386 : Hoyt Bangs – Is Retail or Online the right place to sell bricks? Might surprise you


Have you really thought about why customers buy from you? Is it price only? All the time? Why do people pay more money than they need to? Are you easy to do business with? Hoyt believes you need to tell the story with your offer. Every time. He also realized that he had to add Amazon to his business or he could not grow. So move them off Amazon or onto Amazon. Some simple math can help you decide.



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Here is transcript- It is automated so it is not perfect but it does seem to get better over time.

Hoyt:                                     [00:00]                     At first, I thought we were losing them, but I would say that we actually gain more people this way because unless we grew into a giant, giant warehouse, there was no way we were going to handle that to begin with. So, um, we’re going to let Amazon be good at what they’re good at because we tried doing that in 2013 and just we couldn’t keep up. So I believe we’ve actually gained, at least with our private labels, we wouldn’t have been able to do that the old way. So we gained through that and had to give up a few other things. But I’d say it’s all evened out in the end.

Cool voice guy:                  [00:39]                     Focus on the people, the products, and the process of commerce selling to your host Stephen Peterson.

Stephen:                             [00:50]                     Welcome back to the ECOMMERCE momentum podcast. This is episode 386, eight banks, man. Oh Man, I could, I get so excited with these interviews. I do because I, Hey, I learned something from every single person. Um, and Hoyts no, except your matter of fact. It just so I’m so encouraged. Um, somebody who’s taken something he loved and in the end he got talks about a venn diagram, then Miller be proud. Um, and how he was able to apply that and how you can apply that. So you really do want to listen to the end. But his, uh, his story is just so cool and how he’s been able to use it and continues to use it. And then that’s how it, what separates his private label because he understands it. You could do the same thing. I mean, and [inaudible] will tell you, not the smartest guy, not the most experienced, but he’s figuring it out and his putting his head down, doing the work and respecting his grandfather and his father’s legacy gives me the chills to think about.

Stephen:                             [01:47]                     It’s just a cool story. Such an encouraging story. Um, and this could be you, I really hope it’s you. Let’s get into the podcast. If you’re ready to set up a strong, reliable accounting system when it’s a real strong foundation for your business. Well, we think we have the answer for you. If this is from accounting, we will go, you’re here listening to us on this podcast we set up a course and it’s called Amazon accounting. Simplified. Yup. Simple. And we only say Amazon yet it’s really all across the ecommerce. We’re talking about integrating quickbooks into your existing or new ecommerce business and new is great because you could set up right that way but, but if you have an existing business, how do you integrate, how do you get um, quickbooks online specifically? How do you get set up in there? Well, we have modules.

Stephen:                             [02:30]                     There’s over 48 modules that will walk you through each one of those steps. I’m going to talk about cost of goods and I didn’t even talk about it. We’re going to dive in, parse it, peel it back and help you understand what it takes. How about chart of accounts, setting up the right accounts, ones that you can use to make decisions. We’ve had hundreds of clients and we come up what we see at have seen as the best practice and I think that’s going to be the best thing for you. Reconciling 10 99 from paypal. And Amazon. Good luck. Challenging. Well, we’re gonna. We have modules, unique modules for each of those because they are unique and so vendor management, accounting for Amazon loans, it goes on and on. I’m just skimming the top. There’s 48 plus modules and more will be added over time.

Stephen:                             [03:09]                     It’s going to help you get up, get set up or get caught up with strong foundational accounting books. Um, we use it to help make decisions. We use it to help predict cash and cash pinch points. What you’re going to have, if you’re buying inventory and you’re waiting to get paid for it, you’re going to run out of cash at some point. Wouldn’t it be great to know you? It’s not great that it happens, but it’s great to know when it’s gonna happen so you can plan for it. You can make different decisions based on real solid information, historical information that you keep building. That’s part about quickbooks online is our CPA signs right in and does his tax voodoo right through the system. And so I don’t have to hump it over there and we can get a little better rate by doing that.

Stephen:                             [03:48]                     So how do you find out more about it? And again, you should look into it. AMZ, accounting, simplified.com forward slash, podcast I’ll say it again, amz accounting, simplified.com forward slash podcast check out all the different modules. Checkout what you can do if you really want to get your house in order. If you’re really looking to get that building block established and in locked in place and then you can build from there, then we recommend the course. All right, welcome back to the ECOMMERCE momentum podcast. Very excited about today’s guest because he said neighbor, a relative, relatively neighbor and I’m fascinated to a, I see how well he’s doing it, which is always awesome. Um, but I think the story is going to be an interesting story and some of the pre uh, pre call, we were talking through some of the things going on in the marketplace and I think he’s been affected and I think he’s adjusted and I think that that’s what you have to do. And so I’m very, very excited about Hoyt banks joining us today. Welcome. [inaudible] I am really well, I’m really well, whether it’s decent here in Pennsylvania, not too bad.

Hoyt:                                     [04:51]                     Yeah, same here. We’re probably the same cloud.

Stephen:                             [04:54]                     Yeah, I can see it. Yep. I see it shining over your building now will probably 20 minutes, 30 minutes apart from each other. And uh, when I saw that, I’m like, Ha, I think actually you reached out to me and I’m like, Whoa, that’s close. Awesome. You know, I just, and I love, uh, I don’t know how you feel about this cause I run into other sellers are I used to, when I did store shopping, which I really don’t do too much anymore, but I used to run into other sellers and some people were just so cool and so, you know, like, Hey, yeah, you know, there’s plenty of stuff to sell, but other people get real like secretive and like, hey man, you can’t see this. You know, what’s been your experience?

Hoyt:                                     [05:30]                     I came into this sort of backwards where it’s a store that my grandfather had and I added on the Amazon thing to it. So I never really had that fear because we were already selling them. I just sort of was digitizing a store,

Stephen:                             [05:46]                     but then you didn’t go out and do the scanning it target in cabs and hating yourself eventually and all that. You didn’t bother with any of that stuff.

Hoyt:                                     [05:54]                     I got in with this about four years ago and I sort of listened to some of your podcasts and I just have been adding on what we sold in the store and we’re still just doing that. So I mean, I’m pretty overwhelmed just adding what we sell. All right.

