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For this episode of Ecoffee with Experts, we have Richard Monheit, Director of Sharp Instincts, a full service digital agency based in Victoria, Australia. Richard shared experiences about his entrepreneurial journey and how he set up a successful digital marketing agency with his self taught skills. Matt also got him talking about how an all-round approach to digital marketing can be the starting point of a success story.
You need to understand that the challenge with digital is that everything is connected, so if you know just Google ads, that’s great, but understanding everything is more important, and that doesn’t mean you have to know everything deeply.
Thanks for having me. Glad to be here.
Well, when I was pretty young, I was more or less straight and narrow. And then I think as most kids tend to veer a little bit off there for a period. I probably won’t go into too much detail there. But went off for a little bit, but never too far, and probably built a good network of friends, a lot of which I’m still friends with today. And I think that is very important for future business, in terms of having a core group of people around you. But I did quite a lot of travel and working and school. So pretty cheeky, if I could summarize myself. I think probably the best thing is that, when I was about three, my mum bought me this t-shirt, which on the front said was like, because I used to always be my tricycle. And so on the front, it says here comes trouble. And on the back and said there goes trouble.
I still focused on studying and building good mates and friendships by having a good balance, which I think is ok.
It’s funny you say that, and you hear many stories and hear what people are saying. This guy was doing this when they were three or five or 10, selling lemonade. I’ll be honest, that was never really a big thing for me. When I was younger, I would be more hoping just to be in sports, into football. I thought I could turn into a legit sports star. But by the time you’re about 14, you realize that’s probably unrealistic. That’s not the way that it’s going to play out. So look, I didn’t have that when I was growing up.
I wasn’t really like, Oh, this is you know, I’m going to run a business. I’m going to do this and I’m going to do that. It was more; you know what, I will do what I like. And I spent a fair bit of time incorporating before starting my own business. But the take out of that is that, for those of you who are listening to the show, that hasn’t come from that background, or didn’t necessarily have that upbringing to some degree, or always wanted to do that sort of stuff, there’s still plenty of opportunities to do it. You don’t have to think you’re not that person. It’s a matter of just starting something. Maybe a side hustle, or maybe it’s a full-on business. But to have a goal is the key, I’d say. And before I ended up in the business, I had two or three, failed business ventures, so just giving it a crack is the main thing.
About seven or eight years. I did it enough to know that I didn’t want to do it anymore.
Well, the partner that I started my business with, we’re both working at the same corporate at the same time, and we have to leave at the same time, not with the plan to start it up. So I guess that helped and also understanding how corporates run their business. Some things you like some things you don’t like. Even how they charge clients and how you manage client expectations. I think that some of the stuff that you can learn when you’re in corporate help. And it’s not your money that’s at risk to go through those learnings. But I would say there’s still value that I had out of that and you look at different lessons. And understanding how to play the game that’s part of corporate. And you’ve got to know how to position yourself and that’s not a factor when you’ve got a small business. As the business grows and you start having different challenges in terms of managing your time, all of that. I think I’ve taken from corporate to help me run and sharpen things now.
I think the flexibility in terms of both lifestyles, but also every day is different. Particularly in digital marketing where I’m operating and it’s so fluid in terms of what’s going on all the time. So I think those two are probably the most important things. I’ve got like a young daughter, so having some flexibility in terms of working when you want in terms of hours, etc, it’s probably a plus. I think that’s probably open to a lot more people now because of COVID. And everyone’s looking at some sort of hybrid model or how are you going to manage your staff, etc. I think that’s probably one of the benefits you could say for a lot of employees out there. But also as an entrepreneur and people that start businesses. I think that’s a rare thing, managing your time and having more time to decide what you want is probably as big of a bonus as you can get really.
