Yes, you read it correctly… 5,000 + sku’s from 140 + vendors and guess what…he manages it all himself. Oh, and he has a full time job.
Let that sink in for a moment.
All by himself.
Who doesn’t have time now?
Todd’s strategy is pretty straight forward: head down and do the work. Reach out to 10 wholesalers a day for a few months and you have a real wholesale business.
Transcript: (note- this is a new tool I am trying out so it is not perfect- it does seem to be getting better)
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Cool voice guy: [00:04:39] Welcome to the e-commerce momentum podcast where we focus on the people the products and the process of e-commerce selling today . Here’s your host Stephen Peterson .
Stephen: [00:04:52] Welcome back to the e-commerce Money podcast . This is episode 277 Todd Lammie . Todd is back . And man oh man it’s so great to have him back and he just blows me away . In this episode because you’re going to hear how much his business has changed it’s been almost three years since I last interviewed him his original episode was number 41 and guess what . Todd still has a head down doing the work . If you go back and listen to that episode he talks about it blows my mind . I still think about this that he was wholesale for years before he ever heard the were these things called Facebook groups . He just had his head down doing the work . And that’s his suggestion to you . One of the most plain speaking plain vanilla vanilla Snowball I think was the term we came up with just rolling downhill growing bigger and bigger because he’s so consistent . So even in a positive way what a great guy . Let’s get into the podcast .
Stephen: [00:05:57] Murray welcome back to the e-commerce MMN and podcast very excited to have tonight’s guest back and he’s back after a long hiatus . I mean this is about three years almost since we last talked . Todd Lammie welcome back to thank you Steve .
Todd: [00:06:14] I appreciate you having me on again . I appreciate you coming on .
Stephen: [00:06:18] You are a busy busy busy guy you know in our preco always you know talk about different things . One of the coolest things for talk . First off his episode original episode number 41 . You were one of the early one of my early under 50s and now you’re in the 70s . I mean it’s incredible to think it’s been that long but you haven’t been sitting there bored to death twiddle and your thumbs you’ve been busy for the last couple of years haven’t you .
Todd: [00:06:46] Yeah .
Todd: [00:06:48] I think the interesting thing with the whole cell Marla’s you know it just continues to scale and grow and so you just become more busy more busy you find more accounts and it just keeps growing that snowball effect is it just picks up speed as you get into year three four five and six in your business and pretty soon it’s this big gorilla of products and accounts that becomes more account management at that point than really finding new accounts eventually so .
Todd: [00:07:19] Well I mean does it happen this way .
Stephen: [00:07:21] Todd you must fire some customers right or some vendors buy you to decide hey I’m not going to carry your product anymore Steve . And you just vote with your feet right .
Todd: [00:07:31] Yes . I think that’s the interesting thing I was looking at my vendor list and at the end of last year I think we were ordering from like hundred and forty different wholesale accounts .
Stephen: [00:07:42] Which is is way too many minutes . Wait wait wait . This is a giant company right . You’ve got this whole team right this is you’ve got a staff of what 20 30 40 people doing this now in just me and my wife . This is your I mean being funny about it . That’s amazing 140 can’t wait . Let’s just qualify this people understand Todd as a full time job . This Amazon is not a full time job . I mean if become that but that is not your full time job and you know it’s funny you still have the same job you had three years ago . Correct . Correct .
Stephen: [00:08:21] Same job same company plodding along and you’ve grown this giant wholesale business .
Todd: [00:08:30] Despite that pretty yes a lot of a lot of multitasking and juggling and extra hours working . But definitely worth it . We see in the business continue to grow but yeah hundred forty so we’re definitely white . And so you know we tried a lot of new accounts and there are some that you know are job often add . But to me it’s it’s everything is a data point . Everything is you know collecting data collecting information and then using that going forward . So they’ll try some accounts he’ll drop them was like hey this maybe didn’t sell well but it had a lot of traction . So let me go find another wholesale account just like that that maybe has a better a better product that’ll sell and so it’s constantly testing evolving tweaking using the data that Amazon so graciously provides you know free of charge .
Todd: [00:09:23] Well we let nature to hear that you just said something so you’re selling this class Steve’s class it’s sitting on his desk and it was selling well it just wasn’t profitable enough for you . But it was a great product or it was or it was it was good . You then say Okay there’s proof of concept . Now let me go source it at a better price so I can make it profitable . Is that what you said .
Stephen: [00:09:48] Right .
Todd: [00:09:48] So once I mean I used everything from my Amazon seller reports drives like every one of my decisions . I mean sales rank doesn’t matter to me whatsoever at all is based off whatever is in my hand was on reports and data . So yeah .
Todd: [00:10:05] So that’s why they vary category specific . So we have two Amazon accounts . One’s focus specifically on clothing and shoes . And then we have a second account that’s like HomeGoods and that’s it . We don’t sell like in every category because I’m focused on using that data and then going out and finding different companies within that category so inside of you know clothing you’ll have socks shoes you’ll have scarves you’ll have hats you’ll have winter gloves you’ll have shirts long pants yellers 20 different subcategories inside that main category . So we’re working on exploring every one of those subcategories using the data that Amazon provides from all the different accounts we kind of get . Test see what works what doesn’t . Go find more accounts . And it just kind of continues to evolve that way .
Todd: [00:11:05] Well I want to get to specific because I don’t want to mess up anything but let’s go . Let’s just say you were in the home and garden set of clothing or whatever .
Stephen: [00:11:12] So in Home and Garden we see there’s lawnmowers and there’s weed eaters and snowblowers and blah blah blah blah blah . So you then draw down into the lawnmower category . I’m trying to make this make sense . And then you get in there and you say hey lawnmower sell and they seem to sell this time of year . What other ancillary products are related to lawnmowers and then therefore let’s try that because we know Lohm are going to sell therefore people are going to have to buy oil or they’re gonna have to buy blades or they’re going to have to buy . I mean is that kind of the thinking is that is that what you’re suggesting .
Todd: [00:11:47] Right . It’s just yeah it’s thinking about the main product and then every type of kind of like accessory extra part peripheral whatever you can kind of tack onto that that you could possibly sell because you know they’re going to sell those accounts because you know you don’t have to worry about rank .
