Are you in the dental niche and looking for a digital marketing agency to fit your needs? Adam Zilko founded Firegang Dental Marketing just for the dental industry. His agency is seeing massive success while diligently serving clients. Listen to my agency success interview with him to learn why he chose the dental space, the tactics he uses, and what makes his agency so successful.
Outline of This Episode
- [0:30] I introduce my guest, Adam Zilko.
- [1:15] Adam gives us his background in dental niche
- [3:40] A brief history of how he got started
- [7:20] The thought process behind choosing the dental niche
- [8:40] What services Firegang Dental Marketing offers
- [15:20] The different packages and bundles offered
- [18:00] The process of client acquisition
- [23:00] Their success utilizing email blasts
- [29:25] What fulfillment looks like for them
- [33:30] How did Adam find his COO?
- [38:50] How to forecast capacity and when to add in more people
- [40:10] How do you choose what modes of marketing to use?
- [43:20] Top 3 lessons he’s learned
- [49:00] Some nuggets of wisdom
- [51:45] It’s all about creating simplicity from complexity
Why did Adam choose the dental niche?
Adam’s experience began with a print advertising company. As Google began to displace traditional advertising, he became their first digital marketing manager on a national scale. Moving into the digital age, for many, was not an easy transition. It didn’t move at a pace that Adam knew he could handle—so he went out on his own.
Though he and his business partner originally started broad, they chose the dental industry for some very practical reasons. Firstly, the had early success working with dentists so it made sense to continue what was already working. Secondly—and practically—dentists can afford to pay the rates they set. But the niche isn’t necessarily an easy one. Interested in what services they typically provide? Keep listening.
Why they don’t offer ‘a la carte’ services
Something that differentiates Firegang from other agencies is that their system is designed to work as an integrated approach. If they aren’t handling the things that are key to success, their model will be affected. You need a website optimized for SEO and is able to track what they need. They need access to every marketing channel. There is no picking and choosing where you want help. One of the biggest reasons why?
They have an average 956% return on investment per dollar spent.
They offer different bundles and packages, but they are giving you a comprehensive solution that makes sense. Obviously, with that kind of return on your investment, it should be easy to give them marketing control. They also offer Google Maps Optimization, front office training, call training and much, much more. They help you optimize for maximum success.
What does client acquisition look like?
With the dental industry being a difficult niche to get into, how do they manage to acquire and onboard new clients? Their top strategy for years has been email blasts. They pay for a list of about 20,000 dentists that they drip-market to, constantly testing what emails perform better than others. The process is difficult and expensive, costing them approximately $400 to acquire a lead. But it works for their industry.
Adam also mails out hundreds of copies of his book—Grow Your Practice Online—monthly.
It’s a great way to get his business in front of clients while offering them something of value. Dental coaches will refer clients to the agency. Adam also does webinars and speaks at various dental events. The biggest takeaway is that marketing is always evolving and changing, so your tactics have to change as well. Adam and I continue to chat about his team and what fulfillment looks like, when to hire more team members—don’t miss this next segment.
Lessons learned while managing an agency
The top 3 things Adam has learned in the last 9 years in the industry:
- Create the right company culture. Their workforce is remote so it’s different to manage the culture but there needs to be some kind of harmony. Adam learned this the hard way and dealt with a lot of employee turnover.
- Fire people who don’t fit quickly. It’s not easy to learn how to do this, but it is important.
- Make sure the right people are in the right roles. Learn to recognize what people’s strengths are and assign roles accordingly—yourself included.
Above all, there is no secret sauce when it comes to building a successful agency. It is hard work that takes grit and tenacity. Listen to the rest of the episode as Adam and I talk about differentiating your agency and he relays some last words of wisdom.
Resources & People Mentioned
Connect with Adam Zilko
Connect With Josh Nelson
- Josh’s Coaching Page on Facebook
- The Agency Success Facebook Group
- Seven Figure Agency on YouTube
- Josh on Twitter: @joshnelsonimc
- Josh on LinkedIn
This is the seven figure agency podcast discover the strategies and techniques to grow a highly successful and profitable digital marketing agency with your host, Josh Nelson. Alright, what’s up, everybody? Thanks for joining us on today’s session of the seven figure agency podcast. We’re in our agency success interview series. And today I’m super excited to be interviewing Adam Zeljko from fire game dental marketing. Adam, thanks so much for joining us today. Thanks, Josh.
Appreciate you reaching out.
You and I met through digital marketer, you’re a part of war room. I’m a certified digital marketing partner. And I think that’s how we first got connected, right?
So yeah, I think we’re through Brian dice directly or one of those guys,
Ryan dice, or somebody in that group made that made the connection. And I remember just being super impressed, you know, you’re working in the dental space, you’ve got a great agency that you’ve built, I believe, you know, you’ll share the figures with us. But sounds like you’re doing a lot of cool things. And as we get to know each other over the past several was I was like, you’d be a great person to come on the show and kind of share. You know, it’s not without its flaws. It’s not without its bruises, but she had the success that you’re having within your agency.
Sure, man. Yeah, I mean, it’s been a long road for sure.
So I guess the best place to start kind of give us a high level overview, kind of who you are, what does this you run kind of the lay of the land.
So I co founded fire game,
back in 2010. And we niched into dentistry and about 2012 or so maybe 13. And then had been just rocking a sense, doing you know, a lot of your early on doing a lot of the standard stuff, and then just trying to innovate and stay ahead of the market as much as we could. And that’s that’s kind of always where my mind goes is how do we, how do we further press that push the needle and innovate past what we’re seeing out there and differentiate ourselves. And so that’s kind of where where we were, I think, push forward on this. And
it’s been, like I said, it’s been with not without its bruises, but a long road for sure. No doubt.
So keep an idea approximately how many clients approximate annual revenue in the business.
We’ve got, we’ve got hundreds of clients, some summer, it’s summer, multi location, we were seeing the kind of evolution of tennis becoming group tennis or DSL. And so, you know, many of those that we have are just, you know, adding on more on a monthly basis, and just bringing them out as they can buy him out and so on. And so we’ve got that. And, you know, we do, you know, we do many, many millions a year, you know, you sent out a email on that. So, you know, we we push push around the 4 million mark last year. And so just kind of grinding through it. Sure
graduations. That’s that’s a tremendous success for any agency. And if you do it within the dental space, now, I know a lot of people RM tried it, that’s not the easiest niche to to work in.
