“Who the hell is Mike/Kenny/Andrew/Greg?”
We’ve done a
bad horrible job of introducing our management team to our audience and customers. This is particularly bad as both buyers and sellers will more regularly connect with them over Joe and I in the course of doing business.
We’re changing that today.
In this episode, we introduce the other members of our management team:
Mike Vranjkcovic – Sales (Key Accounts) and Investor Program
Kenny Nance – Portfolio Manager, Investor Program
Andrew Bradshaw – Listings Manager, Customer Support
Greg Elfrink – Content Manager
Mike Swigunski – Marketing/Sales Liason
This round table discussion covers several topics:
This “inside baseball” round table discussion was recorded to give you a better idea as to the focus and team behind our brand.
If you’ve been following us for quite some time, are currently looking to buy/sell with us, or plan to work with us in the near future, this episode is for you!
Direct Download – Right Click, Save As
“Sellers need to keep running their business through the sale.” – Joe – Tweet This!
“Making sure that all listings are promoted is our priority.” – Justin – Tweet This!
Have you found a way to own your market? Anything you’d like to share? Let us know below!
Justin: Welcome to the Empire Podcast, episode 154. Just a quick note before the show starts, we’ll be doing things a little bit differently today. In this episode we’re gonna have a round table discussion with our management team at Empire Flippers to talk about their roles in our company, the types of sites they would prefer to buy and sell and the ways in which Empire Flippers could be improved. Hope you dig the show. You can find the show notes and all these discussion episodes at EmpireFlippers.com/roundtable. Alright, let’s do this.
Announcer: Sick of listening to entrepreneurial advice from guys with day jobs? Want to hear about the real successes and failures that come with building an online empire? You are not alone. From San Diego to Tokyo, New York to Bangkok, join thousands of entrepreneurs and investors who are prioritizing wealth and personal freedom over the oppression of an office cubicle. Check out the Empire Podcast. And now your hosts, Justin and Joe.
Justin: Finally, Joe, you’re getting the show you’ve been harping on me about for a while now, we are introducing the team.
Joe: Yeah, buddy, I mean, you know, it’s funny, I just got back from a lunch meeting with somebody that was saying, “Who is Mike again?” This is gonna be a really good episode, especially for some of the guys that have been with us for a while and some of the new guys as well.
Justin: Well, now we’ve confused the issue too much but we now have Mike and Mike number two, so if we introduce both of them on the show, we wanted to introduce them to people because they’re likely to work with our podcast audience, any depositors, with have buyers and sellers that are going through the process, the post-migration process, all of these things, they’re working with various members of our management team and introducing them so they can kind of get a feel for who does what and what they’re all about at our company. I thought it would be helpful and interesting to our audience.
We ask four questions in this episodes of everybody. What is your role, what types of sites would you or do you like to see, what type of sites do you like to work with, what types of sites would you buy personally if you were putting together your own portfolio and then what things we could do to improve at Empire Flippers, where do they see holes or gaps in what we do and how can we provide better value for our customers, and we’ve got some really interesting responses, I’m really excited to share some of those.
Joe: Yeah, I love that last question about improving Empire Flippers. It’s interesting to put your employees on the spot, on the recording and say, you know, “What could you do if you were the boss?”
Justin: Yeah, we’ve got Mike [Veigh 00:02:23] has been with us for quite a while now, we’ve got the new Mike, we’ve got the new Greg, I think the two new guys, Mike and Greg, they’re brand new to our company, they joined us in [Saigon 00:02:33] in April and some they’ve only been with us about a month before we recorded this, so it’s interesting to hear from a third party perspective almost, someone who now knows a bit about our business but they can kind of see with fresh eyes and I think that’s helpful. And I’m gonna also introduce Kenny and Andrew, who’ve been on the team for a while now, we’re gonna go into their roles.
I should mention that these guys are not podcasters. Sometimes they do seller interviews, people or buyer interviews and they’re really nervous on the call, and you might notice that a bit from them, you’ll see that it kind of drops off for the middle and the end when we start kind of getting into things but give them a break, cut them a little bit of slack, they’re not podcasting every week all the time so this isn’t their specialty.
Joe: Yeah, they don’t have 154 episodes under their belts so I think we should make an exception here.
Justin: Alright, man, let’s talk about the featured listing of the week, Joe, what do you got for us, buddy?
Joe: We’re talking about listing 40476. This is a Amazon site and, Justin, you know how much I love Amazon sites. It’s an Amazon site in the home fixtures niche, it’s about a very common piece of bathroom equipment, it makes just south of $5500 net a month and we have it listed just past a $147,000. It’s a fairly passive type of site, it’s seeing regular increases in its net profit over the last months, it’s had some peaks and valleys as well but it’s been on a general incline and I think it’s great for someone who’s looking to round out their portfolio with an Amazon site or someone who’s looking to have some sort of income replacement, maybe not all of it but most of it through one particular large content site.
Justin: I’m in the sellers here too, they’ve sold some other good businesses with us in the past. If you’d like to listen to the seller interview, go to the show notes here, we’ve got a seller interview on the listing page, we’re gonna link to that in the show notes, you can take a listen to that and kind of hear how they built it, how they came to own and grow this site out. I think it’s really interesting, I think this one’s gonna go relatively quick, it’s got a nice, strong trajectory, it’s been doing really well and I think we’re gonna find a home for this one for sure.
Joe: Yeah, I mean I’d say the niche is not sexy, you know, home fixtures and whatnot but definitely something that is a great niche to be in and sort of the competition.
Justin: Alright, man, we paid the bills, let’s take right into the heart of this week’s episode.
Announcer: Now for the heart of this week’s episode.