Stephen: [00:12:03] You know that if somebody is buying Aloma or they’re going to have to buy a blade or a bandage or a weedeater they’re going to have to buy string . That’s a better example . Right . So that’s the logic . So therefore the sales rank isn’t as important . Just want to make sure that you have a good product . And so what differentiates you then so when using my Weedeater and string . Right because everybody needs string right they got Wieters because we know they’re going to be Wieters they’ve got to get Streng .
Todd: [00:12:27] How do you stand out then as the string seller so for us we really focus on smaller companies where there’s not a lot of sellers on the listings so it’s just a matter of choice . I mean if there’s you know 10 string sellers and we’re one of the 10 that’s all we need we’re just looking for you know a piece of the pie we’re not looking for the whole pie . So you’re going to get X amount of sales and by having quite a few accounts stretching out over those X amount of sales that just you know adds up at the end of the year once you you know put all the money in the bank .
Todd: [00:13:05] So is that I guess I guess this is going to be like .
Stephen: [00:13:09] Steve but like if you sold those weed eaters you sell them for enough years . You see the other things that you know they sell along with it . Right . You see customers also bought this . You see that over time your sales reps do they help you develop products to like hape this is hot Todd to people are buying this too .
Todd: [00:13:30] Yeah I tend to just ignore the health reps though . I mean to me it’s just I did I just I was like Amazon will tell me what to sell . That’s mine . You are a democracy now .
Todd: [00:13:40] Todd dare we say is in the computer world . So I just want to let people know that this was episode you’ll understand that he is a computer .
Stephen: [00:13:50] I call him a nerd . You know what you’re doing there don’t you .
Todd: [00:13:54] Yeah . Everything is computer driven . Like this salesperson wants to sell me best sellers and it’s like you know their best seller list is not geared toward the online space in most cases it’s a lot of times geared toward brick and mortar so you know that you know Sallie’s more shop down the street is selling lawnmowers and in Texas maybe they sell . But online you know they don’t sell the same . So having that best seller list from them really does me no good . So that’s why it’s like we get the account . We’ll try you know minimum quantities of each . We still even order you know three units six so you know we don’t go crazy the first survey we test out see what the Amazon data tells us no matter what you don’t order you know no matter what .
Todd: [00:14:38] I mean that’s the kind of a rule you order . Just a couple of each . No matter what .
Todd: [00:14:43] Yeah I mean if it’s a if it’s a case pack of six will try to get the case pack just swing and ship it to Amazon as a case study of how it’s split into four warehouses so some of those bought even if it has even if we think it has it’s going to sell super fast we don’t order like 100 of them we’ll just order three . And then the next of will maybe do six or maybe 12 and then we just kind of scale up from there . So this is kind of like . If you think about like steps you just climb up the step set up the first step you go second step and you just continue to grow until you’re at . Kind of like that full velocity that’s going to meet demand . But you just chart out you the Amazon data tells you and then it just kind of build up from there .
Stephen: [00:15:25] So we’re not indisciplined of that discipline .
Todd: [00:15:30] It is and I think that’s one of the reasons we haven’t you know knock on wood had any like huge losses or bad beats like you know some other people have or maybe have in retail arbitrageur online arbitrage where you go crazy deep in the price tanks it’s you order if you test out order a few more and then if something ever goes wrong you’re really you know covered .
Todd: [00:15:55] So we’re never like too crazy deep on anything . We’re have enough to usually care cover a month of sales is usually kind of how we do it maybe two months at the most but that’s why we’re not like having six months of inventory at Amazon is just usually a month or two .
Stephen: [00:16:13] So you know because of that you know like Lorraine man you figured out that this price these long term storage fees aren’t going to impact you as much because crisi deep could be 20 items if they never sell . Right I mean you’ll have them forever because they’re never going to sell . So by staying small even though they could be a hit do you run out . Do you run into the potential though of not being able to restock or you just move on from that because I’m assuming it’s had to happen .
Todd: [00:16:43] Yeah it it happens I mean there’s nothing indie about it especially in like clothing where stuff goes out of print . There it takes a long time to get cut . So you’re inevitably going to run out of stock but you know I have have a forecasting template I’ve been using since i started . You know I have a good ol excel . I still use it . I think like about 5000 Skewes we’re tracking in it we use for ordering . It does everything . We don’t use any tools or pay for any service . Just everything and get all excel and figure out what to order .
Todd: [00:17:21] We owe once the formulas and conditional formatting that Fleg stuff colors for hours we’re when to reorder and so .
Todd: [00:17:27] So it’s evolved since I’ve seen it .
Todd: [00:17:30] Slightly but it still is still basically the same concept . We adjust the maybe a form letter or two and put in some like pretty colors for a couple of different things but look at the pretty colors .
Todd: [00:17:40] And you didn’t see me the pretty colors man .
Todd: [00:17:42] No but other I’ll take area but pretty good I like pretty colors .
Todd: [00:17:49] It’s pretty simple because it was basically you download some CSB reports you upload them into this thing and tides like hit this button . Boom boom boom and then magically it’s like here’s your forecast here’s what you need to order . Boom . So it’s not as complicated as some people make it . And you’re talking 5000 Skewes .
Stephen: [00:18:07] I mean you were not talking 150 skewed because I mean I’ve had sellers on that have sell you know five billion dollars and they have 300 Skewes Yeah .
Todd: [00:18:16] And there’s no there’s no right answer how to do it . I mean I’ve I’ve heard you know people say that there were 300 and they sell like the top 1 percent . And that’s that’s awesome . And so we have you know 5000 so a lot of our stuff if you check TRNC which we don’t pay attention to rank . But if you looked at rank it’s probably Laura rank but you know we were competing maybe against one or two other FBA sellers on probably more than half of our items and so you know we’ll sell a few here or there make ten dollars an item and it just you know it just all adds up . When you look at it across all the different skews so probably have too many skis and probably have too many accounts because there’s people selling . Like you said more than us that have a lot less skews a lot less overhead but they don’t have a full time job .
Stephen: [00:19:09] In addition you do .
Todd: [00:19:11] Yeah . And I think to me it’s like it’s almost kind of like Amazon when they start out you know they’re just collecting every single data point to me it’s like we’re collecting every single data point to you . So it’s like we test this category this category . We have all this data we maybe stop ordering that . And so it’s just a collection of data to make decisions I think just make us smarter going forward . And so that’s why I think we’ve been able to continue to grow in scale .
