I had a great talk with Jesse Keyser, a franchisee of Sports Clips, Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning, and Ideal Image, about innovating marketing strategies, entrepreneurial success stories, localized marketing techniques, and budget-friendly marketing tactics.
Listen to episode #77 of the How I Made It In Marketing podcast to hear Keyser discuss creative launch strategies, strategic business growth, networking in business expansion, and policy advocacy in business.
In every survey we conducted for benchmark reports, one challenge consistently topped the list among marketers – the size of the marketing budget.
I mean, who could argue. We would all want a bigger budget, right?
And while a hefty budget is a dream for many, this episode’s guest is a testament to the idea that constraints can actually be a catalyst for innovation and creativity.
I spoke with Jesse Keyser, a franchisee of Sports Clips, Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning, and Ideal Image, and Chair of the Multi-unit Franchising Conference.
Keyser is co-owner of 50 locations across the U.S., with a combined $10 million in annual revenue.
He manages a team of 350 and keeps their marketing budget between four and seven percent of revenue for each location.
Listen to our conversation using this embedded player or click through to your preferred audio streaming service using the links below it.
Some lessons from Keyser that emerged in our discussion:
In the early days of his career, Keyser was part of a dot com company that had a minuscule marketing budget. Despite this, he delved deep into maximizing organic traffic, capitalizing on word-of-mouth, and pioneering grassroots strategies.
In 2005, when Keyser was about to launch his first Little Caesars Pizza location, he understood the significance of making a strong first impression. Eschewing traditional methods, he designed a unique marketing strategy that led to record footfalls and buzz around the brand.
He read Dan Kennedy’s books about sales letters and decided to pick 10,000 addresses in the town and write them a letter that said, ‘If you bring this letter in, I'll give you a free order of crazy bread’ as a way to track it.
When introducing their Sport Clips Haircuts outlets, Keyser once again tapped into the power of a memorable debut. Each salon's grand opening was marked by fanfare, drawing crowds and creating local buzz. Their strategy, which combined local engagement with national brand recognition, solidified their reputation and paved the way for further expansion.
Keyser’s Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning outlet has been a standout success, registering as the highest-volume office nationwide. Much of this achievement stemmed from a detailed marketing strategy, finely tuned to resonate with the local community.
Keyser also shared lessons he learned from the people he collaborated with.
via Charles Keyser, co-owner (and Jesse’s brother)
Collaborating with his brother across various ventures, Keyser realized the unparalleled strength that trust, shared vision, and complementary skills can offer. Their combined efforts reflected in the consistent success of their businesses.
via Dan Sullivan, strategic coach, and Joe Polish, Genius Network
Keyser’s time on various advisory councils provided him invaluable insights from industry veterans. A particularly helpful interaction was with the leadership at Sport Clips. Their shared wisdom on brand strategy and expansion was enlightening.
via Senator Roy Blunt
Keyser’s advocacy trips to Washington DC, especially interactions with policymakers like Senator Roy Blunt, highlighted the power of dialogue. Their discussions centered around challenges and potential policy enhancements for franchisees.
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Not ready for a listen yet? Interested in searching the conversation? No problem. Below is a rough transcript of our discussion.
Jesse Keyser: Your story was actually making me think of a philosophy that we have. It's actually a quote. It is in our company. Basically, if something happens more than once, we're going to create a process or a system for it. So we're going to systemize the predictable so we can humanize the unpredictable. And that that gives my managers permission to get off the script when it's necessary and address the situation when it's a human and say, okay, here's the situation.
You've been an employee with us for ten years. You've never, never not come to work. You didn't show up Thursday. You're showing up now, Friday. I'm not going to fire you, but I need to know what happened. Are you okay? Like, you got to humanize it. And I think because of that, I've got better employee retention, which means better retention.
They get trained better, they're better at their jobs, and then the customer service is better. I got better client experience scores and I've got higher client retention because of that, too.
Intro Dude: Welcome to how I made it in marketing. From Marketing Sherpa, we scour pitches from hundreds of creative leaders and uncover specific examples, not just trending ideas or buzzword laden schmaltz, real world examples to help you transform yourself as a marketer. Now here's your host, the senior director of Content and Marketing at Marketing Sherpa Daniel Burstein to tell you about today's guest.
Daniel Burstein: He's been in every survey we conducted for benchmark reports. One challenge consistently top the list among marketers the size of the marketing budget. I mean, who could argue, right, that we would all want a bigger budget? Well, a hefty budget is a dream for many. My next guest is a testament to the idea that constraints can actually be a catalyst for innovation and creativity.
Joining us now is Jesse Kaiser, a successful franchisee of sports clubs. Oxi fresh carpet cleaning and ideal image and the chair of the Multi-unit Franchise conference. Thank you for joining us, Jesse.
Jesse Keyser: Hey, thanks for having me.
Daniel Burstein: So let's take a quick look at your background. Jesse worked in sales for a technology startup for eight years, but then he quit because he wanted to own his own business and became a Little Caesars and a Alpbach franchisee for the past eight years, he has been a franchise owner, and today he is a co-owner of 50 locations of sports clubs.
Oxi fresh carpet cleaning and ideal image across the U.S. with a combined $10 million in annual revenue. He manages a team of 350 and his brands keep their marketing budget at 4% to 7% for their locations. So just to give us a sense, what is your day like as a franchisee?
Jesse Keyser: So wake up in the morning, get the kids ready for school, take them to school, and then I go hit the gym, workout Monday through Friday, try to stay healthy. I'm normally done with that by about 10 a.m. Central Time. That's when I start taking phone calls and what I do once I leave the gym, I go find a Starbucks.
