Adventures of Starting an Adventure Business
Honest Service in a Sinful City April 09 2017, 0 Comments
At Detour Vegas, we have many customers ask us 'Why should we choose you over the many other ATV Tour Operators?' Our best answer is that we provide honest service: you never have to hear any sales pitch about extending your tour, everything you need is included in the price and pickups are at your hotel, not a central location.
Sometimes there is traffic we do not expect, or we might forget something: this is the nature of a service business. However, we will do anything in our power to ensure you are happy with your tour.
We believe that our company will grow and thrive for the sole reason that we provide "Honest service in a sinful city."
Woes of Maintaining Your Own Equipment November 12 2016, 0 Comments
Yesterday Safak and I had to repair a motorcycle tire, and fix a starter relay on an ATV. It proved to be a day which tested our patience. Safak usually leads the group of ATV riders on his 2004 Yamaha XT225 motorcycle. The rear tire inner tube had a puncture which needed to be fixed before our next ATV tour. Anyone who has changed a rear bicycle tire knows that if you're gonna puncture a tire, you should hope for the luck that it's a front tire. Two days before, he tried to fix the hole with this product called Slime. It's green and looks like the stuff which turned turtles into the Ninja Turtles. The videos on YouTube make it seem like a wonder product, but unfortunately, it did not fix the leak.
Removing the wheel and old inner tube didn't seem to cause too much trouble. When he came to putting in a new tube, he needed my help. We spent about 20 minutes wrestling the inner tube into the tire, and putting the tire back on the rim. We used a tire level and our bare hands to get the tire back on. I thought we had conquered, but we had punctured the tire. This ordeal left him frustrated and with a feeling of defeat. In these moments, when you think you can't do something as simple as change a tire inner tube, you wonder how can we possibly run a business?
The previous inner tube cost around $15 from a store about 20 minutes away. He called up our closer shop, they had one in stock for about $20, and ask $10 to install. He came home over an hour later, feeling foolish for trying to do it himself when for only $10 more, someone else can do it flalessly.
We thought we were over the hump, but when it came to the break adjustment, the break rear break lever (part 5R0-25355-00-00) was not going back on its camshaft (part 3Y6-25351-00-00). I thought he was crazy when he called me over to take a look at it and he had done something like stripped the teeth, but it baffled me why it wouldn't go back on. I searched online at the manuals, but everywhere the manuals were saying that "if you do not feel comfortable doing this service", or that "it's recommended that a Yamaha dealer do this service" blah blah. I finally found somewhere online that you must spread the level with some force in order for it to slip back on the camshaft. The image below is of the parts I've referenced.
I think the lesson in all is, if you're gonna try to save money, expect to get frustrated and angry at times. When you run a big and successful company, you won't have to get angry and frustrated with these small things, you'll have much bigger things to worry about.... I enjoy fixing our own equipment, and I take a pride in it. I think every experience makes us better at the next repair. It's not like people are born mechanics, a good mechanic comes with experience. Also, if we don't know what we like or dislike about certain models of ATV's or motorcycles, how can we make a good decision on what we want our fleet to be? This experience is valuable and something we shouldn't overlook as simply annoying or frustrating... but it could be I had a day to think about it and cool off from my annoyance.
Hard Work Deserves Good Food November 12 2016, 0 Comments
After a hard day at work, yesterday we saw our good friends and made a nice grilled veggie medley and a beautiful fresh green salad. Praise the Lord for the 99 Cents Store. Yes, living on the west coast is awesome, where you can get a large container of organic baby greens for one dollar!
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Social Media November 12 2016, 2 Comments
I have been resisting for a long time. I don't have a data plan on my cell phone, am following no one on twitter, and I wanted to remain like that for many years to come. I hated couples who sit at coffee shops both of them fully engaged in their cell phones. I hate seeing parents who don't pay their children attention because they're too busy texting or updating their status on Facebook.... but regrettably, I think the time has come to buy a cell phone, spend hours online, and learn how to use hashtags.
