Can you give us a quick glimpse of your 2-3 top businesses that you’re most involved in right now?
I’ll just jump into my current 2016 status. Broadway Super Cars is North Jersey’s premier exotic car rental company. I’m the sole owner of it, and we’ve been growing about 40% year on year since I started it in 2011. Currently, we have close to 21 or 22 exotic cars. The least exotic car we have is like a convertible Corvette or a Jaguar F Type or a Nissan GTR. Otherwise, we have cars ranging from an MP4 Spyder to your average 560’s and 430’s, stuff like that.
The other business I do that I started when I was a wet behind the ear kid is an exotic car mechanic shop. We repair, maintain, and upgrade high end and exotic cars for individual owners of the cars. I’ve been doing that for a long time. We were in the same building for 16 years. We just moved to our new location in April, and we’ve already way outgrown it. So we’re going to run another year and a half in this location until we quadruple the space and continue moving forward.
We’ve outgrown because of a new business that I just decided I want to make into a business, but it’s something I’ve been doing since I was 16 or 17. Ever since I was that age, I would buy and sell cars and double my investment every time. I started out doing that with your average $2,000-$6,000 turbo Mitsubishi, then it evolved to Toyota Supras, BMW M3’s, and other cars. Doubling down on your dollars becomes much harder as the car gets more expensive.
There are so many people who have the cars that just don’t know what they have. You angle into it and you can build with cinder blocks at a time versus grains of sand. It has worked very well, and that’s another reason why I need so much more space because I just have millions worth of inventory that I bought wanting to turn them around. It’s not long term hanging on to them but I’m buying them a lot faster than I could let them go right now for the most amount of money.
Describe your upbringing. How were your parents, and were they entrepreneurs?
I have four younger brothers, so my mom’s full time job was taming us. She had a taser, stick, and everything. We got disciplined all the time, and we’re animals, total animals, my brothers and I. My father was definitely an entrepreneur in the real estate business, owns a gas station, and he actually owned a mechanic shop. As far as school goes, I hated it. I sucked at school. I’m not good at learning and taking orders from somebody, especially when it’s something that I will absolutely never ever use. I knew it was impossible for me to turn around to be a doctor, a lawyer, or something professional; so I really didn’t care about high school. I just did the absolute minimum and got the exact amount of credits I needed just to pass. I wanted to go work, do things, and start building; because I’ve seen other people like my father and my uncles that had started building a machine early on. That’s why I didn’t love school.
I ended up getting into the shop because that was the only place that was for me, and I started learning with my own hands how to fix the cars. I didn’t really get many lessons business-wise from anyone. I taught it all to myself, made about a billion mistakes but every single one of those mistakes were different. I never repeated the same mistakes.
I’m a sore loser to the millionth degree, so to lose hurts badly. When I did lose all those battles, I would be very, very careful to not make those same mistakes again. So you put together your formula of how to be, and how you want to do things.
“I have two weapons that make Broadway Super Cars what I consider one of the best exotic car rental companies in the country. The first is our ability to keep the repairs, maintenance, and preventive maintenance all under one roof. The second thing is just running the company very lean as far as overhead goes.”
– John Nouri
How did you transition from working at your dad’s shop to starting your own shop?
Initially, I started working for my dad to learn to fix cars off the street. Little by little, I evolved it into more performance-based work. By the time I bought the business from him, I had finished that transition from basic mechanic shop to performance shop. That’s when we started amping things up to really push the volume and churn out some crazy projects to keep a lot of similar work coming in.
During this whole time, I’m also buying and selling many, many cars. But only if I could double my investment; if it’s not double, then I didn’t bother. Most of the cars I sold in the beginning were turbo Mitsubishi’s of the 90s, also known as DSM’s. I literally did hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of those. As these cars would reach about 60,000 miles, they would start misfiring. Nobody wants to maintain anything, right? So the people will take their cars to a general mechanic and they would make it worse. The customers would get frustrated and just list the car on Craigslist with a misfire.
Luckily, I know just how to fix the issue, so after I make the deal to buy the car, I throw the plugs in, it fires up, and I launch it out of their driveway. It would be online the next day for double, sometimes triple, or even quadruple the money depending on what I can do with it. Eventually, I started doing a lot of Toyota Supras, which are more rare and much more expensive. We repaired, upgraded, and built a lot of Supras. I’ve owned 25 of them, anywhere from 600-1,600 horsepower. I’m really a boost power junkie is what I am.