Stephen: [00:19:39] What about these price increase so you know Amazon fees go up . I think it’s next month or this month or something . And it’s a pretty material price increase . I mean real material on fulfillment for certain sized products .
Stephen: [00:19:53] Does your model .
Stephen: [00:19:55] Are you able to adjust for it and figure that out and see the problems that are coming before they become a problem and then make a decision either to be able to raise prices on it or discontinue To be honest it’s like I don’t really pay any attention to the fees changes getting it .
Todd: [00:20:16] I see people in the Facebook groups you know getting bogged down by that . It’s like oh the fees are going up and I mean to me it’s just the cost of being in Amazon’s playground and so it’s just you know it’s going to come out of it’s going to come out of the .
Todd: [00:20:30] It’s going to come out of at the end but that’s it because you’re not so deep is it because a product might not be profitable anymore I guess that’s the point . Right . But that your model would catch that . Is that what happens or do you just keep selling at a loss . No your model catches it so you could sell through what you already own but because you’re not so deep it’s not a big worry .
Todd: [00:20:50] Right . So using the template what we’ve been doing what we started this past year or so like each each week we can run a poor poll in kind of like the room scan power evaluate tool where you can just run all your PCs through their Altaie your profit . So I put that in our forecasting template color code for that I can see every single item that what we’re making on that item and I can check that every week . So when I go to reorder five flags something that let’s say that my conditional formatting at any item lets you know three dollars or less that maybe I want to go back and double check it or something I can just highlight those and quickly see that when I’m going to reorder like hey maybe want to cut that out maybe I want to double check on it and see if we want to order it again .
Todd: [00:21:38] And so we’ve put that in just kind of in light of the fees but I don’t worry about like hey I’m paying extra up 75 cents for this one pound box it’s to kind of combat that we’ve just put in on a weekly basis when we do our abhorrence We also pull on the profit and just have that as one of our columns on our forecasting template .
Stephen: [00:21:58] So basically again we’re back to date is making your decisions for you . You’re making . You’ve taken the emotion out of it . The love of the product .
Stephen: [00:22:07] It’s a datapoint period right . Exactly .
Stephen: [00:22:12] How do you mean how many hours . I guess the hard work was developing the product . This does it because it’s your own custom spreadsheet . But how many hours do you spend a week doing that now .
Todd: [00:22:25] Probably a couple hours east Easterby pretty quick by now that we’ve added more products . So I don’t know maybe placing 20 or 30 orders a week give or take an ongoing basis as we kind of rotate through so it probably takes a few hours . You know a few hours a week to do that but it’s a small price to pay to go through you know a few thousand Skees a month that you’re going to that you’re going to sell especially as we’ve started shipping things more to our like third party fulfillment center prep services .
Stephen: [00:23:07] And you have more than one correct .
Todd: [00:23:09] Right . So we’re currently using two services one on the west coast and one on the East Coast .
Stephen: [00:23:13] Smart remember this . You were doing that quite a long time ago and it was smart because you could a take advantage of the market but also you know there’s a particular issue like these fires in California for example that could impact whatever was there . And so by having two different centers it really allows you the flexibility to you . Are you selling off of Amazon and any other channels at all .
Todd: [00:23:37] So we have a Koplow . So we have three shop of websites . The amount of sales are though are like nothing compared to Amazon but we have three Web sites .
Todd: [00:23:50] So those are the only other plays where we have products listed right now or weren’t they were wasn’t one designed to help you get wholesale accounts originally .
Todd: [00:24:00] Well I think that was the premise of getting them was just to have another place to have them . So we have a site dedicated to women’s clothing a site dedicated to men’s clothing and then home HomeGoods side . So those are three sides .
Stephen: [00:24:11] OK . All right . So in the last couple of years you have definitely been consistent . I mean it’s so to me it sounds like I mean a couple things happened One your wife went full time in your business but Todd stays working too . You’ve grown your skew and your account bases back in the old days you used to go to trade shows and stuff like that . Are you still doing any of that .
Todd: [00:24:38] So even back in the day I think the most shows probably went to a year was to maybe at the Dallas NASD right .
Todd: [00:24:46] I think those were the two .
Todd: [00:24:47] Right . So we’ve gone to magic a couple of years ago which was the clothing show we went to the last year in Dallas market center and then same thing this year go to hasty and then Dallas market center . So probably those two again .
Stephen: [00:25:00] So so not a lot you don’t have to go to everyone . How are you finding your wholesale account I guess now you’re really not looking for more wholesale accounts when you’ve got 140 .
Todd: [00:25:14] Well he never has that look in your book because you know he’s you know he’s upgraded so there’s you know there’s just always equated to stocks you know you have good stocks and bad stocks . You’re always looking to upgrade and replace them so .
Todd: [00:25:29] Well you had a philosophy right . Well how many was it 30 a day or 10 day . I’m trying to remember because it’s been a long time . What was it again .
Todd: [00:25:35] Yeah . If you made 10 contacts a day for the month you should get you know probably 20 good wholesale accounts at the end of the month .
Stephen: [00:25:43] And that was your rule and by the time you hit 100 I think that was your math . You’d be at 100 within X number of days and you’d have a business a full business .
Todd: [00:25:54] Right . Yeah . So we’re we’re not making 10 10 contacts a day by far . We’ve been much more selective about the type of accounts where we go after . Now just you know because you know we try to find accounts that have a wide range of Skees versus accounts that have like 3 or 4 good selling products . And so the more the accounts you have that have a wide range of skews the order from the less accounts you need right . So if I can find 10 accounts and they all have 500 Skewes rather than finding 500 accounts and only have 10 Skewes you know it’s it’s kind of like that .
Stephen: [00:26:30] So you mentioned scant powers evaluate . Are you still using that or are there any other tools that you’re using .
Todd: [00:26:38] That’s the only tool I think I paid for on a monthly basis is the scamper valuate tool probably . And basically you’re taking the PCs into prices from that other customer running them through that program and it identifies products for you to sell right in probably 90 percent of the things we’re doing now is just for our own products just for the profitability on a weekly basis now because of the fees is not even necessarily looking at other companies products is mainly for our products .
