tv Your Business MSNBC September 24, 2017 4:30am-5:00am PDT
see how much you can save. choose by the gig or unlimited. xfinity mobile. a new kind of network designed to save you money. call, visit, or go to xfinitymobile.com. good morning, coming up on msnbc's "your business," his lumber company went up in flames. find out what he did to rise from the ashes, and what you need to do to protect your business from disaster. the co-founder of lyft on why he ignores his biggest competitor. and makes sure his employees focus on who they are, and what they do. plus why e-mail marketing is still an effective tool to reach current and potential customers. let's grow fast and work smart. that's all coming up next on "your business." "your business" is sponsored by american express open, helping you get business done.
hi, everyone, i'm j.j. ramberg and welcome to "your business." the show dedicated to helping your growing business. most people in business are very familiar with disasters. deals that fall through, employees that disappoint, and contracts that are broken. these are challenges that go with the territory of running a company. but, there's another kind of disaster that thankfully most of us never have to face. fire, flood, earthquakes. what would you do if a real disaster struck? that's what one new york furniture maker confronted one cold winter morning. it was 4:00 a.m., monday, january 30th, 2017. a four-alarm fire struck this commercial warehouse at the corner of lake street in yonkers new york. >> we get a call at 6:00 a.m. that your building is on fire. i'm like, what? >> i was like, oh, my god, this is crazy. >> it took more than 80 firemen from 18 fire companies over
three hours to bring this blaze under control. >> i remember feeling like my heart was almost going to stop. because i, for a moment, i said but what do we do? >> robert rising and jacqueline tellez are the owners of new york slab. their furniture factory and salvage lumber company was located in that building. they got an unwelcome early morning call. >> the first thing i'm thinking is, is it my shop? am i responsible? so, click on the news, and the top half of the building was burning. >> i was frightened that we might have been the cause of the fire. >> watching the fire on tv was devastating. but knowing their shop was located on the ground floor, robert and jacqueline could tell one important thing right away, they were not responsible for it. >> i see it's the third, fourth floor, and the roof. and i'm like, okay, relieved i didn't cause the fire. >> fortunately, nobody was injured. but for robert and jacqueline, the core of their business was gone before sunrise.
>> we have no investors. we've taken out no loans. everything that we have has been with our money. i mean, we have raided our savings accounts, retirement accounts. >> it looked like a crime scene. there was water everywhere. stuff was wreckage. >> as dreadful as this disaster was, this was not the worst news. that came later. when they spoke to their insurance company. >> they explained to us that a fire doesn't cover us, because we had limited liability. we didn't have content, and we didn't have work stoppage. >> details like limited liability, content, and work stoppage coverage may feel like the least engaging part of running a business. but at times like this, they can make or break you. with unwanted surprises. >> and our insurance company said if you had been the cause of the fire, you would have been able to get coverage, more stuff back. i'm like, are you kidding? >> no. unfortunately the insurance didn't work for us. >> typical of many businesses, they had the legal minimum
limited liability. which only protects them if they cause harm to someone else. without content insurance, they get no money for damage they suffer. and without work stoppage, they get no compensation for lost income. they had absolutely no safety net. >> i had no idea what we could do at that very moment. it was robert who actually, you know, started doing stuff. >> i was on the phone, making calls to see what i could do. see what the next move is. >> like many business owners who face disruptions and crises, these two immediately went into damage control. >> the thing that we did first was to let people know, listen, we had a bad fire, this is really devastating, but we're not out. this is just a bump that we have to get over. and we're in business and going to continue to do business. >> and i took that cue and i got on my phone and started calling people, too, to let them know that it was big, it was devastating, but we were around
and we were going to get to their work. >> hey had no money coming in. a payroll to meet and no work space. on top of that, they had to tell their clients they wouldn't make their deadlines. >> and i'm thinking, okay, how am i going to pull this off? the bills are piling up, and i'm trying to keep my staff working. >> their first break came when robert got permission to move the machinery into a vacant greenhouse near the site where he stores and mills his lumber. >> and thankfully, the greenhouse wasn't cold. >> then came another lucky break. a building company in the bronx heard about the fire, and called to see if robert could deliver 60 wooden park benches. >> he came to the yard, he checked out, make sure that everything was still up and running and good, and he gave us a check. so that kept us working, kept us going. we were like, okay, we got it, let's go. let's go. >> what also kept them going were several secondary revenue streams beyond the wood shop.
