Jim: Good to have you here. We arranged this in about 30 seconds flat as I explained in the introduction, so I’m looking forward to getting to know you along with the audience today, but tell us a little bit about yourself. Let’s get to know you a little bit first.
Richard: Sweet, yeah, my name’s Richard Cluff. I’m 24 years old, and I work for Richard Potter. I’ve been with him for about 4+ years now. We actually met at the gym. I was actually working at the gym as a receptionist. Him and his wife Shelly were working out there, and he hired me to work with his event business initially, and that’s how I got to know Rich and meet him and really get to be involved with him and his family, and then he started teaching me a little bit of his Amazon business, the tune of which he then offered me a part-time position when he got his first warehouse and then it’s all just been uphill from there.
Jim: Got you. Beautiful. Four years into this. I bet we can tap into some of the cool things you’ve learned along the way and being tied to Rich, and I explained who Rich is in the introduction, so we don’t need to go into that a whole lot again, but what are some of the things you’ve learned, and what are some of your duties around the office? Let’s just dive in. Here’s who we’re talking to today, I’m thinking the people who are familiar with what we do around here, but they’d like to grow. They’d like to be where Rich is instead of maybe something significantly smaller than that, or maybe they’re new because Rich has – I know he’s in line to do several million dollars this year with a rapid uphill growth curve anticipated, so there’s plenty of people who are thinking man, I’d like to do more of that. What do you have for those folks?
Richard: Yeah, so I think the biggest thing that I’ve noticed, especially working with Rich is I used to be just the single one employee working with him for a year, and that was based off me just being a bagger and a prepper, really getting all those products shipped into Amazon, and then we decided to grow, which we hired some more part-time help. We then eventually moved into – Rich showed me how to find products, how to do a lot of sourcing, both Replen and wholesale sourcing, and then I started to pick it up pretty fast, and so he just transitioned to that was what he wanted me to do for the most part. Then we ended up hiring a replacement for me in the warehouse, and we’ve slowly just started ramping up from then, but it seems as if building a team was the biggest thing to really increase our growth here with Rich and his business.
Jim: Yeah, that makes total sense, constantly replacing yourself. When he brought you on board, did he say hey, here’s what it’s going to look like over the next few years, or did he just bring you on because you wanted some part-time work and it sounded interesting?
Richard: Yeah, no, at first it was – before we got our first warehouse, I was just coming up to his house and in his garage bagging and prepping some products, just more of a part-time job, just to ease a little bit of weight off of their shoulders until we got to the point where he saw the potential of really, really ramping this business up and the potential in the growth of being this third-party Amazon seller. I know he posed a lot of ideas with me on how we can do that, but the first thing to do was get our own warehouse.
Jim: Right. I got you. You’ve seen the team grow. Has there been anybody – this is a maybe out of left field question, but I’m just curious, and I don’t know the answer to this actually as much as I know about Richard’s – Rich as a businessman, I’ve never asked him. Has there been anybody he hired that just didn’t work out? That came along that just didn’t fit and moved on?
Richard: Yeah, we’ve had a few. The biggest one I can think of was our initial buyer. I know Rich was really wanting to buy – or hire someone to be in charge of purchase orders for all of these wholesale products and brands we had, and it didn’t seem to work out with the first hire that we had, and so that was one of the biggest hiccups was hiring someone, training them for about two months, and then them not working out to where we had to replace them.
Jim: Right. Yeah, because that’s one of the challenges you face – I think all of us face is letting go of some of these tasks and someone comes in, they’re new, and they’re not as good at it as we would’ve been, and you spend all that time. It can be very frustrating. Does everybody start out on the same level with you guys? The person who came in to do the POs, did they come in just for that gig, or did they start off bagging and prepping too?
Richard: I think a lot of times with a lot of our bigger roles if it be repricing or in charge of purchase orders or even warehouse management, I think it’s more of a part-time, and with our initial buyer it was – we hired specifically for a buyer, but it was about 20 hours a week or so doing that, and the rest was going to be inside the warehouse to help prep and bag the products, so getting the employees a little bit more familiar with multiple aspects of the business.
