ON THE MONEY INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT
UNIDENTIFIED VOICE #1, INTRO: Broadcasting live from the Business Radio X Studios in Atlanta, GA it’s time for On the Money, presented by Embassy National Bank.
JOE MOSS, HOST: Hi Everybody, this is Joe Moss, moderator of On the Money, brought to you by Embassy National Bank. This is our weekly edition and we only have a couple more shows to do for the year but this particular one is going to be a good one. As you know, this show was meant to educate small business people in terms of how to do better and on certain topics. We talk a lot about lending, we talk a lot about planning, we talk about selling, but today we’ve got a good show. I’ve got two people in the audience today. Doug Ireland’s been with us before. You are the founder and owner of Freeland Painting and Construction. Welcome back, Doug.
DOUG IRELAND, FREELAND PAINTING AND CONSTRUCTION: Hey, how’s it going, Joe?
MOSS: Good. We have a new guy, Kyle Campbell, who is a new client of Embassy National Bank. He is the founder of Giant Marketing, but he also owns seven Anytime Fitness franchises throughout Atlanta. So Kyle, welcome to the program.
KYLE CAMPBELL, GIANT MARKETING; ANYTIME FITNESS GYMS: Thanks, Joe, glad to be here.
MOSS: We are just going to have a kind of open mic talk about things. Doug, you were with us, we just talked about small business and how to be successful. Why don’t you give us a feel for what you’re doing now with Freeland Painting.
IRELAND: So, I opened Freeland Painting in 2009, to service a new market that I saw a need for. Which was, as you know Joe, you are in financing, and in 2009 no one was building any new houses anymore. Lending was down, so people were staying in their homes and fixing them up, and so we took advantage of that and built a business around a residential market. Then, slowly over the last five and a half years, we have branched out into some managed property and commercial work and, hopefully soon, we will be doing some new construction on the commercial side.
MOSS: Good, I’d like to talk to you about that by the way.
MOSS: Business good?
IRELAND: Business is incredible. We are up fifty percent over last year’s numbers year to date.
MOSS: Lot of renovations going on.
IRELAND: Lot of renovations, well, lot of new stuff. Closed new accounts in managed property, stuff for like HOAs and condominiums, townhomes…
MOSS: Good, good. Kyle, you’ve got quite a business record. So, tell us how you ended up owning Giant Marketing.
CAMPBELL: Well, it started with Anytime Fitness, of course. I’ve been with them for almost ten years, and with my clubs I was doing a lot of direct mail postcards, with other companies obviously. Then, it was about 2009/2010, I actually started trying Giant Postcards. I didn’t own the company at the time, but I was spending enough money and I knew it personally worked, obviously. So, I knew it worked so much that I said, “I’ve got to buy this company”. You know, and I’ve got to grow this company. I’ve got to get Anytime Fitness involved, as far as corporate, and so that’s what I did. I made an offer to the guy that owned Giant Postcards and obviously closed the Anytime Fitness deal, which was huge for the company. Then I decided, why am I just doing postcards? We have a commercial printer, now we actually work with printers all over the nation. So, it didn’t make sense for me just to print postcards. So, now I print everything: door hangers, business cards, post cards, whatever it might be as far as print related marketing. So, I started a company called Giant Marketing about a year ago. I had the foundation from Giant Postcards and over this past 11 or 12 months, we have built the brand that is now Giant Marketing.
MOSS: So, how much–you were talking before the show– how much were you spending at your Anytime Fitness locations for direct mail?
CAMPBELL: It was any–, obviously seven, eight locations… I use to have nine locations, I’ve sold a few. So, it was anywhere from fifty to sixty thousand dollars a year, combined.
MOSS: You looked at the number and thought, “Well, I think I need to be in this business”?
CAMPBELL: (laughs) Exactly. Exactly. And I knew I had personal experience that it works. That’s the best thing to sell because when you know it works— when you’re sold on it, it’s so easy to sell.
MOSS: You said before the show that you’re going to do your fifty millionth mailer?
CAMPBELL: This month we will hit fifty million postcards printed—Giant Postcards printed.
MOSS: That’s a big number.
CAMPBELL: Thank you.
MOSS: So, I know Doug wants to know the answer to this question too. So, Doug, jump in— but what is the effectiveness of third-class mailing– bulk mailing? The stuff we get in the mailbox and don’t really want to look at, but you’ve told me it’s very, very effective.
CAMPBELL: It is, and unfortunately, it doesn’t work for every single company out there and obviously, maybe you can tell, I’m pretty honest, because I’m not going to—there’s companies out there, for instance, a doctor’s office may not work for Giant Postcards. But then again, I have something else, social media works perfect and we have a social media team. But definitely, Giant Postcards is our number one thing so we don’t want to go away from that. We just want to tell the companies that haven’t had the success that they want for direct mail, that there are other options out there. Don’t just—don’t give up on marketing. That’s the worst thing you can do is not market your business.
MOSS: Yeah. Doug, have you ever used bulk mailing before?
IRELAND: I haven’t, I haven’t. I’ve got a buddy of mine that owns a carpet cleaning service that uses it and gets great success from it and its very, very regular. I think it’s like three to four percent respondance. Is that about right?
