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tv   Your Business  MSNBC  July 29, 2017 4:30am-5:00am PDT

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it all adds up to our most reliable network ever. one that keeps you connected to what matters most. good morning. coming up, how the owners of this pillow company did some serious soul searching to figure out what was stopping their growth. what the creator of swell did to disrupt the water bottle industry and become a multibusiness dollar business. plus, bar rescue john tapper's on what you need to know to turbo charge your sales. learn how to go fast and go far coming up next on "your business." hi, everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg.
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welcome to your business. the show dedicated to helping your growing business. when you are the person in charge of your company or your team, it is very important to sometimes take a hard look in the mirror. today, we profile a pennsylvania business owner who raised his hand and took responsibility for unwittingly becoming a roadblock for his own company. even though it was painful to do, he had to accept the fact that he was one of the biggest obstacles to growth. >> it got so bad, i ended up in the hospital. i related it to stress. it was the stress of growth. >> chris cline was in pure ago any, his back was killing him. he didn't know why. >> i was in so much pain i couldn't put my own shoes on. >> doctors couldn't find anything wrong with him. he is the co-owner of eric and christopher in pennsylvania. his body was clearly sending him
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a message. >> you need to find that time to really look from an outsider's point of view into your business. i didn't find that time but my body forced me into that time. >> chris did some soul searching and realized that the answer had been looking right back at him in the mirror. >> the voice in my head just said, you are the problem. >> reporter: chris was trying to be everything to everybody at the company. not only was it hurting his back, it was hurting his company's growth. >> what i didn't realize was i was actually creating more problems. my back was telling me that. >> eric and christopher sews and screen prints pillows, totes and aprons with animal prints taken by chris and business partner, eric. when employees hit snags with any projects they were working on, chris would take over. >> if you are a screen printer and you have a problem, come to
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me. i'll help you fix it. if you are in shipping, and there is a problem, come to me and i'll help you fix it. i'm helping these other people with small problems but really not fixing the larger problem. >> eric was getting discouraged. there was no way to get anything done with all the distractions. >> how is this print? is this print okay? i was like, seriously. we can't have a conversation, because we are being interrupted every three minutes. just questions that i thought, why don't they know this? he wasn't alone in his frustration either. jenna tucker understood this was no way to run a growing company. >> we were presented with different opportunities. i was working with some retailer that i knew we wouldn't be able to meet their demand. in my past experience, you don't get much done when you are interrupted 20 times a day and more. >> chris' bad back was the inevitable pivot point. he started to understand that eric and christopher wasn't
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behaving like the brand he knew it could be. he realized the only way forward was to start acting like a larger business. >> i'm thinking of the company bigger than we are. i'm saying, we are a $6 million a year business. >> sales were growing between 70% and 80% each year but they realized if they department want the company to come bust, they had to hit the brakes. >> we would have fallen apart at that level. change is difficult and you know what else is difficult for me is to accept i'm wrong. i'm stubborn. working with eric and jenna, the goal was to make the operation more efficient. >> if we kept going at such a rapid pace, we might implode ourselves and our staff. >> they overhauled everything from cutting to sewing and screen printing and shipping. chris pledged to train his employees better instead of trying to solve every problem himself. >> now, i kind of demand of them
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or ask them, well, what could be causing this? how did you get to this step? getting them to think more about that process instead of me having them go through it. >> eric had a realization, he wanted to be a better leader and level the playing field. >> i wasn't involved. i needed to be involved. i needed to know on a daily basis. >> as chris dialed back slightly, eric stepped up his game and took on a more active role in day to day decisions. >> i was just maker. i was completely content with that. i needed the wakeup call, this is eric and christopher, not chris is running everything and i'm just tagging along with creativity and fun. i just wasn't paying attention. so i only had to blame myself. >> in a not so great coincidence, eric ended up with his own injury and he had to have hand surgery, because he was still doing a lot of sewing himself. he had to learn to do a better
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job of thinking big picture. >> i have realized that in growing such a large company, you really have to have nef everything in place. chris wound up in the hospital. i wound up in the hospital. it is not a good way to run a business if it is going to kill you. >> big customers like nordstrom, ll bean, the smithsonian and thousands of retailers across the country may never have seen the actual changes but now they are actually being better served. it is easier than ever to get orders out the door. >> we slowed sales down to like a 20% growth last year but this year, we are up almost 100%. >> the work flow will continue to evolve as the team suggests new improvements regularly. eric and christopher is still thinking bigger to make sure they are ready for the sales volume they project will come their way. >> we are able to hire more people, do bigger volume jobs and we are moving in a really good direction. we are able to handle those
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larger orders. that's a part of the job that i find really satisfying. >> water bottles have gotten a lux upgrade thanks to swell. in 2010, founder, sarah cal started selling her product door to door hoping boutiques would give her high-end water bottle a chance. now, the brand has more than 100 employees and their water bottle is the must-have nation accessory. we sat down with sarah in new york city to talk about dealing with copycats here and now and how she turned this business into one with more than $100 million in revenue. >> i was carrying around a nice handbag, driving a nice car but i was using a water bottle that didn't really fit my lifestyle. my idea was to create a water bottle that really fit me as the consumer. >> how did you get it in stores?
