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Interview with Corey Gauteraux from G4 Design House – Small Business Show 157

Welcome to the small business show here at business show Co the show that is buy for and about small business owners here in Durham New Hampshire, I’m Dave Hamilton and in Lafayette, California. I am Shannon Jean how it goes it out there. Man it comes, and it goes it’s good. It’s good, I’m working with it. I’m really off kilter today, Shannon I totally rearranged my studio and things that used to be controlled with my right hand or controlled.

With my left hand – and it’s yeah it’s a little weird – I don’t know that I or did the ergonomics correctly, but you know I’ll figure it out and then probably finish things around yeah yeah. So if we know we start things start going crazy on the show. We’ll know it’s your fault, it’s totally my fault. That’s right! Yeah, awesome! That’s great! Well, hey we’ve got a guest here today with us and one of the things you know we talk about all the time on the small business show.

Is your online presence? How important everything is? You know your website all that good stuff, your search engine optimization so joining us today is Corey good Errol, one of the founders of g4 design house and he’s going to talk about his business, about creating and managing your online brand marketing and more good stuff. Like that, so thanks for joining us today, Corey, hey guys how you doing good good man, we’re excited to have you on the show and talk about your business, so tell us about g4.

You know: what’s your core business and you know kind of how you got things started and how your how your business works. Web design is our core business and we also do marketing search engine optimization, pay-per-click and things like that. We started probably about five years ago. It was we’ve had a couple of different businesses in the past and we did a lot of our own web design, web development marketing for those businesses and about five years.

Five years ago we decided that we were so good at it that we were going to create a new business out of it and do it for other people. So that’s what sergeant nice yeah. So you have lots of experience in this yeah and you you’ve spun off g4 about five years ago to focus and and offer those services to other other small businesses right in business about twenty years ago, and we started developing our own websites and, of course doing Our own marketing campaigns, one of the things that we never did, was outsource our our needs, and so we kind of had to learn as we went and I think that made our ability is much stronger.

And so when we did start our business five years ago, we were pretty much ahead of the game. Yeah! That’s great! That’s great. I will say this. My my greatest successes have come from exactly this, taking a skill that you had to develop on your own. For some other business and then turning that into your business, but my greatest regrets come from looking back at all of the skills that I developed, that I didn’t turn in to other businesses, so always happy to hear about people that are like smart enough to capitalize.

On on the things that I probably missed out on, so there you go. That’s great man, wow, that’s really cool! Sorry! You guys, I mean been doing this for a long long time. What you know kind of, are there best practices that you you know implement for small businesses that come to you and say: hey, you know: what do we do? How do we, you know, get get our website which may you know, need they need help with, and how does the program work? What we try to do is our whole concept.

Behind g4 design house is to make growing a new website and growing the business. A lot more affordable and easier for people most places you go to if you’re going to an agency, especially you’re, going to pay a lot of money upfront in order to get a website. And so we took our past business model, which is monthly payment plans and converted it into our g4 project and basically allow all of our clients to make affordable monthly payments, and that allows them to.

It gives us the ability to market to new websites. New businesses, medium-sized businesses, large corporations – we can do the entire gamut of business types, so it makes it a lot better for us on our marketing side, yeah. That makes sense, and so you know they come in, and I mean your site looks awesome at g4 design, house, calm and everything. I’ve always seen you guys do the quality in the the graphics and the layout and everything the build quality has been fantastic.

What does somebody get for? Like you know, it looks like on your site to say start it like $ 1.99 a month for a small business. What do they? They start there and then they add on like alucard things or is there a package that they get for that price? Our services are pretty all-encompassing and that’s one of the another benefit of being a client of ours. Is that we’re not going to do those add-on costs for every little thing that you want to get? You know we do logo concepts mock-ups, so they approve design before we build anything we provide.

You know contact forms any sort of widget or plugin that they may need to perform different functions for their website, whether it’s memberships, a forum, you know, there’s so many different things that people can want and it’s all-encompassing and we do the $ 1.99 a month and That goes on for 12 months, which is we’ll knee basically what’s cool. We only require somebody to be with us for 12 months.

That’s the contract after that, if they choose to go away or their business fails, which sometimes it unfortunately does they’re not locked in and liable to us for you know years on end, so it basically becomes a month-to-month plan after that, so you have a ramp-up period That you, you know that this is the minimum amount of time that you want a client to spend with you. It’s it’s the time that it takes them to really be convinced of the value.