>> we get trees, turn them into lumber. we sell rock slabs. that's one revenue stream. here you see all of the feather grains. that's pretty beautiful. i think maybe you need two boards. >> robert's company also salvages antique beams and lumber from job sites in the new york city area. he then sells 130-year-old beams unfinished to other builders, and back in his shop, turns them into high end furniture and antique flooring. >> it makes you versatile. it pushes you to places where you may not have known that are workable. >> today, he's still not 100% back. much of his machinery needs repair. and his staff has been working overtime to make good on the unfinished orders that were destroyed and never delivered. >> fortunately for me, we've been busy enough to not really get bogged down with the stress of it all. so we're probably at 60% now.
>> going forward, robert and jacqueline have taken out a full set of insurance policies. >> no one prepares for a fire. no one plans for a fire. but you should always be prepared. because you never know what happens. >> selling new products to existing customers is generally easier than getting new customers to buy something. so here are five ways to increase your repeat business. one, get to know your customers. send them a note on meaningful days like birthdays, or the anniversary of their first purchase with you. also get to know their preferences based on their purchases, so that you can suggest particular products or content to them. two, be a source of useful information. use news letters to send your clients relevant articles, how-tos, and tools to keep them informed about your industry, and the ways you can help. three, brag a little bit. if people love your brand, don't keep that to yourself. consumers flock to popular
products. use that social proof to your advantage. four, overdeliver. ship your products out as soon as possible, and make customer service a priority. also, a little surprise can go a long way to instilling loyalty. so, when you can, throw in a little something extra into their order. five, reward loyalty. give your best customers special deals, points, and discounts on your new products, and help them to save on their old favorites. when social media marketing started to show serious engagement, a lot of people thought that e-mail marketing was on its way out. but, it wasn't. e-mail, it turns out, has some of the highest returns on investment for many companies. maria semple is the founder of the prospect finder, a consulting firm that specializes in e-mail marketing. we caught up with her at new york now to get some ideas on how to make your e-mail work for you. how important is the subject line? >> subject line is very
important. after the from line, who it's from, the subject line is the next most important thing. you've got two seconds to get somebody's attention, and actually the first two words will matter most in that subject line. and you also can't forget an area known as preheader text. which is that if you're looking at your e-mail inbox, especially on your mobile device, you'll see the from line, the subject line, and then the first line of text from that e-mail. so if you can work their name in to that preheader text, you've got an even greater chance of getting that e-mail opened. >> let's talk about tricks of the trade. is there anything we should think about in the subject line? there used to be, right, like must have, or sort of big statements that i feel don't work anymore. >> right. right. so, one of the tricks that you might try and use is using a number. and then the word you or your. that works really well. so, five reasons why you need whatever. >> that still works? people aren't onto that yet?
>> well, you know, it still does to some extent it does. and if your e-mail service provider allows you to use the person that you're sending it to, their name in that subject line, then, again, anywhere you can personalize it, you, your -- >> so if someone -- in the subject line you would put, j.j., your best tips for great skin. i feel like that makes it seem more spammy. but is it proven that people open it more if their name is in the subject? >> yeah. i mean, you want it -- this is about permission-based marketing, right? so somebody has opted in to the list. that means they want to hear from you. so absolutely, you're looking to continue that rapport, cultivate that relationship, so in any way that you're able to do that, it's going to be very helpful. >> and who should you make it from? let's say my company is called flowers.com. should it come from information at flowers.com, service at flowers.com, j.j. from flowers.com? >> so if you are flowers.com, if
that is your business, and people have built that rapport with you, then you want to make sure that your name appears in there. otherwise just put the company name in there. if it's a larger company. >> so if it's just -- it's a customer service team, right? but it's still information, customer service, who should it be from? >> i would just put the company name, actually. >> got it. okay now let's talk about building your list. >> right. >> do you think that you should buy lists from other people? are you a fan of that? >> actually, no. the big thing to keep in mind is this is about permission-based marketing, and there are laws in place. the can spam act, here in the united states, there's a castle is the canadian laws. so you have to pay attention to those laws. >> but you can still buy lists where people have given permission for them to sell their name. >> you would want to still have a one-off communication with them first and give them the opportunity to opt out. >> yep. absolutely. but do you think it is worth buying those lists that are legal to buy? >> i typically will advise my
clients to try and build their lists organically so they can do that through their social media following. they can do that by even their e-mail signature line that you're using for their one-off communications. certainly at different types of trade shows you can build your list that way. speaking. there are lots of ways, text-to-join. there's even an opportunity now to use -- to allow people to use their cell phones to opt in to your e-mail list. >> and how big should your list be when you start segmenting? right, when it's small you don't want to waste your time doing too much segmenting. but at what point do you think, okay, now it's time to give different messages to different people? >> you can start segmenting from day one. from day one. so if you already have any type of crm, or if you're just using outlook to house all of your emmale addresses, however you've got those lists segmented there you can export them and import them right into your e-mail service provider. so i would say from day one. and even when people are opting in on your website you can let them opt in to the list that they want to be on.