CAMPBELL: That’s— I mean, obviously, that would be amazing in the gyms. We typically say one to two percent, I was telling you yesterday—
IRELAND: I think he is getting three to four percent.
CAMPBELL: That’s amazing.
IRELAND: It really is, but if he can count on it that he sends out a thousand postcards that he is going to get X amount of people calling back, and he can predict the revenue. And so he takes zip codes and splits them up by neighborhoods and then does so many pieces this week and so many pieces next week and just goes around in circles and it works really well.
MOSS: What businesses cater more to the direct mailing than others, would you say?
CAMPBELL: Fitness is the number one. Obviously, fitness. Fitness is the number one. You’ll actually get a lot of insurance is a huge one, carpet cleaning– the service industry, is a huge part of our business. It would depend on the time of year though. You know, some businesses—-
IRELAND: Yeah, I was going to ask you that because I have a painting business and the time for me would be springtime.
CAMPBELL: Exactly. I was going to say tax returns, tax refunds.
IRELAND: Yeah, for sure. I mean, that is the time for painting, for fencing… we have several decks, patios…
CAMPBELL: Exactly, so all the stuff you do.
MOSS: So, your average cost to somebody you indicated, and this is probably after the design work, which I’m sure you negotiate on, but it’s about forty-five cents an item? Is that right?
CAMPBELL: It depends on what they want to do. If it’s a saturation, which is basically every home in that route, then it’s going to be that forty/forty-five cents, possibly even a little bit less. It depends on what kind of specials we’ve got going on at that time. If you have a list that, for instance, well, you want to hit only new homes or you might want to hit—really, what we do—
MOSS: Homes that are between five and twelve years old.
CAMPBELL: Exactly. We can customize for every single business so what we’ll do is typically we take, if there is a location, if you have an office but you cater to all of Atlanta, right? Metro Atlanta, so you’d be a little bit different. But in most cases, we take the business address, and we’ll go three to five miles out and we will pull those demographics for you and email those to you. And we will send you a saturation map as well so you can see the area. But for your business, you would want to—let’s take all of metro Atlanta and let’s only focus to the high income homes and the high average income areas.
IRELAND: Yeah, that’s really cool. Focus on the demographic, the target market that you’re looking for. We’re Gwinnett centric for the residential market. But for our commercial market, we go all over metro Atlanta. But yeah, that’s really cool. It’s very, very targeted.
CAMPBELL: Right, another thing that helps small businesses is our shared program. That’s where we can take one person, say Anytime Fitness is obviously our number one client, so we can most of the time get them to take one full side of the postcard and if you don’t know what I mean just take a piece of paper—Anytime Fitness is on one side, flip it over, you actually share the back side with anywhere from two business up to eight businesses. If you just want an eighth of a page, we can actually hit ten thousand homes in your area for only $299. A lot of business can afford $299.
MOSS: So, you can be—-
IRELAND: Looks like I’m going to have to be talking to Kyle after the show.
CAMPBELL: I actually need my basement painted….so….
IRELAND: There we go.
MOSS: But there’s actually a complimentary here because you can go with your carpet cleaner friend and say hey I’ll take one side, you take the other side.
MOSS: Complimentary businesses, and then see who gets the phone calls.
IRELAND: You guys have the stats on what businesses complement one another too, right?
CAMPBELL: We do, of course. Of course, and we actually have call tracking as well, which is huge for a lot of companies but for some companies, it does not work.
IRELAND: Put a pseudo number on it and then track what respondants you get? Oh, that’s great. That’s great.
CAMPBELL: I can give you a 678 number, a 404, whatever you want…
IRELAND: Yeah, I actually do that now. We have like ten numbers and they all ring into like that same place. But we kind of look at where our calls are coming in from.
CAMPBELL: It’s a perfect tracking tool. It’s also a great training tool too. If you have somebody answering the phones, and you as the owner can actually go in and listen to those calls. Every call is recorded. So, if you send out ten thousand postcards, you can log on to our call tracking and see, “Oh, I got forty-seven phone calls”, and then you can go to your manager or your receptionist that is answering the phones and ask “How many of these forty-seven did I actually close?”. You know, if you only closed five out of forty-seven, I would be going over each and every call to figure out why you only got like ten percent of those.
MOSS: Yeah, that’s interesting.
IRELAND: It’s very cool.
MOSS: So, we had a big show on social media and Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn and what you ought to be doing. And here all of the sudden an old true and tried method. Sounds to me like its every bit as effective as some of these new things.
CAMPBELL: It is, well, everybody has a mailbox and everybody checks their mail.
MOSS: Makes sense, and you can use—so, if someone were to come to you and say “well I have got a desire to do a promotion on Facebook” and they want to hit ten thousand Facebook pages in your area, compared to ten thousand mailers, is the cost about the same?