I guess the one thing as a predominantly digital agency we were set up for COVID. So everything was already online. There are some challenges now in terms of what what the model looks like. It’s still not clear. In particular, the market in Australia is very employee-weighted at this point. I would say where there’s a real challenge getting the right people in and if you don’t offer that flexibility, then probably you’re going to lose people. At this point, you have to have some version of the hybrid. We are still predominantly remote at this point. And again, we are set up to run there. I still think you miss out on some stuff like on-the-job learning and a team environment. There are some skills there that probably do get missed, especially if you’re new staff or new to the workforce and understand what level of expectation is. I think there are some challenges there. So at the moment, we are more of in the hybrid remote area. But ideally, I’d like to get back in the office and get run back at some point. Because I think there are many benefits from having a bunch of people sitting together rather than 50 messages back and forth trying to resolve something in one meeting. Because I think you do find a lot of meetings after meeting, you end up doing work in the hours you shouldn’t. I want my staff and my team to have a good work-life balance, so I think there’s still some work to be done.
I am sorry, just to clarify, it’s Sharpe Instincts just to make sure.
Yeah, many people struggle to understand me with the Australian accent. But anyway, I guess it’s a matter of finding a few different avenues that work for you. I like doing exercises, whether it’s running, swimming, etc., I try and get up early and do some of that. And as well, like spending some time with my family and work. So really, it’s probably about finding the right balance for you, obviously. Also, people have different ways of working in terms of what hours they operate best and more of a morning person than an evening person. But it depends on the staff member. I think you just have to be a bit more relaxed these days. I’ve never really been a big believer in check-in check-out. It’s more around the value being contributed if everything’s measurable. If your preference is to work from midnight to three, I’ve got no issues with that as long as the outcomes are there. I think having the right work-life balance is a matter of just making sure you allocate time and get a proper night’s sleep. If you don’t sleep right, it follows you through the rest of the week. A few things are written about that, but I think it’s what works for you because everyone operates differently.
Not well. I think you gotta have the right setup. I mean, again, because you’re remote and working from home or if you were preparing in the office having the right setup, the right chair, the right screens. There are some people at my friend’s house working off a tiny laptop, and they’re spending 100 bucks to learn how to scrape properly. But it’s not good for you to be hunched over all day trying to write down. Some of it is just a fault and I’m guilty of it too. Like the way you sit in your chair, you got to try and remind yourself to sit up straight. And it’s harder when it’s at home because you’re not necessarily putting on the suit like you used to, or putting on the gear to get ready for work as you used to. So I would say you have to make the conscious effort, whether it’s just a little sticky note on your computer- sit straight, that works for me, to help you remember. But I think, as we kind of talked about before also doing some other activities outside of work to offset the fact that you’re sitting at your desk for eight or nine hours a day, or however long you’re sitting there without doing a lot of movement.
There are two that come to mind. The first one is deciding who are the right set of clients that we want to deal with? That is a hard choice because sometimes we say no to clients. People will approach us like, yeah, I want to do stuff, I’m ready to go like we’ve got money, etc. If I don’t think we can add value back to the business and actually contribute, or if they’re just doing it to check a box, but I know, they’re not going to value what we’re going say, then I’m going to say no, even though there’s an opportunity and I think that’s something you can only learn after having done it a couple of times, and you get to an end of a project or working with a client. And you just say, alright, I’m not gonna go through that again, because that was not good, because that also takes you away from doing other stuff. So it’s been a hard kind of learning that you go through, but I’d say now making a decision, is this the sort of client we want to make or want to work with? Do we think we can add value? That’s probably one that’s been a challenge. And I think the other one that that’s difficult for all businesses is how to price correctly? What is the right pricing? That doesn’t matter. Yeah, whatever you’re selling, if you can sell a coffee, you’re selling this, you’re selling services, in particular, I find challenging, we have a discussion with clients all the time about the right pricing strategy, etc. But that’s a tough one. And there’s no easy answer. In terms of that, that’s a matter of understanding your target market as much as anything in terms of what’s possible. But that’s a difficult one for any business, I would say.
