Show Me The Nuggets

Joe Troyer

How to Bootstrap a Startup on a Shoestring Budget with Bryan Clayton

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In this episode, we delve into the inspiring entrepreneurial journey of Brian Clayton, who transformed a high school lawn mowing business into a thriving company with 150 employees and $10 million in revenue. Brian’s remarkable story takes us through his decision to enter the tech industry with GreenPal, overcoming initial naivety and embracing the challenges that came his way.

About Bryan Clayton

Brian Clayton is an accomplished entrepreneur and the co-founder and CEO of GreenPal, a thriving online platform that connects homeowners with local lawn care professionals. With his expertise in bootstrapping and driving businesses to profitability, Brian has gained recognition as an industry expert.

Known for his entrepreneurial spirit, Brian has been at the forefront of revolutionizing the lawn care industry by providing homeowners with a convenient and efficient way to find reliable and affordable services. As the CEO of GreenPal, he has led the company from its early days, navigating the challenges of limited resources and transforming it into a profitable venture.

Bryan’s Keys to Bootstrapping a Business

From personal budgeting to aligning your business plan with limited resources, Brian’s expertise shines through as he offers practical advice to aspiring entrepreneurs on their path to profitability:

Assess Personal Finances

Determine your personal financial situation and calculate the minimum amount you need to live on. Consider reducing personal expenses, paying off debt, and finding ways to live frugally to free up cash flow and resources for your business.

Prioritize Lean Operations

When you’re running a bootstrap business model, you should embrace a lean and cost-effective approach to running your operations. Minimize unnecessary expenses, hire smart,  and focus on essential functions. Optimize your budget and allocate resources strategically.

Utilize Personal Skills and Resources

Leverage your own skills and resources to get things done without relying on external hires or expensive services. Be willing to wear multiple hats and take on various roles within your business.

Tap into Co-Founders or Partners

If you have co-founders or partners, collaborate closely and maximize their skills and expertise. Share the workload and collectively find creative solutions to reduce costs and accelerate growth.

Generate Revenue Early

Focus on generating revenue as early as possible. Develop a minimum viable product (MVP) and start selling it to customers. Prioritize revenue-generating activities and iterate based on customer feedback.

Explore Low-Cost Marketing Strategies

Implement cost-effective marketing strategies, such as targeted online advertising, social media engagement, content marketing, and grassroots campaigns. Leverage free or low-cost platforms and tools to reach your target audience.

Seek Strategic Partnerships

Look for opportunities to form strategic partnerships or collaborations that can help you access new markets, expand your customer base, or reduce costs. Seek mutually beneficial relationships that can provide value upfront without significant financial investments.

Optimize Efficiency and Productivity

Continuously improve operational efficiency and productivity. Streamline processes, eliminate bottlenecks, and automate repetitive tasks whenever possible. Maximize output while minimizing costs.

Focus on Customer Value

Understand the core value you provide to your customers and prioritize delivering exceptional customer experiences. Emphasize reliability, responsiveness, and quality to differentiate yourself from competitors.

Expand Service Offerings

Once you establish a solid foundation, consider expanding your services or product offerings to increase customer lifetime value and generate additional revenue streams. Identify related opportunities that align with your target market’s needs.

Reinvest Profits into Growth

As you start generating profits, reinvest them strategically into scaling your business. Prioritize investments that will have a significant impact on growth, such as marketing initiatives, talent acquisition, technology upgrades, or expanding your infrastructure.

Stay Resilient and Persevere

Building a business from scratch requires resilience and persistence. Embrace the “cockroach” mentality, where you are adaptable, resourceful, and determined to overcome challenges. Stay focused on your long-term vision and be willing to make sacrifices in the early stages for future success.

Remember, bootstrapping requires discipline, creativity, and a relentless drive to make the most out of limited resources. By following these steps and adapting them to your specific business, you can navigate the early days and set a solid foundation for sustainable growth.

