E112: Under The Hood with Brad Bernhart Part 2January 15, 2018 in Ecom-Crew-Podcast
This is Part 2 of last Monday’s Under the Hood pilot episode. We’d like to thank Brad for bravely coming on the podcast to talk about his business, essentially becoming a guinea pig for our new segment.
If you’re interested in getting at least an hour of free coaching too (and getting featured in a podcast episode), sign up to be an Under the Hood guest here.
During Part 1 Brad and I discussed his business in detail, painting a clear picture of where his business stands right now and where he wants the business to go in the future. I had an insight on the strengths and weaknesses of his business and then developed a customized and specific strategy for him to achieve his desired growth.
We get down into the meat and potatoes in this episode. I explain to him in detail the strategy I developed and how to execute it properly. As a sneak peak, the strategy encompasses the following:
- Email marketing. We discussed emails that actually contain value, not just marketing material. We also discussed list segmentation and abandoned cart sequence.
- Facebook ads. I explained to him Facebook remarketing campaigns.
- Google product listing ads
- Utilizing Houzz, a platform for home remodeling and design
- Amazon. Brad needs to step us his Amazon game to reach his revenue goal relatively easier.
- We also talked about hiring and the explosive growth that usually comes with hiring the first employee.
Brad’s business has the potential for explosive growth. Our conversation is chock-full of information and we hope the strategy and recommendations we talked about can help set his business, and yours too, on the right path.
As always, thanks for listening to the EcomCrew Podcast. Until next episode, happy selling!
Full Audio Transcript
Mike: This is Mike, and welcome to episode number 112 of the EcomCrew Podcast. Don’t forget you can go to EcomCrew.com/112 to get to the show notes for this episode. And just as a reminder, this is part two of our first ever segment of Under the Hood, that is a mouthful. But basically, we started this new segment last Monday, episode 110 called Under the Hood.
You can go to EcomCrew.com/UndertheHood to learn more and/or sign up to be on a future episode of Under the Hood. We would love to have you on there. But Brad our guinea pig; we really appreciate you coming on. We’re about to get into the meat and potatoes of my interview with him, all the suggestions I have for Brad. I hope you guys enjoy the rest of this first-ever Under the Hood segment. We’ll talk to you on the other side.
Email, Facebook, Google product listing ads, Houzz and Amazon, the five that I have. And I’d like to take a deep dive into those if that sounds good to you.
Brad: Sure. Now real quick before we take a deep dive, let me tell you a kind of just a quick recap on those. I use Klaviyo and I’ve got a number of [inaudible 00:02:18] set up. And like I told you, I only sent out two emails last year. The Facebook advertising, I’ve heard you talk about it and that was a great idea but never done it.
Google PLAs, I haven’t even touched them. If that would be a good idea, I can. Houzz, I did take like an afternoon and loaded some products up there, made a couple of sales, and never really touched it. I think that was right before last Christmas, we got crushed so I just had to like pull myself up. And then Amazon, yeah I have been on Amazon a little bit. I’m looking forward to hear your take on Amazon US versus Amazon UK or Europe.
And then on top of that Amazon handmade which I would, I’m sure qualify for, or Amazon exclusives or all the different kinds of Amazon that are coming out these days if you’ve got any experience of those too.
Mike: Yeah absolutely. All right let’s dig into all that then, that’s definitely good information. So for email marketing, it’s just about, for us, about persistence. Is that even a word? Being persistent… I’m making things up now. It’s about being persistent. So I mean sending two emails per year is definitely not good. We send at least one a week, which is definitely a lot of work obviously.
But the key for us is that we don’t just send marketing material. A lot of — we tell our guys here January through October, 80% of what we send out should be value add, right? So it’s nothing about ColorIt really directly necessarily. I mean it might be about some of our products indirectly, but it isn’t we have a sale going on, or check out our new product or whatever like constantly.
It would be in your case I think maybe some recipes, or different ways to use some of your products, or some photography that goes around like some of these cheese boards or something that are just you know look at some of the ideas that we have for how you can use our products and things like that. Again I mentioned recipes, people love recipes, how you can use recipes combined with your products.