Stephen: [00:27:09] Okay . All right . And I even think about that’s what you’re describing before so we could run it back through and that’ll evaluate your own . How have you seen a difference in the vendors . I just tell the story I was just at a trade show and the vendors seem so much more knowledgeable when it came to Amazon .
Stephen: [00:27:27] One particular company who did land said Look Steve we’re brand registered we do FBA . We’ve been enmeshing for a long time and I don’t want to do it .
Stephen: [00:27:38] I’d like to find somebody who can take that from me are you that guy . And that was a conversation . But it was like oh my god this I mean this guy knew everything . I was brain registered at Bubba . He rattled it right off and more and more or the other vendors would say look you’re the 12th Amazon guy to come and give me your pitch blah blah blah blah blah . What could you do for me .
Stephen: [00:27:57] Have you seen a different vendors that you’re dealing with or are they just you know have any of them disappeared . Have they grown any experience .
Todd: [00:28:10] So from what I’ve seen so I get a isti that I went to last year and I had gone I think the previous two years the number of vendors had like decreased . Right . And when we went to Dallas market center this past month there is like a lot more showrooms closed so there is a lot there is there’s more consolidation of places closing in and going out of business than I think there are like new companies coming on board . So we’ve seen it both ways . We’ve seen companies where they’re saying hey we’re trying to keep the few brick and mortar companies we have left . So we’re trying to kick everyone off Amazon and then we have other people there are like hey we know that we need to be on amazon because we are losing our brick and mortar companies and they are getting more educated about it . They’re like hey we can label for you we understand what FBA is they know the acronyms they know the terms the UK will probably beg for 25 cents for you . So I’ve seen it both ways . I’ve seen people where they’re trying to kick everyone up because they want to really support the kind of Duyn brick and mortar as they have .
Todd: [00:29:12] And at the opposite end there some country companies are being proactive and realising where the kind of market is headed and understanding Amazon and loving to sell their product have they have they come to you and said Todd look we need to reduce the number of Amazon sellers we have on this product .
Stephen: [00:29:32] So therefore I can’t sell to you or because you’ve been with them for so long and consistent it sounds like that you’ve been one of the ones they kept and they’re probably telling other people yeah I haven’t had anyone else .
Todd: [00:29:45] Usually if they’re kicking people off is usually because they’re just going to sell to one company .
Todd: [00:29:50] Okay I haven’t forgotten what he said right . For an exclusive listing so I haven’t had anyone say like hey we’re cutting down to like 3 sellers is usually it’s we’re kicking around a or we’re just going to go exclusively with one seller .
Stephen: [00:30:05] So that has happened to you . I think probably once a year or two out of 140 vendors only once .
Stephen: [00:30:17] OK . So there’s no you know the world isn’t on fire it’s not ending .
Stephen: [00:30:23] That’s not a big statistical variation in any way .
Todd: [00:30:28] No I think you know the myth is always hey Amazon is coming in all my listings all my products . I mean I think in in the six years we’ve been doing this we’ve probably had 250 to 300 different wholesale accounts and of those we’ve probably had Amazon maybe come in on five to seven listings total . So I mean that’s not something that happens . They’re not . You know there’s not . There’s companies are trying to kick you off on Amazon and they don’t want to not sell to you . I mean you might hear that from a couple of people but for every one or two companies I say hey we don’t like Amazon or don’t want you on Amazon you’ll have another eight or 10 that you know once you on Amazon or want to sell to you .
Stephen: [00:31:08] So one of the things that you don’t see and she don’t do a lot of trade shows . How did you find the 10 wholesale accounts to contact today .
Todd: [00:31:22] Someone is looking on amazon someone is doing keyword it’s hard to stop .
Stephen: [00:31:27] So I should qualify this Todd you used to have of course he doesn’t have a course anymore and he used to teach these techniques so don’t give away all secrets or anything like that . But but you were that consistent approach of you know one of the things that would teach you is like here’s how to tell this as a distributor here’s how to tell this is a manufacturer which I think a lot of people have now gotten past that now because it’s gotten easier for that yeah .
Todd: [00:31:51] So some of it’s you know looking on amazon some of it’s looking on websites for trade shows even though you’re not going to the trade show . Right . Some of it’s looking on job boards some of it’s looking on Linked In . So it’s doing Google research . Sometimes I’ll get a cold called by a company . Ever heard about us from some other salesperson in the category . Now that’s sometimes sometimes another salesperson and we like Hey I heard about this . Maybe we should check it out .
Todd: [00:32:20] So we’re so pleased one company goes to a new company right and they want to bring you with them .
Todd: [00:32:26] Right . Yeah . So there’s probably seven to ten different ways you could find accounts and they all you know kind of work .
Todd: [00:32:33] There’s also there’s also websites dedicated to categories like trade association Web sites . You know you find stuff through there so that this was destroyed .
Stephen: [00:32:42] I mean what you’re describing is an old school method . I mean it really is right in the old days . The only difference is you would have went to the library and went through those journals and they tried to satiation books that they would have . Right . I forget what that was called memories to have those big books of it . Not a best was one of those companies that would you know gather all that data and use to go and look through it . And that’s really what it is . What you’re describing . How long does it take to get to that hundred . I remember you know you had a number that was kind of a kind of rule of thumb . What was it .
Todd: [00:33:19] Well it depends .
Todd: [00:33:20] I mean if you’re doing consistent 10 contacts a day for a month I mean by the end of six months you would theoretically have 80 to 100 probably wholesale accounts but probably 2 percent of the people that would do that would be consistent and make 10 contacts a day .
Todd: [00:33:38] And so whether it’s phone or e-mail or however you know you would do it whether you actually picked up the phone .
Stephen: [00:33:44] You can actually talk to a real person . Now I can’t text you can I text .
Todd: [00:33:50] No I just sent e-mails to everyone I don’t call anyone . An initial call . Only if I can’t find an email address on the Web site .
Todd: [00:33:57] But that’s like you know one tenth of 1 percent or something so that everything is just an email contact .
Todd: [00:34:04] Do you think that’s still effective today . I knew it was effective three years ago . You think it’s still effective today .
Todd: [00:34:10] Yeah it totally is because we just started doing light the home like the home goods kind of category over the last two years and we’ve have I think we’re at about 65 or so accounts over that period . So the same thing that works you know when we started in year one . You know I think it works . Now it’s just me .