Show Notes

  • Bryan’s background as the co-founder and CEO of GreenPal {0:43}
  • Bryan’s journey from starting a lawn mowing business in high school to growing it into an 8 figure company {1:23}
  • The decision to start GreenPal and his naivete about the challenges of building a tech business. {3:25}
  • Valuation trends in the lawn care market and the factors that influence business valuation {3:53}
  • Challenges faced by Bryan in the early days of GreenPal {5:54)
  • The importance of continuous personal growth and the need for a new project after selling his previous business {6:33)
  • The inspiration behind starting GreenPal {9:29}
  • Overcoming the chicken-or-egg problem in a marketplace and the buy-side consumer-side constraint {11:57}
  • The importance of a strong distribution network {16:40}
  • leveraging specific knowledge in addition to marketing expertise {18:38}
  • The keys to Bootstrapping {20:12}
  • unlock efficiency and providing value {24:32}
  • Finding the right marketing channels {28:16}
  • Bryan’s book recommendation {30:40}

Resources and People Mentioned

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Joe Troyer 0:43
Hey everybody, it's Joe Troyer, and welcome to a another episode of show me the nuggets. Today we got on Bryan Clayton, and I'm excited to have Bryan on. Bryan is the co founder and CEO of GreenPal, which is an online marketplace, which connects homeowners and local lawn care professionals. And so I'm super excited today to have Bryan on and for all of us to be able to pick his brain. Without further ado, Bryan, welcome to the show.

Bryan Clayton 1:12
Joe, thanks for having me on your show. It's great to be here.

Joe Troyer 1:15
So man, before you started GreenPal, tell me a little bit about how you stumbled into digital marketing and landscaping.

Bryan Clayton 1:23
Yeah, so actually, rewinding all the way back, I started my first lawn mowing business in high school, I was actually forced into the business my dad got tired of watching me play Super Mario Kart, and he's like, get off your butt, I got a gig for you, you're gonna go mow the neighbor's yard. So I got my first customer, because my dad got it for me and made me go go mow the yard. So luckily, I wasn't living in a democratic household. It was a direct order. And, but after I got done, I got paid 20 bucks for an hour of work and, and 1995 That was a lot of money. So I was hooked. I was hooked on owning my own business. From that moment forward, I never looked back, the first thing I did was pass out a bunch of flyers all over the neighborhood and and get some customers that first summer and I kept growing that little lawn mowing business year after year, eventually, over a 15 year period of time, built it into a bigger company about 150 employees, over 10 million a year in revenue. And in 2013 was able to get it acquired it was it was bought by one of the larger landscaping businesses in the United States company that had like 1000s of employees. And so after selling that I took some time off. I thought what am I gonna do with my life? Now, you know, I need a new project, I need a new mission I need I need something to pour my soul into and and I thought, Well, somebody's gonna build an app that is the Uber for lawn care. Why not? Why can't it be me. And it was kind of naivete as an asset, didn't know how hard it was going to be. But recruited two co founders and we started working on on the first version of GreenPal and now GreenPal's a 10-year overnight success around Around 300,000 people using the app to get their lawn mowed. And digital marketing is a big part of that, you know, there's there's a saying I didn't know this at the time building GreenPal, but but I believe it now. First time founders worry about product. And second time founders worry about marketing and distribution. Actually, the marketing is harder, the distribution is harder, but getting it in the hands people's harder. So I learned that the hard way.