Jim: Yeah. I think that’s smart. I think people are looking – if you’re wearing all these hats as the owner, why not hire people who are capable of wearing several hats as they find their specialization and just know the whole operation. It reminds me a little bit of the way – I think it’s in Japan if you go into hotel management, which is a pretty serious degree in that culture, pretty high-level education, they start you out cleaning toilets, right? You’re going to head to an office job eventually. We don’t care about your big fancy degree. You’re cleaning toilets, cleaning bedrooms. You’re learning what it is to do the job at the base level. I think that’s really smart rather than bringing in anybody who has an attitude of I’m too good to be touching plastic bags. You want people who are willing to get their hands dirty when the time comes.
Richard: I think it adds a lot of appreciation towards all of these, in our case, departments because Rich has built it up to where we have multiple departments within his Amazon business. In doing so, I even spend four to eight hours a week sometimes in the warehouse helping bag products and ship products out, so I have more of an appreciation for everything that we do.
Jim: Yeah. How big is the team now? I haven’t heard a number lately.
Richard: We’re double digits, so I think 10 or so. We have two virtual assistants, so we’re growing. Every few months it feels like we’re just adding another person.
Jim: I’ve heard that those virtual assistants, they do a lot of the wholesale research, the Proven Wholesale Sourcing course, provenwholesalesourcing.com, right? We’re going through that right now with hundreds of our students. I guess you’re going to be doing some of those sessions, too, right? We haven’t recorded them. By the time people hear this, maybe it’s all been recorded, but the people going through the live experience, you’re going to be one of the teachers I understand.
Richard: Yeah, so I’ve already participated in helping. I think on week two I helped out with Rich a little bit, and then our next two weeks, I’m going to participate a little bit within each call.
Jim: Got you. From your perspective, you understand Replens. You’ve seen that part of the business. You’ve sourced replens. You know what a good one looks like. Compare that then with your perspective on the wholesale Replen. Talk through those two. I always like to hear people describe the business from their own vantage point. If you’re explaining to me – and let’s say I kind of know what it means to sell on Amazon, but Replen what is that and wholesale Replen, how’s that different? Talk us through that a little bit.
Richard: Even take a step back. I know when I first started working with Rich, it was – we solely only had wholesale accounts. It was a few, but we had a select few wholesale accounts that I was helping prep and ship out, and then we were introduced to Jimmy’s program of Replens right before COVID, all that kind of stuff, and we really dived into learning what a replenishable item was, replenishable arbitrage. It changed my mindset ever so slightly where wholesale I thought about okay, we just buy a large bulk of the same six items from these brands and we sell them as singles. We sell them as exactly how we get them, but I think in learning what replens are, we go out to our local grocery stores, we go out to our local – our Family Dollar Trees and such, and we see all of these different varieties of products.
It opens my mind up to all the possibilities of all the things that we could sell. It could be a bundle. It could be these two-packs, these three-packs, and so that changed the whole way that we started sourcing to where now even with wholesale accounts that we get, we use the same methodology of sourcing those products. If I find a product that sells really well as a single, what’s to say it’s going to sell just as good if not better as a two-pack, a three-pack or a bundle? That’s how I see it as a Replen, that there’s more than one opportunity to sell it as is. You go to your local Walmart or to your Dollar Tree and you see a product that sells for one dollar, and we can sell it – the same thing on Amazon for a few dollars more. What’s to say I can bundle some items. I can send them in as two-, three-packs, and so it’s really changed the way I think completely.
Jim: Do you guys create new listings for some of these new multipacks and bundles? You’re creating a lot of your own new listings, aren’t you?
Richard: We have created, yes. We actually – I know more recently too – really dived into that subject of creating our own listings, especially for unique bundle ideas if it be a specific product that we see that sells well on its own, but we see that it could probably sell well with something else but make it more unique to us as a seller, then we see that as a great opportunity for us to really drive sales.
Jim: Are you guys brand registered yet? You are, okay.
Richard: We are, yes.
Jim: You guys have built a brand. How much of your – how many of your ASINs – what percentage of the products that you sell are under that brand versus selling other people’s stuff?
Richard: It’s pretty slim. I would say a couple dozen different ASINs that we have under our own brand, in comparison to the thousands of other ASINs that we have.
Jim: Sure. Are you seeing some momentum there? Because that’s a conversation that’s getting more exciting in our community. We’ve got the – let’s see if I can remember the name of it – provenbrandbuilding.com. That’s a new – it’s going to be free for all of our students. Coaching students, Proven Amazon Course students, they all get that course for free, but it’s something it sounds like you guys are starting to step into that a little bit. Talk us through that process. Are you seeing some momentum there? Are you tracking those numbers?
