All right, well, Hello and welcome. Thank you so much for joining us on today’s special session. This is part of our seven figure agency podcast than our agency success interviews series. we’re interviewing highly successful digital marketing agencies from across the country on how they’re growing and scaling their businesses. And today, I’m super pumped to have Tony Ricketts from law online marketing, formerly law online websites with us today. Tony, thanks so much for coming on.
Thanks for having me, Josh. Really appreciate it. Looking forward to
that. So just real quick, from a high level, kind of introduce yourself and your agency, you know, the types of clients you serve and kind of the size of your operations as it sits today.
Yeah, absolutely. So, again, my name is Tony rickets. I’m the owner of long line marketing. Most people do is buy long line websites. So we didn’t do a name change to line up better with the services that we offer. We focus specifically on the lawn and landscape field, the green industry, and we are a full service agency. So we are doing website development design, we’re doing search engine optimization, pay per click management, social media management, we even get into some additional services like recruiting is that’s a major issue in our industry. So we are a full service agency. And we operate like that we don’t offer one off services, when somebody comes with us. They are forced to do all of our full service programs. So you can’t just buy a website from us, you have to do everything all together. Because it all works together to get the best result. We’re about four and a half years in business, we started July 2016, I do run a US based on site team. So we don’t have any remote workers or anybody overseas. There’s a team. We’re a team of eight people currently. And we’re going to do around a million dollars a year in revenue this year with plans and strategies to have huge growth next year to skip all the way into the mid twos next year.
Amazing. And if you get to know Tony a little bit better, you’ll you’ll learn that he is a operations ninja like he’s world class when it comes to websites and content structuring and SEO and the results that he gets for his clients on that front. So we started working together as part of seven figure agency about, I guess, eight, nine months ago. Just if we can rewind to that point, what were some of the the challenges you were facing in the business at that point that you were just looking to solve?
Right, right. So at that point, I was really looking to get myself out of operations, I didn’t want to do any kind of fulfillment, I wanted to make sure that my team can handle all the fulfillment, and we have all the people and processes and their roles defined on what it is that they’re going to do. Because without that, we have no ability to scale. So at that point in time, I was trying to remove myself 100% of the film and make sure that team was perfectly in place. The other thing that I was struggling with was building my monthly reoccurring revenue. And that’s really where I want to throw kudos to you, Josh, because when I first started with you, I had about half of my revenue and projects. And by projects, I mean, one time website builds, people are just gonna pay us once a couple thousand dollars to build a website. And that’s it, which accounted for 30 $40,000 a month of our revenue is a big chunk. And we were only around 30 35,000 a month and reoccurring revenue at that point in time. And since we’ve more than doubled our recurring revenue since February, we cut off all of our project work. So we’re no longer doing that. And I tell you, life has been so much better when we got rid of that project work. So those were the two things removing myself from filming operations, and getting away from project work and focusing on full service. Mr. Excellent. And
I know that that was a little bit of a struggle, because it was such a big amount of revenue you got from the web design stuff on how is that impacted your business? Like how is how are things better now that you’re more recurring revenue based as opposed to so heavy on that other side?
Yeah, the biggest thing is staffing. So you’ve got to have the right people in the right places. And when you’re doing so much project work, that’s not consistent work. That’s work that you have to go out and resell every single month. And you have to staff accordingly for it. Well, especially in my industry where it’s very seasonal based where there’s parts of the year where people are building their websites more often than others. That means that I ran into serious staffing issues and those times of the year when I was understaffed to be able to do those projects. So that’s one thing. The other thing was is when we did shift into only Mr. subscription services, and got away from the project work, we still had things set up where it was kind of our car. So you could do just a paid advertising or just the SEO or a combination of all of them. Now you get we have two basic programs and they include a and b in the secondary programs a lot higher in You’re gonna get more with it. But you’re going to have a full inclusive program on either one of those. So there is no just PPC, there is no just SEO or just a website that allows us to systemize things and put processes in place that every customer is going through the same path every month, but in the results really, really well. So both operationally and results for the customer.
That’s awesome. And so like, as you’re listening to this, you hear you’re here Tony’s doing a million dollars in landscape, you know, company business, which you’d often think, man, how can you do that much in that one space, and he’s poised to go to 2 million, and I have no doubt that he’s going to do it over the next 12 to 15 months? Um, how did you wind up in the landscape niche? I’m just curious, everyone likes to know kind of the Genesis story or is,
right, absolutely. So I’ll back it all the way up and give you my whole story here of my progress. So I started actually started from when I was a kid, about 10 years old. My father was a web developer taught me how to build websites in the mid 90s. And I fell in love with it. I was a code monkey all the way through high school, but I never really looked at as a career option. So after high school, I joined the landscaping crew. And I worked on landscaping crew for over two years in South Florida. And if you’ve ever been in South Florida, and spent eight hours out there, and that sun working, it’s extremely hot. So I decided that this isn’t going to be for me. And after two years, like well, maybe I can do something with this skill that I have for coding. And that’s when I decided to go back to college got a degree. So I have a formal degree in that in that particular skill, worked in marketing agencies and web development firms did all that. And I decided to start my own generalist agency in Tampa, Florida, back in May of 2007. And I ran that that business for nine years. And we would do everything website development Software as a Service development, we would do marketing, and paid ads, SEO, all that kind of stuff. For anybody who wanted now we would have to relearn everybody’s business over and over and over again. And it was a nightmare. different strategies for different companies. And it was just a complete nightmare is completely unscalable didn’t work at all. I did well, I mean, I was at six figures with that with that agency. But it couldn’t go any further than what it was without the major issues I was facing. So that’s when I decided that this has to be more called productized. But something that can be easily scaled and resold in a way that’s easy to digest for the consumer in this market. So I looked how I found a niche, I knew I needed to choose a niche. So how I landed on lawn and landscape for two ways. One, I already knew the industries I worked in the industry. I had done a website in the past for the landscape company I worked for when I was just out of high school. And the other way that I found it was we did research, we went and looked at various different industries. And the things that we looked at was one, how many companies were in that space? How many? How many potential customers do I have? We looked at the revenues. And then we looked at specifically how many agencies are already specializing in that in that niche. And in the lawn landscape. At the time, there was hardly any of us that were focusing on it. Lisa had any kind of presence anyway. So when you look at the experience I had, plus the research we did put that together, it was a easy choice to land on one or escape.