Is that a good way of saying it or a time that it take that time that it takes for you to demonstrate value? Of course yeah I mean when somebody and that’s, I think, there’s a big misconception among people out there that when you create a website, all of a sudden you’re going to just start getting traffic and you’re going to get customers and and all of a sudden, your Business is going to grow well, unfortunately, in the web space it doesn’t work that way, Google’s huge, I’m sure everyone’s done a search for something and found thousands of links to other websites and that’s the way it is and you’re competing with all those people align.

So the the website itself is step one. Then you have to go into now that I have this great looking website. What am I going to do with it and that’s when you get into social media marketing search engine, optimization pay-per-click, whatever the avenue of marketing that you want to go down, it’s going to tell we provide those services as well, so we would. Rather, I guess a package deal or offer both of our services to our client.

Then just the ala carte website, because we’d rather be in control of the end result. So we know that we’re providing a long relationship with our customer, that’s going to get them results, got it yeah that that’s cool cuz. I cuz I’m definitely one of those people that you know have tried in the past, like oh we’re going to throw this site up there, and now we’re done look how beautiful it looks and you’re right it is.

That is like step one on the roadmap to success. Right you’re sure I mean you know, there’s Wix, there’s all types of do yourself: services out there and that’s great for somebody that maybe has marketing skills themselves is really taking advantage of social media blogging and really doing their part to make sure that their site is Successful but you know most people don’t have the time, the energy, the cost.

You know to do that sort of saying so that’s when they reach out to us and we can offer our services yeah, that’s huge, yeah and that you know it. It is really all-encompassing. So it is, it is far greater than just that. Oh we’re going to build you the site. It’s like we’re, going to really hold your hand through this. You know 12-month process and and get you up and running so that that’s really cool okay.

Twelve months is just a start, I mean we have clients that have been with us since day, one they have multiple websites with state. You know: we’ve remodeled their first website that we build to make it a little bit more current. You know so we try to have those really long lasting relationships. Yeah, that’s that’s killer, all right! So now we know what you do, how it works, all that kind of stuff.

Let’s talk about your your you know, kind of the back end your business. If you will what’s what is the most challenging part of your business and – and you mentioned like Wix and some of these other – you know off-the-shelf sites and competitors, I would think it’s a pretty competitive space, but maybe that’s not your most challenging thing. What what’s the most challenging part of business, and what have you guys done to to overcome it? You know you actually pretty much nailed it.

It is web development and web design marketing. It’s got to be one of the the most congested business I’ve ever seen. I mean just as San Diego. I mean there are thousands of developers, so I mean and we’re competing against San Francisco New York, all the big all the big games, but you know, Web Design is everywhere. There’s freelancers, you know you’re competing with companies that hire. You know individuals from the Philippines and in India, that’s pretty popular, so there is a ton of competition out there and so generating new clients is our biggest challenge for sure and and how do you guys do that? Do you have a team of salespeople or reaching out, or are you really focused on the you know, inbound marketing? What have you found works the best for you guys I am, we’ve been focusing and continue to focus on Adwords and pay-per-click.

You do your own thing, like the thing that you would do for your clients is what you do for you: how much search engine optimization, of course, social media publishing. We do have sales agents that work outside of our office that travel. They do cold calls from their home where they travel locally in their their state, or we have a couple guys that we just hired, for example, here in San Diego, so they’re going around and getting generating new sells for us.

So we do have that aspect of it, but yeah I mean the per click and an SEO. That’s the biggest, probably avenue that we take yeah, that’s great and your your target kind of demographic. You know, are you? Are you going after? You know the sole proprietor type of small business or larger. You know s corpse or or LLC. You know kind of mid-sized companies or are you just taking whoever comes to you? You come up with a unique solution form.

Oh, we do take on any client from the from the new business, like you mentioned, to large corporations that have established companies for a long period of time that just kind of need to refresh their brand. It’s you know poppy. Primarily, the the medium-sized business is our as our top client and and that’s fine, there’s great to work with you know. Large corporations can be a little bit more difficult to work with, sometimes because they have certain needs and they’re.