Richard: Yeah, we are. Right off the get go, there was one specific product for example that we were hesitant on just because the same idea of this is a great selling product on its own, what if we add something to it and make it unique to ourselves, but it still adds the same value as it did as a single. We tested five or six out of this one specific product, and it was gone just like that, sold just like that, so we’re like okay, this has some potential to where now we just sent in 100 of the same product just into Amazon just so we can keep that momentum going.
Jim: Without creating competitors for yourself, talk me through what’s in that. None of these are products that you went out and private label created or had made on your own. These are fairly easily sourced, I’m guessing, either wholesale or Replen-type products, and you just created a bundle out of existing hot products, correct?
Richard: Yeah, actually, to make it even – the product that we initially started with was Replen-based, something that you could get at your local grocery store, and then we added just a unique product with it to make it more of a bundle, and then it is a food-based product, so we added our own recipe card with our own brand registered on that card, and so the customer gets it, they can be like oh, I have a pre-made recipe for this specific product. It’s really just added a little bit more value to us as a brand, but also the seller sees it as a valuable product.
Jim: What we’re seeing is if that’s under your brand registry, you’re very protected. Anyone can do this. You don’t have to be brand registered to put a recipe card in there, but somebody could copy you, and Amazon’s not going to quite have your back in this same way is what we’re seeing. If it does really well, people are going to try to figure out a way to hop on that listing, and with brand registry, you’ve got that extra layer of protection. That’s what the provenbrandbuilding.com course is going to be about, creating these protected bundles, these branded bundles that have your umbrella.
With just a few dozen listings compared to the thousands of other listings you have, you’re getting pretty excited it sounds like to me, and I hadn’t talked to Rich about this at all. I didn’t realize you guys were even diving into this territory. It seems like anytime we roll out a new idea, Rich takes the ball and runs with it, gets back to me in three months and teaches us things we didn’t know. That’s just how he rolls. It sounds pretty exciting. You sent in recently 100 units of this new bundle, huh?
Richard: Mm-hmm. Yeah, we’ve only had that bundle up for a month or so now, but we’ve increased our number that we send in. It might’ve been five at first. Okay, let’s send in 10 or 15 or so. When those came in, those were sold out within a week. We’re like okay, let’s try to stock for two months. Let’s send in 100.
Jim: You created a new listing for this one you said.
Richard: It’s our own unique listing, yep.
Jim: Do you happen to know offhand approximately what your margin is on this one? What’s your buy cost and what’s it selling for? How are you doing with it?
Richard: I do know that – I don’t know numbers in regards to buy cost, but I do know that our margins for these private label bundles, we’re trying to shoot for closer to a 30% profit margin with 60 or 70 ROI.
Richard: We have really good margins, and it’s going to be great just to build upon that.
Jim: Fantastic. Who’s in charge of building those out on your team?
Richard: We all participate with ideas because we believe that everyone here has their own unique mindset, and so we have designated that to our shopper, which is Brad, and he has really just taken the ball and rolled it, and he’s fantastic. He’ll come back with a half dozen new ideas every week on hey, what do you guys think about this, this, and this. We’re just like hey, let’s do half of those.
Jim: Do you ever dive in and look at – besides the brainstorming strategy, which is phenomenal – hey, this stuff’s selling well. Let’s make some bundles out of it. Do you ever dive in and look at the Amazon reports, the number of sellers – the number of sessions, I should say. You know what I’m talking about? I can’t remember exactly offhand what it’s called, but you can get in and see the number of sessions and eyeballs, basically, that have seen your different listings. Do you ever look at those reports and see –
Richard: I haven’t recently.
Jim: What’s getting attention?
Richard: I’ve been on that. I think I can navigate my way to find it.