Nice. So I mean, interesting there. So I didn’t realize you had worked in the landscape trade at some point. So from the landscape worker to seven figure agency owner, that’s a pretty exciting, exciting journey. And, you know, it’s interesting how we all arrive at a niche in a different way. But I think a lot of smart thought went into that right? And a lot of diligence in terms of who what’s the right niche for me to enter? Right. The next question, the next question always comes up is Okay, so now you’ve decided I want to shift from generalist to specialist I, I’ve done some websites in this space before, how did you get your first clients in the in the landscaping world?
Right? So I got my first clients the same way, I still get my clients today. And I’ve always been a big believer of drink your own Kool Aid. And that’s exactly what we did. That’s how we started it. So we are really, really good at SEO, we’re really, really good at paid advertising. We’re really good at social media. And when you take those skill sets that you have the same exact services and strategies that you’re selling to your customers every day and you apply them in your business, then you will start seeing results from that. And I know there’s lots of different ways to skin a cat and get new business as an agency owner, but following your own policies and procedures and strategies and implementing them for yourself. It’s how we got there. So a paid ad is where we got our very first customer, which I actually end up selling it over live chat still to this day. They’re still our customers. And I still have never had a phone conversation with him. Is that right? Absolutely.
Unbelievable. So and so the couple of interesting things to unpack there, first of all, eat your own dog food, right? If you’re gonna be a digital marketing agency, right, and you’re gonna tell people they should be doing pay per click advertising, and they should be creating content to rank. And you’re not doing that for yourself. Shame on you, right? So first of all, kudos to you did that and actually did it for your first client. The second is, so by chat Talk, talk to me about that.
So with this particular customer, being in the lawn landscape space is one there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of the Hispanic people that own these businesses, and their English is not always great. So live chat was something I implemented from the beginning, it gave a nice, easy outlet to where they wouldn’t have to call us and speak with us, it gave them an easy way to reach us. So this particular customer, I’m not sure how well their English is or not, because again, I’ve never spoke to them on the phone. But we simply described what we offered through the live chat because they felt that was an easier way. And we we made the sale all the way through live chat, including collecting the credit card number and everything. So while it was really what about, that’s how we got our first customers, and we still get a lot of our customers that way today. The other big thing was the trade shows trade shows is how we landed all of our, I would say all of our best clients, but a big portion of our best clients and country shows. And we just do one big trade show every year with about 20,000 of our prospects there.
Wow. So talk talk to me about that. I’m a big fan of, you know, once you’ve chosen the niche, and you’ve got a couple of wins under your belt, like you had to then find the Association and the events that happened within that association. Right and and participate. Right. So talk to me about, like how you’ve gotten participative and kind of the trade show play?
Absolutely. So we we ended up at the trade shows we started our very first year when we went to our first trade show just it was October after we open business. So only three, four months after we open the business, we did our first trade show. We just simply did a Google search for trade shows in the industry. So this was something major decided to go ahead. We had probably the worst booth of everybody there. It was a complete terrible thing. We’re going like Walmart and buying rugs and stuff like that. It was horrible. We were right, exactly. And I think we sold like $2,000 worth websites at that at that trade show that was actually our second sale with capital ratio. So we were on top of the world. So $2,000 Oh, absolutely. Didn’t even cover our expenses to get there. decided to come back the next year because it was so busy. We had still a crappy booth. But we wanted to make it better did it a little bit better. And then finally, the third third year that we went we went all in, we spent 10 grand on it on a nice booth, we upgraded to a 20 by 20 Island. So we have a huge presence there now and it paid off already. I mean, we did we did our trade show last year. And we’ve already done over 100 K and recurrent revenue from it just from the ratio by itself. So that’s going to continue to pay us dividends going forward through the year you but you also mentioned associations and this particular art association is also tied to the trade show that is being put on. So along with the association membership, which you can choose to do they also give you a discount on the tradeshow floor space. So it was a nice perk to be able to join the trade show as a supplier which we ended up going all the way to the top level as a consultant member with them. And we get a nice sized discount on our floorspace so it helps a little bit because traces are very expensive to go to which is probably one of the main reasons a lot of people leave them but it’s what really got our business off the ground. And when you’re there people validate you more you feel they feel more credible because you’re at this big event you look very professional and you’re standing there next to all the biggest known brands in the industry that everybody knows
100% I love it that that that’s how you landed your first couple of you know couple of clients started to get the momentum similar similar path for us like as you know, right we we get into the trade shows I was there with my laptop and and that was it and we got a couple of our seed clients from it and and we’ve kind of built it up from there. So on live live chat with me guys, as we’re doing this Tony’s already shared some really cool insights on how he chose his niche on you know how he landed his first clients how he got some momentum in the space. What are you taking away? What are you learning kind of chat with me in the chat as we continue through this? Um What else? Have you done? Like as relates to the association? Have you been able to do anything else to kind of further embed yourself in that organization?