Let’s say you’re selling food grade mineral oil which is a product that we actually sell that does incredibly well. So care instructions for products whether they’re yours or not, people don’t really realize that these wooden products need to be moisturized and oiled especially if you live on a dry climate like we do in Southern California. Otherwise, they’ll split and crack and they get mad that you have a cheap product when it’s really their fault for not oiling it.
All these different types of things can be done as newsletter content on an ongoing basis. And what you’re really aspiring to do is training your customers to open your emails, because if you only email them once every six months, they’re not going to be looking forward to your emails. They’re not even going to remember who the heck you are anymore.
And our goal is to keep our open rates above 20% on every email that we send out, and for most of that to be things again that aren’t promotional. So we are again training our customers to open them and look forward to them in some way. And I think that you could do that really easily. You happen to be in a space where that’s easier to do than say Icewraps.com which we also own and run, which is really difficult to do that in that space.
So I think that disciplining yourself to take the time to send that email out once a week will help you immensely. And you’ll be shocked at how many sales these non-salesy emails even generate. It’s actually shocking to me even. I look at my statistics, it will send out an email about how coloring is beneficial, or how to do shading or about our fan of the month or whatever.
You would think that that would have zero sales because we’re not trying to sell anybody anything. But the reality is, is that they may be forgot about you since the last time you communicated with them and are like you know what, like I’m actually going to go buy this wooden spoon that I forgot to buy that three months ago, I’m going to go buy it.
So that ’s really important. And the reason it’s even more important is that when it comes time where you do need to sell them something, like you have a new product that’s been released or whatever it might be, or it’s a Mother’s Day sale or Father’s Day sale or whatever, they’re more likely to open those emails than if you weren’t communicating with them throughout the year.
Brad: Got you.
Mike: So that that’s part A to the whole email marketing thing. The next part to it is going to be abandoned carts. Now there’s a good chance you already have that implemented. Are you doing abandoned cart flow?
Brad: Yes, I do have an abandoned cart flow set up. I honestly I’m not too sure on the stats on it through Klaviyo. I do have an onboarding sequence of just like five emails that go out, and I have some requests for reviews that go out. And I think that’s 90% of the Klaviyo flows that I have going.
For the record, I have a list of about 8,000 people on it, and I’ve got one list. I don’t have any segments. The only thing I segment, the only time I segment anything is when I send an email and then I resend it and I just want to segment the people that haven’t opened the first one yet. That’s the only time I use it, so that’s where I stand.
Mike: You’re making my job easy because this is the next thing I want to talk to you about. It’s actually pretty comical, but this is seriously the next thing I want to talk to you about making segments for a few different things. The first which is going to work better than anything else I’m going to talk to you about is what I call “bought this but haven’t bought that”.
This is something that has had just ridiculous stats for us. I mean it’s just absolutely amazing, but it makes a lot of sense. I mean if somebody has purchased a set of gel pens as a, for instance, they’re much more likely to purchase colored pencils. And if they purchased colored pencils and gel pens, they are much more likely to purchase a set of markers.
So in your case, if they purchased a wooden spoon, there’s a good chance they might buy another one. Or maybe there’s a set that you have or maybe that makes them likely to buy a cheese board or something. You know your products better than I would, but certainly, if they bought any of your products, they are more likely to buy the mineral oil, all these different types of things.
This whole “bought this haven’t bought that” stuff works so incredibly well. It’s actually almost scary because you’ve already developed trust with this customer. They’ve already made a purchase; they hopefully got your product and liked it, so they’re much more likely to convert. You already said that like your conversion rate is 4% which is abnormally high for ecommerce by a whole long shot, mostly because you’re already getting a bunch of repeat business.
So if you can leverage this even more, I see like really good things for you. And I would encourage you to make segments of people who have purchased a particular product with the thought process in mind that they’re much more likely to buy these other products. And you can do some testing over the next few months of which ones do the best with that. But you’ll be shocked at what can happen. And what I would do is set up a segment to add someone to a segment. They just bought a wooden spoon, and then x number of days later, send them an email about the like product.
