“It started one day in my practice when a new patient called from our website.”
If I really think about it, this thing got started back in 2007. 10 years ago. It started one day in my practice when a new patient called from our website. If you can remember back 10 years ago, doctors still advertised in the yellow pages. The fact that a patient called in after seeing our website, practically blew my mind. I couldn’t believe it. It was like FREE money.
The fact that I didn’t have to do a spinal screening, health fair or dinner seminar to get a new patient in the door, forever changed my life and how I viewed getting new patients for my practice.
After the first call, we got a few more. And at the time, I was still doing a lot of external PR events; screenings, seminars and health fairs.
Finally, one day I was scheduled to do a screening in one of our local malls, and it was a Saturday. I was exhausted after having worked the entire week and the thought of standing at the mall all day and trying to get new patients from spinal screenings, was just depressing. I told myself that I could either spend all of my free time, doing marketing events that took my time, OR I could learn how to market online, and have more patients SEEK me out and use our services.
And from that point, things took off. I would spend my entire weekends and days off, learning Search Engine Optimization and Adwords. I went from getting 3 or 4 new patients a month from online to 3-4 new patients a week!
“Well I can either show you, and you can take 6 months to learn this, OR You can just pay me and I’ll do it for you.”
The “MUSTACHE Phase of 2013”!
A few years later, in 2011, a good friend of mine learned about the results I was having with online ads and SEO and wanted help with his advertising. After speaking with him, I point blank told him; “I could show you, and you would take months to learn it, OR I can just do it for you and have it start working in 3-4 weeks!”
He liked the idea of having it working in 3-4 weeks and became my first agency client.
And that’s how I started my professional career as a marketer!
A MOVE – A NEW COMPANY – A BUSINESS PARTNER
Nature can do wonderful things to you, if you let it. On a ski trip out to Denver, my wife and I had a realization; We Loved The Mountains. We wanted our lives to include being close to the mountains and close to skiing. We had a taste of the good life and wanted more of it.
The one problem I had, was that my life was pretty much set in stone in Atlanta. After a decade in practice, I had a successful office and team that wasn’t easy to just leave. But on arriving back in Atlanta, my wife and I realized that it was time to move on and try living in a place we really wanted to live in.
After a year on the market, I finally sold the practice. (February 2012) And a few months after the sale of the practice, we moved to Denver!
A NEW COMPANY (Searchtosocial)
By the end of 2011, I had 4 clients that I was working with for their online marketing. And I was having so much success with them that I could start to see a future in doing this full time. On my days off from the practice, I would work on the SEO for these clients and do it in a relaxed atmosphere. I really enjoyed being able to work from a coffee shop in a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. It was just easier then going to work in a dress shirt, tie and white clinic coat.
The original plan was to sell the practice and take 6 months off… I lasted 2 months. After 2 months, I was just itching to get back to work and that’s when I connected with my new business partner and we formed Searchtosocial.
A BUSINESS PARTNER
While I still had the office, I met my partner through a chance encounter at Starbucks, and we hit it off because we both did SEO work for clients. I hired him for consulting on a few challenging SEO projects and it went great.
I had never worked with a business partner before, so I went into our partnership a little naïve. To my partner’s credit, he was (and still is) a good person, with some great ideas; the problem was we didn’t agree on implementation.
Searchtosocial took off. At first, it was just my partner and I, and within a few months, we hired our first contractor to help us with implementation. We also became a vendor for a group of practice consultants (Physicians Business Solutions) who helped us to go from 0 to 30 clients in the first 12 months of our business.
That first 12 months was a wild ride. Every few weeks, something was changing, being implemented, or we were flying back and forth to Atlanta, Las Vegas, or visiting clients.
I have a vivid memory of the first time I flew out to visit a client, this was after selling the office. I flew in and spent the day doing video for the client and going over office procedures, and I just thought to myself, “This is my NEW career!” I get to fly around the country, consulting with doctors, and then go home and work out of my house. Coming from a world of working in a practice for 10 years, It was pretty damn awesome!