CAMPBELL: No, actually, postage is a big part of direct mail. Obviously, it’s fifty percent/sixty percent of our cost. So, you don’t have that in Facebook. Obviously, everything is online, there is no postage. So, that is going to be a huge break for you. So, you can actually reach twenty/thirty thousand for sometimes a few hundred dollars. It really just depends. The good thing about Giant Marketing is that we’ve tested it. My social media team has tested everything in the book, especially the gyms because I’ve experienced it with my personal gyms. So, if you’re in the fitness industry, I’ve got a way that you can spend—Well, I just did it on Black Friday, I actually proved it. I spent two hundred dollars on Facebook and at that one location I got sixteen members. So—and sixteen members might not sound like a lot but if they all stay for a year… five hundred dollars a year…
MOSS: But, you also mentioned before was that a particular Facebook ad the way it’s featured may not be working you have to go back in and change it on the fly.
CAMPBELL: Exactly, you have got to go back and change it. You’ve got it.
MOSS: Which is a lot more maintenance to it.
CAMPBELL: There is. There is. It’s not just make an ad and put it out there and then the next morning get up and check it. You have to consistently be checking that. And Facebook is good, they have stats that you can look at. Like I said, I’ve got a team that I would put them in contact with.
MOSS: I didn’t want to go down this road that far, but I am glad we did because every time I talk more about this whole direct mailing thing I get more intrigued because it sounds like its used technology to make it more effective even though it’s using an old style. Based on being able to carve out certain houses and incomes and age and everything else.
CAMPBELL: That’s true. That’s exactly true and we can bundle it a lot of times with an email blast. So, if you want to hit ten thousand homes, we can also hit twenty-five thousand/thirty-five thousand emails in that exact area…and that’s much cheaper as well.
MOSS: So, chances are I’m picking it up in the mailbox and getting an email—-
MOSS: And you’ve got ways of getting rid of the spam filters.
MOSS: So, that can work. Let’s change subjects just a little bit. I want to talk about running the business as opposed to details of the business. Doug, talk to us about developing strategy and what to do next with your company. What kind of decisions do you go through? What is your thought process?
IRELAND: Risk assessment, making sure that we are prepared for what it is that we want to do. And I’ll give you a real world example, like I said, we started in residential and we eventually—I’ve always wanted residential to be a stepping stone to commercial, managed property, possibly even multi-family one day. I’ve avoided going directly to multi-family because there is a lot of risk involved with it. I mean, my accounts receivable will go from an average of ten days to sixty days. If I do that, I need to be capitalized and be able to handle that kind of growth and we have to grow into it step by step. So, a few years ago we took the step to start going into some small commercial stuff so we do retail, office, and light industrial repainting–mostly on the outside–because I’ve avoided doing new construction and when I say new construction a lot of times—when you talk to anybody that is a general contractor, even if they are renovating the interior of a space that is still pretty much what I would consider new construction, instead of having a GC between me or the property owner or the property manager, I like to work directly for a property management company or the owner themselves. So, in that strategy, we’ve been able to find a niche there and about thirty-five percent of our business is B2B. Just as of today, we have been talking about, for the first time, doing some new construction for some GC’s. Well, that is a totally different animal. I’ve got to figure out how to play in their playground, what they need, how it’s going to change my cost structure–which it will–and then a big thing for me is how to bid off of plans. I’m not an engineer. So, I called a buddy of mine that is an engineer this morning and said, “Hey, who can you recommend to me that can read plans and help me build these projects?”
MOSS: And how do you bid off of plans?
IRELAND: Well, I mean, you know, (laughs) I’ve got my little measuring stick. Then you gotta do all of the conversions.
IRELAND: And there is software out there that I could do but that is a pretty large investment, when I could maybe hire someone that is more of an expert. As you know, Kyle, in business you need to hire experts that know what they are doing.
IRELAND: And so, I talked to a guy and got an interview set up for tomorrow and I’m hoping—and I’ve got three potential clients, one in particular who has said “Look, Doug, we want to do business with you. Go get set up, learn how to bid this, learn how to get the right crews”—
IRELAND: And so we are getting the steps together and so, hopefully in a couple of months, we will be rolling on that and it will be a new market for me.
MOSS: So, your company has been around since 2009?
MOSS: So, how many times have you changed your “strategy” since 2009?
IRELAND: Wouldn’t say we have changed it as much as it has evolved.
IRELAND: And when I first started in 2009, I was willing to do anything. So, if someone came and said, “Hey, let’s redo my kitchen”, you know, we would have been willing to do it. But, as things started going along, I was like, “Look, I gotta be targeted. I want to do a few things really well and not everything, halfway”. So, we stuck to what the name of the company was—painting– Freeland Painting. It is eighty-five percent of my business is painting and then the other percentage or so are some things that kind of fell into our lap along the way. One of my customers called and said, “Hey, put a new roof on my house”, so I learned how to do it and we figured it out. Then at some point someone said, “Hey, we need some siding”, and we figured that out too. I’ve actually—we are redoing the website right now, it will take us four months to get it all done, I’m sure, but I’ve re-branded and taken the logo and I’ve got the ability now to change the logo and we are going to have one website that says Freeland Painting, one that says Freeland Roofing, and one that says Freeland Siding so that we can target those markets on Facebook and social media as well. The logos look very, very identical and so there will be some synergy there and hopefully I will still have my branding in place and hopefully people will see that, recognize it, and trust it. If they’ve gotten a paint job from us, they will come back to us for hopefully these other services. And we have just kind of morphed as things went along. We didn’t really change things, but targeted one thing and got really good at it and then just kind of started embracing some other avenues.