Joe Troyer 3:25
Man, that's so awesome. There's so much that I want to unpack from there. So starting at the beginning, you said that you grew, you know, to about $10 million a year, and then the business was acquired. My listeners probably don't know anything about the lawn care market, and neither do I, in terms of business and business valuation. I don't I don't care to know how much you sold it for. But what's a typical valuation in the lawn care market? Yeah,

Bryan Clayton 3:53
it actually believe it or not fluctuates with economic trends. So, you know, I was coming out of 2008, which was a which was really hard on every small business. You know, everybody talks about how hard COVID was on small businesses, in many ways. 2008 was harder, because there was no relief. There was no bazooka that the government fired at that crisis. And so if you were if you were in a small business and you couldn't make payroll because you know, somebody shut the water faucet off of actual economic activity, you were just Sol and and so I had to take my business down to the studs and rebuild it from the inside out. And and at the time that there was a there was a lot of m&a going on in this industry. And counter intuitively you would think everything would be dead but but but it was actually quite frothy. And so I started noticing a lot of these other companies get getting scooped up and at the peak of that they companies were getting bought for six times and seven times EBIT da and and and and Last time, I got my business rebuilt and ready to sell, and 2013 that had come down a little bit, but it was still around the same, you know, five, six or seven?

Joe Troyer 5:08
And is that often gross? Or is that off of like, EBITA?

Bryan Clayton 5:11
Yeah, EBIT? Ah, so, six or seven times, EBIT? Ah, they really do care about one thing profitability, how profitable are you, I learned a lot going through that, some funny things, some counterintuitive things, you know, like, you run a business very differently, that you're going to keep for 10 or 20 or 30 years, maybe hand down to your children one day, versus a business that you intend to, to get acquired in next five or 10 years. And because every dollar you can save is going to make you five to seven times more down the road. I didn't really understand that, you know, it's kind of weird, like, there's discretionary things you can do and running the business that you can avoid. But that's a weird thing that I learned going through that.

Joe Troyer 5:54
Yeah, man. That's so awesome. So let's talk about let's shift gears a little bit and talk about GreenPal. You talked about kind of how you how you got started in that transition from, you know, owning the lawn care business itself and selling it then obviously becoming, you know, kind of the Uber, if you will, of lawn care, I'm curious to dive in a little bit more like what inspired you really to go in that direction, like, you know, you had the lawncare background, you had a you know, successful exit, and you're gonna stay in this space, but now you're going to, you know, really go after software. What were your intentions behind that? And what inspired you?

Bryan Clayton 6:33
Yeah, it was a, it was a few things happening at the same time. One is, if you're doing business, right, small business, tech, business, big business, you as the founder, should be evolving as a whole new person every two or three years, because you're learning new skills, you're you're growing, you're leveling up, you know, business requires you to learn things like management, leadership, basic accounting, and, you know, strategy, all you know, good copywriting, all of these things, you have to learn and, and you grow, and you level up along the way. Man, that was certainly the case, my first business every two or three years, you know, now I've got five employees. Now I got 10. Now I got 50. You know, now I have to learn how to become a leader. And I've realized I've been doing it wrong. And so I guess in the, in the back of my mind, that was fun. I enjoyed that. I didn't know it at the time. But, but that was one of the rewarding like parts of the journey. And after I sold it that was now gone. I didn't have this forcing function in my life that was causing me to level up, you know, causing me to read books causing me to listen to podcasts causing me to do things to enrich my life. And I Yeah, sure, I was doing investing and stuff, but it really wasn't the same. And and so I realized that about myself that I needed to get another project going of some sort, the opportunity was obvious, I was solving my own problem, I realized, you know, 15 years in the business, how inefficient it runs and how, how running a lawn care business actually sucks. And now it needs you they need help that to run more efficiently. Conversely, on the other side, hiring and doing business with small lawn care providers is tough. And so the opportunity I saw was there, I figured somebody was going to do it. So it was those two things. And the third thing, it really was naivete, you know, watch the social network. You know, Mark Zuckerberg builds Facebook into a global phenomenon. And like all of the all of the hard part about building a tech business in the movies, or building any business in the movies, like all of the hard part is set to like, like a, like a musical montage, like that part is kind of glossed over. And so so that I was seduced into starting a tech business, because I know how hard it was going to be I literally thought this, here's what I thought. And this is important for people to hear. I spent 15 years running a landscaping business with 150 employees at the peak and, and that was like organized chaos every day. And it was, and it was like pulling my hair out just trying to keep that thing going. And I thought man, that was hard. I don't want to do anything that hard ever again. You know what, I want another business but I don't want anything that hard. I want to start a tech business because that'll be easier. And boy, I didn't know what I didn't know it's actually 10 times harder. 10 times more complicated and and so that naivete is what is what got me into it. Wanting the challenge wanting to grow and seeing the opportunity. Love it.

