Episode Five features Mitche Graf, a successful businessman, podcaster, and author dispensing spot on business advice and discussing the importance of Customer Service!
My Key Takeaways:
If you don't fail, you can't truly appreciate what success means!
Episode Five features Mitche Graf, a successful businessman, podcaster, and author dispensing spot on business advice and discussing the importance of Customer Service!
My Key Takeaways:
0:00:00.0 S1: Our guest today is Daddy of three bestselling author, serial excrete, international-renowned business speaker, nationally syndicated radio show host and former All-American track and field athlete. He sold us Bicycle parts of his parents garage in the seventh grade, but now runs four companies today, he's the host of business edge radio and the business edge minute, which can be heard on over 35 radio stations across the country, as well as on all podcast platforms. Over the past three decades, who's created two award-winning restaurants, catering and events company, a national spice manufacturing business, a photography studio, a triage board company, an award-winning limousine business, a portable hot of rental business, my personal favorite. You can take a Rutan time, take a breath. Anytime I drive through is resonant and even a Nightcrawler company. Yeah.
0:01:01.4 S2: What it shows you, if nothing else. It shows you that I get bored easy, and I always have to be creating something new, which is part of what an entrepreneur is.
0:01:08.4 S1: But I was gonna mention also that you're a chef, author of nine books, and GM of the keys, your Salem volcanoes, a baseball team a year throughout the giants, right? Well.
0:01:21.1 S2: They used to be out of the giant, and I was the president of the whole organization in 2019, they were part of the downsizing that majorly baseball did to my league baseball, and the Giants did not select this team as a continued affiliate, so now they're playing in an independent league, they created, I own intent in called The Matrix independent base colleague, which is with the port and Mavericks from up in Portland back in the 70s, was a really popular team, but I did that for a year, I got bored with my own stuff, and I had heard they're looking for a president of the organization, applied for the job, the only application I've ever turned in in probably 35 years, didn't even have raised, didn't need one, but did that for a year, and we increased attendance by almost 13%, it was one of the biggest increases in attendance and all the baseball, we went through an organizational re-brand, I fired everybody and hired him back as they interviewed, I said, I wanna make sure that you're not the reason I had to give up my son with my kids to come fix your mess.
0:02:16.5 S2: And so the people that wanted to come back, we're invited to come back and apply for an application, but after a year we got downsized and I came back to doing my own thing, so... Okay, that was definitely one of the best highlights of my entire career, has been able to go in professional baseball and be a president of a professional sports team for a while... That's like a dream come true, right? So the hard part to Greg was, I'm a Dodger fan. If I were to icing, I'd have blue blood coming out of my knuckle, and this is a giant affiliate, the worst team in the world that I could work for if you're a Dodger fan. But anyway, I enjoyed it and I made a lot of great friends, and it was definitely a feather in my cap and enjoyed it.
0:02:58.2 S1: That's awesome. Now, can you take a few moments and fill in the gaps from the rest of that intro, bring us up to speed with what you're at now, well.
0:03:05.0 S2: It's quite an intro, it makes me realize that how much I like to do... The first thing you said was, Daddy, a three, and I believe that is my biggest calling, that is the number one thing, and so being an entrepreneur for most of my life, I have learned through trial and air and failing, falling flat on my face, which is part of being an entree, that you need to build your lifestyle first to figure out what you want out of your life first, and then reverse engineer to figure out what your business blueprints need to look like. And I think today's entendre, the teachings out there, the GRE is out there, they teach something different. It's the Elon Musk approach, and I love you on Musk 'cause mine is incredible, but he believes in 120 hours a week, and that's what it takes, you forsake your kids, your hobbies, your spouses, everything, you give it all up in order to build this thing. And I have the opposite approach, I have to approach of No, no, you figure out what's important to you, and then you make your business fit in. You don't have to work 80 hours a week.
0:04:01.3 S2: If that's not something that you wanna do with your life, and you wake up in 10 years and say, Where in my life? Go. Who are my kids? It's definitely not worth it. And I lost my father during covid, it wasn't because of covid, but it was during covid. And it's just one more moment of, Okay, let's make sure we're maximizing today... Living in this moment right now. Not the next moment. Not tomorrow, not next year. Not where you go on vacation. The moment right now, the people that are in front of you right now, the people that are in your lives right now, and I think that's a counter counter-intuitive approach to what a lot of people teach young entrepreneurs and old entrepreneurs. And I believe that you don't have to forsake everything, there is a way that you can have that proper balance, and part of it is being efficient with your time, part of it is learning how to delegate, there's a lot of little Tel tentacles that go into making that successful. But I really believe that, especially now that there's so many new people, there's a million new businesses that have been started in the last year, those people, I think have a better understanding more than in a lot of years, that it really is about proper balance with friends with family with kids, with hobbies, with personal development of yourself, and it's good to see, and that's kind of a space I've worked in for 25 years, so it's really refreshing to see all these great ideas coming in to the realm right now.
0:05:19.0 S2: It makes me excited to get up and... Good work.
0:05:20.7 S1: Let's talk about that very first business that you had when you were in seventh grade and you're selling part...
0:05:26.1 S2: Actually, it was before that. It wasn't the big part, I was doing lemonade in third or fourth grade, I mean, we all didn't let... Did you sell lemonade when you were at... A little bit.
0:05:34.0 S1: Yeah.
0:05:34.5 S2: Most kids in my neighborhood sold it for a quarter, and I decided that I was gonna sell it for 50 cents, so twice as much as anybody else, but I gave you a free cookie, my mom would make cookies, and then I would give them a free cookie if they bought a 50 cent cup of lemonade and I had a little table out there in front and a driveway, and I had a table hot on it in a couple of chairs, and here's some of the kind of fun... This radio, this exact radio right here, a little AM radio. I play Dodger games. Okay, and I put this on the table. So even back in third or fourth grade, I was thinking about the experience, that customer experience, it doesn't work anymore, I keep it more of a paper wait than anything else. But even back in, I wanted to be different, I wanted to look different. And that's one of the basic definitions of good brand in a good marketing, as you look at what everyone else is doing, and then you don't do that, you run as fast as you can the opposite direction and find that blue ocean where nobody else exists, and I think that's the true definition of an entrees.
0:06:35.2 S2: People that can find that boeotian.
0:06:36.9 S1: Now, how did you know instinctively to do that, did your parents give you any advice at all or...
