Friday, April 24, 2015

Todd Piper's Video Service Business Is Sunny in Naples, Florida!

Todd Piper in Studio

Folks in Naples, Florida enjoy a certain lifestyle. It comes with an abundance of white-sanded Gulf beaches, a relaxed year-round wardrobe of shorts and flip-flops, and the most golf holes per capita in the world. Todd Piper likes the beach and flip-flops and golf. It's not surprising, then, that when he was looking for a business opportunity that fit his Naples lifestyle he found that Home Video Studio fit him to a T:

"This is a great area for a video services business like mine," says Piper. "The demographic skews a little older than a comparable sized area elsewhere. That means my customer base has the older formats and lots of them." They also skew higher in income: "I love the chance to provide excellent customer service and my customers like competence and convenience and they will pay for it."

So what landed Todd Piper, who is relatively new to Home Video Studio, the title of Rookie of the Year for 2014? Well let's chalk it up to a few skills and attitudes that he brings:

Marketing sense - Todd grew up the son of a salesman and attributes his marketing awareness to this environment. "You know that old saying 'Nothing happens until a sale is made'? I grew up with that. My dad was a very good salesman for an international industrial supply company and I saw the importance they placed on sales - starting with compensation." Piper also credits having to move every couple of years as helping his development as a networker: "I had to get very good at meeting new people, making new friends and learning how to start conversations."

Creative and technical acumen - Like several Home Video Studio owners, Todd's early love of music brought him to video: "I have been a lifelong musician. My rock and roll dreams led me to learn guitar, bass and drums." (He also has a killer rockin' tenor voice that practically breaks glass!) In due course Piper began to also love the techno/creative process of knobs and faders and meters in a studio environment: "I loved recording and got into radio and TV production classes in high school."

A supportive partner - Todd and his wife Jennifer have been doing life as a team as long as they've been married. Jennifer's attaining a master's degree in the demanding field of Nurse Anesthesia was a collaborative effort of moral and financial support and the Pipers see Todd's business the same way.

Drive - Although Todd loved music and studios and production he also knew he wanted a certain lifestyle - and he suspected that it wasn't readily attainable by being strictly an artist or a technician. So after high school Piper attended college at the University of Texas - Dallas and earned his degree in Finance and Economics. Upon graduation he immediately went to work for Citigroup and got his feet wet in the lending industry. He then took a management position for a private lender. You can't contain a "man with a plan" in a cubicle, so Todd decided to start his own company. The good news? It grew quickly and soon he was presiding over thirty employees. The not so good news? He was working twelve hour days, commuting three hours, and incapable of taking a vacation. More good news: The fruits of his vision were providing a nice living, not just for Piper, but for everyone in his company. More not so good news: There was financial turmoil looming that was out of Piper's (and most everyone else's) control that would change the industry. To his credit Todd saw it coming on horizon, swallowed hard, and closed and boarded his business before the squall hit.

Todd and Jen Piper
Reinvention - Most of us, at least once in our life, will face the prospect of having to reinvent ourselves. As he began to reimagine himself here's what Todd Piper's reinvention looked like:
1      “My own enterprise (who's going to hire a guy with my experience and success as entry level or middle management?)”
2      “Home based (I'm tired of three hour commutes.)”
3      “Simple (What if I could even incorporate my family in some aspects?)’
4      “Control (I run it instead of vice versa.)”
So Todd began the work of looking for a viable business opportunity with these stipulations. After some initial disappointments he found Home Video Studio. Not only did it entice him by satisfying his four stipulations, it featured the quintessence: 5) Creative – “Video, music, editing, knobs and faders? This would be heaven!”
He called Home Video Studio and by the end of an initial conversation he was convinced this was the opportunity he was looking for. In January of 2013 Todd's studio was installed.
Todd hit the ground running and has been gaining momentum each month thereafter. Last month was his best yet, financially. Most notably Todd seals the sum of our line "It's a Wonderful Lifestyle." He runs his own business out of his own home (his Dad even comes over and helps!) on his own terms in Naples Florida - where lifestyle is required.
Any words of wisdom from someone who has seen a few ups and downs from a few different angles? "Personal freedom means personal responsibility," says Piper. "I appreciate the network and all their support.  I take advantage of the fact that I don't have to reinvent the wheel. But in the end it is my enterprise and I am responsible for its success or its failure. The Home Video Studio Network really gives you both sides of the coin."
That's a winning attitude that will keep Todd on top! Congratulations to Todd Piper of Naples, Florida.

If you woudl like to chat about starting your own video business feel free to call me, Robert Hanley 317-358-5932. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Debbie Williams - Erlanger, KY - Studio Owner of the Month!

Studio Owner Debbie Williams
“Lights! Camera! Take Action!” This was the theme of a recent Home Video Studio Getaway and it’s the greatest advice we can give that will fit on a t-shirt: For there will be no lights without action. There will be no cameras rolling without a sale. There will be no cash register ringing just by dreaming about it. The ranks of Home Video’s successful studios are filled with people who know this well, and one such “woman of action” is Deborah Williams of Erlanger, Kentucky, our March Studio Owner of the Month.