I'd like to rotate the Starbucks so I don't see the same people all the time. And I spend probably anywhere from 2 to 3 hours recruiting for future employees and dealing with a couple of emails and a couple phone calls for my district managers. And then when it's about 320, it's time to pick up the kiddos and pick them up, come home.
If there's any last minute stuff I've got to finish up, I take care of that and then it's off either volleyball practice or robotics class or whatever the kids have going on after school.
Daniel Burstein: So let me ask guys. A big focus on recruiting. Is that because of what we've heard lately about employee shortages, although we've heard they're starting to ease? Or is that because you have a growth mindset? I mean, you've grown and built a lot more franchises.
Jesse Keyser: So a majority of our businesses right now are very close to a 1 to 1 ratio of you have to have one employee for one customer at a time, right? So when it comes to haircuts, you can't even though you've got two hands, you can't cut to the same time. And our carpet cleaning technicians, you know, it takes a carpet cleaning technician to come to the house or the business to clean it.
And so we don't have that technician. We can't do that. As far as labor constraints, we have always just had such an emphasis on recruiting for 4 to 2 reasons. In the salon industry, I'm limited to only people that have already made it, and of that a sizable investment. Sometimes it's 20,000 plus and a year of schooling to get certified.
And you know, that job is one where you're going to employ people that live within a reasonable driving distance. This isn't the type of industry where people normally pack up a U-Haul and drive cross-country to cut hair at a different salon because there's a salon down the road from the one that they're currently working. And so they don't need to relocate.
So you've got to always be looking out for the best and brightest talent. And so we just apply that to all of our industries and like I said, it's a 1 to 1 ratio. So if you want to have X amount of cells, you've got to have X amount of employees. So if you want more cells than what you have now, you've got to get more employees.
So we've always looked at it as it's two fold. You could spend a lot of money and be really good at marketing, but if you don't have enough capacity, your competitors actually get that overfill. It's not like you can bank on a different day. When I get a guy that's ready to get a haircut and we have a two hour wait, he's going to go to one of my competitors.
He's not going to wait. And same thing with the holidays are coming up. You know, if you've got the family come over Thanksgiving dinner, Black Friday is not a good day to have your hair or your carpets clean. Right? You want to have it done before Thanksgiving dinner. So it's one of those things where you've got to have that capacity and that's just going to be where you're always overstaffed and overtraining.
Your team members.
Daniel Burstein: You know, it's a great lesson for all the marketers listening to because when we've talked about things like labor shortages or growing a company, you know, a lot of times that task falls on our recruiters, specifically where marketers have that marketing ability, right, to get in front of an audience. And in this case, that audience is just different potential employees.
Jesse Keyser: You know, one thing where it's such a unique time in business, where at least the industries I'm in, if you are able to service right away or that day, same day service, you don't have to spend as much money in marketing, acquire clients as you did before the pandemic. So, you know, if you build it, they will come.
Is the situation that we're dealing with right now. It's it's I can remember before the pandemic, I would have businesses where it would be like tumbleweeds waiting for the next client to come through because I was staffed so well that we were just ready for it. Now, no matter how many people I add, there's another client waiting to get a haircut or get their carpets cleaned because my competitors haven't figured this out yet.
Daniel Burstein: And that's a really interesting thing that we have really never lived in. I don't think any of us where, you know, we learned in basic economics about supply and demand. And as marketers, you know, it's your point. We've always been hitting that demand side really hard, right? Because supply was almost unlimited. And that's where I say where, you know, in some industries or as things change where you want to grow, marketers are getting involved in actually recruiting and building up that supply side because to your point, that could be a competitive advantage in itself.
Well, I'm glad we're talking. I mentioned to you, you know, we've had guests on how I made it marketing before who are CMO's of franchisors, you know, CEOs of different brands of franchises across the country. And we talk to them about the different audiences they had obviously want the audiences and customers, but in other audiences with the franchisees.
So it'll be interesting to talk to someone. I thought when I got your podcast guest application of a franchisor who is involved and part franchisee who's involved in not just being among that audience and having to figure out how to work with a big national brand, but also a lot closer to the customer. So let's take a look at some of the lessons from your career and see what we can learn from that.
So your first lesson is you mentioned constraints often pave the way for innovation and creativity, a kind of thesis in the intro. How did you learn this lesson? Jessie?
Jesse Keyser: So while I was in college, I was lucky enough to stumble across an opportunity with a technology startup company. And in 97, 98, 99, the idea that you would pay, it's kind of like right now people are just minds are blown that Elon Musk wants to charge you for a regular account at Twitter or X, whatever it's called now.
But we were dealing with education K through 12 market. We had a we were actually technically an application service provider. We were we actually trademarked K through 12 as first application service provider. Anyway. So what that really meant was we sold a software solution that you could access through a web browser with a log in and password, and we had lots of competitors, but our competitors were of that mindset that we'll go get advertising and that'll pay for it.
And so kind of like how you still don't pay for Facebook because Facebook gets advertisers. Well, couple of things were going on. That model didn't really end up panning out very well for most markets or industries and educators and school boards in general are kind of prone to not wanting their children or students and or employees being exposed to advertising.
They don't know what it's going to be. Now, I don't think any of it was ever distasteful. But how applicable is a Pets.com ad banner ad on your school website? It's just it's not relevant and it's not what the school represents. So but in the very beginning, these guys would have huge marketing budgets, huge trade show budgets. I mean, we'd have a little ten by ten.
BOOTH And these guys have a 40 by 40. Booth That was two stories tall. It was just crazy. So we we really didn't have any money. We didn't have any angel investors. This is just from the founders of the company and the small generation of revenue. So one of the things that I needed to do is I wanted to make a lot more money.