Stephen:                             [06:10]                     Yeah. Well it’s got to be overwhelming, so, so, all right, well let’s go back to, let’s, let’s go into how you got into it. So you were going to be, what work in just in your grandfather’s store mean there? Was that going to be the path for you?

Hoyt:                                     [06:22]                     Well I want to do like I’ve got a film major at Syracuse and I was out,

Stephen:                             [06:27]                     oh, I could see the relationship there. The filmmaker at it. Yeah, that’s a connection.

Hoyt:                                     [06:32]                     So My uh, my dad was running this and he had some heart problems and I came back from La because the jobs were just kind of backing like, oh nine and I got involved here, this like little online store and his tech guy quit. And I just started learning about how to get to the top of Google and all that. And I sold stuff directly via the website from like Oh nine till 2014. And that’s when I started to add on Ebay and Amazon. And now I’d say they’re more than our normal online store, but we’re still doing that as well.

Stephen:                             [07:08]                     Oh wait, you are going to be a film that you, so you were going to Hollywood and you were going to make, what kind of movies? What was your vision? What is it that drove you?

Hoyt:                                     [07:17]                     Yeah, I was gonna, I was gonna write a script. I actually worked for the guys

Stephen:                             [07:21]                     super troopers. I was their assistant. Oh, that tells us something about that. All right, hold on a second. Whoa. So there’s more and your coffee then just cream at this point of the day, right?

Hoyt:                                     [07:33]                     Oh, I was good at editing videos and when I did, I was, I started doing videos for my dad’s store and I have more success there then fighting every other screenwriter in la. So took me on this journey to the Internet. And so I’ve been doing this for almost a decade now, actually. I’ll be doing it a decade in August. So,

Stephen:                             [07:56]                     well, you know, somebody, I heard somebody else say you interviewed had simmer similar stories. And their thing was they are storytellers. I mean, when you think about product, especially as you’re now, right now, you’re getting good at Amazon, right? You’re, you’re understanding that you really do have to tell a story, right? The photos matter, the presentation, the lifestyle photos, the words, the keywords to the description. It really kind of is a weak story. Not Quite as deep as super troopers. I mean that’s a pretty decent but, but you know, am I, I’m am I making a stretch there or is that true?

Hoyt:                                     [08:29]                     No really to sell on Amazon you that those 12 pictures there is the story of the product I found is if you do it right then you are telling the why, what the product is and why you want it. And that’s really a story. So if you nail it there, you should be a successful Amazon seller. Hmm.

Stephen:                             [08:49]                     Who would’ve thought that that college degree would have led you to here? I mean it’s pretty cool. I mean it’s really cool.

Hoyt:                                     [08:56]                     An interesting thing is in script writing there’s 12 points. It’s the journey of a hero and I was like connecting the dots and these 12 pictures on Amazon. I was wondering if that’s why they give you the 12 pictures or whatever, but I don’t know. I might be connecting to it.

Stephen:                             [09:11]                     That’s you’re more than that. I think both of us are. But then again we are talking about super trooper so, okay, so, so you came back to give a hand, obviously had some talent with computers and you figured out you started promoting the, what did they have? The website. Oh you, yeah. You said there was a tech guy,

Hoyt:                                     [09:30]                     there was eh, very limited website that was on like a crazy server where it was very expensive and it just gone, it was gone haywire and they handed me and I was like, what is this?

Stephen:                             [09:43]                     And, and what did, I mean Wah Wah, you know, I don’t want to get too personal about your dad, but it’d be, was he still involved in the business at that point?

Hoyt:                                     [09:50]                     Yeah, he was. Well it was during when the economy started crashing and he was just swamped trying to get a manager and dealing with local sales here and he just didn’t have it, didn’t even know what was going on in the Internet. You knew it was important, but you just didn’t have time for it.

Stephen:                             [10:05]                     Okay. So he gave you the, he came back and said, help me, and then gave you the resources to help get there. When you approached it from that point of view, I mean you obviously you were scratching your head looking at costs and things like that. What did you do that got it turned where it started to, to be a meaningful part of the business, you know, for your dad to notice?

Hoyt:                                     [10:25]                     Yeah, yeah, that was very hard. But it took me at least three or four years to like, really, it just took me forever to prove that it was worth doing. But I knew it was like powered through. We had a lot of back and forth disputes, but, and then I finally convinced them there was value in Google ads and all this stuff. And once he saw some sales going in, it took them a while, but he was on my side.

Stephen:                             [10:54]                     Well, I mean, I, I’d love to hear a little bit more about those conversations because I would be, I would assume it’s like, I’m sorry, oh wait, that’s not the way we do things here. You know, we, you know, that’s just, you know, this is a small town in Pennsylvania. We just, we just don’t that that’s a California, you bringing that California stuff in again, aren’t ya?

Hoyt:                                     [11:11]                     Right. That’s how I fell. I was like, I’d be like, well you got to get the search engine optimization going and we got to get the top of Google do it this way and write articles. And they’re like, well, what’s the point of that? I said, well, when you get, you’ll get all these calls and everything. And then one day I got like the steel column to the top of the Internet. We got a call from like Oklahoma to sell like a steel pipe. And my dad was like, I guess we can do it. And we did it and then we started adding on all these other things and sort of became like, oh well then now I don’t remember that we didn’t do it.

Stephen:                             [11:50]                     Or He was thinking it’s just Hawaii. We keep him busy, he’s smiling, lets us keep them, you know? So you know, how, at what point does it become where the internet becomes the equivalent of a sales rep? Because more than likely your dad had salespeople or something back in the day. That’s the way they did it. Right. What point does the Internet become, you know, how many years ago become a salesperson and him and him obviously saying, Whoa, it’s just as good as Bob who’s been here 48 years.

Hoyt:                                     [12:19]                     Yeah, I would say around 2013 and we just started to see like a change where, I mean we did it didn’t eclipse our retail sales, but it was still a

Speaker 4:                           [12:33]                     okay.

Hoyt:                                     [12:33]                     They dug definitely took notice and like we didn’t have to hire that person who had quit something. That’s huge. Someone left and then we’d be like, you know what? Well we don’t really, we’ll be fine. And I sort of went that way and

Speaker 4:                           [12:47]                     mmm.