Why? What has caused me to do switch to the other side? Survival of my business and lack of funds for marketing. I feel that a 16 year old girl would envy my current job and that makes me cringe a bit. Instagram, blogs, checking in where I am at each moment will be my life for some time now.
For those of you who don't know what I'm referring to, Google looks at websites, like ours detourvegas.com, and ranking in organic searches is based in some part on social media presence. So, the websites which have the most social media pages, those pages that are updated the most, and those with the most followers come up higher on web searches. It is my duty, as co-owner and marketing manager (although I don't have the PhD in marketing) to improve our location on Google's search.
So, to all of those who are starting a small business, embrace the change, and calculate in the cost of a large data plan into your business costs.
How We Approached Advertising November 12 2016, 0 Comments
We are just two small people, in a town of thousands of businesses, with almost no money, no public influence, and no hands on marketing experience. How could we possibly find customers. We already took our friends out for free to gain insight into how to handle paying customers.
We posted ads on craigslist, drove our van around town during our daily errands to catch some eyes, handed out brochures to our neighbors but still no customers. We turned next to advertising with Google with AdWords. Everyone uses Google for their searches, but we were not sure if people actually click on ads. I make a point to not click on ads because I know someone's trying to sell me something. We signed up and after a few days of thinking about using Google AdWords, we got an offer for $100 of credit if we spent $25. This sounded good enough to us, considering there was no contract or long term commitment.
After the second day, we had people writing us about our products. We had a group of thirty people who wanted to take a tour with us. Thirty people? We only had one van and six kayaks. Had we created a monster too big to tame? This seemed to be a fluke, or the result of people searching for a long time for a product they couldn't find.
After using Google AdWords for several weeks, we have found that it does bring business. We believe we have good ads with a click rate of about 5% on some of them, much higher than the accepted 1 or 2%. But, do these turn into sales? We have experienced we have a group of two-four every two or three days. So, yes, we have business. But, it's not at a rate which makes us profitable.
With AdWords, the advertiser pays for every click on their ad. The expected return rate is only 1% of those who click on an ad will actually buy the product. Admittedly, we do have a better return rate than 1%, but this means that 1 person would have to generate enough revenue to pay for each of those 99 clicks. At up to $5 a click some companies are paying for keywords of "kayaking las vegas" how can anyone ever turn a profit? We are paying around $2-$4, depending on the keywords. We don't think any type of adventure business would be sustainable if within the sale of one group, we would have to recuperate over $200 just for advertising.
We decided that AdWords is a good solution for our short term needs, to generate some customers so we can find our rhythm in normal operations, and to get some reviews. The cost of our first three Yelp reviews have been so high, but their value is unimaginable for those who wrote them. Without reviews, many customers are hesitatant to try our company, and travel companies such as Viator or Trip Advisor rejected our application to be listed on their website.
To break into the market, we had to attract customers with our low cost, generate site traffic with AdWords, and wow every person we dealt with. If you have taken our tour, we urge you to ask the companies who don't have us listed to list us, and to leave reviews at places we are listed like Yelp.
Search engine optimizer consultants charge lots of money. We understand that the only way for our business to be sustainable is for our company to come up within the first few pages of the organic search for keywords such as las vegas adventure tours, or las vegas ATV rides or las vegas kayaking. While we increase our social presence with Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, and build blog posts, we are seeing our company slowly creed up on the organic search results and are hopefully getting closer to a sustainable business.
So, just a reminder to all of you, if you like a business, save them some money by NOT clicking on their ad and type in the url. Each click costs your company $$$.
How We Started a Small Business Without Taking Out a Loan November 12 2016, 0 Comments
How is that possible you might ask. How can you start a tour company with kayaks, mountain bikes, ATV's, a van, trailer, insurance and promotional material without taking out a loan? I can barely make my current car payment now. We believe our dreams were possible due to two reasons: first, we lived modestly, driving older cars living in a small house and eating at home. We don't buy designer anything, eat at expensive restaurants, or take luxurious vacations. By living modestly we have been able to save money. I should also note that we are have been very lucky to have all our education costs paid off and do not currently have children. Secondly, we bought almost everything we could used rather than new. By buying used, we saved tens of thousands of dollars, reduced the pressure of quickly making a profit so we can focus on customer happiness, and can sell all of our assets as the same price we paid for them if our business doesn't work out.