And the only way I could get that to happen is if I start to have the phone ring for people ready to buy the software. Right. And we were a subscription too, so it wasn't like one and done. This is this is back when people bought a wrapped package of Microsoft Word. Right now with three six. So you just you just zaps a credit card every month or once a year and Daniels subscriptions.
So these are new concepts that we were trying to educate people on, at least for K-through-12 education. So what I it took months and months and months, but I got this long network of I found all these other educational websites that would give reviews of different educational software. And so I would say, Hey, we would love for you to review our software.
Now, these sites, this is the beginning of the Internet too, right? There wasn't a lot of traffic to these websites, but they were there and they're a good resource. So the other thing was, is that most schools had a directory of all their employees email addresses. So I had to figure out there's really only one person, maybe two, that I'm selling to in this situation.
I'm selling to a brand new technology coordinator title, which really was either the typewriting instructor four years earlier or, you know, something of that nature a businessman, business teacher that then got turned into, Hey, we're wiring your whole school and you're in charge of it. So I was dealing with anything from people that were really savants at technology to people that were it was me telling them how to turn on a computer.
Had to deal with all of that. Right. So anyway, I've got really one decision maker. The other one would possibly be the superintendent depending on the size of the school district. So what you cannot do if you want to sell something is upset them, right? So I had to come up with ways how do I get the teachers to come to them and say, we want this because this was a teacher driven kind of software solution.
This is a situation where the teachers could upload their digital grade books and the parents could log in and see the grades. They could post homework assignments, pictures, class projects, things like that. It was super. It was a super easy software solution that allowed novice people to make web pages back when front page and straight HDMI was your only option.
And so anyway, I would add, of course, the person I'm selling this to is the person that manages the email server. And so, you know, if you send a bunch of emails, they're going to know about it because they can see the email log, right? So I just figured out that I could set up an FTP site, go to my school, my local university's computer lab, sit in front of a computer, download some email software and just bounce emails off other open email relay servers.
And it was an email saying, Hey, you should check out this website. There's some great educational resources on there. And I was one of maybe five companies listed on there, so there was a lot of other companies, got a lot of benefit from that too. But it really was a very the only thing that cost me was my time and my energy cost me zero in money, right?
Because emails are free to send out, but what I feel great about was it was super targeted, it was super helpful. And, you know, I only have to do it a couple of times. And then the momentum started. So that was the first example of that. Now I can kind of parlay that into my first my first Little Caesars opening.
I bought a marketing book and I think it was a. Dan Kennedy Well, I.
Daniel Burstein: Want to I want to talk about that second, but I first want to mention two things because I think, you know, I want to get ahead and to our next lesson. One, Jesse and I talked about this example before we recorded. I just want to be clear to everyone who's listening. This is 25 years ago, and we are certainly not suggesting anyone should scrape email addresses and certainly not mine.
And no, no, no, no. But I think the idea is the constraints and how you work through them. And I want to ask you about that. So I know, you know, when we talk about these constraints and I started my career as a copywriter and one thing of creativity is constraints breed creativity. So a lot of times we think about budget is one thing, But I wonder for you, has there ever been any constraints for the customers or in an industry that's led you to a creative idea?
And I'll give you a quick example while you're thinking. I wrote an article about creative inspiration and about a CEO of a janitorial company, and he realized that in the security industry, the constraints that that that customers were looking for from a security company, they were looking for drug testing, uniform ID, badging, right. All the things he was doing as a janitorial company.
And so he realized, hey, these constraints fit me perfectly. I could just open a security company as well, right? I already knew how to do all of these things that are core to to this industry. So I wonder for you, Jesse, has there ever been I know we talked about constraints in terms of our own budget and these sorts of things.
Have you ever noticed any constraints out in the industry that a customer has and been able to take advantage of that or serve them better, I should say?
Jesse Keyser: Well, if you allow me to call myself a customer, absolutely. So my first franchise brand was Little Caesars Pizza, right? And we opened up our locations in a pretty rural part of southern Illinois, where, like now that I live in Saint Louis, there's five or seven different male marriage male options that hit the same homes multiple times a week, whatever.
But in southern Illinois, you had one option once a month, right? And so that's what led me into my next franchise was Val Pack. And so it got in the ballpark. So then I could have another option to advertise for my Little Caesars. But you know what? You're not going to make any money if you're the only coupon in the blue envelope.
So I had to go out and interview and try to sell the ballpark service to other businesses. Now, clearly, I wasn't going to go out to the other pizza places and ask them to be on it. So I won it because I wanted a little bit of a monopoly on that, but went out to everything else. And actually the next two industries that I got into were because of my interviews as a ballpark sales rep and interviewing them and learning about their constraints and their limitations.
And that's how I got into the the salon business. And I got into the carpet cleaning business because of my experience of dealing with the salon owners and the carpet cleaning owners with Val Pack and what I learned was that both businesses had high margins. If you ran a well and both businesses had small business owners not like big franchise guys or big, big multi-unit independent guys.
So they didn't understand marketing, they didn't understand the value of investing in actual marketing, and they were highly emotional. Even if I could get them to advertise in ballpark. The second someone quit, their life came apart and they had to cancel their next month's ballpark because they just didn't have the employees to handle the business. And I thought to myself, like, that's so inconsistent.
Keep doing the ballpark and focus on hiring people because the ballpark is just checking email approved the the proof, write the check, forget about it. Focus on your business and let the customers come in from ballpark and your other marketing. So that's where I saw I saw some constraints there and that made me immediately get into it because they just they, I felt like the owners weren't emotionally mature enough to be consistent and grow and be a serious competitor.
And I understood that they didn't understand marketing. And so those two things made me feel really comfortable about getting into those spaces.
Daniel Burstein: That's really interesting. That's a great way to find an opportunity. But we mentioned I cut you off. You one of your lessons you mentioned a strategic and unconventional launch can set the stage for ongoing business success. And I think this is about the launch of your first Little Caesars piece.
