Jeremy Weisz 15:53
What about, from the agency standpoint, what are the most popular services that other agencies want you to help them with?
Jon Tsourakis 16:01
It’s either going to be come down to, like SEO. So we do SEO for other agencies, as well as a lot of web dev. So there’s a ton of agencies out there that do very surface-level websites, right? And it works for them. So there’s a marketing agency and I like yeah, well, we do brochure-based websites, and they can do those, and they can do decent. But when they get into something that requires a lot of know-how and expertise, that’s when they’ll typically contact us when it’s some really deep, deep bench type stuff, WordPress, or we get into that Shopify, whether it’s gonna be like building plugins, things like that. And then also on the application side, they have a client that needs a business critical application, and they’ll pull us into to help out with and then sometimes it’s framework stuff also, as well as like HubSpot, and things like that.
Jeremy Weisz 16:56
Yeah, thanks for sharing that. And if you’re watching the video, also, I’m on oyova.com website, and then we’re gonna walk through because I want to hear a little bit more, get a great understanding of what you do. So we’ll talk through some of the companies you’ve helped. But before we get to that, I do want to talk about you mentioned, don’t just send a proposal you mentioned, value based pricing is discriminatory pricing, and be aware and careful of that. What are some other mistakes you see agencies making?
Jon Tsourakis 17:34
Giving strategy away for free, not really placing value on that. I think the other is not controlling scope, right. So a lot of agencies will just lose their ads on websites, because they don’t understand how to control the scope. And the way that you control the scope is every project that you do, you lock it in a number of estimated hours, that way, you have a mechanism to have a conversation with somebody like all right, hey look, we estimated that this was going to be 700 hours. And these features that you had were unknown at the time, we thought that we could take them on, we can’t. So that gives you room and it’s not for you to just nickel and dime and slam your client, you need context for conversation. When you do something that is just amorphous, you’re going to get into a lot of trouble. And I think that’s what scares a lot of agencies out of doing complicated websites, or even websites in general. Because, I mean, you get into somebody’s thought process, which is, I’m gonna know when I see it, it’s like, those are the most dangerous words, that and like, I want it to pop. We got to really define what pop means. And we also really need to understand like, what moves the needle for you from a creative inspiration standpoint,
Jeremy Weisz 18:58
I can only imagine, Jon, we’ve heard, I’ll know when I see it is a scary thing to hear. And we’ll maybe do the cover art for someone, that’s it, like we don’t want to mess around with anything else. Because it’s so subjective. And I can’t imagine doing that, like you for a whole website, right? We’re just talking about one image, and you’re doing it across a whole website. So sometimes people with the best of intentions, and they just don’t know, how do you get from well-known we see it and you know the person is not trying to be difficult. They just don’t know, how do you have a process where you’re like, okay, here’s where to get to so we’re not just throwing something in the dark darts and blindfolded.
Jon Tsourakis 19:45
Yeah, we start that in the sales process. So if you want a new website or you want a website redesign come, we ask them to come to the table with two to three sites of inspiration. So that way, we’re talking about the sites and now we have context of comparison, right context is always super important, right? So we can refer back to those, well, this is what you want it on those sites. And then when you socialize those things, it’s leveraged to a certain extent. And it’s not that I’m trying to get leverage over anybody. But what happens is relationship, when it comes to something creative can get super acrimonious in a short amount of time. And it’s when somebody doesn’t feel like they’re being heard, or they’re not being seen. So you want to get all that out in the sales process as much as possible, and then put those sites in the proposals somewhere, like, hey, we’re referencing and if you run to get really detailed, you can even talk about the individual features, because some of the other places that you’re gonna lose on a website is interactivity. You said, oh, I thought that was gonna move, or I thought that was going to be animated. And that’s when it can become a big problem. The beautiful thing is, and we do websites for people that haven’t had one before, of course it worked for a business, and now they’re doing something else and now they’re responsible for it. But it’s really great when we work for some clients that have done lots of websites, and they get to see our process. And they’re like, damn, this feels good, right? Because it’s just making sure that everything is covered. And that there’s no room where they’re going to not get an answer to their question, nor get a feature that they wanted. And make sure that it is just really high quality, because that’s important. And the sad thing is not to ramble on. So a lot of agencies when they do this stuff, they have all of those best intentions, they want to do really good work. And they did not budget for that really good work. Sometimes I’ve seen it where they will lose by tenfold, right? They quoted a website for 5000. It’s a $50,000 website, they had no idea what they’re getting into. But because they’re a good person, they still finish it. And the relationship strained at that point, because of course, they were emotional about it. And now they don’t ever want to touch anything like that again. And then they unfortunately put themselves into a box, because now they’re going to do subpar work. Because they don’t ever want to go back to that pain again.
