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For this episode of E-Coffee with Experts, Ranmay Rath interviewed Eric Brown, Chief Sales Officer at VIE Media, a digital marketing agency located in St. Louis, Missouri. Embark on a journey through the dynamic landscape of digital marketing with Eric. Unveiling the evolution from social media origins to intent-based strategies, VIE Media thrives in driving bottom-line revenue for clients in-home services and specialty medicine. Eric emphasizes the pivotal role of data ownership, monthly campaign improvements, and aligning sales and marketing goals for sustained success in the competitive realm of digital marketing. Uncover the secrets of lead optimization, conversion rates, and the crucial role of CRM in addressing client issues. Dive into the challenges of SEO, the power of networking, and the transformative impact of AI, including ChatGPT, on efficiency.
Watch the episode now for more insights!
AI and ChatGPT are great for idea formulation, brainstorming, and even for generating content ideas for SEO.
Hey, hi, everyone. Welcome to your show, E Coffee with Experts. This is Ranmay, your host for today’s episode. Today we have Eric Brown, who is the Chief Sales Officer at VIE Media with us. Welcome, Eric, to our show.
Hey, thank you for having me here this morning. I appreciate it.
Great. Eric, before we move forward and pick your brains on how you built your business and other topics around digital marketing, why don’t you share your story with us, and your journey thus far? What do you guys do at VIE Media?
Absolutely. Yeah, we started VIE Media actually in three to four days from now. I forget how many days there are in September. We’ll be seven years in business. We’re excited about that. It’s funny, as I say, seven years in business, I think that’s a long time. We run into business owners doing this for 40, 50, 60 years. But we’re young guys. We’re still 30 years old. We started this when we were all 23 years old. Going back to that age, I graduated college. I didn’t know what I was going to do. My business partner, Garrett Atkins, he’s the CEO here. He didn’t go to college. He’s always been in the entrepreneurial mindset of going around to different sales positions and trying to grow companies. I graduated college with a health science degree because my whole family was like, Go do PT. My whole mom’s side all does physical therapy and occupational things like that. Then eventually, I wanted a business degree. Mizzou said, Hey, you’re going to have to stay for another three semesters. I said, Not worth it. I’m going to graduate. I went out and got a sales job for credit repair. That was lovely dealing with those clients.
Some people had actual issues with their credit, but other people just wanted to get a mortgage and didn’t care at the end of the day. They just needed a quick fix, and at the end of the day, they weren’t going to fix their credit. Through that time in that business, customer service, ran a lot of the relationships, did the sales, looked at the backend, also finance, and got a good understanding of how to run a business over about two and a half years. My dad also had a business the whole time I was growing up. I’ve always been in that mindset. What ended up happening was we were all about 21 years old. I was doing credit repair in a nice office building in Des Pares, and we used to use the conference room. We’d all get a bunch of young guys together and be like, What are we all trying to do? We were all just doing bullshit jobs, for the lack of a better word. We all wanted to do more. What we decided to do was start a marketing company. Our thought behind that was, if we’re going to be able to have a successful company, one of the biggest things is, and Alex Hermosis says this as well, is even if you have a shitty company, if you have good marketing, you can have a successful business.
Now, I don’t condone that. I’m not saying here I want to have a shitty business, but obviously what that says is marketing and advertising can get you a long way. We wanted to learn how to do that. We started that business just through social media. Seven years ago, you could make money by starting a business page and posting on your business page. Amazing. Now, no one does that unless you’re getting, you still post to show that you’re around, but at the end of the day, you’re not getting a ton of engagement. It’s all through your profile. About in business after about a year and a half, we wanted to grow. We wanted to get past the point of just being those young marketers that now what a lot of people think as a digital marketing company is just one guy with a laptop making posts, and that’s about it. We wanted to get away from that. We wanted to drive bottom-line revenue to businesses and help them grow. We moved into the intent-based marketing space, search engine marketing. We’re like, Why go after people on Facebook?
