Success is not a one-time event, but a journey that requires a positive mindset, intentional goal setting, and diligent execution of the right plan. Follow the ‘John Barber’ Way to turn your dreams into reality and achieve success on your own terms. In this episode, John Barber, President and Owner of SpeedPro of Norcross Georgia, discusses how to pursue success. Known for his goal-setting prowess and business acumen, John shares his insights on achieving success with a winning mindset and working the right plan. He dives deep into the importance of mindset, goal setting, and planning for success. If you’re looking to achieve their best year yet and bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be, then this episode is for you. Tune in now!
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From Dreaming To Doing: Achieving Success On Your Terms With John Barber
Mindset, Goal Setting, And Working The Right Plan To Win Every Time
We are back again for another episode of the show. We have a very interesting guest in the spirit of entrepreneurialism, goal-setting, story, and everything that you would need to bridge the gap between where you are and where you ultimately want to be. We have an outstanding individual who is an absolute leader in the space of marketing and print. He is also a very close friend of Reputation Sensei and Digital Media Nation.
We could not wait to bring him on one of our episodes, so we reserved it for one of the inaugural episodes of 2023 for the goal-setters, the dreamers, and those aspiring to have their best year yet. This is an outstanding episode. You’re going to have notes ready, I’m sure, because this one is going to be a difference-maker. Chris Snellgrove will be introducing our guest, Mr. John Barber. Chris?
We met back at BNI a few years ago. John and I are very similar in the sense that we’re driven. We love to talk business, strategy, and marketing. We instantly hit it off and did some business together. We instantly became friends. We’ve shared personal time as well as professional time together. Whenever I’m thinking about a new strategy for my business, John is a guy that I go to as a trusted advisor. John is part of my think tank. I appreciate his input and look at him as a mentor. John, tell us a little bit about what the audience should know about John Barber.
First of all, it’s great seeing you, Bill and Chris, it is great seeing you. We’re here in another new year. For the audience out there and the three of us here on this show, it’s exciting to get into a new year, thinking about new opportunities with new friends and new potential clients. I’m always excited to get going in the New Year.
One of the things that I do usually at the end of December of the year is sit down and have some quiet time. You never know where it’s going to be, but there’s usually coffee and little bay leaves inside of that coffee for me in the early morning. I think about the next twelve months coming up. I write down personal goals, family goals, and relational goals with my wife, my son, and my hobbies.
I also sit down and spend a lot of time thinking about the people that mean the most to me in business. I appreciate the intro, Chris. I’ve shared a lot of things with you. You’ve helped me in my business, too, which I’m sure we’ll get into in this episode, over the last couple of years. I think about my employees, my clients, and my supplier partners. I write down very specific goals and, typically, on January 2nd, 3rd, or 4th, whenever we open up my SpeedPro studio, I share that with my employees.
Primarily, what I’m doing is I own a number of small businesses. What we’re going to talk about is SpeedPro Imaging and SpeedPro Norcross. It’s a large format print shop. I’ve been a partner here for several years. I’ve been the sole owner for a few years. I’m sure we’re going to unpack that a little bit in this episode.
What attracted you to your business? I know you own many different businesses, but this is one that you focused on. What attracted you to SpeedPro?
I had retired the first time, and I say this very humbly, at 39 and was bored to death. My DNA didn’t allow for it. I love the thrill of being a servitude leader and serving people, clients, and employees, and maybe even putting a little bit in my pocket along the way too. I retired again at 50 years old. In my early 50s, I was looking to be napping on airplanes, traveling around the world. I’ve been in 54 countries. I’ve been pretty blessed. I’ve done deals on multiple continents from a business standpoint. I was searching for something that was more in the local community.
I interviewed a number of other franchise brands. I had been in franchising in my third career, selling area development agreements and deals in other countries for a number of brands. I won’t shamelessly plug them, but it was primarily in the food service and hospitality industry. To answer your question specifically, I gave the franchise brokers who were calling me thinking, “Barber will be an easy sell. We’re going to get him in a franchise.” I looked at a lot of them, but here’s what I told them. I stuck to my guns on this decision. I said, “Give me a business that’s scalable with one location and as few employees as possible. I can scale that location with technology.”