Jeremy Weisz 22:12
I like what you said about sites of inspiration, because it allows people to show a concrete example. So at least you know what they’re talking about. So I want to talk about a couple examples. So the audience can understand more about the process and what you do. There was an AC company that you’ve helped with for many years, talk about first of all, how they come to you first and what you do with them.
Jon Tsourakis 22:40
So got a lead off Craigslist, right. It was two guys. Craigslist, man remember that? Yeah, totally. Yeah, it was the Silk Road before the Silk Road, I think it’s for some people. Yeah, they were looking for a website. And they’d heard that there’s this thing called the internet, they wanted some help. So went down to their, like little storage unit, which essentially was where their office was, and sat down are two fantastic guys. And we just framed out like an outline of like, what marketing would look like. And I remember this is when I was doing value-based pricing. So I think I sold them an SEO package for like 500 a month. And that and back in the day two, that’s where you can make a couple moves. And you could get somebody ranked really quick. So you just look like a wizard, right. And so we started out just really low budget, the cool thing is when they stopped working with us, because they were purchased by another company, 10 years later, for a multi, multi-million dollar multiplier, they just rapidly grew over 10 years. I think our monthly fees with them were like 17,000 a month. So we started at $500 for our monthly fees, 10 years earlier, and it was insane. And then their budget. I mean, sometimes we’d spend a quarter of a million dollars on ad, on just digital ads not including like TV and things like that. And I look back at that relationship. There were some bad conflicts that happened, there was one where something happened with their forms on their website, because we gave them edit access to this new employee that unfortunately thought they knew what they were doing and convinced us that they did. And none of the leads went through the website, well then one of their GMs now because the leads didn’t go through the website, we caught it in a matter of like a week or two missed their number. So they didn’t get their like Christmas bonus or something. And the guilt that they brought to the table is like this is terrible, but we went ahead and split the baby. We’re like, all right, maybe we could have caught it, it was investing in the lifetime value that relationship. So I think there’s a lot of things that you…
Jeremy Weisz 24:52
That’s a tough one to chew because ultimately it was their staffs fault. Totally. Yeah. But the blame always falls back on you in the end no matter what.
Jon Tsourakis 25:06
It does, yeah. And then I got them and they were reasonable. And I got them to agree like, you know this isn’t our fault. And like we know, and then it was just one of those things like, oh, this is what we’re willing to do. So I was leveraged a little bit but I was like I got it, I understand where you guys are coming from you guys understand where I’m coming from. And then let’s go ahead and get this fixed. And then on that that concession was like you guys do no longer get edit access, and they no longer got access to the website. So that would never happen again. So that’s essentially what we were buying the insurance, as well.
Jeremy Weisz 25:38
So talk about the services a little bit from the 500 to the 17,000 a month. So you start off doing SEO, what other services built over time?