0:06:42.1 S2: Yeah, my dad was civilian, Navy, worked at Salina for most of his career. My mom and dad got divorced and I was about 11. So she was working three jobs, raising three kids, she raised me to think on my own, and if I don't know the answer for something... Go find it. Back then it was encyclopedia, if I ask her a question instead of saying, Oh, Google it, she'd say, Go look it up in funk and agnatic Inari. That was our Google back in those days.
0:07:07.6 S1: I remember that well.
0:07:09.1 S2: So I was ready to kind of be self-sufficient and think on my own, and I think because of that, it has allowed me to be able to identify problems, identify opportunities, there's opportunities everywhere in the world. But you wanna be able to select the right opportunities that will help you build your lifestyle, you your business, build your empire, so to speak, and we can't say yes to every opportunity, we need to say no to most of them naturally, otherwise we get overwhelmed and we don't get in and gun going
0:07:38.0 S1: Back and was that... Those catalysts that sports you into becoming an entrepreneur. Was there something else? There
0:07:44.5 S2: Was always this desire in hand, when I was in my 20s, I was terrible, I got married when I was in my early 40s, so I was an unleashed entrepreneur for over half of my adult life, but what I discover is that if you're not going to take risks, and I love taking risks. And back in the old days, I would take big risk, 'cause like big money risks and you failure succeed, and if you fail, it hurts bad. Well, over my career, especially since I had kids, I now take measured risk, I take calculated risks, and so I always ask myself, What's the worst thing that happens if this idea, this product, this business fails... What's the worst thing that happens to me? And if I can live with that result, then it's worth pursuing, and the thing about failure and success and unfamiliar, and Greg, is that If you don't fail, I don't think you can truly appreciate what success means. The biggest successes I know in my life, and I know some pretty rich people, successful people, they failed more times, I think that they would care to admit. I feel like crazy.
0:08:54.7 S2: I went bankrupt in the early 90s 'cause I over-extended, I was risking things and sometimes when you risk a lot, you get hurt, but I learn from that mistake, and I think it's because I've been knocked down 99 times that I've been able to get up. One extra time I've gotten up 100 times. And I think that's the definition of a good entrepreneur is you get knocked down, but you get back up again, and then you figure out smarter ways to do things, right, if your systems are broken, you break the systems down, and then you rebuild those systems with fewer moving pieces, and that's the definition of being efficient with your time. I don't care if your employee or you're a business owner, we all should be doing that, right, if we're just more efficient with what we do, we have time off to do other things, and that's one of the reasons why I have this mentality called The 247 lifestyle mentality, and what does it mean to you? 24 to
0:09:46.9 S1: A... I think it's 247. I think 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And
0:09:51.6 S2: Most people do. It just means always. Always, always knows for the grindstone, my definition is a little different, 24 hours a week, seven months a year, and I know that sounds pie in the sky, but it's my shiny beacon on the mountain. It's what I strive for every day. So when I come to work, whatever it is I'm doing, and again, I have four companies and I write books and I got my radio shows, there's lots that I do. If I wasn't efficient, I could not get the stuff done that I get done, so it really is about identifying those systems, making sure they're efficient, and then moving forward each and every day. If you tell your kids that stoves hot, that's a great thing coming from a parent to a kid, but what's the best way for them to learn that lesson?
0:10:35.6 S1: Find out for themselves. Touchdown.
0:10:38.0 S2: Stalked. And you guess what? You won't do that again. You'll make other mistakes, you might put your figure in the toaster or your finger in the socket, but by God, you probably won't touch that stove again, and so good entrepreneurs learn from their mistakes, make adjustments and then move forward with more knowledge, they're smarter.
0:10:55.6 S1: So what process do you follow when you're actually looking to start a new business... That's a good question. The first step is always to identify, is it something I'm passionate about?
0:11:07.0 S2: I've been really lucky. A lot of people say, Don't worry about passion. A lot of people say, Look for opportunities to make money. I've been very fortunate that every business I've ever started and grown and sold or kept has been something that was passionate about, whether it be manufacturing or restaurants or limousines, or what areas I've done... I like what I was doing. That's number one.
0:11:29.9 S1: Even the night crawlers.
0:11:31.7 S2: Well, night calls, it's an interesting story. I'll tell that story 'cause people always get a quick look when I say I had a Nicaean, I used to live in North Idaho, and I wanted to go fishing on a Wednesday in the middle of the summer, and I went to 7 lead, I went to every convenience store, I went to sporting good store, either A, they were sold at a warm or B, they didn't carry him, so I found out who the local guy was, and his name was Mr. Bathe was out of change, Washington, and I called Mr. Bat, I said, I wanna buy some worms, can you recommend someone to... And he would just kind of short on the phone and not very helpful, so I got upset, so I went back to my office, got on the phone, found the place that actually sold worms by the thousand... You buy 1000 for X number of dollars. Instead of a little 12-pack styrene thing, I made it an 18 pack. 'cause as a fisherman, you know that 12... Never enough, 24s, too many. So 18 was that sweet spot. I made a colored label with a trial coming out of the water, a beautiful picture, but it was a photo, it wasn't like black ink on a two-cent label like most moms.
0:12:33.0 S2: Alright, I made it special. It stand out, hire the best sales person I knew, and over the next six or seven weeks, we went around to Western Montana, North Idaho, Eastern Washington, and picked up hundreds of accounts. And I get a call from Mr. Bat, you can't do this. Well, yeah, I can and I did, but I don't wanna be in the wine business, I just wanna be able to have worms when I wanna go fishing, so tell you why, I'll tell you, I'll sell you these customers back... And he was adamant, these are my customers. You can't do that. So anyway, we ended the conversation and we went for another two or three months continuing to just knock it out of the park, a very profitable industry, and he called back and negotiate, I think he checked, cut me. It goes 25000, which was 5000 more than what it would have been had he done it earlier, so I raised the price 'cause we had more profit... Right, and I got out of the word business, that was a case where it was an opportunity that presented itself. And it just so happens that because I like fishing, I like worms, so I kinda combine the two together, but I was only in that business for less than six months total and made some really, really nice...
0:13:41.7 S2: Nice. Revenues in those months.
0:13:43.8 S1: Okay, so you kind of identify what your target is and then research it and go from there...