It’s a B2B play, which is Business-to-Business, not business-to-consumer. I do a little bit of consumer work. I help people and their churches and their graduations, but consumers are fickle. I want to build lifelong relationships with customers and a business that values what I do, whatever my past has been. I want life-long partnerships. Chris, you and I are heading in that direction. Bill, I’ve known you for a bit too. To me, those relationships are more important than money.Build lifelong relationships with customers and businesses that value what you do, whatever your past has been. Yearn for lifelong partnerships. Click To Tweet
The last part of that criteria was if I had a business in the Atlanta Metro because I’ve been traveling all over, it had to be less than 45 minutes from my home to that location. I valued my personal balance. I lived in LA back in the ‘80s, driving two and a half hours to an office one-way. If it rained, it was three and a half to get home. Let’s have some well-rounded components in there, but those are the main criteria.
I would suggest to anybody looking to either do a franchise or look at a business that maybe they’re going to buy, set your criteria. Be very specific about it. Talk about it with the people closest to you, including your spouse or your family. That is because whatever you do is going to impact them also. I settled on SpeedPro, and I’m glad that I did it. It met every one of the criteria I mentioned.
That is awesome. I appreciate everything you said. To segue into the next question, it’s been said, specifically in this business community, that it’s not about the products or services that we sell or provide but rather the stories we tell. As fellow marketers, you at SpeedPro and Chris and I over here at Digital Media Nation and Reputation Sensei, we’re often tasked with telling the stories of our clients.
It’s rare to be a winner in business at all, but to be a three-time winner at a minimum, what is it about your ability to tell a story, whether yours or someone else’s, in the medium of print? In every other way that you’ve got into the business, what is your edge? What do you tell people to give them the safety and certainty that what you’re going to do is going to work for them?
First of all, there’s a lot there. I got chills when you mentioned that, Bill. I appreciate what you said. I’ve heard a quote. I can’t claim that it’s mine. I heard this, and I don’t remember where it came from. We don’t do business with companies and brands. We do business with people. People do business with people, and then those people that we do business with represent brands. They represent the ability to market. They represent companies, but it’s all about the relationship.
For me, sitting here in the back third of my career, I had seven companies when Chris and I met. I’m down to technically four tax returns I have to file in only one business with employees. It comes down to putting yourself at the very back end of the train. I’m the caboose. Everybody is in front of me, starting with my employees first. If they know what they’re doing, they’re empowered to make decisions, they’re not micromanaged, and they’re well-trained and compensated, then they’re going to take care of my customers. That’s where I spend a lot of time.
My employees don’t lead me. They did years ago in my informative years as I was growing up in business. I’ve learned that the most important commodity we have in any business isn’t the printers that are outside that door or the warehouse back there where we’re wrapping vehicles. It’s the people that execute those strategies.
My employees come first. I’m ruthless about my personal relationship with my clients, customers, and supplier partners. I don’t call them suppliers. I don’t call them vendors. They are my supplier partners. I can’t operate a business, especially in the last couple of years with the supply chain issues, if the supplier partners couldn’t get me the product I need to print on. We call them substrates in the large format industry.
I didn’t mention myself in those three constituents. I come at the very end. As a business leader, you have to put yourself in the right place. I’ve seen a lot of business owners where they start making money and it’s all about them. It’s all about my employees, clients, and supplier partners. If there’s anything left over at the end of the day, I get it. If there isn’t anything, I work harder.
Let me also tell you this. This is Reputation Sensei. This is Digital Media Nation. We’re probably going to talk a little bit about social media. It’s a very interesting story. I’m super proud of what we’ve accomplished here at SpeedPro Norcross. Chris helped set this up with me in 2019 and 2020 in a number of conversations. I got a Google Business page and a Google ad that supports that and about 600 pictures of jobs I’ve done online.
When I get a lead that hits my website, because it hits the Google landing page for SpeedPro Norcross, they send in their info. I had one. I responded in two minutes. I don’t respond with an email. I start with a phone call. I could be on the golf course. I could be traveling somewhere. I could be with down my farm. I’ve got a lot of other hobbies outside of work. I pick up the phone and call them. Do you know what they say? It is these two things, “I’ve been trying to get somebody to call me back for 3 weeks and you called me in 2 minutes. I hit the enter button.” Here’s my little joke. I say, “My name is SpeedPro of my company. We are pretty quick.” It’s a little joke.