It’s tough. I would say yes, there is some kind of flags. I’m just trying to think off the top of my head, like what would I see initially? If I’m struggling to kind of get even any clarity in terms of a meeting, if there’s a lot of people involved in the decision making and I can’t get an answer in terms of the budget proposal, etc, that raises a flag for me, because then it’s like, alright, if we can’t even decide on what the scope of the project is, this is going to cause me problems down the line. I’m just looking at the person, and how much respect and honest open dialogue we have. If they’re very closed and even rude about it, then probably the answer is that, if they’re rude to you at the initial meetings, then that’s not someone you and your business want to deal with ongoing. Because it’s going to stress your life out, and yes, it might be money on the table, but what’s the cost of doing business? Sometimes the answer is not always just take the money. And the answer might be, well I’m not going to, as this is going to cause me a bunch of issues with 20 other clients because I’m going to spend all my time stressing about this one. And that’s not the right outcome for any business. And there is plenty of business out there, there’ll be someone else who will be happy just like that. But that’s not me and our business. And we work very much on honesty and transparency, and if you’re not coming to the table with that sort of kind of attitude, then I don’t want to be a part of it.
The budget is one that some clients will tell you straight up and sometimes when getting nothing, it’s like you tell me? That might be a flag for some businesses, but what you don’t want to do is do all the work and one thing that is difficult in an agency setup is you might go and do all this creative, do all this work to kind of win the business or try and win the business and then you get to the end and it’s like; “Oh, we don’t have any money”. I was like, “wow, you could have told me that like before we invested all this”. That’s I guess, is an agency doing business, right?
Yeah, it’s funny, your exact question, because I was talking about it with someone a few days ago. I finished university 15 years ago now. And when I was at university there was one class taught about digital marketing. And this isn’t a shit University, I’m not sure if I can say that, but let’s say that I can. Otherwise, you can just cut it out. It’s a good university. It’s a quality institution known as a business, school, etc. But you have to remember the internet, digital marketing, it’s still really new. So occasionally I’ll see someone come in with a resume, it’s like, “I have 20 years of digital experience”.
I was like, “well, that’s impossible because they’ve not been around for that long. So if you put that in your resume, you are straight up a liar. I call it that now. But to answer your question. It’s self-taught. You have to go out there and try yourself. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve done a few businesses that failed, the best way to learn Google ads is to do it yourself. And run some test and find and see, try this, try that and that’s the way you’re gonna learn. And look, the one thing I will say is, there’s a lot more information out there now.? Like programs like yourself, other stuff that just didn’t exist. Freedom of information in terms of, you can go watch a whole bunch of YouTube videos and learn how to do this, learn how to do that. And a lot of experts out there who are good, who will give you some advice. But the best way to learn is to do it yourself. Give it a crack, and then you’ll be, Alright, now I know what did work, what doesn’t work. And that’s not taking away from universities. But I think that’s probably an area that’s evolved in. If you want to learn and you want to teach yourself, there are amazing amounts of information out there, go out there and upskill yourself in whatever area, whether it’s marketing automation, whether it’s Google ads, whether it’s SEO, it is designed, and most of it free. There is some stuff you have to pay for, but there’s a lot of stuff that’s just out there, you just have to be passionate about it.
What specifically are you wanting to learn? For example, let’s say SEO is a key thing for you, I follow Neil Patel, he’s really good. There are Uber suggestions out there that are good, and he does like weekly blogs, podcasts, and videos and he writes heaps of good stuff for Apple. There’s a lot of info, so he’s probably a good one. And then websites, it depends on what you’re after again. And when you’re having to learn from it holistically, or whether it’s my business and I’m trying to upskill. , He’s a good one, just trying to think off the top of my head. I mean, for me, it’s more about just staying passionate about the area. I want to learn about this. I want to read about this. And you can start from almost no knowledge and come out with a pretty good result.
