Serving The Demand On A Changing Marketplace With Steve Tinkle
Business and demand are not going to stay the same way as it has been. Steve Tinkle, CEO and Founder of Morpha Consulting, joins Debbie Bloyd to talk about the changing marketplace and the opportunity for small businesses to serve the market and the new demand. Steve dives into the importance of knowing your business and what customers need from your business to adapt accordingly. Steve and Debbie discuss the impact of current events on businesses and the economy and how you, as a business owner, can somewhat leverage the situation to your advantage.
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Serving The Demand On A Changing Marketplace With Steve Tinkle
I am talking with Steve Tinkle. You and I have been friends for quite a while. You help small businesses in general with planning, executing, and how to grow. You spent a lot of your time helping small businesses cope with what we’re going through.
There’s a lot of change happening in the marketplace and everybody’s viewing that completely differently, as you can imagine.
Small businesses are affected when we talk about restaurants and going anywhere. Half of the town is shut down but the other half of us are working busily. It’s all depending on which half that you fall into how your businesses are going to do during this time.
For me, a small business means anything less than $50 million in revenue. My preference is right now, especially because there’s so much challenge, I try to help the people in our local community first. One of the things I’m doing is I donate an hour free consulting to anybody who wants to talk about their business. Sometimes you need an outside perspective of what to do and maybe a different way to see your business that you haven’t seen before. There are opportunities but there are also challenges and there are some good examples of those we could talk about, if you like.
Let’s talk about some of those challenges. What are people seeing in the market?
One, not local, but I saw a story, it was already been out for a while, but there’s a bourbon company that switched over to making hand sanitizer. Imagine when you start that company, you want to make bourbon. You feel like that’s your passion, that’s your calling. You’re imagining a customer loving that experience, but the market is saying, “We need to be healthy first.” Some people got around the table and said, “What could we do to serve market demand?” Will they go back to bourbon? I don’t know. Maybe. They may dethrone Purell and those guys. It reminds me of a good principle is that we’re here to serve the market and what the market needs are. Before, there were probably enough people making hand sanitizer.
This has changed a lot of the way people view life and getting through it. Since my kids were little, I had wet wipes in the car and I would wet wipe them every time we went in and out of anywhere. Everybody laughed at me because they were like, “You’re a germaphobe. Look at you.” My kids weren’t sick a lot. They stayed healthy. I gave it to all their friends in the car. I would give it to my spouse. Whoever’s in the car with me gets wet wipes. Now, I’m not the freak. People are like, “We should have been washing our hands all along.” I’ve been saying it all along. I was raised like that. What we have to remember about our small businesses is that we’re here to serve. I don’t know that everybody gets in the small business to do that.
We usually join for our own reasons. Michael Gerber wrote in E Myth, “There’s no such thing as an entrepreneur, there’s only technicians that have entrepreneurial seizures.” There’s a lot of truth in that.
What do we say about people being scared? Not knowing how we’re going to come out of this, like, “I’m in the money world, in the real estate world.” People think that real estate is shut down and I’m like, “No. People still have to move around the country. They still have to relocate with their jobs. Not every job is going to go to a Zoom call.” This may change the way companies view their big office buildings with everyone showing up to one place, but you know as well as I do, we’re social creatures. A lot of people are missing the being in the office part, being with their family too much.
I would look at that. For example, take Zoom as a company. I don’t know their backstory. I look at them from what I see. My first question is, why aren’t we on Skype or Google Hangouts? They’re there. Why is Zoom the one that’s at the forefront? If you were to talk to the people at Zoom, they might easily get it wrong and think that they’re about helping people have meetings virtually and that’s not what it’s about. We’ve always been able to do that. The thing is, as humans, we need to connect. Our family, we have people in Ohio and in Washington State and all over Texas.