Jon Tsourakis 25:51
SEO and a website. So we started off with those, and then we got into paid search. And then we got into social media. And when I say those things, like you could set up social media profiles when we actually start doing the social media, or an AC company, which is not the sexiest business, right? So you have to do as many philanthropic things, and they were all about that and just really digging into their personality, and then paid search. It can be kind of a competitive business. So you have to look for like click fraud and all that. So just really staying on your toes, and making sure that they’re hitting their numbers. And at the end of the day, we had an agreement, they said like, I don’t care what you do, this is our goal, do it. And those are the best relationships from a marketing perspective that I like, because that’s where you are treated as really an agent of their success. They’re giving you agency, right? So all right, we’re going to spend around a million dollars this year, like, we know that we need to create at least $5 million with that money, can you make that happen? And just really being the team that can do that. And I had fantastic team members that were really helping out in a lot of ways to make that happen. So the services man, to be frank, if they called up and said, hey, we need you to cook us dinner tonight, we would have figured out a way to make leads out of that, like they did. We filmed them going to parades, or we would film them, local SEO, they get employees houses to show up for a certain coverage areas. Yeah. So it was essentially do whatever you got to do to hit this number.
Jeremy Weisz 27:33
Jon talk about niche for a second, you mentioned early on niche focused and you talked about the AC or some of the niches that you served early on that you then grew because you maybe randomly got someone calling you from Craigslist early on.
Jon Tsourakis 27:54
Yeah, some of the niches early on. We did a lot of restaurants, we no longer really work with restaurants, I think we have like one or two clients left. And we did a lot of restaurant websites and a lot of restaurant marketing. And we realized that just wasn’t a good fit for us based on personality of typically restaurant owners, good people and whatnot. It’s just, on a Saturday when they’re freaking out about like a special like, I can’t ask my employees and then we just fall on myself. And then I think the other one was urgent care centers, when urgent care centers were blowing up. I don’t think there’s bad to get markets kind of matured. We did a lot in that urgent care space as well.
Jeremy Weisz 28:32
So restaurants urgent care, not as much restaurants anymore and urgent Care. What are some today that you focus more on?
Jon Tsourakis 28:40
Today, I would say legal, I’d say yeah, we’ve had some legal clients over the years, going all the way back to the beginning. So that’s probably another niche that we’ve done pretty good in on the marketing side. Websites, I mean, we’ve done every, I mean, you name it, any industry. We’ve gotten a website and they’re drug dealers, no just kidding about that. Well, actually some pharmaceutical so I guess so. But yeah, and then as far as like on the business critical side, we’ve done education, we’ve done construction, and then construction, being based in Florida, we’ve done a lot of construction across all three of our departments.
Jeremy Weisz 29:19
There was an employment law firm, what kind of things did you do with them?
Jon Tsourakis 29:22
Yeah, winds have been great, great guys. They’ve been clients of ours for 13 years. We help them get off. I think they were on like find law or something at the time, and they’re all so another one of our clients that will do whatever it takes based on making sure that their budget numbers, but they just started off with a couple of attorneys. And I don’t know how many attorneys they have now, but they’ve grown substantially and then they’re now one of the largest in the southeast for employment law.
Jeremy Weisz 29:53
Wow. So services wise say similar thing. SEO paid website stuff, making them lunch and dinner. Yeah, might as well hire you, I’m hungry. You also helped a business management platform. This is kind of unique. So can you talk about that?
Jon Tsourakis 30:17
Yeah, it’s a land surveying company called, I mean land down in Florida, we built a business management platform for them about eight years ago. And what they wanted is they wanted it to sync up to be completely integrated, so they could be paperless. And this is before it was the cool thing to do. Not necessarily so much the paperless but the remoteness. So they were able to get rid of their office, work remote, anywhere in the field, where their surveys were automatically loaded, whether it’s to the cloud and then linked up to the title companies that they work with, as well as sync up to the state for like certifications. And we were able to do that to the point where the owner would go, like, literally log in like an hour a week, and then see, all right, everything’s running perfectly, right, because we built this platform, right, almost a business operating system where we systematized everything. And yeah, it’s been a fantastic client ever since. And I think we’re now on version two of the platform that we built for them.