Try to make a piece of content, and hopefully, they’ll engage. Let’s just go after the people who are already searching for something and ensure that our clients are getting in front of those people. That’s when we shifted our whole focus over to search engine marketing. Google ads, SEO, and web design. Web design is if you talk to probably any marketer, they’re like, That’s the bane of everyone’s existence, but you have to do it right at the end of the day to get it done. What’s a fun process. It’s just a pain in the ass a lot of the time. You have to do it to get it done for the client. Working through that process, ensuring that, like I tell everyone, for the most part, if someone has an issue, let’s just say a home service company, which is probably about 75, 80% of our business, if someone has a leaking roof, they have water in their basement, pipe burst, or their HVAC unit isn’t working, they’re going to go to Google and figure that issue out immediately. Same with law firms or the same with chiropractors. If you have a personal injury or you have a DUI, more likely than not you’re going to Google.
If you’re looking for a chiropractic adjustment, unless you have one, you’re going to Google. We focus a lot on home services, specialty medicine, and law. This is our main core business there. We do some e-commerce, of course, as well, but that’s our business. A couple of years ago, and I know this is long-winded, I’m almost done, we started Mogul Holdings. It’s a holding company. We have a few different home service-based companies that we own there. Our prized possession is West County insulation. That’s our baby, and that’s what we own wholly of. We started that business strictly because we saw how much money we were making contractors, and we were like Holy shit, we can do this ourselves. We’re like, What industry do we want to get into? We had a couple of buddies that we knew well from high school. All they’ve done is construction, and they’ve done a lot of insulation. We looked up online the competition there and we were like, SEO, keyword difficulties. We’re talking 2, 3, 4. Oh, my God. We’re like, This is going to be great. Ads, we can get leads for 40, or 50 bucks.
We’re like, Oh, my God. This is amazing. We started that business. Now not only are we a marketing company, but we’re well aware of what goes on the back end of home service-based companies as well, if it’s insurance. If it’s just the processes of A to Z, and that’s a big thing most companies don’t have set up as just processes. With that said, that’s our business. There are four partners here at VIE Media. I’m one of them. Four partners own a holding company as well. It’s the same four people that own both. Very grateful for the four partners we have here because definitely if one of them left, we’d probably be able to make it, but it wouldn’t be the same.
Yeah, absolutely. It is always a great team that is behind making that success happen. Lovely story, I must say. VIE Media is known for its Digital growth and is also listed as the 22nd fastest-growing company in St. Louis. Can you walk us through some pivotal moments strategies or decisions that you guys would have made as a team that contributed significantly to this remarkable growth?
Yeah, absolutely. I would say a big thing that’s contributed to our growth is just number one, doing a very good job for our clients. No marketing company is going to be able to keep all of their clients on, but we have a very high retention rate. I would say a 90% retention rate as far as year-over-year looking at the clients that drop off versus stay with us, which is very high. The reason is that we’re able to keep so many clients, and, we call them our partners, they’re our partners in success. We’re caring and looking at the data consistently because at the end of the day, if you’re spending money on ads or spending money on SEO, the only thing that matters is the data. Going over that data with our client every month and ensuring that we’re spending money and we’re profitable. Not only that we’re profitable, but we’re continuing to improve those campaigns and where we’re at, number one. It’s just ensuring that we’re doing the best job for our clients. Number two is the team that we’ve built. I’ve talked about this on other podcasts, and it seems like the consensus is it’s almost I don’t know how we’ve built such a good team.
I know that we have, we’re very open with our team. I think we run our team maybe a little bit too leniently at times, excuse me, I can’t even get that word out. You know what I mean? But for the lack of a better word, I don’t want to say we’re a family, but it’s that type of atmosphere where we all have each other’s backs. It’s a small team, though. It’s easy to have that growth where we have only 12 team members at VIE right now, and we have a couple of other team members for a holding company at our office. But we all work together. Even the guys that are at the holding company, they’re in with our team at VIE. A team effort. Everyone wants the success of Vi. I think that just, I don’t know how we instilled it. I’m very grateful for our team. I think with a good team, we’re also able to bring on better team members as well because they can see that. They know what’s going on. Other than that, our brands have Garrett and myself, I think, have pushed hard on social media. We’ve been posting for a long time.