Yeah, it’s a good question. I think a holistic approach is good. I think you need to understand that the challenge with digital is that everything’s connected. So if you just know Google ads, like, that’s great, but probably understanding everything, and that doesn’t mean you have to have a deep understanding and knowledge of everything. But like, some level of knowledge of to your point analytics, AdWords, organic, where does let’s say, your social media feed, looking at a bunch of different areas, and what role do they play? I think it’s important. Also, if you go down that path, then you might find I’m particularly interested in this topic. And then you might become more of an expert in a specific topic. But I think you should have some level of knowledge of each of them just to really kind of understand the market and it’s always changing, so it’s not like, you can just say, “oh, cool, I am done”. It’s a matter of reading your stuff to know what’s coming out. And that’s all areas, whether it’s Google ads, whether it’s organic, whether it’s Analytic. There are a bunch of changes happening all the time. So it’s a matter of just kind of rolling with it and keep learning and keep upskilling and don’t think you’re at the point where look, I’m good now, because that’s just not realistic.
I think probably an initial first question is; are they passionate before you hire them? Like, what sort of stuff are they reading? What sort of questions are you asking them to find out? Because I think if you hire the people that aren’t passionate at the start, then they’re not going to be passionate after the fact. It’s not like I can be like, “Hey, you should go read this”. Because it’s not something you become passionate about. You’re either interested in all this stuff, or you’re not, is pretty much my take. If they are interested, or if we’re trying to get them interested, everyone reads different stuff. I probably say, here’s an article I read, whether it’s through slack, or whether it’s through Skype or Asana. Whatever tools you’re using, to share information internally, it’s important if you find something valuable to keep passing it between staff and upscale everyone together, because you can’t read everything. But if someone could say, I read this, and this is good, or here’s an interesting point in this article, which talks about how to get more out of local ads or whatever it might be. I think that’s probably a good way to go about it.
I was working in corporate and, and what I found was that a lot of the discussions with clients were not really about what was in the best interest of the client, it was more just like, here’s the sales targets, go out and sell this. And I had an issue with that. I didn’t think that was the right way to go about it. So I probably just said, Look, that’s fine. I’ve been here for a while, I think I’m just gonna take a break from corporate. I understand everyone’s got their goal. But probably, that’s not how I would like to operate. So I left the job at that point, didn’t have an exact game plan in terms of what I wanted to do.
I started up a business not with the guy I am working with now, who’s my director, but with another guy who approached me. And when we started, this is before Sharp Instittcs, we started up another agency, and probably a month or so in I realized choosing the wrong partner is a massive problem for how you want to operate. So we set it up and what I found was we weren’t aligned in terms of our ethics and work effort. What our values are? We did that for a couple of months. And I was like, this just isn’t working for me like I can’t. I felt like it was all slanted towards me, and not so much the other guy, and it just wasn’t getting an equitable outcome. So I left that, and we said, Oh, look, I’ll just say what’s after a corporate will, maybe I’ll go back there. I wasn’t sure. And then I happen to reach out as I usually do, when you’re looking for stuff, you’re just looking around LinkedIn to see what’s out there and people and kind of go through that sort of process. So reaching out to a guy who used to work with me at a corporate place, and we’d left at a similar time, just coincidentally. And so he used to be on the sales side. And I used to do a lot of their marketing strategy. So we used to work pretty closely together. We had worked together for a while incorporate. So again, I probably had a much better understanding of work, the right values, and what he was bringing to the table versus what I was bringing to the table. And so we decided to just say, let’s just try for a bit. I don’t want to start another partnership relationship this time unless I know for sure that it’s the right call. Because even setting up a business, there’s a lot of involvement time. So I was like, let’s just try for a bit. So we kind of went out to see if there’s any value in terms of what we’re even trying to do here. He had some relationships with some clients. So we went out and spoke to them and pitched some ideas, and they were happy to give us a go. And so we tried that and they were receptive to probably what we were offering in terms of how we positioned ourselves and what our offering is to their business. So as a result of that, we kind of said, Alright, look, this seems to be working, we think there’s a bit of traction here. Let’s start a business together and kind of go from there. And that was about six years ago now. And we are growing from strength to strength. So obviously, the clients are happy with what we’re offering and bringing to the table. And we try and be a part of the business, that kind of marketing arm of the business that’s not necessarily sitting within the business, but very much part of the business.