Yeah, absolutely. So With our particular Association, there’s a couple of benefits that you’re going to get. So we do a webinar every year, we’re actually getting ready to do seven second webinar for them next month. And what’s nice when you get in with the associations, they’re the ones that promote you, and gives you tons and tons of credibility. So when I do this webinar next month with the NLP, which is the National Association of landscape professionals, when I do this webinar with them, they’re the ones that are going to promote it to their, their, their member base, and they will sign it up and I just have to really show up and give them the good info. So that’s, that’s one of the major benefits, the discount and floorspace, other speaking opportunities, the ability to have your content published on their website, and they run a magazine also, to have your content published in their magazine. So those are a couple of the benefits that come along with it. Another major benefit that comes along with it is going to be you get the list of all the members. So with our association anyways, they send us an Excel file. And inside that Excel Excel file, we have a list of all the companies when they started, how many employees they have, how many trucks they have, what services specifically they offer, where are they located at who is the contact person within that company. So they give us all that the only thing they don’t give us is their email address, but we get their phone number, their physical address, which is what we’re going to be building a list of target people off of this year. And we’ll be doing a lot of direct mails, gift baskets, things like that, to really put ourselves in front of the other members that we have that contact information.
That’s also I think this is one of the most overlooked strategies, right? We all think, okay, now I’m in the niche, I’m gonna start cold blasting everybody. But you get a bad list. And if you’ve got bad data, and you’re sending out hundreds of emails, it still isn’t going to connect, like one of my favorite plays exactly what Tony’s talking about here, chose the niche, got involved in the association got the list of members didn’t have everything, right. But at least now he can go to the events and be real face to face with folks. And he’s got data that he can reach out. And the other thing you said there that I think is extremely valuable, is it’s not just about joining the association and getting the logo to say, oh, we’re affiliate members of this, or we’re, I think you said consulting partners in this organization, right? There’s other benefits, if they let you do a webinar, do the webinar, right, show up add value, that’s going to create more awareness in the space, you’re going to get the list, that’s great. Now you can reach out to them, send them a copy of your book, or send them some useful resources. But if they let you publish on the site, now you can publish and that’s going to be a good link back to your website. So look at all of the benefits of being an affiliate partner, or whatever it is, in your particular niche and, and implement it to the fullest. Like, like, like Tony did. This is this is awesome. Thank you so much for sharing. Absolutely.
I’m not even I’m not even using it to the fullest, there’s a lot more I could be doing with it myself, it’s not even about don’t think you have to do everything. 100% you know, give, give taking all the strategies that you know, and learn and implement 10% of them, 20% of them and work your way up to doing more and more. Don’t think you have to just jump right in and go 100% right from day one.
Yes, I love deep desking. What’s been your experience with with cold outreach? I think you kind of bypass it. But yeah, tell tell the story.
Yes. So the cold outreach that we’ve done. So when we first got that list from the NLP that I was just talking about, I actually did have some people do some cold calling, and we got some customers from it. And we use a very specific script. And part of that script was that we are so and so and we are consulting members with the National Association of landscape professionals, the NA LP, and knowing that these people are associated with NLP, that gave us common ground. See, when you do cold outreach to me, where we found the most success is when we found common ground with it first. So once we find that common ground, which in this case is NLP, and people hear what they want to hear, obviously, you have to word your script properly and make sure you’re following all the rules of NLP because we can’t say that we are the NLP. But people hear what they want to hear, what do you tell them that you’re consulting with the NLP, they just automatically think you’re NLP. And obviously, they’re going to find out you’re not right away. But the point is that they listen to you for at least another 30 seconds to a minute and you get your chance to get through to through the gatekeeper to the decision maker. So we did that. We got a couple of great clients from there even still monthly, SEO and advertising counsel, we have still to this day. So we ended up getting a lot of good customers there. I would say that’s the extent of like cold outreach. We never did any cold emailing. We never did any email blasts. A little bit of cold calling and that was it. But what I quickly found out is we brought I think, three accounts off and cold calling, which over time generated a whole bunch of revenue for us over a couple of years, but the time that was spent there was not as valuable as the time we spent in our own marketing and SEO to generate much better results.
powerful, powerful shares and insights. What’s up, Jonathan? What’s up? Love deep? Gregory? Question there? Chris asked a question I think comes up often. And that’s when you join the association. Don’t they think that you’re a marketing agency, you’re just there to spam, I think it’s important that there’s a distinction, you’re not going to be able to join the plumbing association of the landscape Association. As a landscaper, you’re joining us as a, in his case, a consulting partner. In our case, it was an affiliate member, like they have different classifications for people that join the association, to sell to the members and people that are just there as actual members. So yeah, I mean, you have full permission with that to, you know, to approach it in that way
you do. And and to add to that, Josh, you’re very, right, they’re gonna look at you like a marketing agency, you’re trying to sell them something. And that’s how everybody, whether it’s the agency, the guy, you’re calling on a cold call, or whatever it may be, you know, that’s the way people look at marketing companies, they look at them, like, Look at us, like plumbers, we’re gonna do whatever we can to get that sale. But what’s more important is that you focus on the education aspect, you don’t come out of the gate trying to sell people stuff, you first establish yourself as the expert through content through webinars, through magazine articles, or any other types of sponsorships that you can do by a paid ad, and get your banner on the side of their website that in itself will give you additional credibility. And once you’ve established that credibility as a expert in the space, then you can send them song. And in that case, you really don’t even have to reach out to them, they come to you.