Joe Troyer 9:29
Love it. Love it. Can you share some of the kind of key challenges that you faced in the early days? And how you overcame them?

Bryan Clayton 9:37
Yeah, a couple of things. One, most people don't know this when they're starting a technology business. I sure didn't. You know, you go you can go start any kind of business, dry cleaner restaurant construction company, carpet cleaning service, what it marketing agency, whatever. It's hard, right? Small business is hard. Okay, let's Set that aside, you starting a tech company, most of the time, nine times out of 10, you're inventing a brand new product from scratch that does not exist in the world, you don't know it until you get into the trenches of doing that. That's actually 10 times harder than that dry cleaning business, that restaurant was as hard as those are starting a new product from scratch with no roadmap. Customers don't know it exists. They don't know how to, they don't know how to use it, they don't know how to interact with it. It's, it's, it's a lot harder. And so that was the first thing that I was confronted with, like, man, we're just gonna have to like brute force, and will this thing into existence through trial and error, and going from like, failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm until we figure out what works. That was that was surprising. And the second thing is, we just because we were in the technology business, and we were making it easier to order a lawn mowing service and making it easier to run a lawn mowing service, didn't mean that we weren't still in the lawn mowing business. Like we, you know, all the reasons why it sucks to run a lawn care business and all the reasons why it sucks to hire grass cutting service, we're now our problem. And and, and so I didn't really index that very well, I didn't really understand that very well. And, and so and so we had to, like, confront that and understand that, okay, now, these are our problems, and our app has to solve them. And we're just gonna go go through them one at a time, very slowly, until we build something that helps people.

Joe Troyer 11:34
That's awesome. So in, in a marketplace, you have like the chicken or the egg, right? You have like, do I go get the lawncare people first? Do I go get the customers first? And it can be very hard to obviously challenge the two. Can you talk a little bit about your experience there and how you solved it. Any advice for anybody listening that might be in a similar situation?

Bryan Clayton 11:57
Yeah, it's it's one that's glossed over a lot. And it's a really hard challenge is a really hard problem to solve in any marketplace. And I think every marketplace is going to be a little different. But most marketplaces are our buy side, consumer side constrained, meaning that it's harder to get the side on, that's paying money than it is the side that's making money. Not all marketplaces are like that. But most are and ours are just like that. So. So the way we kind of saw that and understood this in early days is we would just kind of ping pong back and forth, incrementally in every market. So not only do you have to get buyers and sellers, but there's a third dimension, you have to do it in every single town. And I don't mean Nashville, Tennessee, I mean, the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee, like you got to get that granular. And, and so so we had to learn how to do that develop that playbook. And you know, in the early days, it was very much, you know, hand to hand combat, you know, the first 500 service providers had my cell number, I would pitch them. Here's how it went down, like, Hey, I've got this crappy app that we've cobbled together. I just sold a landscaping company. And then they actually knew who I was because because because it doesn't happen very often. So anybody within 100 mile radius in Nashville, where we started, I was kind of a little bit of a known commodity in the landscaping business. And I was able to leverage that and call these folks on the phone and say, Hey, I'm starting this new thing. Would you use it, you know, it's free to use just pay a small transactional fee and and use it alongside me as I build it out? And answer customers inquiries bid property show up when you're supposed to. So we kind of hand cranked the supply side and in exchange for that service provider, I will give you free coaching on how to run a lawn care business. And so that was a way to kind of like table the lawn care side and then focus on the consumer side, how do we acquire these folks? The first 1000 We acquired is by passing out flyers and then we then we started like developing our marketing strategy around around organic search and and really doubling down on that and and so it was it was a it was a iterative process going back and forth back and forth. And now and you know over a decade we've kind of learned how to do it not at Super scale but where we are nationwide United States and and we have 300,000 people using it now and our goal was to get to a million