0:13:49.4 S2: Exactly, and you understand, once you understand what your product is, what your business idea it is, whether it be for a digital product or a service or whatever... Yeah. Also, you need to study your competition. You need to find out who your competition is, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how your strengths and weaknesses match up to that, look at what their brand NEE is, look at what their customers say, Go for the reviews online and find out what everyone else is saying that way, you know if there's an opportunity in the market. And sometimes you'll discover that, Okay, there really isn't an opportunity here, I'm gonna work really hard for not much return, maybe I need to look for a different thing that I am passionate about that has an opportunity, but the worst thing in the world is just to go into business because you like doing something without doing the due diligence, you gotta study your competition, you gotta do your cost analysis and all those kinds of things, how you go to market. How are you gonna acquire customers? There's so many different tentacles, as you know, going into business on your own, but the first thing is that passion that Justin zeal for whatever it is that you're doing.
0:14:51.3 S1: Okay, so you firmly believe that you've got to have the passion for a business.
0:14:56.4 S2: I've always coached that because that's my experience, but I also know a lot of people that look for opportunities, there's Amazon FBA, which stands for fulfilled by Amazon, most people that have products on Amazon, it's because there's an opportunity, they see, Okay, here's a void in the market, I'm gonna buy this blue widget, I'm gonna put my label on it, and I'm gonna sell my blue widget in this red ocean of other blue widgets, but I'm gonna differentiate myself by price or by color or by size, or they figure something out and has nothing to do with their passions, it has to do with that opportunity that presents itself, so I recommend trying to do both look for opportunities and also make sure that it's something that aligns with your lifestyle principles and your lifestyle goals, if you don't like to barbecue... I love the barbecue on the brand barbecue nation and wearing stores across the United States, and we sponsor a top fuel dragster from NHRA, I love barbecuing, but if I don't like barbecue, I would never have spices and misreading class and things like that. I'm just, again, I'm very fortunate, but I always recommend people find something that you love to do and figure out how to make money with it.
0:16:09.0 S1: So how... If your business is fair during pandemic with covid 19.
0:16:13.2 S2: Two phenomenal. They drove up... My publishing company, people were buying more books 'cause they had more time, so my book sales quadruple in 2020, the one business that really was affected the most was my catering company, we have a catering company, We can service up to 1200 people in 2020, we got voted that the Civic Northwest Caterer of the Year. So we do a good job. To me, I think part of that reason is because we deliver that six or service, food is good, I understand that we have great people that make great food, that's a given, but what differentiates us is that six star servers going above and beyond to satisfy the customer whatever that means, and every client has a different definition of what going above and beyond means, but we went from 600000 down to 20000 last year, I mean, there was no weddings, there was no corporate... Nothing here in Oregon, that's why I'm at... And there still were still partially closed down right now, and here we are almost the end of May 2021, and we still have limitations on inside seating and venues and things like that, but yeah, that going from 600000 down to 20000, and we won this big award, it's like, Well, for what? There's no business, very strange and half the businesses are gone, aviators are gone, which now that we're coming out of it, that bodes well for us from a marketing standpoint, we've made it so we're getting triple quadruple the calls, 'cause half the numbers are disconnected.
0:17:39.8 S2: That's by the way. That was affected the most.
0:17:41.9 S1: Are you having any trouble staffing is... 'cause I've heard a lot of people say that they can't find people to staff, I
0:17:48.4 S2: Heard McDonald's in Florida that's offering 50 just to show up for an interview, and if you get hired, it's a 500... Bone is spread out over a period of time, but just to show up and be interviewed, Here's 50 bucks. That's incredible. And yes, we have usually no problems getting banquet servers, chefs, cooks, line, people like that. Never a problem. Never a problem. In our big events, we have 35 employees, but I have an ad running right now, we have a couple of big events that somewhere... I'm looking for head shots, I pay pretty well. I start people at almost 20 bucks and now are starting, and after 30 days, you do well, you get a raise, so we treat our people very well, but I can't get people to respond to the ad, I haven't done a bonus yet, but... Yeah, it's unfortunate that right now, there's enough money out there, free money, that a lot of people, I believe, especially in hospitality, they're staying home, 'cause as soon they go to work, their unemployment gets cut, and I know there's some changes coming up over the next few months, hopefully that changes, but finding good labor, which is vital to your business, I've always said that good business people, good leaders hire people around them that are smarter than they are, and then you stay at their way and let them do their job, and I'm trying to find people that are smarter than me right now, they just don't wanna work, they wanna just stay home, or they don't wanna work just...
0:19:16.5 S2: It's really unfortunate what's happened, and it's only the last two years, that's a new dynamic that I think most businesses are challenged with. So have you overcome that? That's the question, the 64000 question. How do we overcome that?
0:19:28.4 S1: Certainly wanted an issue when I was rolling up... Well, we got 2 and 15 cents an hour. Remember?
0:19:34.6 S2: Yeah, and we were happy to get 2 15 cents an hour. That was my first job. I was a dishwasher, 215 cents. My first paycheck, I remember I walked down to Kmart and bought a fish tank with plants and rocks and everything, and I carried it home, I remember this... I was about four blocks. Came Army very first is like 23... My first paycheck, I have this stub in the box, but I went and bought a fish tank and I felt like, Hey, I've arrived, I got 23 on my paycheck
0:20:04.2 S1: When I first started working, and other friends have told me the same thing about their children, you have the stack of checks that you've got all this money, but you don't do anything with it, and then once you leave that, once you leave the house, it goes away quick.
0:20:18.9 S2: Well, and there's actually, there's value and letting things build up like that, I remember the member, Kaddish, Chevy Chase, he had a girl in his apartment and she's saying, Here's a check for 1000, Here's one for 50000 goes, Oh yeah, I gotta deposit that. There's some value in that because it teaches you to save and in the opener Al space, you really need to make sure that you spend money on vitals, things that customers come in contact with, you can use 5000, I think is a good marker. Anybody can afford to lose 5000, I believe, if they're gonna start a business, but make sure that the money you spend, it only on things that the customer or the prospect comes in contact with, getting a new mouse pad doesn't come into that realm. Updating your office chair does not come into that realm, but websites, marketing, collateral, your business card, those kinds of things, things that that customer has direct experience, co-called CX, the customer experience, those are the things that you need to be spending your limited resources on, and I think a lot of people make the mistake of doing things that it's the sizzle with the stake instead of the state starting out, man, you got a bootstrap, you only spend money on things that you absolutely have to...