Jesse Keyser: Yeah. So I'm a I'm a disciple of Dan Kennedy, and I'm sure your listeners probably know who he is. He's the godfather of direct response marketing. So I start reading some of his books about sales letters and things like that. And so I decided I was going to pick 10,000 addresses in the town that we were opening up our first Little Caesars, and I was going to write them a letter and said, If you bring this letter in, I'll give you a free order of crazy bread as a way to track it.
Right. And one of the one of the things about restraints was I was I was opening this up on a shoestring budget. So I had the letterhead printed, and then I went into the office after hours and printed the letters off the company printer machine. And then I actually commandeered their letter folding machine at night. So I'm like, after everyone leaves, I'd taken the letter folding machine and then I'm having a letter folding party with three of my friends, and we're just stuffing this thing for hours, folding, you know, automatically folding it.
And then we had stuff on and everything like that. And then I'm the first one back in the office the next day to bring the letter folding machine back like no one knew it was missing. But that was just like, I'm like, I saw an opportunity. It's not being used. I'm going to use it if I can hurt it.
So, you know, those were some of the things where it's just like you saw opportunities all around you. You just had to take advantage of.
Daniel Burstein: Okay. In talking about launches, you said a grand opening is not just an event, it's a statement of intent. So what do you mean? Why have you done that?
Jesse Keyser: Well, you know, so the the Little Caesars openings were huge and they got every and it's a smaller town. So when something opens up to a small town, it's it's news, right? Not like if you're in Chicago and you open up a little Caesars Pizza. It's not like people from 50 miles around are talking about it. It's just that's the reality of it.
Right. But what I had learned from going from Little Caesars developing to sport clips, which is my next brick and mortar brand, salon industries salons open up the exact opposite of a restaurant. So when you think about a restaurant opening, everyone's excited about it. They want to try everything on the menu. So that means they're eating there three or four times in a month, right?
And then once they get used to everything, you're going there maybe one or two times a month, which doesn't sound like a big difference, but that's 50% less volume. So restaurants normally start really high in volume and then they kind of plateau out somewhere. Hopefully they pass out somewhere that is still a very profitable location. But most restaurants, if you have a good opening, start really high in the salon business, even if you have a good opening, it's a ramp up and it takes a while because you're building trust and you got to change.
You know, everyone eats every day, right? Multiple times a day even. But and so a lot of those menus or a lot of those menu options could be eating out instead of eating at home. But when you get a haircut, you got a haircut. You're not getting another one for 6 to 8 weeks. Typically. So it's one of those things where when you open, you know, even if you were going to have all these clients, first of all, they're spread out over 6 to 8 weeks.
They're not on the first week open as an example. So if you're going to have a really big splash, I just basically took everything that I learned from the Little Caesars grand openings on how a restaurant opens, and I applied it to the salon business and it was revolutionary. I mean, my first grand opening, I broke the brand's grand opening record and six months later I broke that like 50% more clients and sales than the previous grand opening record.
And what I did, I did three things. I, I spent way more money on marketing for the first month. I spent way more money on recruitment and I spent way more money on training of the staff. And so what that really meant when we talked about earlier about a 1 to 1 ratio, if you're going to have a big opening, you've got to have a lot of team members.
And the truth of the matter is, when you hire for a new location, you may have the best intent and so does everyone that you hire, have the best intent like this is my forever job, or at least I'm going to be here until I move or whatever. But, you know, within a couple of days of being open, a lot of people are like, This isn't what this isn't right for me.
And you are thinking sometimes this isn't right for you either. And so you've got to be overstaffed in a in a way that when you lose a couple of these people, for whatever reasons, you can still handle the client flow that's coming in. Otherwise you're back to square one where all that marketing you did goes to the competitor down the road that has been waiting for it and says, Thank you.
Daniel Burstein: Yeah. So you know what? I'm hearing you talk. You're creative guy, you're entrepreneurial guy. And I'm thinking you have to, you know, it being a multi location franchise, there's two things I think you have to balance, right? One is all of your creative ideas and making sure they align with the national brand, I would assume. And then all of your creative ideas and how do they play in different type of locations.
And so I wonder if you have any rules of thumb or there's some way you've learned to balance all that. And I'll just give you a quick example while you're thinking. I interviewed Chad Brown, the chief marketing officer of JC Hospitality, on how I made it marketing. They were on their the owner and property manager for Virgin Hotels, Las Vegas.
And one of his lessons was allow for customization while maintaining brand standards and services. And he talked about while he was working at MGM, you and all the MGM locations are all over the place. You know, they're working with a rideshare company, and at first they tried to roll it out the same way in every property and they realized it wouldn't work.
You know, they realized, okay, we have to figure out how to make it work at each property. So I wonder for you if there's any rule of thumb or operating manual or something you figured out to one, figure out what works for a certain franchise in a certain location and how to roll that out in others. And then to balance all this creativity and entrepreneurial thinking.
I'm hearing from you with a national brand.
Jesse Keyser: Well, you know, two things come to mind. The first thing I get asked this a lot, So while I'm not by any stretch of the means one of the biggest franchises in the United States or the world, I am a little diverse and or unique. And the fact that, you know, I've had a portfolio of five different brands that are completely different industries, the wells, I like to call them, that have 200 plus units, a lot of times they're all food.
Now they may not all be one brand. It could be spread out between seven different brands, but they're all food, right? And so I've got anything from service brick and mortar service, non brick and mortar medical marketing restaurant. I've got it. All right. So there's two things that I like. Well, how are you successful in so many different things?
