Welcome to the Eventual Millionaire Podcast. I’m Jaime Tardy and today we have Scott Weintraub on the show. Scott started Healthcare Regional Marketing Experts, a company that’s Number 160 on the Inc. 500 listing. Recently they’ve also been listed as a best place to work in Cincinnati. I am really excited to talk to him today so thank you so much for coming on the show today, Scott.
SCOTT WEINTRAUB: You’re welcome. Thanks, Jaime.
JAIME TARDY: So let’s get started with how did you start this company? What background do you have and how did you become a business owner?
SW: Background is summer jobs in college which, in hindsight, turned out to be really good. One summer I sold vacuum cleaners door to door – Kirby Vacuum Cleaners.
JT: Oh my gosh, I worked there too! That’s so funny. That’s awesome.
SW: It was great because you got a whole bunch of no’s and you learned to swallow your pride and do whatever it took to get appointments with people. At the time, it was a terrible summer job but when I look back 20 years later I’m like hey that worked out pretty well. Then the next summer I worked for a swimming pool company and then the next summer me and one of the guys at the swimming pool company said, “Hey let’s start our own swimming pool company.” So we started our own company where we did repairs on pools.
So instead of making $4 an hour times an 8-hour day, $30 a day, we were bringing in $200 a day by, you know, we did a whole bunch of advertising and got people to hire us. So it was kind of a touch of hey this is a pretty good deal but after I graduated Penn State I took a job at Proctor & Gamble, very corporate job. Proctor & Gamble at the time was I guess $25 or $30 billion. I got a really solid background in marketing. I was an assistant brand manager on Cover Girl cosmetics, Safeguard soap, Coast soap, antiperspirant, all that kind of stuff. I was there actually for 14 years and then I left Proctor & Gamble and I went to Pfizer.
The reason I did that is mostly because I grew up in New Jersey and my wife and I we had a couple of kids and we were both from New Jersey. Let’s leave Proctor & Gamble in Cincinnati and move back to New Jersey. So I worked at Pfizer. At the time, they had a facility in Bridgewater, New Jersey and then I started marketing pharmaceutical drugs so that all worked out great. Then Pfizer had a layoff, I’m the first of two actually. At the time, it was Pharmacia that I worked at. Pfizer bought Pharmacia. I got laid off. So then I’m like okay, what am I going to do? so I spent all my day thinking about okay I’m going to go find a job. Pharmacia, at the time, had outplacement service.
So I went to this outplacement service. It was called Wright Management Outplacement and I had nothing to do so I was there 8 hours a day and they would teach classes, you know, how to dress for interviews, how to write your resume, which I thought I was pretty good at dressing and writing resumes but I went to every single class because I’m like this is serious stuff. If I don’t get a job soon I’m going to lose my house, I can’t feed my kids, the whole bit. They had a class on starting your own business so I went to that class and kind of long story short; I decide while I’m looking for a job I’m going to buy a franchise.
So I looked at a whole bunch of different franchises and finally decided hey I’m going to buy a hair salon franchise – Fantastic Sam’s. It’s one of these $20 haircut places, high volume. So I bought that and a couple months after, probably even less, maybe a month after I bought that went to work back at Pfizer, this time in the Rx division verses the OTC division which was Pharmacia. So that all worked out and then I guess maybe 6 years after that Pfizer had another layoff and this time I’m like okay I’m not even considering looking for a job, I’ve been through this a couple times now and that’s when myself and one of my friends who I worked with at Proctor & Gamble, then again at Pfizer, Jeff Spanbauer, we decided hey let’s start Healthcare Regional Marketing.
That’s what we did at Pfizer. We did regional marketing. We think it’s a solid idea so we decided to start that and we did 5 years ago, March 2007.
JT: Wow. So let’s go back for a second because that’s a crazy story. First, I love that you created a pool company and I would love to know how, knowing what you knew about being a pool company owner and making more money, what made you decide to just jump into the corporate world anyway?