I don’t even post that much about digital marketing, more so just I make fun of stuff sometimes. I try to be a little bit humorous, but also I just talk about business mindset, if you will. I’m not a thought leader. I’m not that guy, but I do like to be blunt. Maybe I’m a little bit, I don’t know, blunt, I guess is the word for it. But yeah, social media, personal brands. It’s funny because I say we’ve grown our company through social media and we don’t do any social media advertising right now, but it’s all been organic-based growth. It’s just Garrett and I continuously posting. It’s not like we’re spending money on ads. We made that shift to intent-based marketing. I think if we stayed with the social media aspect that we were doing, we would not be around. We also acquired a marketing company about three years ago, actually during COVID. With that acquisition, we got Matt McGrayle, one of our newest partners, our fourth partner at the company. But we got him through an acquisition. He has been pivotal for our Google Ads team. I would say he’s 0.01 % of a Google Ads in terms of if you were to have him compete against other Google Ads people worldwide, that’s where he would rank.
I don’t say that lightly, I’m very serious. I think he’s been a pivotal movement, of course, in our team as well. Also, another thing is with our business, we’ve had people move around, right? Zach Dixon, who leads our SEO team, was hired five years ago for sales directly out of college with marketing experience. He’s turned into an absolute badass at SEO. We do personality tests and things like that. I don’t know, we’re young. We do things a little bit differently, I think. Also, I think it comes back to the fact is we don’t come from a corporate background. None of us has worked in a corporate office for a long time and then come and started a business. We all come from a background of sales, small businesses, food, things like that. We’re not coming from large businesses. We don’t even have that type of mindset. Anyways, I would say that’s the biggest thing that has helped us grow 100%.
Wonderful. We are a mixed bag of sales and marketing folks. No one better than you to answer this. Sales and marketing alignment is often a challenge for organizations like we were speaking about before the podcast. What steps you can businesses take to bridge the gap between these two functions to ensure that they do not work in silos, they work as a team to ensure that they’re working towards the common objective, which is the larger one for the organization.
Yeah, I think one of the big issues I find when working, especially with large companies that have internal marketing teams and sales teams, is they’re both listening to different managers. They don’t even have the same strategy. They’re not on the same page at all. A lot of the time, I think it just has to come down with, say, myself, I’m the CSO at our company. I’m Chief Sales Officer. I’m in charge of the sales team at VIE Media, but obviously, we’re a marketing company. Even at times, get frustrated with our marketing. It just comes down to the fact of salespeople and they want sales. So at the bottom line, and they’re like us, return on investment. They’re like, I don’t care what type of marketing we’re doing. I just want to see more appointments. I want to see more website visitors. Where are the leads? That’s the biggest thing you hear from salespeople. Where are the leads? But then you have the marketing people that are maybe listening to the chief marketing officer, the CEO, and they’re just trying to brand the company, right? Brand the company, yeah. Their goal doesn’t lead. So at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, what’s the goal of marketing?
Branding, especially for larger companies, is good. But are you trying to generate leads? I would usually say yes. You want leads, right? Any B2B company is going to want leads. We work with a lot of, or at least I talk to a lot of IT-based companies. I’ll sit down and I’ll talk with the CMO, and then I’ll sit down and talk with the head of business development. They’re like, they like each other, but they’re at each other’s throats because they want two completely different things. I think the biggest thing that a company can do, number one, is if you have a CMO and a head of business development, make sure they’re on the same page. If they’re not, have someone come in and make sure they are on the same page. You could do both branding and lead generation. You just have to have, of course, the money to do it, but you can do both. Of course, again, branding is great, but bottom-line revenue is going to be generated by salespeople. If you want to grow your company, of course, it’s always important to probably look at that aspect as well.
Bringing those two things together is going to be super important. That’s one thing we do for larger companies if we’re going to be working with generating leads and branding, is taking a look at not only what the chief marketing officer wants, but we can act as an intermediary. We can come in and be like, Hey, you want this? Great. How can we make a marketing plan that brings both to fruition? But if you’re just a company that doesn’t have an outsourced marketing company that you don’t have a consultant or anything like that can come in, take a look and talk to both your CMO and your business development manager and make sure they’re on the same page. That’s the biggest thing you can do.