Hoyt:                                     [12:48]                     I would just say around like 2013 and the Amazon thing kicked on it. What? Like hyper blasted it, but

Speaker 4:                           [12:55]                     MMM.

Stephen:                             [12:56]                     Yeah. So he was able to write or are you guys were able to ride down people leaving for, you know, just for whatever reason. Right. Life happens and they leave. And so you guys have been able to ride that down? Hmm.

Hoyt:                                     [13:07]                     Yeah. We used to be, well used to have like at least 10 people. Now we have about five or six. So now we may think we had like 14 people. We had all these drivers and things and we were like, you know what, maybe we just scale that back a little. We didn’t dump it, but we just sort of like, what’s really worth our time here. So

Stephen:                             [13:30]                     one more thing to add question about that, um, is a real estate that would be involved. So how much real estate did you use then as opposed to what you need now?

Hoyt:                                     [13:40]                     We, we used to have a place over in Harrisburg and camp hill who weren’t Harrisburg.

Speaker 4:                           [13:46]                     MMM.

Hoyt:                                     [13:47]                     We thought it was important, but then I realized what like no one really wants to drive through. It was in sort of like a area, it was kind of dilapidated little CD. Yeah. Yeah. And the taxes were like triple what they are here. And we were like, you know what, we’ll just get rid of that one and a fixed up our one in Camp Hill and just make that even nicer and focus on the Internet.

Stephen:                             [14:11]                     So, and I think this is important for business if anybody who owns a real, uh, a brick and mortar business to think about. So what Hoyts describing is basically constructing a business, you know, putting more into the build. The business was built, but now you’re going and filling in these blocks is foundational blocks. I like to call them. And you’re, you’re, it allows you to make better choices. I mean, because not laying people off, not renewing a lease or selling a building, those are good things. Um, and the Internet and then adding these other sales channels have allowed you to get there. To me, that’s powerful. I mean, again, we were talking to the precall, there’s a story out there today suggesting that, um, because of the growth of online, it’s specifically Amazon being half of the online market, that 70,000 more retail businesses need to close or likely will close at some point too to even up the market. I mean, just think about that. I mean, how many in your market does that represent? Right. I mean, I don’t know what percentage, you know, 70,000 of the whole us would be for our area, but it’s, it’s significant. Hmm. And if you’re a business owner, you don’t want to be that guy to close. I mean, have you thought about that? If you didn’t do this, where your family’s business would be? I mean, you’re like dust Steve, of course.

Hoyt:                                     [15:33]                     It would be very, very small at this point just because so much has gone online. I’ve just been trying to keep up with the online and any product. I feel like anytime we lose a product from our store, I want to after it to bring it back into the store in a different way. That was my sort of my mission because I don’t want to be like, oh, Amazon’s going to beat you. I said, well, we’re, we are Amazon. I mean, we were converting over to, instead of them hurting us, we’re there helping us. So,

Stephen:                             [16:07]                     right, right. That’s the right approach, right, is to say, hey, you know, because, and I, we were just in Walmart, I’m sorry, I apologize to everyone listening, but we were there and I don’t know what we were looking for and I don’t go in very much. My wife and I went shopping with her and we were looking for something and I realized how few skews in a particular category that they have now. I mean, there variety, it’s mostly their private label and a couple other premium ones. And I thought to myself, what happened to all these, you know, they used to be known to carry 69 varieties of ketchup or whatever, you know, that’s gone. And, and so what happens to all those businesses? But in your case, reducing this skews in your retail location and adding them online? Because I assume if somebody came in and said, hey, I’m looking for that particular Coffee Cup, you could be like, yeah, it’s right on our website and put, we can have it to you or or on on Amazon, whichever. We could still ship it to you

Hoyt:                                     [17:05]                     somewhere. Came in here one time and said I saw this, I’ll get this on Amazon and I ended up still getting it from

Stephen:                             [17:11]                     all right, go ahead. Yeah, I’d buy from that guy too. Yeah, it looks like a good deal and there it is. I’ll put it into bucks.

Hoyt:                                     [17:19]                     They came in and then they’re like, they go, can you match Amazon? And I said sure cause it’s already us. I said to was, cause I already had it in the box ready to ship. Dan is on. I gave him one,

Stephen:                             [17:31]                     I saved the fees. There were no fees there. Right. It’s your hand over. But let’s talk about this because this is interesting to me. Have you mean I know the answer so I’m going to ask, I’ll lead you there. It’d be nice, easy softball. But have you been able to convert or add private label as you see other products? I mean you’re like, man I can do that. I can make that or those products that people are looking for aren’t available anymore. Have you been able to find that?

Hoyt:                                     [17:58]                     We have a private label that’s doing pretty well was one that we were selling and they went out of business and we just started up a private label cause we knew it was selling in the store and that’s doing very well on Amazon. So it was great like incubator here to get it on there and now, I mean we still I think is like 1% here versus like all on Amazon. But it was a really, it got that fuel going so

Stephen:                             [18:26]                     well. You’ve learned something, right? I mean to me like you’re saying it’s an incubator. If, if, if people were, there was a guy, if you ever heard of a Dan Miller 48 days of work you love, and he always said that, he’s like, Steve, if three people ask me the same for the same thing or asking me that question, he’s like, there’s a business. I mean he, that’s his philosophy. He’s like, there’s a demand if three people take the time to ask for it or come into your store looking for something, that’s probably a business. I mean, cause that’s a pretty good representation. Three people, you know, looking for a cop, you know. So, so, um, so is that now a thought process for you when somebody is looking for something you don’t sell, you look to see if you can drop ship it or sell it yourself or develop?

Hoyt:                                     [19:08]                     There’s, whenever someone comes in, I have like more ideas at time now is, uh, they, they ask for it. You look it up and then you’re like, oh my gosh, I could do that one too. And might not be like the biggest book. We’re kind of in like an interesting business where, uh, not many masonry people do all this kind of thing. So it’s been, it’s been interesting.

Stephen:                             [19:33]                     Oh, I think it’s, it is specialized, but it’s specialized knowledge. I mean to me you’re, your secret power is your knowledge of the business because not many people outside of contractors know it and contractors are really busy and so for them to run around and chase and stuff anymore, I think they, I mean is, have you experienced that where they’re just, I mean, a lot of smaller contracts, especially just ordering stuff online so they don’t have to deal with the chase and stuff.