SW: Well, at the time, I was 85, you know Proctor & Gamble was paying me $28,000 a year and even though I had the swimming pool company I was making $100 a day, that was still had I worked every single day it would have been $25,000 a year and in New Jersey there’s not a lot of pool work happening in the winter. So I kind of had that bug in me, hey maybe I should start something but I worked at Proctor & Gamble and to be honest I did pretty well. I got big promotions and raises on what seemed like fast timing. It was just like okay am I ever going to really leave? Things are going really well. The pool thing was pretty small in hindsight. It was great for a college student but not probably a long-term career at the time.
JT: So the money also helps, definitely. So then when did you actually create that hair salon because I know you said you got laid off and then of course you went back to work again. What year was that?
SW: It was 8 years ago so maybe 2003. It has actually done really well. There’s 1,500 Fantastic Sam’s. It’s a chain in the country and after 2 years and the reason I picked that, I looked at a whole bunch, I said, “Let me pick one where the main skill set between success and failure is marketing.” So I thought hey I could do a really good job of advertising to customers, getting them to walk into my store and I’m like a retail store where people walk in and they shop around. When somebody walks in the door of the hair salon they’re in there to get a haircut. They’re not in there to shop around. So all I got to do is get them to walk in.
Within 2 years out of the 1,500 we were the top 2 percent of the country. Within 3 years we were the top 1 percent. So it went really great and to be honest, it gave me a ton of confidence that 5 or 6 years later when Pfizer had this layoff I’m like you know I could do something that’s pretty sustainable. I can be really success at it. So it gave me I think in hindsight a lot of confidence to start something again.
JT: I love this. So I want to deeper go into this just a little bit. So you have the hair salon. Number one, normally I work with a lot of people and they’re trying to decide between franchises and starting their own. What really made you decide to go with a franchise that first time?
SW: I met with this business broker who was fantastic in my mind. His name was Steve Rosen but he did like a 4-hour interview of me and it was interesting how he summarized me so quickly into hey here is what you’re good at, here’s what you’re not good at. I would not consider myself great at operations, running the place day to day so he was like you would be good with a franchise because they have systems in place on how to run it day to day. I’m like you’re right. I could figure it out, I have over 100 IQ, so I’m above average intelligence.
I could figure it out but that would be a good thing for me to buy and what I’m much better at than other people is, like I said, just getting people to walk in the door. So I got to focus on what I was good at and I bought what I was not as good at which was how do you pay these people, how do you run it, is there software to run the register, all that kind of stuff. So, for me, it worked out to be a really good idea.
JT: So you really figured out what your core strength was and bought the rest, which is a great, great idea. So tell me, considering marketing is your best asset and you grew that so much, what did you do? What made you in the top 1 percent within a couple of years?
SW: You know, I’d say one thing I am good at in marketing is focus. It was really clear hey this is what we are trying to do and I remember all the other, I don’t know there was 7 or 8 franchises in New Jersey and we’d get together once a month to talk about what’s working, what’s not working and people would say stuff, “Oh you know, maybe we’re going to expand into eyebrow waxing and all these other things.” I’m like, you know, you guys just need to focus on getting people to come in the door. All you need to do is get more customers, get more customers to come back. That’s all you need to do.
So I really focused on that. I believe in advertising so I did a ton of advertising where other people they would change their ad every week. I ran the same thing because when I worked on Cover Girl we ran the same ad again and again so people knew. What are we doing for Cover Girl, Safeguard same thing. What does Safeguard do? So ran the same ad, did a whole bunch of local marketing, participated in parades, went to schools and did free hair coloring where we turned the principal’s hair green and things like that. Sponsored the soccer leagues and baseball leagues, all that kind of stuff.
It quickly became like we’re by far the busiest in the town we’re in, a small town, so everybody knew about it. So it was really just focusing and spending a lot more time on just getting people to walk in the door than anybody else.
JT: So how do you test those? I talk to a lot of people about really trying to figure out what advertising works because I know a lot, especially small business owners, especially just starting, are sort of timid on buying ads. They want to try and do stuff that might be free or stuff like that. How do you test and make sure that you’re getting your ROI back from that stuff?
