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ActionCOACH WilCo – Andy O’Brien is proud to present his sixth “Business Owners Speak Out” interview series. This is a collection of short interviews and education from business owners with amazing insights into today’s challenges.

Master Coach Andy O’Brien (AO) virtually sits down with business owners to learn how they are working through COVID-19 and their current challenges and successes. Check out their inspiring stories for tips on how to cope with and successfully recover from this pandemic as well as ideas on how to avoid making common mistakes.


Ty Gipson, Minuteman Press and Waterboy Graphics

AO: Tell me about your businesses.

TG: Minuteman Press is local; we do all the printing and signage around the Round Rock/Georgetown area. Waterboy Graphics has about 30 employees and it’s a national deal that we do school and athletic facilities branding. Under Armour is one of our customers that when they do a sponsored event, we go out to wherever it is and wrap the walls, locker rooms, and the facilities for branding. When schools want all the school spirit in their locker rooms or in their schools, we go in and do that.

AO: With Minuteman Press, how did you get started in that?

TG: We’ve been in business since 2006. My wife and I both left our corporate jobs and wanted to take a leap of faith and do our own thing. My background came from the printing and graphics area. I did some work with Disney in the marketing and got to see some of the print back in the day, and print has always been an interest to me. So, that kind of led us to looking at some of those print opportunities and sure enough we decided in ‘06 to open up Minuteman Press in Georgetown. Minuteman Press is a national franchise and they kept telling us Austin would be a great location and we said Georgetown is where we want to be. They really pushed us to do Austin. Now, we’re one of the bigger Minuteman Presses in the country, so they bring people to [Georgetown] to look at it which is really cool because I always remind the CEO that he didn’t want me in Georgetown.

AO: Who is your best customer?

TG: At Minuteman Press, we’re looking for the general print, signs, any type of business that can be a one-stop shop. We want to be their sign needs, print needs, everything from business cards to large signage.

AO: What has been the greatest impact COVID-19 has had on your businesses?

TG: Minuteman Press has been a bit more challenging, because local businesses have been affected, once they’re affected it obviously comes down to us. We were lucky during this time to be flexible. As we kept talking at our team meetings, we got to find other ways to win. We started cutting a lot of the acrylic shields that you see all over town for Williamson County and Travis County. We were able to find some different things, find a way to win in that area, to be able to offset some of the print that we’re not able to do. We were lucky not to have to lay anyone off, very proud of that. The Waterboy side has been extremely lucky because we had so much work in our pipeline and we were coming into the busiest time of the year, which is summer, that we were able to stay busy all the way through. Then as summer started coming back in, we started, not like we usually do, picking back up. So, it really helped us eliminate some of our pipeline that we had. Schools weren’t going, but we were able to get in to do installs that we already had in the pipeline. We had 100+ installs to do when this hit, around the country, so it kept us busy for a couple of months to at least get us caught up in the design department [and] in the install department. After a few weeks we started seeing new orders come in, new POs coming in. Waterboy is kind of getting back into stride now, looking at doing the same quantities that we did last year.

AO: Have you had a pivot strategy session in your businesses?

TG: We do. I have a gentleman that’s kind of my mentor to some degree, an executive from the past, and we sit down and talk and then we sit with our teams, from our sales department to our graphics department, and we talk about strategies.

AO: What mistakes did you make along the way, and how can other entrepreneurs learn from your experience?

TG: Just trying to jump too fast, and I think we’ve all done that. I’m a “now” person, I try to jump too fast, and I think mistakes I’ve made throughout our business has been trying to implement processes and things faster than I should’ve. It’s something I work on now and I think it’s a mistake I’ve made several times.

AO: What is most inspiring to you today?

TG: I’m always inspired by our team. Every day they amaze me because sometimes my head is where we’re going and not where we’re at and our team is always there.

OFFER: Mention this newsletter and receive 50% off Banners.

How To Reach Us:

Ty Gipson

Minuteman Press

512-931-2211

Waterboy Graphics

512-688-5656

[email protected]


Paul Lebus, Austinscapes

AO: Tell me about your business.

PL: Austinscapes is a landscaping company. We’ve been in business since 2003. I worked in high-tech prior, decided that wasn’t for me and started this business to get out of that environment. I had experience with it when I was growing up, so it’s something I went back to.

AO: Who is your best customer?