Joe Troyer 14:33
Wow. So I can assume on the marketing side like you guys got to be able to like drive repeat transactions or there's no way to really grow sustainably and really scale on the marketing and keep you know your your your lawn care companies happy is that right? That's right. We

Bryan Clayton 14:51
live and die by people using it and continuing to use it because because this is luckily there's a lot A challenging things about this space. It's seasonal. It's highly fragmented, it's very competitive, consumers are very price sensitive. But it is something that always has to be done. And it's never gone away, and AI can't make it disappear. And it's just always going to be there. So there's a lot of good things about it. And that's one of them is that, yes, once we once so once a consumer experiences wow, I can just push a button and get this done. They don't want to do it the old way, they don't want to go back to wrangling the lawn guy calling around leaving voicemails. Once a lawn care business discovers, oh, man, I can just get all the business I want, I have to pass out flyers. And I can get paid the same day, I don't have to like mail out invoices or, or hassle people for my money. And so, so solving those problems and making it to where it's, it's 10 times better to do business on our platform, versus the old way is how we keep people in.

Joe Troyer 15:56
Yeah, yeah, man, that's awesome. So a lot of people that listen to the show are digital marketers, whether they're freelancing, whether they you know, work for somebody full time, and they're helping them with marketing, or they run, you know, a full blown agency, or they, they want to start a business, but you know, we've given them some skills around digital marketing, they know how to make the phone ring. They've worked with local businesses, and, you know, for those of them that would like to move to a model potentially like yours, where you're where, you know, you kind of you got the marketplace instead of charging every month for services or leads, what would your advice be to them on maybe how to approach it or any just, you know, advice being there, done that so to speak?

Bryan Clayton 16:40
Well, so there's a reason why like, you know, what's, what's Kim Kardashian? Or what's the what's the what's the boxer YouTube? McGregor the other guy that this famous on YouTube that does the energy drink and and as a boxer, I can't remember his name. But Logan Paul. Yeah, there's a reason why reason why guys like Logan, Paul, you know, Kim Kardashian and others like that can just show up and seemingly make $100 million in the energy drink business, or Mr. Beast can just literally show up and have a $500 million burger or franchise. And you're like, Damn, how they do that? I mean, if people spend the generations of their, like multiple generations in the in the fast food business can't do that. And how do they do that? Well, because they have the distribution. And the and it goes back to our earlier point, the distribution is the hardest part, if you've got to distribute this, the distribution and the brand behind that, you can, you can almost bet you can be successful More times than not at new new ventures. So if to your point, you've you've got a digital marketing business, you're good at marketing, you know, you know how to drive traffic, and not just in like attorney way, but you know, how to get the phone ring and care? Can you combine a product or service or marketplace or platform with that? And and I think I think that's that's a good strategy. I do, because I think that's where the real value capture happens. Is the business associated with that? Maybe you're tired of making other people rich? But but the problem is, is is is how do you go about it in an authentic way? How do you how do you because you're not Logan, Paul, you know, how do you go about it in an authentic way, where it is a space that you know, something about, you have what's called, What navall Ravi Kant calls. He calls it specific knowledge. And so specific knowledge is, is is something almost like a secret that you know, that nobody else knows. It's, it's like the culmination of your experience into this one thing. So it's like, Hey, I'm a marketer. I also know the janitorial business very well. I also know, Search Engine Marketing very well. And I also know like, the, like, like, how to be a good copywriter, and I, I'm not 99% good at all these things. But guess what I'm, I'm like, halfway there. And it's better to be like 30 40% there in five things than it is to be 100%. And one thing, and the and the combination of those things, makes you deadly at one thing, so. So if you could take the marketing, take the copywriting and combine that with specific knowledge about something else. I think that's a winner. 100% Yeah, completely agree. All right. So

