vacation day to work on their car, but wouldn't mind committing to a weekend day, if that could be guaranteed. A lot of the time, planning six months in advance is simply too nebulous.
I haven't had enough play in the Seattle area to be aware of the uncertainty of when their appointments will occur. On the one hand, you say there is uncertainty of when their appointment will occur, yet at the same time you say that nailing it down six months in advance is too nebulous, yet it is not nebulous, it is rigid. And usually, vacation days are rigidly blocked out months in advance as well. This last summer, my Minnesota contingent just disappeared on me because their schedules shifted out from under me.

Ronin10 wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:20 am
[*] The pop culture wave of nostalgia and love for all things vintage seems to be drawing a younger crowd into the ACVW scene. In my experience, they're the biggest demographic shopping for ACVWs, even if it's only tire kicking. If you can't find a way to connect with the younger owners in the hobby, I expect you'll continue to struggle to make this financially viable. I generally don't have a great overall impression of the community, but like it or not, #VanLife fantasies are a major force in this hobby going forward. I think a minimal effort which would provide a lot of bang for your buck might simply be to post your travel and appointment pics to Instagram. Bringing in younger owners would hopefully fill in some of the travel gaps, making your trips efficient.
But the discussion here is more about how can I make a living in the VW scene and be off the road. If the sum total of this website's knowledge base built up over the past decade cannot be utilized and put to work with a modest subscription scheme both for personal searches for mechanical answers and access to the Itinerary stories and pictures, well, I done sure did blow it.
Colin
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,845 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . . 112,885 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 78,899 miles

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Bleyseng
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Re: 2017 Results Just In!

Post by Bleyseng » Thu Nov 16, 2017 7:58 am

whc03grady wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 2:16 pm
This is an excellent conversation, as I believe Jivermo already stated. However, I get the feeling we're talking past/over Colin somewhat, e.g., is the financial angle the primary angle? I got the impression he was more worried about his impending physical collapse more than the dough.

So, I propose we all meet at my place this weekend to hash it out, followed up by a few small projects and continued beer drinking.
I'd drive over but jeez its cold in Montana now. I am sure there is snow on all the passes too,
Geoff
77 Sage Green Westy- CS 2.0L-160,000 miles
70 Ghia vert, black, stock 1600SP,- 139,000 miles,
76 914 2.1L-Nepal Orange- 160,000+ miles
http://bleysengaway.blogspot.com/

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zabo
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Re: 2017 Results Just In!

Post by zabo » Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:24 am

Amskeptic wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:31 pm
How much information "real estate" is available on a 6" screen? Would you have to drag your finger around to see all corners of an illustration?
Sure- or if the user has a tablet they can see it in all its glory. -The screen size on a phone isn't a huge issue- folks are used to this.
"in 2017 people spent on average over 4 hrs a day on their phones"
Amskeptic wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:31 pm
... and what would that in-app purchase amount be? And how many in-app purchases would apply?
That would be up to you- I think it could be procedure based.
"Need to adjust your valves? Download the procedure for 99¢"

Amskeptic wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:31 pm
... step by step diagnostics as in the trouble-shooter? At what higher price?
Yes as in the troubleshooter. -again what ever you see fit.
Amskeptic wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:31 pm
... upload an image or video to me that I would then interpret and respond to?
That would be great

Amskeptic wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:31 pm
Web-based version, as in a website with web pages that are structured like a river with several tributaries where links (that I provide as necessary) do the guidance? How is that different from an app?
Colin
People are much much more apt to spend money on their phone.
Their credit card is already tied to the app store so all they need to do is press one button and the transaction is done.
If the charge is only 99¢ people don't even think twice about it.


Either way this would be a major endeavor on your part.
Amskeptic wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:31 pm
But the discussion here is more about how can I make a living in the VW scene and be off the road. If the sum total of this website's knowledge base built up over the past decade cannot be utilized and put to work with a modest subscription scheme both for personal searches for mechanical answers and access to the Itinerary stories and pictures, well, I done sure did blow it.
I don't think you blew it. The real money maker is your book.
Transpose your stories and photos from the site into the book.
Mix photos with your illustrations, provide technical write-ups combined with real life in the field repair stories...
60 beetle
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sped372
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Re: 2017 Results Just In!

Post by sped372 » Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:45 am

Please do not discount what zabo is writing. This is the way things are going now, like it or not. I don't do the whole 'app purchase thing' but it's where people's attention, comfort, and spending is nowadays. In my opinion maps are in nearly every way superior to a tiny phone screen, but nobody's buying them.

Also, and I don't think I'm alone here, please do not overlook yourself as the content. The technical stuff is brilliant, don't get me wrong, but (and please don't take offense) it's "merely" a different flavor of what's also available elsewhere. I can figure out how to fix my car by reading the Bentley, or watching YouTube videos, or sifting through theSamba. There is only one source of roadside-restoration-entertainment that has your unique charm to it.

I realize there is no concrete strategy outlined by what I have written but I urge you to consider that what draws people to you is more than a search for technical answers. You have a gift of blending both together, that's what grabs me. The Bentley and John Muir both teach me how to fix my car, but I would gladly sit in front of the fireplace and thumb Muir because it makes me smile even when I don't need to repair anything.
1971 Karmann Ghia - 1600 DP
1984 Westfalia - 1.9 WBX

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