We went through a process. I think the problem that everyone has if you are starting up now, you start thinking of names and you go through names, then it’s like, Alright, cool. Let’s get right into the domain as like, oh shit, that domain is gone. If you’re going to be an agency Right or depending on whatever you’re going to be. I’d say you probably need to start from that side first, to be honest, there are data from a domain Cipher of what’s out there. Because there’s no point going down the path, and it’s like, Ah, well, then I’m going to have to do something else, or I’m going to have to change the domain to make it fit my name. And so in our case, we just started spitballing and brainstorming together. Is this available then we sold this to the few that we thought were appropriate, and spoke to some people that we trust. What do you think of that name? And then ended up with Sharpe Instincts. And the fun of these in Australia is everyone shortens everything. I don’t know if it’s laziness, or what it is. But I still hear people call us just sharp, or just instincts. But we’re happy with the name. And probably also, we want to be reflective of what we bring to the table, which is that we’re trying to make good decisions that are pretty on the spot, and pretty relative to what’s going on with business. So that’s how we came up with that. And most feedback has been positive, I would say that.
It’s, it’s an ongoing challenge, I would say, as it would be with most businesses. We look at a couple of things depending on what your approach is and how you kind of go to the market. I guess the option that is available to agencies such as us is; that having a salesperson is one. Again, it’s hard to know, whether they are working or not working? And that’s probably a challenge. We will have toyed with that at various stages in terms of sales. If you’re in a startup mode, your referral network will have the strongest chance to win clients. So people you know, people you have a good starting base, and that’s how we started. People we had some level of relationship with, if you then to live up to those clients, then generally you’ll get referrals from them. So that network will continue to expand. And outside of that, I would encourage you to try all different things to see what works, whether it’s marketing automation campaigns based on who’s on your newsletter. Is it Google ads? Is it 0rganic? Is it SEO that drives results? LinkedIn campaigns, it’s probably a matter of trial and seeing what works for you. I think I have a very clear idea in mind. And but again, you got to look at it holistically, as we were talking about before. What’s the overall lifetime value of the client and not just the initial costs? How much will that bring back to the business, and, as a result, will it increase the amount they’re willing to pay for a lead through the business? But generally, the best ones will come from referrals. They’ll probably be the stickiest, if you will, in terms of willingness to work with you and trust you. But the newer ones, you’ll, you’ll have to prove yourself a lot earlier than those that you have a relationship with, but that’s probably the game.
I think the first thing you need to know is to understand the business. What is it that you’re trying to do? What product or service are you selling? Who is the target market? Have a look at competitors? Do you need to understand what they’re trying to do? And then I guess, also, what are they measuring as success? Some businesses look at revenue, some businesses look at profitability, and some look at total client numbers. You need to understand those pieces together to them. Because if you understand the business, then it will become pretty apparent in terms of where the opportunity is, for both you and the client. Having said that, I think organic will always play a role for clients, irrespective of my experience, and then the other ones outside of that will come down to what are you trying to do? What’s the need of the business? Is it that I need to sell more stuff? Or do I need to get more efficient? What do I need to sell to different sorts of clients? So what, you know, what, what’s the every, again, everyone’s different, depending on the requirements of what you’re after, and what they’re trying to do. And I’ll give an example. We had one client that was a plumber. So plumbers are very competitive from a digital perspective because of pretty much a truck, and then well, and hopefully a plumbing license, but at the very least a truck and you’re servicing a local area. So in their case, their focus was, well, we don’t want the smaller clients. I don’t want to go and fix someone’s tap, I want to deal with commercial clients. That means less back and forth, less region, larger clients, long term business that is more strategic that’s the area that we want to focus on. So we came up with various strategies to kind of help drive those results. And organic was a key one for them. So commercial plumber, Melbourne, for example, again, through location base. It’s quite a lot of search volume for that keyword. And I’ve been able to win that. And that’s been helpful in terms of driving revenue back to the business and getting large clients on board. Because if I don’t know who a commercial plumber is the first place I’m going is Google.