PL: One that is going to utilize all of our services. For example, we don’t just do maintenance, we do projects. I want to be able to use my project crews, as well as the maintenance crews. Maintenance is a small part of what we do. So, customers that not only need maintenance, but will take advantage of maybe some stone masonry services or some type of project-oriented services as well.

AO: What has been the greatest impact COVID-19 has had on your business?

PL: I have nothing but a positive response to COVID, because we’re a mobile business. We’re a service, services are essential. When you get a lot of folks staying at home, the home has to be maintained pretty well and that’s a lot of what we do. Because it’s a mobile business, roads are much more clear, so my crews are able to get from point A to point B quicker. It happened to coincide with lower fuel costs, which helps out as well. And increased demand. All three of those things kind of go hand in hand and help out service-oriented business like mine.

AO: What one or two actions have you taken to make a difference?

PL: Well, certainly I had to have discussions with the crews when this pandemic began, explaining to them that we had to keep our distance from our clients as much as possible, cover our faces and things of that nature, but that wasn’t so much an issue with our business because we don’t necessarily mingle with the customers. Occasionally a customer will approach our crews and want to point out a couple of things that they want done differently, and my crews have been briefed to keep distance, wear face coverings, and things like that.

AO: Have you had a pivot strategy session in your business?

PL: I meet weekly with a business consultant/CPA. We’ve been doing business for years and we meet weekly to go over current challenges the business is having and discuss ways forward.

AO: What mistakes have you made, and how can other entrepreneurs learn from your experience?

PL: The one mistake that I have made in the past, simple thing to avoid, is pricing your services without knowing the cost prior. When I was young in business, I felt like I would just shoot from the hip when I was giving pricing and think, well, this area of land looks this big, I think we can do it in this amount of time, things of that nature. Whereas, it’s so easy to get a spreadsheet together that itemizes your costs, and maybe take a little bit of time to go through something like that before giving pricing because you can really go under quick by undervaluing your business and just throwing it out there.

AO: What is inspiring to you today?

PL: I think what’s most inspiring, I listen to local and national media, and as concerned as I am and as anybody is about the COVID-19 pandemic, I think that we’re starting to see maybe a little bit more adventurous spirit when it comes to going out there and getting business done. At the same time, more people are willing to use masks and things like that. I think that’s important also. Just kind of a can-do attitude when it comes to getting the economy back up and running.

OFFER: FREE Estimates.

How To Reach Us:

Paul Lebus

Austinscapes

(512) 695-9335

[email protected]


 

Britt Bouffard, Bouffard Transfer & Storage

AO: Tell me about your business.

BB: I’m with Bouffard Transfer & Storage. Bought my dad out in 1992 and I’ve been working for the company since I was 12.

AO: Who is your best customer?

BB: Of course, people who are moving their residence. We also do some commercial work, but primarily residential.

AO: What has been the greatest impact COVID-19 has had on your business?

BB: The number one thing is, in March when all this started, I had two major commercial accounts and they both backed out within three days. One of them backed out two days before we were supposed to get started. That’s money that’s un-recoupable.

AO: What one or two actions did you have to take to make a difference?

BB: Well, we got the PPP loan, that helped. We’ve only lost one employee through all of this; however, it’s challenging for me and them. People are afraid right now, so our numbers have been down for the last three months and I don’t expect any different this month.

AO: What mistakes did you make along the way, and how can other business owners learn from your experience?

BB: There’s learning every day. I tried to learn from my grandfather and my father the best I could. Every day is a new challenge. I can’t think of any major changes that I’ve made.

AO: What is most inspiring to you today?

BB: Well, money. Trying to get through another setback, seems like there’s one after the other, and just trying to pull through another one.

OFFER: In-Home FREE Estimates.

How To Reach Us:

Britt Bouffard

Bouffard Transfer & Storage

512-869-1569

[email protected]


Eric Levenhagen, ProWise Financial Coaching

AO: Tell me about your business.

EL: My business is ProWise Financial Coaching and I am the only financial consultant who helps primarily private practice medical professionals and some other professional service providers. We help them improve the financial health of their practice with a proven process, which reduces their taxes and increases their after-tax profits by at least $10,000 in the first year guaranteed if we take them on as a one-on-one client.

AO: How long have you been in business?

EL: I’ve been on my own almost 11 years.

AO: It hasn’t always been financial coaching, though, has it?

