Heat Press for Profit

Fresh Horizons Group - Saying YES to Sales Growth

November 27, 2019 Josh Ellsworth Season 1 Episode 2
Heat Press for Profit
Fresh Horizons Group - Saying YES to Sales Growth
Show Notes Transcript

Want to learn the story of a serial entrepreneur that’s entered the promotional apparel space?  Bob Ewald from Fresh Horizons Group has successful businesses in a variety of industries. He’s 9 months into his new venture, a wide format printing and custom apparel business. He shares tips, tricks and advice from his journey. Learn about the equipment he invested in, how he attracts customers in his community and the challenges he’s facing in the early stages of the business. After listening you will be inspired to find a way to say YES to any order and be in a position to deliver on your promise.

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Stahls' Heat Press for Profit podcast. The show designed for people who are trying to make it in their heat print hustle. I'm your host, Josh Ellsworth , and today we're excited to welcome Bob Ewald business owner of Fresh Horizons group. Bob has an interesting business that has revenue streams and coffee and tee shirts. Two of my favorite things, Fresh Horizons group is having a ribbon cutting tomorrow to open the doors of a new location. So it's a perfect time for us to hop on the line to talk about his business. Bob, it's great to have you on the show. Can you spend a minute or two telling our listeners a little bit about yourself and your business?

Speaker 2:

Sure. Uh, thanks for the opportunity to be on here with you , Josh. Um, so I'm a , I'm a 20 year , uh, entrepreneurial junkie, if you will. I've owned companies for for 20 years , um, and recently got into the, the custom apparel and promo industry. Um, and as you alluded to, that started or STEM from a coffee company that we have , uh, as well. Uh, that company was , uh, was originally founded to , uh , do fundraising for nonprofits in our local area. And we had a , we had a couple of them come to us and say, Hey, this was doing really well. Can you do a tee shirt fundraiser for us as well? And being a serial entrepreneur, I said, sure, let's , uh, let's do it. And , uh, jumped in with both feet. And one thing led to another. And uh, out of, out of a couple of iterations of that , uh, fresh horizons group was birthed. And it's now a , uh , it's a , it's a standalone company that , uh, is a custom apparel wide format printing and , uh , promo company.

Speaker 3:

Excellent. And , um, I guess for , for the benefit of our , uh , listeners, I'd like to give you all a quick overview of the show. So the format of this is simple. Bob and I are going to talk, we'd like to host casual conversations with apparel decorators, like Bob trade ideas, talk through successes and challenges , um , all while allowing you to be the fly on the wall. So , uh, with that in mind, Bob , uh, how long has the tee shirt side of the business been open?

Speaker 2:

We launched that in January 1st of 2019. So nine months.

Speaker 3:

Nine months. Okay. Excellent. And , uh, so do I understand correctly, like with the ribbon cutting, you're just moving into a retail space,

Speaker 2:

correct. Yeah, we , uh, we moved it out of our home , um, here about four months ago into a super small office. We rapidly outgrew that when we brought in , uh, the , the new wide format printer, it really maxed out the office space there. Um, and fortunately, literally two doors over from where our original space was, was the new space. And we so acclimated here now and I thought it was a , we kind of understand a few of our systems and a few of our processes pretty well and thought it would be a great opportunity to , uh, to do the ribbon cutting with a couple of local chambers of commerce.

Speaker 3:

Great. Yeah, that's a great way to generate a buzz and really announce yourself in the community. So talk to me a little bit about , uh , nine months in , uh , that's pretty early in the process to invest in a wide format printer. But I know you're an experienced entrepreneur. So what were the criteria or the business decisions that drove you into making that investment so soon?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's a, that's a great question. Um, so we started off with , uh , with a couple of Sawgrass , uh, printers and a , um, a vinyl cutter. And we, when we started to look at like how can we expand this , uh, and , and offer a lot of different things with, with a limited amount of an investment. And I know wide format printers are expensive, but in the grand scheme of things, there , it's an affordable investment concerning what it can do. So that was the big decision. Um, there is, when we look, cause we looked at like DTG machines, embroidery machines , uh , screenprint equipment , um , and we settled on the wide format printer because it gave us the greatest ability to offer many different things to our clients, whether it's printing on installs, HTV products or , uh, or, you know, running a banner. Um, printing some stickers, car decals, it really gave us a very wide, a wide breadth of offering so we could, that we could bring into the company with the, a similar investment to any one of the other processes I had mentioned.