Hoyt:                                     [20:00]                     Yup, absolutely. We, uh, they’ll call up and order like a, on our main website, like bricks across the country. I’ll be like, are you sure? And they’ll pay that. It’s none of their pay. The fee is because they’re so busy that I can’t find it anywhere and I’m at the top of the Internet for whatever it is. And they’ll pay the figures of too busy to go find out wherever their guy is locally. So it’s, it’s true. They are

Stephen:                             [20:25]                     fascinating. I mean, I hope, again, if you have a real retail brick and mortar, you’re an incubator, you just heard a voice say it, you know, it’s just approach. You do have you also thought about asking your existing customers or is there anything else that you’ve been looking for? I mean, have you ever thought about actually, you know, leading with those kinds of questions to help generate, or I guess you’re probably pretty busy.

Hoyt:                                     [20:47]                     Well, I mean

Stephen:                             [20:48]                     what I try to do is like the products that were set that they like here I look into it and say, is that something I could have a private label with as well as sell the other one that they are familiar with it, see if they like ours just as much. And if so maybe people are aligned, we’ll, I’ll be worse importing or develop or whatever. And so it saves that step of risking, you know, importing someone known thing from shine, I won’t sell. So it’s sort of a little test. You’re comfortable. I had experienced yesterday, went to a retail store and uh, it’s actually not a retail store, it’s a wholesale store. And I was buying particular item and he’s like, well yeah, you could buy that one but I’ll give you the best price you can get is if you buy our private label product, exactly what you’re describing. If you buy our private label product a, they’re cheaper, be there always in stock. And it was like magic to my year because I needed a continuous supply and it’s like, Huh. And I literally the, he used the term private label and I thought to myself, oh my God. Even in a, even in a brick and mortar, I think people are getting it. And it was, it’s encouraging.

Hoyt:                                     [21:54]                     Yeah. Yeah. It’s a, it’s very interesting. I, I just, every day is fun. I can say that.

Stephen:                             [22:02]                     Yeah. Well you got, and you’re dealing with customers too, so you got, you got it on all angles and that, you know, and that’s another thing. If you don’t mind talking a little bit about having a retail location, especially in established retail location, gives you an advantage in the ecommerce world, wouldn’t you say?

Hoyt:                                     [22:17]                     Yep. It does. And you, you have a story that’s longer than the Internet, which is a

Stephen:                             [22:26]                     Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. They, you know, this was your grandfather’s store. So how many years have you been in business?

Hoyt:                                     [22:33]                     The company he got in the 70s but the company actually dates back to 1861 so like we have this very interesting story and we even had some products that were around the 1860s that I sort of resurrected on Amazon merch, like the logos. And it’s so cool. Yeah, it’s very, I don’t, I just have so many things. They’re all very little niche things, but like that we have like so many little ones that adds up to a bigger picture for us. So.

Stephen:                             [23:03]                     Well, and, and you tell that story, right? So that’s, that’s the art, right? The w wait, wait, back to filmmaking. You are, I mean, you really are,

Hoyt:                                     [23:11]                     right. Yeah. Luck minutes, whatever the product that it’s all about the need and getting it to the person needs it. So I find if you need it on Amazon right now, wherever you are, we’ll, we’ll try to get it to you that way. Or if you want to get it to us in the store, we’ll get it to you that way. But however we can help

Stephen:                             [23:31]                     and you can deliver it, you can pick it up in the store. Right. So that’s another cool thing. Let’s talk about that second. So you’re state of low websites, about 10 years old. I assume it’s been through a few iterations between now of that, right? Just a couple. Um, versus Ebay and Amazon. Um, and I don’t know if you sell it on any other sites, the new eggs or any of those kinds of things too. What percentage of your business used to be, you know, website only and now his website and then Amazon than Ebay. Could you kind of rank them and you don’t think of any secrets away?

Hoyt:                                     [24:07]                     I was going to say Amazon’s got to be 75% now.

Stephen:                             [24:14]                     75%. Are you kidding? Of all of your ecommerce, of your overall business, commerce, e commerce. So 75% yet you’ve had a website for 10 plus years and you know, Seo and you’ve been working at it for a long time. And what, what do you think that leads people to, I mean is it just because everybody says just check on Amazon? I mean it’s become part of our vernacular, right?

Hoyt:                                     [24:36]                     Well what I find is Amazon has been great for our products between like 10 and $90 and then our, our bigger ones, we still do pallets that never changed on our main store. So like we’ve lost some of these little guys to Amazon just because they’re, they get it to you so fast, but the pallets are still rolling on our main site, so that’s brilliant. It sort of, it changed around, but we’re just, you know, I try to adapt with it

Stephen:                             [25:06]                     each, but I assume that maybe I’m wrong, but shipping a pallet of stuff is a heck of a lot easier than shipping all the little unique boxes and stuff. So

Hoyt:                                     [25:15]                     yeah, actually I prefer, I prefer this way then it wasn’t 2013 because I, most of the time it fell on me because people are busy running around the retail store and I’d have to go ship all these little boxes. I prefer to just do it all one day, send it to Amazon and let them handle the, the little guys and we’ll handle the big ones because we just can’t handle that kind of business, this model.

Stephen:                             [25:39]                     So if uh, this is another pro tip for any business that’s in ecommerce that’s doing a lot of merchant fulfill. What Hoyts describing is basically let, let the low hanging fruit that was your bread and butter but became, you know, a lot of work. Move that over to an Amazon and then yeah, go after the bigger customers and that kind of thing where where you know you’re selling volume right? I mean right

Hoyt:                                     [26:02]                     is I’ll volume I made it takes just as much time to sell the light bulb. It’s, it does a pallet when you’re packaging at yourself, but you can only have so much time.

Stephen:                             [26:15]                     Is that done on your, I mean do you direct them on your website that way? Have you gotten that sophisticated where you know, hey one or two the order moves over or or no,

Hoyt:                                     [26:27]                     I have begun to update it where I want to send you to word it best is to get it because that would help us out but we’re not fully updated yet. It’s, we’ve been updating the code on the site so, but you’re thinking that way? Yeah. Hopefully by the end of this year we will be going into 2020 with that APP for math.