>> right, all right. thank you so much. i know e-mail marketing is so important and so we all really need to be paying attention to it. >> thank you. it was just a few years ago that the idea of picking up your phone and pushing a button and having a car magically appear to take you home seemed like something from the space age. now, services like uber, and lyft, with its famous pink mustaches, have become part of our daily life. but as nbc's willie geist tells us, the ambitions for lyft and its founder john zimmer go far beyond just sharing rides. ♪ >> how you doing? >> how are you, man? >> look at this traffic. >> yeah. >> like most of us, john zimmer hates traffic. but while most of us just curse and pound the steering wheel, zimmer is doing something to fix the problem. the 32-year-old president and co-founder of ride sharing company lyft got hooked on cars as a kid. but not just because they looked cool and went fast.
zimmer loved what they represented. >> i think it's the idea of freedom and exploration. i just remember being on the ground, playing with cars, getting over, you know, any obstacle. >> and is there a direct line then to lyft? >> i think what i realized is that that freedom wasn't really there. and that the car's become more like a $9,000 ball and chain with all the maintenance, the parking, so i wanted to go to that original idea that got me so excited about the car, but actually deliver the real freedom. >> john first noticed the number of empty seats in cars on the highway during his drives home from cornell university in upstate new york. >> like, ten of us would be going back, driving with just one or two people. i started thinking about occupancy. how much are these cars used? what i learned is that 96% of the time, the car is parked. >> in 2008, zimmer left his job at lehman brothers, just before the company crashed, to pursue his vision of ride sharing with partner logan green. four years later, lyft was launched with a signature pink mustache on the front of its
cars. today, it operates in 200 cities across the country, provides about 13 million rides per month. and is valued at $5.5 billion. carpooling, to most people, with strangers, was a nonstarter just a few years ago. everyone is doing it now. when did you see attitudes start to change more broadly? >> we actually had a tag line you're a friend with a car. and we encouraged people to sit up front because we realized we had to change behavior. right away people started getting excited, meeting new people, and it took off so fast we had to create a waitlist. >> now, about 30% of young americans use ride sharing services, and 15% of adults of all ages do the same. that's according to the pew research center. but even as americans embrace this new frontier of transportation, the taxi commission's entrenched in our cities were not as welcoming. i'm sure you've got some great stories sitting across from the taxi commissioner in some cities, and him sort of giving you the dressing down. kid, you have no idea what
you're getting into? >> there was an enforcement leader called the general in california, and there was some really stern conversations where he said, look, son, you're going to shut down, aren't you? i said back to him, you know, respectfully, you know, what we're doing is legal, and we're going to continue to operate. >> so what she said was? >> look, son, you're going to shut down. >> again. >> beyond the general, the biggest challenge for lyft is the behemoth now so ubiquitous it has become a verb, uber. when people think about your sector of the economy, they think about uber first, probably. and then they think about lyft. what is the relationship like between uber and lyft? >> you know, they got started first. with a vision of being everyone's private driver, with black cars and limos. and we said, you know, we want to bring down the cost of transportation. we want to bring people together. >> you know you're doing something right when uber starts paying attention to you. they put up billboards trying to lure some of your drivers away. what was your reaction to that? >> we've just been really focused on who we are and what we do. i think the differences speak
for themselves in how we focus on the people that are involved in our business. and the fun that we're trying to have in the process. >> and some high profile stars have joined in on the fun as undercover drivers. >> oh, my gosh! >> it's good to see you again. >> oh, my god! >> odds are you won't get shaquille o'neal or demme lovato behind the wheel when you order a lift but you may get someone like robert henderson, the company's most prolific new york driver. what's a typical day for you? >> a typical day is anywhere between eight to twelve hours. but it's eight to twelve hours that's fun, and you just look at the time and go oh, my god, i've been out this long? and then you laugh about it. >> but zimmer's goals are much bigger than getting us to work or home from a bar. he wants to change the way we live. at what point do you believe all your cars will be self-driving? >> i believe in about five years the majority of lyft trips will be in autonomous vehicles.