Speaker 3:

Good, good. And so , uh , from a metric standpoint with kind of what you're measuring, I would assume, and this may be incorrect, but I would assume that you're focused on increasing the , uh , number of items you can sell to a particular customer. So rather than just selling them more t-shirts, being able to , uh , be more of a one stop shop in a complete solution for me. Would that be accurate? Yeah , that's , that's a hundred percent accurate. Good. So making more , uh, I guess higher value , uh , current customers of course focused on new customer expansion, but the easiest , uh , folks to sell to are people that already trust you and do business with you. So that's , that's great. Um, now are you leveraging all of these products? I'm still in a fundraising context like you imagined at first. What really drove you into the business? We do offer a little bit of a fundraising option.

Speaker 2:

Um, but what we found was it was just as easy. It was actually easier to , to tell people, Hey listen, we , we can make you a one tee shirt or we can make you a hundred. If you need pens, we can do that. If you need a banner, we can do that. And it really opened up our market where before we were primarily targeting the nonprofits and local organizations that wanted to do to do fundraising. So by kind of taking that veil down and still having it available, it opened us up to a lot of other opportunities.

Speaker 3:

Good, good. And how are you attracting customers? How, how do you sell today? Do you have salespeople or mainly attracting them through marketing?

Speaker 2:

A little bit of both. Um, so we were using , uh , social media quite a bit. Um, and then I, I, myself and one other person are , um, our out is outside salespeople as well. So , um, it's for us being 20 years of, of being in the community already with other companies I own. Um, there's a lot of, a lot of contacts that are already available, so it's, it's a fairly warm conversation. Um, but wanting to, wanting to expand beyond that is why we joined the chambers of commerce and , uh , are starting to do more outside marketing, whether it be some , uh, some social media through Facebook, Instagram and a little bit of Google. Um, Google has been, has proven to be quite expensive, but , um , we are seeing some traffic from it.

Speaker 3:

Good. And do you manage the marketing campaigns or is that something you have a with another staff member or outsource?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we, we brought in somebody that , um, that will share the role of doing sales as well as helping to manage the social media side of it.

Speaker 3:

Good, good. No, I think that's a good move. I , uh, spoke with another entrepreneur that's had a , a longterm business on the apparel side and , uh, he was struggling in his local market kind of to get to the next level. And , uh , in speaking with him just at a trade show, he mentioned that his best hire , uh , that he's made for his business in the last two to three years has been somebody specifically to focus on , uh , the inbound leads through marketing on social and through , uh , even Google ad words , but it's , uh , it's really helped them . So I assume you're seeing , um , are you measuring the lead count that comes in or like what happens when after you get an inquiry in the sales process?

Speaker 2:

Yeah , um, we, we are beginning to track that we're finally, we just started launching those here in the last , uh , 60 days or so. Um, so again, it's, it's a brand new company. We're, we're having to learn how to build systems. In my other company, there's lots of systems already in place and it's , uh , things work very smoothly there . Here we're having to learn how to build systems around that. Um, so as a lead comes in , um, we are usually will either handle it myself or hand it off to, to our outside rep. um, depending on, depending on kind of what they're looking for, she has some more experience in one part of it where I, I can make decisions in , uh , across other aspects of it. So it kind of depends on what the, what the client's looking for.

Speaker 3:

Good, good. No, it makes sense. Um, but the important thing is the lead comes in, you have a way to route it depending on the level of interest. And it sounds like you have a little bit of a specialty, whether that's with yourself or with the outside rep to be able to get it in the right hands and move it down the field as I like to say to a purchase.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. I think one of the things that we tried to do , um , is respond right away. You know, if we get a , if I get a lead at seven o'clock at night, you know, and it comes through our email system or what have you , um, that quick response. Um , even if it's just like, Hey, we're out of the office, but thanks for re, you know, thanks for requesting a proposal. We try to respond as quickly as humanly possible to those , um, so that they know that it just didn't go off into another, you know, another lens of the , uh , of the internet. Right .