Jim: Yeah, it’s under business reports. I’m just curious because that’s another brainstorming – and that’s for you guys and for everyone else as well. It’s been a while since I looked at it from my own account even, but you can get in and see which of those products are really getting a lot of attention and eyeballs, and they may not necessarily be the ones that are getting the most sales, but they’re getting a lot of eyeballs, which tells you wow, this listing is getting 3,000 views a day. There’s 30 other sellers on it, which is why we’re only selling a few a month, but wow, that’s a lot of eyeballs. Maybe there’s a bundle opportunity there. Just as a little tip for you, look at the number of sessions, visitor sessions, and there might be something that jumps off the screen at you guys. Get back to me. Let me know if you find some gold there, but that’s for the listeners too. It’s something we need to do on our own account.
I love that you’re building out some of your own listings. Typically, a lot of our replens sellers just don’t. Even Jimmy as far as I know, I don’t think they’ve ever added a new listing to Amazon. They just go find stuff that’s selling well and source it, but more and more a way to distinguish your business, I think, is what you’re talking about, getting into some of these higher-margin bundles, and you own it through a simple strategy like a recipe card or brand registry, that sort of thing. What else have you learned around here, man? Give us some tips or strategies. I know you teach some of the courses when people come out there. We’ll stick a link in the show notes to the live session that you guys do, the four-day session where they see the warehouse, see the products, see the whole process, go out there to Phoenix and hang out with you guys. Take us through some of maybe the golden nuggets from that experience.
Richard: Yeah. I’ve been blessed by Rich to be a participant in a lot of our trainings here. It’s that four-day training or so. I’ll sit in every day. I’ll participate as if I was a student adding my own input and such, but I’ve also been able to teach specific sections that I know Rich is very confident that I’ve mastered. It’s something I’m always trying to improve. A lot of those things range from me specifically doing wholesale sourcing, finding specific brands or distributors to contact, and then breaking those pricelists, those websites down and doing my – our reverse sourcing is what we call it where we use that mindset of looking at replens and looking at those bundles, looking at those multipacks, and so I teach a lot about that. We teach about how to scan through price lists.
Then my most proud thing that we teach is I talk about virtual assistants. That’s something that Rich has entrusted with me is I am in charge of our virtual assistants. Pretty much set five days a week or so. I’m always messaging them, giving them assignments. I’m always checking their work and then going from there, and it’s something that I never had experience in prior. I didn’t really know what a VA was at first until Rich posed the idea to me and was like hey, we want to hire our first virtual assistant almost two years ago. He did the initial training for that virtual assistant and then he handed them off to me. I’ve trained our second virtual assistant. I’ve helped train a few of our friends’ virtual assistants. It’s been a great learning experience for me. I feel like I’ve learned a lot of things. The first thing is my people skills, my talking skills. I feel like I can communicate a lot better than I used to prior to all my life. I never graduated from college. I’m a high school graduate.
Jim: Congratulations, man. Smart move not going to college in my opinion.
Richard: I agree because I feel like I’ve learned far more here than I feel like I could’ve paid some sort of education to teach me.
Jim: Yeah, real world education.
Richard: Exactly, Rich is very entrepreneur mindset with his Amazon business, his event businesses, into real estate and stuff like that, too, where it’s changed where I think where I don’t necessarily want to start my own Amazon business, not because I don’t think there’s potential there, because I love working for Rich. It’s a great opportunity, but I also have other ideas of which I would like to start other businesses myself. It’s been a real big eye opener for me that potential that we as humans can have by really just thinking outside the box.
Jim: Yeah, that’s right, taking that entrepreneurial spirit, and I know Rich has multiple things he’s into and always looking to free himself up and surrounding himself with great people as we see with you, Richard. You found yourself competent people who care and capture the vision, you can do some pretty incredible things.
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You surround yourself with competent people who care and capture the vision, you can do some pretty incredible things. I want to go back and revisit one of the things you just said that you focus on when you’re teaching the class. You listed through a few things that you talk about. Go back through that list again because one of them jumped out at me. I’m trying to remember which one it was. I made a mental note that I want to go deeper on that.
Richard: Was it wholesale sourcing and how I changed my mindset into the way I think? I think of these wholesale accounts in the sense of replens. These are going to be replenishable products and I can really source them out as just a single product but as a two-pack, a three-pack, different varieties and such.
Jim: Right, the sessions that you teach, there was another one in there, though. I apologize. I should have jotted a note down because I was just enjoying myself listening, but there was another strategy that you talked about that you teach.
Richard: Scanning price lists?