And I say, I never get into a new concept unless I fully understand these two things. What does my ideal customer look like? What is my ideal employee look like? And if you understand those two things, you will be successful no matter what. If you have a good idea what one is and you have no idea what the other one is, you're going to struggle because it's it's pairing up the right type of employees with the right type of customers.
So you're going to have to be able to market the right type of customers to come in frequently enough to be profitable for your business. And you're going to have to train and attract the right type of employee that wants to service those clients. And as an example, a cosmetologist is much different than a fast food worker, that much different than a medical professional.
So it just really depends. You've got to understand that if you don't know how to communicate and relate to that type of employee, you're going to struggle. Because without those employees, you're a one location manager doing all the work yourself. And that's just not something I'm capable of doing.
Daniel Burstein: So how do you learn? But how do you learn? Not before you make the investment or going?
Jesse Keyser: Well, the the it's it's for me, it's a little bit of intuition and asking a lot of questions, right? Like what is the I and I'm making some assumptions. But the great thing about a franchise is guess what you get to do? You get to go visit the business already in operation. And it doesn't mean that that location you're visiting is the best well ran, but you could see who's in there and you could see why certain people would want to do this job, why other people wouldn't want to do this job.
And what kind of messaging do you need to get the right person to come in and want to do the job as an example? And, you know, you just walk in, you could see who the customers are. You say, okay, that person looks like they open up about what that person looks like. They swipe on Tinder. And probably I need to advertise on Tinder to get this person to come in as an example.
These are extreme about that contender, of course. But going back to the hotel thing and maybe your story was actually making me think of a philosophy that we have. It's actually a quote. It is in our company. Basically, if something happens more than once, we're going to create a process or a system for it. So we're going to systemize the predictable so we can humanize the unpredictable, and that that gives my managers permission to get off the script when it's necessary and address the situation when it's a human and say, okay, here's the situation.
You've been an employee with us for ten years. You've never, never not come to work. You didn't show up Thursday. You're showing up now. Friday. I'm not going to fire you, but I need to know what happened. Are you okay? Like, you got to humanize it. And I think because of that, I've got better employee retention, which means better retention.
They get trained better. They're better at their jobs. So then the customer service is better. I got better client experience scores and I've got higher client retention because of that, too.
Daniel Burstein: I like how you look at the different audience you have. That's not just the customers. Employees are a key audience. I really like that. That's something else coming out in this interview. Let's talk about this next lesson. Localized marketing, when done right, can outperform broader generic campaigns. And I think you learn this with your Oxi fresh outlet.
Jesse Keyser: Yeah. So, you know, I'll go back as a ballpark franchisee. Balpa works very well. And you know, you get to target neighborhoods of 10,000 homes. And so it's a very inexpensive investment to target versus like running Google Pay per click ads for a whole DMA or something like that. The other thing with the Oxi fresh is a lot of our business is commercial business.
So we're cleaning restaurants and office buildings, churches and schools and government buildings. And that's coming from actually developing a sales force and writing personalized sales letters to them to get those people to open up doors so they can come in and have appointments with them. So that's been really impactful for us is doing that kind of stuff is local salespeople versus just in not just doing biotech but actually having human capital on the ground, knocking on doors.
Daniel Burstein: Well, let me go back to my previous question. So I think I made it a big question. And you got have a really good answer and a big answer. But let me ask a little more direct one. So how do you balance the national brand with your local brand or your local marketing? Because, again, you know, every national brand is going to have national brand standards they want followed.
As you mentioned, talking to you, you're an entrepreneurial and creative guy, right? You've got some really interesting ideas. So is there anything you've learned to balance that with what the national brand is doing to stay compliant?
Jesse Keyser: Yeah, absolutely. So to give you some of my franchising experience, when I first became a Little Caesars franchisee, my advertising B was a quarter of 1%. Now, as a national standard, it's about 4%. So it was a quarter of a percent. So what they would do is they would produce any of the creative that I requested and they also have a huge library.
So I'm talking about radio ads, TV ads, print ads, banners, everything. I just had to place it and purchase it out of my own budget, which made me learn. That's how I got in the ballpark. I was like, Well, I've got to place this ad. I've only got one place in my market where all my friends that have Little Caesars in St Louis or somewhere else, they've got four or five different options.
So I'm going to create that new option, right? But then through my tenure with them, they moved to a 4% and went to such heavy national advertising that I got to back off all that. And that was, that was actually great because I actually overall spent less money. There's such inefficiencies when you're doing your cost per thousand at the local level versus at a national level.
So that was an example where I was so thankful that they took over a large percentage of it. Now that still didn't mean that we didn't do our own local print drops when it made sense, because most of the time when you do national branding, it's going to be digital in some way or another. Oxi fresh carpet cleaning is another great example.
Part of the reason why I love being a franchise of their brand is they've really honed in on the SEO. So a lot of the just organic digital growth, they figure that out and they spent a lot of money to make that happen for us. So going into where that ties into, that's where we have a sales rep.
Most offices don't have the sales reps. They're doing the ballparks and, and they're doing the SEO and maybe some pay per click stuff that corporate guiding them on what vendors use and what keywords to use and things like that. But that's another example where we've done very local stuff like that. Now with sport clips, they as I've been with them for the last 12 years, their national brand has gotten bigger and stronger.
And so we're I believe we're on 52 weeks a year nationally now where ten years ago we were maybe on three weeks nationally and a lot of it was like local money. But where do I still interact with that? Is I still do a vow pack is my decision. It comes out of my budget. If I wouldn't do it, I'll pack the letters that I talked about where I send a letter inviting them to come in and here's a free haircut.
Give us a try. That's all of my mind doing. And of course they'll work with me on Creative for the coupons that we stick in it. So it's all brand specific, but the ingenuity of coming up with who I'm going to know, when I'm going to tell them how many I'm going to tell them what I'm going to tell them, that's that's all on my side of it.