Justin: We are really excited to share this special episode with you today. Joe has been on me about this, I was gonna say weeks or months but maybe over a year honestly. He’s been on me for over a year about getting our management team on the podcast. The problem is a lot of our customers or potential customers end up talking to the guys on our team, on our management team and they have no idea who they’re dealing with. It’s either Justin or Joe or who is this guy? And I figured it’d be better to actually have us on the podcast, have all of us on the podcast and go through a couple of questions, make some introductions, so people know who they’re dealing with.
Joe: Yeah, I thought the podcast has been such a great thing for us in being able to talk to customers. It helps so much when people hear our voice that it makes sense for everybody else to be on the call. So thanks for finally putting this together, Justin.
Justin: Well, when you hammer me enough about it, eventually it happens. Alright, man. Let’s do this. First let’s just go around the room, I’m actually in a room right now, we’re in Saigon, Vietnam, and every three to four months we get our entire management team together and we work and we do a whole bunch of work, we do a little bit of play, we do a little bit of partying but mostly it’s to get everyone together so they can work together and kind of for the new guys they can kind of understand our business model, where we’re coming from.
We’re here right now, all sitting around the table and we’re ready to do this. The first guy I wanna introduce is Mike. Mike, tell us a little bit more about what you do for our company and kind of what your role is here.
Mike: Hi, everyone. My name is Mike [Vincovich 00:06:27]. I’ve been with Empire Flippers for about two years. I’m heading up the new Passive Investor program, which we’ll look to expand later this year as you build more of your track records, and then I also manage key accounts at Empire Flippers so I help buyers match up specific sites on our market place that fit their criteria, and then I work with buyers and sellers to help them structure deals that are win-win for everybody.
Gregory: Hey, everyone. My name is Gregory [Alfrank 00:06:53], I’m the new content manager with Empire Flippers. I was hired about three weeks ago, flew out here to Vietnam from the Arctic of Alaska and I’m joining the heat, I’m planning on doing a lot more content for the blog and reaching out to new communities and getting our name out there.
Andrew Bradshaw: Hey, everyone. My name’s Andrew Bradshaw and I am the listings manager here at Empire Flippers. It’s my job to roll out the new listings and get new inventory on our marketplace as well as take care as some of the customer service issues that might be on the top tier.
Kenny: Hey, guys. My name is Kenny [Nets 00:07:26]. I’m the portfolio manager for the investor program. I’m in charge of running all of the investor program websites and helping to pick them. I’ve been with Empire Flippers for about one year now and loving every minute of it.
Michael S.: Hi, everyone. This is Michael [Suigonski 00:07:41], the new marketing sales coordinator. I was just hired on about three weeks ago, gonna be doing some back end automation for the CRM and marketing systems. I’m also going to be initiating a customer love program to start reward some of our customers that have been loyal to us.
Justin: Alright, so that’s it. I mean you got the team, you got Mike, you’ve got Greg or Andrew, you got Kenny, you got Mike number two, and you already know Joe and I, do you, so that’s pretty straightforward. It’s great to have you guys here by the way. The earliest person, the newest people, we’ve got two new guys that are three weeks here and then we’ve got Mike over here, he’s been with us several years now, so really love the team, but I wanna ask them some questions and get a feel for the types of customers they like to work with and the types of sites they like to deal with.
Joe: Yeah, I think this is gonna be the most interesting part of this podcast. We get to get a little inside baseball here and figure out what’s going on in the minds of our employees.
Justin: Alright, Mike, so tell me a little bit, you deal with sales a lot, you deal with the buyers and sellers, how you deal with our key accounts, you’re talking, you’re doing buyer/seller calls with people to help close the deals. What types of sites do you prefer to sell? We sell everything from small AdSense sites and Amazon sites up to full on ecommerce sites, SaaS businesses, information products. What types of sites do you like to help customers sell the most?
Mike: Sure, so one of my favorite types of sites to sell is simple Amazon affiliate WordPress sites. I think it’s a great site for new buyers, it’s something simple for people to wrap their head around, it’s a great starter site and it’s a good way to get started, so that’s why I like selling those the most.
Justin: Alright, now I’m gonna flip it a little bit. If you were buying sites, now it’s Mike Inc., it’s your own company, you’re doing your own business, you have to build out a portfolio or one site, like what type of site would you look to purchase for your own business?
Mike: I would say on this one, without a question, it would be an Amazon FBA business, Fulfilled by Amazon, and one of the reasons why I like these types of sites is because you don’t have to deal with some of the headaches of traditional ecommerce businesses. Typically you don’t touch the inventory at all, you don’t deal with the customer service, you don’t deal with the fulfillment however you still have your own private label brand. So I think it’s a great standalone site and even more so I think it’s a great site and part of a larger portfolio.
Justin: Yeah, I like the FBA business, it’s pretty capital-intensive but if someone’s already got them off the ground, they’ve already got them rolling, they put in the cash to get the cashflow going. They’ve already invested 10 grand, 20 grand, whatever it costs to kind of get it running and now you’re taking over a cash cow. What do you think, Greg? What about you, man? You’re pretty new around here but tell me a little bit about the types of sites you think are interesting to sell and then also if you were building out your own portfolio, what types of sites do you look for?
Gregory: Yeah, so my answer’s actually pretty similar to Mike. I think the most interesting sites to sell are actually content sites, especially bigger content sites that are monetized with AdSense or Amazon. I think it’s really cool with what AdSense is doing with the whole retargeting stuff. Now like sites that used to not be able to make really any money with AdSense are now suddenly very profitable AdSense sites, so I think that’s really cool.