We spoke with some people about buying a used van. Some people thought it was a bad idea, that having a reliable vehicle is the most important thing in our business. We agree that having a reliable vehicle is important, but not worth the price of a new vehicle. We purchased a 2003 For Econoline 350 with approximately 100K miles for $6,000. The inside of the van was immaculate, it was never used for towing, and our friend who is a mechanic gave it a thumbs up. While I was working, Safak searched for weeks on the Goverment GSA Auctions, craigslist and Autotrader ads within 400 miles of our area. We saw an add at 3pm on a Friday, and were in our car by 5pm on our way to San Diego. Yes, it wasn't easy to find that perfect van, but look at the alternative. A new 2013 Ford Econoline Extended Passenger van is around $35,000 new according to Kelly Blue Book. It would take us a half a year of profits to pay for our van. If we need to sell our used van in the near future, we can still get the $6,000 we paid for it, but if we had to sell our van, we would get thousands less than the purchase price.
My recommendation, listen to your gut and do what you are good at. Safak and I are good at buying used vehicles on craigslist, all of our cars have been bought from craigslist, and we have not had any major problems with the dozens of motorccles or cars we have owned over the past ten years.
I think about the terrible businesses I have dealt with in my life, the unhappy employees, the terrible customer service, the feeling of being taken advantage of that I have experienced with other companies that have been in business for many years. We believe that we can do things better than your average Joe, and have followed our dreams. I encourage you to join me to do what makes you happy in life!
Here's our awesome van we purchased for $6,000.
Photos February 27 2014, 0 Comments
This photo of DeTour Vegas - Private Day Tours is courtesy of TripAdvisor
How to get more time out of your Brother TN-221 or TN-225 toner January 16 2014, 8 Comments
I ordered a new Brother printer a few months ago - it's model HL-3170CDW. I love it, it's a color laser printer with separate toners for each color, so you only replace the color that's low. I wet to print some more liability forms, and our printer showed low toner. The last page that printed was great, and I didn't have any new toners at home, and the stores nearby don't have it in stock. I found that you can make the message go away with a few very simple steps if you have this, a Brother HL-3140CW, or a HL3150CDW printer.
1) Open the top cover of the printer
2) While the cover is open, press the SECURE and CANCEL buttons at the same time.
3) Now you are in the reset menu. Select the toner color you want to reset. Once you have reset the toner and close the top of the printer, the printer will take a few moments to process and you are ready to print!
Now you can print a few extra pages while you wait for your toner to come in the mail. Hope this helped someone.
Best Places to ATV Ride November 30 2013, 1 CommentWe chose a dry lake bed as the starting point for our ATV adventure tour. Although the lake bed itself is quite flat, there are many surrounding trails which offer amazing scenery, sand dunes, bumps, sandy, muddy and hard terrain sure to excite everyone. El Dorado dry lake bed is a favorite of locals, and we undoubtedly see locals with ATVs, motorcycles, dune buggies and microlight gliders. Our tours are not only to give you a good ATV ride, but to show you all that Vegas has to offer, what our locals are like, and the other fun things to experience in this city. Rider Planet is a great way for those in Vegas to see all the trails in the area. If you're a more experienced rider, we'd be happy to take you somewhere else to ride which is more challenging. At DeTour Vegas, we're here to make your day an adventure!
DeTour Vegas's First Ever Full Moon Party November 20 2013, 0 Comments
One of our favorite things to do is have parties in the desert with our friends. Nevada is the state of the Wild and Free - where we have casinos and guns and gambling. But, those don't interest us. What does interest us are the abundant federal lands, the mountains that go on almost endlessly, the landscapes and sunsets.