Yeah, absolutely. I’m talking about leads. A lot of these leads which come through to the sales funnel, they’re called MQL. I’m sure you must be aware of it. I’m not sure of the point of having marketing-qualified leads if it has come from the marketing team in the first place. I always discuss a little bit with the marketing and sales team that the lead is not of high quality. It is just another lead. You do not have a sufficient amount of meetings in a particular month, quarter, whatever, which has any meat in those meetings. That tussle is always on. These are numbers that the marketing team is always trying to catch up with or match up without even thinking about the quality aspect of those leads. Yeah, very well said. Those two people who are in sync are at the decision-making hands of these two functions, then they would be aligned in terms of what exactly are the requirements to meet the targets as well.
Yeah, 100%. Something to add to that real quick is a lot of the time also, I think a big issue is they don’t have metrics set up. That’s one thing, of course, if you know what the hell you’re doing in marketing, you’re going to have key performance indicators and you’re going to have stuff set up like, Hey, we need 30 leads this month. Okay, great. With Google ads and SEO, like going back you brought up a great point, marketing qualified leads. What I find is that, especially, and that’s why we focus on this intent-based marketing, because it’s great, you already have someone searching for the product you want. So it’s just essentially, of course, with ads, just cutting out all of the nonsense of people searching may be similar to what a company offers, but not exactly. So they’re searching do it yourself or some inexpensive or cheap, or they’re searching up a competitor name, anything that’s going to not generate a good lead, right? You want to go ahead and cut out. So a lot of those terms, and that’s where it goes into the first couple of months of setting up a good Google ads campaign, is cutting out all of that bullshit, right?
Because that’s where a lot of that spend first goes you can always set up a good campaign, but at the end of the day, you’re still going to have stuff filter in that you just can’t filter out, you don’t know about. It comes through and then you’re like, Shit, okay, we need to cut this out of the campaign. But marketing qualified leads, right? A lot of these marketing companies and business development people don’t have any key performance indicators set up. The marketing company doesn’t even have any goals, right? They don’t even know how many leads the business, how many leads the sales team wants, right? That’s not even something that they talk about, which is insane. But it’s all just, hey, what I hear so many times is this. I talk to a CMO, they’re like, Our budget is $250,000 this year. They spend money. I don’t know why chief marketing officers, a lot of the time, end up spending money, especially for maybe smaller to medium-based businesses on over the wire. I don’t necessarily have an issue with it, but it just seems like they go to the easiest way to spend the money.
They go and get a TV or a radio, they spend money on billboards, and they spend money on these things, which is easy to spend money on. But at the end of the day, is it generating? Is it growing the business? That’s the biggest thing because, of course, marketing, you want to be growing your business. If it’s not growing the business, why are you spending money on it? So leads are super important in going over those leads. If you’re spending money on marketing, the business development person, say you’re just doing this internally, you don’t have an outside team, the business development person should have a meeting with the marketing person on at least a monthly basis to go over, Hey, these leads came from the website. These leads came from ads because, of course, if you know what you’re doing in marketing, you properly track that stuff. So you should be able to know this came from organic search. This came from a direct search for the business. This came from ads. This came from directly this ad campaign. We know that we got this amount of leads. Great. Okay, we had a few issues with these leads.
Why was that the case? They weren’t qualified. They were looking for a service. We don’t necessarily do. Maybe they’re looking for an IT company to go back to IT, but it’s just an IT service we don’t offer. Maybe that’s something we just can’t cut out, right? They were searching for IT. We do that, but we just don’t do this. Or, Hey, we do a subset of this, but we don’t do exactly this. Okay, great. We know we need to cut that stuff out. Those discussions are super important. If you’re not improving a campaign every month, what the hell are you doing? That’s what you pay a company for every month, is to continue those improvements, not just set it up and let it go.
