Home Automation Podcast Episode #42: An Industry Q&A With Frank White
Focusing on the things that really matter
This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Frank White. Recorded live on Wednesday, April 26th, 2018 at 12:30 p.m. EST.
About Frank White
Frank White is a long-time consultant for the CI channel. His origin in the industry spans back to the 80s working with master antenna television and cable around the time of CEDIA’s birth as a trade organization.
With decades of working in the integration channel, Frank's expertise is in increasing closing rates while decreasing closing times, and generally cutting the costs of new business acquisition within the B2B technology arena.
As a Partner at StayTuned & Weld, Frank works to engineer strong loyal market demand and monetization for client offerings.
Here are some of the topics Ron had the opportunity to discuss with Frank:
- Frank’s involvement in the foundations of CEDIA as a trade organization forming in the late 80s
- State of the industry in relation to the economy
- Dealer's best hedge to battle downturns
- Communication strategies for sales and customer service in the CI industry
Ron: Hello everybody. Ron Callis with another episode of Automation Unplugged, brought to you by my day job over at One Firefly. So today is what is today? Today's Thursday. I know I normally come to you on Wednesdays, but I was out at the Azione unlimited conference yesterday and I was actually out there, I was up in Philly since Monday. So I am happy to be back here in South Florida and and with you folks. So I am going to jump over to my Facebook page real quick as I normally do just to make sure that technology is behaving and that we are actually feeding in to the interwebs and into Mr Zuckerberg's world. Well, let's see here. Thank you for your patience. If you're out there watching and watching me. There we go. All right, so we are working. All right, well let me go ahead and bring in our guest. Many of you, if you have ever been to a trade show or ever been to an industry trade show or ever been to CEDIA or frankly, if you have a pulse and have been following the audio video industry for the last 25 years, then you'll know this person. And let me go ahead and bring him in the one and only Mr. Frank White. Frank, how are you sir?
Frank: Hey, I'm great. Thanks Ron.
Ron: So Frank, you and I were talking just a little bit before we were gonna go live here. Let me move my microphone a little closer. How many times have you been on a Facebook live prior to this right now where you're here with me on Facebook live?
Frank: None that I know of.
Ron: None that you know of. Okay. Well, I am honored to be the person that has helped you know, unvirginize you.
Frank: Breaking new Frank ground.
Ron: Absolutely. So tell me how, how is life right now? How, what are you up to?
Frank: Well we're really wrapped up in the tech and business summits and CEDIA events that are going on. As you know you had Mark on a couple of weeks ago and the Castle Summit in South Florida.
Ron: I'm going to be out there next week. So for all of you in Florida that are listening to this or watching this you need to go to the, what is the website, Frank for the tech and business summit. It's called the Castle Summit here in Florida. Right.
Frank: But you can, you can get all of the information at techsummitflorida.com or techsummitevents.com. Either one will take you there and if you by Friday we'll buy you lunch. So that's kind of a incentive. But yeah. And of course you're, aren't you running a seminar while we're there?
Ron: I believe I am on a panel discussion that is happening on Thursday or I'm on the panel, I'm not leading the panel, but I'm on there with a bunch of other very fine industry individuals and very honored to be a part of that.
Frank: But the session is, what's the session on Ron? Cause it's a really compelling subject and it's timely and it's tremendously misused or underused by this audience.
Ron: Absolutely. So I am pulling up the topic right now. So they're calling. Well, you know what, let me do a couple of things here. So for our audience that are following along and if they want to see this, I'm actually gonna put the website URL right now into the comments here on the live feed. By the way, if you're watching live, please like this comment, please share this out with your to your feed so that your industry peers and family and friends can follow along. Let me see here. So I've added that, we're going to dive into the weeds here. So, let me just verify the date and time of this.
Frank: Yeah, it's Thursday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week.
Ron: So day three, which is Thursday, May 3rd, correct at 8:00 AM from 8:00 to 9:15 AM there is a special keynote and open forum. They're calling it the all star industry panel. I don't know how I managed to be on that. But that's kind of neat and Frank, you're on that panel with me and we have a bunch of other, you have Julie Jacobson. We have Eric Bodley, we have Bryce Nordstrom from Access Networks and it says hot topics and disruptive technologies that will affect your business. What is your plan, how will you succeed, how do we succeed? And that's going to be the subject matter of that all star panel discussion. And I'm going to defer any questions I get. Frank, I'm going to defer them over to you. You'll have much better answers than me? Deal.