I always ask them, “Why did you pick us?” Here’s what they say, “We found you online. I put in a search and you popped up right away. Guess what? I went and looked at your page, and in between Listen360 and Google, you have over 900 five-star reviews.” The person I talked to said, “I read twenty reviews. They had your name.” Sometimes, they mentioned my name, but they had Kim’s name, Andrew’s name, and Wes’ name. I don’t have a salesperson. I grew my business by 268% during COVID, whether we’re in a recession or not, during inflation, and during supply chain issues. I grew it to 267% from January 1st, 2020 to December 31st, 2022, and I don’t have a salesperson.
This is a good segue. That led to you winning a national franchise award. Tell us about that.
There were a couple of things. First of all, I don’t win awards. My team wins them for me. The truth is I have eight people in this small business. When I came here, there were two people. Now, we have eight. We run lean and mean. Everybody’s cross-trained. My team affords me the opportunity to get on stage to get awards.
In 2020 during COVID, we were up almost 30%. I had no business in April 2020, but we were selected and awarded the SpeedPro System-wide Franchisee of the Year. In 2021, the International Franchise Association claims to have 800,000 individual franchisees like me. It is not locations, but 800,000 people that own a franchise. You might own 100 locations or you might own 1. I happen to own one. In 2021, I was awarded the International Franchise Association of Washington DC Franchisee of the Year. There were approximately 30 people between 2020 and 2021 because they couldn’t have an international meeting. I got called to San Diego in March 2021. My wife and I went down. It was super special. I’d been in franchising and met a lot of people.
The reason we got it wasn’t because of all the growth and the things on the business side. That was probably your entry in. You had to be relatively successful. It was because we gave back during COVID extensively and used the vehicle called SpeedPro Norcross and donated money. We donated signs. Maybe you saw any of the Heroes Work Here signs in Gwinnett County. We did over 135, approximately, signs for 16 cities that we donated and supported which said Heroes Work Here. We donated it to hospitals, senior-assisted homes, municipalities, fire departments, and police stations. That got us a lot of positive press.
The other thing I’m proud of is I was 1 of 5 companies at Easter a couple of years ago. We’ve fed 26,000 meals to displaced food service workers in the heart of COVID. I was the smallest company. There were four other companies that I partnered with them. We had 85 volunteers. It was two days on Friday and Saturday. We gave 26,000 meals out to food service workers who’d lost their jobs because of COVID.
I’m going to date myself here, so here we go. I started out as a dishwasher. That was my first official job after caddying for very successful people. At fifteen years old, I was a dishwasher, making $1.65 an hour. I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for people who have worked in the food service and hospitality industry. It’s not easy. You don’t make a ton of money, but you got to provide great customer service for clients to come back. That’s a little bit about it.
My employees executed. I didn’t play a lot of the instruments. I will tell you this. I went out and hit the streets. I went out and did a lot of cold calls. The cold calls were not to sell. They were to give away free signs to restaurants saying, “We’re open. Drive through open. Pick up available.” There were generic yellow yard signs as you see in political signs and banners. For 2 and 3 weeks, we went all over. We printed them and gave them away for free. We never got a penny out of it, but we got recognized for our community service.
As you should. There are so many nuggets of wisdom in what John said. In my head, I’m thinking of the earned media, the corporate social responsibility, the worthy cause marketing, the beginning with the end in mind, and the agile community-oriented servant leader. There are so many awesome things that you touched on in the answer to the last question.
Summarize for our audience. I’m going to want to pull this out as a short for one of our social media posts. If you could have a conversation with a younger version of yourself knowing what you know, having endured what you’ve endured, and living the entrepreneurial life, what would you say to a younger version of yourself to either eliminate a hardship, shorten a learning curve, grease the skids, or lighten the load? One of our entrepreneurial readers might be able to take that and put it into action right away in the first quarter of 2023.
Ironically, I speak to students. I’ve been asked to start a class that I’ve already written a curriculum for. I won’t mention the college in Atlanta. COVID got in the middle of it. They said, “We want you to teach a class on entrepreneurialism. We will pay you. We will call you whatever you want. You can do it once a week. You tell us.” They’re still waiting for me.
