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tv   Your Business  MSNBC  July 23, 2017 4:30am-5:00am PDT

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no, you're not jimmy. don't let directv now limit your entertainment. xfinity gives you more to stream to more screens. good morning. coming up on msnbc's your business, have the owners of this pillow company done soul searching to see what was stopping growth. and the water bottle industry became a multi million dollar business. anbar rescue john tapper what you need to know to turbo charge your sales. learn to grow fast and go far coming up next on "your business." hi, everyone.
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i am j.j. ramberg. welcome to "your business." a show dedicated to helping you grow business. it is very important to sometimes take a hard look in the mirror. today we profile a pennsylvania business owner who raised his hand, 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 grow. it got so bad, i ended up in the hospital. i related it to stress. it was a stress growth. >> chris klein was in pure agony. his back was killing him and 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 co-owner of eric and christopher in pennsylvania, but 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 said you're the problem. >> you see, chris was trying to be everything to everyone at the company. and not only was it hurting his back, it was hurting his company's growth. >> what i didn't realize is i was actually creating more problems. my back was telling me that. >> eric and christopher sew and print animal prints based on pictures taken by chris and his business partner eric. when employees hit snags with a project they were working on, chris would take over. >> screen printer, you have a problem, come to me.
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i can fix it. you're in shipping, there's a problem, get me, 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 of the distractions. >> how is this print, is this print okay, and i was like seriously? we can't have a conversation because we are being interrupted every three minutes. questions that i thought why don't they know this. >> he wasn't alone in the frustration. jenna tucker understood this was no way to run a growing company. >> we were presented with different opportunities and i was working with some retailers that, you know, i knew we wouldn't be able to meet their demand. in my past experiences, you don't get much done when you're interrupted 20 times a day and more. >> chris' bad back was the inevitable pivot point.
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he started to understand that eric and christopher wasn't 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, saying we are a $6 million a year business. >> sales were growing between 70 and 80% a year. but they realize if they didn't want the company to combust, 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 that. i'm wrong, i am stubborn. >> working with eric and jenna, the goal was to make them 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 to screen printing and shipping. chris also pledged to train employees better instead of trying to solve every problem himself. >> now i kind of demand of them
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or ask them what would 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 of his own. he wanted to be a better leader and level the playing field. >> like i wasn't involved, and i needed to be involved. i needed to know on a daily basis. >> chris dialed back slightly, eric stepped up his game, took on a more active role in day to day decisions. >> i was just the maker and i was completely content with that, and i needed a wakeup call that this is eric and christopher, not chris is running everything and i'm just tagging along with creativity and fun. but i just wasn't paying attention. i only had to blame myself. >> in a not so great coincidence, eric ended up with his own injury and had to have hand surgery because he was still doing a lot of sewing himself. he, too, had to learn to do a
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better job of thinking big picture. >> i realized that in growing such a large company you really have to have everything in place. chris wound up in the hospital, i wound up in the hospital. it's not a good way to run a business if it's going to kill you. >> big customers, nordstroms, ll bean and thousands of retailers may never have seen actual changes. now they're actually being better served. it is easier than ever to get orders out the door. >> we slowed sales down to 20% growth last year. this year we are up almost 100%. >> work flow will continue to evolve as the team suggest improvements regularly. eric and christopher is still thinking better to make sure they're ready for the sales volume they project will come its way. >> we are able to hire more people, we are able to do bigger volume jobs. we are moving in a really good
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direction. we are able to handle larger orders, that's a part of the job that i find really satisfying. water bottles have gotten an upgrade thanks to as well. in 2010, the founder started to sell the product door to door. boutiques would give her water bottle a chance. now the brand has more than 100 employees and their water bottle is the must have fashion accessory. we sat down with sarah at swell bottle headquarters in new york city to talk about dealing with copy cats 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, using a water bottle that didn't really fit my life-style.
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my idea was to create a water bottle that fit me as the consumer. i had to walk into stores myself, explain the product, and ask stores if they would give it a shot. most said no, we don't really carry water bottles. but i had the inventory at that point, i had already invested my savings. i needed to sell. then i had to get clever. i said this isn't really a water bottle, this is fashion hydration accessory. this belongs on the shelf. would you please give it a shot. >> how were you confident in the beginning when money was gi dwindling and you heard a lot of nos. >> i had to fake the confidence, i didn't want another day job. was using the product, i knew myself as a consumer loved this product. there's been a few magic moments for swell. got a call from oprah's magazine, the editor picked up the phone and called me, said i love the product.