Frank: That's great. Thanks.
Speaker 2: So Frank question for you, sir. And I want to get back into the tech and business summit, but before we go there, there, there may be some folks that are watching this, either watching this live or watching this afterwards and I want them to know who you are and your foundation in this industry and your experience in this industry so that some of the topics I want to touch on and jump into the understand the perspective that you're bringing to the table. So do you mind to enlighten my audience and just give them a little bit of your background?
Frank: Sure. You know, I got to where you and I are right now by you know, originally we had a company that built MATV and CATV that's master antenna television and cable company had equipment and it was getting very crowded. There was an enormous amount of incoming incoming competition. And so we repackaged some of our gear to aim it at the the consumer household. And at about that time, there was a group of people that got together and we kind of talked about moving from the kind of the NSCA InfoComm space into an undefined discipline that would apply a lot of those technologies to relatively affluent homeowners and take this into the houses. And so we invested heavily in repackaging our gears so that it looked consumer friendly. And we rebranded the product that we sold into the industry as Channel Plus. And that was 1984 when we did that. And in '89, CEDIA got together and started and then we were really invested heavily in training people and getting the, you know, the technology integrator at the time to understand that there's value in multi-room and that multi-room has audio and video potential and potentially a lot of profit. That was difficult to do at the time and it just took off from there.
Ron: So you were there at the foundation of CEDIA. Can you just talk a little bit more detail? What was your role? How did you perceive that? Did you think that was a good idea? And, and how did you participate in making it what it is today, which is the industry trade organization.
Frank: This this industry you know, the roadway, the road we drive on today was built upon people taking risk. But we knew that what we were doing before basically going to commercial and commercial trade shows was deviating from the residential disciplines and skill sets. And the quality of the finish work just wasn't what needed to be in homes. And so the, the refined skillsets that those installers had, they came from the satellite industry. They came from HiFi shops at time where people would come in and they throw down $10,000 on some audio gear, but then they'd ask the sales guy, Hey, can you come over on Saturday and install it for me? And about that time, the the cost of a multichannel AVR, became, you know, it became less than $5,000. So that was a relatively affordable process. And then Lucas Film came out with a wild laser disc and that played and showrooms for high, probably three or four years continuously where it just showed the example, the difference between kind of the standard audio you would get off of off of a videotape or whatever versus what you could get with a true, you know, investment in a multichannel system. And that's how home theater took them.
Ron: Well, would it off of a standard VHS tape you're not referring to beta. Did beta ever take off or did VHS always rule the roost?
Frank: VHS was always out there, but there were, there were plenty of, you know, I think at some point in time that penetration of beta or the buy rate of beta approach, maybe, I want to say 20% and I'm pulling that out of my keester right there, but sure. But there was, you know, we dealt with both.
Ron: What would the audio have been coming off of VHS versus what was now coming off the laser disc?
Frank: It was noisy compared to what we see today, obviously. And the head alignment and you know, nobody maintained VCRs at the time, although you know, there were some expensive VCRs out there too that we had basically a video output and if we're lucky we had a left and a right audio output and then that would go into the AVR and that would get churned through its process and out it would come as a four or five dot. One kind of output and that became much more dynamic.
Ron: And you would get a four or a five dot one output out of a VHS or only out of the laser disc?
Frank: No, you'd only get it out of the AVR.
Ron: You would only get it out of the AVR. So in both cases, and sorry for my technical ignorance, so I'm asking you maybe to break it down a little bit. So non technical person like me could explain it or even.
Frank: You understand that on the output, even today on your output of your blue wave blue Ray DVD player, unless it's a really unique one, you just have a left and right output. So you go from that to the input of an audio video receiver, say like an Onkyo or at a higher end like an Aviator or Pioneer, whatever, right? You know Yamaha, they, all of them have that. And so it comes in as left and right, and then they go through a processing process or then that it comes out where there's a channel, a left and a right channel for the front field. And then two surrounds, excuse me, and a sub output. And that became the five.one standard that we have today. But even to this day, as far as I know, the cable box gears. You know, there's a lot of digital outputs out there right now where it's either a coaxial that's an RCA connector or a toss link optical connector. And that gives the AVR a lot more data to deal with, to be able to isolate those different separate channels.
Ron: What did the CEDIA trade organization when it was formed, what year was it formed?
Frank: 89. Yeah, 89.