Yeah, powerful, powerful. And I think the most important thing, he said there was the ability to draft on affinity, right, because you join the association, because you’re an affiliate partner, you’re not just blind reaching out, you’re reaching out saying, I’m reaching out, because we’re affiliate partners of this organization that you’re a member of, right, and it just changes the dynamic. And it gives you like an implied permission to reach out and have a conversation as long as you’re doing it in a way that that adds value. Yeah, awesome. So So that’s kind of how you got to the place you’re at today. Um, you mentioned you The goal was to go 2 million over the next 12 to 24 months, he talked a little bit about what you’re doing to accelerate the growth at that level in terms of new client acquisition,
as Absolutely, so we are doing a lot, we are actually going full force now that we have our team in place, it is now to the point where all I have to do is really just start duplicating positions and people as the volume grows, because I’m not 100% out of fulfillment. I’m not building websites, running any ads or doing anything like that. So it’s just a matter of piling in more customers piling in the team to be able to fill it. So what we’re getting ready to do to climb to that 2 million or more mark is we’re going to invest very heavily in ourselves. So over the next period of our, our busy season, which for us is December, January is where it starts runs all the way through the domain, we’re going to invest very heavily in a couple of different channels. So as I mentioned, we’re going to build a list of our perfect clients. And we’re going to reach out to them various different methods. I don’t know how deep you want to go on these various strategies, but we’ll be doing that. We’ll be spending a lot in our paid advertising. So through social media, search engines, things like that. We are working on some joint ventures right now with some people through the industry, some other organizations, some of the software, vendors, consultants, things like that, to again, we’re not selling to those people we’re generating content with those people are going to educate with those people. So when we work with the software companies or the consultants, and we collaborate on topics that people are interested in, then that in itself sells people. So we’re going to be creating a lot of content like that video, a lot of podcasts, like what me and Josh are here, and then we’re going to promote the hell out of them. You’re going to see them on all the social media, you’re going to see them if you visit our website, I feel sorry for anybody who comes to our website over the next six months, because you’re going to see a whole lot of us after you visit, we’re going to be doing direct mail pieces and not just direct mail like printed mail, we’re going to be doing things like mailing USBs, we’re going to be sending out $50 gift gift baskets to cold outreach people that will be able to get their attention. And yes, it’s going to be very expensive, and there’s going to be a cost to it. But I’m also not trying to add 50 or $100,000 a year to our revenue. I’m trying to add a million and a half or more to our revenue this upcoming year. So it’s going to take drastic measures. So those are a couple of the things that that we’re going to be doing. We also have a new website coming out, we’re gonna re launch that in a couple of weeks, our own content outside of the jayvees. So we’re gonna start doing content once a week. At a minimum, so those are just a couple of the items that we’re going to use to take us from where we are now to another million million and a half in revenue this year.
Crushing, I have no doubt that you’ll you’ll you’ll hit that target, or at least get pretty, pretty close to it, because you’re doing great stuff. So let’s talk a little bit about how you bridge that gap. Because this is a problem that, you know, a lot of agencies, when they get to that mid six figure level, they’re the one doing the selling, they’re the one doing the marketing. And because they know how to do the websites and the SEO and the pay per click and are really good at it like you are, it’s hard to, to separate yourself from that. So let’s let’s talk about how you kind of made that progression from not having to do it all yourself to having the team in place. So you can focus on growing the business.
Right? Well, there’s, I think there’s really two ways you have to look at this Josh, one is what kind of owner are you? Are you an owner that comes from understanding this industry? Are you a tech nerd like I am? Or are you a business owner, that doesn’t really understand the technology and under the hood stuff. So if you’re the latter one and you you’re more of a business person, and don’t really have a good grasp on the technology end of it, then look for great white label partners, that’s going to help you immediately you’re going to be hiring people like account managers, and people like that, that are not as expensive, not specialized. And you’re gonna be able to scale much more quickly at that level. If you’re like I am, and you were a code monkey and a tech nerd, then what you can do is you have to hire, I started with specialists. So I went backwards. A lot of people who grow an agency, their first hire is an account manager, an account manager is actually one of my last hires. So when I started the agency, I was a coder, as you know, and I did my own ads, everything very, very deep into a very deep knowledge set there. So I hired a senior level web developer, I hired a senior level paid advertising and SEO guy, I hire senior level content writers, and they’re expensive, you got to pay a lot of money for them, I mean, far more than you would any account manager. And when you look at your revenue for being a mid six figure, say your 300 500 600,000 a year and revenue, you may look at like I can’t afford this person that had a call earlier this week with another member that was in that exact scenario. You spend so much time in his own paid ads and his responses, I can’t afford to pay somebody that. And my answer to him was well, how, how many hours are you spending in your paid campaigns, and he said, about 20 hours a week. So if you took that 20 hours a week, in freedom 80 hours every month, and gave it to somebody else’s senior level that you don’t really have to spend that much time training that can just take that off your plate, what kind of sales are you going to be able to generate, and you should be able to replace that person’s revenue, I think 60 to 90 days is a long span, you should be able to that 30 days, if you got that kind of free time up. So the team is critical, you have to have the right people. But what’s also important is you can’t hire somebody who’s not a senior and expect them to take something off your plate like that. So we have those special people, specialist people that I just mentioned, that are all senior level, those people came in, I told them how I like some things done, show them a few of my strategies, and then handed it off to them. And they can just take it they know they’re just as experienced as I am. Now on the other hand, I do have some generalist positions, I call them digital marketing assistance or operational assistance, whatever you want to call them, they help do a lot of the Facebook posts and putting together newsletters and all that kind of stuff for our clients. Those people don’t have to be specialists, they can be more of your generalists that you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for every year to have and you can train them up to be exactly how you want them. And that’s where I got my digital marketing assistant. That’s where I got my account manager and those positions. So the moral of my story here is I started as an engineer myself with the senior level specialists that cost me a ton of money, and then work down to the more generalist positions after that.
Great stuff. So I mean, for those of you that are at that play, so you’re at MIT, you know, six figures or more, and you’re thinking about do I try and continue to do this myself? Or do I start to build a team, really the choice is stay where you’re at right and call it a day, or you have to build the team if you’re going to continue to grow and scale. I think he just gave you some great insights on how to do that. What’s up, Jimmy? What’s up, Jonathan, great to have you here.
I think also Josh, if I can add one more thing to that Be patient. That’s the biggest thing with your specialists that you’re going to pay a lot of money for. each of those specialists took me six months to fill those positions. It takes a while. Don’t take the first one that comes in and make sure that you know how to interview them. Make sure you know what questions to ask them. If you don’t, if you can’t properly bet, PPC specialist then you’re better off white label because you’re not going to understand what they’re talking Be Found be able to properly.