Speaker 3:

Huh . Yeah, I , uh, I read , uh, cause I manage sales here at stalls. So this is my a day job as well as teaching people how to heat print apparel as a sales process. So , uh, I read an interesting stat , um, a few years back that how , uh , conversion rates increase dramatically if you can get first response to that inquiry. Uh , really within , uh , they , they did it if driven , driving it down all the weights from a minute standpoint to hours to days and then beyond. And the conversion rates increased dramatically. If you're quick to respond as odds are, if they're , if they have a request for a proposal or a job, maybe they're shooting that out to two or three potential decorators at once. So it's a speed is the name of the game.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. And we've found over the years that, that, that quick response there where they're ready to buy, usually by the time they're, they're re, they're sending a request to the [inaudible] in their mind, they're ready to buy. So if you can hop in while they're still actively in , in buying mode, in their mind, you , uh, you can form that relationship and, and move them through the sales process fairly quickly.

Speaker 3:

Yeah . And so , um, I know that when we did , uh , some of the pre show , uh, exchange back and forth, you mentioned , uh , wanting to go deep on sales. So I assume like when you measure the success of the company , uh, one of the key metrics for you is top line sales growth. What other , um , things are you measuring , uh , from a success standpoint?

Speaker 2:

You know, I , that's a , that's a great question. And the honest answer is we're not measuring things very well yet. Um, I don't, I don't have a, have a clearly defined answer for them .

Speaker 3:

That's all right. So , uh, do you measure , uh, I assume top line sales a month, a month and, and , uh, kinda track against that or, or how , how does that look for you?

Speaker 2:

Yes, we do track that. Um, we're, we're constantly watching. I guess we, you know, we look at the amount of leads coming in , uh, and then , um , what that's equating to in, in sales at the, you know, on the other side of it , um, we just, we don't have real well-defined metrics on either, you know, like , uh , conversion ratios and things like that just yet. Um , we can, I can tell you that , uh, we can have a good relationship with somebody or you can build rapport. We seem to close more of those. But again, we're dealing with a lot of warm at this point still.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's, that's a good, a good problem to have is to be dealing with warm leads, especially cause you're bringing connections to it, as you mentioned earlier. And that makes a big difference. So if I could give you a one recommendation, you can go crazy and really overanalyze . But , uh , definitely , um, a very , uh , simple CRM or even a process , um, to be able to manage , uh , leads in and then , uh, really , uh , conversion rates , uh, will help you to get in front of the actual revenue number and you'll start to really know, especially as you start to add salespeople and scale the business if we have this salesperson , uh , converting 50% from every inquiry and then really documenting the reasons why you're winning and the reasons why you're losing. Uh , that's one of the most valuable things for me is so we can even adapt our offer , uh , to be able to service customers better. So I would, I would highly recommend that , uh, as, as a next step from a process standpoint for your business.

Speaker 2:

That's awesome. I really appreciate it. You have any specific CRMs or you're , you're fond of that you feel fit? Well within this industry ,

Speaker 3:

uh , there are a variety of solutions that are out there. Um, my absolute favorite is Salesforce, but it tends to get expensive , uh, on a per seat license basis as you grow. So that would be my , uh , that would be my optimal solution would be Salesforce. Uh, here at stalls. We've actually been through a few of them and we ended up building our own. But I know that's not , um, uh, an option , uh, for everybody. So I know Zoho is one that's a fairly inexpensive online, so that might be a great way to get started. And I know they even do like a free trial period so you can test it. So that Z O H o.com, I'd probably recommend starting there. And as you get a little bit more , uh, detailed and scientific about the process, you may want to look at Salesforce

Speaker 2:

from my other company. I am familiar with Salesforce. Like it totally agree that is a, that's an expensive product, but , uh, um , extremely, extremely versatile and scalable as well.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Yeah. So , uh, I guess talk to me a little bit about , um, some of the other questions or challenges that you think you're facing in your business that you want to , uh, unpack a little bit with me today. Uh, anything else that comes to mind?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know, I think one of the, one of the biggest challenges that we've had, because we jumped in , uh, you know, nine, 10 months ago, I didn't know anything. I didn't know Corel . I didn't know , um , anything I knew how to sell. Um , and so that gives you a little bit of a , uh , uncanny confidence if you're, you're a natural salesperson, you know , um, that that worked well. But having to learn the processes , um , in building, building all those systems, that's, that's been a huge challenge. Um, and I think the other part is, is figuring out ways with, with low revenue to be able to hand stuff off. Um, and , and find people that you can bring into the team to , you have to be able to spread some of that. Um, that those are some of the big challenges. Learning all the processes, learning, you know, whether it be heat printing, running the wide format printer, doing sublimation , um, that, that in itself is, is a full time job. Um, and , uh, you know, so those are some of the, probably some of the biggest challenges that we're facing right now.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Makes sense. So , uh , funny enough and, and I'm not sure what episodes these will publish in, but the lady I spoke with , uh , on our first interview, she was extremely strong in graphic design. Uh, and you're extremely strong in sales and I think it's the same for any entrepreneur and person really is, you certainly have your strength and your skill set . I think , uh , those two things, design , uh , getting good artwork , um, and then selling are probably two of the most important things , uh, to the business , uh, and be able to run it effectively. Um , but figuring out what, what the higher forfirst , uh , how to simplify processes , uh, what you can delegate, especially as an entrepreneur wanting to keep your hands on a lot of it cause you know, it'll be done right. Uh, is always a challenge. So talk to me, I'd like to ask a couple of followup questions first. Uh , how many people are in the business right now working full time? Uh, there are three of us right now. Three. And so there's yourself, there's an outside salesperson . Is that a person on staff or she a , she operates as an independent ,