SW: For the hair salon, the way I did it was pretty simple. I’d run an ad and then I would divide the number of people who came in because all my ads for the hair salon had coupons. So I would say okay, 100 people came in with that coupon divided by it cost me $100 to do it therefore that was $1 a customer. I’d run a different ad in a different vehicle and it would cost me $200 to get 50 people so that would be $4 an ad.
So I did that type of pretty simple analysis and then quickly whittled down to what’s the best message, what’s the best vehicle and now like 8 years later, it is pretty much on auto pilot. I stick with the same vehicle and I don’t really change the message much because, you know, Nike is still just do it and working for years and years and years.
JT: Yeah, if it works, keep it. Don’t keep changing.
JT: That’s great. It’s funny I was just emailed this morning by a salon owner. Now did you, as far as the specific franchise that you have, this is just a question because I am asking for her. Did you have rentals? So did you find the people that were there and just have the chairs be rented or were they employees that were in the salon?
SW: So every state has different laws on that stuff. In the state of New Jersey, what you’re describing is illegal. So everybody who works in our hair salon is an employee so they are W2, they get healthcare benefits, all that kind of stuff.
JT: That’s really interesting. Good to know. So let’s move in, because I know you still have that now. So that’s been 8 years, right?
JT: How did you deal with a full time job and owning your own franchise at the same time?
SW: Well my wife at the time, my daughter was just starting first grade and she had taken off 10 years from work. She actually worked at Proctor & Gamble before my son was born. When my son was born we decided she was going to stay home full time with him and now my daughter is born, now my daughter is in first grade so she is thinking maybe it’s time for me to think about going back to work. Being out of work for 10 years, your options are just less than they were 10 years ago. So she really started running it. I was in charge of marketing, hiring and firing. She would be the chief operating officer.
She ran it day to day. Eventually she hired a manager who helped do that. So it was manageable for me and over time it became less and less but I focused on hiring, firing and marketing. The marketing was pretty easy for me because that’s what I do for a living and the hiring and firing it was really more of executing her plan. She would say, “Hey Scott, Jaime Tardy is no good you got to go in there and fire her. You’re going to be the heavy.”
JT: You’ll be the bad guy for her.
SW: Exactly! So I didn’t really have to make that decision, I just had to execute on her plan. So it wasn’t such a huge time strain.
JT: That’s great. It’s really good to hear how you made it work between the two of you. That’s great. So then let’s start with you got laid off again. So then what did you do?
SW: When I got laid off from Pfizer it was the best situation ever if you’re going to get laid off. They gave me I’m thinking four or five months notice that hey we’re thinking about eliminating the department and then finally they said, “Your last date is whatever it was, April 1.” So we knew that probably in December. So it gave me a lot of time to think okay what do I want to do. Like I said, one of my friends from Proctor & Gamble and Pfizer, he was in the same department so he got laid off also. They got rid of our whole department.
So we get on the phone, hey what are you going to do? I’m not sure, what are you going to do? A whole bunch of iterations and we’re finally hey let’s start a company together. Yeah, that would be great and our first idea was to sell body wash because when I worked at Proctor & Gamble I worked on a project for Coast soap to come out with a body wash. It was going to be $30 million in year one in sales. We did a ton of testing. My boss said, “$30 million, we don’t have time for small ideas like that. Go think of something bigger.”
JT: Don’t you love big companies that think $30 million is nothing?
SW: Exactly. Jeff, part of his job at Proctor & Gamble for awhile, he called on Wal-Mart and out of the $30 million, $8 million of those sales were to Wal-Mart. So we’re like if we can do that body wash and it was all totally outsource, if you can do something like that, and I can sell them to Wal-Mart, we can make $8 million and even a Proctor & Gamble thinks 30 is pretty small, we think 8 is pretty big, we can probably make that work. So we started thinking about it.
I was like, you know, actually making a body wash is a lot different than marketing and selling it. We’re going to have to do testing of how does the body wash react with the plastic in the bottle. This is way beyond our area of expertise. So we dropped that and said hey let’s do regional marketing consulting. Let’s call on pharma companies and say, “Hey hire us, regional marketing is a good idea. We’ve been doing it at Pfizer for the past half dozen years each and we can help you do that.” Now the question was how much of a market was there for this two-person consulting company.