So they’re not getting hit up like immediately because you want to give them time to get the product and enjoy it. But you don’t want to let it get too far away from that sale before you hit them up with that email. And the most important part here, and we’re going to talk about Facebook ads in a second specifically, but Klaviyo has some really powerful functionality where you can synchronize those segments into custom audiences on Facebook.
So what you would do is make a segment of people who bought a spoon. Let’s just say for the sake of argument here, people who buy a spoon are most likely to buy a fork like just to be funny here. So, anybody who buys a spoon, you put them in a segment, you synchronize that segment as a custom audience in Facebook, and then you create a Facebook ad that matches the email marketing campaign that you have to them.
So if they bought a spoon, they immediately get out into the segment; they become a custom audience on Facebook. You run an ad for a fork on Facebook to that customer. It’s incredibly effective. We see usually between 20 to 35x ROI on those ads. So this is something that you could do that would be very low hanging fruit, would not eat into your margins at all, and get people to buy from you again. And hopefully all that makes sense.
Brad: That does make sense. When you implement those Facebook ads, do you wait x amount of days as well and put those out about the same time you put out the email?
Mike: We actually don’t, we go with the Facebook ads immediately. We find that they are less intrusive than an email and you get more opportunity because you can have a frequency of five to ten on that particular ad on Facebook where you’re only going to send someone an email once or twice about that. And you want to probably wait just a little bit before doing that. So we actually start the Facebook ad immediately.
Mike: And you can do this in very small budgets. We’re doing these types of things with five or ten dollars a day on these because they are small segments. If you had 8,000 people on your list, let’s just say you have 8,000 customers, you probably only have 500 people or something that bought a spoon or whatever it might be. So you don’t need to spend a huge amount of money. You could probably spend two or three dollars a day at that audience size and just let that be evergreen.
You do want it to be people who bought a spoon in the last x number of days. So let’s say in the last 180 days or something. So you’re not advertising them indefinitely, because eventually they’re either going to buy a fork or they’re not. But this is a way to do this “bought this but haven’t bought that” marketing. That again is just incredibly effective. And just knowing what I know about this niche on top of everything because I have some inside information, I know that this will help you significantly.
Brad: Yeah that’s funny; I mean this is exactly what I need because I’d totally had that idea before, never done anything with it. But it sounds like I need to introduce some and then take it to the next level.
Brad: It’s just a good idea okay.
Mike: Yeah. The last email component that I’ll mention is a win back sequence. If you go into Shopify and run some reports, you’re going to find that yes you get a lot of repeat buyers. And what you’ll find is that the average person is purchasing within x number of days a second time. For us, it was 87 days on ColorIt. And so what we did, and we do this across the board with win back sequences is for us we just round it up to 90 days.
So like if someone hasn’t purchased within 90 days, we send them an email just saying, hey we miss you, it’s been a while since you purchased from us. You get a 10% discount for coming back and buying again. And then 15 days later, we send a reminder about that. Fifteen days later which would be 120 days, we’re going to offer them a 15% discount, and another 15 days later they get the 15% discount reminder. And then 15 more days later, which would be 150 days, they get a 20% discount offer, which is something that we don’t typically do ever.
That’s a huge number for us because we don’t have quite the margin that you have. But the reality is if you look at the statistics, if they haven’t purchased by then, there’s almost no hope on recovering them. And being able to pull someone out of the depths of the abyss and get them to be a customer again is a huge win. And if you have to give up 20% to do that, you should.
And you might decide that you want to go with a five, 10, 15 discount structure instead of 10, 15, 20, whatever you feel comfortable with. But this discount ladder win back sequence will work wonders for you. And again the same thing, you can synchronize this audience up with Facebook as well and run a corresponding Facebook ad campaign to those people.
So we have three audiences on Facebook with a 10%, 15%, 20% offers that correspond with the email marketing. And of course as soon as someone does make a purchase, they reset back to zero days, and they come out of that segment and everything dynamically updates on Klaviyo.