I’ve taught and got in front of a lot of people in what Chris had mentioned, Business Networking International. I was in a network group. I found myself five years into it, not getting a lot of personal referrals but getting a huge amount of satisfaction by mentoring and coaching business people, some owners, and some employees in their 20s, 30s, and even 40s. As a matter of fact, I have lunch with one of the people from BNI, and I talked to the two of them not long ago.
I’ll a caveat, I was 34 years old, running a $1.5 billion division for PepsiCo. I had 3,500 employees across North America. That’s part of why at 39 or 40, I was able to say, “I’m taking a little bit of time off.” I left New York. I ended up moving to Kansas City, but that was about my son getting to know his grandparents. I never knew my grandparents. When I think back on those informative years and think back to myself, I had some great mentors.
Here’s the key. Listen to the people that have already done it. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel ourselves as entrepreneurs or as business people. Chris Snellgrove has been a friend of mine. It has been a couple of years since a person named Dave introduced us. We know who he is. I’m grateful to him for this relationship. Chris paid me a compliment. I bounce ideas off of Chris Snellgrove also because we all have something to give. Here’s the quote, “No one of us is as smart as all of us.” That goes for a small business like the one I’m running. That goes for a big corporate environment. Never think you’re the smartest person in the room.Listen to the people that have already done it. We don't have to reinvent the wheel ourselves as entrepreneurs. Click To Tweet
In my business, I can’t do half of the tasks that the people on my team out to my right can do. I can unplug a printer. I can probably find the on and off button, but that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to make sure that the whole process works. To back up to your question, Bill, first and foremost, never stop learning. Never stop asking questions of the people that have already found that success in whatever vertical or industry you are in.
I played golf in the middle of January 2023. I shot the best round of golf. Chris knows this. It was the best round of golf that I played in years on eighteen holes in the middle of winter. It’s wet and cold in Atlanta. I took lessons in 2023 after not playing golf for ten years. I went out and found a great instructor. He is my coach. Even though I played competitive golf years ago and went to nationals, I’m not 25, 35, or 45 anymore. Find people in business that have already done it. Listen to them. Ask questions and be quiet and listen.
We’re interacting, talking, and trying to get a story out here. This is something that might help one of your readers out there. It’s the same thing. I go in there and I already have 3, 4, 5, or 6 questions that I know I’m going to ask. One of the questions I ask is, “Why am I here? Why am I in the room? Surely, you already have another large format print company. Why am I here?” It puts them on the spot to suddenly start talking. Do you know what I do? I shut up. They have to talk, and they start telling me.
I’ll say, “You five suppliers. Now I’m really wondering why I am here.” Ultimately, I find out the suppliers took them for granted. Maybe they took price increases. Their responsiveness was poor, and that’s a key in business for success. You got to have a sense of urgency, whether it’s inside of your own company, with your employees, with your clients, and whomever. That brings me right back to a full-circle 360. Ask questions and listen.The key to success in business is to have a sense of urgency. Click To Tweet
When I think about myself, I was rocking it. I was crushing it when I was running Pepsi Las Vegas at 28 years old. It was a $100 million market. I thought I was a pretty big stuff. What I learned along the way is that there are always a lot of people that can help mold you and make you better. You can’t do it on your own. I could list a whole host of people that have helped me throughout my career. I’m as proud to be able to help other people at this point in my career. A young John Barber should have shut up more, asked more questions, listened, and then execute against that. I will say this.
When I was 13, 14, and 15 years old, I caddied for rich people. Those were doctors, dentists, and lawyers at a country club. I rode my bike and went over there. I was already starting to play golf. I was a pitcher and a third baseman. I had a good arm. I was playing baseball, but my dad got me to golf. He said, “Do you want to go play golf?” I said, “No. It’s an old man’s sport.” He was like, “I’ll give you $1 if you walk nine holes.” At the end of nine holes, my competitive spirit was chipping and putting. Two years later, I’m the captain of the golf team.
I am caddying for doctors, dentists, and lawyers. They played golf. I’m not going to say what year. It was on a Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. They drove awesome sports cars. When they finished up, their wives or girlfriends were waiting for them in the bar. I thought, “I want to be like them one day.” At fifteen years old, I wanted to be a dentist. It had nothing to do with teeth. It was all about the lifestyle. I listened to what those guys bantered about on the golf course many years ago. I listened to them talk about business. I listened to them talk about success. I was a sponge. It started early for me. I saw something that motivated me to want to be successful.