Yeah, great, great point hire, hire slow, right? diligence, find the right person. And fire fast when you need to like that. That’s a that’s a. I live by that? For sure. Okay, so we’ve talked about how to lean the clients, we’ve talked about kind of how you how you’ve morphed your organization in order to free yourself up a little bit, so you can continue to focus on growth. Talk us through a little bit about what the deliverable looks like for your clients like, what is it that you do and kind of how do you charge for that type of stuff?
Yeah, absolutely. So as I mentioned, at the beginning of the interview, here, we are full service, so you can’t come to us by website. So we do have a paid ads only program. And I’m even considering phasing that out, we did it for the lower lower and entry level people. And we’ve got maybe five or six accounts on it. But we’ll determine whether we keep that or not. But that’s the first entry level, it’s $1,000 a month search or social paid ads. And what that includes is us setting up the campaigns running them for you setting up landing pages, we won’t use your own website. And if you don’t have one of our websites, we’ll build you a landing page website where that’s all it really is. So they can then also add on search or social. So let’s say for example, they start at $1,000 a month for search ads, they can add on social ads for $500. More, so a total of 1500 dollars a month. With that program, your Aspen has to be equal to one month of our fee. So if they’re on 1000 per month paid ad program for search, and they need to put at least $1,000 a month on their budget to go to Google Microsoft or wherever running this. They’re doing 1500, then it has to be 1500 dollar ad spend for the surgery and social. However, our main programs, our second third programs, our second program is going to be SEO paid ads and a website. So the website is free. We used to charge a separate setup fee for that, but decided to get rid of that. Now we do build them a standard 12 page website for service pages, eight regular standard pages. And we’ll build it out over time. So we have higher content in our ongoing marketing programs. So on our second program, it’s a $3,000 month program. And that’s going to include your website build, that’s going to get you four content pieces every month, so about one content piece a week. So as you can imagine, we can scale that website very quickly. But we do it over time to avoid the huge setup piece, we’re going to handle their citation for them. Now we do manual citations, we don’t use the text or
the bride logo or the other options that are out there, we actually manually create them ourselves, I have a whole strategy behind that. We do review building for our customers and help them get their online reviews, we have great strategy for that. With each of their content that we create, we’re going to promote that to their Google My Business we’re going to promote on their social media setup hate ads on their social media, anything on the piece will remark that back to certain people, we’re also going to be doing monthly upsell emails for you. So in our business, lots of companies are failing because they’re not upselling the way they should be, instead of earning two to $3,000 per customer, they’re only earning 100 to $1,000 per customer, which you know, something we should talk about as our sales process. But when I hear that I can tell right away that this person doesn’t do their set their upsells properly, because they just told me they earn $802,000 a year per customer. So when I tell them that I can take that to $2,000 per customer per year with just email upsells that gets very excited. So every month we use emails to upsell their other services. So in let’s say for lawn care, you got a guy that’s doing mowing service, well, they need to have their mulch refreshed once a year, they need to have their bushes trimmed two or three times a year they need aeration and seeding in the fall. You know they need all these other services, fertilizer and weed control and all these other things that go along with it. And they’re not just going to come to you by you got to tell them that that’s for sale. And here’s how you can get a price for it. So upselling our email newsletters live chat services included 24 seven live chat answering, so not for we don’t just put a live chat on our clients website and say here you go make sure you manage it. No, we manage it for them. We have 24 seven availability for people to come onto the website. After 15 seconds that visitor gets invited to have a chat with our team. They’re going to answer those questions that they have. And the whole purpose is to collect that information and pass it on to our customers so that they can schedule an appointment or whatever for them. So live chat services are going to be included there. And then there’s other general things that are they’re good, they’re nice to have things but they they add more to our program. So things like visitor analysis we set up hot jar on all of our accounts to generate heat maps and see how people use the websites for automated reporting through agency analytics, rank tracking. We do a unique and custom company editor analysis depending on what program you’re on, it’s either monthly or quarterly. So we can show you how you’re comparing to your competition. So those are the majority of the things that’s going to be included in the $3,000 tier. Once you get to the higher tiers, or $5,000, a month tier, which is our third program, it’s going to include everything I just mentioned, except you’re going to get an additional two content pieces a month. So you’ll get six instead of four, you’ll get more citations, you’ll get more so now you actually get full social media management. So regular social posts, we respond to your comments, we respond to your messages, we invite people to follow your page that like you are I’m sorry, that like your, your post or comment on your posts, we do link or I’m sorry, group sourcing on Facebook for local groups that except businesses or pages join and then allow you to post once a week or something like that on certain days to promote your local business. So we find those groups who join it for them, we post on it on their behalf, we will do bigger link or bigger content distribution. So we’ll start pushing that content to places like house and other places around the internet, that’s going to have more of an impact. I know I’m missing something else in there. But oh, we’ll do things like attributions. So a lot of our clients all use CRM systems, and there’s certain industry CRMs that everybody really uses. And one thing that we will do is we will go back in their CRM system and attribute those leads to their original sources. Our customers love that on that higher end and a lot of fun that in itself is worth the additional $2,000 a month. Because when you generate several hundred or even thousands of leads per month, and somebody that’s not on their team is going to go through there to all their customers and say this customer came from Facebook, this customer came from Google ads, this one came from Google LSA, this one was organic. What we can then do with that is generate a report that shows them what their cost per customer acquisition is, on each platform, which is great, it’s to tell them what their cost per lead is per platform. But when you can tell them what their customer acquisition is, per platform, they really love that kind of stuff. So at the five K level, you get a whole lot more Oh, also you get our, our manual link sourcing to where we go out and find local organizations, charities, things like that, where you can buy sponsorships and get great quality inbound links. So I know that was really long. And then the last one that was already sell, or upsell for recruiting, once we blow you up, you can’t handle it, you call say, Hey, you got to slow this down. So we say no, was not slowed down, let’s throw recruiting on you. And let’s get more people into your company.