EL: No. It’s definitely progressed. I started out as a tax preparer, tax preparation, and I took on a lot of once-a-year tax prep clients. The reason I started the business in the first place was to help, primarily business owners, register tax liability through proper and ethical planning strategies. That’s where I started. In the early phases it was one of those, I gotta hit a certain level of sustainability, and so I took on a lot of project work and less consulting work. Over the years that has really shifted into the opposite of that, more consulting and very little compliance work.

AO: Who is your best customer?

EL: I serve two major industries. One is private practice medical professionals, like optometrists, dentists, chiropractors, etc. The other group is a lot of coaches and consultants, and a lot of marketing consultants and agencies. Outside of the industries, my real ideal client is somebody who wants to learn, wants a better level of clarity around their own money, typically a single owner private practice, and they’re looking to get more out of their business than having it turn into a job that they own.

AO: What has been the greatest impact COVID-19 has had on your business?

EL: I think I was in a real fortunate spot during this whole time because I was already virtual when COVID started. I’d already closed down my brick and mortar office and moved to more and more of my clients were coming from across the country. So, I had that, which was one less thing for me to have to focus on in-house and I was able to take that energy and focus on helping others back when the different SBA and government programs were just rolling out, new laws were getting passed that it seemed like the rules were changing by the hour. So if there was a negative around this whole COVID, that’s been the greatest impact of the negative side. But I feel pretty fortunate that I was in the position I was in already to be able to turn that energy back around to help people.

AO: What mistakes did you make along the way, and how can other entrepreneurs learn from your experience?

EL: I would say one of my biggest mistakes was dragging my feet and not seeking out the right types of help right away. One of the inherent downfalls of the accounting personality is, and that’s how I was traditionally trained, to overthink things. I would say just getting out of my own way on really developing and morphing into that business that I wanted from the start probably could’ve happened faster if I would’ve sought out the right help in terms of mentors, consultants, coaches. Just knowing where my weaknesses were and then actually plugging somebody in that had a track record of fixing that weakness.

AO: What is most inspiring to you today?

EL: On the outside it looks like a lot of people are attacking others or critiquing others. I think if you look in the right places and look a little bit beneath the surface level, you do see the better side of humanity through this turmoil we’re going through. You see the generosity of humans, because this is affecting people worldwide.

How To Reach Us:

Eric Levenhagen

ProWise Financial Coaching

(641) 424-3990

[email protected]


 

Larry Fann, LD Affordable AC & Heating

AO: Tell me about your business.

LF: I am located in Georgetown, Texas. Have been in the business for over 33 years, but I didn’t have a contractor license till 10 years ago, so I worked as a subcontractor for big name companies. Then I was subcontracted out to do service and install for a bunch of other companies in this area.

AO: Who is your best customer?

LF: Well, I have multiple customers right now. I’ve got a guy in Florence, Texas who owns about 10 properties. I have another lady from New York that was down here for a while when I hired on with her to do her air conditioning work, changed out several systems.

AO: What has been the greatest impact COVID-19 has had on your business?

LF: It has really slowed [stuff] down. I probably get maybe a call a day.

AO: Since it’s been slow, what one or two activities have you had to take because of this?

LF: Well I am with Home Advisor right now. Word of mouth has gotten me a bunch of jobs. I did a service call last night from word of mouth.

AO: What mistakes have you made along the way, and how can other entrepreneurs learn from your experience?

LF: Well early on, everybody does this, they hire on for these warranty companies. [One] ripped me off, I did manage to get a settlement, but they kept pouring it out to parts discrepancy, repairs and [stuff] like that. They didn’t want to pay for everything. What I’ve learned from my past is that the warranty companies [are bad] because I’ve had two different ones seem to finagle the paycheck a little bit.

AO: What is most inspiring to you today?

LF: That I have a bunch of jobs I’m gonna start this weekend. I have a company that I purchase stuff from, they extend me the credit on it until I get paid on it.

How To Reach Us:

Larry Fann

LD Affordable AC & Heating

(512) 540-1968


Brandon Johnson, Brushy Creek Dentistry

AO: Tell me about your business.

BJ: I went to dental school at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. I’m from Northern Virginia. Afterwards, I was going to go back to D.C., I had job offers in D.C., Philadelphia, these big offices, but I met my current wife in dental school and she’s in the army. So, she got stationed at Fort Hood and that’s what brought me here. Thankfully, she’s been told she gets to finish up her commitment at Fort Hood, so when that happened, I’m like I’m buying a practice. I found an office in the Brushy Creek area and I have another doctor who works with me right now, Dr. Tatyana Haddock, and bought this practice September 1st of last year. With COVID though, we were basically closed for two months. We were mandated by the governor just to see emergency only patients. So, I was just doing free emergency exams for people. I wanted to keep my staff employed, of course, and was just trying to help people out. We saw a fair amount of new patients who were just having emergencies and having pain while we were closed. So, that was helpful. Now we’re trying to open back up and it was busy at first and now it’s slow, so we’re just staying consistent.