On Saturday November 15th, DeTour Vegas teamed up with Reddit Las Vegas to host a full moon party at Jean Dry Lake Bed. We organized a group of nearly 75 people, a large camp fire, food, ATVs, landsails and fireworks. All those who wanted to try our equipment were allowed to for free, and we had many many happy people that evening. A special thanks to Chip Paswater for helping us make this possible.
If a party under a full moon with your friends, a campfire, s'mores, atvs and landsails sounds exciting we'd love to help you organize it. Contact us for more details. Here are some photos from Saturday's party.
Win a Free Las Vegas ATV Tour at Sweepstakes by DeTour Vegas November 19 2013, 4 Comments
DeTour Vegas is kicking off our winter with a sweepstakes where one lucky winner will win a tour for two for their choice of either kayaking, paddle boarding, land sailing, atv riding or mountain biking in Las Vegas. Locals and those who are planning on visiting Vegas are free to apply. Check out our facebook page for a chance to win:
DeTour Vegas Now Has Stand Up Paddle Boarding! November 08 2013, 2 CommentsDeTour Vegas has just added Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) to our product offering! Although not a new sport, this sport has spread rapidly over the past ten years. We're offering SUP for the same price of Kayaking. You can stand up paddle board and your friend can kayak during the same trip. Contact us for more information.
Las Vegas Sunsets November 07 2013, 1 Comment
For all of those who haven't been to Las Vegas, one of the things in my opinion to see is a Las Vegas sunset. This is something hardly anyone mentions as a "to do" thing, but make sure you're outside during sunset (or sunrise, if you're still up partying). The city of Las Vegas is situated in a valley, surrounded by mountains on all sides. When the sun goes down, the mountains to the west, and the mountains to the east take on such wonderful hues of pink and orange, it's truly spectacular.
Something truly memorable is to experience this sunset while on Lake Mead. I have been out there during sunset on a speedboat, but honestly, being out on a kayak makes the whole experience so much more peaceful, it's a unique and romantic place to propose. Now that winter is here and daylight hours are shortened, if you happen to take an afternoon tour with us, you'll see these wonderful sunsets. We can even arrange for a sunset picnic or campfire which will be truly memorable.
Our Idea of A Cool Las Vegas Bachelor or Bachelorette Party October 24 2013, 2 Comments
When I see a group of guys in Las Vegas for a bachelor party, I always wondered what they must do during the day after they roll out of bed hung over at 1:00 pm. I understand that women love shopping and Las Vegas is great for shopping, such as the North Las Vegas Premium Outlets, the South Premium Outlets, Town Square or any of the luxurious but overly priced shops in the casinos. Women can also go to spas or get their nails done. But guys, what is there to do during those hours of daylight? If you gamble and drink during the day, you'll have nothing left to do at night?
I hope I don't sound too sexist, but guys usually like to do outdoor things and enjoy getting dirty and tired together. It's quite surprising to me that we haven't gotten any requests for a daytime bachelor party with land sailing, atv riding, kayaking with a bbq near the lake. I think we just need to get our vision and image out to people.
Picture this, explore the wild west on ATVs, enjoy the thrill of land sailing for the first time, and get refreshed in Lake Mead during a sunset kayak tour. Finish it off with some burgers on a grill overlooking the water. Head back to your hotel to get freshened up, and ready to explore the night of Las Vegas. Nothing like some good bonding time with your best friends.
See you there,
Welcome October 24 2013, 0 Comments
This blog is created to give insight for those thinking about a massive carreer change, those interested in some unique and random how-to's, and those who want to know a bit more about Las Vegas and outdoor activities nearby.
My husband and I recently started our outdoor adventure company, DeTour Vegas. We wanted our daily life to be composed of the things we love- kayaking, land sailing, being outside, working and talking with interesting people, and to feel the pride of creating something from scratch for ourselves. We feel that we are 'smarter than the average bear', sensible with money and would treat our customers fairly and e believe that this witoasis ion would lead us to success.
Each day presents challenges, joys, frustrations and excitement. We hope to provide insight into how to run and operate a husband and wife small business.