The other thing about that word is we all get to define what success is for us. Society doesn’t do it. Your boss doesn’t do it nor even your parents and your family. We get to define what success is on our walk on this earth for each of us. It is different for each of us. I will tell you. When I was fifteen, I wanted to be like them. I worked really hard to try and get there. I’m proud to say I played the best round of golf I have played in a very long time.
I hope that helps somebody out there to think back at their past and think about the people that have helped them at least get to where they are. It takes a lot of people to help somebody get to the top of their game. Remember, you get to define what your game is and not other people. That’s our choice in business, in life, and the walk that we have on this journey or on this place called Earth.
I love it. Your race, your pace. That’s what I heard. That was awesome.
My pace has been pretty quick. Chris knows I like to race cars as one of my hobbies, too. I haven’t crashed too many of them, but I’m slowing it down. Life is short. Make the best of it. Personally and professionally, pick your battles and go win a bunch of them. It’s fun when you’re winning.
John, what are you going to do in 2023 differently than in 2022?
I will tell you this. We did some massive projects. A big part of my business is we have vehicles. This is another lesson in perseverance that I’m going to share. I’ll try and be brief. I have a customer that I met through private equity friends of mine. I was getting ready to do an investment in their company. They introduced me to a large trucking firm. This would have been in 2015. I landed the biggest job. It took me six years to land this job. It all came together in 2022. It’s absurd how successful this little business that I’ve owned for several years skyrocketed.
We had 69% growth in 2022. I will tell you what’s different this 2023. I’m working a little bit harder. I’m still going to play golf. It’s on my list. I’ll do 100 rounds. I did my eighth round and I’m playing again. My goal is to play 100 rounds and I’m going to be ahead of it. I am very metric-driven. We all need to be. If you own a company and you’re reading this, Bill and Chris’ audience, you need to have strong metrics that you can measure success. It’s the old adage, “What gets measured gets achieved.” You have to measure it and then follow up on it. I’m talking a little bit about golf right here.
The difference is I’m working differently. I am selling again, I have a list that I put together, and I didn’t have to do this in 2022. The business was rocking. I was turning customers away. I’m going to segue into social media and SEO. When I came to this business, we would pick up 10 customers to 120 or 130 a year. I was out selling. In the last few years, I’ve averaged over 300 new customers with no salesperson. I’d stopped going to network groups. I went to an event. It was the first one I’ve been to in months.
I am usually using social media and, more importantly, SEO or Search Engine Optimization as my 24/7 orbiting salesperson on the internet. What I have found is that people are buying at 11:00 PM and 12:00 AM. They’re buying from 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM on Sunday getting ready for Mondays. They are buying at times when we are not open. Sometimes, I’ll leave an answer to a lead that comes in.
For those of you that are out there, these are crazy times between interest rates climbing, recession, inflation, and supply chain. There are some people who don’t want to work. We have a diminishing workforce in this country. What I have found is the use of technology. Chris Snellgrove sat down with me in 2019 and 2020 and helped me when I said, “I need to hire a salesperson and get to the next level.” I never did it. I worked fewer hours in 2022. The second best year of my professional career was last year, 2022. It came down to thinking about the tools and how people want to validate your business.
We had 120 new customers and we didn’t even have a Google presence back then. In 2020, we had 386 new customers. This is all documented. I’ve got a fabulous workflow system all the way from CRM to billing. Chris knows because I’ve sent him some bills along the way and Bill too. Kidding aside, we’re averaging 280 to 300 new customers with no salespeople.
I turned away in 2022 an average of ten leads that I was paying pennies for. They were leads I turned away because we were too busy. I was able to, for the first time in decades, select the customer base I wanted. Here’s what’s different. It’s a new year. Some of those projects might not kick in. They might start again when the weather gets warmer based on where we can wrap vehicles, like April, May, June, and July. They might not do it with diesel prices and all the things that we’re facing as consumers.
I’m not going to wait for them to say, “We’re going to do it,” or, “No.” I am out selling again. I have a list of ten targets. I have already called 3 or 4 of them. I am aggressive and hungry at this point in my career. I’m not going to let the economy decide what my business does. I’m going to go out, do runs around them, and put the football, which is my business, in the end zone.