Brad: Got you. Mine seems really. It’s a 10, 15, 20. My days are a little different. I’m like 210 days, 240, and 270, which I didn’t just guess. I did get details from past sales when the second purchase usually happens. But I definitely have extinguished Facebook on the list. That never occurred to me.
Mike: Awesome. Yeah, there’s a small — and again these are small budgets, these are things that won’t eat into your margins, and they’re like guaranteed wins. These are the kind of Facebook ads you set up where they work. There are certain Facebook ads you’re taking I guess, and you’re just taking a shot in the dark or whatever trying to go to a cold audience. These Facebook ads, there’s no one that I know that this doesn’t work for kind of thing. They just magically it makes sense right here.
If it’s working in an email format and you’re looking at your email open rates on that flow and you see that there are 20%, 25%, what about the 75% percent that aren’t opening those emails. They’re probably on Facebook and you probably can reach them on Facebook or at least another 25% of them and leverage even more people. So yeah, so that’s the email component of all this.
So moving on to the next thing which I have written down here, which is Facebook ads. I think that you can do a lot with Facebook that we already talked about in the email. But the one that we didn’t talk about would be remarketing. And you might be doing this already. But are you running any sort of remarketing campaigns, retargeting campaigns, whatever you want to call them at all?
Brad: Not through Facebook, not specifically through Facebook. But I do have some AdRoll remarketing that happens. And just to be totally honest, I’ve always heard you guys talk about Facebook remarketing and wondering. I know through AdRoll I do some remarketing there, some of that ends up on Facebook, some of that ends up on the web on websites and whatnot.
I have kind of been questioning that AdRoll side of things and wondering if I should take that over on ads, and do that on Facebook by myself, and not do the AdRoll part. And just to be totally upfront again, AdRoll is something that when I look when I glance at my numbers every now and then, it always looks like the ROI is definitely worth it, and then I leave it alone for another three months that I honestly don’t touch it.
That’s just kind of it and you’re picking up on a theme here. I’ve got to get a few things that I like I’m lucky if I sit down one day in a month and I start a few things and then I don’t really touch and then I hope they go well. It’s just the worst way to run a business. But having the whole manufacturing side to deal with as well as the ecommerce side it’s just — it’s running two businesses at one and the same time.
But, why I’m so excited talking about this because now we’ve got a new manufacturing facility, we stepped that part up. I’m ready to hire more people to help with all that stuff, obviously with myself and then I might have way more time to spend on this. So I would like you to know that I’m actually going to do some of this.
Mike: Awesome. I definitely hear and you’re going to do it. So I’m excited for you. I think that this stuff can make a huge difference and get you close to that two million dollar number relatively easily, which will make getting to the next level a lot easier because you’ll have the money to then hire some other help and employees. Which I think is another thing that’s really important for you to be able to take that next step, because it does sound like you’re the typical entrepreneur. You’re split in just so many different ways and you’re kind of like working in your business not for your business kind of thing. So definitely important.
Okay so my recommendation with this would be, the quick easy implementation for it is Shoelace. It’s a much cheaper version of AdRoll. It basically allows you to do it yourself, and it will put together Facebook remarketing campaigns for you in just a matter of seconds. And it will run two types of campaigns for you. It’ll run just your general like 1200 by 620 whatever that size is, your standard ad size with no problem. But it will also let you run carousel ads, which are basically these product display ads.
So it’ll upload your catalog, and those ads do just absolutely phenomenally well. Again you should be able to see somewhere in the order of magnitude of like 10 to 20x ROI on those product display ads, carousel ads. So I think they’re incredibly important for you to implement and along with some of the other ads I mentioned. And not worry about all the other Facebook stuff for now, and all the other things that you hear us talk about on the podcast.
These are — we’re just trying to do the low hanging fruit stuff right now. And I think as we go through this list, you have an opportunity to pretty much double by doing these things we’re going to talk about, which is really significant. And you can worry about the more sophisticated things later when you have the time for it.
So, the next one would be Google product listing ads. They are still like the one thing that isn’t completely arbitraged to death. You are going to have a very difficult time on Google AdWords bidding for something like cutting board or wooden spoon or whatever, but in product listing ad world, you can and especially with having your own products. We see this with our stuff, it does phenomenally well.