We probably have twenty different family members on a Zoom call with kids and we’re playing Pictionary. We went back and forth and they share the screen. They draw little Pictionary things. My word was spider web, nailed it. It’s the need to connect and sometimes being able to look into your eyes or see the emotion in your face, even what you’re wearing. We need that but we always had it before. We took it for granted. That’s the business they’re in. They’re not about the virtual technology and all that stuff. To me, everything they do needs to facilitate interaction with another human being and not being a barrier to the connection.You have to know in your business what matters. Click To Tweet
A lot of people have always assumed the business is going to stay the same way as it always has been. This is going to change the way people work. I work remotely and I have a couple of different offices that I go to. I don’t see all my clients face-to-face anymore before this even started and people were like, “You have to be right here. I have to hand you the papers.” FedEx can do that or they can scan them in. There are a million ways to get them, whether the face-to-face that we can’t have. That’s getting people a lot out of their comfort zone as well and making us all try harder to have that personal connection. We have to make it over Skype or Zoom or phone calls, where people maybe put a lot of time into the face-to-face.
You have to know in your business what matters. I was on Facebook and I noticed a lot of churches are going online. Big deal, so is everybody else. Guess what happened? When they all went online, they all went online. Anybody anywhere can go online and watch church service on Sunday morning.
It should’ve been done all along. They should’ve thought of that box. There are people in there also that can’t go to church.
For me, the lesson I’m learning from it, some of them were already doing online broadcasting. What pops to mind for me is, why do I go to your church at all? If we’re going to go online, I can go to maybe the best pastor in the world. I can tune in to some guy in New York or Tony Evans up in Dallas. Why would I turn into this local guy? The answer to that question is probably the real answer of why they were coming in the first place. As a business, you have to know why people are coming to you because there are other options. A lot of the gyms have been shut down. People are going to doing online classes. Think, why do you go to a gym? I could have done that before. Why am I doing it now?
I don’t have to get dressed. I can watch you in my PJs while sipping mimosas, watching someone else do the work. I don’t have to do it. They get ready. They go in. There’s an accountability component. There’s an interaction component. Online is different, different delivery, different experience. If you don’t know what your customer needs from you, then you can learn that now and apply it when things go back to normal and say, “People don’t come here because they want to go to church. People don’t come here because they want to work out. They’re coming here for something deeper.” If it is connection and accountability, how do I provide that in addition to making sure that people sweat and feel like they got a good workout?
We’re thinking of ourselves differently as Joe consumer that’s home. My kids had to leave college to come home. They’re doing online classes and they feel like they’re getting gypped, number one, on the experience of their friends and number two, they’re teaching themselves a lot of this stuff online and they’re like, “This is dumb. This is not what we wanted, to be our own teachers.” I’m like, “This is for a short period of time.” This is polarizing people on what they like and what they don’t like when they’re forced to do something else. By our own nature, we wouldn’t be forced to cook as much at home or to stay home. We’re going people. We’re learning a lot about ourselves.
We are. As far as looking for opportunity, that’s where the entrepreneurs can take notice of that. One of the things that I’ve seen here local and I don’t know how well this is going to work, it’s a point to bring up about opportunity like bourbon and hand sanitizer. The stores, at least in the part of the country I’m in, have settled down a little bit. They still don’t have toilet paper and paper towels. The supply side has got a lot of burden on the grocery stores. Demand is increasing. Their supply lines are stressed out. Meanwhile, the restaurants are saying, “Nobody’s coming to us.” There’s no demand on the restaurant side, but they have their supply lines.
They don’t get eggs and toilet paper and stuff from the same place as we do. Blue Baker here in town, David Fox says, “Why don’t I borrow from that a little bit? If people are waiting in line, then let’s leverage our supply lines and we’ll be a grocery store too.” Blue Baker is a restaurant here in town. Mostly, sandwiches and breads and things like that. They said, “We have eggs and we have toilet paper. We have paper towels and we have milk. We have 90 things that you get at your grocery store. Come here. Think of us as your local backup grocery store.”