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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, i realized to turn down an opportunity to be in oprah magazine, not invest in the product and more colors, i was always going to kick myself. i ordered more colors as soon as i could and got in the magazine. we sold a lot of product, but more than that, it was a stamp of approval. i set my sights on a lot of big goals. i sort of laugh when i look back at early business plan. i said i wanted to be the bottle of choice for the ted conference. and we are the bottle of choice for the ted conference. we also met google and microsoft and facebook. if i hadn't thought big and broke that intention down, i don't know that would have
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actually happened. it's really important for swell to fight the knockoffs and counterfeits, to be an authentic brand, we have to be out there fighting. our team is not only smart on the legal side, they're incredibly creative. we are not only winning in court, they're training customs agents to look for what to find before it comes into the country. we are also going and having honest conversation wes our retailers, training retailers. breaks my heart how much we have to spend on time and resources, but at the same time i am glad we are sending a signal to the marketplace that authenticity is important to us. i wanted to convert the nonconverters. i didn't want someone already carrying a water bottle, i wanted to create the category. people thought i was crazy when i said 35, $40 on a water
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bottle. however, now that i created a product class, we created an entire new market for that product. we come out with a new line twice a year, and we create collectors. our customers can't wait to see what we come out with next. we are always looking for new customers. we created sip my swell, it is less expensive but just as fashion forward, really playful, maybe for a different customer. has it been a constant write up or is it like this? >> i would say it hasn't been a constant ride up. the frequency of highs and lows have become higher highs and lower lows, the amount of work has become more. the hours have become more. >> you have more to lose. >> i have more to lose. i have more employees, more meetings. i have more joy. it is hard to describe.
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the intensity of it is higher but the happiness is a lot more, too. >> i totally get it. >> when her sales are going well, it is easy to not be rigorous about the process around them, when slow, easy to get nervous, make rash decisions. we should all be rational and concentrating all the time on how to increase sales. john tapper, host and when i have producer of "bar rescue." he is chairman of dynamics inc, owned and operated 17 hospitality businesses and consulted with over 800 venues in 30 countries. amazing. >> a lot of work. >> a lot of work, but you helped so many people. >> i am sure you learn from one to the other. >> yes. >> it is so much about sales in the companies you go into, so
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glad to talk to you. let's start with the way you craft things, you cannot fix what you don't track. >> we don't live by revenue alone. revenue is a result of how many people walk through the door, call, click through, how much they spend and how often they come back. so it is new customer programs, frequency programs and spend programs. so if i have less people that spend more, i can make more money. but 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 after them differently. >> when you're taking numbers, coming in every week and looking at your numbers, you say rightly so, look at total revenue and revenue per customer. >> yes. give you an example. i know a business increased prices by 6% this year, their guest counts went down by 4%. they're claiming it ruined business by 2%, but they didn't.