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>> i literally had to walk in stores myself, explain the product and ask stores if they would give it a shot. most said, no. we don't really carry water bottle. i had the inventory at that point. i had already invested my savings. i really needed to sell. then, i had to get a little bit clever. i said, this really isn't a water bottle, this is a fashion hydration accessory and this product really belongs on the shelf. will you please give it a shot? >> how were you so confident when your money was dwindling and you heard a lot of nos? >> i had to fake that confidence. i also was using the product at the time and i knew myself as a consumer really loved this product. there has been a few manlygic moments. i got a call from oprah's magazine and the editor said, i love the product. i really want to run this.
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can you please send me one of every color you have. i want to put it in the magazine. unfortunately, at the time, i only had the product in blue. at that moment, i realized to turn down an opportunity to be in the oprah magazine and not invest in more products or colors, i was always going to kick myself. i bought a pantone book and ordered more colors as soon as i possibly could and we did get in the magazine. we sold a lot of product. more than that, it was really a stamp of approval. >> i set my sights on a lot of really big goals. when i look back at my early business plan, i said i wanted to be the bottle of choice for the ted conference. we are the bottle of choice for the ted conference and we have also met google and microsoft and facebook. if i hadn't thought really big and wrote that intention down into the rules, i don't know that that would have actually
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happened. it is really important for me and for swell to fight the knockoffs and the counterfeits, ton an authentic brand, we have to be out there fighting. our team is not only really smart on the legal side and incredibly creative. they are not only winning court but training customs agents to look for what to find before it comes into the country. they are also going and having honest con ver saying was our retailers an training our retailers. it breaks my heart how much we have to spend our time and resources. at the same time, i'm really glad we are winning thee suits and sending a signal to the marketplace that authenticity is important to us. i wanted to convert the nonconverted. i didn't want someone that was already carrying a water bottle. i wanted to create the category. people did think i was crazy when i said $35, $40 on a water bottle. however, now, i have really
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created a product class. we have also created an entire new market for that product. we come out with a new line twice a year like a fashion brand and we have created collectors. our customers can't wait to see what we come out with next. we are looking for new customers. so we created a line called sip by swell and it is a little bit less expensive, just as fashion forward, really playful and it is maybe for a different customer. >> has it been a constant ride up or is it just like this for you? >> i would say it hasn't been a constant ride up. the frequency of the highs and lows has become higher highs and lower lows. the amount of work has become more. the hours have become more. >> you have more to lose now? >> i have more to lose. i have more employees. i have more meetings. i have more joy.