Stephen:                             [26:49]                     That’s brilliant. I mean to me that’s, that’s really next level where where is the best place as you say, where’s the best place to get the product that you want and the quantity you want. Do you lose something though or, I mean is this a another dusty where you don’t get to upsell or you don’t get to sell other things? Also like you know when somebody would come in and they’d be like, Hey, I need, I don’t know, bag of mortar. Right. And you’d be like, oh you need to get, you got tools or you got buckets you’ve got, I don’t know what else goes with it. This is why it’s such a specialized thing and none of us know these secrets. Um, I mean, do you lose that stuff

Hoyt:                                     [27:25]                     or we lose it a little bit, but I, I’ve tried to make our youtube page pretty informative. So if you want to research and come back around, maybe we can get you again. But um, you know, it’s different, but I think it’s, it’s always changing

Stephen:                             [27:43]                     this form. Okay. And, and in my last question on that would be, are you tracking your customers, which is, you know, we’re going to be, of course Steve, we are and we have customers, but you know, you’re giving up some of those customers to Amazon where they’re not your customers anymore. Is that an advantage, a disadvantage or because you segregated, uh, the quantum, you’re, the big sellers are the big, big quantities are handled by you. That’s the business you want to go after a long term.

Hoyt:                                     [28:13]                     At first I thought we were losing them, but I would say that we actually gain more people this way because unless we grew into a giant, giant warehouse, there was no way we were going to handle that. To begin with. So, um, we’re going to let Amazon be good at what they’re good at because we tried doing that in 2013 and just we couldn’t keep up. So, hm. I believe we’ve actually gained, at least with our private labels, we wouldn’t have been able to do that the old way. So we gained through that and had to give up a few other things. But I’d say it’s all evened out in the end.

Stephen:                             [28:48]                     Yeah. Call him tradeoff since, so you’re sitting there saying the tradeoffs are way worth it because you, like you said, you would have had a lot of data that you could do nothing with cause you couldn’t keep up with it. So I think that, again, very, very smart and you don’t hear these success stories. I mean, does that, and it’s like a question, I don’t know if you’re involved in any like chamber of commerce or any of those kinds of things. Um, most of the time when I’m at those things, all it is, is complaining. Amazon’s eating my lunch or you know, Walmart came into town, crushed us like the bug, we are blah blah blah blah blah. And they’re just, I mean it’s, it’s awful. I don’t want to put him down but it kind of feeling sorry for themselves rather than adapting. When you tell your story in your like encouraging and the opposite, how’s that conversation go?

Hoyt:                                     [29:34]                     Even from listening your podcast where you’re talking about Carlisle, we do deliveries there now and then I’ve actually driven the dump truck near wherever you are down there somewhere. But a guy I got stuck behind you of timid. I was cursing you out. I look at all the little stores and I’m always wondering like, well 10 years from now like where? Cause cause the store is still, you can’t eliminate that. We’re all three dimensional. I feel like eventually you’ll find some kind of equilibrium where uh, they will find their niche on Amazon or whatever. And these little stores like do offer something and people just have to think a little differently than it’s just land. It’s more like they’re serve. Why? Well, who do they serve as? What is the need? And that’s once we find that out, I think of a really see a change here in the 2020s but that’s kind of how I think about it. That could be wrong, but

Stephen:                             [30:33]                     no. Well, what you’re describing is what you said earlier, where you recognize your customers are either one off buyers or you know, those are better served by somebody who could do it better than you. I mean, that’s, that’s a, that’s a good ego thing right there. As opposed to I’m the best white, I packed boxes better than anyone. You know,

Hoyt:                                     [30:58]                     I just think that there’s still a lot of opportunity out there for everyone that just fine where it sells best. I mean, just because it’s on Amazon might not mean you can’t get it. You know, it’s a lot of people do retail arbitrage to help people online find what they’re looking for. So

Stephen:                             [31:18]                     real good. It’s a quick questionnaire and that brings up a question for me. What’s your private label? Have you been able to sell it in your store?

Hoyt:                                     [31:26]                     Yeah, I mean we, what kind of backwards, where we’re wholesaling it now and if people who are selling it and other stores and we look about that, we wouldn’t be able to do that without Amazon’s.

Stephen:                             [31:35]                     Yeah. If you’re a, I mean, think back to the day and what it would have taken to create that product and get that product out to market. I mean it would have been a huge team and yet you’re able to just do it and like you say, then you can put it nationally or worldwide in essence and, and sell it locally. Pretty brilliant.

Hoyt:                                     [31:53]                     Yeah. It kinda like gives you that critical mass so you can do that. Cause you wouldn’t have been able to, unless you took some huge gamble, you wouldn’t have been able to move that much volume to warrant it. So it’s uh, it does help.

Stephen:                             [32:09]                     And how about this? Um, a million questions come into my head thinking about profit margins, right? So you have a brick and mortar, you got five people working there, including yourself. You’ve got, you know, I always tell people, yeah, I had a debate with somebody on Ebay yesterday. He’s like, oh, can you do this? I’m like, dude, you know, I’ve got a warehouse, I’ve got insurance, I’ve got workman’s comp, I’ve got it, blah blah blah. I can go on my heat bills, you know, all the different things that, you know, you have a real business, you got to cover that or you pay a third to Amazon. Right. What, what’s been your experience that

Hoyt:                                     [32:40]                     the Amazon,

Stephen:                             [32:42]                     well, you know, I mean let’s assume Amazon takes a third, right? So you send your private label product and it’s $20 and you know, they take six bucks I guess or whatever that math is. Six, seven bucks. Okay. So you’re netting 13 $14 you sell it in your store and you’re selling it for 20 bucks, but there’s a little bit more costs there. So I’m just trying to figure out, you know, have you thought about, you know, where do you make your most money anymore? Or is there, is it, is it getting closer to equilibrium? Maybe that’s a better question.