Ron: What did it set out to do? What was the ambition? Why did all these folks from around the country get together and decide to set up shop? Was it Amelia Island down in Florida where the meeting one was?
Frank: Yeah. Yeah. And we were there, but the real issue we had at the time was the distribution channel, particularly the large suppliers. And you know, back then the large suppliers were like Sony. And a lot of the players just see out today too, you know, they just didn't address us. So in order for us to be able to buy their gear, we had to go into a retail store, typically, you know, Best Buy, Circuit City and allow the other ones that no longer exist. And buy the gear retail. And then somehow, we could beg, borrow, or threaten long enough to be able to get a profit out of that from the buyer. And we would integrate that into a home. Okay. And so the challenge of that originally was, man, we gotta, we've got to have a unified voice to present to the supplier community to address us as an actual and real identifiable channel.
Ron: Got it. Understood. Now from that, you said you started at Channel Plus, what'd you say? '84 '85?
Frank: Yeah, we started Channel Plus.
Ron: And so what happened from CEDIA to the present? I mean, all the evolutions, and I know you've become a master trainer at CEDIA, and I want to jump into some of that stuff. By the way, your courses are infamous. And I know you're teaching some stuff even this coming year in September, but what did you do over the next 25 years?
Frank: Well, we sold Channel Plus in 1998 to Nortek, which was linear, which is now the core brands deal. Okay. That was the original education that that I was part of was just doing basic training on basic, you know, how do you put connectors on cable and understanding the differences between cables. At that time we were dealing with co-ax and some some forms of category rated wire, but that wasn't a specialty. And just the act of putting it out connector on a cable was, was foreign to them. And we did as an industry, didn't really know how to discipline ourselves to choose, you know, a decent cable instead of just Home Depot, kind of opportunistic, you know, co-ax and then also understanding if you screw the connector up, what does that do to your picture? And so we would just present that in such a way that it gave andd equip the attendee to understand, Oh, I get that now. And in 90 minutes you could actually teach that back then. And then you would also teach them that you know about, okay, signal. You know, you know if you have a supply component here and you have a display component here, say you know, a VCR, you know our Laser Disc player here and a display here, there's no engineering argument that says by making or increasing the distance between those two, that they become more accurate to each other. So we've gotta be able to calculate what happens to that signal in between and how has that affected and you know kind of explained some basic mathematics and then showed them that the proper engineering on how to design that stuff in it. And you know, and then I'd started kind of understanding that a compelling delivery, even though you have great data, it should be delivered in a compelling way. And I learned a lot from a lot of really good instructors in the past. Yeah.
Ron: So what is your favorite subject when you're teaching? And I know you do both, some of the video stuff. You're partnered with an industry media publication and you do the, what is it called, the F word?
Frank: Yeah. F word.
Ron: The F word. And so you're teaching on a number of topics and you also of course teach in person. What are some of the most fun topics that you think are really most relevant to the contractors? The, whether they like to call themselves that or not the AV integrators, dealers. What are the topics that really are close near and dear to your heart and mind that you'd like to share?
Frank: Yeah, I divorced specific technologies a long time ago and that my passion today and has been for a couple of years has been I want to engage the audience in something that they can move the needle for them tomorrow. And I want to equip them and equip you as an industry to sleep better, to be able to deliver a higher value and be able to articulate that value in a way that the buyer, it resonates with the buyer so that they can agree that that has value as well as you, and then it gives you the head room to be able to do the right thing for buyer. And I don't think that the technology today is what's the biggest challenge for integrators, although it does evolve and it's moving quite rapidly. I think the biggest challenge we have as an industry today would be, like we were talking before, is this dealers don't fully comprehend what it costs to acquire a buyer. They have a quantified the cost of acquisition and then understanding their business metrics and how they can do better by just doing better business. And that doesn't necessarily mean taking your whole company off of the current road it's on and going up a different path. But it's just doing it in such a way that you focus on the things that really matter to the company. And then you'll end up probably having to work less hours and making more money to do it. And your employees are happier.
Ron: So let's talk about the first part. You talk about the cost of acquiring a customer, right? How do you propose, how should a technology integrator think about that? How would they go about calculating that number?