Joe Troyer 19:41
let's talk about bootstrapping a little bit. You know, our show's producer Eduardo said that he did some research and found that like, you're known as an expert when it comes to really bootstrapping and getting to profitability, and kind of that phase. I'd love if you'd share kind of the 8020 of you know some specific strategies or tactics that the listeners can implement in the early days right to get the most out of, you know, limited resources and that bootstrapping face. Yeah, I

Bryan Clayton 20:12
don't know, if I'm an expert, or if I'm just like a cockroach, you can't kill me. You know, it's like, it's like, I think in the early days, especially, you need to be a cockroach where you just can't be killed. And I think a lot of that comes down to love this quote by Mark Cuban, he says the great the least you can live on, the greater your options. And what most people don't realize, especially folks coming from corporate America, to start a business is like, your personal burn, what it cost you to run your household is the business's burn. Like, it's like, no, no, no, no, no, I just need 110 grand are to survive every year. That's diff as a separate note, that is the business expense. So you need to take personal inventory of what it costs you to survive, you know, and if you're young, maybe get a roommate, you know, if you know, clean up all of that debt, first, you know, trade in the car, you know, all these eight, all these Dave Ramsey type things, claim that up, come to the starting block startup business, your lean your mean, you can live on 3000 a month, now you're ready. So that's step one of bootstrapping your business, it's like you got to you got to get lean and me you got to be able to live on like a food budget, like literally because Because guess what, every dollar you can save personally, you can then roll back into the business. And in the early days, we did all kinds of stuff, we, I didn't take a check a paycheck for like the first four years, I didn't have to have one. So that was helpful. So I had like a little small win, you know, I had I got a, I had a single or double under my belt. So that enabled me to, to not have to like depend on GreenPal to survive the first couple of years when we figured it out. My two co founders work day jobs and nights and weekends on this thing for like three years. And then when they finally got the courage to quit, I think it was year two or three, and go full time on the on the project. I mean, this actually happened, we realized that at the time, you could drive for Uber, and make about 40 or 50 bucks an hour. So one, so my, my one co founder couldn't figure out how to code but I learned how to code and my other co founder did, but he just couldn't pick it up. I'm like, bro, you got to help us code this thing, man. He's like, You know what, dude, I can't do it. I can't do it. But I'll tell you what I can do I go drive for Uber make $50 an hour. And we can buy developer hours for like 45 or $50 an hour. And I'll just do that for however long it takes. And actually, we did that for a year. So so so these things, you know, and I'm not saying everybody has to like get that crazy with it. But but these are the types of things you got to be willing to do to bootstrap a business. But man now here we are, you're 10 or 11. We're doing we're doing multiple, eight figures a year in revenue. And there's three line items on the cap table. It's me and my two co founders. And that's a really good place to be if you can stick it out.

Joe Troyer 23:09
100% That's amazing. Is that gross revenue, by the way, like for all the lawn cares, or is that your cut?

Bryan Clayton 23:15
Yeah, that's so we're doing a little over $30 million dollars year through the revenue, and that is G what's called GMV gross market value. And so we take a percentage of that based on how much the the lawn care services is doing through the platform.

Joe Troyer 23:28
Okay, and like you don't have to say specific but roughly, what is that transaction fee?

Bryan Clayton 23:34
It's it's two, it starts at 10%. It can go up to 20%.