Yeah, absolutely. You also touched upon driven decision-making for marketing strategies, and that is also quite important to have your proper KPIs and all those numbers in place. How do you leverage analytics and insights to continually optimize these campaigns for better or let’s say, your client?
Yeah, absolutely. We have a few different things that we go ahead and set up for all of our clients. I’ll take a step back real quick, and I’ll say that to anybody that’s in marketing right now that’s listening to this, or any business owner that’s spending money on marketing right now, number one, the client should own all of their data. If you are spending money on marketing, if you’re spending money on ads and the marketing company owns that asset, I think that’s bad business. I also think it’s bad business where if you’re spending money on marketing and the marketing company would say, I own the ad account, you’re not getting access to this ad account, but that’s bad business as well. I think if you’re not lending insight, as much insight as humanly possible, all of the data that we get should be going to our client. Even if they don’t understand it, at least we allow them to see that stuff. So we set up, of course, Google Analytics and Google Search Console, of course, to measure all of our results. And what we do is we funnel all of that data into essentially a sheet that we have built out.
We build that out. I forget what software it is. Google has cloud software where you can essentially move all of the data over from those fields into a data set. And on that data set, we have an SEO report and a Google Ads report. You can see all the data that’s being shown in those different actual Google accounts themselves. And it’s just an easier way to view the data for our clients. But also it’s nice for our salespeople and our account management people as well to be able to just easier to digest it with the clients. But we have that stuff set up. We also have a CRM set up. What the CRM does is it tracks all of the leads. It tracks all of the leads from the website and all of the different platforms. We’re able to specifically see, like I was saying before, you could go on that CRM. You’ll be able to listen to phone calls. You can see if it’s a form fill, if it’s a phone call, if it’s a chat on the website, you could see directly where they came from. It was organic-based, right?
You’re a roofing company. Someone just looked up a roofing company near me. It was a direct search. Someone just searched up your business name. Or it came from ads, right? It came from ads. You can see the different campaigns and how it’s broken out. You can usually actually track the specific keyword that they came from as well. The reason that we do this, of course, at the end of the month, we go through all these leads, we can listen to the phone calls ourselves internally and get ahead of a problem and be like, Hey, this lead came in. We listened to it. They were out of scope. They were out of range for some reason, X, Y, and Z happened. We can go back in and address that issue before the client even knows about it. But that CRM can show us direct data and access. That way, we can always go back to those SEO and ads reports and go, Hey, we generated 35 leads this month. Here’s our cost per click. Here’s our conversion rate. Here’s our cost per lead. The cost per click is great. A client doesn’t need to know that.
I don’t think it’s super necessary, but it’s on there for them to know. What I say is the most important thing is to take a look at is cost per lead, the actual conversion rate on the landing page, and then, of course, how many leads you got, right? Those are the most important aspects because the click-through rate is moderately important. But as long as you’re getting people to click through to the ad and you’re not converting, you know that’s a big thing either with the landing page, the ad itself, you’re putting stuff out in front of people that have no interest in what you’re doing. We measure and track absolutely all of that stuff. I think a lot of marketing companies don’t because they don’t know what they’re doing. I think that’s a big thing in our industry. I think it’s a really big thing in all industries. We hear it day and night in the contractor sphere because, of course, we work with a bunch of them, fly-by-night contractors. They pop up every day. I would say that’s the biggest thing with analytics and reporting. The reason that we do that at the end of the day is accountability and transparency.
We don’t want to have to hear from our clients or someone who talks to our clients that, hey, they were talking bad about you X, Y, and Z because they don’t have these assets. They don’t have access to this stuff. You say you own it, and you’re not giving access to this. Right now, we’re going through a massive ordeal. I would say it’s the biggest ordeal we’ve ever had with working with another company trying to get assets from them. We got essentially interrogated a couple of weeks ago by the old marketing company that was working with our new client saying, We’re red flags, we don’t know what we’re doing. He kept bringing up, what was it? Something Map, a content map, or something like that. That’s all he kept talking about a content map. Now, keep in mind, that the client that we’re now working with has been working with this guy for two years. We were just talking about, Hey, the first thing we’re going to do is page titles pages. Like I was telling you, let’s just make sure the website is properly set up. He’s got’s red flag. Why would you do that first?