Certainly not No, it’s really, it’s really been a difficult niche over the last few years. And just really trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t, unfortunately, we’ve had the size and investment capital or not, you know, not from outside source, but internally able to invest back into testing what works, what doesn’t, and try things that, you know, we wouldn’t have otherwise, and then be able to take risks that, you know, that didn’t pan out, be able to just afford losses if it didn’t, you know, so it’s been helpful. Nice.
So I mean, if you don’t mind, it sounds like you started back in 2010, you were kind of a generalist agency, and then made the pivot to the niche focused, good, just kind of tell us a brief history, how you got the business started. And just the background.
Yeah, I worked at 100 million dollar a year, hundred year old company, it was a national company, they did print advertising. And back in 2006, is when I started with them. And they were seeing the, you know, the transition of, you know, Google pushing out or pushing out, or displacing local businesses and how they would market and so throughout that process, I was their first digital manager on a national scale digital marketing manager to really help educate different divisions, regional divisions, and they, they operated throughout the entire United States. And just try to help them bring themselves into a digital age, what I found now is very difficult to move. They’re kind of used to their old, old ways, and so a lot of bureaucracy and a lot of things didn’t move quickly. So you know, and when I was saying websites take six plus months to go live, and they weren’t well built, and so on. I thought I said, You know what, I’m just gonna do this myself. And so, me Anna, and a bit business partner, it’s time we start this up, and we went out started getting clients. And I think we grew too. I mean, we were we’ve definitely had seven figures, our second year or so maybe, maybe, maybe partly indoor. You know, what, a half yourself. So we grow pretty quick. And then just kind of went through, do the standard growth struggles and all that and just figuring out how to slowly grow over time. But we never, you know, we didn’t really had another big, I guess, growth spurt, if you will, until I think it was about 2013 or so I went to a conference and saw Infusionsoft there. That was way before that we were using Salesforce. com and I was paying man, I was paying like 10 k for developers like a month to just read just rebuild a system into what Infusionsoft already had. And so that was about the time our first book was coming out. And so we just went ahead and built an funnel and started doing email blasts and partnering with big lists and just created a sales machine around that and scaling up from there.
That’s awesome. So it was kind of like that, first, that first couple years to seven figures, kind of plateaued a little bit, made some innovations on the marketing side, and then blasted, you know, to the next level.
Right, right. Yeah. And then from there, it’s just been, we grew and grew and grew. And then just other other work events, business events happened, I bought out my business partner a few years back, and this was all that we, you know, continue to grow. When we kind of slowly plateaued and I bought them out, it was shot up for about a year and a half. And then, you know, just had some operational issues and had to kind of rebuild from inside. So it took some loss during that time. And we’ve been in growth mode says, nice,
nice. So hopefully, we can come back and talk a little bit about that, because that’s something that comes up often this group, which is why I’ve got a business partner and I you know, the dynamics of business partners and potentially buying business partners out, I don’t know how, how deep we can go, but if you’re willing to talk a little bit about the research back to that. But before we go there, you mentioned you were a generalist, and then you decided to go niche focused around 2012. Can you talk a little bit about what the thought process was, and kind of why you made that shift into being because now you’re all in on on dental?
Right? You know, we had a lot of success with dental early on. And the other thing that we noticed her we realised is that we wanted to be able to work with the the owner and not have to go through a board. And we also wanted to work with someone that could afford to care rates, you know, we we charge, I mean, I’ve got
clients video, I mean, we charge
typically around I want to say our average around 3300 for our services alone, okay, I caught on top, we’ve got clients while north of 15 k plus a month. So everywhere in that range. And so they had to be able to support that. And that’s through, you know, having a high client value per client value. And then like I said, we had a lot of success with ads. And so it’s kind of made sense, to niche into that back when we did and it wasn’t nearly as many people trying to break into that space as there certainly is today.
No doubt. Yeah. So um, so I mean, obviously, that decision of his has served you well. Um, can you talk a little bit about, like the mix of services that you provide to your client base? Yeah. So we I mean, we provide kind of
what everyone says they do, you know, typical website, and typical SEO and paid ads and whatnot. We back in 2013 2014, we started actually listening to phone calls, we identified back then that they that their clients were struggling to convert business. So what what the aha moment was, is we have a local guy to me and you know, now we’re, we don’t drive North America, but with a local guy, you know, we launched this programme, and it was getting great results, and everything was going really well. And all of a sudden, over time, it started to slide. And so we dug and we we were recording calls, we finally went through and listen to on how we found that they were, you know, I sat down with him one day, and I said, you know, what percentage of calls, you think you’re answering and converting, and they thought it was well north of 93%. Turns out it was like just over 40%. And so we had the data to show that so we you know, we made the decision at that time to say, Listen, if we’re going to see see the outcome that we need, we need to help them, we at least need to know this data and potentially work towards coaching them in a programme to help get them better. So we started Call, call listening, call coaching or call tracking, and then we eventually add a call coaching. And then as we move further trying to try to push that we we use software that pulls from their practice management software, no API call into it, to give us back end data. And then I’ve got a team of ladies that are well trained to understand how to how to look at that data typically better than what the office knows to look at. And we can we can take that information and reapply it back to what we’re doing on the front end of the marketing and addition to educating the client as to why things are or are not working. So we know typically, before they do, why they’re why they’re seeing business come through the door, why it’s not and where those roadblocks are. And a lot of times it’s on their end, believe it or not, you know, we know this. So. So then we did that. And then we started saying, Okay, well, how do we improve knowing that we can track everything through this whole funnel? How can we improve conversion rates throughout the whole process? Started split testing things and getting really granular with our numbers really understanding our KPIs. And and then figure out, Okay, how do we improve this at every aspect, and then as we evolve further, we partner with people to do like a case acceptance coaching, for dentists and things like that. So really just trying to ensure that they have all the tools they need to win. And even then, you know, we still, you know, we don’t we don’t win them all, or save them all. But we
we know our numbers low enough, we know that
they’re our allies is ridiculous. And so if they just follow our process from any in any capacity, they’ll typically when, as of last month, all up, we saw an average of nine, I think it was 956% ROI on the dollar spent on average for all clients rolled up. And we’ve got a lot of guys in there,
you know, that are new. So you know, it’s just did you say an average 950% ROI?