Joe Troyer 23:38
Okay, great. So that kind of leads really well into the next question that I wanted to talk to you about, like, so you're out there marketing, you're bootstrapping you, you said that you were doing flyers and some things like that to start, but like, how do you scale when you're getting that small transaction fee? Right? As as your you know, as as your total revenue, versus the rest of the players in the marketplace are getting all that revenue and, you know, probably have a much larger profit margin than you do. So, you know, you're stacked against these people that I would assume, because you're a marketplace or making three, four or five times or more per customer than you are how do you compete with them? Right? How do you as a as a bootstrap, bootstrap startup? How do you go against people making that much more money per customer than you?

Bryan Clayton 24:32
Yeah, you know, making all the margin versus our small cut? Yeah, you know, from the outside looking in. It does look challenging, but the reality is, is the margins in in any service business are already really really really thin. So So these guys and gals have all kinds of costs, like you wouldn't realize it but these commercial mowers that you see are like $20,000 for just a lawn mower and it goes down in value by Like 30% Every year, so, so that piece of it is tough. You know, gas is tough labor is expensive. So it's not like they're running like 50%, gross, gross margins. And so and so there's that. And then the other thing is we, we have to figure out like, since day one, how do we make it to where they can make more money on our platform than they can? off the platform? And so So how do we do that? Well, we figure out, Okay, how many customers do you have in this zip code, and let's match you with more customers that are on the same streets. So you don't have to waste time driving all over town, cuz you're not getting paid for that ride time, and you're in your way of burning fuel. So that's one way is it like, kind of like Uber in a sense that they unlock efficiency, versus the traditional cab companies, you know, that that, that is a great example that we try to follow of how do we unlock efficiency in the lawn care business, save these guys and gals from riding around all over town, all over town, wasting money wasting time. And so that's one way is is to make it more efficient. And then the next thing is, is to land and expand. So lawn mowing is kind of like the gateway drug. It's like you need this, you need this weekly service. Everybody needs it. But guess what, after you've experienced the Amazon like way to get this done, maybe you need some gutter cleaning, maybe you need pressure washing, maybe you need shrubbery, maybe you need mulching, maybe you need shrub removals, it's all these things to get you from spending $1,000 a year to three or $4,000 a year so and that increases more more revenue and more margin for the service provider. And so it really is like a like, it really is a partnership. We're not competing with them on price, per se. And one thing that we we learned in the early days, I thought that our value proposition was going to be the cheapest lawn care service. And all of our ad copy was around the cheapest way to get the grass cut, save $10 on your lawn mowing, you know, check prices on your current provider. And nobody gave a crap about that. What they actually cared about was, is the guy going to show up on the day he supposed to? If I hire Joe's lawn care on Thursday, is he gonna be there on Thursday or at least Friday? And is he going to return my call like that? Dude, like, I spent 15 years in the business. And I didn't know that until we started testing and understanding how this works. And it's actually reliability, people will pay the market price, they don't really care to save, you know, $35 versus $31 If the guy will show up when he's supposed to and do a good job. So that's the problem we really solve. I love that.

Joe Troyer 27:41
That's so awesome. Because oftentimes as marketers, right, it's like, you know, if you if you're a marketer, you think that way, it's just a price to bottom right? And it's like, you know, that the the way I thought yourself out of the market, and that's not really necessary. So I love that. That's, that's great advice. We all need to hear it I think way more often. So I'm curious between you know, your lawn care business and then GreenPal. You know, what marketing has worked for you. You mentioned a couple of things just through the interview, you know, you dropped flyers, and you talked about SEO. But can you break down a little bit more? Kind of the the main channels for you guys?