AO: Who is your best customer?

BJ: We’re like a family dental practice, so we see people of all ages. I still see kids. Dr. Haddock is more in the cosmetics and seeing adults. Whereas, I just see whoever needs a dentist. So, I don’t really have an ideal patient, just someone who’s looking for a dentist.

AO: What’s the greatest impact COVID-19 has had on your business?

BJ: The governor’s mandate required us to see emergencies only and there’s a lot of confusion amongst the dental community, like what constitutes an emergency. So, of course, we need to follow the law, but at the same time, if my front tooth broke, to me that’s an emergency. Oftentimes, emergencies are subjective. I wasn’t a high-risk person for COVID-19, so if someone is telling me that they’re having pain or if they’re having an emergency, I’m going to go in and see them. We kept a skeleton crew, alternated days. It was good to keep the staff employed because a lot of them couldn’t file for unemployment for various reasons. It definitely wasn’t a very profitable month, but it allowed me to keep people employed and help people out, so I’d call it a success.

AO: Those one or two actions that you took, how is that working out for your practice today?

BJ: It’s tough to measure direct results from that. I can’t put a dollar amount or like I can count the new patients that we saw, but I think it’s really helped us just build our reputation.

AO: Have you had any type of pivot strategy session with a consultant or coach in your business before?

BJ: I have a consultant, but I spend a lot of time trying to educate myself just clinically. I want to be the best dentist possible, but also from a business standpoint, there’s been talks of the economic impact of COVID-19 pushing us into another financial recession. So, what I’m thinking, and I’m planning for worst case scenario, is we’re in a recession. People aren’t coming in and saying, hey, I want to do veneers or Invisalign. So, I’ve really tried to sell my brand as an emergency practice. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a toothache or dental pain, but when you do, it’s something you want to get taken care of for sure. That’s a recession proof model. So I figured if we could be known as the office who does stuff to help people out and does the free emergency exams and is good at getting people out of pain, I figured that we’d have a strong point in our community as someone who’s kind of recession proof.

AO: What mistakes have you made along the way, and how can other entrepreneurs learn from your experience?

BJ: I haven’t gotten stuff in writing. When I found this practice, the seller was just trying to get rid of it. So it was being sold on a short sale. We were going to get a discount on it. I submitted an offer to buy it and the bank wouldn’t finance it. I needed to get partners in order to finance the office. So I got partners and I originally had a deal set up to buy into an office downtown, and this one we just did on trust and a handshake deal. And we’re all still good friends, it’s just things didn’t go according to the timeline that we agreed upon. So in hindsight, if I would have gone back, I would have said, hey, we can do a trial period, but I need these things done by these dates because even though intentions were pure, I jumped through a lot of hoops and wasted a lot of time on something that didn’t work out because I didn’t have a plan set in place and I didn’t have the paper inked. So, I’d say inking things and following the timeline is the biggest lesson that I’ve learned. No more handshake deals for me in the future.

AO: What is most inspiring to you today?

BJ: Throughout this time, I’ve really tried to press into my relationship with God. You know, we had our best month in the middle of March and then we had to close. I was so discouraged. My joy was robbed of me and it just made me open my eyes and realize, like, wow, so much of your identity is tied up in your career and your office. This thing was temporarily taken from you and you lost all your joy. I was like, God help me re-prioritize my life. Let me come to you first and my family first and friends first. Career, money and all of that stuff is just so insignificant at the end of the day. COVID, even though it was rough, really helped me prioritize what was important to me. So, just focusing on God, my family, my friends and the things that really do matter has definitely been inspiring for me.

OFFER: FREE custom whitening trays for any new patient (You must specifically ask for this promotion).

How To Reach Us:

Brandon Johnson

Brushy Creek Dentistry

512-580-9200

[email protected]


Executive Coach Andy O’Brien wants to interview you! If you would like your business to be featured in one of our upcoming “Business Owners Speak Out” newsletter series, please contact Kari at [email protected] to schedule an interview.