I’m like, Why isn’t he even done, man? What are you talking about? Keep in mind, that he didn’t build these sites. He was just doing SEO on them. To this morning, he still has not sent over the website data. With that said, we might have to get a lawyer involved. I don’t know. Especially when a client multiple times is asking you, Hey, I’m done with you. Give this data over to a new company and you don’t do it. I don’t know what you’re doing. I don’t understand the thought process behind it, besides the fact that you’re going to lose that 1,000 or 1,500 bucks a month. That’s not a massive account by any means. I’ve known the guy for a long time. He’s a good guy. He needs some help, so we’re helping him out. Of course, two months later, we’re still fighting with this past provider to get that stuff. But anyway, red flag to all of you guys out there.
If you were to hire a lawyer from any of your law marketing clients that you have, found it as a lead for them for that particular month, yeah?
That’s exactly right. That’s a free lead too. That came from SEO. I typed in personal injury. I typed in business, and contract attorney. Yeah, there you are.
That is how I pinged you. Lovely. Yeah, Eric, we cannot let you go without understanding how has been your experience with AI and machine learning. The storm that we all are in, is an exciting time, sir, I’m shocked. But what is your take on AI and ChatGPT or any other platform for that matter? Where are we headed as for you?
It’s so funny. You asked that question, and this guy that I was just talking about is not turning over the data, which all he kept talking about was AI. We do AI. We do AI. Ai is important. It’s something that allows your team to be more productive, but it’s not the end-all, be-all. Chatgpt and things like that are great for idea formulation, for brainstorming. It’s even good for SEO to give us good ideas to write about and write for content. It gives us good ideas. It could give us a basic structure and things like that. But the main thing with ChatGPT is you have to know how to prompt it. You have to know how to talk to it. Ever since ChatGPT first came out, our content and our SEO team have been working on building out prompts specifically for all of our clients. We have well-built-out prompts, and we do use them.
But what we’re not doing it just going in there and saying, Hey, build me out a page for roof repair in St. Louis, copy and paste it, and putting it on the website. That’s not at all what we do. It’s a small portion of what goes into our strategy as far as content and SEO are concerned. But I do say that ever since we started incorporating ChatGPT, I would say that our team, SEO and content team, and of course, web design as well, God, I would say probably 25% more efficient. So 25% more work can now be done. Now that’s great for, of course, profit for us as a company, but also good for our clients, right? Because now that means we can do more work. And also what it means is we can pay our employees more as well, which is nice, right? Because now they can do more work. So now their output is more. We can generate more revenue from that output. In terms of course, we’re going to give that back to our team members who are doing it. So yeah, AI is super important. We use a lot of different AI programs.
Chatgpt is just one of them. We use it a lot, even for sales and things like that, for business development. We use an AI tool that allows us to reach out to people on LinkedIn more efficiently. Sorry if you get spammed by me on LinkedIn. Apologies. I do want to talk to you, though. Yeah. We use AI there, too. We use AI to help us formulate good ad structure and things like that. We do use it for a lot of different things because it does give us a good idea. It’s great to feedback back and forth. It’s an awesome tool for that. So yes, we do use AI. We use a lot of different AI tools. But at the end of the day, you’re only as smart as the person using that tool. It’s not like you can just start an SEO company, and be like, Oh, we’re AI-based. What does that even mean? You have to have someone very knowledgeable in SEO who knows how to utilize that tool to implement a strategy. You can’t just go to ChatGPT and ask for an SEO strategy. You know I can, but it’s going to be pretty damn basic.
It’s going to be maybe the start of one, but it’s not going to be all-encompassing. It’s going to be very generic, things like that. Ai is important. It’s an important tool. It’s even important for business owners. Regardless of marketing, we use tools for VIE. We use tools for West County insulation to help us with automating quotes and bids and things like that. There’s so much AI that’s out there for businesses. All I would say is just make sure you’re using a program that you’re going to use that’s going to generate, of course, your business and make your life easier because there’s so much software that you could buy that’s a waste of money you’re never going to use. That’s my biggest thing there with AI. Lovely, lovely.