As far as what sites I would buy personally, it’s pretty much the same thing. I would look for a very large content site that is primarily monetized through Amazon and I would see what is selling and I would prefer it would be some kind of product on Amazon that I could turn into an FBA and the reason why I like content sites is because they have a lot of opportunity to grow into other areas.
Justin: Not terribly surprising coming from the content manager that he’s looking for a content site. Kind of makes sense to me. I get it though. I really like the Amazon Affiliate FBA model, I think that is really interesting, so you take a combination of those, like look for your affiliate site and look for Mike’s FBA business and you might have quite a match, and it’s a business you can really expand too. Alright, Andrew, you’re up, buddy. What types of sites do you like to help people sell and what type of sites would you be looking to purchase? I mean you deal with a lot of our vetting, so you see all the sites. Every site that comes to our marketplace you’re dealing with as well as the rest of our team so I’m really interested to hear what you think.
Andrew Bradshaw: Yeah, being in charge of the vetting process I do oversee pretty much every single site that comes onto our marketplace and I have to say, seeing every type of business that is out there, I really don’t have a favorite. They’re all good depending on who you are. If you wanna have more of a lifestyle where you wanna work 5, 10 hours a week, you can run an ecommerce business that can have things coming in and out, such as inventory and do the day to day activities that are needed to run a business, but if you’re looking to build a portfolio, you cannot go wrong with a nice Amazon site, very hands-off, passive but really the most important thing, you know, I’m gonna come back over here to the whole content thing is I just like good quality sites, it’s all about just putting out a good business, a good site and really it’ll just go from there and it sells itself, so for me I like them all but I just like a good content site, I’d have to agree with Greg over here.
Justin: Alright, I’m looking over at Kenny, he’s like shaking his head right now. So Kenny knows, he’s dealt with some Amazon sites before, probably not your favorite but I’m interested to hear kind of what sites you look for, what sites you are interested in buying.
Kenny: In terms of selling sites I think the best sale is definitely the Amazon and AdSense sites. Those seem to go really quickly every time they hit our marketplace but if I were gonna buy a business, I would look for something, maybe dropshipping, especially if it could be like private label, because I think that gives you a lot of options in terms of like you could run AdWords to it, you could sell it on Amazon FBA, you could run a Shopify store and never touch a product, especially if you have a great dropshipper who will do all the private labeling for you and ship out the product for you and handle customer service. I think it’s a really safe bet and not a lot of things can go wrong there.
Justin: So our team so far has been pretty heavy towards the AdSense, Amazon content-type sites. Kenny went in a different direction, what I think is interesting is with an AdSense-type site or Amazon site you’re on their platform, you’re playing someone else’s playground. They kick you out, it’s a bad thing, whereas with a dropshipping site, I mean it’s much more difficult, I mean yes, you still need rankings but you can also view paid traffic, you could have a social media presence and you can have a real brand, it’s not just kind of a review site, affiliate review site or something.
Alright, new Mike, Mike number two, what’s going on, buddy? What do you think? What types of sites do you like to see come across the marketplace, what interests you and then on the flip side what would you be looking to buy if you were building your own?
Michael S.: Yeah, one of the really cool things about working with Empire Flippers is seeing all the creative and unique businesses that people have crafted from the beginning and sort of built up over the years and it’s really great to see the true entrepreneurship, people who are living the dream and actually making that, their online business, become a reality. I would say some of my favorite sites that I’ve come across are these unique sort of niches where they found a really interesting product, they were able to just devote a whole website to it and make a really nice business model out of that.
I’m actually currently building some ecommerce sites so I’m interested in that and I really think there’s, you know, I’ve been building a site on the Shopify platform and I think there is a lot of opportunity there for new businesses to come in where you don’t have as much control issue like you do with an Amazon FBA.
Joe: Yeah, I think the interesting thing about ecommerce or dropship businesses is if you buy they, is you get that huge headstart where somebody’s already set up the suppliers, somebody’s already set up the Shopify store, I mean not that it’s difficult but that makes it a lot easier I think. From my perspective I think kind of businesses that I’d like to see more of, and we don’t see enough of honestly, are service-based businesses.
It seems a little bit more defensible. Do you remember when we sold that band logo site back in the day? It was a great little business and I think if we saw more of those kind of businesses where everything is pretty much outsourced and the buyer and the new owner doesn’t really need to do much ongoing because the employees are included. It’s a different type of setup but it can be very valuable.
Justin: Yeah, I’m really surprised we haven’t seen more of the service businesses for sale in 2016. I thought 2016 would be the year for that, like the product tie service businesses, we know a lot of people building those types of businesses right now, I figured some of them would come up for sale, maybe we’re a year or two early with that, maybe they’re still coming. What we have seen in 2016 are FBA business, people selling FBA businesses like crazy and buyers that are hungry for FBA businesses. This is the year in terms of buying and selling for FBA for sure.
What do you think, Joe? I understand like the ecommerce dropshipping idea, like it’s a physical product, something you have to touch, you’re delivering your customers, you’re not stuck on someone else’s platform but there are a lot more moving pieces. Like we’ve recently discussed in terms of selling sites, we don’t want a $12,000, $15,000 ecommerce business, where you gotta order the inventory, just ship it to you, you’re aware how, sort of, you know, like Shipwire or something like that, it’s just not really worth it, it’s not worth it from the buyer’s perspective, it’s not worth our time and vetting and trying to get that business together, the small ecommerce sites just aren’t worth it because they’re too small. The larger ones, okay, yeah, but there’s just too many moving pieces, where an Amazon site, we’re fine selling at $10,000, $12,000 Amazon site. What do you think, Joe?