Yeah, it’s average, all clients. And then yeah, so we know that and when we, when we reinvest effort into looking at why we have turning what’s going on. Or the years you know, we’ve had charted for various reasons. And we’ve tried to address those as we’ve had those come up. But you know, what we found is, the more we could track, the better we can educate the client, like better likely that we should have been having a better chance of saving them long term, and then being in alignment with what we’re doing. That also gives our team the right tools to track and firmly as to what we should be looking at, you know, if, if a cost per leads low, but a cost per new patient, what we call it as high, we know there’s conversion ratio on the phones, typically, or somewhere in the back end. You know, when if the constantly tie that we know it’s typically an ad conversion rate or a website conversion rate issue. So then we have to address that. So there’s that and then we’ve gotten into some advanced funnels, implant type funnels, where we’ll bring build out an entire automated funnel. And that’s something that’s nowhere in the last few months that we’ve been really testing and seeing crazy, crazy results with that I mean, ROI is like through the frickin roof with some of the stuff we’re doing. So trying to try to really push that that the innovation forward on this and kind of
we’re how I look at it is like how do we continue to try and stay ahead of what our competitors are doing and get the best results?
You know? Yeah, I think that’s, that’s really cool. I think what you shared there is like, the aha moment is something that I think all smart digital marketing agents have to think about, which is, it’s not just about generating the leads, right, everyone’s talking about getting ranked and generating leads and generating phone calls. So like, you’re way ahead of the curve on this, you said, Man, I need to not just track the calls. But like rake the calls and then put systems in place to help make sure that you know, a higher percentage of those leads that we generate, convert into a book appointments, book service and true revenue for the practice. And it sounds like that served you well over the years, it’s obviously something you’re continuing to try and improve and innovate. But definitely an awesome insight that hopefully everybody saved their teeth. And it says I can actually think more about the actual return on investment to the client base. Right?
Yeah, we so we listened to over 65,000 marketing related calls last year, a lot of calls that we go through, and we break them out by person that answered the phone and types of services that you know, and we’re also doing dynamic number insertion all that so real to tell where those calls were generated from and then attach try to at all. So we you know, again, we know that but yeah, knowing that allows us then to control more of this, you know, and I’ve said, I think in your group and other groups, you know that the evolution of this really is, the more that sales process you control, and the more the stronger you become. So ideally, the eventual outcome is some somebody on like in house on Rn, actually taking the calls and converting or owning the whole process, and then you become even more so invaluable, because then that means there’s less competitors doing it. And you have consistency in what you’re doing across all accounts. But now you’re done with the call centre. And you know, that’s not a fun thing. I’ll do
a whole new wrinkle to the business is
really, really would be a lot of work. But something worth considering for sure.
Interesting. Alright, so So can you talk a little bit about how you package that it sounds like you do websites, SEO pay per click in whatever it takes to generate the leads, and then you listen to those calls, rate those calls and help put strategies in place to help convert to high level what how you package that?
Yeah, so we don’t work on a car, we won’t touch it. If somebody comes to us and wants us to build their ads, or they want us to do just a singular item, we won’t do it. Our system is designed to work as
a as an integrated approach.
So that we know we know what ads we’re writing and how that aligns with the messaging on the website, and also how they differentiate the practice in the marketplace, and how that’s aligned with what’s on the website. And then the website needs to be structured in a way that it’s going to convert and it needs to be optimised. It has nice to have all of our stuff in it. I know we need to be able to track that it all through to the phone calls, and so on. And then all the other stuff we’re doing. If it’s retargeting or Facebook ads, or, you know, some other services I haven’t brought up yet that will do but basically will bundle it into one of a couple of programmes, you know. And so, you know, one programme doesn’t typically include call coaching, and it doesn’t include some other other types of higher end services like software that will that will basically pull in all the analytics out of their practice management software.
and then, you know, remarketing campaigns and things like that allow us to do, and then a higher level does. And so that’s typically what will bundle in one or two packages, and then depending on what we’re saying and whatnot, will will push them to one or the other. And if they don’t pick up the higher end one, we already have all the metrics in place to track against that. So let’s say that I’m pick up the higher programme. Well, we know that to the call tracking analytic systems were using and to the people listening to calls, we know the conversion rates, we’re now able to come back and say, Listen, I know you didn’t pick this up. But you know, you’re converting a 40%, we have to have this. So you know, and here’s what’s going to mean to your practice. So there’s a lot of that, that we can do after the fact.
Nice, very, very cool. Yeah, I think it’s really smart. I’m a big believer in, you’re going to shoot yourself in the foot to the extent you do all a cart, because it isn’t to do website or just going to do Facebook ads, it’s got to be a comprehensive solution that makes sense that you can control the end result and charge at the end of the day, a higher monthly fees, and you get clients paying as much as Was it 12 $50,000 per month, I think,
right? It is not not not a lot, we have a handful and then you know, with with our group practices, those those can scale even further now, because they’re just every month are adding a new a new location. And that’s just new revenue for us.
Nice. So can we can we talk a little bit about client acquisition, right, this is the big thing you can see, how do you get your clients into the agency at this point? Where do they come from?