How long was it before you got into exotics from normal cars? How many years passed before you decided that was the new market you wanted to focus on?
I would say four or five years because once we started doing the DSMs and the Supras, I would do hundreds of cars in the area for owners of the cars. Pretty soon all these little outfits would start popping up too and do what I was doing but for a quarter of the price. That’s when I decided to do something different. I said, “Let’s see you guys copy an exotic car mechanic,” and nobody copied that for a very, very long time in the North Jersey area. Dozens of shops opened and failed, where mine thrived enough to get me to start the exotic car rental company, which is capital intensive to start.
Many exotic car rental businesses I’ve seen are started by people who have existing car dealerships. How did you get into the exotic car rental business without having a dealership as well?
I have two weapons that make Broadway Super Cars what I consider one of the best exotic car rental companies in the country. The first is our ability to keep the repairs, maintenance, and preventive maintenance all under one roof. The second thing is just running the company very lean as far as overhead goes. I don’t have a guy to run and get me coffee. I don’t have a guy washing cars. The guys that we have work with me, not for me. That’s the way I like to do things. Anybody that works with us works extremely hard, and they are handsomely rewarded for it. It’s a lot better than having a lot of guys and paying everybody little dollars.
The capital is a lot, but a lot of the cars do not have payments. We own many of them outright, so we can keep the overhead as low as humanly possible. I owned my building too for a very long time. But we rent our current building because when I came back from Miami last year (I go there during the winter to spend time with my family), I missed out on finding property in the area I wanted. I had no choice but to rent something, because I wanted a bigger place than I currently had. I’m not going to make that mistake again in another year or so when I leave this place.
How do you start a rental business if you don’t own a repair shop or have mechanical experience?
You don’t. You’re not going to be profitable. You’ll be very lucky to break even if you have to pay top dollar for insurance. You have to pay top dollar for dealers to fix the cars. If you don’t understand cars and a car comes back, you don’t know what the renter did. Was he trying to push the gas and the brake at the same time? With these paddle cars that puts air in the transmission lines. To be a mechanic first is the core and the secret to success in the exotic car rental industry, even more so than having an affordable insurance plan.
What is the first car you bought for the rental business?
Well, you have to get the most popular car that everybody wants, and it’s a little of what I want too: the orange Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder non-LP. I purchased it in 2011 and got a smoking deal on it. Then we added a Bianco Fuji Ferrari F430 Coupe. We put about 45,000 miles on each car and sold them three years or so after that. No paint work, no accidents, and no bang ups; just a bunch of curbed rims that we fixed and maintenance on both cars.
How do you market your cars once you have them? Do you use Google or market locally?
There’s no chance of being #1 on Google, that’s for sure, because there were guys doing it so many years before me in my market. I was the last one to market in my area. I did a lot of things like making yellow signs that say, “For Rent” or “Rent Me” with our name and phone number, and I would strap it around the roof of a convertible car and leave the car on the highway or at 24-hour gas stations so that attendants are watching the cars all nights.
It made a huge difference. The first year of business, we brought in about $85,000 worth of revenue just from that one car we had on the highway. The second year we did it in a different location, and it did not do as much, about $20,000 or $30,000. Then the third and fourth years, I needed all the cars all the time because we were busy, and I did not feel like buying a whole other car just to leave somewhere full time to continue doing that.
What do you look for insurance wise when renting to people?
We confirm everybody. We get everybody’s declaration. If you don’t have collision, I can’t do business with you. Even if the guy who just wants the car for the weekend has the correct insurance and it matches his driver’s license, I still follow up. Then they see that we’re smart, and we’re not just going to give cars to anybody.
What is the worst story you have to share with us?
Okay. We’ve never had any, God forbid, fatalities or even any injuries. Even people who lacked something that we had to put through insurance were only ever two times. Somebody popped the front of the Bentley, and their insurance fixed it. Then somebody else ripped and slashed all the diffuser off of 431s. Their insurance paid for everything. That’s it as far as insurance claims.
The real nasty one was one of our really great clients for both the rental and the repair companies, because he’s got a bunch of toys of his own too. He’s also a dear friend of mine and had our Audi R8 one time. He calls me and says, “Uh John. We have a problem.” I was like, “What’s going on?” He says, “Somebody smashed the shit out of the R8.” I’m like, “What?” He’s like “Yeah man. Somebody vandalized the whole thing.”
