1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Inherited a legitimate, 20 year old business...what to do?

Discussion in 'BlackHat Lounge' started by lehpet, Nov 7, 2010.

  1. lehpet

    lehpet Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2009
    Messages:
    94
    Likes Received:
    431
    Location:
    Spaceland
    Home Page:
    Hello Blackhatters!

    It's been a while since I've been an active part of the BHW community. Missed you guys! In that time some CRAZY stuff has happened.

    Long story short, I've been given a small, long-standing, natural cleaning products business to run due to a completely unexpected inheritance. The products, labeling, manufacturing etc. are all in place and the cleaners are high quality. This company used to supply all of the cleaning products for Yosemite National Park, Sony Studios, several wildlife preseves, and several other notable parks and cities. Due to neglect, they only have one BIG name city client now in California.

    I'm wondering...if you were in my shoes, what would be your first step to getting this company back on track?

    I'm redoing their TERRIBLE BEYOND BELIEF website right now and adding correct metatags etc. I know a bit about SEO but, I think it would be better to hire a firm or induvidual from BHW. Obviously, since this is a legit business, the SEO has to be mostly white hat with possibly a liittle grey hat thrown in.

    I know there is a lot of competition in this field these days but, the MAJOR advantage with this company is that their products are TRULY "green" in every possible way. The hard core greenies are our target market. A lot of other so called "eco-friendly" products either have questionable ingredients, use non-biodegradable inks, or are owned by big conglomerants like Clorox (Green Works) and SC Johnson (Mrs. Meyer's and Method). I think 7th Generation has very high standards and is legit. I know it's late in the game, but I still think there's hope. Especially since this company was one of the first and used to have a big following before the person who was really running it passed away and everone dropped the ball.

    Also, they are already approved on bidding lists to sell to a ton of national parks and cities. Apparently this is hard to do. The issue is actually calling the cities and closing the sales. Selling to schools, parks, cities, prisons, and any other major institutions would be our other target (and HIGHLY LUCRATIVE since the profit margin reports I've read are very encouraging) market.

    Any ideas would be greatly appreciated as I really don't want to **** this up. :eek:

    The company only has ONE employee currently, not counting me, so if you have some good marketing ideas or are a good sales person their might be a future job for you here!

    If you made it this far, thanks for listening to my ramblings! :eek:
     
  2. lewi

    lewi Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2008
    Messages:
    2,309
    Likes Received:
    818
    My first priority would be to get another client on board! One of an equal or bigger size than the current client so that if one pulls out the business does not fail!

    As soon as that is done you have at least some level of security with the business.

    Regarding the seo if you want you can send me the keyword(s) you want to target and i can give you a one off fee (only for low competition keywords) or an idea on what needs to be done and a reccomended monthly fee to get things moving as quickly as possible and bring those sales in.

    Lewi
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  3. CO-flow

    CO-flow Junior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2010
    Messages:
    104
    Likes Received:
    21
    Location:
    swerveswervn
    sounds like a colorado based company...gotta job opening? :D
     
  4. seobizwiz

    seobizwiz Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2010
    Messages:
    183
    Likes Received:
    37
    Occupation:
    Self
    Location:
    California
    I am new here but, have over 500 business I market for. My staff of 15 is in southern california, and we deal with businesses big and small. It all depends on how much money you want to spend month. Come up with a marketing budget you can live with, target some key words you want to rank for, and your off to the races. PM if you want me to take a look a your site and goals
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  5. Fwiffo

    Fwiffo Power Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2010
    Messages:
    562
    Likes Received:
    325
    Occupation:
    Starship Captain
    Location:
    Pluto / Spathiwa
    here's what I'd suggest:

    1) retrench

    as long as you're cash flow positive, you don't need to move at the speed of light.

    get into the business, understand how it's working (cash in, cash out, A/R, A/P)

    get hands on

    tell your one employee that the success of the business depends on them, but you have to learn it as well. Treat them like gold

    understand what's going on before tweaking it knee-jerk

    2) renew

    if you product has been out as long as it has, you don't want to rebrand. But you do want to get that image back together again

    get your content together, all the info about why your product has X ingreedients, why dye XYZ is better than dye ABC etc - all the crap so that when people go looking for the details they can find it.

    for where you are right now, people have a reason to look at what you're selling. Just make sure that when they do, they find the information they're looking for.

