Will be starting my 30th year in 2013. I lost my job, and there was two small kids, and a morgage, and vehicle loan. I was pretty good with Commercial Refrigeration, Ammonia plants 200-300 ton plants. I was good at trouble shooting, using a meter, and amp probe, so I might have a head start on you if your just starting out. Am in my late 60's, and have to use a cane now, but am still able to do useful days of service.
I would stay away from debt, and going for a loan. You mentioned you wanted to off set your present wages, by doing appliances. Good for you. Here are some of the things that come to mind, to get started. 1st off, you say you have a lot of time on your hands, so you must be working part time. You didn't say if you had a vehicle or not. so say you don't have a vehicle. I am in a small 2700 population town, and I could walk down just one street, say a block, and I could come out of there with 4-5 appliances. The owners would give them to me, plus they would go get some muscle to load them up and take them to my shop, all for the taking. I very seldom pay anything. I get mostly the newer stuff, high end stuff.
If you have a vehicle, and got muscle to help, or even a trailer, you go down the other streets, that have all that good stuff in their garages, just waiting to give it to you. As you know, there are different situations, one will say you can have it, then when you go to take it, they want to know if you will pay them 20 bucks, or 50 as some here say, or will they give them a free service call. Stuff like this is interesting to me, as I have been at it for a long time. Some will say, you fix it and we will split the money. So you can see how that end of the "used appliance repair" can come into play.
Another area in the Used appliance repair business that works, is they come to buy a washer, or dryer, or a set etc, they don't want to pay much, ok, have they trade in material. Again, some will want warrantee, that is ok with me, I give them 90 days, at my selling price. If they want a cheap sale, and no warrantee, then the price comes down. But I always want the trading factor involved, as if you sell below your price tag, you then get their set, and can fix them up and make the balance involved. If you are trying to get rich in a week, this will not take place. I am not rich, but I always have money in my jeans, always. Wheeling and dealing is a lot of fun.
I am old and crippled up, so most of what I do now, is drop off. At one time, many years back, it did Appartments, Restuarants, Well sites, you name it. Roof top A/C, vehicle A/C, walk in coolers and fast freeze meat freezers and coolers, domestic refrigeration, major appliance repairs, and service, plus sold good used parts, and new parts, and now depending on the customer, I tell them to oreder the part them selfs and I will install it.
The biggests area of concern in building from scratch your business, is be smart, be honest, and know all them people out there have kids that can go on line and look things up, and know the prices. One thing they don't know, is how to diagnose, and order the right part. Again, be honest, and be reliable, and don't think for a minute you are smarter than them. They have these iPods, that tell them pretty much what they are up against, so again, know what you are dealing with.
Another area of huge concern, is deal with people that can pay you when your finished. In my case, I only have one, that gives me a cheque, all the rest its cash period, and right after I am finished. No exceptions. Also, all parts are paid up front, before being ordered, no exception.
By dealing in used appliances, theres many appliances with good used parts, parts to use for testing to find the problem, to comfirm you testing findings. With the used and work able parts, you can get them up and working, plus paid for your new part that you order, plus the labour etc, all at once, then you are "running your business, not them". If you leave and come back with the new part, and haven't been paid in advance, it only takes once, to come back, and they say they decided to buy new, or they ordered the part from Sears etc. Again, run your business, or they will.
They call, and I tell them I can have it done and ready in the morning, or the next day, if they drop it off. At first it was a bit testy, but it all has come together, and is working just fine. I had kinda retired at 65, but when I turned 66, well I had to get back, even though I have to use a cane, I do ok, and I am 67 and thought that I would see if I can do 2012, well I am still standing, still doing very well, and my get up and go, is a bit slow, but am still this side of the ground. My son does the Appartments in the City, and if I need help, he comes and helps me get current with my end. If you find a good young buck, or even a really reliable young girl, or married woman that you can train, and use, you will do very well.
I kinda do what I want, and I am more tired, than retired, but love to work, have a faithful clinetel, and if I wanted to, I could do 10 calls a day. I do one or two, now, so my drop offs are working out very well. Drop offs, you don't waiste all your time going and coming for calls, and parts. So some here will not like what I post, but when you get older, and don't want to hang up the badge yet, this is the way to survive. Also if you are just starting out, its a way to manage, and a way to get going, and no debt. No debt cards, cashs only. I pay my bills from my suppliers, with a money order, or pay them on line the ones that have set me up for on line payments.
This might be long winded, but there is a lot of things, that just don't matter any more. If you want more info, I'm loaded. Am all ears also. Never know when you will learn something new. Finding this site, you are as lucky as me. I love to read the posts, and information that AJ has put together, priceless for people that just want some help, or want a opinion. Also the guys that help here, good on them, great bunch of good techs here. Good on ApplianceJunk. com Brent@CanBC