0:21:35.2 S2: Until you get to a point that you can start making some decisions, okay, we got some profit now, now incrementally, let's start spending more so that we can scale that business and make this a lifestyle... Make this a job that I can make a living out of. Okay.
0:21:50.2 S1: Let's say that I hate my job, but I need the steady income. Can I start a business on the side? I
0:21:55.6 S2: Love that question, absolutely. I think most businesses start as a side hustle, it starts as just an idea or a conversation in the garage, or kitchen table, the most... The biggest companies in the world, the biggest companies the world ever seen starting in a garage or around the kitchen table, just think about the big ones. So it starts with an idea, it starts with no pads, and I have scratch paper all over the place with notes, some of my best ideas that I've had were on the back of a napkin, and that's a true statement. Talking to someone, Oh, I like this idea. What do you start doing about 10 years ago is carrying the little note pads around that fit your back pocket with a little pencil that goes down in the spine, and that way if I have an idea, I can write it down. 'cause what I'm finding, as I'm getting older, I'm 59 little things like that start slipping and I have to stay healthy, 'cause as we're talking before this interview started, I have a 16-year-old, a 14-year-old and a now seven-year-old, they've all turned the one more year.
0:22:53.6 S2: In the last several weeks, I'm 59, so you do the math, Greg, I'm gonna be 71 or 72. When my youngest graduates high school. So that really makes me want to take care of my body, take care of my businesses, make sure I have time to spend with my children, and going back to an early question... Early on in my career, I identified the fact that I wanted to have time freedom, I didn't wanna have to work for the man, and I worked for the man for quite a few years and make good money, I was making six figures when I was in my mid-20s, but decided that that wasn't the kind of life that I wanted, and so I've had to give up some stuff as I've built my career over the decades, if I would have been a corporate guy who knows where I'd be, but I wouldn't have the quality of life, I think that I have now, and that's what being an entrepreneur has allowed me to do is to have time freedom, financial freedom, location freedom, 90% of my income can be made without doing something, it's automated, it's online and different systems in place.
0:23:58.7 S2: But it's taken me a long time to get to that point.
0:24:02.0 S1: Are you withholding anything from your kids about your life, do they know your age...
0:24:06.7 S2: My age only story. Yeah, so when I had my first kid, I was like mid-40s, and when my daughter was probably three, I plan it, maybe four, I planted the seed that I was like nine and two or three or four years old. That's big, that's old, 'cause they don't have a concept of time yet. Well, my next birthday, I became 10, and then I was 11, and then I was 12, and she was now probably seven or eight, and one day we're driving down the road. She says, Dad, you know what's really weird? You're 12, and I have classmates that have bros and sisters that are 12. And you're a lot bigger than them. And that's just really, really weird. And I say, Honey, Daddy has something to tell you. But I don't want you to tell your brother, okay, I'm not 12. I'm 52. That's just the number. She can't fit them. Seven years old, you can't fit in that you understand, you're learning to count by tens and fives and everything, but 52, so about five minutes of silence, and then she says, Dad... Does mom know you're not
0:25:09.2 S1: 12? So that's all fine.
0:25:13.1 S2: And I said, Oh, maybe, I don't know. Once you ask her, and so that whole thing worked out, my son, two years behind her, I did the same thing with him. Now, I have a seven-year-old who thinks I'm 12, now I just turned 13, so she thinks I'm 13, and it is one of the biggest joys that I've had, I highly recommend to any parent out there, if you have young ones, if you haven't spilled the Venetian on how old you really are, plant the seed that you're 10 or 12. My wife regrets that she was the one that to the idea, 'cause she's 42, she's always been her real age. And she just shakes her head. So it keeps me... It's one of those little moments that I can share with my kids and I have, and then when the moment comes when I get to tell them the truth of it, it's that bonding moment, but that everything else they know about me except my true age... Thanks for bringing that up. I like that.
0:26:12.3 S1: I don't have anything comparable to that, although I do tell my wife a good bit what the dog thinks...
0:26:19.0 S2: I like it. Yeah, I highly recommend that. It really is a true joy and I bring... It's a giggle effect, if nothing else, my friends think is hilarious, and I have a few friends, and actually there's people around the world, and I've heard this for a couple of... A couple of two or three years now that have done the same thing, and they have similar stories to share about the moment that it became a realization that my dad's not 12, my mom's not in magical moments, and that's kind of what I look for every day is where's my magical moment is gonna come from today, and then grasp on to those magic moments, don't let him pass to... Switching gears again, I'm sorry. Oh, I like switching gears now, otherwise I'll get bored too easy, and so when you regret.
0:27:01.1 S1: How do you know when to sell a business or an... I like that. Refer to on short tank, tank it out behind the bar and
0:27:06.6 S2: I shoot it. Yeah, Mr. Wonderful, another good question. Well, number one, the businesses that I've sold, and I think I was counting earlier this year, I've sold 16 businesses over the course of my career. Two things, Number one, I'm done with it. I said, okay, I put into myself that I can build this or do this thing, and it's time for me to go do something new or something different, that's the number one indicator for me personally, but the second part of the equation is the timing of when you're gonna sell. I had a business a few years ago, limine business, we had just became the largest wine tour limousine company in the state of Oregon, we're doing 8000 people a year. Wine tours became the biggest in less than two years, we just... I had a couple of techniques that I didn't share with anybody else. And we just ramped up like you wouldn't believe... Well, I knew it wasn't possible for me to continue to scale like that, it was the highest value limit business is a brutal business. Things break down, showers don't show up, guess puke in the back of your life, all kinds of stuff that...
0:28:15.1 S2: Okay, I've been there, done that, and someone came along that wanted to get into it for the first time, and so I basically handed him on a golden platter, this beautiful business that was very profitable. Had a lot of moving pieces, but it was time for me to move on, so a combination of me being done with it and then to the opportunity to maximize your revenues, and that's always a plus if you can combine both those together. Okay, have you ever had a business that just failed or... Oh sure.
0:28:43.9 S1: Oh gosh.