MOSS: You kept your eyes wide open. And you listened to the customer.
IRELAND: For sure.
MOSS: What about you, Kyle? How many times since you bought these fitness—Anytime Fitness’s and since you bought Giant Postcards and Marketing—how many times have you had to “evolve”?
CAMPBELL: I would have to agree. I like those choice of words. Gosh, a lot has changed in ten years.
IRELAND: That’s for sure.
CAMPBELL: There has been a lot of learning curve with Giant Marketing. We are—we want to take it slow because just like you said, we don’t want to—we do offer a lot of products but it’s as simple as, we have commercial presses everywhere, from anywhere from twenty to forty inch presses, so it’s very easy for us to do pretty much anything print. Then I found a banner vendor that I use that I get all my banners from now and obviously I’m still printing ninety percent of my postcards right here in Norcross, Georgia. I mean, Giant Marketing has evolved tremendously. Obviously, it started from Giant Postcards just sending out postcards working with a hundred local businesses to what it is today, offering everything marketing wise. But the gyms on the other hand, haven’t as much but Anytime Fitness has, obviously—-in 2006, when I got into Anytime Fitness, I think our first club was we were number round about four hundred franchise. Now, there’s over twenty-six hundred clubs open and I want to say over three thousand franchises.
MOSS: Yeah, but even when you were talking about getting space from us, I know just in that three or four month time-frame, during that build-out, you had added a couple of products—
CAMPBELL: We have added a lot.
MOSS: A couple of services, because of what you saw people wanting and the people that came into the gym, you had to change some of your time-frames around in terms of getting focused with the customer of when they wanted to be there. So, I just saw in the first four months of you being over there, it seemed like it went from one kind of business into another.
CAMPBELL: We did add several different things. We added Fitness on Request, which is your video group fitness. Just to offer classes twenty-four/seven. You can go in to Anytime Fitness and take a class at two a.m., if you wanted to. Obviously, you are there by yourself but a one hundred twenty inch screen pops down and you take whatever class you want. That was something that we added, your right, about four months after we opened.
CAMPBELL: But we did find that a lot of the members still wanted that live instructor. So, we actually took a step back and we said let’s do everything the same we have always done it and so we went back and we added and sure enough our group fitness classes there are just as popular as they are where we don’t have a Fitness on Request machine. But it’s still a great option and we have five locations in Cherokee county, so if anybody wants to take a class at two a.m. or four a.m., they know where to go.
MOSS: Let’s talk about another important item and we always come back to this and it has to do with the customer. Doug, how do you—-how do I ask this question—do you try to frame a customer? Do you try to—what do you go through to try to understand a customer? Do you focus the project to the customer or do you try to make the customer focused to the way you want to try to deliver it? How do you do that?
IRELAND: Yeah, that is a great question. There’s a mild amount of both of those things occurring at the same time. Of course we want our customers to have an experience that is unlike any other and we want them to feel like they are the only customer we have that we are working for at the time we are doing business with them. But at the same time, sometimes customers want things that are a little unrealistic and we have to coach them on how the product and the service works. We try to accommodate the requests as we can and sometimes you just have to say, “I’m sorry, that is just not how we do things”. And here’s why, it is in your best interest. I had a guy call me yesterday afternoon and said he wanted to—and I’m going to get into the technical stuff—but on lap siding, he wanted to caulk the joint underneath each side, each piece of siding and we said, “No” and he said “Why not?” and I said, “Well, because you are going to create a maintenance nightmare” and I said “How much do you want to pay me to do that? And first of all, it is going to cost you more money, but I mean, offer me thousands of dollars and I’m still going to tell you that I don’t want your money. I don’t want to do it. It’s not the right thing to do.” He said, “Really?” and I was like, “Yeah, I wouldn’t do that to my house” and once we got through and explained to him why, he was on board with it.
MOSS: Just to me, it sounded to me like it’d just be downright ugly to see that caulk on the bottom of each panel of siding.
IRELAND: It wouldn’t be ugly when it’s first caulked. But when those caulk joints start splitting, and you look up at a house and you see the underside of each one of those and he said “Well, there is some gaps there right now” and I said, “Yes, but they are all consistent, there’s gaps underneath each one, so let’s just not do that, let’s skip that altogether”. Yeah, so that occurs and sometimes we have to educate people on those things that help us get our job done as well.
MOSS: Well, Kyle, talk about managing the customer in your business. Every project’s got to be different.
CAMPBELL: It is, definitely.
MOSS: In some respects, right?
CAMPBELL: It is. That is why we do custom demographic reports for each location, if they have a location. If they don’t have a location, we can still run demographic reports and give them the high income areas or the high home values and not the new homes because you said you didn’t want new construction (speaking to Doug). Obviously, it doesn’t make sense to advertise to those guys. So, we’d take those out.