Speaker 2:

um, but uh, works fairly closely with us and then there's my wife as well.

Speaker 3:

Okay, good. So that makes up the three. And then , uh, your wife's role in the business , is she handling , uh, you guys basically split duties or does she have a specific task compared to what you focus on? Yeah,

Speaker 2:

we have a, so I should have answered this more. We have four because we do have a , um, a small minority ownership partner as well. And they , uh, my wife and him work with the finances and , um, a lot of the backend operations. Um, so we, you know, when a PO comes, a PO goes out or, or we receive inventory, things like that. Those two are handling that part of it. Um, he, he plays , uh , he's playing a more and more active role, but he, he started off as, as an investor and is , um, is growing , um, his responsibilities as the company's growing . So I should have answered that a little bit more clearly.

Speaker 3:

No, that's all right. And , and what do you spend the majority of your time on? Like what's a day in the life for you?

Speaker 2:

Most of it is, is sales. Um, I do some of the design work , um, as well. Uh, but it's, it's just , uh , you know, kind of connecting with , uh, either existing clients or, or new clients. Um, and then following up on leads , um, and just kind of that part of it. And then coordinating with our, with our outside rep is to, okay, you know, this lead came in , um, how do we want to handle this? Uh, you know, so we, that's, that's my overall is, is primarily the sales and in design side of things.

Speaker 3:

Good. Who's actually making the product.

Speaker 2:

But that's where the three , um, my wife, our partner and myself, we produce the, we produce the product. So in all candidness , um, with it being a small order , uh, we produce those things in house. If it's a large order. Um, we found a , an organization called ASI at , uh, at the same show we bought some of our heat presses, some of the stalls. He presses, we found them. So we outsource if it's, you know, if it's a large order for something , um, outside of apparel, we'll outsource that to , uh , to , or an organization that's just more well-equipped. So if it's a full sublimation shirt , um, but jerseys or something like that, we'll do that. If somebody needs 500 yard signs, we outsource that. But if somebody needs one , uh, you know, a dozen, a dozen shirts with their, their name on it , um , or their logo or whatever, we produce those in house , um, using stalls products and , um , any equipment that we have.

Speaker 3:

Good. No , makes sense. And, and we're , uh , members of ASI exhibited all those shows as you know. So I think that an organization trade organizations like that can be helpful. There's often mixed reviews on whether it's valuable to be a member or not. But I think for the company that understands , uh , outsourcing and not being able to scale the business without having to do everything yourself and really , uh, broaden , uh , the product offering, I think , uh , outsourcing is a great model. Cause I'm guessing you're connecting products that you would never be able to manufacture in house without a significant investment as well.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean like today we , uh, we had a thousand balloons that we had imprinted for a client delivered, you know, I mean that's uh , you know , and it was just, it's kind of cool to say , you know, when somebody comes to you with something kind of off the wall and you're like, yeah, we can do that. Um, and it really, one of my things with this company was I wanted to be able to say yes. Um, that was, that was a big thing. I didn't want to live. I didn't want to limit us to one specific thing. I wanted to be able to say yes and then build systems and teams around what that meant. So, you know, that's where we started off with doing , uh , HTV on, on tee-shirts and some sublimation on coffee mugs. And as we found more and more demand in the market for different things that led to the other investments such as what we've already discussed with the wide format printer. Um, and then joining ASI and , and being able to see yes to pretty much anything that somebody wants to put their names .