Jim: That’s it, boom, nailed it, scanning the price lists because I think some people may not know what that even means. One of the things I love about the Replens mindset is it’s not about trying to find that next never heard of before, never seen before product, and we’re going to build a better mousetrap and bring it to the world. It’s not that mindset. It’s going through a list of products that already exist and maybe you get a new wholesaler and they say, “Yeah, sure, we’ll work with you,” someone your virtual assistant found. They send you the price list. You’re looking through 800 new potential products. How do you decide which one you’re going to go with? That’s scanning through a price list. Talk us through that process a little bit. How do you guys make those decisions? What’s involved in that process?
Richard: At first, we played around with a couple different price lists, a couple different great ones out there, websites, anything from Price Checker to Analyzer.tools and stuff. We currently use Analyzer.tools. It’s something that we like. I know we’re always looking for the next best thing, but an example being we recently got a price list from a pet distributor. I got the price list and it was updated but it had 30,000 products on it. At first glance, that is very overwhelming. I could spend a whole year, it feels like, looking through that price list because you’d be copying UPCs, you could be pulling up the brand directly on amazon.com. You’re spending hours on end. We walk through what we’re teaching our students is that, yes, it might seem overwhelming at first, but it’s not as overwhelming as you might think it is. With a lot of these tools or these scanners, they give us options to filter out all the junk and ITs are all about prepping the price list, familiarizing yourself through the distributor or the brand with maybe restricted-like products or brands that you cannot sell on Amazon, and then filter through that price list before you even scan it and get rid of all that junk.
This one particular had 30,000. I will ask the distributor what brands are they not allowed to sell on Amazon? They give me a list. That list consisted of 9,000 products, and so all of a sudden, my price list is now 20,000 products or less. It’s just narrowing it down until I put it into my scanner and the scanner gives you the option if you don’t want to look at listings that Amazon competes on, filter those out, there’s another 5,000. You’re slowly trickling it down to where you might only have a few thousand or a few hundred left. Let’s say your margins are – you want a 20% for profit. Set maybe a 15% profit and look at all of those. It gets rid of all the stuff that’s 10% or lower. There you go. I have 1,000 listings to look at. Then I can jot those down and break it down. That’s something we teach all our students. Something I do on a regular basis. That’s something that we’ve also transitioned into teaching our virtual assistants. I’ll give my virtual assistants an untouched price list and they know how to prep it, how to scan it, and how to go through it. Then that specific price list I’m talking about with 30,000 products, our virtual assistant sourced through it and found 125. It was a great ad-on to our business and it’s always been a great supplier since.
Jim: As a final step in that process, once you have it narrowed down, I’m assuming the last filter you guys are putting them through is the Replens type filter, just looking at it from how many can we expect to sell per month based on the drops, where’s our margin at, because it’s one thing to say, well, here’s the buy box today. It’s another thing to say what’s it doing over time, where are we heading with this. Then you drill down and find the gold. It’s like shaking a pan of gold at the creek or at the stream. You get those last few nuggets out. I love that process.
Richard: I know. It’s great. We’re transitioning strictly into manual sourcing, like you were saying where we’ll look at our Keepa charts. We’ll look at our RevSeller. We look at all the data that’s provided with us and see if it’s something I want to move forward with.
Jim: Yeah, beautiful. You mentioned virtual assistants. That’s a topic that comes up from time to time on the show. I’m going to drop another resource on everybody. This has a bit of a waiting list to it – it’s so popular. It’s our provenreplensva.com. I’m pretty sure that’s it. If that doesn’t work, check in the show notes. It’s basically we’re training virtual assistants as fast as we can. Actually, your buddy Rich Potter there, we’re talking as well about starting to train them on how to source wholesale as one of the things. We’re starting to train virtual assistants for people. Rather than have them go out, find their own virtual assistant, get them trained and up to speed, we’re saying, hey, we can do that part for you and turn them loose. Talk us through that process. What do you pay them approximately per hour, if you happen to know? You may not, but just ballpark. What all duties do they take care of for you guys? How much work are you sending them? You said they’re in the Philippines, right?