IRELAND: Homes that are ten years old need painting.
CAMPBELL: Exactly. So, you want to hit the neighborhoods that are ten years old—the whole neighborhood, the whole route. So, don’t hit a route that has six hundred new homes go up in the past year or whatever. So, yes, we do. We definitely customize every single order and, like I said earlier, every product we offer isn’t right for every single business out there. There’s a lot of businesses that direct mail works fantastic for, and then there’s other businesses that you know, it just doesn’t get the word out. You know, you need to—it might be like a product that you have to show so T.V. is the best way to go or obviously in-store. So, postcards aren’t going to work for those.
MOSS: Yeah, but I guess somewhere along that line is where you counsel the customer to keep them from making that mistake.
CAMPBELL: Exactly. And I have to agree with Doug, I will pass up a deal if somebody offered me ten thousand dollars and I know for a fact that it’s not going to work for them. I will pass on that deal and I will talk to them and explain why I’m going to pass on it and hopefully the honesty—there’s a lot of people out there that will just take your money and do an okay job. Or there’s a lot of companies out there, unfortunately, that will take your money and mail out a hundred thousand postcards, even though—
MOSS: They know.
CAMPBELL: Exactly. We have been doing it long enough. We know what works. So if you want to do something and we recommend not doing that, we are going to recommend stuff to do that we know that works. So, I mean, there’s social media, there’s email blast, there’s postcards, there’s tons of ways out there to get your name out.
IRELAND: See, you’re not just printing cards and mailing them for people, you’re providing a service—a marketing service.
IRELAND: If they want, they can go down to Kinkos, print stuff out themselves, slap some third r—put it all together, take it down to the post office and get the postage cheap enough and they can do it on their own. But what they are paying you to do is offering them advice on the targeting on it. And I’m sure you do the design work, too.
IRELAND: And that’s the thing, if they are coming in your door, they need to listen to your expertise on that or they should at least, and I know a part of that, like I was saying before, is going to be what you are going to offer to them and also what they need, tailor fitting that. There’s a little give and take on both sides.
MOSS: Well, and if you look at the—talk to the banker in the room, people come to us and want to pay a certain amount of price for certain property, and they want to get a loan on it. You know, I could try to sell that but a lot of times we’ll look at it and say—
IRELAND: You know, I want two percent on the loan right now (laughs)
MOSS: Yeah, yeah. Well it’s just you know, I had a guy want a loan yesterday and he said, “Well, I heard somebody in Arkansas got a four percent interest rate” and I said, “Well, that’s”—
IRELAND: Move to Arkansas.
MOSS: But yeah, I mean a lot of times I’ll tell our loan officers that sometimes the best help that we can be is to keep somebody from getting into some real trouble.
CAMPBELL: Exactly. So they keep coming back.
CAMPBELL: That’s my thing. I want you as a life client. You know, I don’t want one-time clients.
CAMPBELL: Just like your business—-
IRELAND: Yeah, I want your neighbors and your friends and everyone you go to church with to know that we’re the company that you need to call. I’m never, ever in it for the one customer. I’m always considering the fact that this customer could turn into five or six and will return.
CAMPBELL: Exactly, same here.
MOSS: Alright, now let’s talk about the folks that you have that help you in your business–the people. They are right up there with customers. As far as I’m concerned, they are equally important. So, Doug, how do you transfer your passion for the customer, excetera—-how do you transfer that over to your folks and how do you make sure that everybody is of like mind?
IRELAND: The folks that work for me?
IRELAND: I have—first of all, it’s trial and error, no one taught me in school or anywhere else how to be an entrepreneur. You kind of just learn it. And this is the plight of the entrepreneur; you got to make a few mistakes. I always tell my folks that are working for me, I want you to go out and make some mistakes and I always use the analogy that when you learned how to ride a bike, you skinned your knees up a few times. It has to happen. We learn our best lessons from those mistakes. So, I encourage my guys to not be afraid of mistakes. You know, a mistake made in an effort to do the right thing is different from a mistake made in an effort to avoid working. Those folks get weeded out. I don’t have any tolerance for that kind of mistake. The screw-ups that come with incompetence and that nature of business but folks that are out there that work for me that are out trying to do it, we encourage it. We slap them on the back and say, “Hey, you learned what not to do next time, right?”
MOSS: Yeah, but on a monthly basis or every couple of months, do you get everybody in a room and say here’s our values or do you just do that through osmosis of who you are?
IRELAND: Yeah, absolutely. (laughs) We do a once a month company wide meeting– team meeting–and I do a once a week meeting with my sales team. The sales meeting is an encouragement like “Come on, let’s get out there” you know, keep everybody motivated, keep everybody positive. We actually had a team meeting this morning, and I asked everybody to go around the room and tell me something positive that happened in the last month and something negative that happened, and it doesn’t have to be about business. You’d be surprised though, one guy last month said, my project manager, he said “I got a puppy” and I was like “Well, that’s cool”, but what we are doing is that we are getting it out on the table, in front of everybody, our value systems. We learn a little bit about each other, what motivates us, what demotivates us, and how we can learn to work together. And I see that team aspect of things as what is going to drive our business because if I can’t—and you just said, how do I tell the story? I try to tell the story of my business all of the time. We’ve got a meeting coming up—a Christmas party next weekend—and I’ve got the original brush that I used to take a picture of my first logo and I’m going to have it framed and I’m going to pull that out and go through the story of how Freeland Painting came to be, why the name is what it is, and when you do that when you tell the story of the company and their buying it, they’re not just working a job, they are working for something that has greater purpose.
