One Thing Your Business Needs To Thrive In An Awful Economy

One Thing Your Business Needs To Thrive In An Awful Economy

In 2006, I left college after finishing my sports career and entered the mortgage industry. I only lasted 6 months because I wasn’t mature enough to be self-employed, so I went to work in sales shortly thereafter. In 2008, the economy declined into a recession because of the mortgage crisis. By that time, I was working for AT&T which at the time had exclusive distribution rights to the iPhone. At a time when many industries were facing serious economic peril, AT&T was experiencing record profits and had people lined up around the block for months trying to purchase iPhones. Sales representatives were taking home record commission checks during what most people recall being the worst economic atmosphere since the Great Depression. Is this different than 2008? I think this economy is very different. In fact, I think things are more difficult for business owners in many ways, but they can also be better for you as a business owner.

 

 

This Economy Is Different

 

 

The reason things are different with our current economy versus the 2008 economic downturn is that 2008 started in the real estate sector and spread into other industries, but I don’t recall dealing with so many different challenges back then. The housing market, even though it was hot, hadn’t yet created the housing crisis we’ve faced in the NW market as it relates to affordability. Food prices were relatively stable, and there wasn’t a shortage of people wanting to work. Right now, with inflation rampant, the workforce not returning to work, and the cost of goods rising at the fastest pace in 50 years, we are experiencing a very different environment than what we saw in 2008. In addition to that, it seems that the political environment is impacting how people see work, and what they think of capitalism, and this is creating new demands on organizations that didn’t exist previously. Consumers now think about where they shop, where they eat, who they do business with, and where they work more than they did in 2008, which is a challenge that many entrepreneurs and organizations are unprepared for.

 

The opportunity entrepreneurs have in the current market has to do with the advancement of technology. The digital transformation we’ve gone through since 2008 has provided business owners with access to consumers in a way previously impossible, even for billion-dollar brands. Entrepreneurs can participate in eCommerce, with millions of consumers buying products and services from their Apple & Android devices, something that wasn’t the norm in 2008. Businesses can now generate revenue online while their entire staff is home with their families. Consumers are completely comfortable purchasing food, home essentials, courses, and everything else imaginable, and having someone else pick it up and drop it off for them. In fact, according to Zippia.com, the mobile commerce market comprises nearly 73% of total e-commerce as of 2021, a 39.1% increase from 2016. Not only can businesses generate one-time transactions, but with the rise of the subscription economy, where consumers pay for ongoing services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Audible.com, businesses can generate ongoing revenue that increases the value they drive to their customers while also improving their cash flow.

 

 

Positioning Your Business To Win

 

 

To thrive in the current economy with uncertainty, inflation, costs, and negativity running rampant, you need to immediately refresh your mindset and begin to think about ways you might be able to shift your business model to increase revenue, attract and retain the best employees, and cut costs. The time to do this is now. Regardless of how you vote, the economy is shifting and as an entrepreneur, you can’t afford to do business the way you did business before the pandemic. It’s time to create products and services that clearly differentiate your business from others in the marketplace and communicate a clear market-dominating position.

 

When I went to work for AT&T in 2008, they sent me to a two-week in-person training to educate me on how they differentiate their brand from Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. It wasn’t just about the iPhone, which is why AT&T has continued to be a dominant player in the telecommunications market. The key differentiators that made them a dominant player in the market were things like:

 

  • Being able to send a text message and receive emails while being on a call.
  • Unlimited internet options without having your speeds throttled.
  • Rollover minutes, which allowed you to bank unused minutes on your phone plan.

 

These, combined with the fact that they had exclusive distribution rights to the Apple iPhone for 5 years created a market-dominating position, something that customers couldn’t get anywhere on the planet. Even when the exclusive on the iPhone expired, I never entertained going to Verizon or any other platform that got access to the iPhone. I want that for your business and it’s not only by finding a product that no one else can offer, although it really is. It might not be as easy as signing an exclusive joint venture with a technology partner or supplier for your business, but it also could be.

 

 

Incremental Advantage

 

 

Signing a major strategic partnership with a company like Apple would no doubt change your business overnight. That, obviously, isn’t on the table for every entrepreneur. So in lieu of thinking of massive changes that can dramatically change your business, I want you to consider what is possible by making incremental changes in your business that will dramatically increase your net profits and potentially double the selling price of your business when it’s time to exit.