And that I think that right, there is a super powerful insight, right? If you think about most of us, in Home Services, especially it probably in any vertical, you get really good at generating the leads for the clients and growing the client base. But inevitably, they get to a place where they tapped out, hey, we can’t take any more jobs, or we can’t take any more patients or whatever it is. If you can solve that problem for them, they will pay you an incremental, right. Plus, you’re solving the problem which makes it so they can continue to invest in the marketing and grow the business. So I think that’s that’s brilliant on your on your front to add that to your service package.
Absolutely. And we just had a great example of that this week, we had a client call last week, they’re on our $3,000 month program, things are going so well. They want to upgrade to the $5,000 month program keeps growing but they don’t have the staff. So I told them, well, let’s wait a couple of months, let’s put you over onto our recruiting program, which is an additional thousand dollars a month in our pockets. And let’s get you some people. So they agree to that. And we’ve already started pushing them in several applicants. They’re already in the review our interview process. And hopefully in another month or two, we’ll bring them up to our bigger program.
So good, so good. So give me like a yes or this is awesome or something in comments. Tony’s just on pack that we chose is nice, shall we landed his first couple clients how he grew to seven figures in his plan to go to multiple seven figures, how he transitioned himself from the the the operator in the business doing everything to having a team so he doesn’t have to do it all himself, and kind of what his service model looks like what it is he actually does for the client. I’d also like to hear from you guys. What are your takeaways? What are you learning that you can apply? A couple things that stood out to me as you were talking about the service model, first of all recurring revenue, right? Tony’s moved from doing one off projects to charging a monthly recurring fee, and it’s greater than $1,000 per month, right? His cheapest thing is $1,000 per month. And he’s in landscaping, right lawn and landscaping your immediate thought when you look at verticals on the on the horizon, that that’s a lower ticket like landscape companies aren’t going to spend more than 500 Did you ever like wrestle with that thinking they just didn’t have the money in that space?
I did. But when you look at the numbers, there’s take the take the niche out of the equation, and look at the revenue of that business, and what projected profits they should have. And when you look at the numbers in this industry, there’s about 15 percent of landscape companies that are over a million dollars a year. And when you look at what they spend in our program, see, I don’t sell our program, it’s not 3000 a month, or it’s not 5000 a month is when they hear three grand a month hell that’s to mortgage. Yeah, that that that makes the brain tick differently. Companies that you want to go after that are doing millions of dollars a year, they don’t budget by the month, they budget by the year. And that’s how I explain it to them. So when it’s not $3,000 a month plus a minimum thousand dollar Aspen, you’re going to invest 15 to $60,000 a year, including your Aspen all in in a program like this. So when they think to themselves that oh, well, we’re doing a million and a half $2 million a year, and they hear $50,000. Then they’re thinking, well, that’s a very small percentage of my marketing budget, or a very small percentage of my revenue. And it’s right where a marketing budget should be. So selling it in that manner is helped get people over the concept of this is a very expensive monthly program. But yes, to answer the question, I did think about are we going to be able to get these companies to pay this kind of money. Now, I don’t know that I could get much more work than what I’m getting now is I’m definitely towards the top of the market. But I do have several people that are on $5,000 month programs, and I have a handful that are on custom programs going up to $8,000 a month.
Yep. So So once the recurring higher monthly fee, the only thing I think that I took away is a comprehensive service offering, you’re not coming in piecemeal website piecemeal app piecemeal, let me do some emails for you. You look at the industry as a whole. And you said, What can I do to really help these guys grow, to solve their problems and to take their business to the next level? And you you’re coming to the market with a comprehensive approach, as opposed to just one off? You know, Randy, exactly,
we have a strategy that works in our niche. And if you want to get our results, you have to use this strategy. And we’re not willing to put our reputation on the line for half a strategy. So if you want the results that we’re known for, you have to do these things. And they’ll say, Well, I don’t want you to do our email newsletters. And in those cases, we’ll tell them, okay, we’re not we won’t do that, but you’re still gonna pay for him. And at that case, they’re like, Yeah, okay. Thanks. So you, there is no piecemealing. Now, and also to that helps us scale business, it helps systematize things. We don’t have customers where this one gets this. This one gets that as big as that? No, they’re all on the same level playing field, what’s changes between them as they’re asked their budgets?
Yep. So a couple questions in here. One that I think is relevant is do are you having them sign a long term contract, short term contract, month to month? How do you structure it in your world?
Yeah, so they all sign a 12 month agreement. And recruiting is a three month agreement. So when a company comes on and adds on the recruiting service, which you can’t get independently, you have to be one of our customers, that only requires three month agreement. Everything else is on 12.
Yep, good. So the other critical insight, I think, all agencies that are really successful, at least that anyone that seven figure agency, the common trend is move to monthly recurring revenue, move to a more comprehensive approach. And then also, as you do that move to the higher end of the market. So as opposed to thinking every landscape company is your, your target, I think you have specifically decided, I’m going to I’m going to like say no to 90%. And I’m going to focus on the top 10.
Yeah. And that’s exactly what we do, we turn away 80 to 90% of the people that call us, we do tons and tons of leads every single month, and almost all of them get turned away. And it’s because why spend our time and efforts on a company that’s going to be more of a pain in the butt to deal with. And we’re not going to make nearly as much they’re going to get overloaded, they’re going to get upset, they’re going to have to cancel service, because it’s just way too much for them. There’s no need to do that. But you have to know how to sell to those people you can’t come in as a greeny or a new person into the industry and know nothing about it and try to sell to these people and try and get him to spend 50 to $100,000 a year with you. You’ve got to know their business and understand it, which is one of the key ways I actually sell, you know, selling even if they are an inbound sales is much like the cold calling, you have to establish that common ground. And I explain their business to them. So one of the tricks I love to do is I will ask them, How many crews are you running? And based on the services they offer? I will tell them how many customers they have based on that answer. And when I tell them that, that breaks down that entire wall. Now this guy obviously understands my business, because he knows that if I’m running one crew on a first week that I only probably have less than 300 customers, which knowing that information in your niche allows you to connect with those people and better communicate with them itself.