That’s smart because he’s leveraging this asset of his supply. He’s not getting demand. We’ll get the prices right. We’ll get the experience right. If people are standing in line to get in a grocery store, they don’t care. They’re willing to move over. I don’t think that’s going to last once this is over with. In the meantime, people are going to remember him as adding value back to the community, being there for them during a tough time. Honestly, that’s innovative thinking and operating quickly on your feet. The advantage is going to go to people who can iterate faster and make changes faster.
He thought of himself. He always helped me do this, think of yourself as something other than what you think you are. You’ve asked me that question several times and I’ve morphed into a different person since we first met. I was doing mortgages and that’s what I do, but I now seem to think because I work with people all over the state of Texas and branched out, I help people manage their finances. If that means long-term care, if that means mortgages, I have a bigger, broader stroke than I used to have because I don’t do one thing. Small-minded people would say, “Debbie, can’t you settle down and do one thing? Why do you have to do so many things?”
Your money is a broad sector. You might need to refinance your house, but you also need insurance. You also need downside protection in a market like this. You also need to talk to someone about your finances and investments. There are all these different components and I found a way to be broader with all of that and help more people because I’ve decided, I’m a money helper, that’s what I am and I should put that on my cards. Mortgage, insurance, risk management, investments, yes, but I help people with money. I have a much more simplified version of what I do and I’m much happier with that version, like Blue Baker found that they were something else.
Even if you still just did mortgages, if you expand the vision of where does that fit in and you find an emotional connection with your client, you’re going to build loyalty. Loyalty feeds into things like word of mouth, which people say that’s the best marketing but it’s also the most difficult. If you’re getting a mortgage and you’re not asking the question, what’s your house worth? What’s your interest rate? Why are you doing this and why now? What’s happening in your family? You’re going to uncover something deeper in an emotional level for them. They understand, there’s alignment.
I talked to a couple, they had called me to refinance their house but that was just the tip of the iceberg. They also needed help with managing their money and credit card debt and other things. I’ll talk to you about this after the call about putting out some online help for people and donating time to help people with their finances during this time. I wrote an article on forbearance. A lot of people are saying to their lenders, “We don’t want to mail our payments in right now. We’ll take that forbearance because of COVID-19.” They don’t understand what that means. That’s a red flag to lenders that I can’t make it the way I’ve structured myself and I need help.If you don't add value and you don't do it in a profitable way, you don't exist. Click To Tweet
Everyone should have a little bit of money off to the side as their cushion, their little emergency fund. When you take handouts like this, it’s going to be interesting to see what the lenders do to that because you’re not paying your bill for three months. At the end of that, you’re going to have to pay it all. It’s not as much of a help as people think and it might be a red flag instead. It’ll be interesting to see how the market does. The article said there are 2,000% on people that want to take advantage of that forbearance. The lenders are saying, “Don’t do it. If you can afford it, keep going on as normal.” That means that you’re not managing your money well.
This is my guess. Some people are affected more than others. We talk about thing like there are peaks and valleys in every business and what you should do is set aside some of that extra income. One of the rules of thumb is, can you have three months of expenses in the bank? Tilman, who owns the Landry’s restaurant chain, they have $1.5 billion in payroll every year. That’s a lot. As a company, they’re structured in a way that they can, he said, last 4 to 6 months of this. Most companies aren’t going to make it 4 to 6 weeks. He’s like, “Think about what that does for you if you’re out of business in 4 to 6 days.” Those were decisions that they made as an organization to be able to function during these times. His concern is if we don’t get our economy going again, we lose the whole country.
I believe that, too. There are too many businesses that have too many people. The girls that work in my executive suites, they got furloughed because there’s only four of us in here. Everybody else is working from home. I’m in a five-story building and there are maybe ten cars out front. Because everyone’s working from home, I feel like I’m safe. I can come in here and work. I’m not touching anything. I’m not going anywhere. I don’t see anybody. I just talk on the phone. I’m taking advantage of it. Those girls, they have to find new jobs. They’ll get unemployment but that doesn’t cover what their salaries were. Everyone has to rethink things.