Speaker 3:

Well, I mean it sounds to me, and I know here and I commend that you're looking for all every little angle that you can improve, but I, from a process standpoint and hitting some of the basics with being able to outsource and , uh , connect , uh , people to where they're talented and kind of split the workload, it sounds like you're well on your way. So , uh , do you feel like , um, as far as like growing the business, is it just a matter of engaging more customers? Is it being able to make product quicker? Like what are those key things that , um, you need to be able to check off in order to say yes more often and have that opportunity?

Speaker 2:

The answer to that is getting more opportunities in the door. Um, and w whatever that , uh, whatever that means, whether it be a real life lead or coming through our website or what have you. Um, so more opportunities in. Um, and then, you know, I, I did have a kind of a , uh, take your breath away moment the other day. I walked into , um, another local shop that we, we outsource our embroidery to and they're , they're running , uh , somewhere in the neighborhood of around a million dollars a year in volume. And I walked in and I saw this immense amount of stuff going on and I'm like, Oh my gosh, what did we do it too . Um, so I think the other part of that is making sure that as we say yes to these things, that we quickly build systems of how that's going to be handled. Um, because it, if all of a sudden we're doing, you know, a couple hundred thousand dollars a year, or, you know, we're getting out to those million dollar a year and beyond points, the only way that's gonna be sustainable is to have good systems. In place that we can teach people how to use. Um, you know, it's that, that , uh, you know, cause I, I can bring people in the door. Um, that's just my gift. Um , whether it be through marketing or, or face to face sales. But if we can't produce that product in one form or another and get it back out the door , um, in a quick enough timeframe , we can kill ourselves. And I think sort of developing those systems is going to be, it's going to be the key to doing them.

Speaker 3:

You have it right. Creating something that , uh , is built to scale while it's small is the easiest way to go. One of the biggest mistakes is , uh , someone scales up their business and it's not , uh , something sustainable. So they get so big , um, but they don't have the infrastructure or the documentation, the standard operating procedure procedures to really be able to , uh, sustain and that equals disappointed customers and ultimately , uh , major challenges , uh, for future growth. So I think you're right is, is establishing that while it's still a small, that way you can build on that solid foundation and grow it out. So , uh , that , that's an excellent observation. So just to , to kind of go a little bit more in depth , um, on your customer base and who it is, it sounds like you're approaching , uh , your past contacts and pretty much anybody in the community. Are there any markets that you're trying to develop and target?

Speaker 2:

Yes. Uh, certainly right now we're taking anything that, you know, anything that's, that's spending money , um, that'll, that'll pay the bills right now. But our are more direct focus, our small to medium size businesses , um, that, that need that consultative approach of how do they brand themselves. Um, being that we can offer being able to produce, put their name on pretty much anything. Um, we, we've said that we, we provide that consultative approach. So these are, we're looking for companies that , that are just getting started to have a budget , um, but aren't so large that they're, that they're already committed to working with one of the large , um , uh , one of the larger , um, media agencies. So we're, we're trying to find that, that sweet spot, you know, they probably already have a little bit of a logo, so we're not doing full in house design. Um, but we're able to take those things. They know, you know, they , they've got a couple of employees, so they need multiples of things , um , or, and they're trying to grow. So having good promotional products that can back them up. Um , so that's the focus is small to medium size companies.

Speaker 3:

[inaudible] no, I think that goes along with your ability to say yes. So it reminds me of a really an agency approach, but at the small to medium size level . So I think , uh, you've identified a nice gap there where you can really sustain a customer once you , uh, once you obtain them. Um, and I think that's , that's really cool. Uh, I visited a shop many years ago and it was a huge shop. And their tagline that they said, at least internally was we're the world's largest mom and pop shop. And so even as they scale , uh , they kept that idea of that they can say yes to any job that they can maintain sort of the small personalized consultative approach. Um, and that's why they were able to grow. Cause I think the, you know, with the world of automation, you can go too far and lose that personal contacts . It sounds like you're able to bring that into the process for your customers.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. The ability to, to kind of hold somebody, hold somebody's hand while they grow , um, and be there as a resource for a long period of time is, is, is the idea. Um, you know, so if they need five shirts because they've got, you know, one guy and he's out there mowing lawns, fabulous, let's, let's help you. But, you know, in three or four years when that company's skilled, another need a hundred shirts or they need , uh, you know, 10,000 business cards or whatever that is, to be able to still be that resource and have built that relationship , uh, and , and be able to supply them all the way along, it makes it easier for us from a customer acquisition standpoint and it makes it easier for the client. I mean, we're all humans are creatures of habit, right? So if they don't have to change because our company can't keep up with them, then they're likely to stay. Um, and, and that's, that's something that , that we want to try and embrace as we go forward.