I think on a final note, I would also like to understand from you, or probably if you can share a piece of advice while you’re young, we know. But since you are running an agency, it has been successful. A piece of advice for budding entrepreneurs and business marketers out there.
Absolutely. I would say one thing. I wouldn’t even say find a mentor, but find someone in the space you’re interested in and at least talk to. I talk to people who want to start marketing companies. Talking to someone who’s done it can lend you a lot of insight into what not to do and what to do. I think that’s a big thing we didn’t do when we were young. It’s not for the lack of not for being ignorant or not trying. I just think we didn’t know, to be completely frank. One thing that I would say you can do is do stuff cheap or even free, right? Just to get content out there, to get your name out there, just for you to be able to generate referrals. That’s one thing that we did do a lot at first was just we did a lot of stuff for free.
We did a lot of stuff for a lot cheaper than we should have. But at the end of the day, we were brand new. We didn’t have, I wouldn’t even necessarily say that we should have been charging what we charge now. I don’t think we should have. I think that’s a big thing that smaller companies, new people get wrong is that they go and they try and charge what someone that’s been doing it for a long time does. Even if you have the same work, say you’re a contractor and you do concrete and you’ve been and you want to start your own business, great. But at the end of the day, you don’t have the name, you don’t have the reputation, so you have to build that. The other thing is hitting the streets. Hit the streets, especially if you focus on local companies and helping local companies and you’re selling to even local consumers, the biggest thing is networking. Networking is so important. I would say it’s arguably one of the most important things that are going to generate your connections. It’s going to generate your referrals. It’s going to generate your business.
I see a lot of people that don’t network, right? They just try and build a business from their home. They don’t get out. They don’t talk to people. They don’t do a lot of that. Then they wonder why they’re not successful, but no one knows about them. We networked essentially from day one. We’ve been networking for five years. You can waste a lot of time networking. That’s 100%. You can waste a lot of time networking. It’s like AI, figuring out where that time is going to be well spent. But that’s an easy way to network, get your name out there, go to networking groups, and just ask for specific people that you want to try and get connected to. That’s another good thing with networking is you can go to a networking group and you know that this person is going to be there and this person can lead you to the next person that you want to talk to. Going to those events and being in person, super important. The last thing is processed. This is one thing that I think inhibited us at first. As I was saying, we didn’t have a lot of processes built out.
Garrett and myself, just to be completely frank, Garrett is more process-oriented, but I’m terrible at it. Building those processes out wasn’t my strong suit, so just never got done. Thank God Alex Dietrich, about a year and a half into the business, two years in, he became essentially the COO, and he is just process-based oriented. Building that stuff out. Now, the issue is where you run into a business owner being a visionary and not being an implementer. That’s where you have to hire or find a business partner that is that implementer that’s going to be able to build that stuff out. Because if you don’t have processes built out, you’re never going to be able to scale. If you wonder why you’re stuck with one employee or just yourself working, processes are always going to be a big thing because you’re like, Obviously, sales comes first, but eventually, you’re going to get to the point where you’re having sales come in and then you don’t have the processes. Then you start botching jobs. You start to leave of bad taste in your mouth with the clients. You get bad reviews, and that’s where it starts going downhill.
So having those things built out that way you can hire team members. You can have all of that stuff built out for exactly what they need to do. And for a lot of these contractors as well, you’re a painter, you’re a deck builder, right? These things should be laid out for exactly what they need to do going into these jobs. So that way, number one, you can also be more profitable, right? I see all the time it’s like a lot of these going back to contractors, they’re back and forth to job sites because they don’t have all the materials they need. Just that alone, say you’re wasting an hour, contractors are charging probably 300-plus dollars an hour for, say, a couple of people working on a job site. That is a massive area just right there that they could be wasting money on. Processes are huge. There are a ton of good books about processes online. I can’t think of a one-off top, but there are a ton of good books out there to read about how to build that stuff out because it’s almost a daunting task, but what I would say is get a big ass whiteboard, write out A to Z on the different things that you need to have labeled out, and also record yourself doing things.