And I just collaborate with them on the art creative tour.
Daniel Burstein: All right. So in the first half of the podcast, we talk about lessons we learn from the things Jesse made. That's a great thing that we get to do as marketers and entrepreneurs. We get to make things. I've never been a podiatrist or statistician or anything else, but I don't feel like everyone gets to make stuff. In the second half of the podcast, we talk about lessons we learn from the people we made them with, because again, that is key to what we do, that collaboration.
But first, I should mention that the how I made it in marketing podcast is underwritten by Clubs Institute, the parent organization of marketing Sherpa. You can get 10,000 marketing experiments working for you with a free trial of the McLeod's Guild at McLeod's Ecom slash a I that's mgc l ab Ask.com slash a I check that out. If you're interested in artificial intelligence.
So let's talk now about some lessons you learn from some of the people you collaborate with. And the first person is your brother, Charles Kizer, the co-owner of your company. So you mentioned teaming up with trusted allies can magnify potential and outcomes. And how did you learn this from working with your brother?
Jesse Keyser: Well, you know, Charles and I brothers, I'm the older brother by a few years. You know, our first couple of years in business together were not terrible by any means. But that is amazing. As they are now. And part of that is, you know, we're both in a coaching program called Strategic Coach and one of the one of the concepts in that is a simple fire and multiplier and a collaboration of the two.
And so I kind of go to this really quickly. A simple fire is someone that basically comes up with an idea or sees an idea and then simplifies it, makes it more efficient, makes it more profitable, makes it less of a hassle. Anything that just removes resistance, right? Multiplier says, I see what you're doing over there and if we do this, this and this, we can do it times ten.
So multipliers typically are not the ones that have the original idea. They just have the original idea of how to make it bigger. Whereas Simple Fire might have more of the original process because of the idea. And and so they shrink and refine where the multiplier expands. Right? So when we figured that out and it just we're very lucky that it worked this way because if you have two multipliers or two simple fires you just got, you got redundancy and you really can't maximize in ten x anything.
So my brother's definitely a simple fire and I'm definitely a multiplier and I always like to talk about money and pencils. So my excitement, my energy comes from making the top line or that, you know, as big as fat as possible. And his is the exact opposite. He likes to make that bottom line as big and bad as possible.
And you can imagine that if we're both simple fires, we'd be squeezing juice out of a rock, trying to make that bottom line as big as possible. And if we were both multipliers, we'd be driving up these crazy sales. But we probably have such inefficiencies. Again, we'd be squeeze in a rock at the end of the day trying to get juice out of it.
So I think franchising in general is a perfect example of that collaboration of a simple firing multiplier as well. So the franchisee is the multiplier. We go out, we open up the locations, we manage those locations, the franchisor is a simple buyer. They come up with a concept. Their job in lack of better words, is to remove resistance for the franchisee through simplification.
Right? Whether that's simplifying the supply chain, simplifying the marketing, simplifying the human resource capital allocations, those are the franchises as always responsibilities. And the franchisees responsibility is to open up and grow profitable locations.
Daniel Burstein: So everything you say sounds good strategically and sounds good business wise and is a smart approach, but at the same time, we are human beings. Jesse So I can't help but think that there hasn't been friction there between the simplify and the multiplier either you and your brother or you and, you know, you and franchise brand or something.
So I wonder, you know, I mean, I've talked to so many people whose great, great relationship, their business partners. It goes great. But there's also others that, you know, that work with their business partners. Like I, you know, take it in the wrong direction. They can't figure out that marriage, you know, for lack of a better word. Yeah.
So I think a good.
Jesse Keyser: Yeah I would just say I would it's really hard to have a healthy relationship with someone you don't respect. And so don't go into business with someone you don't respect. Don't sign a franchise agreement with a brand that you don't respect for the people in it. You know, Charles and I have another partner for one of our our concepts and the number one thing he looks at is the sea level people, the C-suite people, you know, And he's like, that's going to determine everything because the franchise disclosure document, that's a document, but this is a living relationship.
And they go back to your thing. I think that the more respect you have for someone that you're doing business with, the less friction you have. Overall, some friction is good, right? Friction is you being honest and being a good communicator. But, you know, if you're having friction, that's detrimental. It always boils down to lack of respect. And so for Charles and I, it was very easy once we understood who each other was to the organization, the respect multiplied infinitely and the friction went away seamlessly.
Daniel Burstein: Yeah. You also mentioned networking with industry experts can offer a fresh perspective and open doors to opportunities. You mentioned earlier this from Dan Sullivan of Strategic coaching you just mentioned, and Joe Polish of Genius Network, among others. So take us into, you know, how you network and what fresh perspective that's given you.
Jesse Keyser: So, you know, both those organizations are great to get with other like minded entrepreneurs. And then there's two other conferences and I'm the chair of one of them in 2024. That's the franchise Update Multi-unit franchise conference. That one is geared towards the guys in the girls in the franchising community that have or aspire to have multiple locations and sometimes multiple brands.
The other conference that I network at a lot is the International Franchise Association. One and that is a conference that a lot more franchisors go to than franchisees. But I tell you what, in a collaboration experiment, like I'm involved in, the more I understand and can appreciate the franchisors perspective, the better relationship I can have with them too.
So those two are really good because both of them offer people that don't do exactly what I do but are close to what I do and a lot of times have a lot more of whatever I want to have. And so I'm always asking them for advice. And you know, much the funny thing about really successful people is they're more interested in telling you about their failures and their successes, which I'm totally a fan of because if I can avoid stepping on the rake that you stepped on, I'm a better man for it.