Frank: Well, the first thing is let's get our arms around where the business comes from. And if you read that first, sounds like a pretty abstract comment, doesn't it? But the business comes from new business with a new builder, new business with an existing builder, new business with a new architect, new business with an existing architect. And then you can go through, okay. Retrofit with it, you know, with a new customer retrofit with an existing customer. And it becomes a fairly finite menu on where you get your business. And if you look at then the profitability of each of those, where is your company's best sweet spot. And do you focus on trying to drive that business on that one vertical? Well, you get so many people and you talk to as many dealers as I do, and where's the number one place that they say they get new business?
Ron: They're going to say referrals.
Frank: So my challenge to them is always you don't really, unless you're engineering referrals, you're really getting them by rumor. Because you're waiting there if you're truly doing it, but you're not engineering referrals, what you're doing is you're doing a good job and you execute and you finish the job, you commission the job, and then you're relying on the goodness of that person to then take you under their wing, adopt you, so to speak and say, and you're assuming that you're going to say they're so happy with my work that they're going to go and evangelize me to their friends and neighbors.
Ron: How can how can a business owner or a salesperson be more proactive and eliciting and driving that referral?
Frank: Yeah, that's a great question. And so you know, my business partners, I, we have this thing, this arena we call scripting. And if I'm finishing a job at the Callis household and then I come up to Ron and go, yo, Ron, you like this, it's working out. Yeah. Hey, pimp me out to your customers. That's a weird conversation it's taught to have and it comes off as really kind of way to self-serving, right? Doesn't it?
Ron: It does. But I like you Frank. And so I would still refer you, even if you asked me, it might be, I'd still send you to my neighbors.
Frank: Right. Well, I appreciate that. Right? Let's say the issue, I researched this pretty deeply to find out how this is best done and all of the information can be assimilated down to the best time to ask for the referral is when you get conceptual agreement of the proposal. So if I do a trial close with you, Ron, let's say it's the, Hey, it's great house. I love the you know, the coastal kind of feel this community, what you're going to do on that deck is just awesome. Now notice I made it your possessive not my possessive saying what we're going to do on your patio. I'm saying what you're going to do on that patio is going to be really, really cool. Letting them own it, letting them own it. So I'm really excited and you know you know, if we use the brands we talk about and getting this done by your, you know, by your anniversary party or your daughter's wedding or whatever's going to happen in the backyard. You know, that's going to be at about the, you know, $18,000, $19,000 price range. Are you comfortable with that? Now, that's a trial close that very few of us have. Typically, the way that's done today is saying, okay, let me go cop together a proposal and a design and I'll email it to you right now. The scary thing is that that works about 85% of the time, but it also takes the gestation cycle of that acquisition and extends it probably two or three weeks longer than it should. So if I do the trial close, then I get conceptual agreement and that they're gone now. Now if you look at that $18,000 price tag I sent out, there's only five or six ways they can respond to that. Right? Sure. Start Tuesday, which you didn't ever get. No. Which is really good because you're not gonna invest any more time or, or effort with, you know, with this loser. Then you've got these three others. The two I hate are, we'll think about it or you're the first guy I talked to.
Frank: Oh, both of those in English are saying I like what you're saying and it resonated with me, but I don't trust you yet or I'm really uncomfortable with you at this point. And so you've got to engage them at some assurance level that the system that you knew that they want, you can articulate it back in the language and the pace and the emotion, that tone of voice that they have confidence that you know exactly what they're talking about. And then the last one is what we call the Jacqueline Deer. And that's the guy that lights off are going, Oh my God, I had no idea it was this expensive. And so because you've already said a price, you can just turn around and use that verbal energy for the, for the buyer say, Oh, I get it may not be that priority to your right now how much were you thinking? So he kinda got to answer that, right? That doesn't matter what he says, you can probably engage something on that. So that's scripting, right?
Ron: Do you find that integrators, owners, and this question I'm going to ask you to apply to, frankly I think to any business, but let's just say the wheelhouse that you and I have played in for a while is in this industry. Do you find that many business owners or sales leaders take an active role in coaching and helping their sales team script and go through those even scenarios and practice with each other prior to going out into the field and just leaving it to random results?