>> five years? >> yes. >> what does the experience look like? >> just like you purchase a monthly subscription from netflix or spotify you'll purchase a lyft plan. you can imagine if you're taking a long family trip for the weekend you'll have a large vehicle, maybe with like a screen to watch movies. if you're on your personal trip to work you can be productive. maybe you can take a nap. >> you do understand this still blows people's minds. >> yeah. >> the high line is a new york public park built on an unused railroad elevated above the streets of manhattan. from these old railroad tracks, zimmer looks down at the roads, as the next frontier in obsolete modes of transportation. >> in ten years, i believe that personal car ownership will all but end in major cities. >> ten years, though, that's a quick turnaround. you really believe that's going to happen? >> i do. people are already starting to move away from car ownership. to order lyft when they need a ride in their city. and eventually autonomous vehicles come out you get a ride anywhere for $5 or less and then it makes no sense to own a vehicle. >> and it seems not just a good
business by you but a necessity at some point for our culture. we can't fit all the cars we have on these roads. >> we're at a turning point where more and more people are moving to cities. and there's just not enough space. it's absolutely going to happen. it has to happen. and the good news is, it's going to be better for all of us. >> new york city, 20 years from now, what does it look like? >> all the parked cars on the side of the road, imagine those all gone. the majority of parking lots, and spots, gone. instead of a parking lot, it could be new housing or a park. imagine more of this. and a lot more happy people like we're seeing out here. >> can you hurry up and make this happen? >> yeah, we're going fast. we have an exciting announcement. we are offering five people the chance to come on the show and give an elevator pitch in front of two buyers from sam's club. they're going to be judging the pitches, and they'll vote on who you will be invited to their headquarters to make a more comprehensive presentation. this is a big opportunity. so send us an e-mail or a video
of your pitch, or in that e-mail ayling to the video. our address is firstname.lastname@example.org. be sure to include a short summary about your product. we look forward to seeing those pitches. when we come back, a viewer wonlders how to weigh the benefits and risks of collaborating and two very successful founders talk to us about how to come back from a slowdown in 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! 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. had an opportunity to collaborate with a colleague to grow my business. i don't know it f. it's the right plof to collaborate with a colleague or stay on my own to grow it even more. >> so whether you're thinking about bringing in a business partner, there's a couple things i would think b the first is this person going to bring something that you don't have in terms of experience? second, you actually need somebody to help you if you do not have enough time to grow the business as it stands today and what resource as lou you to grow faster? once you think about that, then you want to sit down and have the hard conversation. how much does this person want of the business? how much time can they commit? how are you going split things up in terms of salary and ownership? it's important to have those conversations up front and sit
down and be honest with each other because if you can't have the hard conversations today, it's going to be much harder to have the conversations when you're in the business when you're trying to figure out what's going on and maybe when you face a challenge. so i think it's a good idea but you have to do your home work up front. sit down and get real. w. your partner. >> it's now time for the brain trust. we get to dig into the tough issues you deal with in business and find out how some very successful people dealt with them. we have the founder of the inside and the previous founder of dwell which you sold to wayfair. congratulations. >> thank you. >> and the founder and ceo of tough mudder. >> hi. >> i want to bring you two together because you both experienced immediate orric rises in your company. incredible to watch. and then at some point you hit a plateau. and i want to know what that was like and what did you to get yourself through that time. or decline, plateau or decline. i want to start with you.