Stephen: [00:34:32] There’s all this software there’s all these fancy things . You mean you could do it oldskool still old school .
Todd: [00:34:40] Todd Tuttles cool .
Stephen: [00:34:43] You know I think about why are you going to go to a Estey this year . That would be interesting . I know that . Besides the Prosper which I just in a conversation Tom and I were talking I just had James Thompsons interview come out and I’m up . I love the approach to taking this continuing education thing . I just think it’s so smart .
Stephen: [00:35:01] So that aside why would you still go to a city that is going to be a twelve hundred people at the at Prosper’s so they’re all going to be at the highest . They’re all going to be pitching there where you know they’re why they’re better than Todd why are you going to go .
Todd: [00:35:18] So I go along just to talk to the accounts I have .
Todd: [00:35:22] So some people .
Todd: [00:35:24] So for me I don’t look at a trade show as a way to get wholesale accounts . I think what I’ve learned from the past and especially go into the Dallas market center a couple of years ago is you know most salespeople when you go there they expect you to write orders you know because there’s so many brick and mortar people coming . That’s probably the only time they’re seeing their salesperson when you . There you go there they are expecting no order . That’s what they’re used to . You know they’re not used to really people coming up and asking for accounts . A lot of times the person in the booth isn’t someone that might not be able to answer you . And so maybe that was my idea you know three or four years ago when I first went to a trade show . But I realize that you know the trade show is not the place to find a count . So if when I’m doing my research like SD I would start looking now we’re probably back in January doing all my research to find accounts by the way to get the account in place one order before the show .
Todd: [00:36:22] So that way when I go to the show I’m then hey my name is Todd from so-and-so company . We place this order from you . This is doing good . This is it’s like oh hey yeah thanks for ordering Ameche . Put the name to a face . And so you already kind of are furthering along the relationship .
Todd: [00:36:41] It’s back to your steps . You’re now on the second set of steps you bought your three . Now you get ready to buy 6 or not . That’s such second set of steps you were describing .
Todd: [00:36:51] Right .
Todd: [00:36:51] And so I think it’s it’s a lot to me it’s just building relationships and establishing relationships extending relationships to with your current things it’s not to find accounts at this show you should do the research probably a month or two months in advance to get the account set up to place the order had that there and then if you want to then you reorder the show using the information that you already have .
Todd: [00:37:19] And everything I do is I just walk up and down past every booth just looking for ideas and so I’ll just say something like Hey we saw something similar that I’ll go back and do the research at the end of the night for that product then or something .
Stephen: [00:37:35] So back to our launch are Weedeater example . So you’re walking down the aisles and you’re looking because you sell weed eaters or you’re in that category and you happen to see wow there’s a new you know I don’t know Gaarde that add on and so that would be a category that you might add on or you’re selling a guard and somebody else is selling a similar one .
Todd: [00:37:57] Is it then . Is it then where you’re trying to optimize that particular product where you’re saying you know this was either better or it’s a better price . Is that what you’re thinking is there .
Todd: [00:38:11] Yeah specially if there’s maybe more Skewes more colors more variety better price point for short listing isn’t there .
Todd: [00:38:22] What if what if that you know you’re selling back to my glass of water . You’re selling glasses . And then you see other ones . List are you . Are you willing to create a listing .
Todd: [00:38:36] No I’m so bad . We don’t create listings .
Stephen: [00:38:41] So you would just pass on that .
Todd: [00:38:42] In that scenario I would if I had if I was doing this full time I would create the list thing but it’s just that time versus money thing . It’s like if something’s there .
Stephen: [00:38:53] Well well you know . So on the listing but we don’t you know we probably create less than 5 listings probably lifetime . There’s just you know there’s just not enough time .
Todd: [00:39:06] What we will do though is if there is an existing listing and there are products not on that listing we will we will add variations Adler and so on thing we’ve done is get the DTI an exemption letters which are awesome . And so you can just add the products without the code . And so in the last two years we’ve done a lot of that and the cool thing is is that once you add those products the majority of the time people aren’t going back to check the listing to see what’s been added . And so in 99 percent of the time you’re the only ones selling it .
Todd: [00:39:42] So you had the Buy Box 100 percent of the time you’re exclusive on that item aren’t you generally because you are the only one . So where do you get the letter from .
Todd: [00:39:53] So on Amazon they have you know the exemption letter format .
Todd: [00:39:57] So it’s just the word doc you sent send to your vendor to say hey I want to add new products .
Todd: [00:40:03] I want to buy more stuff make you more money I need to do just sign this letter saying that your products don’t come with UPC numbers and if they do come with them you’re just saying that they don’t .
Stephen: [00:40:17] Well no for the ones that don’t come with them .
Todd: [00:40:20] If they do come with them you can just add them on there . You can see that . OK . All right .
Stephen: [00:40:25] So if they don’t or they come with the same . And that’s probably the better example right . So so lots of companies especially in clothing use the same UPC . All of them . And so let’s just say we’re selling gloves .
Stephen: [00:40:38] So for every color gloves they you know think about it from a retailer’s point of view . Who cares that it’s brown or black they just know it’s a pair of gloves . Right . So the way the old POS point of sale systems would be they just put in that UPC put in the quantity it came in whatever and they would just throw it in or size it sometimes have the same UPC code number right .
Stephen: [00:41:01] But in this case you would say it’s a GTA exempt because it doesn’t have its own unique code . I guess that’s the right way to say it right .
Stephen: [00:41:12] Exactly . OK .
Stephen: [00:41:13] All right . Why make sure people understand . So if it does have its own unique you you put that in and upload it . No big deal . And it’s all it’s all uploads now . I mean it’s really not that hard to do .
Todd: [00:41:22] Right . And that’s what makes it so easy . You know spend some time with Excel and you know do the flat file uploads and you upload you know 100 products even like adding new products . You know it’s like you do one by one through the tool or you just do a flat file upload and look you know upload a hundred in like two minutes so or I could just handed off the Charron locker and take care upload these .
Stephen: [00:41:47] And she takes care of them . That’s what’s nice about have an account manager . I must admit that’s part of my team .
Stephen: [00:41:52] They do take care of that stuff . So . So as you move along as your business has evolved as things have grown as you’ve expanded have you been able to move a lot of the responsibility away from you to your spouse because she’s full time .