You don’t want to miss out on searches for people typing in on Google. Even though 55% of ecommerce searches are on Amazon now, still there’s a ton that happen on Google. And Google product listing ads are typically — I have never seen a situation where they aren’t profitable. So uploading your catalog in a Google product listing ads and being able to rank in the PLA results for something like wooden spoon or cutting board or early wood cutting board or all these different things that you manufacture and have is something I think that is a very low hanging fruit opportunity for you.
Brad: So it’s still — I was kind of thinking just the other day well it has a kind of gotten to where like AdWords has gotten, and you’re saying that probably it hasn’t, so that’s good news for me.
Mike: Yeah, product listing ads are typically five to six or even up to 8X ROI for us, which is still really good. It is going to eat in your margin a little bit, but it’s something that you shouldn’t ignore it just because it’s extra business. And there’s a lot of economies of scale. If you could get an extra million dollars in business over the next year let’s just say, and instead of a 40% margin you’re doing at 30%, I think that that’s something that you would be happy with.
Brad: Right, I’ll pursue it.
Mike: And that’s kind of what happens with our Google product listing ads kind of fall into that category.
Brad: Okay, great. Any specific advice on Google PLAs other than just do it?
Mike: Just do it, just do it. I think there’s some Shopify plug-ins and stuff that make it really easy to do.
Mike: Awesome, so the next one on the list was Houzz, which it sounds like you were on for a while but just kind of gave up on it because you got busy. But I would definitely revisit that. And for people who aren’t familiar with this website, it’s kind of a kitchen, bath, home, website that’s for people that are decorating or they use it for interior designers who use it, but also homeowners as they’re shopping for a style. They put together collections and types of products. You can search for particular products if you want.
So it’s just a great spot to be on. They don’t charge you to be on there. They take a percentage of sales. So that way you’re only paying if you get sales and I think that you could potentially do pretty well on Houzz. Again just knowing enough about the space because we are there, and just inside intelligence for you, these types of products seem to respond relatively well on Houzz.
And I think that again if you had to give up 15% margin to sell on Houzz, but they’re sending you sales and helping you diversify your traffic sources. And at the same time, every time you ship a product, that’s one more person that might tell someone else. And they’ll either go back to Houzz or to your website to buy it, definitely very much worthwhile.
Brad: Yeah I think why I got out of there was it was just a pretty mundane thing because we were selling every single thing we could make. So why take any cuts on selling anywhere? That’s where we were at the time we got off. But yeah once the manufacturing gets up, we’re prepared to take fifteen, if we have to give them 15%, I’d be totally fine with that. I mean we give Amazon fifteen all day long, so I’ll give it to Houzz.
Mike: Yeah excellent. So speaking of Amazon, that was the last thing on my list, which I think that Amazon is like one of these necessary evils as a manufacturer or as a brand. I kind of I’ve gone back and forth with Amazon. There’s several podcasts specifically we’ve done about this. It’s tough because they’re this 800-pound gorilla, you lose a little bit of control, you’re giving up 15% margin. There’s definitely some negatives to it.
But the other reality again is that 55% of all ecommerce searches start on Amazon. So this can’t be ignored because these are people that are never going to find you ever, ever, ever, ever going to find you if you aren’t on Amazon. Because the people who are finding you are coming through organic searches, which means they’re starting on Google or there are coming through influencer marketing. So they weren’t planning on buying a product but then they decide to because they found you.
But the people that have prime accounts and the habits of Amazon shoppers is pretty well studied at this point. And if you aren’t selling your wooden spoon or your cutting board on Amazon, they’re not going to buy your wooden spoon or cutting board. They’re going to buy someone else’s they find, period. They are making a search at that moment to go buy that product, and if you’re not there at that moment, you’re never going to find them.
There is no like, oh I didn’t quite find what I was looking for, so I’m going to go do a search on Google now and go try to find a different wooden spoon. That’s not the way that they’re going to think. They’re going to be like, this one looks good, and they’re going to buy it. And that’s the end of the story and you’ve lost that sale forever.