Hoyt:                                     [33:11]                     I would say this year we might do 50% have you cleared our website? 50% online. 50% year. So we’re, we’re going to eclipse that probably by 2020. It will be mostly Internet at that point. Our store becomes more of like our warehouse where people can come to it. And uh,

Stephen:                             [33:30]                     and the fact that you’ve had that for a long time gives you a huge advantage as opposed to the million square feet warehouses in my town, which there are 49 million square feet in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, 49 million square feet, not exaggerating. Five Amazon warehouse. You been here? Oh, you got a lot by youtube, so, okay. All right. So they really interesting. Um, and has, has there been any limits in your building or infrastructure converting over to an ecommerce world?

Hoyt:                                     [34:02]                     Yes, some of it wasn’t heated. Some of those things we do are liquids. So I’ve actually had to look into, update the building and I wouldn’t really have looked into it if I wasn’t doing this. So we’re looking into renovating the building to, uh, be able to hold more of what we sell on Amazon. So,

Stephen:                             [34:23]                     but what’s smart is you’re taking in converting existing real estate that you already have. So you’re in, you’re doing the build out, which you would do anywhere, any place, anybody. And this is a, if anybody had know this, you go get a warehouse, you’re, you’re usually responsible for the build out. So you got to put the money any anyway, but in your case it’s going into a building. You guys aren’t. So that’s a big one.

Hoyt:                                     [34:40]                     The things that were masonry that don’t require eat, like getting some kind of storage container and keeping those outside cause they are not affected by the climate and then trying to make an Amazon sector. And um, we even hired a lady, uh, earlier this year whose job is just helping me with the priming of the packages. That’s why we were calling at prime prepping on our thing. But uh, um, yeah, we’re just sort of re tooling our current space for our Amazon packages. So

Stephen:                             [35:16]                     it just fascinates me that, you know, this conversation would have been, you were retooling to be expanding into Sears or Kmart, right? I mean, think back. Right. You know, you would have been coming out. I get a lot of trade shows and have, well we have a great display for your warehouse, for your storefront, Steve. I’m like, uh, how much would it cost if I don’t want that? All that stuff. Save your money, save your time. Think of all the time that was invested. So it’s such a different conversation now, isn’t it? Fascinating. Fascinating. All right, so why do you think you’re so good at it? I know you have this fancy film degree and do you are going to be, you know, you do have the super trooper thing, but I mean what, what do you think makes you so good at this oil? Because the stuffy, everybody who’s listening to this, just sitting back and saying, all right, he’s got it figured out. You’re adapting, you’re adjusting, you’re trying new things. You’re, you’re investing into your business, which most people don’t. They think they have to take everything rather than build out, retool, that kind of stuff. What do you, what do you think is your biggest strength?

Hoyt:                                     [36:16]                     Just why do the people want what they want? And if someone calls me up and I don’t know what that is, I look it up and find out what it is. I lead to me on this whole little research journey and just, I also have a history major I got at Syracuse and I always loved to learn about the history of these products and it leads me on just such a, I’m like, I don’t know. I come back so enriched with new information on who invented the whatever we’re talking about it. And then I can use this as all as descriptions to have different copy then the big box stores online and Google likes that and I can really hit home when it, so I feel like my, his story. Yeah, the history of the story, whatever you want to call it off the whatever. It’s hard to sell brick online, but we do do it. And you can go back to ancient Sumeria. That gets interesting about why the bricks were invented and you know, so that’s where, that’s what I think my strength is, is just taking it to the why was this product and then add and how can it help you and,

Stephen:                             [37:27]                     and then identifying where it’s going to reach them best, where the best place for them to get it. I’m telling you, that’s a very mature thing to say as a businessman. Okay,

Hoyt:                                     [37:36]                     great. Good. It’s uh, I just, I use my video skills and my history skills to like do a youtube video with nice photos. I have a friend who’s a great photographer and we even, we have a little side than we call brick and mortar to a show off a lot of these industrial products and make things that seem boring, fun and you can find them. Um, just, I mean the way you can search and find what you’re looking for now is incredible. So

Stephen:                             [38:05]                     what happens when you do go to these trade shows and you know, I’m sure you go and I don’t want to, I hate using this phrase, it’s a bitch fest. I mean, I’m sure it is. Well, you know, everything’s terrible. The worlds, you know, woe is me and here you are. And this is not local. I’m talking about in your industry because that’s got to be that way. Most people are failing. I mean, to be fair, you know, it’s, it’s, I don’t wish it upon him, but most people were failing and here you guys are having success. Are they sitting there and looking at you? Like are you in the masonry business or are you in the youtube business? I mean in, in a weird way, right?

Hoyt:                                     [38:41]                     They think I’m a magician or something. I Dunno. It’s good to the world of concrete out in Las Vegas and they’re all like wondering how we are the one guy, we sells product, they’re all whispering before we walk up. And like

Stephen:                             [38:55]                     there he is. He’s a celebrity. You’re going to get an Oscar at the concrete festival. They’re going to give you an Oscar. I mean, this is going to be it. That’s pretty cool. Hey Dude, just to me, you found your lane. I mean, did you, you know, honestly, I, of course you knew you were going to make the best film ever, right? Everybody believes that stuff about themselves. You’re the best singer if you’re in the singing, you know, all that jazz. But do you sit back and realize that this path led you here and this is absolutely your lane in life because it sounds, you sound like it’s relatively easy now. I know you’re working a million hours and all that jazz, but it’s like, you know, there’s not a lot of push against it. Is that kind of makes sense what I said?

Hoyt:                                     [39:34]                     Yeah. I guess when I stand back it is my lane. I just, I’ve been in it for so long and just swimming in the lane that I, it’s hard to step back and look where you are, but I have fun every day and um, I just never have, there’s never a lack of ideas, so I was always driven to see what will sell next.

Stephen:                             [39:57]                     The other thing that you said that sitting well with me is about like the content you’re producing. Like you were talking about 10 years ago, but now you’re doing it on youtube. So as the market shifted, right. Cause like I won’t do a project without looking on youtube. I mean literally it’s always like, look on youtube. I mean literally look on Youtube for anything you want to do. So that’s where the market is right now. And you’re using that to communicate. I mean to me that’s another powerful transition that’s been made for success.

Hoyt:                                     [40:27]                     Yeah, it really is. I mean, anytime we would film anything, we’re only, we’d get some kind of call from, I’ve had calls from Russia and they’re calling about a tool that we got from Italy. I’m like, we’re shipping it back to Europe.