Speaker 3:

Excellent. Thanks for that advice. So to our listeners , uh , you're hearing lots of great sales steps . It's clear that Bob has a strong competency in sales at his company. He's doing things right from a customer acquisition standpoint , uh, building, building processes, focusing on acquiring customers, and really focus on growing up customers through the business. So as , uh , the customers that he servicing grows. So the business does as well. So that's really exciting. Bob, a couple other things I want to talk about. One of the trends we've noticed, and of course we're developing product towards this end is our apparel decoration customers, which you would fit into , uh , growing through a client's specific eCommerce sites with popping up a web stores that are focused around the customer. And I think it would be particularly interesting in the fundraising space. Uh, have you started to dabble with that at all or are you familiar with that?

Speaker 2:

We, we did , um, one of the , um, and I, I , um, as a segue back to you, I'm , I'm familiar, somewhat familiar with the stalls product and , um, I wish it had been out six months ago , uh , because we, we looked , um , in my other company we had , like I said, we have systems and things in place and that's the only way that company operates, is with, with good systems, good software, things like that. So we went looking for something and we , uh, we ran it against , um, two of the biggest, two of the biggest players in that space. We ended up settling with a , um, with a decoration , uh , specific software , um , called deco network. Um , and they gave us great bit of flexibility to be able to add, you know, one off products or , uh, and to be able to offer the ability to build fundraising , um, sites for our clients. Uh , I saw what you guys were doing , um, at w I think it was at the, what was it , uh, the Dax show, you had mentioned it or one of your team members had mentioned what was calling. And I'm like, man, I wish it was here today because we were making that decision as to what we were going to do and now it launched. I'm like, there's a beautiful product that you guys are building.

Speaker 3:

Well , thank you. Well, it's , it's okay . I mean, we , uh , support the other solutions as well. For us it was more of a product of , uh , we saw a trend that customers that were growing were selling like this and everything in the industry seemed to point towards , uh , for livelihood and an eCommerce world. You needed to be able to create these web stores to be able to service your clients. And even if it's not a fundraiser, just to create more of a less of a transactional business and more of a , a loyalty business. And that technology piece of launching a client web store really makes yourself more than just a screen printer and embroiderer heat printer, which is kind of what you're doing anyways with the, with the logo and more of a consulting approach. But this is just an extra layer to that as you found. So I'm curious, how has , uh , regardless of the platform, how has the concept worked for you on the T shirt business side?

Speaker 2:

It's , it's worked really well. We've got, we've got one , uh, that we've got launched , um, and it's for, it's for a fairly , um, fairly large organization. Um, it's a, it's a youth softball team that raises money for , um, for kids with cancer. So it's a really cool organization. Um, and , and the ability to put a bunch of different product out there for them , um, in be able to allow them to touch a lot of people because yes, they, they're a traveling team. Um, but they are given the opportunity to if , if they have a supporter that, you know, so we're here in the upper Midwest , uh, right on the Illinois, Wisconsin line and, but they may have people out in California or in New York or whatever, that wouldn't gladly buy a piece of their swag to support their organization , uh, in support that fundraiser. And so if we didn't have that , uh, that platform available, they would never be able to reach those people. Um, and that was , uh , that was really, really awesome to be able to roll that out to them and , um, and , and , uh, enable them to touch a greater , uh , a greater amount of people.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's a good point. It really delivers a reach, right. For whatever the organization is, where they have someone that wants to support. It allows you to do it in a national or a worldwide way, depending on how far you want to go as a decorator. Uh , one of the interesting things in some of the conversations flowing back and forth on our heat press for profit Facebook group is I'm not sure folks are connecting that this is more than just a standard eCommerce solution. This is actually intended as a solution to launch a bunch of eCommerce stores, potentially one for every customer you do business with. Um, so I guess my question would be , uh, what's held you back so far from doing it with more customers?