So the rant I’m going off on here and the plan I’m trying to get to is that you like have to step up your Amazon game. It should be at least half of your business, like at least half of your business. And the good news about that is that this is the part of your business you can grow with the least amount of effort, like by far and away the least amount of effort because they will handle all the shipping for you and all the majority of the customer service and everything else.
And you can just worry about getting the product into them and not have to do more than that, because they’ll do all the shipping for you as well. And especially for some of these smaller lighter products, they’re even more of a slam dunk on Amazon because there are not over 18 inches and they’re not overweight and oversize. The cutting boards are a little bit more of a struggle and we still do find selling cutting boards on Amazon even though they’re oversized items.
But I mean the bottom line is that you have to be on Amazon, and that would be the other thing that I would be focusing on as you go in 2018.
Brad: Okay yeah. I’ve kind of heard that number like Amazon is 50% of a lot of businesses. And in my opinion, if I could make 50% of my business Amazon without losing the other half, that’s just double of my business.
Mike: That is a big key like this will not cannibalize your business.
Brad: And there’s still a stark disconnect. Well I mean there’s a — you still don’t own that, right? I mean Amazon does, and you still really can’t reach out to them. You don’t really know where they live. I guess you can see their addresses or something that you can’t fix them any other way.
Mike: It’s frustrating. I mean there’s no doubt about it. This is something again that I’ve struggled with back and forth, back and forth, back and forth on because as someone that gets 56% of their revenue from email marketing and like almost all of our initial customer interaction comes through Facebook and we do exceedingly well owning our customer and taking them through a lifecycle on a journey, it’s painful letting all that control go to Amazon. I didn’t say I was happy about, it’s frustrating.
But the reality is that if you’re a brand like you are, Amazon has to be a part of your channel lineup. It’s just a necessary evil. And again if you’re not cannibalizing your existing business, then you why not is what it kind of comes down to. It’s like these are sales that you wouldn’t have gotten anywhere like I said. And the reality is that it doesn’t really — they do take 15%, but it’s actually it actually cost less than that. This is something people think about enough.
If you’re using them for FBA and letting them do the shipping, if you add up the total cost of what it costs you to ship an item versus them if they were sold at the same price, their shipping costs that they’re charging you are so much less that it actually ends up being significantly less than 15% more to sell on Amazon. So definitely something that I would be looking into if I were you as you go on within the next year.
Brad: It sounds like you just kind of when you said get on Amazon; you assume that we do on FBA. No, when we sold a little bit with Amazon last year and we’re back selling a little bit this year, we’re shipping in-house here. So we’re not in FBA at this point. Would you consider that to be a necessary I want to say evil but just something that’s necessary to do?
Mike: Yeah I do…
Brad: And I know there are some good benefits with being in FBA and they give you a little more some options and some ways to sell your products within Amazon that you can’t if you’re fulfilling yourself. But so you do think it’s worth it, that’s [inaudible 00:28:59].
Mike: Yeah, I mean it’s one of these situations where if you are in FBA, you’re going to sell — we were just throwing this number around on a different call right before this I recorded with you about four times less. So people that are prime members that are buying on Amazon which is the majority people on Amazon are prime numbers, they’ve paid 100 bucks to be able to get their stuff in two days. And people subconsciously are like, nope, I’m not willing to wait three to five days or whatever your standard shipping is going to be, and they just move on.
They’ll buy the one that’s prime over yours in a heartbeat. It’s very difficult to compete on Amazon if you aren’t Prime. It does open up a can of worms with some of this Nexus and tax issue which is still not been completely defined yet. So you’ve got to kind of understand that and what your risk tolerance is there and how you feel about how that’s going to shake out. But FBA is a 500-pound gorilla man, and it’s an 800-pound gorilla is the saying, right. And it can’t be ignored in my opinion.
And again I just look at our business which is two-thirds Amazon, and no matter how hard I try to make our non Amazon business grow, Amazon just grows faster than everything else because they are massive. And they continue to grow at this massive rate year over year, and I don’t see any end to it. And if you aren’t positioned there as a brand to be able to sell your products, it’s hard for you to grow along with ecommerce in general.