So during those next four months, we worked at Pfizer during the day and at the time it became a 9-5 job because you’re getting laid off April 1.
JT: Nobody is working extra.
SW: Exactly. Some of your time during the day you’re thinking about it. Nights and weekends I’d show our value proposition, our selling presentation to some of my friends and neighbors who worked at pharmaceutical companies and they would give input, hey Scott you should change this, you should change this. Finally people started saying, “Hey this is really good, you should talk to Billy down the hallway, I think he’d be interested in this.” So then I was like hmm we’re on to something. Kept going through that and then finally when it came time to make sales calls, we had done enough research, kind of honed the idea that April 1 when we’re, the way it worked there is if you quit Pfizer before April 1, if you took a job before April 1 you would lose your severance package.
That was pretty important to us because we were going to start this company. Realistically we might not make a penny for the first year but if we can get whatever it was 8 or 9 months worth of severance, we both have savings, Pfizer is going to pay your healthcare for a year, we can take this risk because it becomes a much smaller risk. That’s how we did it and one part of doing the research which was pretty interesting is I called on my friends and they would start telling me hey you should call this guy, you should call this guy.
So now I’m calling people who I don’t know from Adam. So I called his one guy Seth, I forget who told me to call him, so I called Seth and I said, “Hey Seth, my name is Scott Weintraub, blah blah blah, Jaime Tardy asked me to give you a call. I’m starting a company and she thought you could give me some good coaching.” Seth’s assistant calls me back and says, “He got your voicemail message, let’s set up a date you can come in and he’d love to help you.” So I get in there and turns out he’s chairman of Johnson & Johnson North American Pharmaceuticals. I’m like wow, good thing I wore a jacket!
As you walk in the building, the carpet is thicker, mahogany walls, you know the stereotypical Fortune 500. Very nice and everything and three slides into it, he is like hey this is pretty interesting, do you mind if I call the vice president of marketing in? I’d like to get his opinion on this. I’m like yeah, sure. So the vice president of marketing comes in, he asked me to start over. I get five slides into it and the vice president of marketing is like, “Hey Seth, where’d you find this guy? This is exactly what we need?” The two of them start talking and finally after ten minutes of them talking back and forth they look at me and say, “Can you come back? Two of our brand teams need this. We’d like you to present to them.” I’m like, “Yeah sure.”
So set that up for April 2 which was our first official day that we’re allowed to start a company and make sales calls and presented to both of them and they both said yes we’d like to hire you. Can you give us a proposal? I remember the meeting was at 10:00 in the morning and I leave, done at 11:00. So I call Jeff. He’s like how did it go? I said, “Oh it was two proposals.” He’s like, “Oh that’s great!” The next day on Tuesday, I went in to present to a friend of a friend of a friend who I never met in the world and she’s like hey this is really good, I need you to do this, this and this. Can you get me a proposal by Friday? I’m like yes!
Then same thing happened the next day. So then we start hitting the panic button. It’s like okay who is going to do all this work? At first it was just the two of us. Now we have got a lot of work here. We got really lucky and after that we got plenty of people who said no, but we had a lot of preparation time and then we kind of set it up where our first three days we got three yeses. That kind of took us. To be honest, it helped with a fantastic launch.
JT: That’s huge for your first three days out getting yeses from huge, not just the little companies, from huge companies. That’s amazing. So what do you think really did that? In the four months of you setting up, what do you think really lined all those things up?
SW: We did a lot of research. First of all, we had an idea of what to do from having worked at another large company and we said, “If this is all we were going to do, how would we change it?” So we kind of optimized what we had done there and then, like I said, I probably talked to two dozen people doing research on here’s our value proposition, here’s our product service, give me some coaching on would you be interested in buying this and then a lot of people said you’re baby is ugly and I wasn’t defensive. I listened, made changes and we kind of came up with something where, like you said, the first three people were home run, home run, home run, we’re on to something here. So it’s probably just a lot of research listening to customers and adjusting as we went.