To be honest, I was a total skeptic when I first got involved. I thought it was all crap. I thought it was people selling dreams. Because it was; “I can get you the first page on Google, After three months, you will start getting results, but I can’t promise you anything”. Which still sounds like a dream to a lot of people. And like a lot of people, you ask them to trust you. It’s difficult to grasp, but the real value if you do it properly and manage it correctly, is the actual revenue and impact on the business. For those clients that we have, they took that advice and they are winning organically. You can see what’s happening. They are buying new businesses and new locations. They are growing their workforce. They are doing what you do when the business is going well. You only make those decisions when the business is doing well. And we are very big on aligning results backed up to internal business performance. So we are very keen on clients understanding what is going on. My biggest surprise was that organic works. If you can do that properly, it will be the biggest driver of the business.
It depends on the Client. How are you measuring the business’s success regarding what is going on? Most of the time, by the revenue numbers. Let’s say we have a removal service as a client, this is a very competitive area. In the UK, the metric for us after we discuss because there is no point you telling me and I don’t agree. We have to agree on metrics. But for them, it’s, and again I will focus on one or two max as there is no point in focusing on five to ten because that may not be the solution either. After all, then it all gets diluted. But in their case, this remover is about how many online quotes and how many quotes per month they are doing. Because we cant impact the quote versus conversion. But how many quotes are you getting per month? You can set up goals in analytics. Depending on how they are set up in the seller realm, you can set up tracking by looking at how many quotes they are getting per month. We’ll know before I even go and say to them or discuss how the actual business is going. Because we can see what the numbers are, and that is their metric. But they are looking at them, and the percentages are there, and they’ll be winning out of that number of quotes and that will give us a very good idea of what is going on in the business. Have an open discussion with them. What they are trying to do. Pick a good metric that should focus on the strategies and what you are doing moving forward.
Yes, it’s something we do, and it’s an area that more and more people are trying to get into, which means more competition because there are only x amount of spots on Google. After all, again we are talking about the organics and K1 there and other avenues as well. But all it takes is to start by looking at competitors if you are trying to sell coffee cups. What’s out there? Because the person who is ranking one for some of these K terms you need to understand what they are doing. Because that will set the bar in terms of what level of expectation you need to go into this project. If their website is crap, maybe the bar is not so high. But if it looks like it is eCommerce setup correctly, SEO, you have to understand the level of work involved. To win eCommerce SEO is a lot of work. You have to look through all the photos and the props you bring to the table. Multiple photos. What are the descriptions? What level of data are you providing on each product? I’ll even suggest looking at; let’s say we are using the coffee cup example. Are there any tools you can help the clients with? You may have a calculator that works out based on how `many coffee cups you sell per day, and how many cups you need to fill every two months. It is just something to make it easier for them to try and manage the process, which can also drive more traffic and help your eCommerce SEO get on track. You need to look at the photos, descriptions, specs of the product, Warranties, videos, etc. If you look at a website with thousands of products with all these things on there, know that they have spent many hundreds of hours to get to that point. It’s not an easy task, but you have to start somewhere and focus on the key products. If you are new on the market, focus on the products that make you the most money and work your way backward to the ones that make you the least money.
Use the tools that are out there. Whether it’s Hrefs, UBER suggests as an example I used before. Whether it’s malls that are very good or that we use quite a lot, you need to look at all the meta descriptions and title tags, and also look at the on-page basic SEO as a starting point because if you don’t do that, it doesn’t matter what else you do, you will never win. So you have to focus on that. Use the tools that are out there to help you assess your site. Are there broken links out there? Do you have all the YOAST, for example, if you use a WordPress site, will it tell you how long your description should be? Are there heavy loads on your site map? Have you done all the basics on-page stuff that you need to win? You can’t win without that, I would say. Again use the tools available and as we were talking about before, do some research to see what’s out there. Articles talk about the ten and fifteen things you should start with and go through. I would say initially focus on the meta description and the title tags as a number one priority when setting up the e-commerce SEO site that has a big impact on whether or not you can win for that product.