0:28:44.5 S2: Yeah, yeah. Lots of them, I was not... Lots of them, a handful of things that I thought was a great idea at the time. Put some resources into it, and it just didn't work out, but again, that's part of that stepping stone to know what to do differently the next time, you can't be a success every single time. I always believe that you study other people that have done the same thing, you're not going through this for the first time, you're not the only person in the world it's ever experienced... Oh my gosh, I had no sales, I got this great product. The great idea, nobody else believes in me, except me, you're not the first one to learn from other people around you around the world doesn't have to be something that you know that have experienced failure before, and then learn from there, copy them, don't do the mistakes they made, Don't do the mistake she made, look for new ways to make mistakes, because as you make these mistakes, you build the foundation of your house to the point that, Okay, now I have something of value that the world will want, but sometimes it just doesn't work out I had a company called hot tubs to go.
0:29:49.4 S2: My phone number was tubs at the end, and I had this idea to franchise it, so I hired a guy, an attorney, he was the father of a girlfriend I had dated, and at the time I had one... It was a single apse flat bed. We built a deck, put a pool in there, it was propane, so it heated very quickly, we installed an eight-track tape player... Remember the eight-track tapes before us that before CD, before everything, A track tape had rails and carpeting and it was beautiful, people would run it for the weekend, we take it to their house and use their water to fill up, put some chemicals in, fire... The propane, an hour later, they were ready to have a party, and so they ran it in for the whole weekend, and on Monday we'd go and pick it up. It really was successful. It was one of my college gigs and really successful, so I went and hired a guy said, I think this should be franchised across the country, he got pain in 4000 or 50000 to start. And we got the paperwork started. Then he died, Chand, he had just gotten a whole bunch of information, and back then everything was paper back before the days of big computers, and anyway, the idea died along with him because I could not recreate some of the stuff he had...
0:31:02.3 S2: Plus I was out of money. I mean, that was all the money, and I had at the time, I still think today would be kind of a nice franchise model, a portable hot tub rental, 'cause who doesn't wanna hotta a party, right? But at the time, I gave everything I had and I said, Okay, that's done. And so that's probably been my biggest failure, even though I don't think the idea was a failure, the mechanics and the execution on my part was wrong, never gives some guy 40000 once. If that's all you've got, that was that before the days of measured risk, like we were talking before.
0:31:34.6 S1: Unless his name is Greg Mills.
0:31:38.7 S2: Tell me about your biggest failure, well, just what's the biggest failure that you've had in your adult life... We'll switch the tables for a minute here... Unfair trick question. Well, you have to answer that, but did you learn lessons from that so that you didn't make the same mistakes the second time?
0:31:54.3 S1: Yeah, definitely, I've definitely learned lessons. Well.
0:31:57.5 S2: And I really do believe, Greg, failures are just badges of honors, and the scars that you have in your journey, montanus is a journey, it's not a destination, it is more about the each mile that you go by each day that goes by, and I enjoy the journey, it's a steep climb sometimes, sometimes it's just you wanna just get up and just scream and yell, but the nice thing is, if I get it today and don't wanna go to work, I don't have to... I have people around me that I can keep things going. If I have a job and I get up and I don't wanna go to work. Guess what? I gotta go to work or I get fired, I don't have a job. So that freedom right there is one of the main reasons I think that, especially after the pandemic or done pandemic, so many people have decided to take that side hustle and turn into a business. Is because they want that freedom. Right now, some days I have my pajamas on and my flip-flops on or my slippers on today, I'm actually dressed... It's a cold, rainy day, and I have some outdoor projects I'm doing later, but
0:33:02.2 S1: I appreciate you being dressed me...
0:33:04.4 S2: There's days I have a JAMA bottoms on and I would stand up and show them to me if I had him on, that I can do because I am an opener, so you can't do that if you're working from home and you gotta go to the office.
0:33:17.6 S1: Okay, I've got one for you. Give, I had read about one of your old college student that had basically taken his litter account and he was reading jobs, in other words, people would send him a picture of their dog and he'd write a cute caption and give it like 10 out of 11 or 12 out of 10 or something, he had managed to monetize it, so I thought, I can do this... Yeah, but I went and created a site called Pet Capture
0:33:42.7 S2: Option or... Okay, I like it, I like it. And
0:33:45.0 S1: Basically, it was an online meme site for people to upload their pets, and I'm very big in the Philippines, by the way. Okay, I don't know that I've got anybody from North America that's visited. I love that, but it comes back to you wanting to learn from that... Well, basically that I didn't truly understand. And I love dog, I just didn't understand what he was doing. I still don't understand, but my head's off to...
0:34:10.9 S2: But there's lessons in there, there's lessons in the ashes, right. The phoenix rises from the API failure. Gives you those lessons.
0:34:17.8 S1: Let's talk about your book, Customer Services did delivering itarsi and the Torah I like to cover.
0:34:25.3 S2: Yeah, it's kind of fun. It makes a point. It gets in people's face. The customer service is bad. So do you remember back in the ones, Greg, when we were younger, they didn't call them gas stations, they call them service stations. Do you remember those days?
0:34:38.0 S1: Yeah, very vaguely. They're
0:34:39.6 S2: Bagley a little bit older than you, but... Yeah. You pull into a gas station, a service station, they would just give you gas, they would ask you how your day was, they would check your oil, they put air in your tires, they'd wash your windshield, they do all these things, they would service your account and... Oh yeah, you got gas while you were there. I remember when I was a kid in high school, there was a station down by my school, and I would always go there just because I enjoyed watching these guys work, and they were adults, they weren't 18, 19-year-old kids, they were adults that knew how to fix things, and they were good at customer service, and to this day, I am still loyal to that same brand at Chevron as... A very first credit card I had was a Chevron car back in the day. Well, today they're called gas stations, and if you get a hello or how are you... You're fortunate, you're lucky. And yeah, it is just about getting the gas, but I've noticed that the service level, the customer experience has kinda taken a back seat over the last several years, two reasons, one, the internet, everyone's rushing to the internet because that's where so much transactions are happening, that's where the growth is, but now with the pandemic, even if you weren't online, you were forced to pivot and figure out how to take your business online, otherwise you are gonna go away, and so these double forces in dumping themselves into the cauldron, and what happened is now the customer has been left behind.
0:36:04.8 S2: And so this book kinda goes out to set this new standard that I wanna create, and I want this to be a movement across the country, I think as consumers, we should hold the businesses that we do business with to a higher standard. It's not just about meeting my needs and get my needs met anywhere, I want to have you exceed my needs, therefore I want to exceed my customers expectations, if you can do that and you can fix the problems quickly and efficiently, if you can treat your customers like gold, if you can give them an experience that's unparalleled with any other competitors, if you can do all those things and you make promises to our customers based on where like in this book, there's six stars, there are six chapters that talk about the things I just mentioned, if you can do those things before a word is ever exchanged with you and a prospect, they're gonna know, Wow, this is a six star company, they're gonna take better care of me, you just have this feeling that you're gonna be taking better care of... If somebody says, I believe in the sixth are of philosophy that I need to go above and beyond to take care of your needs.