MOSS: Kyle, what strategies do you use to convey the message, keep everybody moving, weed out the people that aren’t on the team? How do you do all that? What are some of the things you do? Like I would suspect in the gym business, it’s pretty tough. A lot of nefarious folks end up being fitness instructors, if you don’t mind me saying so.
CAMPBELL: (laughs) Yeah, the companies are completely different. Obviously with the gyms, it is tough. The turnovers are obviously more at the gyms than it is with Giant Marketing. Plus, my people with Giant Marketing, they’ve been with us for years. Most of the people with the gyms, it’s different. The instructors, they’ve been with us for years. They’re most of the time, stay at home moms, or women that just need something to do, or make some extra money or something like that. Those, they have stuck around, and a lot of our trainers have stuck around because they build value, they built the rapport with the clients. The managers and the salespeople, those are probably the hardest to keep around. Although, right now I can’t complain, I have an awesome team and that’s perfect timing going into the New Year’s rush. So, with Giant Marketing though, Giant Marketing is such a—-yes it’s almost six years old, as far as Giant Postcards, but Giant Marketing is basically a—-I don’t want to call it a startup, because we are far from a startup, but we are offering so many new products and we’ve brought several people on this year. We’ve tripled our team, and I plan to triple our team again by this time next year. Whether that be hiring new graphic artists, or social media help, or salespeople. I mean, I’ve brought on six new salespeople this year, a couple of graphic artists, and the biggest thing that I do with both companies is—there’s two things that I always go off of and that’s number one, I want to find out what they are best at. I might hire somebody and two months down the road, six months down the road, I might feel like this is not right for this person, but I give them something else and they ace it. They’re perfect at it. Then sometimes I hire somebody, and then a week later I give them something else. And I do this more and more nowadays, I’ll give someone brand-new a couple different jobs, to find out exactly what they are best at. The second thing is, I want them to do what they love. Because if you do what you love, if you are a salesperson and you love it, you are going to sell ten times more. If you’re a graphic artist and you love it, you’re designs going to come out showing that. The other thing I would say is staying positive and I hate to use that word but negative thoughts and negative vibes they just don’t work in any business. You know, so I try to get those out. I tell every single employee, if it’s at the gym, or if it’s at Giant Marketing, if you’re negative…I’ll send people home for the day. Just for being negative, you know?
MOSS: Yeah, negative is poisonous.
CAMPBELL: It is. It is.
MOSS: Negativity is poisonous. Now, there’s a word in our family that I just ban from our household even when my kids were just little, now they’re all grown. But the word “c-a-n-‘t” —-
IRELAND: I knew that was what you were going to say.
MOSS: That word is not allowed in my house and it’s not in their vocabulary. Boy, if you can come across with that mindset and convey that to other people, it can be very powerful. Very powerful. Let’s talk about—we’ve talked about the people, we’ve talked about the customers and I want to get back to the whole concept of numbers. I am a banker. And by the way, you’re listening to On the Money, brought to you by Embassy National Bank, and this is Joe Moss and I’m having a good time today. I don’t know about you guys but I’m having a good time. Numbers. Doug, how important are numbers?
IRELAND: Oh my gosh. Off the chart. Key. If you don’t know your numbers, you’re just flying blindly. It’s amazing how many small businesses just fly blindly like that and I liken it to like they toss a bunch of receipts in a shoe box and at the end of the year they try to figure out how much they owe in taxes and if they were profitable. I don’t get that.
MOSS: How often do you look at the numbers?
IRELAND: Every single day. Twice or three times a day. Absolutely.
MOSS: Every single day, twice or three times a day.
IRELAND: Yeah, maybe today once. Tomorrow, three times. But I pour through the different charts and graphs and I don’t know if you use Quickbooks but I use Quickbooks and there is a lot of different reports that you can get out of it. I’m looking at trends and I compare it to last year at this time or two years ago at this time, look how we are trending up. In my business, you’ll see a big spike in the summer and then back down in the winter and it goes up and down, but if you spread it out over five years you see this upward trend like this, even with those ups and downs. So looking at it in different ways, you get more information out of it.
MOSS: Plus, it’s very motivating when you see those numbers.
IRELAND: Oh yeah.
MOSS: It can make a tough day a whole lot better. If you say, you know what? It’s been a tough day but look at what I’m doing here.
IRELAND: Nothing cures the blues like a sale.
MOSS: Yeah. Now Kyle, you do something a little different. In your business it’s kind of project oriented so tell me how you handle numbers?