2008 hit. >> 2008 hit. i mean everybody had a plateau or decline. and, you know, it was a really scary event. just because i remember standing at a trade show and there were no attendees. i think to myself, my good in, the whoem thing is over. so for us, what we really did is we really retrenched our core values, design, you know, beautiful customer service, really speaking to our audience. and we sort df that consistently over and over and over again. kept delivering on the promise. and i think that's what helped us weather the storm. >> was it scary? >> it was beyond scary. it was just beyond -- because it was overnight. and it wasn't really overnight. but it felt like it was overnight. >> i think also for both of you, you just had such success. >> right. >> it kind of feels like this is working and my idea and everyone likes it. i know how to do this. and then you also though did you want see it decline overall, you saw a decline in --
>> in some events. >> in north america and the united states which was the biggest market. and what did you do at that point? >> the first thing you have to do is remind yourself that all businesses go through this at some point. awe companies have a rapid growth and then things plateau and they go backwards and even the big companies and the nikes, apples of this world. they really test your character and resolve. it's a cliche but resilience is important. remind yourself why you started the business. reminding yourself that business is more than just putting on events and thinking about what is the mission? what is the values miff company? and then being creative and entrepreneurial again. doing the things that got you started in the first place. for us that meant launching the event. go to new countries. that meant growing media business. starting to do tv shows. and, you know, that worked for us. it was a worrying time. >> i asked the same thing. was it scary for you? >> very much. so you start questioning yourself. did i get lucky? was i in the right place at the right time? will the people that join stick with me through this? >> right.
you have the people. when you have a company that is just killing it, right, doing really well, everyone is along for the ride. >> everyone. >> and you just wrote a book. it takes a tribe. >> that's right. >> and in that book you talked about when you saw that first decline, suddenly people internally started to question. >> oh, yeah. >> absolutely. >> so this happened to both of you. >> and how do you keep people's enthusiasm up the way you had it when you were doing so well? >> you know, in some ways, you know, you never choose to go through. that but some positives do come out of it. the naem are really there for the right reasons and who are the people that love you only for your money, so to speak. we definitely saw some people that said that's not impressive. i was expecting 100%. i have to he remind them, most companies are happy with that. >> exactly. >> i think people that really thrived in the company like tough mudder is because they're in there beside being an economic machine. i believe the best companies exist to be a higher purpose. we're not curing cancer but
we're getting people to live more active lives and switch off the smart phones for a couple hours. the people that stuck around are people that really believed in our vision and our mission. >> and how did you deal with it? though there may be people who don't believe in it and wauyou t them to go, you still need people. >> at the endst day with the best companies, you know, the most valuable thing you have is the people that work. there. >> right. >> those are the naem have, you know, grown the culture. been part of the story. i was really fortunate. i think we had developed such a sort of kind of collective, caring, corporate culture that i lost very few people. they sort of did the transition with us. i think it was -- these were things i was very, very sort of careful about in the beginning. i wanted to make sure that people felt like they were -- that the company was there for them as well as them being there for the company. and i think it's really important. otherwise, you know, when times get tough, people will just look for something better. >> you both weathered the storm very well. very successfully. so it's really nice to get to
hear. frankly, it's really nice to hear there is a moment when you were scared. right? people look at you both and think success. right? you sold your company at wayfair, you're doing $100 million in revenue. it is very helpful i think for others to understand there are scary moments. >> that's right. i think a lot of ceos or leaders put pressure on themselves to pretend severing prchlt the reality is it's not that way for anybody. if you create this instagram world for your self where everything is perfect and only show that side, can you find yourself very lonely and alienated. >> i think things are changing so quickly that, you know, just the way we communicate with each other. you have to be on top of it and having these sort of mini crisis all the time anyway. people need to be resilient and sort of micropivot a lot is really important. you have to be nimble. >> agree. thank you both soec much. >> thank you. >> thank you. this week's your biz selfie comes from jim pearce.
they provide high quality graphic solutions. you can see him here posing with the beast. that is a new piece of equipment. now why don't you pick up your smart phone and take a picture of you and your business number professional shots, please. send it to email@example.com. include your name, name of your company and location and please use the #yourbizselfie. thank you so much for joining us to day. here is something i flernd today's show. earlier we talked about a couple that didn't have the right insurance and when disaster struck it was a big problem. look, we all have things in our jobs that we just want to put aside. it is complicated or boring. but it is our job to understand everything. i don't care if you're running a team or if you're running a business. you cannot put thing as side and hope it's going to work out for the best. that's the stuff that comes back to bite us. put time aside every week to go deal with those things that you
have been ignoring. now we would love to hear from you. if you have any questions or comments about today's show, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. you can also go to our website. we posted allst segments from today's show plus a whole lot more for you. and you can find even more on all of our digital and social media platforms as well. we look forward to seeing you. remember, we make your business our business.
good morning. welcome to "politics nation." on the show today, taking a knee during the national anthem now even president trump is fueling the fire. >> when somebody disrespects our flag, get that sovn of a. [ beep ] off the field right now. he's fired! >> we'll talk about the dark racial sentiment in president