0:37:06.6 S2: That becomes your differentiator, that becomes your blue ocean, that becomes a way that you separate yourself from your competitors because you are taking a tackle care of the people that choose to do business with you. Did you realize that 84% of everyone that does business with the business today, 84% of the people will not come back a second time. Wow. And this is all... Industry is combined. Baseball, when I was in baseball, 82% of everyone that goes to a game, Major League Baseball, 82% will not return for another game within five years, that's just when I learn that stat. That blew me away. So my question is, and was and will always be, if we just get that 82% to 80%, that extra 2%, there's your growth. If we take better care of our customers and give them compelling reasons to do business with you a second time, a third time, Give in that compelling reason, they're not gonna wanna go anywhere else and they wanna continue to stay with you, you're not looking to double... If you do, that's great, but if you just have incremental growth, that becomes your lifestyle down the road, and that does give you that entrepreneurial time, freedom, location, freedom, money, freedom, all those different things, but it just shows you that there's so many people...
0:38:20.6 S2: We give a check to somebody, and that's the last time we will see them in a number of years, and that just blows me away, and I've had the same insurance company for many years, my gas station, there was a guy a few months ago that was very... Rude to all the customers. Within about a two-week period, and I just said, You know what? No, five minutes a week. I wanna smile, I wanna talk to the guy and laugh and everything. I went elsewhere to this day, I don't go back to that station because of that one employee, that customer experience, I didn't do it for me and I took my Business housework.
0:38:51.6 S1: That brings up an interesting question, who do you consider the target audience, is it the CEO, middle management... You mean for this to work? Or Yes, sir, everybody.
0:39:01.1 S2: Because I believe customer service and customer experience has to take place in the top-down, I mean, the culture is started by this guy or this gal, but most importantly, the people at the bottom are the ones that are holding the brands of the multi-billion dollar companies, whether it be Coca-Cola, Amazon or whatever. The driver holds the Amazon brand in their hands, the way they make that delivery and smile and say, Good afternoon sir, how are you? Got a package for you. The way they do that is branding, the little details is branding, the speed that you drive the company vehicle down the road is branding if there's an Amazon driver and they're going fast and passing cars illegally, guess what, that affects their brand within the consumer. That is part of that experience. So I believe it is from the top down and the bottom up, so the training has to take place in the top, obviously, but the people at the bottom... I always tell people, if you're not happy with your employees and they're not doing a good job taking care of your customers, fire 'em, move into a different department.
0:40:02.8 S2: Get rid of all together, hire people that have personalities, that put customers first, you can train a skill, you can trade someone, answer a phone, you can train somebody to manufacture a blue widget in the back, you can train someone to be a good driver, you can't teach nice. And so whatever industry you're in, hiring people that have those personalities that are customer-centric and that is their focus, then magic will start to happen once you do that, and you'll notice that your business starts growing by leaps and downs because of that.
0:40:33.3 S1: You're starting to see more and more people from various companies appearing on tiktok, I don't know why they didn't do the same thing on YouTube, but it seems be more of a big talk phenomenon where they're exposing company secrets or practices, whatever, have you... If the company I work for or the company that I own does not have a customer-centric focus, customer-focused culture... How do you implement that? Is it too late?
0:40:55.7 S2: That's a good question. You've got some good questions today, Greg. Well, first of all, you gotta take it upon yourself to make sure that you are equipping your body, in your mind and your skill sets as much as you can, but it would go directly to the boss and say, You know what, I think we can do a better job, I think we can do this, this, this, and this, and we can make sure that the customer experience is a plus the whole way through. Right now, we're dropping the ball, go ahead and go to the boss and take the initiative, take action and say, I would like to get more training from you, or I want you to pay for an online course that I and the rest of your employees can take because I feel your business will grow if we take better care of our current customers, What boss is not gonna wanna take advantage of that, right? So take the yourself to be educated and to get the tools, but also be willing to go to your boss or the owner and say, That's together, let's figure this out and figure out a way to take better care of the people that come and give us money 'cause if they can come back one more time, if you get every one of your customers to come back one more time, you just double your business...
0:42:01.1 S2: Hallelujah. That doesn't seem that difficult. On paper, it's difficult execution, Al, but on paper, if you could just take incremental better care of your people, you're gonna have growth like this, and that's a good problem to have.
0:42:15.5 S1: So if I'm the CEO, I can implement a customer service... Or what other things should I target?
0:42:21.5 S2: Well, I mentioned course as one of the tools, but getting customer feedback, I think is something that is sorely missed in small business, especially because we don't wanna hear bad things, we don't wanna risk failure, we don't wanna have somebody say... Yeah, I just felt that the person on the phone was bad and the product broke and I just didn't care to call you and let you know, we don't wanna hear the bad stuff, but sometimes we need to hear that so that we can read tool. You're talking about these systems earlier, so we can break down these systems, maybe it's... Everything is great, great product, great price, but it took three weeks to get here, well, your shipping system is broke, so now you know that you gotta grease the wheels a little bit, break down all the systems having to do with shipping and expeditiously getting products to people. But you won't know that unless you are hearing directly from customers and looking at that social proof, looking at reviews, 90% of people do not leave reviews online, and so the world goes around on a five star... Right, right. Five Star rated, you're on five-star resort, everything is five star, and what I'm proposing is that sixth or mentality.
0:43:24.6 S2: But yeah, that's what I would recommend.
0:43:26.3 S1: The six star being the exceptional and five store being just... Everything was okay
0:43:32.0 S2: When we expect five star, right. If we're having dinner on her Friday night, it's fright family date night, and we call our favorite Chinese restaurant and they bring us food to get there... It tastes good and everything. It's five stars, right? Everything was as expected. Not more than expected. Just as it... Well, what if they're 10 minutes late? Now it's four star, were there 10 minutes late. And the person on the phone was a little bit rude. When you call them, now it's a three-star, what if the person to as rude, they're 10 minutes late and the food is cold. Well, now it's too star and so on and so forth. But five stars becomes the expectation, you did a good job for me. You filled my water without having to be reminded at the restaurant, and the food was good, and you came and everything was great, five stars. I'm saying we need to expect more from people, and if we all start doing it as consumers, expecting more from the people we do business with, from our insurance agent to the pizza shop, to the gas station, to the tire shop, we start expecting more...