That was a question that I was going to have. It looks like we may be moving into a recession. If we do, how do you plan on not participating?
In January 2009, I was in a private equity company. We were doing about $150 million. I was the interim CEO at the time. I turned down the job for a number of personal reasons, but I was still the number two guy in private equity. They brought in a CEO. Before they brought him in, I got in front of the company. It was January 2009. Think about what happened in September 2008. It was an hour-and-a-half meeting with about 100 people.
Here was the bottom line. I said, “In strong economic times or in a recession, somebody always wins. What do you want to look back at 1 year or 2 years from now when you look back at what we’re going to do in 2009? Do you want to look back and say we let the economy dictate? Everybody’s down 10%. If we’re only down 9%, that’s good.” We tripled our EBITDA in that company in 2009. We sold the company in March 2010 for over $100. There’s always going to be a winner. That’s my point.
Football’s coming up. We’ve got games and the Super Bowl. Are you going to let the other team’s record make it complacent? If the economy’s down 10%, I’m going to be something north of positive unless it was a moon and star’s year for me in 2022. The whole point is I’m out selling again. It is a different type of sale. I’m not pounding the pavement and stuff. I am calling relationships. I am calling referrals. I’m calling people I know. At the end of the day, all I have to do is say, “I got 900-plus five-star reviews as validation on Google and Listen360.” It’s a business you guys are in. It’s a business Chris Snellgrove helped me think about and I put together in March 2020. I got lucky. It was perfect timing to have a 24/7 marketing tool out there.
For any of you out there that own a business or you’re in a company and you work for somebody else, think about how you can increase your exposure this 2023 if we’re in a recession. Somebody’s always buying something, and somebody is always selling something. You want to be on either the front end of that selling something or you want people to be buying what you have available, whatever your product is. I do custom graphics. I do walls, windows, and vehicles.
People call me up out of the blue and always say, “Why me?” They’re like, “I went on social media. I went on Google and looked at your reviews. I want to work with you.” Guess what? Sometimes, their price goes up when they get that excited with me. I’m telling you. This is the marketing strategy that I have in place. I will not increase my headcount. I am already looking at cutting my inventories this 2023 versus 2022. The supply chain has flexed up. I’m a pretty big buyer. My distributors want me.
There are a number of strategies, and I’ll try and be brief for the audience. 1) I’m selling. I am going out looking for specific new customers or targets by name. 2) I increased my social media presence and my SEO. I bumped up my Google ad spend, which supports my Google business page. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, these guys can help you with it. Chris helped me learn a lot about this years ago. It’s the reason I don’t have a professional salesperson that I’m having to pay. I’m a little bit of one, but I play a lot of golf guys. It’s a pretty cool place to be. With that being said, I am out selling.
3) I’m watching my inventory. I’m watching my cost of goods. I’m watching my pricing. 4) I am looking at price increases as they’re passed on to me. Typically, my price increases less for my customers, especially my loyal customers. There have been times I haven’t taken price increases, and I’ve gotten one because I want to reward and retain those great customers.
I will tell you this also. We have two key metrics in my company. Those are order accuracy and on-time delivery. You can take those metrics in any business and any vertical. I’ve been in a lot of different industries over my career. You can take those two key metrics into any business. I tell people to call me for a first-time conversational lead. I say, “Here’s why you want to work with us. I’m not selling you, but I’m telling you why. I’ve got 900 five-star reviews. We do what our customers want, which is order accuracy to spec, and we do it on time 99.9% of the time at a fair price. I’m not the cheapest. I’m also not the most expensive. If you value those two metrics, you’ll be willing to pay what my prices are. I’m all about customers for life.”
For that last little piece of the segment, it works in any industry. I’ve proven that for over several decades in business. All of you reading out there, write those two down if nothing else because it works in every single industry. I have one other quick thing. There are only two places you get growth from in the business. It’s either a new business or an existing business. It’s organic through your existing customer base or it’s going out and hitting the pavement. Now, I’m doing both. I’m getting ready to communicate to my existing base on some of the products that they want. We want to sell to them this 2023, but I am ramping up my time, going out doing new business development.