Richard: Yeah, ours are based in the Philippines. Actually, both of our VAs are sisters. They already have a family relationship. I know they communicate outside of work in regards to what they do. We started paying our virtual assistants at $3 an hour. It was part-time at first. Once again, I know one of the biggest hiccups that people have is, what if I don’t hire the right virtual assistant? What if it doesn’t work out? We do a testing period where we have a couple weeks, if not a month or so, where they were only part-time. We were paying them $3 an hour so it wasn’t necessarily a lot out of our pocket, but according to our research and even me talking to our VAs, $3 an hour is a pretty nice wage out there.
Jim: Oh, yeah, for sure. Some people get worked up like, oh, that’s exploiting. We’ve covered that in plenty of other places plenty of other times. Those $3 spends about $15 to $20 per hour in the Philippines. That’s just the nature of economics and supply and demand. I always say I don’t discriminate based on where people live when I hire people. I make sure I pay them well for a job well done. We give nice bonuses to people in the Philippines if they do a great job for us, but sometimes you’re filtering through if they don’t quite work out, too. Finding the right person and getting them trained, I’d say they’re probably worth the investment. Do they get paid a bit more than that now?
Richard: Yeah, we bumped them up to about $4 an hour and then they do get the occasional bonus. It’s actually so nice. Our seasoned VA who’s been with us for a year plus now, she actually helps train other VAs. She can speak the native language. She knows what she does well. We got very lucky. We give them a lot of different assignments. Their main assignments are they spend ten hours a week solely based on contacting new suppliers. That could be going through wholesale distribution and such, contacting new suppliers and potentially sending the accounts. They have preset templates that they weigh them all out as well as they will scan price lists. They will source products. They do a lot of the Replens methodology of sourcing where we’re looking at the data within Keepa, data within RevSeller, looking historically what the product is like. It might just be buy box selling really good for a week, historically it’s been low, we don’t want to risk our money on that. They do a great job on that for the most part, too.
Jim: That’s tremendous. I know we’re using a couple of virtual assistants on our team. At first, we just turned them loose and trained them on how to find replens. They were finding so many so fast our shoppers can’t keep up. That’s become the bottleneck now. We just can’t get the shoppers into the source fast enough to find this stuff. There’s just so much low hanging fruit out there. So many different ways to do this business. Hiring virtual assistants is such a low risk, high reward way to bring a great member onto your team. So much of the work that we do can be done by somebody that’s not in the office with us. I’m glad we planted that seed. I think that’s going to help some folks out. We’ll stick a link in the show notes, too, the provenreplensva.com service that’s, like I said, really on fire. I think the waiting list is probably about three to six weeks to get a VA if you get in line. We’re calling people on the phone, making sure it’s a good fit before we hook them up.
I’m excited for Rich to be getting involved in that with us as well because I think maybe even your VAs will be training our VAs or something. Who knows? We’re going to work out to train them how to find these wholesale opportunities based on the SmartScout strategies that we’ve been talking about. I’ll stick a link to that episode in the show notes if there’s people who don’t know what we’re talking about there. Because Rich and Scott Needham and I went over the strategies recently for using SmartScout to uncover wholesale opportunities. Is that part of what you do as well? It sounds like you said it is.
Richard: Yeah, we use SmartScout. I’m on SmartScout probably every day as well as we train our virtual assistants to use SmartScout as well. Every great tool we find, we make sure that everyone gets trained on.
Jim: Yeah, that’s fantastic. I love that because we’ve been doing this a while and we’ve got a large community, I was able to text Scott, the guy who created it, and said, “Hey, give us a great discount for our community and hook us up.” He did. I think I can’t remember what the link is. I’ll stick it in the show notes. I think it’s silentjim.com/ss, SmartScout. I think that’s it. If that’s not it, the link’s in the show notes for SmartScout. You’ll want to go through that Proven Wholesale Sourcing training, provenwholesourcing.com training with Richard and Rich and that team there. We’re capturing the recordings now. We’re about halfway through that now, right?
Richard: Yeah, I think we have about only two or three more sessions. Today is our fourth and we have two more sessions after.
Jim: Right, that’s winding up. We’ve captured all those recordings if you’re a little late. You can buy it at any point in time, jump in, catch the last couple live. If it’s already been recorded, we’ll have the recording sessions for you as well. You guys are doing a great job, getting tremendous feedback from that so far. What’s that been like for you being a trainer and stepping into that role? You’ve had quite a progression here in a very short period of time. You went from putting stuff in bags and probably with headphones on listening to some music and just bagging cans of green beans all day to now you’re making some decisions for the business and growing and making more money. What’s the reality of this business model for you? Talk me through it. How has it changed your life?