So I just like that in in all these organizations that we've talked about, the number one thing is that everyone's very vulnerable, right? They're willing to share with you their mistakes. And boy, I've made some mistakes, too. And and it boils down to my lack of respect for people is what I've learned. You know, like when I don't respect someone, I don't treat them very well.
So don't get involved with people that you don't respect and find out how you can respect someone Just because they're not just like you doesn't mean that they don't have a lot of value, too.
Daniel Burstein: All right, Jesse, you're setting yourself up for this next question, Right? All right. What's what's one of the biggest failures that that you can share? You mentioned generically about respect. Maybe it's that or can you take us to a specific story about failure that really sits with you, that you've learned a lot from, that you've taught others from from with your networking?
Jesse Keyser: Well, you know, that that that quote that I said earlier about, you know, we're going to systemize the predictable so we can humanize the unpredictable. I could tell you that I did not do a lot of humanizing in my early entrepreneurial years. In fact, my leadership style, especially with Little Caesars, was all stick, no carrot. And I can tell you that when I took over the sport clips, I can't.
What I could do at Little Caesars is if I didn't like your attitude or whatever, I didn't like the way you were acting. Today I send you home and I can make the pepperoni pizzas and I could do it better. And I'd say I was actually making more money if I sent you home and I'd get it right.
But when I got into the salon business, I'm not legally able to cut hair. Nor would you ever want me to cut your hair. I'm not trained in it. And that would be a terrible disaster. So I immediately learned that I can't use a stick with this employee group. I have to use all carrot. And that really was a change for me.
And then I applied that to every business moving forward that I should just I should have a big stick because everyone respects a big stick. But boy, people love the carrots when you give it to them. So I always come forward with my carrots and I leave the stick in the car when I come and visit a store.
You know, I don't ever don't ever bring it out. It's all carrots if there's ever a stick that needs to be brought out. I have my district managers take care of that where they have much more of a one on one relationship with them, where they can be more stern and frank. When I come and visit a location, it's all rainbows and sunshine.
I'm here and you guys are doing whatever. I won't, I won't lie and I won't mislead because I'm just not a dishonest person. And I think that's that's weak leadership. But when I walk into any one of my locations, I promise you I'm going to find somebody that's doing something right and I'm going to focus on that versus something that someone's doing wrong.
I will make note of that and I will have that conversation with my district manager after the fact. But when I'm there, I'm there to let them know that I'm seeing the good. And that's just so important because they need to have a balanced approach to that. I don't care who you are. A lot of people would like just give it to me straight.
Well, I'm going to give it to you straight. You do it amazing over here. Not so good over here, but I've got someone else that can handle that. Not so good over here. Message much better than I can.
Daniel Burstein: Also, I think, you know, one point in my career, I worked in communications Consultant and I was working for some global executives. And so I remember being at one of the events in Las Vegas where they brought in, you know, their teams from around the globe. And I was asking them what they thought about you know, this leader.
And they're saying, oh, how they liked him in these these good experience they had with him. And it made me realize and I think maybe you're in a similar situation as you grow in leadership there all around the world. There's not a lot of touch points with that specific leader. And with you having 50 locations all over, I would assume it's the same way too.
And that makes it even more important that they do have that positive experience with you when they do have an experience. Is that part of it?
Jesse Keyser: Yeah. I think at some point, you know, when you especially in the salon business, I can say this anyway, I don't think I've met anyone that's got multiple, multiple locations of salons that doesn't have some kind of charismatic personality, you know, because people are drawn to it not, not in a negative or a misleading way. I think people like to be inspired.
So if you're not inspiring, they're going to go work for someone that does inspire them. So what I have learned, though, and I've learned this through a strategic coach and genius network, is that the world is full of people trying to be interesting, and there are so few people interested in being interested in someone. So that's the other thing when I walk in, that's why I mentioned I'm going to look and find that thing that you're doing, right?
I'm going to. It's about you. It's not about me. It's not like, Hey, look at me. I know I talked about a persona, but if the persona is when you're in a room with them, he makes you feel like you're the only person in that room That's way more powerful than trying to be some dog and pony show, because at some point someone's going to do it better than you and they're going to get tired of looking at it.
Right. But one of the most interesting things is when people feel like you actually are engaged with them, there's a connection there that just is you can't replicate it.
Daniel Burstein: So let's talk about engaging on a on a different level. You said engaging directly with decision makers can shape policies that benefit the entire community. You learned this from your advocacy trips to Washington, DC. For example, you mentioned with Senator Roy Blunt. Tell us what you've learned from from those advocacy.
Jesse Keyser: Yeah, so here's what I can tell you. It doesn't matter what side of the aisle you are or are not on. Almost everyone I've ever met with on Capitol has a vested interest in small business. So if you're coming to them with small business issues, they're very quick. Listen. And every time I've asked for a legislative ask, now, I'll be honest with you.
I don't ask for crazy asks. I ask for pretty common sense ones that are pretty neutral. I'm not asking them to change policy on something that is polarizing. And most of the time I'm dealing with either labor or tax issues and I've gotten both sides of the aisle to happily cosign bills that I'm having being an advocate for.
And it's amazing that if you take the time to go face to face and not just in Washington, D.C., I would say over half the people that I've had cosigned any of the bills I've ever presented to them, I've done it in their home district office, and because I've got 50 locations, I'm all over I'm in eight different states.
So I have eight different opportunities with that different group of congressmen and senators that are my representatives, even if I don't live there, I employ their constituents and there's tax base coming off that from them. So they still want to meet with me. They still want to know what my challenges are because my business is in their district.
Daniel Burstein: So let me ask you and I know this wasn't the point of the story, but when you're up close, when you've been in Washington, when you're on these politics, have you gotten any lessons from that for running your own business, for your marketing? You know, for example, I remember we had an event where I was really impressed because nonprofit marketers are really wanting to learn from B2B and B2C, right?