Brad: And then what about like I mentioned earlier what about Amazon exclusives, Amazon Europe, Amazon UK, Canada, where would you suggest just Amazon US?
Mike: I would do just Amazon US. We’re actually literally in the process right now of going on the Amazon Canada and the UK, which is something I think you should definitely do long term. But the whole basis of this conversation was the low hanging fruit, and Canada and the UK is not low hanging fruit because you have to set up tax ID numbers there and deal with freight forwarding and deal with GST tax and that tax and tax returns and setting up a company and all these other things that you don’t want to necessarily do right now.
We’re in a position that we want to continue to grow at 200 or 300% per year, and we’re running out of ways to do that without using Amazon UK and Canada. Amazon UK, Amazon Europe, Amazon Canada, that’s like all things that we’re looking to do in 2018. So for us it’s like kind of the next step, but I don’t think that that’s the next step for you. I think you’ve got much easier things you can work on before tackling these bigger problems.
Brad: Okay, and then how much time might you imagine that — well let’s back up and put you in my shoes. Imagine you were me, how much time might you imagine you may need to spend on this? Let’s say I take this list and do 80% of it across the next year, are you thinking this is low hanging fruit enough that I can spend ten hours a week on it or it might even be 40 hours a week on this? Like how much, just kind of give it a ballpark on how much time do you think this is actually going to take?
Mike: Yeah it’s a great question.
Brad: And what I’m trying to get to is do I need help, should I get an employee here, should I just try and do it myself, should I try and take some other work off my plate, should I look into a VA which I’ve never done, what do you suggest?
Mike: Those are all really great questions. You ask more than one there, so let me start with like how long is it going to take?
Brad: Yeah, I asked you about five.
Mike: No problem, I’m going to try to get hit them all. I don’t think this is a 40 hour, like these five things I don’t think it’s a 40 hour week thing. I think that if you were spending ten hours a week on it every week like religiously like really chipping away at these ten hours a week, you can make a huge, huge dent into this over the next year. I mean I think you could more than double your company. I think that you would be on track to hit that two million dollar mark by doing these things relatively easily.
But you could also spend 40 hours a week doing it because if you spend 40 hours a week doing it, you would accomplish it sooner. You’re going to probably grow quicker and get to where you want, and then you are approaching me for the list of the next ten things or five things sooner. So just kind of it’s one of those things you have to kind of determine that yourself like how much do you want to put into it, and how quickly do you want to grow and again what your priorities are versus the next guy. Because I think that it’s important to not to do it just because we’re talking about this, but because you feel comfortable with it and you know what your goals are as far as what you want to increase your business and what your happiness level is going to be and all these other things that you need to take into account.
One of the other questions you asked was should I hire someone to help with this? My general feeling is that the number one mistake that entrepreneurs and small companies make is not hiring soon enough. I just did a podcast about this with Bill D’alessandro. Actually, I think that this came up in our 100th episode if you want to go back and listen to that, his five minutes snippet that we did. We were talking about just needing to hire sooner. And Bill in the last few years since he has started hiring people has like 20Xed his company or something crazy.
But again that’s his goal right now. I think he’s about to turn 30 or he’s like in his early 30’s. I’m not sure exactly how old he is, but he’s a little bit younger, younger than me for sure. And that’s kind of like his goal right now and this is what he wants to do, and you might be in a different position in life. So you’ve got to make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons and not just because society says you get successful as you hire people, or you’ll hit a million dollars in revenue or whatever. Because I can certainly — everything’s a give and take.
So if you’re spending more time on this, you’re giving up time on something else. And is that time you’re giving up your family or your friends or your health or manufacturing or whatever? You’ve got to make sure that you understand what you’re giving up to do that. Or you hire help, and if you hire help, then you’re eating into your margin. Is that something that you’re willing to do in the short term? I mean for us yeah, so I mean we just hired a high-level director level type person that’s not cheap.