Jeremy Weisz 31:18
I know your big vision. So I want to hear about what you’re thinking about opportunities you’re looking at. So if anyone out there listening is a part of that opportunity, they can contact you. But also, from a people perspective, hiring, you can only focus on big vision things because you have a team, right? So what has been the evolution of hiring, and the positions you put in place in the company.
Jon Tsourakis 31:46
So as far as like hiring to begin with, I remember there’s this guy that was working for me, and his mom called me and said, he really needs a job that was my first employee, this guy I grew up with. And so went ahead and gave him a job. And that was the first and from there, I realized that we needed to just hire based on when we really needed something, not that we didn’t need that person. So I would always make it. I hate saying it this way. But it’s the truth. It’s always really painful before we would hire anytime I didn’t have it where it was really strained on the team. Not that I like straining a team, but it just comes down to resources. We always had to let that person go. Because there wasn’t enough for them to do. So if I do recommend anybody. It’s just make sure that your team is over capacity before you hire and make sure you got really good metrics. And you can actually see what’s happening. That’s why I’m always very wary when somebody says like, oh, well, we don’t track time. And we don’t look at this. And it’s just this autonomous world. It’s like, look, you’re a business owner, if I was to track your time, I mean, you would probably bomb it, because you were like, wow, I wasted it all on this. So I think it’s really important to track all those things and have a business case, this is why we’re going to hire this developer, these are the projects that that person that are in our pipeline that are in the future that this person would be applied to when we get this. So yeah, hope is never a strategy you really got to look at what you have where you’re at and have the metrics in place to move that number also another piece of advice, have them tell you what they need to get paid and then just really have that conversation and don’t talk somebody down off their number that never goes well.
Jeremy Weisz 33:32
What positions did you have to hire for so that you could step into that visionary role or some of the critical pieces that you had to get off your plate so you could work on the business?
Jon Tsourakis 33:47
Basically about everybody. So everything from copywriters to account managers, I think most agency owners are going to fall into one of the buckets, they’re going to be responsible and don’t get me wrong, I’m very involved in sales process. I love sales, like so I want that. But I would say account management is more than likely the biggest hire somebody needs to make so they can remove themselves from it. Because that’s going to be day-to-day client stuff. So I’ll be involved in the sales process, have some conversations, and then we handed over to the team and then I just check in from time to time, right. And I like to have conversations with most of the companies that we’re going to work with because I think that creates stickiness. It’s like okay, this guy is one of the owners and he’s telling me these things they’re showing me these things I trust this guy I have his mobile number if this doesn’t go the way I want then okay then I can I can deal with this. I think when a lot of agency owners try to remove themselves completely from the sales process, things are gonna go a little bit sideways if they’re taking themselves away from the owner now granted if you guys are just like super scalable and you’re doing websites for $7 and something tic tac, I get it, that model doesn’t work. But that’s not necessarily our model, we’re very white glove high touch, no matter what we’re going to do everything we can within our capacity to make them successful. I want to shake their hand because they’re trusting us to do that. But going back to your question, any of your doers, you can start out with contractors, you don’t have to have those as full-time employees, you really have to have it makes sense for you to have those people as employees, account managers, project managers, those need to be your first real hires, so you can start removing yourself from it. And then you begin just continually ticking back, whether you want to outsource your bookkeeping or so on and so forth is up to you, I do recommend, knowing your numbers and being able to see them whenever you can know, so I think it’s going to be personality based.
Jeremy Weisz 35:46
What are you focused on Jon, as far as what do you on the lookout for big opportunities for the company?