You have to meet and time per strengths, and things like that that maybe the smaller business doesn’t and then, of course, the new business. You have to worry about, you know them going out of business or not being successful, and so you have to gauge how you approach each one a little bit differently as far as the sales process and the cost for the customer, which we generally try to keep It equal across the board, but you know there’s going to be.

You know times where you have a little difference there. Yeah sure I mean I imagine if you know corporation, your large business comes to you and wants a Pacific project. You guys going out and providing a quote for that that type of event versus just the the standard subscription model type thing completely different. You know you’re going to have an RFP with a large corporation and you’re, going to have a they’re going to provide a number of assets.

Typically, for you already they’re going to have a mapped out what they want for the most part, which is really great and nice and and compared to the new business we get. Companies sometimes are so new. They really don’t have a plan, they don’t know what they’re really doing at that point. They have an idea sometimes and that’s great, but they don’t really have the assets yet or the the content behind it to to really build a great website.

So we have to kind of assist them with that process yeah, and I would think that you know they’re really got ta, be pros and cons with each thing right where you get your your creative juices, really going with brand new business and helping them design their Logo and get their message in the brand versus you know. These large corporate entities have come. You know, give you all that that stuff already, but maybe more demanding and you have to jump through more hoops to address their needs.

Perhaps yeah. That’s exactly on point. Other companies are great because they do know what they want, but yeah the time constraints can be pretty cumbersome, sometimes especially when you’re working on a lot of projects, and you have a limited amount of staff to work on. So you know you kind of have to make do as cutting out time for them specifically in order to get the job done, but at the same time, yeah you’re right.

The creative freedom that you have on the newer or smaller business is pretty nice, especially for our designers who like to be creative and they they don’t like to just input assets into a web page. So it’s nice for them, particularly so yeah yeah, that’s cool. I’m curious about this because it I mean it sounds like you’ve got a model that has sort of from a pricing standpoint a one-size-fits, if not all most and yet you’re able to provide personalized or certainly tailored service for every business that you work with, so that I’m curious like how one size fits most.

Is your pricing model? Would you say that 80 % of your people are on the same model or or is it higher or lower than that, I would say, probably about maybe about 65 % are on that model that you see this on the website? That fits the majority. You know when it comes to the larger businesses. They generally don’t even want to do a monthly payment plan. They want to kind of do it a lump sums and pay it off as they go.

They don’t want that overhead kind of a thing going on, so they come knock that out. So majority of the payment plan option that we provide is going to be for the medium and small-sized business for sure sure that makes sense yeah because they, the the medium and small sized business, hasn’t haven’t learned yet that monthly expenses monthly recurring expenses are potentially the You know the death of you so and also to be fair, small and medium-sized business, even if they do know that lesson it you know, just cash flow might be such that that’s the only way they can make it work, whereas a business.

That’s a little more established and larger might have the capital reserves to be able to say, okay. Well, if that’s going to cost us, you know twenty five hundred bucks or twenty four hundred bucks. Well, let’s just spend that money and then we don’t have to worry about. You know where’s that money in August, when you know the 200 bucks comes around so yeah exactly and they’re not tied to us anymore, either.

That’s another thing for the larger companies: they don’t really want to be stuck with us if they don’t have to be and when you’re on a payment plan was to us, I mean as long as you’re, making those payments you’re you’re sort of stuck as far as Us hosting the website on our server managing the website that sort of a thing – gotcha – okay, oh so, you’re, actually hosting for this. Oh that’s, very interesting, yeah yeah everything, so we provide hosting.

We will buy your domain for the first year, pay that cost for you. If you need it, yep we’ll set up your email accounts for you. If you need that, we try to do everything, so you don’t have to do it. That’s cool yeah, especially you know. It’s someone, that’s not an expert at that and they’re. You know trying to focus on growing their business. I think that’s it’s! It’s awesome to have that whole.

You know all-encompassing. You know kind of hand-holding. If you will, I think it’s really cool. So you know what we talked a lot about on the show here. We kind of we refer to it as a charmed life, you know as business owners and that it’s not all about cash and and and stuff. Although you know we all the cash is king and that’s how you measure success of you know your business, but but what about you? You know, what’s the yardstick that you use to measure your success beyond the monetary rewards, to keep you and personally, or you know your team moving forward, I mean for me personally when I want to look at it.