CAMPBELL: Numbers are key with us, obviously. Demographics, numbers, I mean that’s every single—whether it’s emails, or social media— how many people you want to hit, or direct mail—how many homes you want to hit. So, numbers are key and obviously, you want to make sure your profit margins there. We are all in business to make money, so numbers are huge in any business. If you don’t know your numbers, you don’t know your true cost. You might as well just shut the doors.
MOSS: You do something by project, right?
CAMPBELL: We do. Exactly.
MOSS: So, you can tell me on any project that comes in whether you’ve made money or not.
IRELAND: We do, too.
MOSS: So, it’s kind of a pain in the butt to ask employees to allocate their time, right?
IRELAND: (To CAMPBELL) Are you doing it by time? I don’t do it by time. When I look at project numbers, I am looking at cost.
MOSS: Okay, what about allocation of time, people, and that type of thing?
CAMPBELL: I have a production column, because every job, it doesn’t matter what it is took— five minutes or five hours. So there is a production cost and so my marketing manager or my production manager or my operations director, they have their time. Now say I pay them twenty bucks an hour. So, if they got one hour into it, I put twenty dollars in that column. You cannot forget about your labor because obviously, if you want to make money, that’s where a lot of businesses go wrong. They’ll come up with their costs, whether it’s a restaurant or parts or paint or whatever it is—but they’ll forget about the labor.
IRELAND: Or well, they’ll just consider it a fixed cost apparently.
CAMPBELL: That’s true, too. Sometimes jobs go over and sometimes jobs are shorter, obviously.
IRELAND: So, the labor that I use on my jobs, specifically, is independent contracted labor. So, that is really easy to put it in as a cost. So, they get paid the same whether the job goes ten hours or twelve hours. (CAMPBELL agrees) Well, it’s also a good motivator for them to get the job done on time. But we are still looking at the labor for each job and cost for the materials. What I don’t do is attach marketing costs to my variable costs like that. So when I’m tracking job costs, I’m tracking what it took as a variable cost to create that business. Had I not sold that job, I still got to pay for the phones, and the rent, and the office and all of that stuff so that’s fixed. But I try to put everything that I think is a variable cost onto those jobs.
MOSS: Alright, I want to talk about one thing before we summarize. I can’t believe the time is on us, but I want to talk about fear. Doug, you have any fear?
IRELAND: Sure, absolutely.
MOSS: How do you conquer it? Or do you?
IRELAND: It’s a good motivator. It’s always there, it’s always under the surface. There is always the fear that the phone is going to stop ringing. Hey, I’m going into my slow season right now and every single winter I have this fear that the phone has slowed down. We are out there marketing, but who is going to call us? And then every spring, right around Easter, the phone just starts ringing off the hook.
MOSS: So, that’s when you go in your Quickbooks and look at all that? (laughs)
IRELAND: I do, I try to calm me down as much as possible but there is always that fear. I lost a business back in 2009, so I know real, real fear when it comes to that. I think that’s helped me be a better business person. I understand the true meaning of cash flow nowadays more so than I did back in 2006/07/08/09. We were killing it back then in that business and I had so much—I had toys, I had a Harley, and all these things, and debt and expenses that I shouldn’t have had and when the rug gets pulled out from under you. You really either grow and learn from it or you shrivel up and die.
MOSS: You know we will have another– a complete show dedicated toward–we’ll just call it “remaking your life”, but what is really important because I’ve been through a similar experience with you, Doug. So, I can feel what you went through. Kyle, talk to me about fear. Do you fear? How do you use it? How do you conquer it? How do you handle it?
CAMPBELL: I would say my number one fear with Giant Marketing, unfortunately, is the post office. It is definitely, once it gets to that local post office in your city, whether it’s Atlanta, New York, LA—wherever it is, it’s out of my hands. I can call that post office, I can talk to that manager, but it’s still out of my hands. I can’t be in every post office across the country. So, I would say that’s my biggest fear, because it has happened and we’ve taken care of our customer even though it may not be our fault. Because we know, we take care of that customer this time, they will come back to us throughout the year.
MOSS: When you bought your first Anytime Fitness, did you have the fear of “Oh my God, this may not work?”
CAMPBELL: (laughs) Being an entrepreneur, there’s always a little bit of fear. But me, I was wired a little bit different.
IRELAND: Yeah, me too.
CAMPBELL: I knew when I was seventeen years old, I was going to own my own business, somehow. I didn’t know what it was going to be—it took me working at Gold’s Gym and knowing that I liked the fitness business. I like talking to members every day. And I like numbers, so there was a little bit of fear there but it was more exciting than fearful.
MOSS: Yeah. It is exciting. I mean, every time we talk about putting on new people and whether the revenue is going to come in to justify the people is something that I fear because bringing somebody in and asking them to dedicate their life to this— and I don’t want to be the one that says, “Hey, it hasn’t been successful. I’m going to disrupt your life again.” So, that’s the thing that makes me kind of wonder every once and a while, but I really want to be sure that I’m going to be successful with this because I’m asking other people to put their heart and soul behind it.
CAMPBELL: Every one of our clients has a bit of fear—am I going to spend this three, four, five thousand dollars and get the return I want?
MOSS: Am I going to get it back?