Jon Tsourakis 35:54
Good fits, right. So marketing, it just comes down to aligning goals and budgets that I think our team would be able to execute on. And we’re really good most industries. So it’s just looking for those types of relationships. Websites, I mean, we do websites for over a million dollars, and we’ve done them for as little as $5,000, and everything in between. So I think it’s just a little bit more of alignment there. And then when it comes to like business critical and like, what we’ll call like technology, consulting, and things like that, like we don’t get into like helpdesk for email and stuff like that, but we like to solve big tech problems. Those have to be somebody that is, what are you gonna call it, they can’t be scared. So a lot of people in IT, you heard the old adage, like, nobody got fired for hiring IBM, like, those typically aren’t the good fits like, we want somebody that’s going to do something a little bit different. Like if you’re going to use a lot of off-the-shelf solutions and try to cobble them together, that’s not really a good fit, when somebody wants to build something that’s custom that really solves a big problem. That’s a great fit for our business-critical team. And we’re starting to get into like AI stuff, not using AI tools, but like building them.
Jeremy Weisz 37:03
And then, I know you had merged, do you in the future look for more mergers or acquisitions for your company?
Jon Tsourakis 37:13
Yeah, we were on the hunt, we spoke with, I don’t know, probably near a dozen companies. But the thing was that every time we would dig in, and then try to align their numbers with expectations, it really didn’t make sense, because we were looking for agencies that were under like 2 million. It just didn’t make a whole lot of sense. So I think there was an evolution for us to do self-discovery and come to the realization like, okay, I don’t think those are right. And then as the vision kind of shifted, based on what the economy needed, they kind of put us in our place, because we were looking for a design agency at one time. And then we just were like, okay, what are we really buying there? What we’re buying talent, so let’s just go find a talent. So when I had just found the talent, like, okay, all right, well, we solve that problem. So I think if you’re really buying, if we’re to look for somebody who would be they have a really strong book of business, and some long-term clients, and somebody that wants to change that doesn’t want to do all the day-to-day stuff.
Jeremy Weisz 38:16
Yeah, so right now, who is ideal for you? So under 2 million and not a design agency, any particular types of specialties?
Jon Tsourakis 38:30
Yeah, I mean, somebody that’s really strong at paid search is interesting, even when we were really strong at that, and as well as SEO, but those would always be really interesting to me, because it’s going to come down to kind of their clients, and also even on the tech and Dev side. So I think it would just be mean, he’d seen it this way. Are they serving their customers the right way? And can we make a decent profit based on the force multiplier?
Jeremy Weisz 38:57
Do you look at a certain percentage that you want as recurring revenue? Because like you said, with design, they may be one-off projects. Can you get those back or not? Are you looking for a certain percentage to be on recurring for that company?
Jon Tsourakis 39:14
I’d say yeah, most of it. Yeah, for sure. So, if it’s a dev agency. I mean, that’s going to be kind of hard, and whatnot, depending on unless they have something really saucy about their model. But as far as on the marketing side, yeah, I’d like to see like 70 80% of it recurring. And what we’d also just began, but we’d also look at is okay, are there numbers low? And do we think that we could raise those with those clients? And then also, all right, how can we potentially cross-sell some of our other services that aren’t potentially offered to these clients? And also, yeah, we would take a hard look at the team and whatnot. Not that we’d want to let anybody go. How long have they been around and that kind of thing?
Jeremy Weisz 39:58
Talking about Creed for a second, I find that some companies I talk to you gloss over it, sometimes they don’t. But all the bigger ones really take pride in their mission and values.
Jon Tsourakis 40:15
Typically, when we see a failure on a team member, or in a client relationship side, it’s typically they went against our core values, right? So people look at core values differently. They say, okay, well, this is our DNA, this is what makes it up. And those things may be true. But the easiest way for me to look at them is it’s a filter. If the person doesn’t have our values, they don’t communicate properly. They’re not responsive, they’re not looking to do something exceptional. Those are ways that we would say like, this isn’t a good fit, right, especially at the end of the sales process. We’re having to chase somebody continually to get us what they said they were going to give us showing a lack of integrity, that’s typically not going to be a good fit. They’re not very responsive.
Jeremy Weisz 41:03
Yeah. So we’re looking at Creed for a second. We have clarity, responsiveness, efficiency, excellence, and detail. What was your process for coming up with this?