Frank: I don't think the majority does that yet, but let's get to the referral question, right? Because ultimately that's the deal. And so after you get conceptual agreement with the buyer at that time, this is before he carried a spool of wire into the end of the dwell point, right? As you say, Hey, Ron, I'm really excited about this. And I'll get to the final paperwork, but can we just have a discussion about how our business works with wonderful clients like you and look them right in the eye and be empathetic and authentic and just say as our bills, our business is built on word of mouth. If this system goes in, like we've talked about it and we both understand a day in it and it meets or exceeds your expectation and it's performance and it's ease of use. Could you do me the honor and the favor of recommending us to family members and other people you have the influence on if it ever comes up in a discussion about what you do, technology applies in your home. Now you do that at the beginning. This is very, very easy for the homeowner then to agree to because this is pushing some kind of a discussion downhill and out into an undetermined future for them. Right. Then at the end, at the commissioning, just restate what you just remember that conversation we had when we just talked about right before you got the proposal about recommending us? Here's my business cards and I have this in an envelope behind, you know, it's behind the stack or wherever the, you know, wherever you want to put it in, and it's just that we're a business that's been built on referrals and it's people like you that create value for our company. We really would appreciate it. So you don't even have to ask a closing line at that. It's just saying, could you do that? Like we talked about before.
Ron: I think I'm going to make sure we highlight this on the promotion of this recording post show because if someone will just simply listen to this five minute or six minute segment, I think it could single handedly changed their business. And I think that's gold, Frank.
"Get that client for life because they're going to adopt you and your success. They're very proud of you when you succeed. That's the relationship you want. You want to be with this guy when he builds the next five houses. Right? Because the cost of acquiring him is so cheap now."
Frank: Yeah. And so the the thing is very valuable, Ron, in that at that point you can kind of get, you know, that client for life because they're going to adopt you and your success. They're very proud of you when you succeed. Right. You know, and so that's the relationship you want. You want to be with this guy when he builds the next five houses. Right? Because the cost of acquiring him is so cheap now.
Ron: No, the key is good, honest, open communication and..
"Be empathetic and authentic. And if you do that discussion about referrals at the beginning, you've engineered then to have that discussion when it really counts and it doesn't get weird."
Frank: Yeah. And be empathetic and authentic. And if you do that discussion about referrals at the beginning, you've engineered then to have that discussion when it really counts and it doesn't get weird.
Ron: Yeah. No, I think that's gold. Believe it or not, Frank, we've almost been on for 30 minutes.
Frank: Oh my gosh.
Ron: Can you believe that? So I wanna touch on a couple of more topics. You know, I have a perception and maybe I'm going to state the obvious here that the economy for are for everyone in America and for our industry specifically has been really good for a good number of years. Now back to back and you know, the, although this is not the indicator that many would call the singular indicator that matters, but it is one indicator and that's the stock market. It's gotten a little wobbly here just lately..
Frank: Stocks and equities are overvalued right now.
Ron: They're overvalued. And I'm going to say it's not too much of a stretch to say the good times might be coming to an end at some point. Is it 12 months? Is it 18 months? Is it 36 months? I'm thinking things are going to change a bit for us in the not too distant future. I'm wondering if you agree with that you know, from your, you've lived through good markets and bad markets and everything in between. What's your perception of what's happening and how should integrators prepare? If you're thinking that things, you know, might get a little tougher down the road.
Frank: So our last Epic, which is my newsletter that goes up, it was "Yesterday's Successes Don't Pay Tomorrow's Tolls." It's exactly that, is that with this, this has been the longest single expansion in the general economy since on record. Number two is this has been the longest single expansion of the integration ever. And so I can tell you with assurance is it will end. The question is, when will it end and what should I do about it? Now the good news is, is that we came out of the recession very, very slowly. And typically when you come out of a recession, slowly, you'd go into the next one relatively slowly as well. But if you look at the value of the lowest priced homes in your area, it's pretty high, isn't it? Okay. Also if you just go put money in a bank, there's a lot of cash out there right now because they're only giving you what, three quarters of a percentage point on it? Right? And so I don't think we're going to get spiraled into the depths of a recession quickly. I think it will be relatively slowly, but a smart strategic thinking company. And this can go for suppliers, reps, distributors, you know, marketing geniuses like Ron and company and others, is to sit there and have a plan when the market starts to consolidate. What you don't want to do is be caught in the middle of a big capital expenditure program. So don't build that, 160,000 square foot tower you're thinking of building at this point, right.
Ron: Maybe it would have been good five years ago, but not right now. Right.