Bryan Clayton 28:16
Yeah, I think every business has to achieve product market fit. So that's like the product people want it. People are buying it, they keep buying it. And then there's there's product channel fit, meaning that like the channel matches the business, and you really, you know, most businesses most founders, most entrepreneurs are good at one maybe two channels. I think what hangs up a lot of founders is trying to be good at everything, you know, what's my tic tock strategy when you don't have a you don't have a product that needs to be on tick tock and so that's how I've experienced it now 23 years running, running two different businesses. In my first business it was very much sales team driven it was probably a year five I realized I'm in the sales business. I'm not in the landscaping business. I'm in the sales business. And now I need to recruit really good salespeople and train them on my sales system. How do they prospect how do they pitch us how do they close you know, and then transitioning that to an account manager and that process was one that I had to build from the inside out for my little my little landscaping business and and learn how to build it and then starting GreenPal I learned really quick and we ain't in the you know, we're selling a $27 lawn mowing here we're not in the in the sales team business. Matter of fact, it has to be as self serve as possible. You know, if we have to talk to a customer more than once every couple years, we lose money. And and so and so that's a very different ballgame. You can't use the same playbook. And so we we tested everything Google AdWords, Facebook ads, Twitter ads, I mean, every kind of paid channel you could traditional offline stuff. We even bought a billboard once and just tried to like tennis and then invest try to like just figure out what was working and what wasn't? And the only thing we could get ROI on was just organic traffic? How do we let people know about these lawn care services that are in their neighborhood that they don't know about? And how do we write good content about them? How do we get that content to rank and is being there when somebody's looking for a lawn care service in Lincoln, Nebraska. And man, like, that's still how we get over half our customers, you know, the other half is word of mouth, and then like a sprinkling of a bunch of other things. And we still still to this day test out of stuff just for the hell of it. But what organic search is, is what we have bet the company on now. But the challenge is, it's a two to three year kind of like leap of faith, but But it worked out for us.

Joe Troyer 30:40
That's awesome. Yeah, I love I love that SEO is like one of my favorite channels. You know, definitely, you know, we invest a ton in that ourselves and our own marketing, and then our clients marketing, and so do so many of our clients. So definitely love that. So man, this has been a fantastic, fantastic interview, I think, lots of major AWS for our crowd, I just want to say thank you for coming on. I do want to wrap it up, be respectful of your time and the audience's time. So I like to do a little bit something different at the end of our show, I always ask my, my guest to recommend like the one book, if you think about your business, personal business, you think about the one book that made the biggest impact on the way you live your life, the way you see life. You know, what would that book be? And why?

Bryan Clayton 31:33
I'll give you two because I'll give you one personal and 111 business. So it's on a personal level Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Dr. Stephen Covey, man that's like the Holy Bible of personal development and how to live an effective life. And then on a business level. This is a recent one. So I have I have some recency bias. But the cold start problem by Andrew Chen is a really good tactical book. How these guys? Well, Andrew Chen used to be a growth lead at Uber, but how they, he does case studies about different marketplaces, how they kicked off the flywheel getting getting the marketplace going and talks about everything from like, Tinder to Uber to Airbnb to Upwork. And so it's a really good book.

Joe Troyer 32:15
That's awesome. Obviously, the first one old faithful, I feel like everybody knows it has read it probably but great recommendation, but the second one actually happened. I haven't been able to read I first time hearing of it. So thank you all definitely, you know, get that on my audible and add it to the reading list.

Bryan Clayton 32:32
This is a great audible read. I think he reads it personally. So yeah. Awesome, man.

Joe Troyer 32:36
Well, thank you again, Bryan. This has been amazing. We appreciate you coming on the show. And we'll have to have you back in the future.

Bryan Clayton 32:42
Awesome. Joe. I'll be back. Oh, when we hit 100 million a year I'll come back and we'll celebrate

Joe Troyer 32:46
There we go. Let's do it brother. Alright guys, I hope you guys enjoyed this episode. Go follow Bryan. We'll link him up in the show notes. Go connect with him and and give them some love. Obviously we appreciate him coming on the show. We'll see you guys next time. Thanks for tuning in to show me even if you've been enjoying the podcast and find our content helpful, please visit our apple podcast page. Hit the subscribe button and leave us a review. Join the whole team working hard to bring more value to the show. were things that will go a long way in helping us to better reach a wider audience.


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