Jon Tsourakis 41:16
This is funny. So yeah, we came up with this together when we were two, we were separate companies. This is one of the projects that we worked on when we were separate. The process is, actually our old process, I’ll be frank was flawed. Like, I don’t think it was the best process. So we actually refined these recently, and the best way is if you take your top employees, and if you have employees, take your top employees, and you look at the values that make them the best. And that’s how you come up with really good core values for a company. And another way to do that is you can do surveys, you get everybody together from a value standpoint, and you kind of create like this word cloud, and then you actually see the things that keep popping up the most. And that’s what you can put together now whether you can make it into an acronym or whatnot. I mean, I think that’s what everybody tries to do. I’ve seen some man where they’re like, that word was like, nine or 10 letters. I’m like, dude, that’s entirely too many.
Jeremy Weisz 42:21
Jon, I have one last question. And first of all, I just want to thank you, thanks for sharing your journey, your knowledge, people can check out oyova.com. My last question is about software. And before you answer it, I do want to a give a big shout-out to Brandee Johnson. Brandee is the reason we met. And she runs at limelightmarketing.com. So thank you, Brandee. Yeah, how do you know, Brandee?
Jon Tsourakis 42:58
We’re in the mastermind group together. She’s fantastic. There’s a lot of similarities between some of our operating and hers. Yeah.
Jeremy Weisz 43:08
So thanks, Brandee. Software? People geek out and love to hear about what software, I’m sure this happens in the agency group. What software using for this or that? What are some of the software’s that keep coming up over and over that you like to use?
Jon Tsourakis 43:26
It’s interesting about software’s because there’s a couple of different types of approaches. When I’ve seen this, and I made the mistake early in my career, some agencies will, like just keep changing all their tools. When you keep changing all your tool that’s really hard on your team, especially I’ve seen agencies change project management software, like two or three times in the same year. That is just a brutal adoption. Some of the tools though, I think this is some of the most exciting things when it comes to like live chat. There a lot. I’ve seen some people use intercom, which I think has been a strong tool in drift and as far as project management, we’ve been on teamwork, for like, 10, 12 years, maybe now, something like that. I think that is one of the most versatile and best from a framework standpoint. And then Slack, man, if an agency isn’t using Slack, I don’t know what to tell them, like it’s just like, what’s wrong with you? I actually had a conversation with a guy the other day like I don’t use any instant messaging platforms. I’m like to text he’s like, yeah, like dude, that’s instant messaging like literally, like a good texted like, like, why would you like what is this resistance? Like, why does that exist?
Jeremy Weisz 44:32
What do they use with the team to communicate? Just email then?
Jon Tsourakis 44:36
Yeah, they’re all email and I’m assuming phone calls. And I didn’t want to like dig in and make the guy feel like a clown or something. But I was just like, dude, it’s instant for a reason. But maybe he’s got something better than I do. I got to maybe be a little bit more humble on that. Yeah, so I’d say those are probably the three that we use the most and then I mean, zoom. I like zoom over like teams and Google stuff like that. I know I’m giving you some boring ones here.
Jeremy Weisz 45:03
What about proposal-wise, any keep coming up?
Jon Tsourakis 45:06
I am anti-proposal software. And it’s because a lot of people, I mean at the end of the day, all you need is a deck and a Word doc and depending on how you’re going to send the deck or the word doc, but all these people want this like fancy thing that they’re going to do. You can hire a designer, and then you’re done. And like you don’t have to pay that other fee. You can pay Google and share it with your team or Microsoft if you’re more into the PowerPoint and Word doc world to do that, and I think when you get all the fancy stuff in there, all you’re doing is creating crutches, rather than getting away from just having a rock hard, solid process with really good habits in making you know what needs to happen.
Jeremy Weisz 45:51
Love it. I want to be the first one to thank you, Jon. Everyone, check out oyova.com and Digital Mastermind and we’ll see you next time and thanks, everyone. Thanks, Jon.
Jon Tsourakis 46:03
Thank you, Jeremy.