Frank: Right. So watch your capital expenditures and commitments and then if you're gonna, things are gonna get lean, it's going to get lean for everybody. And so that means you're going to have to either have a workforce reduction or a work hour reduction, but somehow you're going to have to lower the cost of your staff and think that through now rather than when the bank's pointing the gun at you. And I would be really, really on my, if I'm, if I'm a supplier beyond your cash, be right on your cash flow, right? If your accounts receivable aging is above 40, 45 days, that's an indicator that you need to reel that in a little bit. And the same thing with you know, with the custom installation company. Once you hit your milestones, get those invoices out, bill those credit cards right away to keep that cashflow secure. I'm not saying to blow start your company to DEFCON five blue yet, but just be sensitive to it. What's your thinking, Ron?
Ron: You know, I had a fun conversation recently in the last couple of weeks with Lee Travis out of Seattle. He runs a business. Wipliance. A very successful integrator well-respected in the industry. And he and I were having this conversation about the economy and what's coming. And, you know, he's been at this awhile now and he felt, and we were kind of joking because I talk, I don't sell or talk about fear, but I talk about being aware of what your surroundings and what's coming. And Lee made the comment that he felt he almost had an unfair competitive advantage in his marketplace because he sees a train heading his way and the lights are on and he hears the horn and it's the economy potentially taking a nosedive. And he said, but I'm having those discussions with my team now and I'm talking to leadership now and we're talking about what do we do and how do we prepare for it.
Frank: See, I'm going to suggest something to you, Ron, as to when you have these conversations with your network, you might modify the word aware and to be a little bit more and say to be strategic now about it, not so passive, right? Sure. Is to sit there and say, think strategically so that you know you're going to have to abandon costs, otherwise it's going to take you. And where are you going to do that? Well, your, your gear isn't going to get any cheaper and your terms aren't going to get any better and that's not the place to do it. Now you may want to relocate to a cheaper place or you may want to cut back on the size footprints you have. You know, if you've got leased trucks and vehicles, what you may do is let that expire. I'm not a big advocate of leasing for companies that people do that. And I get why and I understand all of that. But really look at how are you going to cut back in such a way that your monthly nut decreases and you still have the ability to grow your revenue so that your gross and the stuff that you keep adds to your nest egg to be able to bridge this gap and then make sure you have a good relationship with your past customers because they're going to be a readymade annuity for you to continue to do service and stuff for them.
Ron: So I'm going to jump on that. So with one of your companies, Weld, it was called Weld? You are doing email marketing for integrators around the country. And so I'm gonna take that, that you believe email marketing is an effective format for delivering a branding message or branded message in front of that customer base.
Frank: It's a fact.
"You're helping a lot of people and you're helping them stay in touch with their customers. And I believe in that policy as well."
Ron: Tell me more about that. I mean, you've gone out of your way to build this company. I hear nothing but good things about it. You're helping a lot of people and you're helping them stay in touch with their customers. And I believe in that policy as well. And so people have heard from me for a long time, but I'd love you to use this platform and give me your 2 cents on why you think they should be doing that.
Frank: Okay. So basically this is, is we send out a newsletter that goes to your customers in your name with your logo and it's generic. There's not any particular brand unless it's a dominant brand like Amazon or Nest or something like that. But what this is it's just a mild touch with your customers to talk about some kind of technology. I think that the ones going out tomorrow is on, you know, making sure that ventholes are clean on your stuff. Because the thermionics issues during hot weather is important and the dust in stuff is wreaking havoc. The thermionics health of your gear is important. And and then to stabilize power when an air conditioner or lighten off and stuff like that. Very, very few. And yet, you know, I hear it very rarely that somebody made a sale on what the newsletter was about. Every single one of the customers that I talk to each week, every single one gets customers every single time. That newsletter goes out every single time. So if you buy it from me, great. If you buy it from Ron, that's great to just do it. And all that's really telling the buyer or your customer is your store is still open and you're still their guy. That's all you're doing. And that, you know, that one thing all of a sudden says, you know, I want to upgrade the audio on my deck or my son moved out of that room and you know that PlayStation, that sucks up there. I want to make that an office and I want to have better networking up there, whatever it is. Right? And that's what stimulates the phone call. Now the good thing about this is that you get called out to do that. I go in, you do the proposal, you do the trial close, you do the, you do the referral conversation, you get instantaneous approval, you install it two days later. By Friday you have 100% of your money. So you turned it all in three or four days. And so it's a really profitable realm to be, it's not exciting, but it's really profitable. The cost acquire that business was what? You know, the cost for our basic service is 70 bucks. I mean that, that's not the issue. The issue is that you need to touch base with your customers, particularly in an economy that could be that could be backtracking.
