Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, midlifeclassiccars.com is an automotive specialist book company and provider of automotive and lifestyle clothing and accessories. In business since 1990, the company has over 4,000 book titles and manuals in stock, and focuses on choice, affordability and customer service for the vintage and classic car, truck and bike enthusiast. Midlifeclassiccars.com is a family business. Chad Byrum inherited his love of the automobile from his father, Cliff, who started the business, and his mother Debbie, who is also a major car enthusiast and still involved in the company. You can meet midlifeclassiccars.com at car shows, swap meets, automobile get togethers, and vintage car races around the country.
  • Category: Books, Parts & accessories
  • Challenge: Manual processes, re-platforming
  • Results: 49% growth in year 2
  • Benefits: Risk-free diversification
Saving the business

Chad Byrum is Chief Classic Car Officer at midlifeclassiccars.com: “To use a car pun, we had a couple stalls before we really got going. I helped develop an ecommerce software system, which then got sold to another, larger company, and they kicked us off the platform because we were too small at the time. Simple as that. We moved to another provider, who couldn’t keep their promises, couldn't get us up and running, and we lost Christmas 2014.

“This time I did more research. I went onto places like webretailer.com, saw the Volo ad and read the Volo customer reviews. The Volo platform had full support for eBay, the whole multichannel thing. It had lots of features that the others didn't have. Also, I spoke to and met the guys and a couple of them were British. Because of what we sell I’m partial to British folk and we got on right away. The guy who implemented our solution – well, I credit him with saving my business. He was able to break down our excel sheets and get us into automated processes. I did a lot of training on the Volo flight school and read the supporting information on the Volo Hub. We were off and running.”

Control end-to-end

“Things were really bad before Volo. Now, I’m in control of my business. We're growing quickly and we’ve outgrown our warehouse. We carry all our own stock. I don’t do drop-shipping, even though the Volo system supports that. I prefer to be in more control of how the end product looks when it gets to our customers, and we keep our prices down by doing it ourselves.

“Volo manages everything for us. From purchase order through to shipping, the Volo system greatly increases our ability to raise our rankings. Having the quantity on hand when I need it, same day or next day shipping, everything end-to-end is through Volo. We came on board at the beginning of 2015, and had almost that full year trading. 2016 sales were up 49% on 2015, and the trend continues in 2017. We’re now looking to grow our Amazon channel and get onto the Prime program, shipping from our own warehouse.”

Building new brands

“The Volo community is number 1 for me. Having access to Volo employees and other Volo customers through the Volo Hub is huge. I can see my ideas for improvements discussed and acted on, which is cool. A couple guys from a Volo customer and Volo staff are now friends outside of Volo, which tells you how much we're all working together.

“I’m getting into the Vision reporting suite too. I can see my dead stock, and I can plan my stock re-order dates. I plan my P&L down to every last detail. Packaging, paper, down to the last penny. With Vision I really know the money I’m making on a product.”

“Volo makes you realise how much more you can do with your business. Once I was over the learning curve – there’s an overwhelming amount of stuff you can do in the system – I found that I could look outside of my comfort zone, product-wise, into other areas. You can add so much more. I’ve realised that midlifeclassiccars.com should only be a brand, and now I can develop different brands targeting different customers and lifestyle interests. I can control all of this from within the Volo system, and keep the brands concentrating on their own thing. Using the Volo system allows me to quickly test out products before I start a brand. It gives me the risk-free way of looking at new avenues.”