It’s the return clients that does it for me. When you get a lot, you know the majority of your clients coming back and saying you know, I have a disorder business or I have you know this other person or referrals. I have this. Other person is a friend of mine that I want to introduce you to so you can build their website. Those are the things that really stand out to me that, and you know, give me energy to keep doing this every single day.

Yeah. That’s like your pat on the back right. This guy’s referring people yeah, oh yeah, that’s cool validation, that your service is valuable and and all of that that’s good yeah, yeah yeah I mean the money is going to the money comes as it comes. I mean that’s just part of it, but it’s the exact evaluation and the the continued and returned clients really does it yeah. Hopefully it’s a cycle right.

You get that more return, customers, more referrals than that the money side of thing is growing it along the same way: yeah yeah, that’s cool, okay! Now, here’s the part of the show where I get to kind of call you to the mat. We always ask everybody. This you know Dave, and I are big fans of mistakes primarily because we’ve probably made so many between the both of us or, like speaking for myself, in your way, no no you’re right and you know we learned so much from them, and so can you tell Me what you’re, using these little quote signs here.

Of course you can’t see that at home, what’s in the best mistake, you guys have made that has taught you the most about your business. A man make mistakes all the time. Is there anything that stands out you’re like wow, you know if we don’t look, how much we learned or if we only done this differently. You know that kind of thing. You know I’ll talk a little bit about this client experience. I won’t name any names or anything sure, but we had a client as one of our, not our first but one of our first websites that we was a big prize, a big project.

You’re talking, you know, tens of thousands of dollar project, okay and one of the mistakes that we did, and we definitely learned from this one is making not forcing the client to provide us all the details and in a really organized fashion. This was a, it was a couple and they were starting a new business and they they had all these great ideas, but the way that they presented was basically kind of like a just a pot of information and nothing was really organized or clean, and we accepted It and we started the project and we kept working on it and as we kept going, it was oh, you forgot this, and – and I need this – and I do you know I need this and it just added up and added up and and by the time We got to the end of the project, we probably lost.

You know thousands and thousands of dollars on it and it was. It was a real big kick in the butt that you know. We need to make sure that, especially on a big project that the client has to be prepared, they need to be able to. You know just like decisively tell us what they need and it needs to be presented to us in an organized fashion. That way, we can quote it out properly and give them the proper estimate and then we’re protecting ourselves on the back end.

Oh yeah. No, that’s a huge thing. Do you have like a framework now or some kind of document you know or proposal? You know think that you’re giving to those customers that are there filling out to give you that data. Now they on the bigger projects, we have a proposal that we send out and we have basically a scope of work and as we attached it to the agreement and they have to sign off on it and then we refer back to it.

If we need to, I mean, since that point, we haven’t really run into too many of those issues anymore, because it was such a big issue at the time that you know now. We question everything yeah, you almost don’t need the new policy with the client, because internally you it you’ve changed everything because of that exactly yep yeah! That’s weird yeah! That’s great! That’s cool! Well! So, what’s next, for you guys something are you in growth mode or are you you know really kind of focused on your existing customers? What’s the next step for for your business, I mean right now we are we’re, not expand super big right now.

You know. Obviously, we still want to get new customers new clients, but we don’t want to grow too fast. We are taking a lot of time on our current clients. We have a lot of currently. We have a lot of big projects that we’re touching on with big big brands and so we’re kind of putting our attention to those and and making sure those are all done right and then, of course, taking care of our. You know.

We have several hundred clients that we have currently active and so we’re managing all of their sites. You know one of the things that we actually haven’t touched upon was the platform that we build. Our websites in for the majority is WordPress, although we do build HTML sites from scratch, which was that project that I was just talking about, that was from scratch project a wordpress requires a lot of management and energy, so we’re kind of making sure that that’s all Good to go yeah, that’s very cool, that’s awesome! So let me let me ask you: what’s the best part of your day, I always like to ask guys like this sitter of going to work, and you know working with your team and you can’t say five o’clock.

You know I mean, is there a the part of you know your working environment or when you get in there that you really enjoy the most? You know it’s actually, so I’m the first one in the office generally being one of my programmers and for me it’s just personally, it’s being able to come here first thing before anyone else is here and kind of just catch up on everything and my organizational plan And you know working through emails for clients, and you know going through the project management, software making sure everything’s on point again, I get like an hour and a half in the morning that, without having to you, know talk to my staff and things like that.