Again, it will come back to the platform you are on, initially. With Shopify, although that s not readily available within Shopify. Shopify will have some stuff in there. Depending on the level of automation you want as you go down the path, I would say. You set an initial abandon cart amount, maybe the basics set aside saying you are not ready to purchase and then providing some offers. They haven’t finished the purchase but are potentially given some incentive. They will then go and buy. Or send them down some different paths in terms of product education depending on the size of the sale involved. If you are dealing with a large scale, giving them a coupon will not help them decide. They have not quite finished the path, so maybe they don’t fully understand the product’s value. In this case, send them down the path that explains the value of the product you offer. So, what’s available What are some of the pros of using your platform or using your product as opposed to other platforms? So go down the education path and not just a coupon offer. It depends on what you are offering. If you are trying to sell a T-shirt that maybe won’t help t-shirt is. But you can educate them about awesome your t-shirt is.
Again if you are a high-end brand, maybe not, maybe you are trying to educate them down to purchase. So for a $30 or $50 t-shirt, your best chance to get them to purchase is to offer a coupon to try and get them over the line. One good thing about automation is it tests everything, so you may find that a 5 percent coupon may make no difference, but a higher percentage will get them over the line. Are you willing to give that much? You should be looking for profit-building in whatever you do with any business. My experience with automation in a marketing campaign is the best return on investment and the cheapest to run once you have the database list. I think it is an area that everyone should be focusing on. It may not always work for everyone. If you are looking at ways to increase your sales and revenue, if they are in your database, then you have some relationship with them, so they may be much easier to sell to than someone who has never heard of you before and you are trying to them into the funnel. Use automation and education to teach them about your products and services.
We use Infusion soft or it’s now Keep. It is a very difficult one, and maybe my experience with this is that, once you pick one, it is very difficult to change. Because you get your CRM involved, you have your database. You have everything set up. I would recommend you spend the time understanding what you need from the platform. You may find I am spending all this money a lot of the time, but I don’t need 95 percent of the features on here. I only need one or two basic things. Prepare a list of the features you need and then test a few out to see how efficient they are to use, focusing on the things you are after. I don’t think, this is what you should sign up for but more understanding of what you need. Then have a look at the solutions out there and pick the most suitable one for your business. None of them will be perfect, but if you can get 90 percent, that will be fine.
Just how widely you can structure the automation campaigns. The way they have done that is as good as anyone, and it’s the one that we have found to be the most valuable, but at the same time even for our business, there is a lot of stuff in there that we don’t use. This discussion happens all the time. Again knowing how to use Infusion soft is a skill set that is difficult to grasp. Before you take on the task to learn that, you have to consider whether you have someone on your team to manage it, or are you asking someone like us to come and manage it? Another thing when considering the features is who is going to own the process? There is a lot of knowledge required to go through that process.
Probably just the complexity. It is such a big base now what they have created, and it’s an amazing tool but for most businesses, I would say it is too complex. Don’t make it so much of a behemoth because of how many features and aspects they have in there. That for me has been prohibitive. You will give it to someone who doesn’t know anything and it’s like; “Wow, what is all this”? Again it comes back to the features and what you are trying to do. It may not be the right fit for a lot of businesses.