Honor percent. Yeah. Great, great insights there. Jimmy Nicholas is on with this runs a really successful agency that, you know, multiple multiple seven figures is yes.
Love the high end of the market, and he loves the insights you’re sharing here today, too. Oh, yeah, absolutely. And he’s not wrong, it definitely go towards the the upper end. And a lot of people who struggle with turning away business, that’s one of the one things I’ve had to learn is how to say no to people. And when people come, you can’t feel bad for them. You can’t bend your rules. Because of it, you have to know that not every phone call is going to be a sale.
Right? It’s not a fit. And do you pre screen it all on your end? Or have you started doing any pre screening based on size revenue
a little bit, a little bit. So on our website, you’ll see some pricing stuff buried in there talking about that we typically work with these types of companies. We did add in our new website, how many employees do you have and things like that? But typically speaking, we do I do the training, or I’m sorry, I do the qualification immediately on the phone. Now that’s one piece I still have to get myself out of is some of the sales stuff. Which I have a strategy and I’m working towards that. But one thing I do on my sales calls, I immediately qualify them. That’s the first things I do I ask them first, what’s your name? Where you from? Your phone number, email, all that? How’d you find us? And then comes the qualification questions. How many employees do you have? Where are you working? What services? Are you? are you providing? You have an office staff to answer phones? Or if not, you have a call center? Have you ever done paid advertising or marketing in the past? And based on those questions all let them know before I even get into pricing or anything if they’re a good fit or not. And I just felt like I you know, I really don’t think you’re a good fit based on where you are. And here’s the reasons why. Because one, it’s going to cost you a lot of money to we’re going to overload you. And I tell this just as easy to destroy a business by getting too much business as it is not getting enough business. So that will get you bad reviews, it’ll run your company round, you don’t want to do that to yourself, instead, let me go ahead and refer you over to somebody that would be a better fit for you. They also know the industry, you’re actually one of our competitors. And I give him tons and tons of leads every day. So find who you’re a good fit for, and then refer out the rest, I don’t take a referral fee or anything for that I just want to send them somewhere where they’re not gonna get ripped off.
Nice, powerful, powerful insights here. I mean, hopefully you guys are getting this, like live comment with me here, what you’re taking away what you’re learning, because Tony sharing some tremendous insights. Let’s, let’s talk now a little bit about retention. So you’ve got all these clients, you’ve got all of this recurring revenue, you obviously are extremely good at the execution and getting the clients results. What is the retention strategy look like? How do you keep these guys on board at these higher monthly fees,
right. So we keep pretty much 100% retention, it’s very rare that we lose a client now occasionally we will. And typically, when we lose a client, it’s one of our legacy clients. And the reason that we lose them is because the prices are increasing, because they can’t handle the volume of what’s coming in. And they’re not on contract as their legacy. But what really keeps the people is two things. One, you got to get the results. Because if you’re just wasting their money, they’re gonna leave you. But you got to have that communication. And even when you don’t have the results, that communication will save your ass. So if there’s a problem, we pick up the phone with our clients, and we’ll pick their brains about things. What about this area? What about this service? We’re seeing this over here? Do you mind if we try this and we let them know that we’re in their corner working for them all the time, whether we may be having a down month, and we’re not getting great results? Or whether the month is going fabulously? Well. You know, like, for example, one of our bigger clients, we made a mistake the other day and didn’t filter out his list of emails, right. And some people who should not have gotten an email about a specific upsell did get an email and we resolved in all that. But the point is, is that the day after that, I personally send a message to this really large client via text message and ask them if everything is better today, are we not having any issues. And when you follow up with them and give them that kind of communication, whether things are going well or not. They appreciate you and you create that, that that bond with them. And that gives you a lot more leeway. And a lot of things don’t happen go your way. So what we do is monthly reviews at a minimum every month we get them on the phone, we go over their numbers, and we ask about their business. What kind of revenue increases are you seeing? Or what types of services do we want to focus on next month? Was there any really bad leads that you can think about that were way out of the geographic area or not part of a service that you offer. So we dive in very deep with them every single month. So I think for free And actually getting results plus the communication together, you’ll retain your clients for a very long time.
Great stuff. Great stuff. Mark? Well, let’s look at a question. If you want to pop it in there, that’s fine. Go ahead and put it in. Um, so talk to us a little bit about how you developed yourself. Like, obviously, you’re good at programming, you’ve developed some great skills and SEO, you’re great with business development, how have you developed? Like, are there specific books that helped you along the way to help get where you are today? Books, trainings, things like that?
Um, no, honestly, I learned by like throwing your kids deep into poolish teach them to swim.
You can’t teach someone to ride a bicycle in a seminar. Right?
Right, exactly. So I now I am a member of seven figure agency, and that is the first group or training or coaching or whatever you want to call it, that I’ve ever been a part of everything from where I started to where I am now, I learned the hard way, you know, I take a bunch of punches in the face all down a million times and have to get back. But really, that’s the best way to learn it is to do it that way. I mean, I’ve found out about managing of employees to hire employees to management systems within the company, and to specific strategies, how to talk to your team how to do weekly meetings, you know, all of that was all learned the hard way. But the consequence that happens if you do it wrong.
So So, school school of hard knocks,
that’s it? Yep. I didn’t go to college to learn or not learn, but I guess perfect. The programming and coding, but I never went to a business class, don’t have an MBA, none of that kind of stuff. Josh, you were my first coach that I started listening to eight, nine months ago.
Well honored honored to have broken you in into the into the gifts and training and business development world. On Monday, Monica is asking for a new agency owner, how many hours do you suggest you put in on a daily basis.