Todd: [00:42:10] No . So the only thing she’s doing is just kind of the prep work for stuff we have sent to us here . So we were probably about 50 percent third party 50 percent to us maybe maybe at 65 . And it is growing .
Todd: [00:42:26] We’re growing is it you’re growing where you’re outsourcing more right .
Todd: [00:42:30] Yeah so constantly constantly adding things are probably going to be 70 percent by the end of Q1 we’ll be 70 percent probably third party prep service and 30 percent us .
Todd: [00:42:48] But so we’ve taken a lot of that perhaps are as you know off of her and sending that out there . Now I’ll probably have to start doing some more of the accounting and ministry type things because she has a cunning controller background plus she’s done the work for me so she now knows I mean there is something to be said from doing the low end work to learn it right .
Todd: [00:43:15] I mean then all of a sudden it starts to make a lot of sense . I think that’s very valuable . Right . Exactly . So one of the other cool things that you’re evolving to and I think this you know we will finish up with this and I hope people hear this again . So here’s a gentleman who’s been running this business part time for years right .
Stephen: [00:43:36] Many years not planning on changing things today . You know that might change in the future .
Stephen: [00:43:43] But running a large much larger than most full time sellers business consistently for years not chasing the shiny object how many Mirch shirts did you upload this week .
Todd: [00:43:57] We do have Myrt shirts but this week 0 0 .
Stephen: [00:44:01] How many . I mean we are we are going to talk about private label but you’re not running around I guess that’s my point is that you’re focused your category specific .
Todd: [00:44:10] You’re really staying in on it and you’re consistent that spreadsheet is the same spreadsheet from three years ago . Maybe a little bit more modified but that consistency when you look at your sales we can you almost kind of project what they’re going to be . I mean like pretty close . I mean you know how your Q4 is going to be and was it any surprise now so yeah .
Todd: [00:44:33] So I was just talking to someone about this today . So we project out the sales for every month for the whole year and so we have a pretty good idea of what we’re going to be around .
Todd: [00:44:46] And so we should be within you know probably five to 10 percent and most of our mark for the end of the year because the cool thing is like I can build out every single number using my spreadsheet . Right . So if I were also track historical sales in there and so I’ve been selling for six years I have every day applying for every product sold in the last six years by just storing that in my in my file or just having it in separate files and I can go back and reference it at any time but I can take everything I sold last year and figure out OK we’re gonna sell that again this year and just multiply that out times the average sales price and figure we’re going to add x amount of counts because that’s what we do and give them a factor and so we do it . We don’t do it down to a skill level we’ll do it at the vendor level . And so we’ve forecasted out the sales for every single vendor for the entire year and then put that two a month number and then did our forecast for the year . So I’m pretty comfortable we’ll be within like 5 to 5 to 10 percent worse . I don’t think it’ll be that maybe 8 percent off at the most but we’ll be pretty close I think to our forecast .
Stephen: [00:46:00] So every person listening is saying oh my god you mean I could actually plan ahead and plan my year and actually have a reasonable expectation of what I’m going to take in .
Todd: [00:46:11] One of my profits going to be for a year that forecasted and this is one spreadsheet . I mean it’s not like it’s several hundred . I mean this is a pretty I mean it’s a pretty involved spreadsheet but it’s basically one and you can you can really forecast that much data . Todd you’re killing me here .
Todd: [00:46:31] You’re too good you’re too good . So I’m going to give you like a cool little tip Steve just like that just between us . Protip protest so Momin I should get music for it . I should have like a proud moment .
Todd: [00:46:45] That was amazing .
Todd: [00:46:46] So I’ve taken that spreadsheet and then I’ve broken out like for a vendor and then for one of my vendors you know I sent it to them and I said hey here’s my projected forecast . Buying is going to be .
Todd: [00:46:58] Oh wow . I like where this is going .
Todd: [00:47:01] And so I said hey if I order x amount . Can I order it . And you just store it ægir place for me . And every time I need inventory you send it in for me to Amazon . We had issues were they were running out of stock .
Todd: [00:47:16] I’m like this is ridiculous and they like well you know we’re a small company we can only buy so much . So I said I know what I’m going to sell every month or buy or I normally sells . I know run by inside said I’ll just buy it you Stuart for me so I don’t have Ramona’s restored here . I don’t want to send it all into Amazon and pay their long term storage fees .
Todd: [00:47:40] But I leveraged my spreadsheet then to place the order they have it shipped to them because it’s made you know somewhere else ships to them sits in their warehouse whenever I need it and say hey send 50 this to Amazon for me .
Todd: [00:47:53] They ship to Amazon for me and I don’t have to do it . And now also in my out-of-stock for that like in two years ago Q4 I’d been out of stock probably 50 percent of the Skees last year I was on a stock on zero .
Todd: [00:48:09] So this is a massive fix to a problem you had . You saw a big problem and you didn’t put a banding on . You came up with a solution . So let me ask a couple of questions on that .
Todd: [00:48:20] Are you paying for the whole order one fell swoop yes I’m paying for the order bucket . The thing is because I’m placing a bigger order I’m getting Rice better price for me to salivate over that for a second .
Todd: [00:48:37] All right . So you’ve got to put up some cash . You get a better price per unit or whatever so now all of a sudden it becomes a little more profitable . Are you sending them the labels then and then they’re sending directly in for you .
Todd: [00:48:49] I pay . I have Amazon just label them for 20 cents . They ship it to Amazon Amazon labels .
Todd: [00:48:55] So there’s no additional cost nor savings in that scenario . But it’s just that’s the same thing . OK so . So they store it . Have you . Oh my goodness Todd this is genius . You got inventory squirreled away all around the country don’t you . You got you probably got stuff in my town .
Stephen: [00:49:13] When you walk by and it will be a big note Steve . This is Tod’s Gilgan here that’s Todd’s stuff over here .
Todd: [00:49:20] No we don’t we don’t have it every company but I think as you kind of build those relationships and move forward that’s kind of some of the things you can do especially when you’re able to order .
Todd: [00:49:31] You know as you grow in your business and you have more money to spend you’re helping those companies out too . Because think about it .
Todd: [00:49:39] I mean this this company is so old school they do invoices by hand still . They don’t realize they don’t even .