Joe: Yeah, I think not only is there too many moving pieces with the smaller ecommerce or FBA businesses, but like you were saying before, just in the capital intensity and how much cash it ties up. That’s scary to me and it’s something, a risk that people should be aware of but if you’re willing to take that on, there’s definitely some benefits to it as well.
Justin: It’s funny to hear you say that because I’m thinking back to our business, right, and with the outsourcing company we were basically dumping money in AdSense, build the sites and kind of getting that brand up. In practice you actually, you do that, I mean you do take money from another business and dumping it into another, so we just see that a lot with our customers right now, guys, right? Where they’re selling one of their businesses, because they’re getting into FBA or they’re getting into some capital-intensive business or project and they needed the cash. That’s in terms of reasons for selling, that’s something that we hear from them a lot.
Another question I wanted to ask our team, it’s often that buyers or sellers, especially people that are brand new to our system, they don’t know how it works, they don’t know what the deal is or they have things completely wrong and we kind of have to explain and we have to educate them on our process or how things work at Empire Flippers.
I wanna go around the table and ask everyone kind of like what do buyers and sellers, or potential buyers and sellers get wrong about Empire Flippers? What do they not understand that they should probably understand? Let’s start off first with Mike. You deal with sales, so you deal with a lot of front end buyers and sellers. Tell me what do they either misunderstand or what do they get wrong early on in the process?
Mike: Sure, so one thing that I commonly get questions about, especially from new buyers is about the deposit process. It’s relatively easy to explain that the deposit is fully refundable for any reason or no reason at all. Another question that I oftentimes get a little bit later on in the process is about the migration and the transfer process. Oftentimes new buyers, especially if it’s their first time buying a business, will want to outline all the terms of everything that needs to be done for the transfer to be successfully completed.
With our process it’s a little bit different. We basically ensure that everything gets transferred over properly before the money is released to the seller. So those are the two main things that I see.
Justin: Yeah, the deposit process is a big one, it’s kind of a check for us, right, in dealing with customers. If they’re not willing to pay the deposit, we know they’re on board, and everyone who ultimately pays the deposit and kind of like figures out how we work are like, “Oh, okay, I get it now.” And the few that don’t, most people when we talk to them they do understand and ultimately it’s protecting buyers. It’s protecting the buyers. If someone has to pay a deposit before they see it, we’re not sharing with the thousands of people that are visiting our site then it’s gonna be more protected when they ultimately purchase it. Since most of our businesses sell, we’re not actually looking out for the seller, we’re protecting the buyers. Once that explain the buyers, they get it.
The migration process is interesting too. We actually handle the migration start to finish. We actually do that for buyers and sellers, and so yeah, trying to outline everything, have them, like the seller come up with it or the buyer try to write it out, I mean we do dozens, several dozen of these transactions per month, so we’re pretty used to transferring sites from a seller to buyer, it’s normally best if you let us handle it.
Alright, what do you think, Greg? You’re pretty new in the process, did you have any misunderstandings coming to Empire Flippers about what we do or is there anything that’s kind of cleared up that you think might be helpful for our listeners?
Gregory: Yeah, no real misunderstandings about what you guys did, I mean I was on your email list for quite a long time before I saw the job opportunity, because my original goal was to build a bunch of niche sites and sell it through you guys. As far as what I see on more like outside of our system, people who haven’t submitted a deposit or something like that, or are thinking about buying a site, common thing I see, there seems to be a disconnect online where people ask, “Well, why would anyone sell a profitable website? That doesn’t make any sense.”
But it’s a weird disconnect because it’s just like selling any other business. They don’t realize, oh, maybe the seller wants to move into new things or he just wants some capital to inject into a different project or maybe he’s retiring from the niche or he wants to, you know, just do something totally different. I think that’s a misconception, especially, you know, obviously new buyers that they have that kind of conception.
As far as sellers go, I think the thing that a lot of sellers miss out on not using a brokerage is that they don’t realize just how many things can go wrong during the process, especially the migration. I think that is like a huge, unique value proposition that we have over other brokerages and selling yourself for sure, though the last thing I would say about it is when a seller tries to sell their own site without a broker, they don’t really have any reach. It’s not like they have a blog that talks about buying and selling websites all the time, so they kind of have to just go through their peers and because of that they often get much lower prices, just because they can’t find the right buyer, they just don’t have the reach for it.
Justin: Yeah, so they might end up getting a lower valuation, they might sell for us, they might not sell at all, so it’s just a bigger risk. I think there are serious advantages to using broker and I’m not just saying that because we run a brokerage. I actually think there are advantages to using a broker. Andrew, so you deal mostly with sellers, you deal with seller submissions to us. Are there anything that you see in the listings or in the submissions that you wish more people knew upfront before they submitted their business?
Andrew Bradshaw: Yeah. I think there’s two fronts to this for me personally because I deal with the vetting and the migrations, I oversee both processes and once someone submits their site through the submission form, the next question we always get is, “What do I do now?” You think okay, I’ve submitted my form, I’ve submitted all this information, when’s my site gonna be up? And it’s like hold on a second, we got a week or two left to go through and vet everything, from top to bottom, find out who you are as a seller, find out about the numbers of your site, have you fill out a PNO, verify those numbers.
And then people think from the very start that after they submitted that that’s it but they’re not ready for a week or two of intensive vetting and I think that catches a lot of people off guard that they think once they submit their site that it’s over from there. It would be good for sellers to know going in that look, this is gonna be a week or two-week process, we try and cut it down to take as little time as possible but I think that the vetting process, once you submit your site, a lot of sellers should know that there are gonna be weeks to go to complete the whole process.