JT: So you did all that pre stuff before so that way those first three days could be right on target. If you would have showed Johnson & Johnson the ugly baby, they probably wouldn’t have been so excited when they first saw it.
SW: Exactly. Then we might have, if you don’t get your first yes for 2 months, 3 months, 8 months, 15 months, you’re eventually going to give up, right? So we were super lucky that the first day, okay now we have enough money to last for awhile. Like a small business, cash flow is important so we got there pretty quickly.
JT: That’s great. So I definitely want to get into marketing because marketing is your expertise but we’re going to do that in just a minute. I really want to know, because this sounds way too easy, right? What are the sort of obstacles, challenges or failures that have happened in your business? You’ve been only around for about five years, right? So I’m assuming you’ve hit up some stumbling blocks, right?
SW: Yes. I’d say the biggest obstacles, when we first started, Jeff or myself, we worked with one other lady who we knew at Pfizer who came to work for us right away pretty much day two, and we’re really good at problem solving. We have lots of experience. So the first project that came in, you know, we hired some less experienced people and they would run the projects and then we help problem solve everything. We were really the project leaders.
But then as we got bigger, these people couldn’t solve problems like the two or three of us could. So it’s like okay now we have to systemize this so other people can do it because otherwise we’re never going to be able to scale. So that was kind of the biggest obstacle is we started growing. The work kept coming in and now it’s like okay, when we started, we were probably doing the super highest quality of work you can imagine because we had people who were extremely qualified, overqualified running projects and customers were wildly happy.
Then as we grew, we became thinner and less experienced people were making the decisions. It wasn’t systemized and we weren’t crossing every T and dotting every I. So it was like the biggest obstacle is how we’re going to scale this, how are we going to systemize it and that’s really how are we going to maintain these growth rates. So that was our biggest struggle which probably happened a year into it, maybe two years into it. I guess it’s kind of typical growing pains. Year one we did $400,000 worth of business, not a problem. Year two we did $4 million, starting to become a problem. Year three we did $9 million. It’s like okay this is too much we have to have systems and things in there. That was by far the biggest obstacle.
JT: And you said earlier that you are not really a systems operations kind of guy. So how did you get over that?
SW: So particularly bad day. First of all, Jeff and I were talking saying we probably need to hire a president to hold the two of us accountable and now we’re up to 20 people, more people than we ever managed and where we think we can add the most value is working with customers, solving their marketing problems, not necessarily managing a group of 20. So we’d been talking about this now for three, four months. We should hire a president. It’s like well how do you go about doing that?
We talked a little about it but to be honest it was always backburner. Then our current CEO, Bill Goldberg, he sent us a letter in the mail saying, “Hey I’d be interested in buying your business” and I’m simplifying it but that was basically what the letter said and he sent it to Jeff’s house and Jeff calls me and says, “Hey I got this letter. Some guy wants to buy our company. What do you think?” I’m like let’s sell; this is a pain in the neck.
JT: Get rid of it!!
SW: It’s stressful. If anyone is dumb enough to buy it, we’re selling. So Bill comes in and we meet with him. He seems like a great guy and he comes in and does a whole bunch of due diligence. He has got an accountant in there. We share with him our books. We sign all the non disclosures and about a month later after doing the books, he’s going to present to us. He asked how much you guys want to sell for. We’re like we have no idea. You approached us, tell us what it’s worth and if you come up with a good price, we’re interested. If not, we’re not.
We’re really busy doing our day jobs; we don’t have time to do all this due diligence. So you have to do it on your own. So he comes into the office every day, we give him all the stuff and he’s there. Well finally after his whatever, five/six weeks of due diligence, he’s like hey your company is not really worth anything. Well, at that price, we’re not selling! We’re like why and he goes well you have no systems here; if you guys get hit by a bus, this thing is over. So, if I bought it, you would have to come with the company. You have no processes. He kind of goes through this list. We’re like okay, well nice meeting you thanks, bye.