Stephen:                             [40:49]                     Crazy. And you know, they could’ve probably found it in 50 other places, but they have no way to get to them. Right.

Hoyt:                                     [40:54]                     And, uh, but they found him, they don’t want to, they only have so much time too. So they’re like, all right, just, just get me,

Stephen:                             [41:03]                     well, what keeps you up at night? Like, I mean, cause this is a lot of responsibility. I mean this is a legacy business. I mean this is your grandfather’s, I mean this is, this is not as easy. You, you know, you’re living up to your dad’s standards and your grandfather’s standards, which I’m sure were pretty high if they’ve made it through all the thick of all the things that they’ve seen, they made it.

Hoyt:                                     [41:21]                     Yeah. I just, I want to make sure that we, the products that we have are, uh, available. I mean, of course keeping everything in inventory at Amazon. It’s always something I think about. But I try to have a few less Sku’s and I did it first and make them the better ones and um, just keep everything clean and sometimes less is more and yeah, just don’t, I don’t, I mean there’s just so many things out there that I want to make sure that we keep everything clean and I don’t want people to not to get confused on our site because the Internet can be very good

Stephen:                             [42:05]                     fusing. So, well, that’s a good question. Like, you know, you put up a website, most people put up a website and they don’t touch it. They let it sit. How fluid is your website?

Hoyt:                                     [42:16]                     I mean, I know it can be better, but we spend a lot of time, we tried to make the front have these buttons. It’s, but it’s more of a tool. It’s not a brochure. It’s supposed to be.

Stephen:                             [42:27]                     That’s interesting. It’s a tool, not a brochure. Ooh. Yup. Not a brochure. So I mean how often is somebody touching it?

Hoyt:                                     [42:36]                     Well, uh, before I was on, we were really redoing it and tweaking it a lot. And once we got into Amazon, we didn’t retool as much, maybe every quarter. But this year I’m really trying to like merge the two and make, um, so you can get the Amazon and find what you’re looking for. I don’t want to like act like Amazon. I want them to be transparent. Now we have our private labels on both spots and just be very, uh, just make it look nice at the video and be at the top of the Internet for what we’re good at and not worry about doing. The whole thing, just, just focusing on building supply. So

Stephen:                             [43:13]                     and so. Yeah. It’s so, it’s seamless. It’s, it sounds like it’s truly a partnership for you.

Hoyt:                                     [43:18]                     Yeah, it’s, we have, we answered calls here at the store. We get called, we’re, we do a great job of answering the calls. I’m from far away and I’ve trained the guys here too, to not say no if they’re not local. It was very hard at first to get them to say, Oh, you’re an Ohio. We don’t do that. But yeah, we do. We can ship it to, and we’ll ship it to wherever you are. So slowly but surely we’re getting up to the 21st century here, but

Stephen:                             [43:46]                     it’s got to be with the, even the five guys that are there ladies too. It could be, but that staff, um, they’ve got to realize, they see the store’s closing around to you, so they’ve got to sit back and say, okay, this is what their business is now. But that’s, I’m sure especially, you know, uh, blockheads as you guys are called, um, it’s hard to get through, but you get a light bulb to go on, right?

Hoyt:                                     [44:10]                     Yeah. So we’re slowly trying to get the light bulb on and just once you show someone excels and they’ve done it, they get comfortable and the staffs we’re getting up to date and we’re starting to do a great job. It’s just been, I was a lot to go from just brick and mortar type writers to a selling Alcon, Amazon. But I mean, I guess I was the facilitator of it and um, that, that probably kept me up at night.

Stephen:                             [44:38]                     Yeah. And how often do you have to bring back the conversation to realize it’s like, hey guys, remember this is going to be the future and we are, we are, you know, to be honest with you, and you’ve already described it in the concrete world and that whole, whatever that was called in Vegas, you guys are the leaders, right? I mean it’s kind of weird to think this little dinky store and little dinky Pennsylvania. You heard leaders, it’s pretty cool.

Hoyt:                                     [45:03]                     Yeah, it is. I mean, I was trying to go head on into the Internet thing and just, I don’t want to miss any opportunities because we weren’t prepared. I mean, we, I still think they say a luck favors the prepared. So,

Stephen:                             [45:18]                     yeah. That’s awesome. All right, so I’m thinking about this, um, I think you have some unique perspective. I think that you could help some private label sellers, um, because what it sounds like to me is the reason you’re having a lot of success with your private label is because you’re telling the story. Could you help some of them and maybe somebody who’s listening to this saying, you know, Steve’s Coffee Cup idea, it’s going to be brilliant. I mean, Hawaii, it’s going to be, these are the best coffee cups you ever see. How do I approach telling a story when I’m not, you know, a fancy la film guy, you know, um, I didn’t work on super troopers. I want it to, I’ve seen it. So maybe that helps. But seriously, I mean, all kidding aside, I mean, what, what do you, how do you, how does that conversation go?

Hoyt:                                     [46:03]                     Well, I like to tell everyone that venn diagram is all circle at where you’re from, what your, your hobby or interest is and where your lane or where you get paid right now. And try to try and look in the middle and see like what is that? I’m from Camp Hill. I have a brick and I do a film and if you can somehow like market those bricks and camp hill online with this film or somehow combine it together, there’s opportunities for anyone out there. And as long as I learned it from you, you say put your head down and do your work. It’s all she want to do that and use what your niche is. I think you can be successful. It might take your 10 years like May, but you’ll, you’ll get it. Don’t give up.

Stephen:                             [46:50]                     You did this. You did say it was really a three years till you gauge your footing. To be fair, I mean three years our most people willing to wait three years. My experience, no way today. I mean, I, you know, I just got to watch a quick video and Geez, I’m as good as Hawaii. Right? Yeah, yeah. Good luck with that power through power through. All right, so what’s next? So I love the idea of making it seamless for if fl, if I’m buying at one brick, it takes me there magically. And if I’m buying a pallet of bricks, it takes me here all behind the scenes. No problem. What else are you working on?

Hoyt:                                     [47:28]                     Well, I realize I can’t really do all the photos by myself. Um, I went to a film event and met the fellow is helping me. Yeah. Broadened out our, uh, photography area. We set up a little brick and mortar thing, um, to just up the quality of the videos and I realized that I just can’t do it all myself and I’m willing to vessel more in. Yeah, having someone do that and step back a bit, even though I know how to do it, I just, I can’t do it all.