Justin: Yeah, I think that’s actually a good point for us, right? If our messaging might be a little off, maybe we should mention that more times. I know that a lot of times we say it takes two to four weeks for the vetting process, and it can take a little bit longer, two to three weeks is normally max but a lot of times we do get vettings done in like a week, a week and a half, depending on how quickly people get back to us but maybe that’s a messaging problem. We could be clearer I think with people beforehand, before they actually submit with us.
Alright, Kenny, you deal with the portfolio sites that we run as part of our investor program. You deal with the investors in terms of putting the numbers together for them and also running the sites. What do you think that some of our customers get wrong about what it is that we do here?
Kenny: One of the biggest things I see, I don’t deal with the customers a lot but I see a lot of pushback about the deposits. A lot of people think they’re gonna get scammed or something like this when if we were in the business of stealing deposits, I don’t think we’d be running for years and years now. The deposit process is really just to vet buyers, it’s to judge their seriousness about buying a business.
I’ve seen people claim to have hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions of dollars but they don’t wanna place a $2000, $3000 deposit, basically calling us scammers when it’s just clearly not the case.
Justin: Yeah, I like those. We don’t get that excuse that often but when we do, it’s funny because we have other people that come along are like either understand our process or even before they place a deposit, you could see them like working the wheels turning in their head, they get to the point where they’re like, “Well, if people are paying all these deposits and you’re keeping them, you probably wouldn’t be in business that long.” The fact that you’ve been around a long time, there’s lots of stuff about you guys online, that’s probably not your business model, is stealing deposits.
They generally calm down on their own, some people need a bit of help, like they’re on the phone with you, Joe, or whatever and you’re talking to them and they ask that question, what is your answer to that? How do you respond to that, from a new potential buyer says, “How do I know you’re just not gonna keep my deposit?”
Joe: Yeah, I mean definitely first you have to explain the reasoning why we have the deposit process and say the benefits of that over an LOI, that not only does it help protect the eventual buyer but it’s faster and because it’s a non-exclusive process it’s faster than an LOI, it helps us get to a deal quicker.
But in the end, if you’re paying by PayPal or credit card and you think we steal your money, just chargeback. I mean it’s that simple. We wouldn’t get our merchant account, our merchant account would get banned very, very quickly if we kept people’s deposits.
Justin: That’s a pretty good answer and we absolutely [inaudible 00:25:49]. I chargeback something on PayPal, it’s a pretty easy process on the buy side, they’re pretty friendly to people charging back on PayPal so yeah, I think that’s fair and ultimately the people that can’t get past that, they think no, there’s no way I’m sending you money that’s at risk that I may not get back, those are just customers we don’t do business with.
And there are very few that are legit, there are some that are real buyers that have real money that could really do business that just cannot get past our deposit process, and we lose those. So unfortunately we lose those but there’s also people that are scammers themselves that would never put money up because if they had the opportunity to get money upfront like that, they would take it, so good riddance. I’m fine with them going away.
Alright, Mike number two, Mike [Swiggy 00:26:32], what do you think about buyers and sellers? What do you think they get wrong about Empire Flippers or what do you think the disconnect is?
Michael S.: Yeah, getting away from the whole deposit process, I think we’ve kind of touched on that enough. I think when I first started hearing about Empire Flippers is just the passion around what Joe and Justin have created, the team that they formed here. I think that’s something that they do in the podcast and they’re able to share that but they really have built up something unique here and they’ve fine-tuned the process.
For new buyers and sellers, I think it’s really important for you guys to know that you’re in capable hands here. The whole team at Empire Flippers really do care about your website and we care about our customers.
Joe: That’s interesting to say, I think that’s a really good point that our passion comes through because we really do believe in what we’re doing here. One of the things that I think is to bring up is that sellers need to keep running their business. This is a big point. During vetting, during listing, during the sales process, the deal is not done until the money is in your account, so please continue to run your business as you normally would.
We see that so often, maybe not that often but maybe 1 in 10 of guys that have a good strong business and then fail to run it as normal during the listing process, we see huge runoff in revenue, we have to wind up delisting their site, it’s sad.
Justin: Yeah, it’s especially bad, you know, there are people that are just so done with their business that they just don’t wanna touch it anymore and they put it up for sale with us and it’s fine, it sells relatively quickly, because we can get that onto a new buyer, they can take over and they can continue running it. If it’s three months into the process and they haven’t been working on their business, it’s in this like decay mode and no one’s taking it over and no one’s giving it the love and attention it needs and it puts us in a bad position, sometimes we’ll have to remove the listing or just we’re not able to get the full sales price that we want.
And I think that’s a good point for sellers. If you get to the point where you’re either not that interested in the niche anymore or you have other projects you’re really focused on, sell early. Don’t wait until the last minute to be like, “I’m not touching this thing again” and then try to sell your business. I think that wouldn’t be so good. Oh, by the way, Mike, I loved the things you said about Empire Flippers and good thing we’re paying you to say that so I appreciate that.
Let’s talk a little bit about where we’re not so great, and the truth is we try to do everything we can for our customers, we do win-win deals, we’ve run a pretty tight ship in some areas, in other areas not so much. I think there are kind of some holes in the process and from your perspective, I’d love your guys’ perspective on kind of where we’re weak, where you think that Empire Flippers could improve so that we can work this, so the next time we get together at a round table and we’re all discussing the company and kind of the value we provide for customers, hopefully we can have some of those things improved.
Mike, you deal with sales. On the sales side, with investors, with key accounts, buyers and sellers, what do you think we could do on the Empire Flippers side to improve things?
Mike: For improving the sales process in general with some of the larger listings, they have more moving pieces so one of the ways we could get better is by having more a white glove handholding process throughout the entire process, both for buyers and sellers.