Ron: Amen. Preach it brother. So Frank, who should go to the tech and business summit, also known as the Castle Summit in Florida next week. Who should be there?
Frank: So the Castle Summit is unique in that is our first attempt to build a trade event around convergence that's bringing together kind of the security lighting, AV, automation and IT communities under, you know, because that's really what we do. No longer are we just the AV guy first. We're not working guys. And then we're a video guy and an audio guy, you know, and it's just the converging markets and it gives you the ability. This event will give you the ability to go into each of those verticals and identify where your company is on all those skillsets and saying, ah, I need to bolster and understand this lighting arena more than I have in the past. Or I need to be able to understand cybersecurity like I haven't and really address some training issues as well as better my understanding so I can articulate that to clients and then they get to hang out with Ron and I, so why not go right?
"The face to face time with your, in my case, my customers or just my vendor friends or different people, regardless of whether they're a customer or not, just people I've known for many years in some case, decades. It's priceless."
Ron: All right. Amen. I always enjoy I was talking to actually a lot of people recently, I've been, you know, we're in the buying group or the trade association meeting season, Spring is here. So it seems like every week, you know, we are somewhere meeting and pressing the flesh and it is priceless. The face to face time, you know, with your, in my case, my customers or just my vendor friends or different people, regardless of whether they're a customer or not, just people I've known for many years in some case, decades. It's priceless. And you know, you can't forget that people buy from people, people do business with people, not companies.
Frank: Right. And if they're buying from your company and not from you, the loyalty is not there. It's a transactional.
Ron: That's right. Yeah. No, I completely agree. Well, Frank we are approaching just past 40 minutes. It's been really an honor to have you on the show. I know we've been trying to work logistics. Okay.
Frank: We started dancing on this about a year ago, didn't we?
Ron: You are actually one of the first people I reached out to about when I had this crazy idea to do a weekly Facebook live show. You were one of the first people we reached out to and it's taken a little bit to get us.
Frank: I've seen all of the guys that you've had on and I feel like, man, I had a lot of them to work me. So if you want to do it again, I'm always open to this Ron. And you know, I hope that you're richly rewarded for this blessing and I hope that dealers take this some of this and they can make some banquets.
Ron: Well that's it. It's, I do this to help the industry. I think that your voice and dealer's voices and vendor's voices and at least the try to dialogue I attempt to elicit is really meant to get everyone to make themselves a little bit better and to try to put ideas and different ways of thinking out into the ether. And you've definitely contributed to that. And I really appreciate it.
Ron: Awesome. So folks, thank you for listening. Thanks for watching. This was episode 42. I'm going to make sure in the notes I highlight that specific segment where Frank is talking about you guys driving your referral business and some techniques to really change or move the needle there. I think everything Frank said was valuable, but that had particularly. That was particularly impactful for me. I hadn't heard someone reinforce that particular strategy in quite a while. I thought that was rather golden. So hopefully if you're listening and watching and you're here in Florida, then I will see you very soon. I'll see you next week at the tech and business summit. Frank has been working with Mark for many years now on making that event a huge success. And if you hadn't heard that was actually just acquired by CEDIA just a few weeks ago. So clearly they're doing a lot right to help the industry and help you folks better and grow your business. So I will see you next week. And then in a few weeks after that I have to get back to the page. They're actually doing the event in Los Angeles and Irvine, California, and we, One Firefly, we'll also be out there at that event. I don't know if I'm personally going to go to that. I know I'll have some of my team there, but I'll see if I can get out there as well. So on that note, I'm going to sign off and you folks have an awesome day and awesome rest of your week and weekend and I look forward to seeing you again very soon. Thanks so much. Everyone.
Frank has decades of integration experience. His expertise is in increasing closing rates while decreasing closing times, and generally cutting the costs of new business acquisition within the B2B technology arena. As a Partner at StayTuned & Weld, Frank works to engineer strong loyal market demand and monetization for client offerings. Frank has also been a member and volunteer with CEDIA since 1989.
Ron Callis is the CEO of One Firefly, LLC, a digital marketing agency based out of South Florida and creator of Automation Unplugged. Founded in 2007, One Firefly has quickly became the leading marketing firm specializing in the integrated technology and security space. The One Firefly team work hard to create innovative solutions to help Integrators boost their online presence, such as the elite website solution, Mercury Pro.
Resources and Links from the Interview:
You can also learn more about Weld2 at https://www.weld2.com/