Yeah, good question. So
for a lot of years, what we’ve done is run email blast to, you know, partner lists, you know, we’ll pay as much as $8,000, in a blast for those, and will, you know, send out to 50,000, or 60,000 dentists across the United States that are already used to getting emails from these publications that will give them a free book and will pay for the whole thing. And so, you know, it costs us I want to say, right now that over $400, per new dentist to talk to us to get on the phone and talk to us, that’s what we pay, okay. And then you know, we pay thousands of dollars to acquire that app, you do the math of the conversion rate going. But we know those numbers, we know they work out because of what recharge and all that. So knowing that that’s a that’s what we do, you know, we have, we have people just drop on our list, we have a full funnel kind of like what you’re doing and those up on we also do webinars, and we do speaking events. So we do other joint ventures, we have referrals and things like that. So we kind of build that out on our set list. And, you know, we’ve we’ve got our coaches that refer people to us, and as far as a national last week to speak at an event to, you know, a bunch of dentists. And so there’s, you know, things will come out of those types of events as well. But in terms of the recurring kind of process of it has been that,
that process has gotten increasingly difficult and increasingly expensive. And I, I wouldn’t advise anyone that’s not, is not familiar with it that hasn’t done that to go and starting out, because we’ve learned a lot about how not to do it. And it can be I mean, very, very expensive, have done wrong. And it’s so easy to do to do any piece of waste. You know, I think on a call with Perry Belcher written before I said on people asked to a dental town, a dental town, a blast, and his his variation of what he thought would work actually performed half as well as our control. So Wow, it’s, you know, it’s a lot of trial and error through it. And then we do a lot of remarketing, and so on. And so we’ve got a list of I don’t have 20, some thousand dentists on our list of drip drip marketing, we have bed for, you know, since 2013. And so we have people to come back to that and so on. But usually, yeah, usually, it’s just we do a lot of outbound marketing and get people to drop on our on our calendar. And so I’ve got a calendar open, and I’ve got just you see them come through, and they’ll just pop themselves on. And it will be either the doctor or someone at the office, and we’ll just drop themselves on our calendar, we call them at that time it will do an assessment and then not they qualify, it will bring them take a little proposal. That’s been kind of our model for a lot of years.
Nice. So it sounds like a pretty comprehensive approach. There’s no one singular marketing strategy that builds a seven figure digital marketing agency, right? It’s, it’s comprehensive. I’ve seen your website, it looks great. I’ve seen your OPT in funnel and your retargeting, it’s on point. Plus, you’re live at these events, speaking of these groups,
physically sending out books and whatnot to Yeah, I mean, getting just spending the money, I think it costs us on average, about $10 per book, and we send out, you know, hundreds of a month. So it’s, you know, we’re paying for that just to get in front of, you know, and we tested charging for it. And it just while we got, you know what people would pay, we also got less opt ins, and I’d rather have to believe in the opt in to nurse long term. So the dollar Yeah, yeah. So how big a play would you say the book is for you, over the last couple years, because you’ve got a nice book and a nice funnel. I mean, it’s made us millions of dollars, for sure. We’ve brought a third version of it. It was rewritten when we released this current version, up in the ground up. But we had, you know, two verses before that, when we wrote our first book, we were I mean, I think we were one of the first in the industry to have a marketing book for dentists of any kinds, you know, I remember going to Amazon and you know, there was nothing really there. So it was kind of a just a new thing. And it served us really well. And it got us a lot of publicity. Now a lot of people are doing it, and it’s becoming kind of a I mean, it’s still a good book, and people still read it, but it’s not as cool the shiny object. I don’t I don’t think it’s you know, as you practice,
not quite as impressive as it was, but still a valuable asset to say, Hey, we spoke on this, and use it as a tool to get in the door. You know, don’t expect them to buy it off you Amazon and then enter your funnel. But you guys to quickly placing this with your JV with your email lists. And it sounds like actually like sending it out to brand new people on a monthly basis just to create raised hands. Exactly. Yep, that’s awesome. This one might be hard to answer. But you know, out of all of those things, what do you feel like drives the most activity for you in terms of filling that calendar with appointments?
It’s the email blasts.
Okay, yeah. And do you go back to the same list? Or do you kind of rotate,
we rotate. But yeah, the ones that work and a lot of different offers. So we have different pieces of content, we’ve tested what works, what doesn’t, you know, we’ve got, we’ve got guides for all sorts of things, how to run certain types of ads, or how to answer your phones, we have scripts, I mean, we really kind of pull back the curtains and give people a lot of the information that they might get when they hire us knowing that they’ll never execute on their own if they you know, or not well, and, you know, just just try to give it away. And then, you know, they’ll, they’ll sign up chat with us on what we can do.
So that’s that’s the point. It’s working best and you know, access one of these
things. In terms of volume, that that’s, that’s the one that generates the most I mean, like I said, we’ll still do webinars and get people from that. The best source is always referrals and joint ventures that feed on and that’s like, those are slam dunk sales every time. But, you know, those aren’t, those aren’t predictable. And as a challenger, so we need we need Predictable Revenue. And that’s, that’s kind of always been the goal of what I’ve been after is how do we how we create a replicable and consistent sales machine that we can depend upon. And that I know if I spent x on the front end, I’m going to get why on the back end, that has changed over the years, when we are all sales process doesn’t work anymore. And it took it took a long time to learn that because it’s like, there’s gotta be something else. This has always worked. And it just the market evolved. And we had to learn the hard way that what we were telling people was no longer what they wanted to hear. That was that took. It took me getting back involved in our sales process directly. Instead of letting our sales people do it. And I’m I didn’t have that capacity until I brought in basically like a chief operating officer. And that’s really helped change everything for my business, about my business partner to try to move people in the right roles. But I took I started wearing a lot of his hats and worked well for a while, but he just couldn’t keep up after enough time. And so I started to, we started to fall backwards. And so I was able to luckily bring in the right person. And since then, I mean, I think I told you before this but right now this month, and then we brought in I’m looking at the numbers here 22,009 8450 cents, and recurring revenue. So far, we’ve got more deals out. So I mean, just cranking, cranking through and trying to have big months and keeping consistent while also having people focus on how to reduce, reduce churn and further innovate to reduce that.
Awesome stuff. Thank you. Thanks for sharing. So one question that often comes up. What is your activity? Like director? What are you guys targeting in terms of scheduled strategy sessions per month? Are you looking for 10 2050? Like, what’s the average that you guys are shooting for in that front?