And so yeah that took a huge chunk out of our net profit for the year, but I expect that to let us double or triple next year where we just couldn’t do that without that hire. So I hope that kind of answers your question. And I think that’s one of those things you got to kind of search yourself and come up with the answer.
Brad: Yeah that does answer it. And I think making this hire is a little bit easier than making the hire you just said because I think this hire isn’t — the person I hire for this I don’t anticipate that they would have to be really good at all doing all this stuff. I mean I think I know enough about it and it’s not like it’s all rocket science. It seems like we could implement it with some fairly low skill employee I guess I could say.
Mike: Yeah and I think that you get some of the low skill employees or a VA or whatever and they do whatever task they do to help free up some of your time. You would be probably surprised if you sat down and wrote out a list of all the things you do on a daily basis, like how many of them are you should be doing realistically as a CEO of a company. You can get someone else to do them significantly cheaper than you would value your time at and just let that go.
Brad: Got you.
Mike: Cool, well hopefully that’s enough to chew on over the next year. I think that as a part of these Under the Hood segments, I’d love to follow up with you in six months or a year from now and see how this has done for you, like how much this has helped your business. And if you’ve got any questions along the way, feel free to shoot us an email or whatever. But I definitely appreciate you coming on and doing this, hopefully, you found this helpful and enjoyable.
Brad: Yeah Mike, it’s been a real pleasure, and man that’s definitely enough to chew on for the next little bit. I think I might just stare at the wall, but I learned something.
Mike: On a scale of one to ten, how overwhelmed did that I make you feel, like how did you feel? On a scale of one to ten how did you feel coming into this call and how do you feel now?
Brad: Well, I definitely feel better now. I came into it kind of having not all these things, but some of these things floating around in the back of my head. But they’ve been floating around there for two years, and I haven’t really done much with them and that’s not overly confident.
I definitely feel a lot better now because I feel like I am a brand to tell you the truth. And as an entrepreneur, you just are making decisions all day long, and sometimes it’s kind of nice to have somebody else to make a decision every now and then. You definitely did give me some things to look at for sure, and yeah I’m excited. I’m excited to get more of a shot here
Mike: Awesome. Well, again I appreciate you coming on and doing this, and best of luck in 2018.
Brad: Thanks Mike, have a great night.
Mike: And that’s a wrap. Again thank you so much to Brad for being the first ever guest on Under the Hood. I really appreciate him coming on. I hope that Brad got a lot out of this. I hope that the guys that are in the audience listening got a lot out of this as well. I really enjoy these Under the Hood segments. Just as a sneak peek, I’ve already recorded six of these as the time of recording this outro for episode 112.
So there’s lots more Under the Hood segments coming in 2018. I hope to do way more than six this year, we’ll see how many people enjoy this, how many people respond. But again if you want to go to EcomCrew.com/UndertheHood, just sign up there. Abby will get in contact with you, do a little pre-interview. We just want to make sure that you’re a good candidate for this segment.
If you are, we’ll schedule a time for me to record with you. You’ll get an hour to an hour and a half of time with me for free, coaching you on whatever challenges you might have in your business. And hopefully, as we talk, you’ll get a lot out of this for your business, but also provide a lot of value for the EcomCrew community which is what this is all about.
So again I hope you guys enjoyed this first ever Under the Hood segment. Go to EcomCrew.com/UndertheHood to learn more about that. Or if you want to leave any comments about this whole concept idea, any questions for me or Brad, go to EcomCrew.com/112 to get to the show notes for this episode, and we love to hear from you. So until the next episode everybody, happy selling and we’ll talk to you then.
Thanks for listening to the EcomCrew Podcast. Follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/ecomcrew for weekly live recordings of the EcomCrew Podcast every Monday. And please, do us a favor, and leave an honest review on iTunes, it would really help us out. Again, thanks for listening, and until next week, happy selling.
Michael started his first business when he was 18 and is a serial entrepreneur. He got his start in the online world way back in 2004 as an affiliate marketer. From there he grew as an SEO expert and has transitioned into ecommerce, running several sites that bring in a total of 7-figures of revenue each year.