Speaker 2:

Um, to be, to be completely candid, the complexity of doing it with the deco network system. Um, I do not have a, a background in web development and as robust as their program is. I mean, and we fell in love with their backend , um , and then these other pieces worked great. Um, but it's , it is, it is a little bit complex , um, to build it. Once you get some templates created, it goes pretty good. Um, but getting those pieces in place first, that's kinda been the, been the whole back and our focus has been going after , um, the, a lot of the other companies and, and as they've come on and they , they see what we can do then going back to them and saying, Hey, you know, would you like to have a web store for your, you know, for your staff or for your organization. So we're just, we've kind of come, we launched with one because we knew we had that , um, excuse me in our book of business. Um, and now that we've kind of, we're like, okay, it works. Now we're, we're going to start bringing that back to other, some of our other clients.

Speaker 3:

Yeah . So there's a complexity, but really it's more that it's just in its infancy and , and you are going to take it out in a deeper way. I just wanted to make sure the listener got that, that these solutions are client specific. So it's very likely you could launch one for , um , a local bank that wants to do a promotion. You could launch one for a softball team, a travel team as we've mentioned, or you can just launch one for somebody in the community that wants to launch a fundraiser tee shirt for a cause or a special event. So tons of opportunities with these platforms. If, if the lists as a listener, if you haven't looked at them before, whether it's our solution or another one, it's the way e-commerce is going in. It's a way for you to drive loyalty into your customer base. So definitely consider it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I totally agree with you on that Josh. That's, that's the thing that people miss with these e-commerce pieces is that they think all I just have to have a website. No, it's the ability for you to scale your business at at a very low cost. Even the most expensive platform out there is, is cheaper than, you know , the traditional way of building a business. Um , and you guys have built an incredible product. Um, if people, you know, if , if people are looking for a solution , um, just right along with all the rest and this isn't a plug, I mean we are 100% loyal to stalls. Um, but the product that you guys have built from the e-com solution, it's robust enough to handle something that'll scale and nimble enough for a new person to jump in, in , in and be able to build something.

Speaker 3:

Yeah , well we appreciate that. Thank you for the, for the kind words. And I think , uh , you know, at the heart of the question , uh, it's, I like to ask this of our salespeople and I think they hate when they have to drive somewhere with me because I always try to ask these off the wall questions, but , uh, something we got asked as a kid is what do you want to be when you grow up? Right. Um, and, and you think about that for your business and if you aspire to just be a T shirt printer and you're a generalist, there's a million other people that just print tee shirts and it's going to be a competitive business. But if you desire to be something different, offer this extra level of service to your customer, like you guys are more of a , uh , I'd say a brand consultant with helping people upgrade their image and their logos. Now all of a sudden you're in a , a different playing field and I think it really helps you to , uh , create a long lasting business and hopefully be able to sell product at a higher price point , um, and not be viewed , uh, in the red ocean as we like to call it with all of the other sharks, swimming and fighting after the same business. So I want to give you an opportunity, Bob, I know we've talked through a ton of stuff and we're coming up on conclusion time here in about five minutes or so. Um, are there any other questions, whether they're technical process related, anything , um, that you want to ask or any advice even , uh , that you want to offer to other listeners that are , uh , aspiring apparel decorators or maybe existing ones?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Um, I guess, I guess , uh, from an advice standpoint it would be just try. Um, it's amazing what we can do. Um, when we, when we, when we believe in ourselves and just go out and try. Um, like I said, I've been a serial entrepreneur for, for 20 years. I've tried a bunch of different businesses. Some have done very well, some have failed miserably. Um, and that's okay. That's all part of the journey. Um, the thing I would, I would ask it to you is you've, you've seen companies grow dramatically. I mean, you've, you've been with stalls for a long time. You've seen how they've grown. What is something that , um, as a company is, is scaling and growing? What is something that we should be on the lookout for that you've seen, you know, okay, this was a bump in the road with stalls or maybe some other opportunities that you've worked on in the past. What is something that we should, you know, we should kind of have on our radar as we're, as we're trying to grow and scale this company?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's a great question. Um, so offer a couple , uh , thoughts around it. Uh, one is , uh, being agile I think is of critical importance and taking time to work , um , on the business, not necessarily in the business or are two big pieces of advice I would offer. So what I mean is , uh , especially as a small company with a relatively a small number of employees, you can get very caught up in the day to day and it's important, right? Because you got bills to pay, you have sales targets to hit and those things are important. But I would saying making sure that you make time , uh, to get outside of the business , uh, travel to a trade show or spend some time away from the business and really think strategically about where you're heading. So for me, that means defining the customers that you wanna do business with rather than the customers that are just necessarily calling. Uh , cause I think you can be very intentional about the type of business that is , uh , good for the company and what you want to go out and develop. And when you do that, you can create something a lot more relevant. And , um, I definitely wouldn't say only focus on one customer type. You want to , uh , just like good investment, diversify your risk, not put all of your investment into one category. Because if that industry , uh, has challenges , uh , you're going to have challenges as a business. So I would say , uh , be specific to your customer, know who it is, create specific offers and market specifically to them, but also have , uh , different markets that you're serving at once. So typically I like to recommend three to five markets , uh, that you're developing , uh , just to really add some safety , uh, to the business and protect it and give you opportunity , uh , to grow. So I think that would be one of the things I've seen where people tend to specialize. Maybe it's in sports and I think this year for the first time in 20 years , uh, or actually the first time ever could be, if I, if I'm quoting it correctly, it's a team. Sports participation levels at the high school level declined year on year. So for companies in sports, that's a , that's a big issue. Um, also , uh, industries like sporting goods , uh, if they get disrupted, if there's like what we're looking at right now, if there's consolidation and private equity companies coming in and buying up space and competing , uh, you don't want to be a company that's just focused on sports in today's environment. You want to be able to diversify. So I'd say just that, I think a Dale Carnegie said it, don't put all of your eggs in one basket.