I started to feel nervous about the partnership about 6 months into it. I just felt we had completely different ideas on implementation and follow through. After a year, I knew it was time, and I think he did as well. We separated our company, and to his credit, it was the best possible business divorce that we could have had. We both made it incredibly easy on each other.
What I did learn about partnerships is that I only have room for 1 of those in my life, and that’s with my wife. A partnership is a marriage of sorts; whether you like it or not, you’re married to that partner. I love my wife, and I’m willing to do anything for our relationship because I love her. I will never be able to say that about a business partner. And that’s how I feel about partnerships; they may work for a lot of business owners, but they aren’t for me.
The Official Launch of iVelocity Marketing
In the fall of 2013, I started iVelocity with 15 clients, and one other team member. It was an exciting time for the company, because it was the time I was able to run the entire deal by myself. In that very first year, we doubled our clients and tripled our team. Going from 15 to 30 clients by the fall of 2014, and bringing on 2 more team members.
Establishing A New Team: Going from ME to WE
Towards the end of 2014 is when we really started to establish systems in the business and delegate more of the setups and client management. I realized after spending a weekend with my business coach, that I really needed to bring on better team members. It’s tough thing to look at your team and realize that most of them they are just collecting a paycheck and not really adding anything to your company.
And that’s when I decided to revamp our hiring philosophy and clearly define what our team members needed to bring to iVelocity Marketing.
(KEY: Clearly Define The Qualities You Want In Your Team; that’s one of the reason’s why we’ve been able to have such a strong team now)
One thing that we realized is that every new team member had to bring something new to our team to help us become a better company. iVelocity Marketing would never grow if one or 2 people on the team were bringing new ideas and innovation. EVERYONE has to create, innovate, and find ways for us to improve our systems. That was the huge change that came out of the fall of 2014.
Overnight, we went from one person innovating, to the team starting to cultivate new ideas and create better systems for our company.
Learning From Our Mistakes
Mistakes are a given in business. We realized years ago, that part of us becoming the very best that we can, is that we have to make mistakes. I don’t think anyone likes to have them in their company, and we try to avoid these at all cost, but it’s part of the deal, you will make mistakes.
But something very beautiful comes out those mistakes; we build a system around preventing it from occurring again. Innovation and systems come from doing something, having a less than desirable
For example, one of the best things that we ever did as an agency is moving client’s ad fees off of our own credit cards. I think when you’re small, you want to control everything, so you handle all of the billing fees. As we were growing, we looked at our data and realized that we were just losing a lot of profit in fees. As soon as we made the switch over, clients loved that they could see how much we were spending each month, and we ended up being more profitable.
Another example of learning from our mistakes is looking at our financial reports each week. I can tell you once you have a month were you lose $14,000 in advertising over spends; you start looking at your financial reports each week. Now that meeting is one of our most productive meetings that we have each week.
10X in 3 Years & The INC 500 List
iVelocity grew 1000 percent in 3 years. (From 2013 to 2016) When I first started this company, I was working out of my home office and meeting one or two team members at a coffee shop each week. It is amazing to think about all the growth that we’ve had in the last few years. Every 3-6 months adding new team members, moving from coffee shop meetings to a shared office space to now our own office space.
When I used to sit in team meetings, I would visualize a company so big that I would look out on my team, and even though it was 2 or 3 of us, I would see the room filled with people. When I look at some of our team meetings now and see 8 or 9 people in them, it just blows me away some times.
After 15 years of business, I finally had a company that was large enough to apply for the INC 500 list and this year we made it. It has been on my radar ever since I started iVelocity to be able to get our company listed. If you’re not familiar with the qualifications, you have to be in business for at least 3 years and your first year of revenue, you had to have over 100,000 in gross, and the 3rd year of revenue, you have to have had over 2 million in gross revenue. In 2016, we finally qualified to apply for the list.
You are who you surround yourself with.
To think about where this company has come from and to see it grow has truly been amazing. And I am grateful for the the clients who give us the ability to do what we do each day. I am also extremely grateful for the team of people that God has placed in my life. Each week that we walk into our office, we are handed challenges. What I love about our team is their willingness to face them and come up with solutions that help our clients grow their practices. They are by far, the best team of people that I’ve ever worked with.