Say you’re hiring and eventually you want to get to the point where you don’t have to hire anymore, record yourself in those interviews. Write down those interview questions, and write down the processes. If you have stuff you do for payroll or things like that, you’re trying to get off your chest. Record that stuff as you’re doing it. That way you can be like, not only here’s how it’s done from a process standpoint, but here’s an exact video on how I do it. That’s some things that you can implement.
Wonderful. I’m sure the boarding entrepreneurs who are going to listen to this podcast are going to benefit a lot from this. But yeah, Eric, this has been a fantastic conversation. But before we let you go, I would like to play a quick rapid-fire with you. I hope you’re game for it.
Absolutely. Let’s do it.
All right, your last Google search.
Let’s see here.
Don’t worry. Go ahead. It is an open book, so don’t worry.
Toldex, hoodie, Review, Reddit. We have a podcast, the St. Louis podcast. It’s based mainly on St. Louis-based businesses. We’re ordering some merch. Right before this, I discussed with Katie, one of my team members and co-host there, about our apparel. That was my last one. The one right before that, rent Indiana Jones. I was trying to rent it last night. You can’t rent Indiana Jones. You can only buy it. I didn’t want to buy it for 20 bucks, so I didn’t end up buying it.
Okay. Your favorite book?
Yeah. A bit favorite is hard. I will say one book that changed my thought process when I was young, and I’m sure a lot of people say this, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Word to the wise, he’s one of the original fake gurus because a lot of those stories are made up and entirely never happened. Regardless, those stories are amazing. There’s a ton to learn in Think and Grow Rich. It’s a great book. I would say outside of that, if I’m just reading for pleasure, I like reading history. I don’t have a favorite history book. I like reading about World War II a lot, though. History is the other thing I like to learn about. I’m going to Washington, D.C in a couple of weeks. Can’t wait. So excited about that.
Lovely. How were you as a kid growing up?
Oh, my God, I was a menace. I was on ADHD medicine in first grade. I got in trouble. I called them down in high school, but I got in trouble from elementary through middle school. Now, what’s interesting is that I was always fairly good at school. I’m a very good test taker, but I don’t pay attention. I’m the guy where I’m always thinking about something else, and that’s a bad thing in school. We can go on and on about education. I think it’s a good system. This might sound bad. It’s a good system for maybe the majority of the population. If you’re an average person, not to say my intellect is super high, but I think I’m smarter than the average person. I think that runs into problems when schooling.
I think the more intelligent and also the people that are trying to maybe succeed, even entrepreneurs a lot of the time will say, I didn’t do good in school, which is always surprising to me because I would always think a business owner would be a good test taker because that’s what I am. I’m very good at taking tests. Even in college, I had a decent GPA, but a lot of the time I didn’t go to class. Don’t do that to people listening. I did it. I had a good time, I guess you should say. I had a good time from elementary through college. But yeah, that’s me as a kid. My mom will tell you I was a menace. She says You’re lucky you have a younger brother. That’s exactly what she says.
Let’s say now the next question makes it more interesting. Let’s say if we were to make a movie on you, what genre would it be?
Oh, genre. It would be a drama for sure. Drama slash comedy.
Okay. We’ll not grill you any further. The last question is, what did you do with your first paycheck?
The first paycheck I would have gotten would have been, I started Umpiring when I was 14 years old, I think, about 14 years old. My mom had to drive me to work. Another thing you’ll find out, entrepreneurs usually start working young. Yeah. What did I buy with my first paycheck? You know what I probably bought when I was 14 years old? The first thing I probably bought was I went up to Jack in the Box because that’s where we hung out when I was 14 years old. I probably went to the mobile, rode my bike, and I probably bought a bunch of drinks and food for all my friends. That’s probably what I bought because that’s what I do now. I probably did it back then as well.
Lovely. Great Eric. It was fantastic speaking with you. I’m sure the audiences who are listening to us today would have benefited a lot from the insights that you shared. I thank you for taking your time and doing this with us, man.
It was a pleasure. Thank you for having me.
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