Yeah, I’ve got, I have to pull up my KPI sheet, I believe it’s 42 a month assessments attended. Okay. Usually though, we range anywhere from 30 to 40, giver tank. And so we usually have that and that’s, that’s actually people that showed up. And then I want to say right now we’re averaging about 30% on our conversion rates on sales, just been a little. We’re working to fix that soon. So I’ve hired a consultant, which, you know, he’s in your mastermind group and reworking some things to try to improve that process. So we’ll see how that pans out. But, you know, I’ve got some, I think it’ll work well,
something that sticks out to me and and, you know, I’d love to have you guys comment, if you’re watching this, you know, in the Facebook group, or if you’re live with on on zoom, is that, you know, Adam here is running up the a $4 million plus digital marketing agency has been very successful over the years. But he’s constantly iterating he realised the sales process wasn’t working. So I had to roll up his sleeves and get back involved in that. He’s noticing his sales rates, you know, aren’t where he wants them to be? So he’s looking at that sales process and investing in support. I think that’s excellent on your front, because it’s easy to get complacent when you’re at that level of success. And just be like, oh, what I’ve done to get me here, you know, it’s just going to continue to work into perpetuity. And that’s not always the case. You know, I,
I think it’s almost like like being a CEO is almost like, you know, those games where you have the ball on the board, so is moving around, and you got to move through, like the maze and not kind of drop into the holes. Number two, yeah, it’s like, it’s like, as one part of your business starts to go one direction, it affects everything else. So let’s say you have an influx of sales, well, all of a sudden, now your operations and fulfilment team are pressed, and design is pressed. And all of a sudden, you’re trying to figure that out, it’s so it’s just, it’s just a balancing act constantly to try to just move really all ships at the same time, and be able to plan for that. And that’s a, it’s a very difficult thing, that unless you’ve got the right people to help you manage that. You won’t see things before they get away from you. And that’s really what problems appear.
That’s a great analogy for it, right? Because you’re not always focused on sales, because you know, sales come in, and then you’re going to ship a little bit today to film it and then know the churn starts to happen. I don’t know, we gotta focus a little bit on that marketing and whatnot. Yeah,
I mean, we’ve hired several people in the last two weeks, and they’re just trying to support different tools that we need, and it’s, and then you got to get ahead of it too, right. So it’s just trying to plan for it knowing that, hey, if I’m going to ramp up marketing, and I want to see sales come through, I need to have people in place at a time. And they’re going to be trained at a time where you’re going to piss off clients, you’re gonna lose them. So it’s just trying to stay ahead in this world and
lots to do, man, it’s it’s certainly,
you know, it starts to get very complex, more so than I think, like had a million when I was doing a million, it was so much simpler, less less staff members in house, you know, less complexity to the business. And just over time it you know, you just got more moving parts for sure.
Yeah, no doubt. I think that’s a great is a great analogy. I appreciate you sharing that and kind of being so forthright with the whole situation. Can you talk a little bit about fulfilment, and we’re talking about hundreds of clients, we’re talking about? Let’s call it five to 10 new clients every single month? What is the fulfilment engine look like? And how do you keep up with that kind of volume.
So we have, we have our departments broken out, I’ve got somebody, I’ve got a fulfilment team, I’ve got a performance team, I’ve got a local SEO team. I’ve got a paid ads team, I’ve got the HR people, I’ve got executive kind of roles and support roles that have a client success management team. And so there’s, there’s kind of all these department and so the fulfilment team is really the ones that so I’ve got a dedicated onboarding manager that really just takes clients as they come in, and walks them through this process, and then hand them off to the football team, as you know, designed to be a pretty structured process with a structured website, we try not to deviate too much on our websites, there’s no reason to. And so just follow a process and get them live and get the client on boarded as quick as possible, get the site up and start running, running everything. So what we’ll do is, we’ll charge either a setup fee, or you know, whatever their their first monthly fees, monthly recurring rate is going to be, let’s say they’re going to pass five k a month or so will charge typically a setup fee of that, so be five K, and then we’ll waive the next month for them. And that gives us the time, we need to kind of do everything live and built out. And then we’ll start we’ll start a billing The following month not to become month one of the recurring building process.
Excellent. So how many approximately how many team members to you know, on your on your team at this point?
I mean, between contractors and full times, I want to say between 30 and 40, at this point.
So big team, big organisation chart, we were talking a little bit about the KPIs and the financials and the things that you keep your press on a daily basis. Can you talk a little bit about those KPIs that you monitor?
Yeah, so I have, you can’t see it. But I have, I have two, two long monitors to my right. And then I have a big one monitor that I’m watching you on. And I’m one of those monitors 24 seven, and real time is my up to date, budget. And so it’s got all my financials, and I see everything in actual real time. And I know up to the second one, it’s edited, I can see it, it’s a Google Doc, I mean, we haven’t you know, QuickBooks, and all of our financial accounting, and we’ve got people hired to manage and handle that, that are specific to that. So see IPAs, and, and all that. So that’s, that’s, you know, part of team members, I guess I forgot to even count, but hiring, hire, hire people to just that that’s what they do. And so, you know, they do monthly reconciliation and all that, but I have my own up to date reporting every month, and then we have all our KPIs. So we’re looking at, you know, just company wide metrics, and everyone has their own set of reports that they’ve got to fill out each week to, to roll up in a nice. And so that’s, those are the big things. In terms of the KPIs though, I have my my VP or my coo really kind of managing those KPIs and watching those, and I really look at the budget. And so she kind of handles that and make sure that everyone’s kind of don’t need to be on that I’m recent, more recently, I’ve been focused more on business, growth, and so on strategy. So having that stuff off to her is allowed me to free up time to really focus on this other end. And that’s where I’ve identified that one, that’s some of my stronger strengths are there and, and, and there’s not really anyone else in the organisation that can do this, quick enough at the scale that I’m going to be able to do. So that’s really where I focus my efforts. And that’s really been helpful for me, I couldn’t do this a year ago with trying to manage everything else without her.
Yeah, there’s definitely power and focusing on your strengths, right? You’re great at sales, business development, and then, you know, kind of freeing yourself up from the day to day of the operations. How did you go about finding someone that could step in and kind of be your, into your integrator or, you know, from EOS terms, or your operations director to help kind of run with that side of the business?
I locked out, I looked out in a way that probably no one in this group is going to look out. So my What am I so I own I own. I’m a 50% owner in a group medical business that serves patients throughout Idaho. So I own half of that company. on there. There’s a full fledge medical practice that treats people for various things. And so, and the partner that is one of my best friends, and he’s a he’s a director of er at a local hospital, but I’ve known him for years. So he and I have been great friends for a long time to start in this medical company. And it does well on its own. But his wife went to like a top, I don’t know, top 20 MBA school or business school, she, she stopped working when he
was when he came out of
medical school, and started being a doctor, she stayed at home to, you know, raising kids. And he does really well on his own, and they just really didn’t need her to be working. But, you know, as the kids have gotten older, you know, she’s over this time she’s taught at colleges for, you know, financial,
I don’t know, I think she did.