Richard: I mean, it changed my life in more ways than I could count. I mean, the friendships I’ve made, first off have been incredible. Obviously, my financial status is doing great as well. I’ve also just, like I said before, I’ve learned skills that I feel like I couldn’t learn anywhere else. These could be skills that have direct relations towards Amazon where I sell on Amazon, but also skills that I could take into my everyday life. My work ethic has just changed exponentially as well. I think it’s really opened a door for me with so many different opportunities to live my life. It’s a little overwhelming sometimes. Rich would go out of town for two weeks and say, “I’m going to go on vacation. You’re in charge.” Okay, let’s do it. I actually appreciate him putting me in those positions because it really almost forces me to accommodate to make it work and to learn everything I need to know. It’s something that I might spend – I work 40 hours a week or so, but 10 of those hours could be me just completely learning new software, learning new things, and really just enhancing my knowledge in my everyday life. It’s been an awesome opportunity.
Jim: That’s awesome. It’s great to hear you describe it that way. You don’t strike me as a guy who’s just trying to say the right things because your boss is a guy on our leadership team. You really are enjoying yourself. You really are benefitting. I love that you connected the dots. This impacts real life, too. You’re learning leadership skills. You’ve got a different work ethic. You know what it’s like to be part of a team and building something together. What I’m hoping is accomplished from this episode is some of the other people out there who are just nose to the grindstone, build, build, build, work, work, work, get up early, work hard all day, go to bed tired. How about a team? You can actually make more money with a team. That’s something Rich has done instinctually bringing you onboard and some other great people because he’s had other businesses, but that’s a great lesson for us to take home. What else you’ve got for us as we start to wrap this one up, Richard? Anything else on your list that you think might be of value to the listeners? You said you’ve listened to a good handful of these episodes and that’s been part of your learning curve. What do you want to throw out there that you think might benefit folks?
Richard: I mean, from what I’ve learned and what I’ve seen other people do, it’s hard at first, but as long as we keep trucking, as long as we keep trying. I know there’s going to be a lot of ups and downs. We’re going to fail left and right, but through those failures comes success. I’ve totally seen that in people’s lives the impact that even being an entrepreneur but also just having an Amazon account and doing all these things has really impacted people’s lives. I can see people being happy. I’ve become more happier myself. I just recently got married.
Jim: No way. Congratulations, young man. That’s awesome. How long ago was that?
Richard: A little over a month ago.
Jim: Oh, you’re still clueless. Just messing with you. That’s great, congratulations. I didn’t realize.
Richard: It’s been an awesome opportunity. The only lesson I have is just work hard and try your best. I think that’s all we can do, really.
Jim: That’s awesome. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you. This is really cool. I think folks are going to really enjoy this episode. Hopefully, one of the big takeaways I want to drive home is – there’s Richards out there. If you’re doing this business, you don’t have to wait until you have a million-dollar business or even $30,000 a month or whatever it is you’re going for, start thinking about it now. Maybe it starts with a virtual assistant. Maybe it starts with someone you run into at the reception desk at the gym who has a good attitude. Maybe that’s a good question, Richard. What was it that made it – has Rich ever told you why you and not the guy who was next to you scanning barcodes as people came in? Was there something there?
Richard: I never actually asked him that. I would assume it’s because of my charming personality, but I could be completely wrong. I don’t know if it’s something he saw in me as a person. I was just working what felt like dead end jobs. I’m working hard and stuff. I’m just grateful to be given the opportunity.
Jim: Would you consider yourself someone with a good attitude? When you were in that environment versus if they lined up all the ten people that worked there, where would you rank on the attitude scale, if you had the ability to be honest with yourself? Is that something that maybe stood out? I’m just curious. Self-evaluate a little bit.
Richard: I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t hold grudges towards anybody. Whatever job I’m at, whatever atmosphere I’m at, I’ll be your best friend. I don’t care where you came from background wise. I don’t care what you’re doing now. I’ll be your best friend. I’ll find a way to involve myself with you. That’s just me in general. Sometimes I’m too nice of a guy. My wife tells me that now. Something I need to maybe work on a bit if I can. I’m always upbeat. My goal is just to be happy 24/7. If there’s just something in my life that seems to be a little corrupt or I’m not happy with my life, I’ll make a change.