CAMPBELL: Exactly, so we have to talk to—and that’s why we customize every single client because some things don’t work for other businesses.
MOSS: Alright, Doug, you have a minute to summarize. Say something profound here in the last minute.
IRELAND: Profound? (laughter) Oh wow man, I’m not normally stumped so that’s crazy. Profound…
MOSS: Word of wisdom.
IRELAND: Word of wisdom..for the day— I’m normally so full of those one-liners, too. I already did my bicycle and skinned knees thing. (laughter) I am going to have to think about it. Kyle, why don’t you answer…
MOSS: I’m going to go on record and say that I stumped Doug Ireland. (laughter) Alright Kyle, you, give us a minute here of just words of wisdom.
CAMPBELL: My thing is never give up and don’t fold to the fear. Don’t be afraid to take that step. Obviously, it takes money. You know, call Joe… he’ll give you a loan, probably.
MOSS: I’ll do my best. I’ll counsel you one way or the other.
CAMPBELL: But yeah, just don’t be afraid. That’s my thing, take that step because there is so many people out there that would be great entrepreneurs, they are just afraid to take that first step. So if they talk to somebody about it, they might be sitting on a million dollar idea—a billion dollar idea. Some people are just afraid to talk to people. So, I would say, definitely don’t be afraid to take that step and stay positive.
MOSS: Stay positive. Alright, you’re up, Doug.
IRELAND: Well, in that line of thinking, sometimes there’s endeavors that you’re trying to go after that seem too big and I like the metaphor of “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”.
IRELAND: For me, getting back on the horse after a catastrophic loss in 200—actually, the loss came in 2007/08 and getting back on the horse in 2009, there’s a lot of fear. But we did it. We did it again—my wife and I. We’ve learned a lot, we’re going to try again. My advice to someone trying to startup a new business right now would be exactly the same thing, take a bite. Keep taking a bite and moving toward it.
MOSS: Alright, Doug, tell everybody phone number, email, how they can get in touch with you.
IRELAND: Freeland Painting—located in Suwanee, servicing all of Gwinnett residentially and all of metro Atlanta if you are a property management company or an owner and you need some retail, multi-family work, managed property work. 678-679-3126. On the web at www.freelandpainting.com and send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will hook you up.
MOSS: There you go. Alright, Kyle, where can people get in touch with you? For all this bulk mailing you’re going to do for them?
CAMPBELL: Well, the Anytime Fitness’s obviously you can go to www.anytimefitness.com but Giant Marketing—real easy, www.giant.marketing. There’s no dot com, or dot net, or anything like that. Just www.giant.marketing and our office phone number in Lawrenceville is 678-354-0361 and that is not a call tracking number, so you won’t be recorded.
MOSS: (laughs) Okay, good.
IRELAND: That’s the coolest web address.
IRELAND AND CAMPBELL (together): giant.marketing
IRELAND: I want to get one—freeland.painting. I wonder if that exists.
CAMPBELL: I’ll check on it for you.
IRELAND: That is too cool.
MOSS: Well, you need one that says freeland.painting, freeland.roofing, freeland.siding. There you go.
CAMPBELL: You’d be surprised how many there are out there.
MOSS: And freeland.basements too! (laughter) I got it, how about freeland.mancaves? How about that?
CAMPBELL: I like that.
IRELAND: I like it, too.
MOSS: I think man caves are neat, and I think they are the next big thing.
IRELAND: We all need at least one.
MOSS: Oh my gosh.
CAMPBELL: That’s what I need you to paint!
MOSS: Oh my gosh, at least one.
CAMPBELL: Come to my house after this.
IRELAND: Very cool, man.
MOSS: There you go. Anyway, okay everybody, it’s been fun. Thank you guys. Doug, Kyle, it’s been a real pleasure talking with you. We’ll do it again, three or four months. We’ll let a little water go under the bridge and then we’ll have some more exciting things to talk about. One more show between now and the end of the year, but it’s been a lot of fun today and I really appreciate everybody’s support out there. We’ve had—how many shows have we had now, Mike? Put Mike on the spot!
MIKE: Now, you’re putting me on the spot. You’ve been doing this for almost six months now?
MOSS: Yeah, six months!
MIKE: So, you’ve got about maybe twenty-five shows in the can?
MIKE: And they’re all available on ITunes if anybody wants to go check them out on ITunes.
MOSS: ITunes, and if you add up all the—
IRELAND: Really? You’ll have to tell me how to get that.
MOSS: We’ve had probably about a thousand people download our shows.
MIKE: You’re a numbers guy. You saw them last week.
IRELAND: Congratulations, Joe. That’s really cool.
MOSS: That was pretty interesting and we really have done much of anything with it as a bank yet. That just comes from all the different customers.
IRELAND: Add to it, Joe.
MOSS: Well, listen anytime that you help somebody, it’s contagious. And maybe that is the message of the day. It’s all about helping the other person and forget about yourself and help somebody else be successful. So, anyway, have a great week. We’ll see you next time. This is On the Money, brought to you by Joe Moss, sponsored by Embassy National Bank, and as we always say, Be careful out there!
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