If you think about it in the simplest terms, in hundreds of years, where does business come from? It’s either new or existing. That’s it. The cost of existing business or organic business growth is almost always less costly on a dollar basis than it is to go out, prospect, and bring on and onboard a new client. You got to have both if you want to be successful. There are times when you can farm, and there are times when you can hunt. In 2022, I was doing more farming. Guess what? I’m back to being a hunter. I hope that helps somebody out there.
It sounds like you’ve streamlined your cost on new customer acquisition by creating a sales force with your online presence. That’s pretty cool.
First of all, I don’t view a single print shop out there as a competitor. I have equipment that many of them don’t have. I’ve invested in infrastructure. I put $400,000 into my small business in August 2020 into my studio. Chris, you’ve seen what I’ve done. I remodeled my studio in the middle of COVID. I do about $500,000 with other print shops, and then they take my manufacturing product, broker it out, and mark it up to 20% or 30%. I don’t care. 50, 70, or 80 wholesalers and brokers are my sales force. I discount a margin so that they can be competitive out there.
These are real numbers and I still don’t believe them. I started a Google Ad program in March 2020 after you and I had talked. I got some other support and help. You helped me set some of that up if you go back a few years ago. I appreciate Chris Snellgrove, Digital Media Nation, and Reputation Sensei. I got this set up in ten months. My total ad spend was $982 on pay-per-click on Google ads. I picked up 76 documented customers that drove $141,000 of new business for $952.
I will tell you that for a month or so, I was googling all my competitors, which were other print shops. I call them competitors. I was seeing who would come up in the first position. I was looking at keywords. I was starting to understand Google Analytics. I immersed myself at that point for about two months. Every Wednesday night and weekend, I would Google car wraps and step and repeat banners. I would look at the performance of my new Google page and go, “I don’t have the right stuff.”
Here’s what I’m going to suggest to the readers out there. This is a shameless plug, but it’s going to be generic. As I said earlier that no one of us is as smart as all of us when it comes to marketing, branding, and especially marketing in social channels and search engine optimization, find a company or people that are experts. I had help from three people including Chris Snellgrove, but I ended up doing a lot of it on my own because I have intellectual curiosity. To me, it was another challenge at this stage in my career. I was like, “I’m going to go figure it out.”
I have 1,000 more customers than I had years ago. I have no salesperson. My cost of sale of $141,000 was a bunch of hours of my time doing research and intellectual curiosity. It’s $952 of ad spend. That’s crazy. I have been in a lot of big businesses like Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo. I have been in private equity and big brands people have heard of in the restaurant industry. Guess what? It blew me away.
In 2021, I started doing webinars for print companies on how to do your social media to a point. They wanted to hear the story. It was unbelievable. I would suggest getting professionals. I spent a lot of time those first two months setting stuff up myself. I made mistakes. I had to go back in and fix them. Get somebody that can fast-track you there. It’s worth the money. Even if it’s a 6-month or 9-month engagement, spend the money with professionals like the guys I’m talking to because they did help me. I was really grateful. Get professionals to help. You will get there faster. That’s what I’m doing.
I’m excited about 2023 because I know there are always going to be winners and there are going to be losers. My team and I have already talked about it. We are going to come out ahead. We have set our measures and our goals. Everybody knows what we need to do. We just have to go execute it. It will come. I will tell you this. I’m selling again. I’m not going to wait around for a recession to kick me in the butt. I’m out there trying to build the business early. I hope that helps.
You always bring energy.
The energy, wisdom, information, inspiration, and influence. The movers and shakers grow in business. This has been amazing. You could have volumes of notes based on what John has so graciously shared on his wisdom, his experience, and his planning. The one thing I took from the adversity equation is that the greater the adversity, the greater the opportunity. It’s temperature and pressure. It’s diamonds and steel. There’s the leaning of the herd.
The three of us have heard of the impending recession. We’ve chosen not to participate. The bottom line is everything that you need to bridge the gap between where you were and where you want to be was so cleverly articulated by John. I can’t thank you enough. This has been an outstanding 30 or 45 minutes. I want to thank you, John, for joining us. I want to thank our audience.
If this information was valuable to you, please don’t keep us a secret. Like, subscribe, and share it with your friends. We’ll continue to bring you this outstanding content on a regular basis because this is how we learn and grow. We want to make sure that you reach, grow, and live your greatest life. On behalf of Chris Snellgrove and John Barber, I’m Bill Courtright signing off on this edition of the show. Take care.