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the intensity of it is higher. the happiness is a lot more too. >> i totally get it. >> when sales are going well, it is easy to be not very rigorous about the process. when they are slow, it is easy to get nervous and make rash decisions. but we should all be rational and concentrating all the time on how to increase our sales. john tapper is the host and executive producer of bar rescue which airs on spike tv. the chairman of dynamics inc and he has owned and operated 17 hospitality businesses and consulted with over 800 venues in 30 countries. mazing. >> a lot of work. >> you have helped so many people. >> a lot of learning for everyone. >> yes. >> i am sure you learn a lot from one to the other and because it is so much about sales in the companies you go into, i am so glad you are here to talk with us.
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let's start with the way you track things. you cannot fix what you don't track. >> we don't live by revenue alone. revenue is a result of two things. how many people walk through the door, call, click through and how much they spend. >> yep. >> and how often they come back. it is new customer programs, frequency programs and spend programs. if i have less people that spend more, i can make more money. if i have less transactions, that's one problem. if i have many transactions with low sales, that's another problem, j.j. you go at them very differently. >> when you are taking your numbers, coming in and looking at your numbers, you say, rightly so. look at total revenue and revenue per customer. >> yes. let me give you an example. i know a business that increased their prices by 6% this year. their guest counts went down by 4%. they are claiming they grew their business by 2%. they lost 4% of their customer
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base. that isn't growth. >> they increased their revenue? >> how many times can they increase the company by raising prices. you are going to hit a barrier, a wall that you can't cross. if we want to grow business, that's growing transactions, not just sales per frantransaction let's talk about growing those transactions, getting more people through the door, which is about marketing. >> we have to get them through the first time. new customer programs are isolated. any should have their own budgets, their own focus. they are external by nature. they can be viral, online, seo based. they could be flags in front of a retail store to draw attention. they could be signage, calls to action in a business. there are a lot of ways to create new customers. it should be its own discipline. the business ownership should put some effort, 30% of their marketing budgets into new customers. in most businesses, if you can increase customer frequency by
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one time a month, that's about a 15% increase in overall revenue. >> and much easier to get someone to come back than to get a brand new person the first time. >> absolutely. a lot cheaper. you have to focus on frequency programs. how do i do that? lou how do i get them to come that one more time a month? >> finally, once they are there, how do you get them to spend more. >> exactly right. do we cross sell or upsell? what can we do to krcreate more revenue. if you work them in one clump, sometimes you are spending the money on the wrong thing. you are spending money on new customers but that's not the problem. your problem is spend. you have to focus the dollars on where the problem lies. >> what this comes down to with any business no matter what you do is the data. what numbers are you looking at every single week, month, maybe every day, certainly every year, that allow you to make better
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decisions? so you know where to put the gas on and where to lift it up. >> so often, we apply the resources to the wrong place and slight shifts make a big difference. if the business operator isn't thinking, new customers, frequency spend, they don't dissect if that way. then, they don't spend the money that way. >> you should get a dashboard whether it is online or literally just written down from someone in your company. here is the dashboard. this is what i look at every day. thank you for all of that. >> thank you, j.j. if your business is not regularly closing deals, it probably won't last for very long. my team went back to my book "it's your business" and pulled out these expert sales tip that is will help you increase revenue at your company. >> one, send a package that begs to be opened. no matter what industry you are in, the person you are trying to pitch is probably getting dozens of proposals a day.