That gel allows me to complete a lot so now I like that part yeah, that’s nice! When you have that quiet time, that’s exactly I love working. My stats are great. I love it when they’re here we have an awesome crew here, we’re definitely a family business and we are a family oriented type of office and everyone here is awesome and I love spending time with them, but that little private time is nice, yeah and you.

I would say Kirk if I’m wrong, you’ve had some staff. You know that have been with you for a long time right, so my main programmer IT person he’s been with us for man. I want to say 16 years, Wow Harley our lead our lead designer has been with us since the inception of g-force of five years. We have a kind of a go-to girl with many hats. She has been with us for probably seven years so yeah most of our employees are longtime employees.

They stick with us because we we are that family business and we kind of backed that way around the office, so yeah, and I think that that’s a big statement to your success as well, and that should be another pat on your back, because if people, actually You know people want to hang out and stay with you guys that that’s really cool, very good John, that yeah yeah. That’s awesome! We don’t like to turnover yeah it’s expensive right and you know you and you don’t know who’s going to walk in the door.

You know, and it is difficult, yeah yeah and I always argue you know you really you really never. You can be the greatest interviewer, but you really never know how an employee’s going to you know what their work ethic is and how they’re going to fit in your culture until they’ve been there for a significant amount of time. Yeah I mean you, can you can tell when somebody’s absolutely the wrong? Yes and but, but you know there can be somebody that seems like they’re pretty close and that pretty close over the over the course of several years can actually be worse than hiring somebody.

That’s not a fit at all right because it can start to drag you away from from where your core is yeah, it’s interesting exactly and then the longer they’re adhere to. If it is somebody, that’s not quite quite there, it makes it harder to. You know to see if you need to. Let me go it’s a much harder opposition. You know, then, if it’s somebody new so yeah I mean that’s the worst part of anything is having to let people go, and so you definitely from the gig.

So you want to make sure you have the right people, but yeah it’s hard. Just sometimes you just don’t know until they’re in it so yeah yeah yeah. We used to do with tech, restore we had an intern program through a technical school around here and then we would get these interns and they would come in and they would work for a hundred hours and I used to tell everybody: this is your hundred hour Job interview, you know, cuz, you really kind of get him figured out over a few weeks of and use you as much longer because they wouldn’t work all day so be a few hours every day and some of our best folks came through that program, and it’s And you’re absolutely right is absolutely the worst thing as a small business owner to have to let someone go yeah, it’s miserable, it’s personal, but it also has like repercussions on your business life, because when you’re a small business owner it you know it’s it’s like losing One person out of a thousand is very different than losing one person out of ten it.

You know like there’s an arc left on the table, big time, yeah yeah sure in today’s age, with with the social media and the reviews, and I mean letting somebody go even if it’s for all the right reasons is a risky proposition. Sometimes I mean that’s, you know come back to you, especially on social media, in a negative way and that’s always the risks, and so you know the least you these times. You have to do it, the better, that’s for sure yeah for sure I always come.

I always come back and what one of my favorite movies, The Fifth Element where so get Gary Oldman character, tells the guy to lay off two million people and he’s like let go two million. I’m like see. We can’t do that. Yeah we got ta walk in the other room and sit down with this person that you known and hung out with, and you know so well, that’s cool! I congratulate you on your success. What’s the best way for our listeners to learn more about your business, they can visit us at g4 design, house comm and, of course they can go to facebook-dot-com forward-slash g4 design house.

That’s great yeah! You guys do a lot of good social media over there and keep up the good work man. I love looking at your stuff, the qualities and very impressive, and we appreciate you coming on the show and sharing your story and you know, keep in touch or send some of those small business owners. Our way that you’re helping we’d love to talk with him will do. Thank you so much for having me yeah thanks thanks for joining us Cory.

This is great all right folks! Well, you know where to find us go to business, show, call or our Facebook page business show Co, slash, Facebook Shane, you got anything else to add before we sign off here. I think. That’s probably it man um, you know, pray for rain in California, we’re having another dry years, take care.


Who is helping with your digital business footprint?

 

By Jimmy Dagger

Find out my interests on my awesome blog!

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