You know, marketing, sure. But we publish case studies. Sometimes people are so focused not on just their industry, but their niche. Like that's the only place I can learn, like not just the auto industry, but it's seat belt manufacturers. What can I learn from that? So, you know, I know it's it's very different from YouTube. There are a lot of similarities to.
Right their customers in a sense. There's you know, a lot of the things we talked about networking and leadership. So being up close to the seat of power, meeting senators, meeting congressmen going into Washington DC or going to their district offices and anything that stuck with you that you've been able to use with your own business or your own marketing?
Jesse Keyser: Well, I tell you some validation. I don't know if I got any new insights, but I definitely get some validation about how I like to conduct my life and my business. And there's some parallels there and the parallel. A lot of people don't know this, but especially when you're dealing with legislate of asks, it's it's considered a bonus if you actually get a meet with the elected official.
Normally they're busy and so they have their legislative aides do the meetings. And I'm going to be honest with you, most of the time the legislative aides are more educated on the legislation and the policy behind it than the actual legislators are. And the other crazy thing is, if you're 30 and you're allergic legislative aide, you're considered old man or old woman like these, these are smart, bright, 20 to 25 year olds that are dictating the legislation and in the policy for our country.
So what that what that really meant to me was is that, you know, find people that have unique abilities. It doesn't matter if they have tenure or experience if they have the capabilities, they have the commitment, and they're able to communicate. You can be really successful delegating a lot of things out. And in fact, I can tell you this, my as an example, my spork lips, the further I get removed from the day to day operation, the better the operations are.
And it's because I'm getting people in between me and the actual store that are more passionate about this, more educated, have more skill sets dealing with running the business than I do. So I'm a mentor to them and I basically make sure the lights stay on and make sure that they're always keeping an eye on staffing and training.
But the actual operations and nuts and bolts of it, I'm getting people that are much better suited doing it than I am at it. Like it's the data is clear. When I was running it, we did okay. When my district matters are running it, we're doing way better. And so that's the parallel that I see between me and then Washington DC is that these legislative aides are actually they're the they're the golden goose, not the legislators.
Like they're the real what's happening in DC.
Daniel Burstein: And that ability to delegate and find interesting people to delegate to is key to growth in any industry. Before we go, I want to ask you to make the case for the franchise model, because again, talking to you, you know, you start you're an entrepreneurial guy, you're really creative. You're able to learn about the customer, you know, the marketing, all these creative things you talked about.
It strikes me that you would be a good business owner even if you founded your own brands and built your own businesses, you know? So for you, why do you did you choose and you continue to choose to take the franchise model. What do you think the cases for that they're.
Jesse Keyser: Well so I'm definitely a multiplier and not a simple fire and also I believe in the power of a network. Okay. If I was an independent salon owner, how much harder would it be for me to track? How many people should I have employed per location? What type of service dollars per hour should I be having for profits?
It would be so hard to get all that information and be able to benchmark myself. Right. So and we can go back to like when I was running the day to day operations of our square clips, you know, I was I was good. We were making money, but I was able to see that there was other operators that were doing better than me.
And so I started asking questions like or sometimes I didn't even ask questions. I just needed to know that it was possible. Right? So you have you service X amount of clients a week in that one location. Okay. Well, it's possible. So if it's possible, I got to figure out how to do it. And so franchising gives you that that, that accountability and that networking and that masterminding that you get outside of franchising.
So that's a big reason. Another reason I could tell you is, yes, I pay royalties, I don't to sign up for a brand that I don't see more value paying than the royalties. And if I did it independently and I can give you like two different examples. So with the Little Caesars, I can promise you the 6% royalties I paid them, they more than saved that to me in my grocery bill because of their group buying.
We were getting cheese, we're getting flour, we're getting our pepperoni far cheaper than the independents. We're getting it from U.S. Foods or Sysco. It's just the power of the body That right with Oxi fresh carpet cleaning, what I'm paying and their royalty fees and fund fees, the amount of search engine optimization is more than what I'm paying them.
So why wouldn't I? Why wouldn't I want that agreement? Right. So it's not a good deal to be a franchisee unless there's a value from the franchisor and it should at least offset if not give you a better advantage and the royalties and the advantages.
Daniel Burstein: All right. Well, Jesse, thanks for all your stories and your lessons. We talked about many different things about what it means to be a marketer and an entrepreneur. If you had to break it down, what are the key qualities of an effective marketer?
Jesse Keyser: I go back to the original thing. It's the two things understanding exactly who the ideal customer is and then who that ideal employee is that can service them. And then when it comes to marketing, I would always say that it comes down to, you know, when I do anything marketing wise, the audience or knowing who the ideal client is as your list, right?
You've got to have a good story, something that captivates them, makes them interested, engaged, emotionally, and then you've got to have a compelling offer. So those are the three things I learned that from Dan Kennedy, But I've applied that to every every time I want something, it's got to be in my talking to the right person in my saying something that they're going to want to hear.
And does it emotionally motivate them to move forward with me? Right. So.
Daniel Burstein: Well, thank you. I was going to say, Jesse, thank you for all your stories and hopefully it emotionally motivates a lot of our listeners to move forward and whatever their entrepreneurial and marketing dreams are. But thank you very much for your time today.
Jesse Keyser: Yeah, thank you so much.
Daniel Burstein: Thank you to everyone who the.
Intro Dude: Thank you for joining us for how I made it and marketing with Daniel Burstein. Now that you've got an inspiration for transforming yourself as a marketer, get some ideas for your next marketing campaign. From Marketing Sherpas, Extensive library, a free case studies at marketing Sherpa dot com That's marketing s h e rpa ecom been.
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