On another note, one thing that I’m really excited about over the next 12 months here is the investor program. I think there’s tons of opportunity here and I think if we can do this right, build up a longer track record and scale this out, there’s tons of opportunity.
Justin: Yeah, I agree with you, Mike. When we’re looking at some of the sites that we list, or the listing that we have, starting with Mike number two, the new Mike over here, about our email process. We’re saying in some of the emails, we say, “This website for sale” or, “This website’s here” and that’s just not applicable. I mean sometimes we’re selling apps, sometimes we’re selling businesses that don’t have a website.
There are a bunch of different types of businesses that we’re selling online right now and if we’re kind of, we all stick them in the same pipeline or we push them through the same process, it’s not realistic, and so, number one, we need to change our pipeline or our process to be more inclusive of the other types of business that we do, and number two, I think the white glove treatment for maybe larger accounts, which is what we’re trying to do with you, right, with the key accounts, but with the larger accounts, with the larger sites or the more complex businesses, if we can give them a better white glove treatment I think they’ll be better served and we’ll better sell those businesses.
Next up we got Greg, you’re relatively new but what do you think about what we could do to improve … I love bringing on new people to the team because they have new eyes and they have an outside perspective that they can give where we might be stuck inside the business and they’re coming from the outside looking in so it’s helpful. What do you think, Greg?
Gregory: Yeah, obviously being the content manager, the part that I’m hired for is also the part that I think we can improve on, is our content. I think, you know, our content is pretty good, I think there are other channels that we can more or less express our content, different communities, really build up our presence in different areas.
One thing I would really like us to do with the blog is kind of have different categories, like buyer and seller categories where they can see like an offer of resources for them. One of the things I wanna do is also build a bunch of different pieces of content that lays out kind of the basic premise of what each business model is, so a buyer can feel like, you know, if a buyer has no idea what is Amazon FBA, I keep hearing, “What is it?”, you know, they can come to that post and like, “Oh, okay, I understand it now and now this looks like an opportunity I might wanna get involved with.” I think the gaps are basically there, that’s what I consider that we can improve upon, is just more content offering.
Justin: Yeah, our blog used to be a more important part of our business but it’s kind of dropped off as our marketplace has been more front and center but I would like to bring our content back, I think it could be done, definitely, through written content but also through podcasts, all different types of content. And so I think it’s really gonna be helpful for us bringing you on board and to really look at that on daily basis and manage it. Alright, Andrew, what do you got? You’ve been with us for a while, our listings and vettings manager. Tell me what you think we could do at Empire Flippers to improve it. Maybe it’s things you could do and maybe it’s things that we could do but I’m open. This is your only chance by the way, beat us up a little bit. You get to dig into us a little bit here, what do you got?
Andrew Bradshaw: As much as I would like to beat you up and take my [inaudible 00:32:50], I’m actually gonna have to turn it around and put it on myself. On two fronts here, the vetting process and then the migration process. One thing we can absolutely improve in the vetting process, actually not so much the vetting process, it’s when they get listed, you know, some sites can stay on our marketplace for two, three, maybe even four months, five months, and they’re not getting so much love as some of our other listings, we don’t reach out to those sellers enough I think and it’s something that I’ve felt a lot of frustration from sellers, “Hey, why haven’t you updated me, what’s going on with my site, why isn’t it getting any love?”
And it’s something that we need to do better on is prop them up and give them updates and sort of put their site up there somehow to maybe be front and center and get more attention. I think it’s something we can definitely do a lot better.
So yeah, as well as giving some more love to sellers while they’re listed, I think the migration process can get shorted up a little bit better, there’s some holes there but I’m really excited about the processes that we’re having in place to improve there.
Justin: Yeah, I think you’re really right. There’s a perception and an actual thing going on with the sellers, they’re listed, right? So perception is if we go two weeks and we haven’t communicated with a seller that has a listing with us and we haven’t told them anything, their perception is that, “Well, what are they doing? I’m getting no updates, I don’t know what’s going on” and they don’t know that behind the scenes our team is dealing with depositors, they’re answering questions, they’re trying to actively, our marketing team is trying to actively promote that business.
They don’t see any of that though, they don’t know how many listing views we’re seeing, on the listing how many people have viewed it. I think giving them better updates, here’s how many listing views you had this week, here’s how many people we sent to the listing, here’s how many depositors you have, I think giving them more information would be helpful.
On the other side of course, actually doing that. And I think on the marketing team, that’s one thing we could be a bit better about, is like spreading around the love. A couple of times I’ll have a favorite listing and I’ll say, “I’ll promote that one maybe a little bit more” and it’s not because I’m not trying to spread the love, it’s because I actually like that one, and I think that’s good, I think I should be able to take some preference and say, “Look, I like this listing, I wanna promote it” but I think making sure that all of our listings are getting promoted and some love would be helpful. It would be helpful for the sellers, it’d be helpful for us. We’d be more likely to get that site in front of the right buyer, the person who it’s a really good fit for. That make sense? Alright, Kenny, what do you think, man? What can we do to improve at Empire Flippers, where do you see like some weakness that we have in that process in the company?
Kenny: For me since I’m running the investor program usually most of my attention is on running the sites, managing all the sites that we have in the portfolio. One thing that kind of catches us, I wouldn’t say off guard, but it comes up quick is the quarterly reports every quarter, so I think this is one area we can improve a lot, we’re kind of learning as we go, this is completely new, every report is getting better.
This time around we’re getting our accountant much more involved and we’re teaching her how to do a lot of it, so now we’re really focused on building the reports and having her running all the numbers, and so this process, it’s only getting better every quarter.