That’s going to affect people in a lot of ways. I had a conversation about that. One person wants to pay down debt and stay debt-free and another wants to put cash in the bank to survive times like this. It causes some real conversations. That’s where you have to tap into your values. What do you value and what’s important to you? What we’re going to realize is bad times are real. People have said, “We’ve been in a time of peace. Let’s make sure we set some aside.” Especially the restaurants, a lot of these restaurants are out. My understanding is a restaurant runs on between 7% and 12% profit margin, that’s thin. As you think about this burger, it’s expensive. If it’s a $9 burger, there’s $3 in food in that thing. There’s $3 in service. There’s a couple of bucks left to operate and it’s 10%. If a business was already thin on margins and then we pull the demand aside, a lot of these restaurants are going out of business and they’re not coming back. They were barely making as it is. All employees are gone.
Steve, to be viable as a business, shouldn’t they have been in business in the first place if they were living by a shoestring? That’s not a healthy business anyway.
No, it’s not. That gets into my thoughts as the strategic view of the business consultant. It’s going to depend. My customers, for example, are aspirational and frustrated. Not everybody aspires to make their business grow. Some were fine where it’s at. Some are fine saying, “What we’ve got is what we’ve got.” I was thinking about this. Amazon founders got this idea for everything to go online. They worked hard and they worked with intensity. Thank God, they’re there for a lot of reasons because they have an efficient distribution system for things that local stores can’t manage and can’t keep up with. In some ways, it saved the country a lot of heartaches. Thank God that business is there. I’m not saying they have their problems and there are a lot of businesses that don’t like them and jobs local. I get all that.
That guy, thank God he was working like our lives depended on it. They do in a lot of ways. The fact that they’re able to prioritize some of the hospitals and shift goods around when we need it, there’s a lot of value to be having that. Those employees that got furloughed and you didn’t, should we always be working like our jobs depended on it? Yeah. We should all be working that way. That hasn’t been in front of mind to people. It’s going to shift the way employees operate. It’s going to shift the way businesses operate. Should they have been in business? The answer is the market is a brutal judge of that question. If you don’t add value and you don’t do it in a profitable way, you don’t exist. There’s a natural life and death that needs to happen. What I say is a business is like a person. It can do anything a person can do.
It can marry. It can grow, reproduce, die and do all that. The difference is a business doesn’t have a soul. Because it doesn’t have a soul, it doesn’t have a right to live. It has to earn that every single day by being valuable. If you’re not, you’re gone. Wings ‘N More is a restaurant here in town. One of their bigger locations, they don’t have a drive-thru. They also don’t have cars in the parking lot. They converted the parking lot into a drive-thru and they’re out there getting it done every day. I appreciate and applaud the level of effort that they’re going through. Mark, the owner, did he make them do that or did they do that on their own? I don’t know. I appreciate the effort. There’s a lot of hard work and good work goes into asking the basic questions of what does our community need from us? What do they need from us right now and how do we add value? Every business has to be asking that.
As employees, we always have to ask ourselves, “How do people value us? What are we giving?” Some people want to give the minimum. I was a vice president of a bank. I made a salary and everybody’s like, “Why do you work so hard? You get a salary.” That’s why I went back out on my own, so when I work hard, I can be rewarded for it. I often wonder if I had to stay with those positions, “Would I be furloughed, too?” With the powers that take that advantage to step aside, would they have done that and made us do it too? That would have changed my living and my kids in college and my lifestyle. Those are choices that everybody has to make. We’re going to see a lot of people make different choices going forward.