He was like extremely pleasant but what are we going to do? So then a couple weeks later, Jeff and I are talking and said, “You know, we’re late on our bills. We don’t send bills out to customers on time. Like this is the biggest failure of a small business is not collecting money. We got to get on this.” I’m like hey remember that Goldberg guy? He talked about we don’t even have billing systems. Why don’t you call him up, ask him how he would solve that problem. So we call him up and he was like oh you should do this, this and this. Okay, great. Call him a couple weeks later with another problem and the next thing you know, he becomes a free full time consultant to us.
He’s like hey you guys are going to have to pay me if I am going to do all this and we’re like hey Bill, you know as well as we do, the company is not worth anything. We can’t afford to pay you. So we talked about why don’t you come work for us. Come in and I forget, I think his title was COO, Chief Operating Officer, come in and work. We’ll pay you a lot less money than you used to make at your old place because he was like senior vice president on the leadership team at Hart Hank and that’s a billion dollar company. He is whatever number 5 guy there and come work for us and at the end of the year, if we really like you and you really like us, we’ll let you buy up to a third of the company and we’ll become partners and we put a price in place, all this stuff, lawyers drawn up and the whole bit.
And you know, let’s go on a one-year date. So that’s what we did and after nine months we’re like okay how is this date going and all three of us said, “Hey this date is going fantastic.” You’re adding a ton of value; you’re doing stuff we don’t know how to do. We do stuff you don’t know how to do and it was fantastic. So we spent the next couple months figuring out the details of him buying into it. So that’s what happened. He came in and really helped systemize stuff and put processes in place, a lot of things we just weren’t as good at. So that was kind of the big resource what really helped us I think scale, we probably still would have gotten $9 million in sales in our third year. I don’t know how well we would have executed it.
The next year we got $17 million and he probably helped with some of those sales but we definitely would have imploded. It was a really good idea and I think I was telling you last time we talked, some of my friends were saying hey you started your own company, you’re doing pretty well, like why would you hire someone to be your boss? Like that just doesn’t make sense. I’m like there are some things I’m really good at, some things I’m less good at and I want the company to be successful. I feel great. We’re employing 50 people. Helping them support their families. I feel great about that. We’re lucky that we’re in healthcare so I do feel what we’re doing is really improving patient lives by giving them education the way they need to make the best health decisions for themselves.
We’re doing a lot of good things and just because my title is not president, like who cares? I think I’ve heard that is somewhat atypical. Some people don’t want to do that. That’s been pretty lucky for us.
JT: I love that. I love not only how you know your strengths because it’s one thing to know your strengths but be able to not have any ego and admitting you need help with things that aren’t your strengths. I mean that’s a huge key point that I want everyone to make sure they take away because we can’t do everything ourselves, even if we, some entrepreneurs think so, because I talk to a lot of them, but really knowing where your strengths lay and where other people’s strengths lay and being okay with having them step in. That’s a great story. I love that.
So let’s move into some marketing stuff. What do you usually do? How do you provide that value? Is it just because you know the companies and the products and stuff really well? is that what it is? How do you do such a good job at marketing?
SW: So there’s two ways I could answer that question. One is how do we market our company but the thing we really do is how do we help drug companies market their drugs and that’s kind of the main thing we do. I remember I went to meet with somebody, it was actually Novartis, and we presented, hey this is what we do and the guy is like, as he is talking, he’s like you know, he didn’t use these words, he’s like you’re a value proposition. You can do my job much better than me and I should probably just hire you to help me figure out how to do my job.
A lot of the folks, I think the fact that one nice thing about doing consumer package goods marketing is when you’re marketing Coast soap or Safeguard soap, let’s be honest, they don’t clean you any better than any other soap, right? You can probably take a shower without soap and you’ll get pretty clean, right? What is the really fine edge, minute stuff you can do to make yours stand out? Now with drugs, it’s a lot easier because some drugs actually work differently than others and there’s real benefit. So I think having grown up marketing soap where it was really hard to come up with distinct benefit, gets you to be a lot more creative.