Justin: Yeah, I think back to our first investor report and it was kind of off the cuff and not amazing, I’d have to say. That’s the nicest way to put it, it was not amazing but you’re right, it’s gotten much, much better. I think over time we’ve done a better job of putting the numbers together, I think we do it in advance enough to where like we feel comfortable reviewing it, especially on the call with the investors, which is really important to us, to make sure we give them a full update and they know exactly what’s going on.
Joe: Yeah, this brings up one of the big things that I think we could improve with is documentation in general, documentation that goes to customers. I bet we would close more deals if we had a pretty little document that went out to depositors when they deposit with us. I think people have asked for it before, I thought it wasn’t that important because as long as you had the data, you had the data but people like to see it in a nice pretty package.
Justin: Yeah, you’re talking about prospectus, right? We could put up prospectus together for the listings, especially the larger ones. I think it’s something we can do on the content side, on the marketing side, really put that together. I don’t think it’s that difficult, I don’t see, I mean we could take the same information, the listing, I don’t see what that does but I think it’s just, if we’re compared to other business brokers, both offline and online business brokers, they’re used to seeing it and so it’s kind of a part of the industry that we’ve just kind of avoided up until now, right?
Joe: Yeah, I used to say, “Hey, our listing page is our prospectus” but people have asked for it before and it is a limiting factor in our sales so I definitely thing from a marketing perspective our documentation could be slicker.
Justin: I’ll get right on that, Joe. Just kidding. I think it’s a really good idea, I think we’ll put together. Alright, man. So Mike, another one of the new guys, what do you think in terms of our process or what do you think we can at Empire Flippers from what you’ve seen so far?
Michael S.: Yeah, so the two areas that I wanna sort of focus on for improvement are untapped markets. I think there’s a few different marketplaces out there of potential buyers and sellers that we haven’t really reached out to and as marketing and sales manager I wanna try and reach those people.
The second one is something we’re gonna start rolling out soon, and that’s the customer love program. We love you guys and we wanna show that and we’ve got some things going on in the back end, we’re gonna hopefully be showing out love very soon.
Joe: Yeah, you know, we were able to close a deal because of a little bit of a customer love program. Without giving too much away, buying a unit from one of this that was part of this popular blog was able to close the deal, so I definitely think that customer love program has its value before and after the deal. So I’m interested in that.
But from my perspective I think Mike hit the nail on the head with the white glove treatment, I think we need to do a lot more of that, especially with the larger deals, and the other thing I’d love to see us be able to do, which I’ve been hitting this hammer for a long time, is invest in our technology. I’d love to be able to see us one day have our own platform and our own marketplace. It’s a big, big project but maybe one day.
Justin: I’m not sure I’m really with you on that one, buddy. I wonder about this technology and you and I have gone back and forth on this before. We build out this platform, this marketplace and I’m looking around the room at our guys right now trying to get their intentions, see what they think about it but like we spend, let’s say, the next year and a half on this development project, we spend a ton of money, it takes up focus from growth to build out this technology that I’m not sure actually benefits our customers.
I mean to some degree, right? It might help us sell a little bit more, it might help our customers a little bit more but I’m not sure it would help significantly more. I think the time, effort and money invested could be significantly help our customers. Like it’s a opportunity cost. And so the opportunity cost, I’m not sure is there.
I know that it would add value to Empire Flippers, like our valuation would be higher, we have inherent technology, I’m just not sure it would be worth the time, money and effort.
Joe: I’d have to kind of agree with you, it’s hard to argue that, and then the other problem is that our past failures with development. I mean we’re just not software guys. But I just think that the intrinsic value it brings to Empire Flippers and the difference it would mean between other brokers is very interesting.
Justin: Alright, so I hope this has been helpful for our listeners, I hope you’ve got kind of a feel for the people that are on the management team here. We’ve got a little bit of insights from them in terms of what types of businesses they like to work with, what types of businesses they buy, what they think some of our customers get wrong about our company and some of the areas that we can improve.
And I think it’s helpful for us too to actually sit down and have this. It’s a little different from the usual Empire Flippers podcast episode but I think that’d be helpful for our listeners and I really appreciate, guys, so thanks so much.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to the Empire Podcast. Now, some news and updates.
Justin: Alright, Joe, times for some news and updates. First, I should mention that we just wrapped up our management meetup in Saigon for April. We basically do this workaction thing where every three to four months we all get together, we bust our ass working together for the week, go out and party a little bit on the weekend, you know, blow off some steam and then kind of get back the next week and really hammer it out.
It’s been really interesting because we kind of got our main team that have been with us for a bit, and then we have two new guys have joined us, obviously we just talked about them, Mike and Greg, and so they got to kind of see everything in action, they’re learning everything, they’re like sponges, right? They’re soaking up all the information about the company, kind of what we’re doing now.
It’s not brain surgery but there are a lot of moving pieces to our company. We’re in an emerging niche, it’s all kind of new so there is quite a bit to cover but they’ve been coming along really well, I think.
Joe: Yeah, I think I mentioned it during the group interview there but definitely I think we did a much better job this time around than we’ve done with the press before, and that’s because we’ve probably just gotten better at it as well and we have some processes in place and some help to make the whole adjustment period easier and faster but it was a hell of a month, I really enjoyed it, I think it was a great time and we got a lot of work done and we had a very good sales month as well.
Justin: Yeah, I got a bit of bad news about half the show here, we’re gonna be talking about this more through some blog posts that are coming up but we just had to put our investor program on hold in April. Things were going well, we were getting toward the end and we were just about to open it up to a much larger round, we had people that were committed, we had money on the way, in fact, in a couple of cases we actually received the money for the second round and this is all happening when several things hit at once, we’ve run into issue with a first portfolio, what we call portfolio one, to where we can’t move forward with the second round until we fix this first round. So we decided to back off of the second round, wire the money back, which was painful. I was so ready to move forward. Until we get these issues worked out.