Jim: You work on it. People stand out very quickly when you’re looking for people to hire and maybe grow your business. A story that pops in my head, I don’t know if I’ve shared it on the podcast before or not. I think I’ve shared it when I presented. There was a guy who owned a gas station. This is in the ‘50s I think, ‘50s, ‘60s. He only hired young men. They had to come perfectly dressed, perfect white shirt. I think they wore black ties. They had to be super clean. That’s back when they pumped the gas, which was way before any of us were driving cars here. They were paid – it was one of the lowest paying jobs in town, but people lined up to work there. The reason was they couldn’t wait to work there. When they started, he told them, “Here’s the rules. You’re going to be super clean. No profanity, you’re going to say, yes, ma’am, yes, sir. You’re going to work your tail off. You’re not going to get paid a whole lot, but people are going to notice. People with nice cars come to our gas station because we have the best prices in town because I don’t pay you guys much. They’re going to hire you. If you have a good attitude, you won’t be here more than three to six months. They’re going to hire you and you’ll be off doing something, working at the golf course making twice as much money or whatever.”
I love that story of even if you’re in a position where you’re not too excited, there’s opportunity there. Those relationships, those people you’re meeting, those encounters you have, your attitude really matters. I think maybe your example, my theory is if we brought Rich into the room right now and said, “Hey, what stood out?” I bet attitude is a big piece of it because people with a good attitude in a less than perfect environment – that wasn’t your career to work at a reception at a gym the rest of your life. Everyone knows that’s not where you want to be 20 years from now, but that attitude, if you have a good one there, it really stands out. Look for those people. Maybe those make good people to hire. I’ve had conversations with people at retail stores, for example, and ended up having conversations with them about coming on to our team because they had a great attitude. That goes a long way. You’ve definitely got that. That’s beautiful. Starting a family, that’s awesome. That’s cool. It’s great getting to know you a little bit. Anything else on your mind before we wind down? Anything else you want to throw out to the listeners? It’s fine if not, but I just didn’t want to end it before you had the chance.
Richard: I appreciate it. Thank you so much for having me on. It’s been an honor. I wanted to meet you myself. I just hear great things from Rich. Oh, Jim Cockrum said this, this and this. I’ve watched some of your podcasts and stuff. It’s just a great opportunity.
Jim: That’s cool. Rich says nice things about me. I say a lot of cool things about him for sure because he is definitely impressed a whole bunch of people around here. He’s just a wealth of knowledge and creativity. It’s an honor to get to work with him. It’s pretty incredible. I call it our team. There’s very few people that actually work for me, but we’re all doing projects together and involved in educating this community, learning and growing together. That’s great. It’s an honor. The only other thing that makes me stand out around here is how long I’ve been doing it. You do it long enough and you make friends along the way and you end up being the guy with the podcast, I guess. It truly is an honor getting to know you as well, my friend. Can’t wait to get out there, sit in one of those training sessions and hang out with you guys. It’d be awesome, probably not in the summer though because you guys get baked in the summer.
Richard: It’s pretty terrible sometimes.
Jim: Good hanging out with you. I’ll talk to the listeners for a minute and we’ll wrap this one up. This was a great episode. Maybe you’re interested in hearing more of these kinds of things. Let us know what you think. Send us your feedback. This is a great peek behind the curtain, I think, to the kind of people that are behind the great leaders that you see and hear from all the time, their teams, the people that are supporting them. It actually reminds me. I’ve been talking to Mary. She’s been with our customer support team for a very long time. We said we should do a podcast episode. She agreed to it. We haven’t done it yet so maybe I’ll do that, too. If you guys liked this one, we’ll get her. She’s been with us over a decade at this point. All the business-building warriors out there who hung out with us today, thanks for loaning us some of your time. God bless you. We’re in your corner. We’re rooting for you. We’re here for you. If you weren’t aware, we have a Facebook community with about 67,000 people in it all over the world building businesses online creatively. Come join us. Jump in. I think you’ll love being a part of it. We’ll wrap up here. We’ll have another great episode again real soon. Thanks to our special guest today, Richard Cluff. It was great hanging out with you, man.
Richard: Thank you so much.
Jim: We’ll talk to the rest of you all real soon.
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