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do something surprising or tr interesting with the envelope or box you are send teeing in. two, find a good sales rep. people that are already repping noncompetitive products. they will have existing relationships with your potential customer base. >> three, point out product flaws. don't try and paul one over on your prospect. if there is something off, they will appreciate if you point it out before they find it themselves. four, get back to those leads quickly. if someone e-mails or calls you back, respond within 15 minutes while you are still top of mind for them. five, get to the right buyer. that big retailer. reaching people who can buy your products for large companies is not impossible if you know a couple of tricks. you will probably have to do a bit of detective work to find the right names and contact information but resources like the chain stores guide and the
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salesman's guide are good places to start. a few years ago, my company moved into new offices in san francisco. there was this private club on the top floor of our building. i went knocking on their door one day to see what it was all about and found out that the owner had an incredibly interesting story. his love for the finer things in life spurred him to create an online store and then a brick and mortar store and then a private club, all around his particular brand. ami aran is a self-described modern gentlemen. >> a modern gentlemen seamlessly traverses work, play, family, friends, different social settings and appreciates the finer things in life whether it is food and wine, spirits and cigars, beautiful cars, nice time pieces. >> his san francisco-based company, wing tipped, which is half public retail store and
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half private social club, is focused on making sure that that gentlemen and some ladies too have a place to go that fits their lifestyle. what are you guys selling here? it is not just that you are selling whiskey and shoes. you are selling something bigger? >> at its most simplest level, we are selling an experience. >> wingtip started in 2004 as an ecommerce store curated by ami who always appreciated fine wines, cigars and fancy clothes. after a few years, he had enough funding to open his brick-and-mortar store. in 2010, he started the members only club. was it scary for you to make the investment that this club required? >> i would say it was an educated gamble. >> educated, because ami had developed an incredibly loyal customer base at the store, one that he turned to to recruit the founding members of the club. >> i sent out an e-mail on a saturday morning to about 40 of
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our best customers, very high-level explanation of what we were trying to do. i asked for $1,000 per person and i need to know by tomorrow. we got there. >> roger to join the club? >> it was the people, just the overall thought that went behind their front line product. >> roger is an ideal member and shopper. >> i've tried this on for two months. >> really they're all one in the same. when you join the club, your dues goes towards a credit at the store. >> all the things we sell are part of the modern gentleman's lifestyle. the difference at wingtip is through the private club, you actually have a chance to experience things before you buy them. >> in other words, not only is everything at the store for sale, but everything at the club is for sale, too. the smoking jackets, the glassware, the key holders. it worked on me. ami and i sat down to have a signature wingtip manhattan, and
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within seconds i was tempted to buy everything around me. >> i already want to buy this as a gift for a fremd of mine. >> we'll take care of you later today. >> the key to ami's success is in the details. every single thing is telling the story of the modern gentleman. there is the billiards room, the traditional of savoring the champagne, the $18,000 bottle of whiskey. >> i think one of the biggest things our customers and members are attracted to is the authenticity of the space. it doesn't feel corporate. >> part of that realness also comes from ami's 5b89 to laugh at himself. >> is there something a little tongue-in-cheek about this place? >> i would hope there's a lot that's tongue and cheek about this space. i believe we can sell and enjoy luxury goods, but without pre tension. >> there are examples of this everywhere, like here in the board room. >> this is the wingtip board of directors. >> this is my fictitious board
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of directors, the people who inspire me. >> this is funny. billy ray valentine -- >> you're missing my head of sales which is big tom callahan. >> this is perfectly in line with the way ami has grown the company. he's primarily driven by his own instinct. >> are you a focus group of one? >> i always have loved the henry ford quote, if i asked the public what they wanted, they would have told me faster horses. i constantly listen to customer feedback, member feedback, employee feedback, but at the end of the day i'm always going to trust my gut the most. >> when we come back, how you should be using search engine optimization to reach customers, and our brain trust tells us how writing from magazines and websites can help boost your business. so that's the idea.
