Cell Phone Master Agents Earn $7 Million A Year In Cell Phone Business From Home With No Experience
When Andrea Rosa and her older sister, Lourdes, were helping their family sell baby clothes in the their native Mexico, they didn’t know they were also developing entrepreneurial skills that would come in handy 20 years later in Phoenix, Arizona.
In 1995 the Rosa’s founded a wireless phone and accessories company that caters to the Hispanic population – Families who often lack land lines due to credit problems. Today the company, headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, operates 22 stores in Arizona and New Mexico. Sales are now up to 7 million a year.
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But the Rosas sister were not career shopping when they first envisaged themselves as niche phone brokers. Lourdes worked, as did her sister, as a translator for several attorneys in Denver, Colorado. The purchase of a cell phone for Lourdes’ long commute changed that. Recognizing its usefulness, Andrea began selling phones at weekend flea markets and state fairs in the Denver area, Pueblo and Colorado Springs.
After a year, T-Mobile (then called Voice Stream) told Andrea that demographics studies projected a steady growth in the Hispanic population. Would she relocate? Only too happy to leave behind the cold and snow, the two women piled everything into a U-Haul and took off for Phoenix.
The problem was, for two single moms – especially Latinas with no business background-start up funds were scarce. The sisters tried banks and a government office, but although they “would have qualified” according to Andrea, the “paper work was too difficult to complete.” Instead, they pooled their savings to the tune of $3,000.00, talked an older immigrant couple into giving them a two-year lease on commercial space and opened their first phone store with the barest essentials: a used table, a calculator and a homemade banner.
That first year Andrea and Lourdes took turns ferrying back and forth between a Phoenix flea market and the store. They managed to pay their overhead and living expenses, but their income fluctuated significantly depending on commissions and returns. Still, the number of sales and the amount of foot traffic portended success. “It wasn’t just the language (that filled a need),” Andrea said. “It was also the values of culture.” The Rosas knew the importance of family in Mexican culture. “We weren’t just building a business,” Andrea Said. “ We were building relationship.”
The contacts also generated new employees – many lacking in self esteem and beset by personal problems. “I get great satisfaction watching women who didn’t think they were good enough turn into real professionals,” Lourdes says.
But despite good instincts and gut feelings, the co-owners knew the business required a better infrastructure. Andrea decided to enroll at the University of Phoenix. By the time she graduated with a B.S. in marketing, she had learned about inventories, human resources, business law, computer software and market research.
“The first three years were shaky,” Andrea recalls. “One company in our building got our phones and started selling them on the street. We were too trusting, and it was very stressful.”
Soon, though, enhanced business skills and few competitors improved the financial picture, and the Rosas opened two more stores in nearby Mesa and Glendale. By the time Jason Junge met Andrea at a Las Vegas electronic convention in 2004, the Rosa’s realized they needed anther person to deal with commission reports and other complicated challenges. “It was the hardest decision we ever made,” Andrea says, referring to hiring Junge. “Up until then, it had been our baby.”
In 2005 and 2006, the sisters received SBA loans for $35,000 and $40,000 respectively. At the same time, Junge used his degree from MIT and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management to design a point-of-sale tracking system. The result? The company tripled its retail outlets, mostly in Phoenix metropolitan area. Also the product inventory was expanded. Now they not only handles wireless phones from six companies, but the company sells prepaid cards, satellite dishes and other wireless accessories such as radios and data products.
Due to aggressive on-site training and marketing programs, both women travel about a week per month. They take pride in their low turnover rate due to both sisters’ problem – solving employee philosophy. For example, when a women employee collapsed due to exhaustion from working a second job, the Rosa’s advised her what to do. “She had trouble managing her money,” says Lourdes.
The sisters’ long term goal? A corporation-owned multi-state chain stores, Andrea says, stressing the importance of a “recognizable brand name.” (The sisters are debating whether to change the name. In the next five years the Rosa’s expect to expand from 22 stores to 30 stores.
Meanwhile, they mix business with brotherhood. In November the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce awarded Andrea its “40 Hispanic Leaders Under 40” award. Two years ago the company donated 1,000 bottles of water to No More Deaths, a humanitarian program for Mexican illegal’s crossing the Arizona desert.
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