Todd: [00:49:45] And some of those companies that are small are you know you’ll find like that . So if you can go to them and they’re like hey I don’t know what we’re going to sell you know they’re not doing any type of forecasting and you could say hey I’m going to order three hundred of this and then they’re like oh because you’re ordering 300 of this . I can now place a container order for another 700 pieces so I can make more money more money and sell to my other customers . It’s just you know it’s just a win win for them too . And so as you develop those relationships and you’ve been with them for a while you start leveraging some of those things to do things like that .
Todd: [00:50:22] This is a real pro to have . Do you have more than one SKU at a particular vendor where that’s done where they’re storing more than one of your Skewes Yeah .
Todd: [00:50:31] So that that company they have about I think 10 different Skky users storing for us .
Stephen: [00:50:38] No kidding . And we’re talking almost a year’s worth of supply a month one in theory .
Todd: [00:50:45] So I’m doing three months at a time so I placed the order in January that’ll be for like a quarter of inventory .
Todd: [00:50:52] So maybe four or five months by the time it crosses over . So this is a very cool tip . I’ve not heard of that . It’s genius . It’s a great way to lower your expenses . A great way to improve you know the like you said the delivery time that’s true just in time inventory . I mean really you could send in you know especially if you if they’re going to label for you your stuff gets processed by Amazon very quickly because they want their money . So you can how quickly when you turn in inventory from them and say OK Steve send in some inventory for me . How quickly does it go live .
Stephen: [00:51:25] Generally they’ll ship it the same day that I send them the order .
Todd: [00:51:32] It’s just sitting there . I’ll have to stick the shipping label on it .
Todd: [00:51:36] You’ll get the Amazon and the warehouse that usually goes to them because I’m shipping it as a case so I don’t have to worry about it getting split up it’s going to go right into the fulfillment center in that state . It’s going to get labeled so it’s usually live within like no later than like the 4th day .
Todd: [00:51:55] Wow . And you still get the benefit of the cheap shipping rates from Amazon . Oh . OK . Protip moment over I don’t have ending music to end the protip but that was a very very strong one and that’s something I have not heard from anyone . But it makes perfect sense what you’re describing makes perfect sense . All right . So because you’re not busy enough with the full time job and more than a full time business and 5000 you use 140 vendors . You’re delving in dipping your toe in the private label world . But it’s it’s qualified private label . I mean you’ve taken the best part of wholesale and the best part of private label and kind of found a way to merge the two together . Let’s talk just a little bit briefly about it because it’s new to you . Right . I mean these are products you got . They haven’t gone in yet but it’s new but it’s pretty cool .
Todd: [00:52:47] Yes I think that’s one of our things .
Stephen: [00:52:51] Teen is private label wholesale . So we’re getting wholesale products made by one of our current private label company . When you’re away you mean when your current wholesale accounts right . Sorry . Yeah one of our current cell accounts we mixed them up so you’re getting a private label made by not waiting either .
Todd: [00:53:15] Right . So it’s going to be our . So we created our own product . They said hey we have a product we’re like we’re going to modify that . They said we can modify that for you . And we said Cool . It’s made in the United States . We don’t have to worry about overseas planes trains automobiles freight forwarders agents inspection customs any of that stuff which I know a lot of people have success doing it . And that’s awesome but you know I’ve always been very risk adverse . It’s like us and I think it is nice to be able to put made in the USA on a listing . And so we got our first two products shipped to us . So in that case we will be creating a listing because you know it’ll be our own our own brands so we’ll take the time to do that .
Todd: [00:54:02] But I think that’s kind of evolution a spinoff from the wholesale .
Todd: [00:54:08] But the reason is is because the data are ready . So yeah I’m not worrying if it’s going to sell and my idea is I’m not doing giveaways . I’m not going to be doing all these bells and whistles and PPC and all the other things that other private label sellers do .
Todd: [00:54:28] My thing is I know what sells I pretty much know what the keywords are because I’ve been running ads for a similar product for the last two years . So all I’m doing is taking that data that Amazon has graciously provided me with . I’m going to basically pick up the same listing moved over to my name . Right . Just taking that same data that I know that this Skewes sells you know 100 units a month and I’m taking it over . Taking over and using the same information Chri new listing my product will be let’s say a blue cup instead of a red cup with my logo on it and maybe I don’t sell 100 units a month like the other company maybe I ISO 40 but I’m at 100 percent buy box with whatever the profit margin is . And again it’s just getting a piece of the pie that I’ll just add the total at the end of the year .
Todd: [00:55:21] Well let me ask you that because I know somebody is going to be thinking the same way I am . What’s the difference in the margin . So you’re buying from this company wholesale and you’re buying the red cup and you’re you know you’re making a dollar profit or it’s costing you a dollar let’s just make that way right cost you a dollar for that wholesale item . Now you’re going to buy a private label blue cup . How different is the price .
Todd: [00:55:48] So my cost is actually the same because they have to do a minimum run . So you’re not saving any on the cost .
Todd: [00:55:55] If I ordered a lot more you would save on the cost . But the initial order isn’t your savings isn’t really savings per se just more profit because there’s not five people that have lowered the price by a few dollars it’s you’re selling the price so instead of selling exclusivity .
Stephen: [00:56:13] So how do you how do you ensure though that they’re not going to come over and say Hey Steve I got the blue cups in the back of my truck would you be interested in something . How do you ensure that they’re not going to meet that just because of the relationship again . Maybe that’s right . All the way back to is developing relationships as that’s where you’ve gotten to .
Todd: [00:56:32] Well two things it’s their relationship and making a modification to it that someone else won’t think of unless they saw in the library they would do it and there’s no way to tell who made the product really because the company I order from there’s no information on the product so .
Todd: [00:56:53] Okay . So it’s coming from them .
Todd: [00:56:55] OK I got a red cup and a brown kraft box that has no markings on it . So now I’m going to have a blue cup so if they order it and they think like hey maybe it’s made by this company it’s like if you get the box you can’t tell though thing is the company doesn’t . There’s nowhere on their website that they offer a private label .
Todd: [00:57:13] There is nothing that says they do private labels just from having a conversation that says hey you know would you do something like that . I said if you order XM out we would do that . I said OK I’ll order x amount . So it’s you know relationship having that conversation . Just asking the question and then just moving forward with the doodle .