 

During the past couple of months, through The Entrepreneur’s Ultimate Tax podcast and other conversations, I’ve been learning from experts about something I call “incremental advantages”. The experts I’ve been networking with across different industries specialize in helping entrepreneurs improve their business with their specific service, incrementally. For example, in my area of expertise, I saved a 2-million-dollar company 15k dollars on payment solutions and it took me 15 minutes to run an analysis to help them take advantage of my experience. I referred them to another expert I know in the telecommunications business, and they were able to help their business too. It’s realistic to expect this business to recapture up to 100k in waste and lost revenue just from the inefficiencies we are finding by helping our entrepreneur clients position their businesses to shift with the changes we are seeing in the economy. The interesting thing about it is that they will likely uncover 100k in revenue without investing a significant amount of time to find it. I am seeing businesses drive major profitability improvements like this in less than 30 days without spending a dime on new advertising or marketing. Finding incremental improvements in your business could help you:

 

  • Create signing-bonus programs to attract employees
  • Develop and fund programs that retain key employees
  • Fund market research to develop unique products & services
  • Invest in marketing programs and joint venture partnerships
  • Improve cash flow to restructure or eliminate debt

 

This is just the start of the different strategies and incentives you could create to completely supercharge your business growth.

 

 

Build Your Plan

 

 

The one thing you need to thrive in the economy we are facing is a market-dominating position. Creating one will help you attract and retain the best employees and customers while also driving incremental advantages in all aspects of your company that will help you reach new levels of profitability. A few things you can do to prepare your market-dominating position are:

 

  • Study your products/services and where they stand in the market
  • Uncover what threats exist in your market and how they could be overcome
  • Determine what strategic partnerships could enhance your offerings
  • Reevaluate pricing, loyalty programs, and ideal client profiles
  • Evaluate vendor contracts and pricing

 

There are lots of opportunities for you to grow your business in the current economy, even if it’s incremental growth. Take the time to sit down and build your plan or hire some help to help you build your plan. If you’d like help creating your market-dominating position, don’t hesitate to reach out and schedule a call.

Why I Started PaySuite

Why I Started PaySuite

If you’ve known me for very long, you’d know that after having 17 jobs over the course of 11 years, I eventually found some stability in the payment processing industry by working for Heartland, the fifth largest payment processor in the country. After working for Heartland for over 2.5 years, I decided to leave to follow my heart and work in the non-profit sector. I landed a job at Concordia University working with postgraduate students who either wanted to get their MBA so they could become executives, or MAT so they could pursue a teaching career. This was an awesome role that I enjoyed on a very deep level.

When I took the job at Concordia, I was confident that I’d never work in payments, and surely never again in sales. I was convinced that neither was for me. I was sick of working in a transactional sales environment that didn’t play to my strengths, which were customer service and building strong relationships. I was also tired of feeling like I had to sell what Heartland made available to me and the customers I was serving. After working in the industry for so long, I began to see the value of what other providers offered that Heartland didn’t and this led to me advising clients to do what was best for them, which wasn’t always in the best interest of Heartland. Ultimately, I felt like after leaving Heartland I would find a home working for a nonprofit university like Concordia that was focused on making a difference in the lives of those wanting to improve their education.

 

The Shift To Entrepreneur

One day I got a phone call from a franchise organization asking me if I was still helping business owners with merchant services. I told them I wasn’t working for Heartland anymore but could help them answer some questions and perhaps point them in the right direction. I helped the franchise owner of theirs out and essentially thought that was the end of the story. I didn’t think that because I had a customer I was ready to start a business and quit my job. I was just trying to help the people that reached out to me. That’s all.

As I continued to work for Concordia, I began to feel like some of the tasks, specifically, the administrative workload, wasn’t the best fit for how my skillset should be utilized, and this, coupled with some new goals I discussed with my fiancé, led me to feel that the role, even though I loved it, was a better fit for someone who might feel more at home with the tasks and day-to-day responsibilities of the job. This made me begin to feel guilty, and soon after I put in my notice to let them know that they should open the role for someone else.

I wasn’t in a financial position to leave the job, but I didn’t want the feeling of taking money from an organization that had such a great commitment to helping its students be successful. I worked alongside so many great people at Concordia, and I didn’t want to feel like a bad teammate. So, I felt it was best to leave on good terms.