They’re going to value different things and that will cause them to make different decisions, for sure. One of the things that I see as a tip, a lot of times, good business people, they’re not victims and they don’t think like victims. One of the biggest things that people complain about is, “Where do I get good employees?” The market is being stirred and there are a lot of good employees that may be without a job for the first time. There are companies that probably aren’t treating those good employees as well as they could have. Now is an amazing time to be connecting and building relationships. If you think your business is going to survive, you need the best people.
There’s no better tip I can give anybody in business than to have the right people working for you. Now is the time where a lot of them are more likely to be either displaced or more willing to jump ship to go be a part of a mission that they believe in, with values that they believe in, where they’re treated in a way that matters and resonates with them. A lot of the win, if you will, or the victory is going to go to people who can bring in good team members and get the core together that’s going to help them do whatever’s next whenever we come out of this.
You said it exactly right. When people have pressure applied, you see what they’re like. Some of these businesses that are going to thrive from this were innovative in times of need and made their parking lot a drive-thru. Other businesses don’t see that as an option and went away. That has a lot to do with leadership. Whatever the kind of soul was of the business, every business has a different feeling. Wayne Dyer said, “When you squeeze an orange, orange juice comes out.” If you squeeze it harder and you squeeze it soft, it still has orange juice. It never has apple juice. It doesn’t have banana juice. It doesn’t have almond juice. It always has orange juice. What you’re seeing with these companies being squeezed is what is inside them.
One of the guys was talking about this during other downturns in the economy. One of the things that the company started doing was reaching out to some of the top performers at other jobs but still in their industry and developing relationship. How are you guys doing over there? Think about what happened in ’08 and ’09 when the economy wasn’t doing well or after 9/11. A lot of people were affected by that. They’re like, “We want to check-in. We heard about you, know about you and want to make sure you’re doing all right.”
Their own company wasn’t doing that for them, wasn’t taking care of them. The next time something bad happens at work, which it always does, their first thought is, “These other people, they took care of me. Maybe I should give them a shot. I don’t have to be treated this way.” That created an opportunity for them to have some talent move around. There’s a massage studio in town and one of the ladies, she can’t work because they’re saying, “This is not an essential business. You’re touching people. That’s not allowed.” She now works for 911 as a dispatcher.
She’s still touching people, just in a different way.If you believe you're going to come out of the uncertainty, you might as well come out stronger than you went in. Click To Tweet
When would people completely shift industries like that? There’s a lot of opportunity on the people side. I don’t hear anybody talking about that. Usually, if you’re hiring, you’re looking for the best of the unemployed if you’re on job boards. If you can get a little creative, you might be able to find some people that are high performers that are out of their normal job for different reasons, good reasons. There’s a lot of opportunity to still make your company stronger. Even during times like this where there’s more uncertainty, if you believe you’re going to come out of it, you might as well come out stronger than you went in. There are magical things you can do there.
Steve, how do we get ahold of you if we want to talk to you about our business or about our ideas or how to come out stronger than ever when this is over?
Go to the website. My company is called Morpha. Go to Morpha.co and you can contact me there.
Thanks so much for your time.
Thanks for inviting me. I’m glad to be here.
About Steve Tinkle
My mission is to demystify success.
I help the people that I believe in to accomplish the things they believe are possible. Entrepreneurs are worth believing in, and have dreams that create value in the world.
For over 20 years I’ve worked on projects with companies from all over the world, international athletes, NASCAR, several Major League Baseball teams, startups, and even collaborated on a NY Times bestselling book. I have been “Finding a better way” in technology, business, strategic planning, marketing, and professional development for over 20 years and am also a Lean Startup enthusiast.
Now I’m leveraging that experience to help founders & CEOs smash through barriers, crush goals, and build better businesses.
Business isn’t about being perfect. You don’t have to be great, but you do have to be better today than you were yesterday. Sometimes sucking less is all you need to win in business.
There are certain foundational principles and best practices that will help you and your business grow faster. Just like having a personal trainer will accelerate your fitness goals, a business coach can help you achieve success faster.
I love business, entrepreneurship, startups and working with business owners to help them achieve their goals.