She did like high level college.
Education or teaching for like CPA related, you know, classes and things like that. Just just basically like a full blown CPA, in addition to MBA, in addition to project that a fully trained project manager. And so she’s got all this experience, and just really using that. I, you know, I sat down with her and I knew she was looking and I was starting to see that we were having issues within the company. I said, Let’s chat. You know, at that time, I was like, all right, well, I know I need a C level operations person, right? I need someone that can actually just take the stop and run. And I was, I was interviewing, and it just happened that she was also considering looking at doing that as well. So I just said, let’s give it a run. And that’s what we did. That was really helpful. Nice way, definitely a super a player. And if I had to pair on the open market hope she’s not watching us have to pay a lot more money for she hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. base salary, I’m sure.
Good. So just fortunate timing on your end and kind of knowing what you need. And like, putting it out into the into the sphere? Hey, look, here’s what I need, and connecting with just the right person at the right time.
Yeah, you know, I still think I would have been able to find someone, but eventually, but I mean, it’s just so hard to find the right person and hope that they’re going to work out, you know, and build also pay them what they’re worth. And a lot of times you got to push people at that at this level if you’re going to ever get up. So in that regard, you know, I did, I did look up look out and a lot of ways.
Nice. So So a couple of questions coming in guys, we’re coming to the end of this, Adams got a call, he’s gonna have to jump on right after this. So if you have questions, start putting them in now. But Josh is asking, with all of those clients, do you have account managers who speak with them on a monthly basis? Or do you call into them on your own? And how do you manage communication with all those clients?
We have a dedicated team of we call them client success managers. And man, we struggle with them for a lot of years and figuring out how like, how to ally and how align them to to improve client turn, right reduce it, and how to how to find the right individuals to give clients what they want, what what things would they need to report on. So it’s been a long road with we figured that out. But what it says yeah, I’ve got a team of individuals that that’s all they do is talk to clients and work to get them what they need, I sell them anymore, talk to clients. A lot of our clients I’ve never talked to in my life, every now and again, I’ll be pulled into a call if it’s something more complex, or, you know, if it’s if it’s a larger client or something like that, we need to we need to bring me and I will but we have a full team of individuals. And that’s that’s what they do. And then they’re just they’re just trained on all the things that we’ve identified that our clients need in order to feel like they’re getting value out of us. And it wasn’t what we thought, right? We for years, we had a system I systematised system for how to interact and communicate song that we heard the types of people that we thought were the the best way out hired, like dental coaches, for example, and got out that wasn’t the right path. And so through that process, you know, we found what’s worked and what hasn’t, we’re still working through that now. But
yeah, it’s, that’s we have a whole team of people that
nice, and I would agree, I think really, one of the first positions you need to move yourself out of as you grow your business is account management. Because you know, that will suck you dry. If you’re focused on serving the client, which you have to and trying to grow the business of something’s going to get either you’re going to stagnate because you got to deal with all the client relations issues. Or you’re going to have to hire someone or a group of people that can handle that. So absolutely Good, good answer there, build a team know that they’re going to have to be trained, know that it’s a little bit of a challenge to deal with, Josh. And another question is, how do you forecast capacity in terms of staying ahead? Because I think at this moment, in the interview you were talking about, you know, that that balancing act know, you’re going to grow? But how do you know when you add some people take on this financial resources, knowing that it’s going to cut into your profit margins? So
yeah, so what you can look at it as you know, what your sales rate is, and then we capacity as a size, you start to fill that capacity, you know, that if you know if you know, your turn rate as well, then you can start to look at your forecasts and then say, Okay, well, if we progress with this rate, these are the things that we need. And it will initially eat into your margin until you you know, sell out of that, right, that’s just kind of the cycle that you’re going to go through. And every company, you know, is going to so that that’s just kind of what we look at is okay, well how, how our capacity as a team, and how are we feeling down there knowing what we have coming in, plus what we saw, because we we don’t plan to, we budgeted in kind of a ramp up period for our clients. So you know, we sell them and then we know, we have several months, and then, you know, we can forecast that out as well. So, you know, knowing how to that it’s like, All right, we’ll use the the areas that we need help at. so on. And so that’s
typically how we go about it.
Nice, good, good information there. David’s asking, would you recommend cold emails, Facebook ads or LinkedIn for you know, getting into a niche?
I would say test it all. I mean, it’s hard. It’s hard to say, I was telling Josh here, you know, I sat on a call with Frank Kern yesterday for an hour, he and I just were chatting about what’s working what’s not in the industry. And you know, they’re not doing anything and it on Instagram, and they’re starting to pull away, I think from Facebook, they’re still don’t actually a lot of Facebook, they’re not doing a lot of Google ads. And you know, they’re getting into YouTube and some other things too. And they’re seeing success there. But it just all comes back to the testing here. I know that kind of I know that people are saying that. LinkedIn is kind of the new place to target. There’s something that we we want to do, because we’re not doing. But there’s also other other ways to approve what we already are doing as well. So it’s hard to just say like, Well, go here, go there, because it can all work. It just depends on how effective you are in those channels.
Yeah, great. Yeah, great response, you know, you have a comprehensive approach, test multiple things and find what’s going to work best, it would be what I would say, follow up to those asking, you know, in dentistry, would you know, if you were starting again, would you focus on general dentistry like you have? Or would you do orthodontists or cosmetic? Do you have any thoughts on that front?
You know, if I, if I started or I do question, if I would even take Dennis just starting over there very difficult kind of animal, a lot of them are wonderful, but a lot of them, you know, they don’t understand business, and they’re very ego driven, and that sometimes there’s just very little logic and the decisions they’ll make. And that’s been a challenge. And I know that it’s not me, it’s others that work in this industry that deal with them. I think it’s a challenge for everyone. That’s the feedback I see. But tradition to these more specific services, you know, a lot of years ago, they got a lot of their business from referrals, only ortho was really referral based entirely. And so that would have been a very difficult market to approach,
potentially, you know, we didn’t we didn’t test it.
Direct, you know, he’s kind of in general. So,
I, you know,
I don’t I don’t know if we would niche, but there’s certainly opportunity of doing so I mean, to niche into certain specific types of services. Some of this, these, these funnels that we’re building out are directed towards a specific niche markets or, you know, like implants. So, there’s certainly opportunity, a lot of that, but there’s less people too. So I mean, you’re, you got it, you really gotta stand apart. But yeah, I don’t know what I would do. If I had to start over here. I don’t know if I have an agenda.