So as a new agency owner, I was just as many as you possibly can. Now, work life balance is definitely important. And you definitely want to have time. But if you’re a new agency, you’re in hustle mode, you know, you’re those who work harder, get more, and those who, those who take shortcuts and those who try to do things the easy way, those are the ones that never succeed. You know, you you look at at me doing well here in our agency, but I started my first agency of May of 2007. You know, it was, you know, I’m a overnight success after 10 years. So I put in still to this day, I probably still put in 5060 hours a week. But it’s not on building websites, it’s not on paid ads, it’s on how can I improve this process in my company? How can I reach this specific JV, that’s what I focus on. So I would say at least 5060 hours a week minimum is what you should be putting in your business at this current state. Now, as you grow, I’m a hustler. I’ll never be able to stop. But if somebody was in my position, then they could probably cut it back to 40 hours a week or maybe even 30 hours a week, take take a day a week off during the day, things like that. But I’m a machine I just keep going on.
So the answer is more than you probably think right? Put put as much effort into this as you can early on in the agency. Think of it like an airplane trying to get off the runway, right at the beginning, that airplanes putting out tremendous effort to get off and it goes once it’s off the ground. You can you can, you know, count on the power of lifts to keep you going? And you can you can throttle it back a little bit. I thought that was a great answer. Danny, Danny’s asking with an AI? How would you go about getting your first client as a beginner like if you were starting from scratch.
So as a beginner, I’m sure you guys have all heard the term, fake it till you make it right. So one set of things that you have control over. So make sure your website looks good. Make sure your own marketing materials look good. Nobody wants to hire a marketing company where their own marketing looks like crap. So one, make sure that you have your your your service offerings, you have your own marketing materials, all that stuff in place. And then I would do what I did, I would run some ads. paid ads are going to get you instant results. You’re going to pay for it. Don’t get me wrong. But just like you do with your clients, I was saying your first your first month you know if you’re the provider so you don’t have to pay another agency $500,000 a month to run it for you take $1,000 of your own money. And we would pay when we run paid ads around $200 per quality lead. right that’s a big thing to think about Facebook, I pay 10 bucks a week. You think oh, wow, Well, then let’s go to Facebook, let’s borrow money, they’re not at all, I would much rather have those $200 leads from Google any day of the week than I would the $10 leads from Facebook. I don’t even know if I ever even close ones in Facebook. So I would run Google ads and I would be very specific on your keyword. So whatever your niche may be, in my case, landscaping, SEO, landscaping marketing, stay away from the website keyword. Unless for whatever reason you’re, you’re focusing on projects, which you shouldn’t be but if you are, then do websites, but websites, that keyword tends to show people who want a one time service. So making sure that you’re bidding on keywords like your niche SEO, your niche marketing, your niche advertising, niche lead generation, all of those types of things will get you you’re better calling customers but you’re going to be paying 200 plus per lead for it so be prepared for that.
Yep. So I mean there’s a bunch of questions in here on some foundational stuff like how did you choose your niche? How did you put together your pricing and packaging? All of that? I don’t I don’t want to spend another 45 minutes on that he explained it at the beginning. If you haven’t read the book The seven figure agency roadmap that book lays the foundation right choose a niche you should be in one nation was asking should we be yes choose one of these put together a program position yourself God and land clients the seven figure ages robots it’s free if you want to grab a copy, seven figure agency roadmap seven figure agency.com slash book. Totally this, this has been phenomenal, man, congratulations on ongoing the seven figures. Congratulations on the plan to go to the next level quick. Um, what would you say to that agency owner that like I mean, let’s, let’s say specifically the agency owner, that’s, that’s at like mid six figures right there, they’re at that level, they’re grinding and trying to figure out how to go to the next level, what would be like one or two tips, you’d say to that guy or gal that’s looking to take things to the next level.
Do a time study, that would be the number one thing. Keep track of every minute of your day and see what you’re spending your time on. Because what you’re gonna find is you’re doing a lot of stuff that you can give to somebody else. So that would be the number one thing is your time study. The number two thing that I would recommend is put as much as your effort and resources into building the right team as much as you can, that you will not operate without a team. Trust me, I was a solo guy for many, many years and app now that I have a team. I don’t know how I did it, you will not succeed without right people. So find out what your time is going and get the right people in place. From there, you can do anything. I love
it powerful, powerful insights, amazing information shared. Be sure to tag Tony on Facebook that thank you first time. Thank you for all of the great insights. We’ll wrap it up here. So thanks. Thanks again for taking the time. Thanks for thanks for sharing and your willingness to kind of expose like he’s just giving you the roadmap here on how he grew his business and what he’s doing and what his plan is. Not everybody has that generosity of spirit. So thank you so much for sharing. And that’s a wrap anything you want to say as we close here, Tony?
No, I just thanks for having me on here. You know, I would definitely recommend to everybody to follow your strategies. You know, I was already in business doing six figures when I joined seven figure agency, but I did a lot of project work. So even somebody like me, who is already on operational still found a lot of great value out of what it is that you you teach and show us. So definitely, I think that that’s a main thing that people should consider. The other last thing I would add is, we just touched the surface here. We just barely scratched the top. We didn’t even dive deep on anything I really feel like so if anybody has questions about how we do anything, specifically, I’m an open book, feel free to reach out to me and I’d be happy to dive deeper on anything specifically.
Yeah, Tony, you did an amazing session at our last intensive on how you create your content for your clients and how you structure it and kind of do project specific content. And members. We’re going to be doing a session at the December intensive, where we’re going to go much deeper on that he volunteered. It’s all going to take him up on it. So be sure to give a yes. If you’re excited about that session at the at the December 10. I know that I know that I am.
Oh yeah, for sure.
Fantastic. Well, thanks again, Tony. Have an amazing, amazing afternoon. Thanks again, and we’ll talk to you soon. All right. Thanks,
Josh. I appreciate it.
See you later, guys.