Nearly every Monday morning on the Weekly Marketing Call Debbie’s name is read as “tops” in marketing activity and, in fact, being active is, and always has been, a part of her life. Besides being a studio owner Deb is a wife, as well as a devoted mother of two boys (17 and 9). And that’s enough to fill someone’s day, isn’t it? Hold on, we’ve hardly begun…

She’s also an accomplished and active flutist (graduating with a degree in both Commercial Art and Music Performance because she couldn’t decide on one). She has a sixth degree Tae Kwon Do black belt and is a first dan in combat Hapkido. (If you don’t know what all this martial arts stuff means it’s okay. Just don’t mess with her or her family.) And in her down time, when the studio is closed, the flute is cased, the boys are in bed, and the nunchuku is safely stored Deborah likes to knit and crochet.

"I like to take action and do things." says Williams. "I was very shy and athletically unimpressive as a child. But somehow I did a 180. Now I'm not one to shy away from things that interest me – no matter the investment. You've got to try." So, when Deb ran across Home Video Studio while looking for creative business opportunities she went after it. She started out as a part-time studio owner, opening her doors on November 16, 2011. Like most rookies in any endeavor she didn’t know what to do at first – so she just acted like she did!  “My first customer came to me with nearly 60 tapes to transfer,” laughs Deb, “and all I could think of was that I had to act like I knew what I was doing when I didn’t.”

Supplementing her path with other part-time positions such as a group fitness instructor, a personal trainer, and as a Mary Kay Consultant (all of which she’s still involved with) Williams has, in the past 3 ½ years, grown into a full-time studio while more than doubling her sales from her first year. She has also won several international video awards in that time, taking the Hanley Award for Best Lifetime Video, Best Use of Music, Best Long Form Video, and Best Photo Video Keepsake.
We caught up with Debbie (not an easy task) to ask her about her life as a studio owner:

Where did you grow up?
I was born in Warren, OH, but due to my father’s job, I moved every two years or so until I was 15. This included three elementary schools, one middle school, and three high schools in cities such as Detroit, Lansing, Indianapolis, Paducah and Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati.

Did your parents influence your professional choices? Is entrepreneurship in your DNA?
My parents were the typical family mold of the 60s and 70s. My mother stayed at home to raise five children while my father worked as a General Manager for the Kmart Corporation.

Were you interested in photography or video as a kid?  When did it become an interest?
I knew as a young child that I leaned toward the creative side of life.  Growing up, I was always drawing and painting because it came naturally to me. While in high school, I was fortunate to have been given a 35mm camera by my father. I pursued photography with a passion, including the art of working a dark room and BW printing. I likely get the photography bug from my father as he was always the one shooting family events in stills and 8mm film.

What did you do before you became a studio owner?
After graduation I was able to get a job as an advertising artist at the local community newspaper. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but it gave me the experience needed for my next job which was at The Cincinnati Enquirer as an advertising layout designer. While there I was able to also work as the Advertising Art Manager and spearheaded the department responsible for special advertising supplements. Both of those positions were instrumental in getting me ready to own my own business since they demanded management skills and organizational skills in developing a product from conception to final product.

Why did you decide to leave?
It was eighteen years of the concrete jungle. I wanted to leave that and try to freelance in graphic design. It was important to me to be home and present when my boys came home from school.

How did that go?
Clients were hard to find, especially in a very competitive field in a city where there are many advertising agencies. Plus I was finding it increasingly difficult to manage the peaks and valleys.

Is this when you ran across Home Video Studio?
Yes. I researched opportunities and kept coming back to Home Video Studio. After being a freelancer I was drawn to a proven marketing plan. Plus I felt a comfort in what the business had to offer with the creative end of preserving memories, and could also implement my growing skills as a photographer and videographer. Once I decided that I wanted to pursue that path, things kind of fell into place without delay. I researched opportunities in July/August, and was installed in November.

What are some tenets you apply when it comes to running your business?
I always fall back onto the tenants of Taekwondo that has been ingrained into me for over twenty three years. Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control, Indomitable Spirit and Victory. Also, along that line, losing a Taekwondo National Championship by 1 point was by no means fun – but it did teach me not to hesitate on your instincts. If I had not done so that title would have been mine.

What's your favorite part of the business?
Enabling people to smile when they see or hear their loved ones is rewarding. My favorite part of this business is the creation that goes into making the most heartfelt Keepsake or video that will be enjoyed for years to come. If tears are shed, I’ve done my job.

What trait do you feel is absolutely necessary to thrive as an HVS owner?
You have to enjoy your work. Otherwise, it’s a job. And you must have discipline for yourself and in your work ethic, as well as respect for your work and your customers. Without them there would be no business.