Custom Muffler Center or the newer version of the same ole thing, BLUE FLAME MUFFLERS
Do you have a business? Are you trying to survive after all of this hope and change that we are currently UNDER? How long have you been in business? This is a story about one business owner's attempt to keep and grow his business through these tough economic times and what I hope will be information that just might save you THOUSANDS of dollars and TONS of agony in your life !
My name is John and I own an RV repair facility that specializes in towing products. We have been in business for about 13 years. We provide Towbars, Baseplates from all three manufacturers like BLUE OX, DEMCO and ROADMASTER so that our customers that have RVs can tow their vehicles behind their motorhomes. We also sell and install hitches from such names as PULLRITE and Curt, brake systems from TOADSTOP. My business, like most everyone, anywhere in the country has seen a massive decline in both service work and retail sales at our store. Where the bulk of our business is repeat-return customers with an incredibly high amount of referral business, we saw a decline midway through last years busy season and we began looking for something that could help drive more business in our door.
THIS IS WHERE MY STORY BEGINS.....
While at work one day, I received a call from a gentleman that was "INTRODUCING" a MUFFLER - EXHAUST program under the name of CUSTOM MUFFLER CENTER.
This program would in essence give you a territory for sales/service/repair of muffler systems.
I thought about it for a little while and thought, "wow this could work and fit in line with what I already did and could supply me with some extra customers to increase business" so I continued listening..... You would get a "state of the art" pipe bender, inventory, signage, manuals, catalogs, and software to generate work orders. They would get you some sales flyer's and provide some advertising for a few weeks and allow you to purchase parts and mufflers at really good prices.
Over the period a few days I would get calls from this man working me over and more tidbits of information that sounded good, I would later..... after the fact.... find out that although not lies, well were not exactly true either or lets just say exaggerated. On with the story, the cost of this "opportunity" was a little better than $32,000.00.
PROBLEM #1..........Would you believe that with A+ credit after you do a business lease, with taxes, the "program cost you nearly $49,000.00. Basically $950.00 a month.
Problem # 2........ It matters not that you may be a corporation, You have to personally guarantee the loan which means if you default for any reason, it pierces your corporate protections, that means, they can and will come after your assets such as your home.
Problem #3 ....... Happens on the day the inventory arrives. You very quickly figure out in the "TRAINING" portion of the "program" that the inventory that you have is in NO WAY SHAPE OR FORM what you will really need to do the jobs that you will be doing and that the money that you were told it would cost.......remember the $32,000? Only provides you with about $2000.00 worth of pipes and mufflers and that if you really wanted to have a more workable inventory you would have to throw another 5 to 10 thousand dollars more just to compete. Picture if you will, only 3 cheap chrome tips..... of the high performance equipment less than 10 Flowmaster, Cherry Bomb, and Magnaflow Mufflers combined, only 2 catalytic converters. If you had 3 different trucks wanting higher end stuff.... you're out of stock and don't even think about capping those jobs off with chrome tips, you ran out after your 1st job which was probably your own vehicle while being trained by their people. Here is one more footnote, the equipment does not arrive until AFTER you sign and pay your deposit of which is separate from what you have to do to get inventory...... trust me, lots more on this before we are done.
What does that mean? That means that you just paid for 3 very expensive hydraulic digital pipe benders but only given 1 and received nothing in stock for which you will now be paying $945.00 a month and you have not listed the business in the phone book, added it to your website or put out a flyer and you need to place an order so you can do the next job.... its only day 2 of training. Don't worry you can only get this "program" if you buy their pipe bender. Did you say you had a $7000.00 bender of your own? TOOOOO BAD..... you have to get their bender, they wont split the program up. Are you feeling warm and cozy yet?
KEEP READING WE HAVE NOT REACHED THE END OF THE STORY !!!!!
How many of you have ever purchased and expensive WIDGET? The thing doesn't do what it's supposed to, does not work? parts are missing? it's the wrong one? then you look through all the paperwork to find that number..... you know..... THE NUMBER........1-800 customer no service. That happened to me. You see, I did not receive some of the inventory, the signs and some of the books. After several calls, I was finally getting my fill of this crap, SOOOOOO I finally told Ms. Customer no service that I was going to send them back all of their crap..... I then received a call from a MR. Michael Christy, who is supposed to be the president or owner or whatever. He was apologetic for what had transpired and assured me that he would personally see to it that I was helped. REMEMBER I am in the purchase phase of this "program" we will get back to Mr. Michael Cristy of CUSTOM MUFFLER CENTERS and BLUE FLAME MUFFLERS out of Garden City, NEW YORK at a later time.