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they lost 4% of customer base, that isn't growth. >> but increased revenue. >> yes, but how many times can they increase the company by raising prices. you're going to hit a barrier, a wall you can't cross. if we want to grow a business, that's growing transactions, not just sales per transaction. >> got it. then talk about growing those transactions, getting more people through the door which is about marketing. >> yes, it is. you have to get them through the first time. new customer programs are isolated. they should have their own budget and focus, they're external by nature. they could be viral, they could be online, they could be seo based, could be flags in front of a retail store to draw attention. could be signage, calls for actions in a business. there's a lot of ways to create new customers. and it should be its own discipline. business owner should put some effort and 30% of marketing budget into new customers. other thing that's interesting, in most businesses if you can
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increase customer frequency by one time a month, that's about 15% increase in overall level. >> and easier to get someone back than get a brand new person to come the first time. >> absolutely, and cheaper. you have to focus on frequency programs. how do we do that. how do i get them to come one more time. that should be its own focus and its own budget. >> finally, once they're there, how do you get them to stay. >> exactly right. cross sell, up sell, what can we do to create more revenue per transaction. if you work the three things, revenue growth, you work them in one clump, sometimes you spend money on the wrong thing. you are spending on new customers but that's not the problem, the problem is spent. you have to focus dollars where the problem is. >> and 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, every month, maybe every day, certainly every
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year, that allow you to make better decisions, so you know where to put the gas on and where to look it up. >> that's right. so often apply resources to the wrong place, just slight shifts make a big difference. if the business operator isn't thinking new customers frequency spending, they don't dissect it that way, then they don't spend the money that way. >> you can get a dashboard, whether online or written down from someone in the company, here's a dashboard, this is what i look at every day. thank you for all of that. >> thank you. let's face it. 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." pulled out expert sales tips to increase revenue at your company. one. send a package that begs to be opened. no matter what industry, the
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person is probably getting dozens of proposals a day. do something surprising or interesting with the envelope or box it is sent in. two, find a good sales rep. the secret is look for people who are already repping a noncompetitive product. they'll have existing relationships with your potential customer base. three, point out product flaws. don't try to pull one over on your prospect. if there's something off, they'll appreciate it if you point it out before they find it themselves. four. get back to leads quickly. if someone e-mails or calls you back, respond within 15 minutes while you're still in line with them. get to the buyers at big retailers. reaching people is not impossible if you know a couple of tricks. you probably have to do some detective work to find the right names and contact information, but resources like the chain store guide and salesman's guide
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are good places to start. a few years ago, my company moved into new offices in san francisco and there was a private club on the top floor of our building. i went knocking on their door one day to see what it was about. found out the owners had an incredibly interesting story. his love for the finer things spurred him to create an online store, then a brick and mortar store, then a private club, all around his particular brand. he is a self described modern gentleman. >> modern gentleman, sort of seamlessly traverses work, play, family, friends, different social settings and appreciates finer things in life, whether food and wine, spirits and cigars, beautiful cars, nice timepieces. >> his san francisco based company, wing tip, which is half public retail store and half
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private social club is focused on making sure that gentleman and some ladies too have a place to go that fits their life-style. >> what are you selling here? it is not just that you're selling whiskey and shoes. you're selling something bigger. >> i think at its most simplest level, we're selling an experience. >> wingtip started in 2004 as an e-commerce store. since a young age, always appreciated fine wines, cigars and fancy clothes. after a few years, he had enough funding to open his brick and mortar store. then in 2010 he started the members only club. >> was it scary for you to make the investment that the club required? >> i would say it was an educated gamble. >> educated because he had developed an incredibly loyal customer base at the store. one he turned to to recruit founding members of the club. >> i sent an e-mail on saturday morning to 40 of our best
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customers. very high level explanation of what we were trying to do. i asked for a thousand dollars a person. and need to know by tomorrow and we got join. >> what about the store made you want to join a 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 are all one and the same. when you join the club your dues go towards a credit at the store. >> all of the things that we sell are part of the modern gentleman's lifestyle. the difference at wing tip is through the private club you have an experience to things before you buy them. >> not only is everything at the store for sale, but everything at the club is for sale, too. this smoking jacket, the glassware, the key holders. it worked on me. ami and i sat down to have a
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signature wingtip manhattan and within seconds i was tempted to buy everything around me. >> i already want to buy this as a gift for a friend of mine. >> we will 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 tradition of sabering 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 ability 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 in cheek about the space. so i believe that we can sell and enjoy luxury goods, but without pre tension. >> there are examples of this everywhere, like here in the boardroom. >> this is the wingtip board of directors. >> this is my fictitious board
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of directors, the people that inspire me. >> this is funny. let me see how many of these i know. billy ray valentine. >> you're missing my head of sales which is big tom callahan from tommy boy. >> this is perfectly in line with the way ami has grown the company. he is primarily driven by his own instinct. >> are you a he can to us group of one, this en? >> i always have loved the henry ford quote if i asked the public what they wanted they would have told me faster horses. i stantly 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 a brain trust tells us how writing from magazines and websites can boost your business.