 

Why I Started PaySuite

Starting PaySuite the way I did was impulsive, which had been a new thing for me. When I quit Heartland, it was also impulsive. I quit Heartland because of a disagreement I had with a department on what we should do to take care of a customer. It didn’t go in the right direction I felt for the customer, so I quit. Like immediately.  I don’t typically recommend doing it that way, but I felt like it was the best thing for me to do at the time. Looking back on the decision, it was the best decision I could’ve made. It was one of many decisions I made during my tenure at Heartland that really helped me grow up and trust my gut.

When I put in my notice at Concordia, I could’ve gone back to work at Heartland or any other payment processor in the country if I wanted to. It would’ve been far more lucrative for me to do so, and I’d probably have a lot more hair left. But I didn’t want to and didn’t. Why? Well, I wanted to do something different. I didn’t want to make business owners sign contracts, push terminal leases, talk about endorsements, or why my company was the best payment processing provider in the world. I just wanted to help people. That was my only business plan and model. Just go out and help people and figure it out along the way. That is still our motto and business model today. Go out, help people, do the right thing, rinse + repeat.

Another ‘why’ that surfaced as I worked with entrepreneurs in their business was the memories that began to surface as I unpacked my childhood as an at-risk youth growing up in Fresno, California. I started to remember all the entrepreneurs that used to look after me when I was living with the daily adversity of growing up in a neighborhood that was struggling with the aftermath of the 80s crack era that decimated the inner-city black family. Drug, gangs, lack of educational resources, and much more was the daily reality of my life from fifth grade through high school. I’m not trying to paint a bleak picture. I was never directly involved personally in gangs but did find myself in neighborhoods and drug homes many times at the wrong time of night and early mornings as a young man.

As these memories of my childhood surfaced, serving entrepreneurs, and doing what I felt was in their best interest became part of my purpose and guided every decision I made as I ventured out to build PaySuite. It hasn’t been easy. In fact, it was much harder than anything I’ve ever done, and I’m not finished. As I continue to grow as an entrepreneur, I will continue to make improvements and bring new partnerships and capabilities to the entrepreneurs we serve at PaySuite. In fact, with the launch of my consulting firm Catalyst Training + Development, we will work synergistically to launch new strategic partnerships that will take our ability to help entrepreneurs to the next level.

If you know anyone that I would benefit from the work we are doing at PaySuite or Catalyst Training + Development, I’d love your help with an introduction.

If you’d like a free digital copy of the book I wrote on payment processing to help entrepreneurs understand how to avoid being taken advantage of, you can get that here.

Let’s make a difference together!

Thank you!

Should Restauranteurs Build Real Estate Businesses?

Should Restauranteurs Build Real Estate Businesses?

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on many industries, namely the restaurant and hospitality sector. This article was written to provide insight to former restaurant owners that might be in the process of determining what professions would allow them to monetize their skillset in the current economy that is the hardest on restaurants. 

In 2019, I started evaluating ways to expand the services we offer to our restaurant and hospitality clients at Northwest Advisory Group and it led to me getting a real estate license. This allowed us to collaborate with commercial brokerages in the mergers and acquisitions space, while also partnering with residential realtors to help our entrepreneur clients with their real estate needs.

As I’ve invested time with extremely successful real estate agents on the residential and commercial side, I’ve learned about opportunities in real estate, that I believe, would suit restauranteurs well.

In 2020, thousands of restaurant owners were forced to close their business as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in over 110,000 permanent closures across the United States. Many of these restaurants were full-service style restaurants with menu items that don’t thrive in a take-out & delivery economy. Not only did many of these restaurant owners lose their business, but the very asset they were counting on to support their family, community, and fund their retirement.

In working with restaurant owners for more than a decade, I believe current or former restaurant owners are well positioned to consider building real estate or financial services businesses because of their unique skillset, business experience, and passion.

 

  1. Strong Work Ethic

Running a successful restaurant is TWO full-time jobs. It is hard work and if you know a restaurant owner, you know they are busy! From managing vendors, employees, menu changes, reservations, landlord challenges, and unethical point-of-sale providers, restaurant owners invest their day fighting to ensure clients have a great experience so they can win loyal customers. This quality translates well to the real estate sector because buyers and sellers value working with professionals that are willing to work hard to get deals done under pressure and time constraints. For a restauranteur, this just another day in the life of running a successful business.

The bottom line: A restauranteurs work-ethic would translate well to the real estate sector.