    3) sell & distribute

    if you're already on those lists you're miles ahead. Problem with selling it is that you need feet on the street (salespeople)

    you'll likely get a few answers here that say you need to focus on optimizing for keywords, seo, all that stuff however generally that's more effective if you're going to look for a general consumer market, not the larger enterprise market (don't ignore the consumer market, just might not be a priority for you right now) - generally enterprise level buyers don't go to google and put in "environmentally friendly cleaning products" when making a purchase decision.

    another thing to consider is to have your product put through a distributor - it takes a chunk off the profit, however that way you don't need to build up a sales force - they (in theory) do it for you. Instead of having 10 sales people driving all over the place, you can have 2 or 3 that just sell to the salespeople.

    Generally if you're going through a set of distributors, and your product is pre-approved to sell to muni / gov't, you're set - treat the salespeople at the distributors right, find ways to put direct bonuses into their pockets, and it's amazing what can be done

    - On enterprise level sales

    building a sales force is a big job. especially for enterprise level customers. Most schools / cities / etc. buy off an RFP (request for proposal), detailed response - they basically set a minimum standard, and then buy the cheapest product that meets that minimum standard.

    Often to do it right, you're spending 3-4 months pre-selling before the bid drops. Then it's usually a regular cash flow for 3-4 years.

    Trick to with RFPs is that generally the winner is the one that's able to influence the minimum standards that the buyers set. So for example, if your product doesn't have dye XYZ, the buyers need to think that that is part of their requirements - which often shuts out half your competition. The real work in those situations happens in the pre-sell - before the bid comes out.

    Best of luck. sound like you've got a great opportunity!
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 2
  6. theconfidenceman

    theconfidenceman Regular Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Messages:
    262
    Likes Received:
    57
    Location:
    New York
    Home Page:
    first id either hire a sales rep, sales team or get on the phones myself and work the clients that youve lost. if youre gonna hire a sales force steal sales reps from your competitors. give them a better compensation pkg to work for you. make it an offer they cant refuse.
    its ok to make a rediculous offer because your small print will have tons of conditions which they wont relize until after they got you all new clients.
    "what the big print sellith - the small print takit away"

    contact all your old clients and find out what you need to do to get them back. its possible the persons responsible for giving you the business have moved on to other companies or positions and if thats the case get their new emplyment info so you can call them at their new job and maybe get a new client out of it.

    the clowns that work for cities and parks and so forth are whores. theyll give you the business for a fruit basket and movie tickets. some might respond to a kick back. whatever it takes, do that. youre gonna bury the cost incentives in the profits anyway so be generous.

    id also look to squeeze more profit out of the existing base so you have some extra cash to work with for new sales reps and incentives. again, throw a fruit basket and candy to those bozos and they may buy all your inventory.

    I wouldnt put too much time and effort in the website, other than making it nice looking because the employees that need cleaning supplies dont go searching for companies on the net because they have enuf suppliers knocking on their doors, calling them and giving them free shit to earn their business.

    for leads id take the client list you had and expand on that by calling on the competitors and verticle industries of those clients.

    if youre low profit in the beggining due to cost of incentives and new employees. wait till youve got a decent client base again and fire the sales staff. then re hire new agressive sales reps at regular prices, preferably commission only.

    of course you can go white hat, dont steal sales reps, pay well and give folks a better paying than average job they will have forever. but who does that?
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  7. Satan Claus