There you go. That was a question that Natalie asked as well. So that’s kind of been answered. Right. It’s, he’s, he’s got success in it. But if you were starting again, he may or may not do that particular path. So great questions, guys. I appreciate you engaging, I want to make sure we press forward here. So looking back over the last, I guess it’s nine years now. What would you say are the top like three lessons that you’ve taken away that you could say, Okay, this is something that I learned that I can, I can share with the rest of these agencies that are trying to be successful.
You know, one of the biggest things was really trying to get our culture on board, we’re a distributed company, and that it has its own inherent challenges. So every single play, we have works, works remotely, and our entire company. And so we have no, we have no central office. And before I bought out the company in for a while after I bought out, but not the company, my business partner, we have lot of cultural related issues we had I turn with employees were, you know, constantly letting people go. And that that was a huge struggle for us just trying to find that rhythm, we just never had it. And so that, I believe, is one of the biggest reasons we didn’t go faster than we did, we did grow. But it was almost to brute force. And so there just wasn’t this, like, harmony and how we work together. One of the things that I first did, when I bought out my business partners, I implemented full benefits. And then I also tried to structure the company in a way to promote with from within and just keep people around longer. And that’s helped a lot because, you know, institutional knowledge about how we operate and how we work and whatnot is really invaluable. Long term. On the flip side of that, firing people that aren’t a good fit quickly, quicker. And that’s also a bigger challenge to to do, because people are working remotely, it’s like, you know, is it? Are they not getting what they need? Or is it function, like isn’t partial, the company is optional, right? So a lot of times, there’s a tendency to allow people to drag on longer than they really should. And I had a tendency to really not want to let people go, how that should have been like.
So that’s, that’s been a big thing.
Man, you know, also, just having the right people in the right roles has really freed me up to do to focus on what I knew I wanted to do or not want to do, and just, you know, I don’t I don’t really know, I’m just trying to think of like, what other big takeaways I was mentioned to you, Josh, before this, but, you know, I had many, many months last year where I made six figures, like take home myself, right. And I was miserable doing that. And I would say that, you know, everyone is kind of starting this out to make a bunch of money. You know, I made good money, you know, I, I’ve got nice cars. And you know, Josh, you’ve seen some of the stuff, you know, and he has nice cars, yeah, all the stuff, right, and all the toys and all that. But I was miserable, right. And so I think that trying to just find like, what’s going to what’s going to create an environment that you’re not going to be stressed out in, you’ve got some predictability at hand, the things off that that are really worrying you, I know that I’m able to I put the right people in places, I feel like we’re always trying to put the right people in places to do the things that I know that I’m not good at or don’t want to do, or the things that are going to, like, I know that when we get a client that wants to cancel, and I see that and like ruins my my day, I gotta ruin my evening. So I don’t want to see that until it’s rolled up. I have systems in place, right people that they know how to say that. And if they can’t say that they bring me out as a last resort. I mean, that’s just one example. But we’re have people that manage people better than I work. I don’t like to manage people I don’t like to manage. I don’t I don’t think I’m a good manager. I think I bring a lot of strategy and innovation and that kind of thing, Northstar, I know where we need to go and how to kind of get there. But in terms of managing people day to day and all those things. I’m not good at that. So trying to put the right people in place to do that has been a challenge has been something that I’ve been working towards, but it’s certainly pale, pale horse.
Yeah, I think that’s, that’s a great insight. Because a lot of people will think, well as the owner, I have to be a good manager and I have to do that stuff. You have to do it at some level. But typically, the entrepreneur that grows a seven figure agency or multiple seven figure agency is a visionary type, they’re very high, quick star. And they’re not the the operations person, they’re not the person that wants to manage the team. So be comfortable with figuring out what your strengths are, and be willing to say, Okay, I’m going to find the right people to find, let’s say, like an integrator, so or an operations person that can do the management piece for me, if that’s not your strength, or vice versa, if you’re not quite development, like finding the people that can complement your strengths and your ability. So
yeah, and I think the the other thing that is let them run, let them one winner fail in their own, give them give me kind of like their KPIs and make sure you’re aligned, but let them, let them run it for the right people. They will, they’re not you’ll find out. But I don’t want to manage them at all, like my leaders, like they need, they need to be able to run it or they’re going to fail, and they need to be replaced. And ideally, there’s several people ahead of them that can are overseeing them that will help facilitate that forever. Need to
great stuff. Well, I know we’re coming to the to the end of the hour five, first of all, I want
to see I got I’ve got a few more minutes. Okay,
if you have any last questions popping in here, Ricardo says, Hey, I really love the transparency, willingness to share, you know, be real with us here. Um, any additional nuggets of wisdom that you’d want to share with the group, just, you know, for that guy that’s, you know, looking to get to seven figures are looking at, you know, break past the early stages in the seven figures, any nuggets of wisdom you can share for that guy or gal?
I mean, honestly, that there’s
there’s probably a time, I would say that there’s no, there’s no fast way, like, there’s no easy way to get there, right. There’s no like secret sauce or, or item or tool that’s going to get you there. It’s just a shit tonne of hard work, no matter what what you’re doing. You gotta grind it out. And, and you have to have the tenacity to kind of deal with the ship early on, especially because you don’t have people that can deal with it for you. And that’s, I think that starting an agency today is harder, probably it means there’s so much competition. So you really have to figure out how you’re going to differentiate yourself. And even that, it can be very difficult. So, man, I that’s the biggest thing is, it’s just it’s going to be a grind. If you’re starting out. You gotta there’s no free lunch, right? If you want to make a million bucks plus, or want to do that for yourself, meaning that your company need to make more, you know, no one’s going to hand you that money. And there’s going to be a lot of other smart people trying to get us you’ve got to really find a way to differentiate and innovate. And it’s just, it’s a tough, it’s a tough thing, really. So just be prepared for it. I mean, this, you know, if that’s what you want, you’ve got to be passionate about it or no, like, that’s really what you want. Otherwise, it’s going to eat you up.