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what do you think? hate to play devil's advocate but... i kind of feel like it's a game changer. i wouldn't go that far. are you there? he's probably on mute. yeah... gary won't like it. why? because he's gary. (phone ringing) what? keep going! yeah... (laughs) (voice on phone) it's not millennial enough. there are a lot of ways to say no. thank you so much. thank you! so we're doing it. yes! start saying yes to your company's best ideas. let us help with money and know-how, so you can get business done. american express open. >> we're a local company based out of chardon, ohio, and we're looking how we can bring in more local traffic to our country by using search engine optimization. how would we bring in more locals to look us up on that? >> while seo is a great idea, for a localized company, it might not necessarily want to be the thing you want to spend your
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money on. if you're a local company, especially when you're involved in port pottedities, my thing would be why not use facebook live and pair scope on twitter where you can do things from locations people would recognize, local 5k or 10k races, large family picnics, gatherings, things where you can see we're here, our product is here, think about us the next time you need this. >> everyone needs their brain trust, the people they go to when they have hard decisions to make or want to go a little in depth on something they figure out at work. today in our brain trust, we have chris myers, co-founder and ceo of body trade which is a financial services company working with over a million businesses. >> yes. >> congratulations on that. >> thank you. >> melinda nickie, founder and ceo of baby to body for expe expectant new mothers. >> you write "huffington post,"
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do a lot of stuff for linkedin. you are very prolific on forbes,i think one of their top online columnists. >> yep. >> so is this worth your time? i want to know. >> i think it is. when i started writing for forbes, it was more about kind of self-help than anything. >> for you, your own self. it was your confessional? >> absolutely. everybody has their own communication style. for me i like the style of writing. i like to be able to think things out and articulate it. i've got men tiff of mistakes i've made, plenty of scars i've earned. >> does it help your company? this is valuable time you're taking away from running your company. >> it's interesting. for our company we have two audiences, we have our business audiences, the bcs and business community we want to maybe partner with and get funding from and we've got the consumers. i wear both hats. i'll write for huff post about
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being a business owner but also write about being a mom and what that means as a entrepreneur or starting a business, or writing about fitness and well-being for a baby magazine. i do a ton of these things. i think it helps give me that platform and that voice. >> it's all about validation. >> i think really people want to know who is behind this product. who is behind the brand, to giving them a little inkling about who you are, how you think, and people want that authenticity, want that energy. i think it's really -- >> it's trust building, too. when somebody sees your brand, your thoughts, your journey on forbes or huff post or msnbc, it builds confidence. >> for you to write about being a business owner, you're saying that helps you raise money. >> yes, it has helped. some of my investors saw a piece that i wrote on linkedin. then they contacted me or when i had contacted them, they had
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actually heard of me or read my piece in whatever it was. that definitely helps to put you on the map and give you a voice. >> you writing for forbes, are you getting customers or investors because of it? >> not so much investors that we've taken on, but customers. about a third of our revenue has come from people who discovered us through that reach. we get a lot of page views, in the millions. ultimately that's where they discover us. >> you both think it's a good idea, you think it's worth your time. how did you do it. >> that's a trick question. >> that's a great question. it's just a discipline. >> did you just, hi, forbes, my name is chris myers -- >> it was relationship. i knew a gentleman that used to work at "the times" who i met through a ut mooal colleague who moved over to forbes. >> for me it's more about building a platform on social media and going to events, speaking at events. >> how did you get to write for
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the huff po? >> i think i sent them an article and i said this will be appropriate for your audience. >> no connections? >> no. i think i did it cold. some of the ones i've don't have been cold. >> okay. thank you, thank you both. good luck with your writing and your companies. thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> thank you. this week's yourbizselfie comes from don pitts from harlem & denim. want to see your picture on the show, pick up your cell phone and take a selfie of you and your business and send it to or tweet it to @msnbcyourbiz. include your name, the name of your business, your location, anything fun or interesting about your company. thank you very much for joining
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us today. we would love to hear from you. if you have any questions or comments about the show, e-mail us at we read every e-mail we get. please go to our website we posted all the pieces from today's show plus a whole lot more. you can connect with us on our digital and social media platforms as well. we look forward to seeing you next time. until then, i'm j.j. ramberg, and remember, we make your business our business. thank you so much. thank you! so we're a go? yes! we got a yes! what does that mean for purchasing? purchase. let's do this. got it. book the flights! hai! si! si! ya! ya! ya! what does that mean for us? we can get stuff. what's it mean for shipping? ship the goods. you're a go!
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you got the green light. that means go! oh, yeah. start saying yes to your company's best ideas. we're gonna hit our launch date! (scream) thank you! goodbye! let us help with money and know-how, so you can get business done. american express open. morning glory, america. i'm hugh hewitt, monday through friday mornings you hear me on the salem radio network from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. eastern across the country. on saturday mornings you find me right here on msnbc. on the eve of the debate of the defense authorization act, there's no one better to talk to than adam stan read december from tufts university. chairman of the board of the u.s. naval institute, chief security and diplomacy analyst and 37-year sailor of the


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