    Satan Claus Regular Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    Messages:
    217
    Likes Received:
    193
    My first step would be to read up on company succession and go from there.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  8. altschule

    altschule Regular Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2010
    Messages:
    282
    Likes Received:
    185
    Location:
    Sector 9
    My best advice? Don't get crazy when you start making some coin. Learn financial management and invest in ASSETS!
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  9. lehpet

    lehpet Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2009
    Messages:
    94
    Likes Received:
    431
    Location:
    Spaceland
    Home Page:
    Thank you so much for the advice everyone! There were some unbelievably insightful and intelligent answers. I'll definitely be sending some PMs. :)

    A very basic outline of my strategy is to get the website decent looking, get soome SEO going, try to land some induvidual clients that way, and use those profits to cover a $20-25K a year BASE salary for a good sales person and figure out a commission structure from there. The company IS in profit (barely) but, just doing some basic tightening (for instance, the ONE employee uses the company credit card to buy ALL of his gas and lunch almost EVERY DAY and that's going to stop). Driving is not part if his job. There's really nothing he does that can't be easily outsourced for less. Most of his job is mixing product and we have manuals for that. Actually, he may have contributed to the loss of high profile clientele. He didn't help anyway.


    I'll keep you all posted. It really could be the opportunity of a lifetime!

    Again...

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    :flowers:

    P.S. I'm a girl so that's not gay....unless one of you is a girl too...lol...

    P.P.S Can flash sites be optimized? I know they used to not be able to be but, have things changed? Most big name sites have flash it seems.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2010
  10. lehpet

    lehpet Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2009
    Messages:
    94
    Likes Received:
    431
    Location:
    Spaceland
    Home Page:
    If anyone has time to give me a little feedback about the website that would be awesome too. It's FAR from complete. I'm not so much concerned about what you think about the aesthetics because design is incredibly subjective. I really want to know how you guys rate "userabilty." If you were Joe Blow Average and looking for some natural cleaning products because your wife is pregnant and the website was ranked on page 1 of Google for "natural cleaning product" could you navigate the site and find what you want--information, how to order, what products we have etc.?

    WEBSITE LINK <---

    You may especially like the "Mission" page...lol!!!
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2010
  11. lewi

    lewi Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2008
    Messages:
    2,309
    Likes Received:
    818
    One small point about firing or changing this persons job description etc who uses the company credit card for gas is you need to make sure you fully understand what their job is first!

    Don't go in all guns blazing as people will get scared and run before you can walk.

    Lewi
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  12. Fwiffo

    Fwiffo Power Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2010
    Messages:
    562
    Likes Received:
    325
    Occupation:
    Starship Captain
    Location:
    Pluto / Spathiwa
    +1

    if you have just one employee, think of those expenses (at the moment) as part of their compensation - learn what they do first, then you can change things around - they quit and then for some reason you can't deliver product to your one important customer, there's a chance your one contract gets canceled - then you're hooped!
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  13. Paranoid Android

    Paranoid Android Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
    Messages:
    1,459
    Likes Received:
    2,221
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Pantie Thief
    Location:
    Native America
    sell the business and invest the money in doing what you are good at. but if you think you can handle that business well, by all means, continue
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  14. Satan Claus

    Satan Claus Regular Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    Messages:
    217
    Likes Received:
    193
    Regarding the website, detect wether or not the client supports flash. Serve HTML if they don't, serve Flash if they do.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  15. Chronos

    Chronos Junior Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    294
    Make the other person a business partner. Like you 70/ them 30.

    I'm not kidding. There success will be your business' success.

    If you don't, they'll still make $xx,xxx a year, whether you're profitable or not. They couldn't give 2 shits if you went out of business because they would just go on and collect 400$ a week for the next 2 years from the federal government.

    But dude, I've been going to school for a few years on business management and help run a small firm that works with small businesses such as Credit Unions, [small] manufacturers, and professional services. Let me know if you need any reorginaztion help.

    Probono of course.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1