Stephen:                             [47:59]                     That brings up a question because you know, film to you is not film on Amazon. I mean, it’s not the same. Not even close. Right, right. Um, how do you as a professional, somebody who’s got this fancy degree, you know, uh, how do you bite your tongue and say, this is the minimum that, you know, I mean, how do you understand me saying, how do you get past that?

Hoyt:                                     [48:22]                     Well, I mean, it’s difficult, but I have to look down at the numbers would say like what helps the group as a whole and uh, sometime, yeah. What is the best of the worst for this product? And we can always come back and update it. It’s, it’s a living entity. It’s not

Stephen:                             [48:39]                     set in stone, we say here. Yeah. No Pun intended. I think it’s, you’re right. It’s fluid. Right. And what works today didn’t work 20 years ago and guaranteed five years from now. Right. They’re talking about, you know, uh, spinning photos. Right. That’s cool. Right? That’s new. That’s brand new, right? They’re just talking about that and that’s been around for a while. So

Hoyt:                                     [49:02]                     no, stay up with the times, but don’t lose track of the numbers and make sure you’re,

Stephen:                             [49:09]                     he keep retooling for future. Keep retooling. When you, um, what would you say are the habits your best? You know, especially for advice for people, that things that get you moving forward because you got to hit the wall just like every, I’m sure there, especially with staff and employees and they get sick and they get sick of it and all the rest of this stuff that goes along with that. I’m sure it gets to you sometimes. How do you push past that? What are the habits that you have that push you past that

Hoyt:                                     [49:38]                     I’m having a bad day. Like realize it and try to learn. Um, just, just try to get one thing done. Even if it’s a little thing, just, just the check that email or do one thing. If you’re having a slow day and some days you’re going to have good days, but, but try to one thing every day. There’s, there’s no reason you can’t even, computers are everywhere now. So like let’s say selling computer all day, but just, just do one little thing and it’ll lead to the next thing.

Stephen:                             [50:07]                     Don’t stop. Stop. That’s it. Don’t stop acres of diamonds right here. Just one pick away from getting through. Yeah. All right. So if somebody has a followup question for you, what’s the best way they can reach you?

Hoyt:                                     [50:21]                     Well, I set up for Amazon. I set up a prime dash prepping to in on prime-prepping.com to focus in on our Amazon capabilities. And we’re also@buddingcode.com. What was the second one? Uh, budding code.com.

Stephen:                             [50:38]                     B U d d I. N. G. Dot. Yep. Okay. All right. So, and, uh, you know, I, uh, he does a little bit of prep, but big items, I always think of that and so talk to him if he were looking, uh, especially on the east coast, we’re within a day’s drive of 80% of the United States, uh, within a day’s drive of where Hawaii is at. Um, okay. So the last question I have, it’s the question I always end on, you know, and, and I think you’ve already answered some of this, so if you got anything else, um, which I, I think you do, it’s really trying to get people who get stuck because you know, as you say, you’ve got to keep going, right? And because everybody gets stuck where everybody hits the wall and then getting past that. But what’s another meaningful thing that you could suggest to somebody who is stuck who sitting there listening to you and saying, you know, void. I don’t know where to start to tell the story or I don’t know if I can tell a story. I’m not gifted in that way.

Hoyt:                                     [51:35]                     Well, if you’re stuck trying to figure out like what’s making you stuck. And that might be part of your story actually is what, what is, what is stopping you exactly. What is it? Are you out ideas? Talk about how you’re out of ideas. And it might lead to a story of where you are, what’s going on because you led you to want to do this for some reason. You’re listening and you want to do something and why did you want to do that? So if you want to sell apples, do you like apples? I don’t know what, what does Vicky, you’re not be able to sell them. Do you not have a building or you have a will? So figuring out how to take it to the next level. And um, just as I said, power through, but figuring out, like I always look at the opportunity has like, um, what, what sucks, like, and why does it suck to make simple like why, why did you not like what it is? And if you figured out the solution might be a whole new product you’d develop to a sell on line. So

Stephen:                             [52:41]                     that’s vulnerable. You have to be vulnerable. You have to be willing to say, you know, not everything’s great and then it just, and sometimes it is you.

Hoyt:                                     [52:50]                     Yeah. Yeah. And if it is you, then what not, you don’t have to change yourself. You just have to figure out how to improve on this and create the solution. Because, um, when you do, I, I wanted to make a movie and it led me to the Internet to find out to get to the top of the Internet. I was trying to learn about different products and stuff of how to make a film. But by doing that, I learned about the process of the Internet. So if you studied the actual process,

Stephen:                             [53:26]                     you’ll never go wrong. That’s, I love it. Love it, love it, love it, dude. Great Story. Very encouraged. And you know, you’re great fathers, so proud of you. I mean, because you’ve done it, you know, you took his vision and took it somewhere. So man, I wish you nothing but success. Thank you so much. I mean, what a great guy. I can’t wait to meet him face to face. Um, I just loved the story again. I mean, this is somebody, if you have a bar, this story is related to you. You have a grocery store. The stories related to you. This story, I don’t care what kind of brick and mortar business you have, your dry cleaner. The story can be related or relevant to you, and that’s a better word. Um, it’s, it’s, it’s finding who your customer is, you know, think about him, him, he’s taking in sending customers to Amazon because he realizes that he doesn’t have the capacity to handle them. Well. He’s willing to trade off those things. Who are you? Are you willing to trade off? Most people? Now, unfortunately they don’t, but that’s why it’s an outlier. That’s why he’s doing so well with it. And he’ll tell you it’s not easy. Of course, it’s not easy and he’s got to figure it out in any, as he said, it’s, it’s fluid. It’s continual moving. There’s lessons in here. Go back and listen to that again because I, I know I will. Blows me away. What a great guy. He commerce, momentum.com ECOMMERCE, momentum.com take care.

Cool voice guy:                  [54:44]                     Thanks for listening to the e commerce momentum podcast. All the links mentioned today can be found that in commerce, momentum.com under this episode number, please remember to subscribe and the lake us on iTunes.



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