Yeah, no, no secret sauce and things when I wrote down here, that’s it. We’re all thinking like, what’s the magic thing that’s going to get everybody ranked on Google Maps? Or what’s the magic thing that’s going to make them get lots of leads on Facebook ads? You know, there is no magic thing? Right? It’s hard work. It’s strategy. And it’s daily effort every single day that generates those types of results. Right?
You know, every, every time I think that I can just kind of take my foot off the gas and step away from it. You know, that hasn’t been the case. You know, and that’s, but that’s always the goal, right? It’s like, how do you replace yourself and every, every role at every capacity? And that’s what a CEO and CEO should always be looking at us? How do I replace my soft power, replace myself every role, and that’s what I’m currently working towards, you know, and some days, you know, right after this call, I’ve got to hop on with a with a prospective client, somebody to put themselves on a calendar that’s looks like a hot lead, because I don’t have you know, my team’s full and I got to step in and do it. Because we’re, we had to let somebody go, that wasn’t working out. And just, it’s just part of it. Right? And so,
you know, just a grind, I guess,
step in and step in and make it happen. Yeah, rapid fire hit you with like, two or three more questions. If you have time. I got time. So um, David’s asking you are there any sales or marketing training courses that you recommend or that have really impacted you?
You know, I was a big fan of the Sandler sales system. years ago. I found though that that doesn’t work as well.
you know, we kind of created our own based off of a lot of learnings. But I’d say that all all sales is kind of universal. I mean, it has been since like, I don’t know, like the Roman days. You know, it’s a psychologist psychology, right? You look at like, a lot of this even like, and I don’t know, if you’ve ever like scientific sell her scientific advertising. It’s It was written in like the way back 1800s. And then we done it twice. You know, like for horse buggies and carriages, not the same principles apply. There’s a lot of good stuff there. There’s, I think the biggest thing that I found for sales is just trying to create simplicity, from complexity. And then, you know, have a strong value proposition we struggle with that we used to submission earlier in this conversation. I built years ago, our sale system, and I found that it wasn’t working. We were doing calls after calls after calls, we were converting people and and so trying to reinvent and really understanding why it was a tough thing. And so you know, in terms of like a one system that to learn from I mean, I’ve been still I’d still read Samarra, you know, maybe Grant Cardone systems good. Any that have probably been had been mentioned in this. And then, you know, there’s, there’s consultants that can certainly help you out with a lot of thought to. But I do think more. So now it comes down to really, what is your unique value proposition in the market? How are you differentiating yourself? And that’s, that’s kind of the challenge there. How do you convey that in a way that that makes sense that interest that need? And how do you, you know, ensure that you have like an irresistible, offer that that they want, right? Why would they buy from you versus the next 50 agencies down the road. And honestly, they’re getting burned more and more so because there’s a lot of startups that don’t, they don’t understand how to do it. But you know, the working one man shop the promises the world, and they really know what they’re doing, and they burn that lead out. And the more that that happens, because this is kind of an unreal, regulated market, the harder it’s going to be, the more jaded they get, right.
So you really have to, like get good at showing social proof, right? Not just hockey, but showing look this we did for this guy, and this guy and this guy. And when your niche focus, that all gets a lot easier. Josh is saying, so you’re dedicated to your niche. And his question is, I’m sure you get leads outside of the niche? How do you handle that you still take the business? Do you pass it to somebody else? And why?
Unless, unless there’s, like, you know, unless there’s like a tie into what we do. For example, we had a client that wants to speak on a global level. And so it’s a dentist. So you know, we built him up speaking sites were employed, his mom has like a business that, I don’t know, I think they do, like, what landscape or something, but she was employee. And so we said, okay, we’ll build your site. But usually, if somebody reaches out, it seldom happens, because I mean, we have dental in our name. It’s seldom happens anymore. You know, usually, you know, maybe a coach or something that might ask us or somebody that wants to advertise a product or something like that. But that’s the essence of dentistry, but we saw him get it. But if we did, or if like an attorney reached
out or something like that, we just pass it on, we would take it.
Yeah, good. I mean, the fact is, your system is built to serve dental, like our systems are built the desert plumbing and HTC want to build a machine that you can predictably land and serve those clients. And so if I get a roofing lead, I’m taking a hard pass, Josh, and I know that Adam is is the
challenge that people are going to have early on, is they want they want the money. And so that’s that’s been I guess, there’s another takeaway is, if you realise that it’s about the bigger system as a whole, then it’s just not about that early winner that that money there. But you’re gonna, you’re going to deviate your chain trying to deal with something that are not used to, and that’s going to harm you long term, you’re going to deal with a client potentially, that’s upset, and all these other things, it’s just not worth it.
You want to you want to create kind of a system.
that’s like a well oiled machine. And the more kind of, I don’t know, unique, or customised situations you throw out it is going to derail it. And that’s going to derail your ability to really scale and grow your business. And it’s going to bring your team out. So you just got to focus on on what the system is, and then pass on those reinvest that time into how do you make what you’re doing better? How do you improve what you’re doing, how you go acquire more business,
those types of things? hundred hundred percent, I think that was a good insight for the group. And Josh is like, wow, that’s, that’s interesting. Neither of us would have built multi million dollar agencies if we were just taking whatever we could get our hands on, because you can’t scale that. So I think that was awesome. Adam, thank you so much for sharing your time. Not every day, we get a $4 million agency on here. So thank you for sharing. If you’re listening to this in the group, or you’re listening in after the fact, be sure to reach out to Adam tag him. Thank you for sharing, and, and we’re going to wrap there. Thanks again, really appreciate you taking
Josh, if you have any good luck everyone
will help you get value from this session. If you’d like more ideas, strategies and techniques on how to more effectively grow and scale your digital marketing agency. I’d like to invite you to go to seven figure agency com, they’ll you’ll find a training series completely free of charge that walks you through how we were able to grow our agency from zero to over $300,000 per month in less than seven years, and how we’re adding clients on a consistent basis. So we walk you through, you know the quickest way to position yourself as the expert in a particular market and proven models to get customers coming to you preposition to buy. So if you get value from this and you like more, you can go to seven figure agency.com. There’s a free video series for you there. Just get there you want to your name, your email address, and you’ll get access in the next couple of minutes. So thanks for joining us. Go to seven figure agency. com now and we’ll talk to you soon
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