Todd: [00:57:34] Love it . So smart and you know you don’t have to save a million dollars . You don’t save 40 cents off of that cup because you know by the time you get home with all those other fees and you know the potential of things going wrong you know that might weight the savings there . So oh I get it . I think it’s a natural . Like you said an evolution of that relationship . Is it because you know I guess you already said this but you really haven’t lost a lot of wholesale accounts . You lose some and you gain some .
Stephen: [00:58:07] But looking down the future you know that part is either going to get harder right or there’s just going to be fewer companies . So it’s naturally going to get harder . And so by doing what you’re saying here you’re you’re still getting that you know the best benefit . And I guess the other thing to think about too then is the fact that they’re manufacturing for you . That’s probably a little bit of a different relationship isn’t it .
Todd: [00:58:32] Yeah I think it doing the manufacturing I think only just strengthens the the wholesaler relationship right .
Todd: [00:58:40] So think about this too if you’re saying hey we really like your product in the manufacturing you’re doing .
Todd: [00:58:46] We’re going to buy from you . And then if it ever does come to the point where maybe there’s 10 sellers on the listing and they want to cut down to three and you’re saying hey this guy’s buying you know 5000 dollars a month of private label products from us we don’t want to make him unhappy .
Todd: [00:59:00] And Lou you know when they go to if they ever do make that decision that’s just kind of another another like you know checkmark on your side of the ledger for good .
Todd: [00:59:12] It’s almost like you’re working in two departments that are row and four you’re saying no we got to keep time because you know he’s in this department and this department we’ve got to keep him . He’s so mad . All right Todd final question . You know some people get stuck and I think you’ve given you know your advice is put your head down . Contact 10 vendors every day 30 days 60 days six months you’re at 100 vendors you’ve got a full wholesale business . Is that still the advice you’d give to somebody who’s stuck in this world and trying to figure it out .
Todd: [00:59:49] Yeah it doesn’t even have to be 10 10 contacts .
Todd: [00:59:52] I think the biggest thing I’ve seen you know when I had the coarsen you know the reason I did the course was because there are so many people that had no misconceptions or myths or saying things about wholesale just weren’t correct . I was like OK you know it’s not correct you can do this and you again have a full time job because I have it so everything I was doing was you know proof of concept and so I still have it and still have it .
Todd: [01:00:17] And so it it I guess saddens me a little bit when people come back there you know we’re in the course and they come back a year later and they’re like hey you know I went off and chase this shiny object or I tried to do this and you know are you still doing wholesales I guess still doing it and you’re like well what’s new . What’s like the latest things like what has changed is still the same . You know I knew my spreadsheet .
Stephen: [01:00:42] I got new colors on my spot .
Todd: [01:00:44] Yeah . I got some new new colors . But you know they go off and try something else . It’s like you know if he just if this past year when he went in charge to do something else if you just would of you know made the contacts at the end of that year just doing like minimal minimal effort you would have like probably 20 accounts by accident almost . And so you know you spent the whole year you went off and did you know whatever chased object you missed on a 20 wholesale accounts and now you’re going to start all over again .
Todd: [01:01:20] And so you’re just kind of falling behind in a way or not getting as far as you could . So the main thing is just consistent . Same thing head down consistent effort consistent action and people will get accounts . People tell you know they’ll tell you yes you’ll just add account you’ll Lucire you’ll find some that doesn’t have a profit margin you just move onto the next one and by the end of the year those that have taken action and it was pretty cool . The cool thing when I went to SD last year and I ran to a few people from our Facebook group is you know I met a few people saw sun over a million dollars a year and they don’t talk about their now the group you know bragging about their numbers and when they first started off they weren’t doing that much but they took action . They just did the work in years like Mint sold a million dollars worth of stuff . That’s pretty cool . So you know it’s good to see that the people that are cases that took action and maybe not everyone had those same great results but they had some type of result by you know getting accounts and and getting sales and get more accounts get more sales and that just grows from there .
Stephen: [01:02:39] So heat wash rinse repeat wash rinse repeat .
Todd: [01:02:42] Exactly . You don’t have to you know the new year starts you don’t have to worry about finding new products if you’re doing Ouray or Owais or like how am I going to replace this 50 dollar item that I sold 100 from Wal-Mart last year . Like you just go back to your vendor and you just do a reorder and then you just do the reorder you know week after week and just tell you it’s just a snowball just like Nela .
Stephen: [01:03:03] You like vanilla plain vanilla yeah . Fenella snowball rolling downhill . Vanilla snowball that’s Ooh . That’s a shirt . Vanilla snowball . Love it . All right . Somebody has a follow up question .
Stephen: [01:03:15] Best way to get in touch with the Tom find me on Facebook . OK I’ll put your link there .
Todd: [01:03:23] OK . Man oh man . You know this is like the conversation never stop from three years ago . This is basically the same conversation we’ve had . And you were doing virtually the same thing to virtually the same thing . You got new colors in your spreadsheet . I do like the idea of what you’re talking about doing that private label . And I love the protip man . It is just awesome that it’s just so smart . And I know somebody is going to be like there’s a light bulb going on and somebody tonight they’re going to be like oh I get it . I see it . Thank you so much I wish you nothing but success . Hopefully I’ll see you in the next couple of weeks . And man I just I just can’t wait to catch up again .
Todd: [01:04:04] Take care thanks for having me on the show . I appreciate it .
Speaker 27: [01:04:08] Man oh man . Isn’t that exciting . Imagine . I guess you know maybe it doesn’t sound that exciting maybe it sounds kind of point . You spend the last couple of years with your head down again focused on growing accounts maximizing opportunities with those accounts developing relationships . Just keep buying and buying . Actually not developing face to face relationships Todd said that he doesn’t like that part . And yet your business is exploding him it sounds exciting to me . You know Todd kind of even he’s very humble but he’s kind of even that’s why he’s doing so well because he does it . He follows through and he’s consistent . That spreadsheet will blow your mind . And it is so neat to see somebody who’s done the work . Nothing fancy . And he’s having incredible success . That’s the lesson . It’s not fancy and you can have incredible success to e-commerce momentum dotcom e-commerce momentum dotcom . Take care .
Cool voice guy: [01:05:11] Thanks for listening to the e-commerce momentum podcast all the links mentioned today and found that e-commerce momentum dotcom under base episode number . Please remember to subscribe and like us on iTunes .