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so that's the idea. 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 are a local company based out of ohio and we are looking at how we can bring in more local traffic to our company by using search engine optimization. how would we bring in more locals to look us up on that? >> you know, while seo is a great idea, for a localized company it might not necessarily
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be the thing you want to spend your money on. if you are a local company, especially one that's involved in for at that potties where people are outside and using them, why not use facebook live and periscope on twitter where you can go out and do live video from locations that people would recognize and local 5k and 10 k races perhaps, large family picni picnics, gathers, things you can go out and say 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 they want to go a little bit in-depth on something they're figuring out at work. today in our brain trust here on the show we have chris meyers who is the co-founder and ceo of bode tree which is a financial services company working with over a million businesses. >> yes. >> congratulations on that. >> thank you. >> and melinda nicki who is the founder and ceo of baby tabadi a platform for expectant and new mothers. you write for huffington post, a lot of consent for your
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own site and huffington post and linkedin. >> you are very prolific on forbes, i think you are one of their top online columnists, right? >> yes. >> is this worth your time? i want to know. >> yeah. i think it is. when i started writing for forbes it was more about kind of self-help honestly than anything. >> for you? >> for me. >> it was your confessional. >> absolutely. everybody has their own communication style and for me i like the style of writing. i like to be able to think things out and actually articulate it. i have plenty of mistakes i have made, plenty of scars i have earned. >> sure, but does it help your company? this is valuable time you are taking away from running why your company. >> well, it's really interesting because i think for our company we've got two audiences, so we've got our business audience, so the vcs and the business community who want to maybe partner with and get funding from, and then we have the consumers. so i do both. i wear both hats. i will write for huff post about being a business owner but then
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i will also write an article about being a mom and what that means as an entrepreneur or starting my business or something, or i'm writing about fitness and well being for pregnancy for a baby magazine. so i do a ton of these different things and i think what it helps me to do is to kind of gi myself 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 and giving them a little bit of an inkling about, you know, who you are, how you think and people want that authenticity, they want that energy and i think it's really, really -- >> and it's trust building, too. when somebody sees your brand and your thoughts and your journey on forbes or huff post or msnbc it builds confidence. >> there is a direct. for you to write about being a business owner you're saying that that then helps you go raise money. >> yes, it has helped. so some of my investors saw a piece that i wrote on linkedin. >> got it. >> and then they contacted me,
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or when i had contacted them they had heard of me or read my piece wherever it was. so that definitely helps to put you on the map and to 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, i'd say about a third of our revenue has come from people who have discovered us through that reach. we get a lot of page views per month, in the millions, but ultimately that's where they discover us. >> okay. so you both think it's a good idea, you both think it's worth your time. how did you do it? >> that's a trick question. >> it's a great question. for me, i don't know about for you, but it's just a discipline. >> i get that, but did you just, hi, forbes, my name is chris meyers? >> well, it was relationship. i knew a gentleman who used to work at the times that i met through a mutual colleague who then moved over to forbes and asked me to write for him. >> so you had some connection. >> yeah, and i think for me it's more about building the platform on social media and going to events, speaking at events.
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so i do a lot of that. >> how did you get to write for the huff post? >> i think i sent them an article and i said, you know, i think this will be appropriate for your audience. >> so no connections. >> >> no, i think i did it cold. and some of the ones i've done have been cold. >> all right. thank you. thank you both. good luck with your writing and your companies. thank you for coming and joining us. >> thank you. this week's your biz selfie comes from don pitts who owns harlem and denim right here in new york city. don collaborates with his daughter on the designs which are inspired by vintage clothing. want to see your picture on the show? pick up your cellphone and take a selfie of you and your business and sent it to yourbusiness@msnbc.com or tweet it to @msnbc your biz. we love these these photos. please include your name, the name of your business, your location, anything fun about your company or interesting and don't forget to use the #your
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biz selfie. netanyahu so much for joining us today. we would love to hear from you. if you have any questions or comments about the show e-mail us at your bbusiness@msnbc.com. also please go to our website it's openforum.com/yourbusiness. we've posted all of the pieces from today's show plus a lot more for you. you can also 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 we are, 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?
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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. ♪ good morning and welcome to "politics nation." in recent weeks we've seen more recorded cases of police misconduct. why are conservatives insisting the real problem is police morale? that's later in the show. but also a federal lawsuit claiming president trump's voter fraud commission was formed explicitly to make voting harder for

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