0:44:33.8 S2: Guess what? They have no choice but to raise the bar. Raise their gain, and eventually it's gonna become this title wave of people out there that expect more from the people they do business with, and I really do hope that in five years of... You and I talk again. Now we're gonna be talking about the six star Association, which is a company that I am launching as we speak, where you as a business owner can become Six Star certified, you go through qualification, you go through some course training with the employees, and then you can get things like counter crystals and wall decals and certification certificates for your wall, what better thing from like a Chamber of Commerce to say Here is the Sixth Star Award that we're giving and... Or annual banquet, and it goes to ABC Plumbing, and here's why... Well, what's... Everyone else gonna say, Well, I want that, I wanna do it. So in the next few months, you're gonna see a six-hour certification process actually take wings, and we're gonna do a big push out there, it's not ready yet, right now, it's just we're getting all the moving pieces in order.
0:45:43.0 S2: And there's a lot of moving pieces on this one, but I'm excited about that, and that's kind of in conjunction with the customer services dead book.
0:45:51.4 S1: Okay, that sounds like... That could be huge.
0:45:54.2 S2: Yeah, at the business owner, Would you like to delete your customers know that you're six-star certified or... Definitely, of
0:45:59.2 S1: Course. Anything for... An advantage over the competition.
0:46:02.8 S2: You go into a Marriott, right? I can see it now, the nice, beautiful crises says Six Star certified Marriott downtown Portland. And I can see it, I can envision it. That's my new idea, that's my effort for the next couple of years is gonna be focusing on that, putting the right people in place, and again, hiring people that are smarter than you, and then let it do their job... Stayed out of their way.
0:46:24.9 S1: What role the social media marketing play in shaping customer perception and creating customer loyalty and engagement... Yeah.
0:46:31.8 S2: Anymore, it's huge. And I have a couple of things about social media, I believe that we have fallen pray, when I say we, all of us, from my mom who's almost 80 down to my six-year-old, seven-year-old, excuse me for that, we fall and pray to the siren the internet siren, where we feel we have to go and look at everybody else's timelines, Facebook or LinkedIn or tiktok video, whatever it is. And we go down this rabbit hole, because our brain releases dopamine, if we make a post and we start getting thumbs up and likes and smiley faces and hearts and all those different things that are on there, our brain releases a little drop of dopamine and double mean is that thing that becomes addictive, you gotta have that feeling of, Oh, I'm appreciated, I'm loved, I'm like, I wanna see if my Aunt Betty has liked the post I made about her family last weekend, I wanna go and look at it, and so you leave your notifications on, so at 2 o'clock in the morning, somebody gives you a thumbs up, your phone goes... So you get up and go, right? So as an entrepreneur, here's two recommendations, number one, you don't have to be on every platform to actually start it out, pick one and do it exceptionally, exceptionally well, you're better off doing that than doing six mediocre, so find one that you can excel out and do that and number two, you don't have to do it yourself.
0:48:01.0 S2: There's people... There's virtual assistants around the world. I have virtual assistants in six countries, they will do this for you, you tell them, Here's the guide rails, here's what I want, here's the content, or here's my idea is, and then you let them do things, they're softwares that will schedule your posts for the next... On ten weeks and months, you don't need to do it yourself, and if you are doing an hour day, let's say of social media, if you remove yourself from that process, you've now freed up an hour a day to do something else, reinvest it back in your business. Re-invest it into training your employees, re-invest it into hanging out your kids, go... Stereo tree in your backyard, right? You now have this time freedom because you freed up an hour, and it doesn't sound like a lot of time, we... It's huge, but an hour is a lot. And if you can do a little bit better now you're two hours, now you're at four hours, so it just depends on how addicted people are to social media, pick a platform and be the best at it, and then find someone that can do this for you, if there's people out there around the world that can do this cheap, five bucks an hour around the world, and they are incredible, incredible talents at what they do.
0:49:08.3 S2: There's people like that in the United States and around the world, you can go to Upwork dot com, you can go to Fiverr dot com. And those companies over the last several years have really refined the edge of their sword, at the beginning was a little bit rocky, but now some of the best technicians and artists and videographers and everything are on those platforms available for you as a start-up business. You know what I say? You mean the viewers, they're available for us to help make our jobs easier so that we don't have to do all the tedious stuff that we don't like to do.
0:49:42.7 S1: You may have to do the TV stuff when you're first starting out, but you can systematize it.
0:49:47.1 S2: You gotta do it because you wanna be able to teach somebody else how to do it, obviously, but I'll tell you right now, the job of an entrepreneur is not to do the 15 to 20 an hour work, it's just not... If you spend all your time doing that stuff and you're five years into this, you need to make a change, you need to be able to delegate that, We're automated or eliminate it. You should not be doing the 15 to 20 hour work, you should be doing the 500-hour visionary stuff. How am I gonna scale my business, how am I gonna make sure I give my employees the tools to be successful so they can take care of those customers, so I can scale my business, that's where your thought processes need to be not... Okay, I'm gonna answer the phones today, I'm gonna process these orders, I'm gonna make these blue witches today, that's not where your time should be spent. It's called Paredes principle, I'm sure you've heard of it, the 80-20 rule. 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. Conversely, 20% of your efforts brings you the 80% of the results, so knowing that ahead of time, it makes sense to figure out how to take the 80% of your things that you do, the time that you spend, that only brings you a little bit of results and getting rid of that, figuring out how to train someone else to do it, delegate it and automate in the system, and you're talking about the systems really automate that system? Or maybe just saying, Okay, I'm not gonna do that today.
0:51:06.6 S2: Procrastinating, automation, procrastination, delegation and elimination, those are four things that you can do with anything that presents itself in front of you, but as an owner, you should be spending your time doing 500 an hour think tank stuff.
0:51:21.3 S1: That sounds like it's something from Business Basics boot camp, is that correct?