Speaker 2:

That's , that's some great advice I was taking notice , uh , as you are sharing that , I really appreciate that. If it's , uh , it's not very often that a small business owner can ask , uh, ask the head of a sales , uh , head of sales of a large corporation. Hey , how do you do this? So thank you for sharing.

Speaker 3:

Oh, no problem. And then the other advice I'd give to any , uh, industry leaders or folks in our industry is , uh , stay small and stay humble. Have a small mindset , um, and make sure you're connected to the industry. I think , uh , one of the things that I've challenged myself to do and many of us, it stalls. It's our culture is to stay connected to the customer , uh, because without, you know, small businesses without startups, even somebody buying their first heat presses, operating in a spare bedroom , uh, we don't do that well. We don't know that business. Uh, ultimately we're not here very long. So , uh , I'm excited about opportunities like this to talk with entrepreneurs like you really understand your pains. Probably can't offer always the best answers on the spot, but it helps, it helps me to learn and I think it helps everybody listening , uh, to learn and get real life advice. So that's the purpose of this heat press for profit podcast.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I love it. It's a , it's awesome. I think one other piece of advice I'd like to share , um, because I'm on, I'm on the, I'm on the forum that you're talking about and , and several others. Uh, and that's that if you're getting into business, go out. And this was some advice that was given to me over 20 years ago when I started my first, my, my first company. And that was go out and buy the very best equipment than you can afford. Even if it's a bit of a stretch , uh, and the reason why is that it will, it'll be the cheapest investment that you make because , uh , we'll talk about , uh , key presses for a second, right? So stalls makes some great key presses. We, we own two of them. We own , uh , the hot tronics fusion. Uh, and we own the , the auto clam long with your, your uh, your head press. Um, there, there are cheaper knock-off products out there that we could have probably saved half that money that we invested in, in bought the lesser quality product . But what I've learned over the years is that that better quality product lasts longer and , and ultimately saves the company money down the road. It may be a bigger stretch or you have to wait longer to get started, but ultimately you can make more money by having a higher quality piece of equipment. It will have less downtime and less , uh, less overall expense than buying the , the cheap thing that lets you get started right away.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. And I think also if it's outside of somebody's budget , um, I think it really gives them time to think about and develop a business plan before they enter a save. Make sure you're committed, really vet your business plan over many months of savings. Uh , cause we see so many customers that even buy a stalls, heat, press and go out of business because it's not the, it's not the heat press, right? It's just the business plan and the strategy. So just along with that quality equipment but also a quality plan before you invest I think can go a long way. Good. Totally agree. So Bob, Bob, this has been awesome. I want to thank you for joining us. What a productive conversation. Uh , you all got to listen and learn from a serial entrepreneur that's entering the apparel space and I think that's exciting. Uh , certainly a lot of great sales ideas and advice. So we hope you as a listener picked up some valuable info. If you'd like to ask followup questions, just look for our show conversation. Thread over at our heat press for profit Facebook group where you can network, share ideas with thousands of businesses aiming to make a profit with heat printing just like you. That'll do it for our show today. Thanks again, Bob, and hopefully everybody have a great day.

Speaker 4:

[inaudible] .