Joe: Yeah, I think it’s frustrating but I hope people can appreciate the fact that we stood up and did the right thing and didn’t try to just push through to make an extra buck. We sent the money back, we put everything on hold, we said, “Hey, we’re gonna fix this” and we’ll restart in six months. It won’t be a big deal but I think that it will, if anything, make the investor program stronger.
Justin: I just hate the delay, man. It’s gonna be four to six months, probably four months that [inaudible 00:43:07] to kind of get all this stuff back on track, make sure it’s good, give ourselves some time to verify that and then move forward. It’s a delay but, you know, I mentioned we’re in a very new and emerging market. I think this investor program idea is even earlier, we’re bleeding edge with this stuff and we’re starting to see some people in the space catch on to the idea and start to implement their own type of investor programs, people kind of putting things together and pulling investors. I think this has an opportunity to be a billion dollar industry no question.
If we have hiccups going through this and we have to kind of work through and iron them out, so be it but we’re gonna continue to charge forward because we see the value, we see the writing on the wall.
Alright, man, if anyone’s interested in buying websites and online businesses, you probably are if you’re listening to this podcast, I’d really recommend you check out season two of our web equity show. This is a season, we’re doing it season by season, season two really walks you from start to finish through the buying process, so from I’m thinking about buying a website or online business and I’m a complete newbie all the way to understanding negotiations, understanding deal structures and due diligence, everything, so we step you through it every step of the way.
I’m really proud of this piece of content that we put out. We put out with a buddy of ours, Ace Chapman, who’s in this space as well, and I really think you’re gonna like it, I’m gonna link to it in the show notes. If you haven’t checked that out, you should, it’s over at WebEquityShow.com.
Joe: Yeah, I mean season by season, I feel like we’re The Prophet or maybe even Game of Thrones there.
Justin: Game of Thrones. We did do that Game of Thrones podcast episode, which people dug by the way, when we were going through it we were like, “Oh, this is so cheesy” but I got some people that appreciate that show. Yeah, even though it’s fun doing the season actually, Joe, because we feel like the pressure’s off a little bit, like we can kind of do the episodes and then take a couple of months off and just kind of recalibrate and then do it again.
We’re almost done with season two, season three is gonna be from a selling perspective, from the very beginning, having a site, not knowing you could sell it, figuring out everything along the sales process. So I think that would be fun, we’ll probably start recording that maybe middle or end of July, maybe start publishing like September or something but it’d be a fun one.
Joe: I really like the approach. It’s interesting.
Justin: I also got another podcast. I’m not gonna announce the whole deal but I have another podcast bouncing around in my head right now, that I think would be really interesting. I talked to just a couple of people about it, you being one of them, that I think I could make it really, really good. I’m not gonna mention much more right now but I think I got another podcast in me, buddy.
Joe: You’re such a tease, Justin.
Justin: I am, I am. Alright, man, let’s do some listener shouts. Also with the indulgent, ego boosting social proof segment. First up we’ve got a five-star review, buddy. It’s from MusicGuru636, “Justin and Joe are awesome, this is my new favorite podcast, really informative and interesting topics, can’t wait to hear more insight from you guys.” Thank you, MusicGuru.
Joe: Yeah, thank you so much, man.
Justin: If anyone’d love to give us a iTunes review, we’d really appreciate it, we’ll give you a shout on the show as well, that definitely is the fuel that keeps us going. We have a couple of mentions on Twitter, buddy, first one’s from Tom Hunt. He said, “[inaudible 00:46:17] from the Empire Flippers team, if you’re considering starting a site, definitely check this first.” Again, he’s referring to our valuation tool, we’re gonna link to that in the show notes.
Someone’s got a ton of value out of it, we actually use that to price, list and sell websites that are sold on the Empire Flippers marketplace so it’s not this kind of like random tool that pulls whatever BS to give you a valuation, something we actually use to price all deals.
Got another mention from Phillip [Curigno 00:46:41], “Empire Flippers, hi, do you have any available jobs? Do you have any operations in the Philippines?” Yes, we have an operation in the Philippines in Davao City and we got a team down there. No, we don’t have any current job openings but if you are on our email list, we’ll definitely send out an email when we do have jobs available.
Alright, buddy, we have a couple of mentions around the web. Josh over at Passion Into Paychecks sold a $35,000 site with us and did a nice write-up about the process of selling with us, I’ll link to that in the show notes, shout-out to Josh, appreciate it, buddy.
Got a mention over at Marko at MarkoSchwartz.com. Personal site, there’s documenting his business for investment journey in many different areas, so one of them is buying sites but a lot of like passive investments too. So he kind of laid out his 2016 goals. He wants to make €8000 a month and business income, €3000 a month in investment income and he wants five team members, so good luck with that, Marko, we’re rooting for you on the Empire Flippers team.
Joe: Yeah, definitely rooting for you, Marko, good luck.
Justin: Michael at ReturnOnConversion.com does a great writeup explaining the buying/selling website industry overall. I think it’s definitely worth a read if you’re a newbie, I’ll put a link to that in the show notes so you can check it out.
Joe: Love that domain name.
Justin: That’s it for episode 154, the Empire Podcast, thanks for sticking with us. We’re back next week with another show, you can find the show notes for this episode and more, EmpireFlippers.com/roundtable and make sure to follow us on Twitter @EmpireFlippers. See you next week.
Joe: Bye bye, everybody.
Announcer: Hope you enjoyed this episode of the Empire Podcast, with Justin and Joe. Hit up EmpireFlippers.com for more. That’s EmpireFlippers.com. Thanks for listening.
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