0:51:25.9 S2: That is... Yeah, speaking a way. Yeah, and that's a book, this came out last year, and it really is a combination of 35 years of mistakes and failing and successes, and I call it the 17 tentacles of success, you got lifestyle design, Accord the book, little it more than core of the book is on lifestyle design, 'cause I really believe you gotta do that first, and then there's branding, sales marketing, pricing, social media, all the other tentacles that go into business success, but it starts with that lifestyle design and... What is your life gonna look like? And how much time do you need to develop your personal habits and vacations, and where you gonna live and the cars you're driving, all those things, all the choices that we make as people, and then you work on your business blueprint, if you do that first, you're not gonna get into the trap, the nine to five trap, you work in 80 hours a week, and before you know it, your kids are in college and you go... I'm 72 years old, what did I do with my life? Don't make that mistake down now, figure it out today, and your business and your life will be happier for it, I guarantee you, and
0:52:33.0 S1: I wish that book had been available when I was in my onesie... Should've wrote it sooner.
0:52:39.2 S2: I couldn't have run it sooner, I mean, I couldn't do it, just... I've written nine books now, but books come together, and I think most authors will tell you the same thing, they come together at the right time, when I get this compelling thought that... Okay, I have ideas that I need to share with people, 'cause I think it's gonna help them with their life and their business. That I know it's time for me to sit down and every day carve out time, 'cause it's a process, it's not easy running a book, this is... That's a 300-page book. It took me 35 years to write... It's not an easy process. It hurts me. It is a painstaking process, it's like giving birth to a child, I don't know what that experience is like, but that's the only thing I can liken it to as a man, is giving birth, but it came at a good time because... Right when covid hit is when this book came out, and so this has been able to help tens of thousands of people that are looking to get some basic foundational fundamental ideas. Okay, I wanna start a business, I don't know what to do, but I need to know how to be a business man first, and then you can learn on what you're gonna sell, it doesn't matter what you do, these principles will help you in any industry right now, my customer services dad just came out in the last four to five weeks.
0:53:52.0 S2: So right now, I'm doing 10 interviews a week, just helping promote on your show, and then I have a number of bigger projects that I have with other companies that I'm spending my focus on in the next few months, plus my kids are almost out of school, so this summer, we're gonna play hooky a little bit and play and travel in the motor home and do some of that now with my radio show, business edge, mean business edge radio. The nice thing about that, as you know, I can... Batchelor, I have a thing called the business age minute, and it's on almost 40 radio stations across the country, and all it is is 60 seconds of, Here's three reasons why it's important that you stay hydrated at work, here's four ways that you can attract a new customer here's five different reasons why it's important that your business card be professional and impeccable, just little tidbits... I mean, 60 seconds. What can you get in 60 seconds? I'll tell you what, you get 195 words, that's how long my scripts are. And it's wonderful. We're gaining traction, like I said, 4-40 markets across the country.
0:54:52.9 S2: I think we have five just in the state of Tennessee, which is kind of cool in your neck of the woods, and because I think it's an appropriate time, this is the perfect timing for something like this because so many people are thinking about, how can I make more money on the side or as a full-time living, and so this is just little tidbits, but if you can't hear it on your radio station, just go to your podcast provider, iTunes, Google doesn't matter. And just search business edge radio and you can download the app. Actually, we have an app, you can download it right to your phone and
0:55:23.2 S1: Your own YouTube as well.
0:55:24.8 S2: Well, yeah, we don't make any effort on that, that is part of our provider Lipson, it automatically happens. We don't put any effort on YouTube at all, okay. Again, we stick to our Dawe, pick what we can do very well, and then we do that YouTube that we haven't given any effort actually at all. Okay, they are there. Yes, thank you for that.
0:55:44.8 S1: Now, let's get ready to wrap this up, what's the number one piece of advice that you can give for our listeners...
0:55:49.2 S2: Well, you've asked some really good questions, and I think there's been some nice nuggets here, but my biggest thing right now is just enjoying this moment... Live in our lives today, and I don't care what you do, I don't care if you work for somebody. You work for yourself. I don't care who you are and what you do. Enjoying this moment right now. I think it is all we got... My step-mom, dad were divorced when I was young. I told you that she re-married a beautiful man, his name was Pat, and they didn't make a lot of money together. Do they love each other? And I think he loved her more than anyone I've ever known in my life, and they would put them a little bit of money away, 'cause I wanted to buy a boat, not a big fancy, but just a boat to sail on Hayden lake in North Idaho. Well, the day they bought this boat, we put it in the river or in the lake, we're getting ready to go out, and again, we didn't have a lot, we were raised very humbly, but we bought him a captain's hat, and he's up there, my brother and my sister, my mom, pat myself.
0:56:46.9 S2: We're out there. It's a beautiful afternoon. I think it was in July or August, he looks around and he says, Babe, I wanna hit the purple doing today. My mom kinda gets his clinical look on her face, she said, Honey, we are the poor folk, and all he says, and it's a line that I remember today, and it really forms a lot of who I am, he says, Babe, not today, and just that little half a second of him saying that today, he felt like... And we felt like the richest people in the world, and it had nothing to do with how many dollars were in our bank account and where we went on vacation, what kind of car we drove, it had to do with being in the moment, loving the people that are in your life not letting those moments go by, and that's part of my foundation of who I am today, and unfortunately, just a handful years after that, he was leaving work, had his keys in his hand and he told a joke as he was known to do on occasion, turned around, went to grab the door in his office, and before he hit the floor, he was dead, but there was no regrets because he lived life each day to the maximum, and he taught us to do the same, so that's my last piece of advice to enjoy right this moment, it
0:57:55.0 S1: Sounds like he was a great mentor to have.
0:57:57.5 S2: He was a...
0:57:59.6 S1: What's the best way for people to check you out and get in touch with you?
0:58:02.8 S2: Well, all my books are viable on Amazon, if you wanna get this book for free, I'll send you the book for free, I just ask you pay a little bit of a shipping and handling fee, just go to the number six. Star S-T-A-R-dot org, give us your information and I'll send you the book for free, not even sign it if you want... Of course, as soon as they sign it, it's worth half price, you go to Amazon and find all the books there, you can buy in there, or you can go to my educational website, which is power Marketing 101 dot com. So P is in Paul power, Marketing 101 dot com, and it talks about my speaking, the radio show, it's got all the information there about who I am and what I do.
0:58:46.7 S1: Awesome, well, that's a wrap. Thank you, mentoring all entrepreneurs over 40, a
0:58:51.4 S2: Great time, an honor to spend time with you and your listeners and... Good luck to you.
0:58:54.6 S1: Alright, thank you.