One thing at Proctor & Gamble they hired, when everyone got hired you had to take, I forget what the test, it was called the “M Test” but the slang nickname on college campus was instead of the GMAT they called it the P&GMAT. You basically had to take this math test and they were looking for people who were 700-800 math SAT people to be in their marketing department because what you had to do was look through tons and tons of data, look at every single supermarket in the country, every single Wal-Mart in the country, what’s working what’s not, to figure out how you’re going to win. I remember my first day on the job my boss said to me, “Hey your job is really simple.” I was on Safeguard soap, he goes, “Your job is really simple. He’s like all you have to do is learn more about antibacterial soap than anybody else in the world and then just come up with creative ways that we can sell more of that.”
I’m like really? He’s like, “Hey it’s not that hard because there’s only a dozen people who study this stuff. So I’m not saying you have to be smarter than 4 billion people, you probably only have to be smarter than 10 because there’s only 10 people who really study this day in, day out.” I’m like okay, it seems like a challenge that I can actually do and I think that’s, like I said earlier, I try to really focus. That’s what worked on the hair salon also. It’s like okay, let’s focus on what we really need to do here and like I said, even with running this Healthcare Regional Marketing, there’s things I’m not good at, let’s just get someone else to do it.
It’s probably more about focus than being a marketing savant or anything like that. It’s just focus on what are the few things we can do differently and all we have got to do is one or two better to win.
JT: So if you were to give one or two pieces of advice for somebody who is creating a market plan, a small business owner maybe with a product since you’re so product based, looking to sort of get it out there, what would you suggest for them to do? What questions should they ask themselves and what should they plan?
SW: It’s like what’s the benefit of your product? I guess Nike is all about superior athletic performance. So that’s their clear benefit. If you buy Nike, you’re going to become in theory a better athlete. That’s why people buy, this desire to become better and then you just need a clear reason to believe. Like why would I believe if I buy Nike I’m going to become a better athlete? For Nike, it’s probably I think all their sneakers have air in the soles or something like that and then they have Derek Jeter uses it so that makes you believe it. So take that as an example.
If you can figure out what’s the benefit consumers are going to get when they buy my product and why should they believe me? Those are kind of the two things. If you can get those two and then just communicate that as effectively as possible.
JT: Now how do you think or actually, what do you think separates yourself from an unsuccessful entrepreneur? You’ve gone through and made two companies that have been really successful but there is so many people out there that don’t. That try things and then it doesn’t and you almost imploded but you didn’t. So what do you really think separates you from an unsuccessful entrepreneur?
SW: I probably don’t know, well I guess I know a few unsuccessful ones and it seems like focus, like how I was giving those examples earlier about hey these people are talking about and maybe we should try to upgrade all our haircutting customers to start doing eyebrow waxing and I should advertise eyebrow waxing. I’m like you know you should just focus on getting people in the chairs, get their haircuts and more volume solves all problems, just focus on that. So that would be one thing.
Then the second is, like you said, figuring out what you’re good at and what you’re not good at and then not be embarrassed to say hey I’m not good at that, let somebody else do it whether it be somebody who you hire and you delegate it to them and you don’t second guess them or somebody that you bring on as a partner and becomes your boss and let him or her do that. So I say those would be two things and even with the hair salon, my wife runs the day to day. Like I said, I do the hiring and firing. I am just executing what she asks me to do.
But she is in there day to day and a lot of things she does I’m like that’s not such a great idea but I’m like you know, she’s probably better at that than me so I’ll just let her do that. My job is to just get people to walk in the front door. That’s my job and her job is to get them to come back.
JT: That’s great. It makes your job a lot easier too to not have to worry about everybody else’s job at the same time.
SW: That is true. For this Healthcare Regional Marketing we figure out what’s the biggest driver of business in every single city in the country and then tell them if you run St. Louis and we tell you in St. Louis the biggest driver of business is to get cardiologists to educate family doctors on heart disease, that will be the number one thing you can do to grow your business. If you knew that, it would be a lot easier to grow your business than you’re trying to do everything, right?