Someone destroyed it; every piece of glass or plastic was smashed – windshield, headlights, mirrors, side windows, rear taillights – and they didn’t even miss the rear little glass panel. It’s a convertible, so they smashed that too and bashed the hood two times with a hammer or whatever they used to break the rest of the car, and they left it like that. We flatbed the car back to our shop and we called his insurance. I wasn’t mad at him. It’s not like he did it on purpose. Then we find out that his insurance had lapsed two days before. So it was like $45,000-$50,000 worth of insurance to redo the car. We had to pull the dash out and take the seats out to clean all the glass up. It was a nasty job. After I broke the news about his insurance, he said he would pay to fix the car, and he absolutely solidified his friendship for me for life. We fixed the car for whatever it cost us to repair it.
We charged him dead cost on the parts, and I paid my guys their hourly labor rate to work on the car. I didn’t charge him for that, so just the parts cost came out to be about $17,000 and change to do the whole car.
We laugh about it now. He will call or text me every once in a while like, “What do you got left?” I’ll respond, “I got the R8 and the Ferrari, because we’re all sold out.” He’ll say, “You know me and the R8 don’t get along. I’ll take the Ferrari.”
“My mentor and closest friend today told me well over a decade ago to walk through the door before you actually walk through it. Understand what’s going to happen as much as you can before you get into it. This way, you have answers for every angle that can come at you.”
– John Nouri
How was your growth with the repair and rental businesses, and what is the next step for you?
When I had just the repair shop, I would have said that I’m doing tremendous. However, I’m only working 65% of the time that I’d like to be working. I can double the amount of time I want to work, so what else should I do? I like cars and I know cars, so I said I’m either going to start exotic car sales or exotic car rental. I said there’s just not enough money in sales for me, and I didn’t think I would like it as much as rental so I decided to go down the rental road. It has worked nicely, and now here I am just about ready to launch Broadway Super Car Sales LLC.
I am fixing cars, renting cars, and selling cars; and none of those three car groups have anything to do with each other besides sharing the tools, the facility, and resources. I wanted to do another business because I had the extra time. Something that I do not do is I don’t read or want to learn about how to do anything ever. I want to do it my way, exactly how I see fit, and so far my track record has been better than the guy reading a book and following whatever everybody else has done. I like to innovate and even having my two children, I didn’t want to read a single book. I want to raise those kids, be with them, and treat them how I would want to be treated. I don’t want to follow any type of anything.
Don’t you think it could be beneficial though if you did read other people’s experiences or methods, and decide from there whether it’s good or bad?
You can absolutely challenge it, but I’ve never seen anything like Secret Entourage. I was on the website a little bit yesterday, and after browsing the resources I realized those were all the exact things that took me forever to figure out on my own. Nothing like this has ever existed, so that is definitely something I would take back what I said as far as reading and learning about something as you go. I’m going off of my thoughts of what I believe in and my code over the last few years, but now seeing the Secret Entourage website I’m thinking, “This is all good stuff here.” There’s even a lot of stuff in there that I have never done or implemented and still don’t know about.
I am a huge believer in mentorship, and that’s why I think Secret is a pretty awesome thing because you have all these success stories. You see that things are possible coming from nothing. It’s not like most of the guys on the show were trust fund babies. Seeing what’s possible makes it so much easier to get to that level.
What is one piece of advice you would give to those in their early to mid-twenties who are still trying to figure out their futures?
My mentor and closest friend today told me well over a decade ago to walk through the door before you actually walk through it. Understand what’s going to happen as much as you can before you get into it. This way, you have answers for every angle that can come at you. Let’s say you want to sign a contract with a company to do something, understand as much as you can about it before you go and kick it off. Walk through the door before you actually walk through it, and that can go for anything.
We want to thank John for sharing his insights on what it takes to run an exotic rental business.
“I don’t have a guy to run and get me coffee. I don’t have a guy washing cars. The guys that we have work with me, not for me.
That’s the way I like to do things. Anybody that works with us works extremely hard, and they are handsomely rewarded for it. It’s a lot better than having a lot of guys and paying everybody little dollars.”
– John Nouri