Ask Mike Maxey whether he likes running his own business and he will emphatically say no. “No, not really at all--it’s not my main forte,” says Maxey, who has been running Mike’s Boise Clutch, an Idaho automotive repair shop, since 2000. “I’m not the greatest busines man in the world.”
Yet, Maxey would never work for someone else, which is something he did years ago and also didn’t enjoy. He’s the type of entrepreneur who refuses to put profit before people. Rather than upselling customers on work they don’t want or overcharging for basic repairs, he gives his clients exactly what they need and nothing more. He could probably make more money by convincing customers to do additional work, he says, but he would rather build a solid relationship with the people in his neighbourhood than make a quick buck.
“I’d rather close the shop than steal from someone,” Maxey says. “My theory has always been that I want to take care of the customer like I would take care of my own family. I personally spend a lot of time in the shop still working on stuff because my customers expect it.”
Doing business the right way has worked well for Maxey. Mike’s Boise Clutch now has six employees in addition to Maxey himself, and the shop is almost always busy. He brings in about $130,000 a month, on average, up from about $50,000 when he first opened shop. He now wants to increase his top line by 10 percent month-over-month, which he hopes to achieve by pouring extra money into advertising. Clearly, Maxey has plenty of business-owning skills--he’s just not as enamoured with running payroll, staying on top of taxes and managing people as he is working on cars and providing good service.
“It just works,” he says about his business. “I don’t run it like an actual business--the guys who work for me, we’re all friends. I don’t love things like taxes, which creep up on me, and all the other little things I’m not good enough keeping an eye on.”
Get help to cover costs
If Maxey is going to run his business his way--and he has no regrets about the way he operates--he’s going to need some help from time to time, whether it’s to manage cash flow, pay a tax shortfall or give his shop a new coat of paint. He uses the merchant cash advance from Rapid Finance a financial company that provides financing solutions to small businesses, to help him cover the costs of running a business.
This loan gives his business access to capital based on its future credit card receivables. Because payments are based on receivables, there’s no fixed payback term and the payments themselves are flexible. The company also has several other small business-related financing solutions, such as small business loans, lines of credit and bridge loans. Each type comes with different features, including various payment terms--some can be paid back in as little as three months and others as long as 60 months--borrowing limits and more.
His first interaction with Rapid Finance was during the 2008 economic crisis, when Maxey’s customers suddenly couldn’t afford to fix their cars. As a result, he didn’t have the cash to pay his suppliers. His bank’s hands were tied at the time, but an unexpected call from Rapid Finance allowed Maxey to get the money he needed, which he easily paid off once customers started coming back.
Because of that experience, he’s now a client for life. He borrows about $20,000 every few months, which he always pays back within 90 days--the cash comes out of his bank account daily. He stuck to that schedule during COVID-19, which he says didn’t impact nearly as much as the Great Recession.
“A lot of people were still going to work where we are and while many stayed home, it was also a good time to get their car fixed,” he says. “It was just sitting at home otherwise.”
While Maxey may think he’s not the best businessman he does love the freedom that comes with running his own shop on his own terms. Having an extra cushion of money available whenever he needs it means that he’s been able to cut the shop’s business hours down to five days a week so that he and his staff can always enjoy the weekend.
Maxey now has plans to set up a second shop, though he’s also eyeing the day where he can retire and pass his business onto his son. For now, though, he’s content to do good work for his local community.
“I love running this shop,” he says. “I love that that I can go in a grocery store and run into one of my customers and I don't feel like I need to hide around the corner because I've never not done something that I said I would do and I've never sold them something I didn't feel they needed. Any customer can come out and look at their cars while we’re working on them. I really do like being an entrepreneur and I never want that taken away from me.”