To be honest, my way of thinking that’s what the whole company does is figure out what is the single most important thing you can do and just drive the heck out of that and don’t worry about anything else. A little bit of a simplification but not much.
JT: That’s amazing. We don’t have too too much time. I want to have you back on the show at some point because I feel like we can really drill into that. So what I want to ask you though is what sort of resources did you turn to? What have you read? What books have your read? What have you really done to help grow your business and you as an entrepreneur?
SW: The number one resource was bringing on this CEO. Hiring a partner, so that would be by far the number one resource. I definitely spent more time reading books now on running companies and the classics “good to great.” I read a book recently, The 100 Best Business Books of All Time and I don’t know if you read it but it’s three pages on the 100 best business books and I forget, I think they picked 100 best business books based on sales or something. But when I went through that it was like oh wow I should read this book, I should read this book, I should read this book. I haven’t spent any time reading books on marketing because I’m pretty good at that. It has been other things.
One resource, when we started he company, right now we have like a managing director who focuses on new business. We have a vice president, sales person, but at the beginning, as the two founders, we did all the selling and just because of whatever reasons I did a little more selling than the other partner at the beginning. So I actually took a sales class and unlike most people who will go to a three-day workshop, I went to a sales class every Monday morning from 8:00-9:30, 52 weeks a year for four and a half years. So I really got much more engaged I think than most people. There’s an instructor but it’s a little bit of a peer group but you pay money, you go every single month and I think it got me much better at selling which, you know, for a business like ours, we’re trying to get these big pharma companies who are used to dealing with big vendors to hire us.
Now we’re a medium size company but at the beginning it was two guys and a garage. So that would be the main thing. So I read books, I took the sales class and kind of hired to my weaknesses.
JT: If you don’t mind me saying, what was the sales class that you actually ended up taking? I know there’s a bunch out there and I’d love to hear the one that you actually liked and stayed with.
SW: The one I took it was called Sandler.
JT: My mentor used Sandler for a really long time too.
SW: What I liked about it is it was, like I said, every week, 90 minutes every Monday for 52 weeks a year, or maybe we take off Christmas and stuff like that, but it’s every single week so it’s always top of mind as opposed to you go to classes and then whatever two weeks later you forget everything.
JT: Yeah, you totally forget. I know that’s the hard thing with seminars is that you do. It’s not top of mind. You just go back to the sort of the ways you go before and that’s why I love coaching and stuff like that. Sounds great and a good reason why you did that because it does sound like you’re really good at sales. I mean if you guys are still selling, and I’m sure you have other people helping you out now but at $17 million, you’ve got to be a pretty good salesperson to go from two people to $17 million in just a couple years.
SW: Yes. Like I said, we’ve been real fortunate. It helps if you have a good product. I remember when I worked at Proctor & Gamble the thought was hey if product development could just make us something fantastic, anyone could sell it. It’s kind of the same thing here. I think we have a really good product. We picked a niche that nobody else is in. People seem to like it so it helps. Some of it is obviously selling skills but having a great product helps.
JT: Sounds like you got it all. For the last question, what’s one action that listeners can take this week to move them forward towards their goal of a million?
SW: One action? I guess my kind of belief is revenue solves all problems. Like when I hear people focus on other things, hey this employee is a pain in the neck, this employee is this, whatever, I’ve asked people before, “Hey how much is your revenue?” Oh it’s $400,000. If it was $800,000 would that employee be such a big deal? Well, probably not. I do believe revenue solves all problems and focus on that and everything else seems to work out. I don’t know if that’s fantastic advice but that’s what I try to do.
JT: I think it’s fantastic advice. That’s great. Beautiful! So where can we find more about you and your company online?
SW: We have a website HRMexperts.com and it has a whole bunch stuff about the company, what we do, little bios on the top half dozen officers, etc.
JT: Beautiful. Thank you so much. I’m definitely going to link that up in the show notes. I really appreciate you taking the time to come on today, Scott, and telling us your story. I hope you have an amazing day and I hope you come back again.
SW: Thanks for inviting me. This has been fun.
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