We have a turf customer. So turf as in real grass. We started with this client maybe four or five years ago. When we met with him no one was selling turf online. Turf is a live plant, so it has one to two days of shelf life. So once you drop it off at someone’s house, if you don’t do it, it is essentially gone. We were adamant that we could develop a cool way to have an online store for buying turf online and even help them and their customers purchase online. So by that, I mean we spent a lot of time researching the process you go through when buying turf. So the first question he asked was; How much turf do I need? Like how do I measure how much turf I need? A lot of the time, they are different shapes. It was quite complex. We did a lot of research, but no one answered our questions. There were a few half-baked calculators out there. We decided if we could come up with a cool calculator to help people understand how much turf they need and then make the process as smooth as possible for them to go and buy it. We would then have the option to deliver the turf, and we were confident we would. We thought that it could work. We built them a new site with an online aspect with the turf calculator, which has been a massive success story for them. So from an aspect that didn’t exist to doing a couple of million bucks in online sales from the turf. It has helped to change the business in terms of how they operate. They used to have to answer calls every time and talk to the customer. So they had a whole stream of paper from answering the phone all the time. Now they don’t have to talk to anyone. Now we just go in and manage that process. So that was a massive win for them and good to say when you can with the strategy all the way through and that business just keeps growing from strength to strength. That is one of the successes that stays on my mind.
I think the biggest challenge for us and most businesses now is the staff. How do you get the right people? Finding the right people is a real challenge and the work, the jobs, you can teach people most anything but how do you find the right person to bring in with the right level of passion and enthusiasm. , whatever your metrics are, whether it’s attention to data and motivation. Whatever those things are that they report to you in your business. Finding the right staff will be a cape-turner for any business, irrespective of what you do to determine your success.
I think` of meeting people, going out there, being open. It’s a competitive industry so you have to be out there promoting your brand. I try to meet with most people to get to know them. Sometimes the survey doesn’t tell you the whole story. I want to understand why they want to do it and what they are after? Have a chat with them and you may also have your internal tools for how you are trying to measure. When you decide what things you want from your company are and how you want to measure those, people are coming in with those skills. We have our tool to measure and work out are we bringing in the right staff? Again it comes down to what you are trying to do and the kind of people you are trying to attract. Trying to attract a creative person versus a developer is a very different discussion about the process.
I hope I have been relatively helpful. The thing I think many people need is not soo much a tip at all, especially if you are a new startup not wanting to get overlooked. Focus on the financials and focus on the profitability of your business. I think many people are like, “Yes, I just sold a thousand coffee, “ps”, but when you do the numbers, you work out everything involved, you haven’t made any money at all. I think that gets overlooked a lot, and people don’t talk about that a lot. And half the time when you are breaking down the numbers you don’t include your own time as a cost. I will admit I am not great in that area. I have tried to make myself better at it. My business partner is great at it, and he is always pushing me to make sure. So a tip, when you are looking for someone, find someone who has a complementary skill to you to balance each other. If you both bring the same skill set to the table, that is not so beneficial. So I would say find someone with complementary skills and profitability. If you don’t have that number in mind initially, you are going to find that; yeah I sold some stuff, but then you get a bill from the tax department or anywhere and you realize you don’t have any money to pay that bill. And that is part of my experience in terms of running a business, but I would say if I were to do it again and start a new business, I would have profitability at the front because revenue is just a number and it doesn’t tell a real story. There are plenty of people that have massive revenue numbers but then are making money. Some very big builders just went under obviously covid is a big factor there in terms of what has happened. But you hear them talk about the numbers and you hear them talk about their 5 million dollar profit but they weren’t focused on that as a key variable. if you are in that situation in terms of what the ebooks say, and other is any change you are going to be in trouble. You need to have profitability in the forefront of your mind when you are running a business or starting a business to make sure that you can weather good times and bad times and the numbers will stack up no matter what.
You can find me on LinkedIn, Richard Monheit, or on our website or Facebook. Just search my name and there aren’t too many Richard Monheit’s floating around. There is one, my Google nemesis, he is a Doctor of Cardiologist in America. I think he has retired now so I think that is helping my cause as well.
Where did I go. I am trying to remember. It’s been a long time. I think it was Hawai.
Breakfast. I think about breakfast before I go to sleep.
About 5:30. I try to get up early.
Android phone and Mac computer. I am one of those weird guys.
Thanks for your time and for having me on.
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