 

  1. Resilient

Being a successful residential or commercial realtor takes resilience. The same goes for restaurant owners that have weathered the changes in the economy over the past decade. It’s not good enough to work hard for a restaurant owner, they must continue to work hard in the face of insurmountable odds, while also doing their best to keep a positive attitude. The best restaurant owners are resilient in the face of adversity and coincidentally, so are the best real estate professionals. The restaurant and real estate professionals that build great companies, are those that fall 10 times, and get up 11. Restauranteurs do that every day.

The bottom line: Restauranteurs eat adversity for breakfast, brunch, and lunch.

  1. Business Acumen

Many real estate professionals enter the real estate profession without any sales or business experience, which likely contributes to only 13% of agents succeeding in real estate after 5 years. When it comes to acumen, it’s about more than passing the real estate exam. The high performing realtors I partner with are constantly working at understanding their local market, advancing their professional capabilities to serve clients, and focusing on lead generation, even when they don’t feel like it.

Restaurant owners, during their workday, are constantly following what’s happening in the local food market, improving their food and service, and making sure their staff are serving clients well so they get more repeat business. A restauranteurs business acumen will also allow them to craft unique experiences for their clients by bringing fresh ideas, partnerships, and opportunities, which will lead to more referrals.

The bottom line: Restauranteurs have strong business acumen that, along with their creativity, would serve them well in the real estate sector.

 

  1. People Skills

Successful realtors are masters at building a large network of people that know, like, and trust them. This is not a skill that you can attend a weekend seminar to develop mastery at, it takes time, time that restaurant owners have often invested decades developing in a high paced, stressful environment. How easy are you to get along with on a Friday night when you’re hangry? Imagine managing a staff of people that are all serving hangry folks on a Friday night. Most restaurant owners I know have superior people skills and an existing business network that would help them build a great career in real estate.

The bottom line: Most restaurant owners are superior to most professionals when it comes to working with individuals and families in stressful environments. This would give them an advantage in real estate.

 

  1. Storytelling Skills

I recently watched an interview that Tom Ferry did with storytelling expert Laura Morton, and in this interview, they talked about how important storytelling is for real estate agents. Storytelling not only helps realtors stand out from the competition, but when done properly, helps buyers and sellers make quality decisions about their real estate decisions, especially which realtor to work with. 

The concept of storytelling for restauranteurs is not foreign. Running a restaurant, especially in the fine dining category, involves having a compelling story to tell patrons. This includes a story about how the restaurant got started generations ago, where the ingredients are being sourced, and sometimes, the deeper mission and values of the restauranteur. Restaurant owners, after years of telling impactful stories about themselves and their restaurant, could find it easy to engage with buyers and sellers in the client attraction process.

The bottom line: Successful restauranteurs are already storytellers, making them excellent candidates for the real estate industry.

 

  1. Opportunity

Real estate in 2018, according to federal statistics, contributed over 2.7 trillion dollars to the United States economy, employed more than 2 million people, and generated more than 10 billion dollars in profits. The opportunity in the real estate sector is immense, beyond only being a real estate agent. There are many examples of successful companies positioned within the real estate sector that offer ancillary services to the industry that make the lives of realtors easier and more efficient. You might be asking, “What about the pandemic?”. Well, real estate agents, along with other financial services professionals were considered an essential business during the pandemic, allowing many of these entrepreneurs to continue running their business. Imagine being in a business that is not only essential but lucrative.

According to Stefan Swanepoel, the leading authority and visionary on trends in the real estate brokerage industry, stated in a recent conference that real estate is one of few professions where, within a matter of years, a person could earn well into the 6 and 7 figures on personal production. This does not include the opportunity to engage in ancillary services tied to real estate that allow real estate agents to earn ongoing income outside of their personal sales.

Restauranteurs should consider the opportunity of real estate because it would allow them an opportunity to do what few other industries allow; the opportunity to, when done right, earn a significant amount of money in a short period of time. Financial rewards aren’t a guarantee, but it is available to real estate agents with the proper work ethic, talent, and business model.

The bottom line: The real estate industry offers a great opportunity for restauranteurs looking for lucrative opportunities outside of the hospitality sector to build wealth.

 

Conclusion

Real estate can be a rewarding career, and could be ideal for a current or former restaurant owner wanting to rebuild their financial wealth for the future. This could allow them to reenter the real estate sector once social distancing and lockdowns have ended so they can rebuild their restaurant portfolio if they choose.

If you are a current or former restauranteur considering what to do professionally outside of the hospitality sector to rebuild your wealth, I’d love to talk with you about ways to leverage your professional skills and talents.

If that’s you, let’s talk!