Success Stories

Relationship Marketing Weekly: Franchise Owner

You just purchased an established business or franchise, you have a very tight marketing budget, what’s your next step? What a fantastic interview with new franchise owner Debbie Miller from Greensburg, PA.  Debbie explains how she launched her new business with a relationship marketing campaign for less than $400 that generated over $5,000 in two weeks! Amazing insight from a brand new business owner!

Kody Bateman: Hey everybody. This is Kody B here in Salt Lake City, Utah. Welcome to our Relationship Marketing Weekly show.

Well, I will tell you, I am so excited for the show we have for you today. We have a very, very special guest with us today in a very unique industry and very excited. We had the opportunity to have a little preshow discussion and I learned a lot from our guests already and you get to learn a lot from her now.

The interesting thing is, is our guest today is brand new using the Relationship Marketing System. So a lot of our previous guests have used our system for a period of time and they’ve gotten really good at it and all that kind of stuff.

Our guest today from a very unique niche is actually a franchise owner, runs a retail shop. We’re going to talk about that in a second. She’s brand new using this stuff. She’s like 30 days in to using the service that helps her implement relationship marketing and already got phenomenal results.

So without further ado, I want to welcome a very special guest today, Debbie Miller who is a franchise owner out of Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Debbie, welcome to the show today.

Debbie Miller: Hi Kody. Thank you.

Kody: Well, we sure appreciate you taking the time to be on our show this day. It looks like you are in your retail shop there. Tell us a little bit. By the way, the name of your store is Big Frog Custom T-Shirts. You’re part of a franchise organization that is close to 100 franchises called Big Frog Custom T-Shirts. You own one of those franchises and you’re sitting in it right now. Tell us a little bit about Big Frog T-Shirts. Why do you want to sell T-shirts, Debbie? Talk to us about your deal there.

Debbie: Well, I started with this six years ago pretty fresh out of college and needed a graphic design job and came into this – this business was just opening up here with the previous owner and I got hired with him right off the bat and just loved the business itself. We have some really great customers here. You get to meet people from all aspects of life who come in because everybody wears a shirt and everybody needs a T-shirt. So everybody is a potential customer with this business.

Kody: So you have a lot of walk-ins that they’re retailer customers. They’re just individuals that buy individual shirts. You also have business owners that – don’t you have like business owners that buy lots of shirts? What kind of clientele do you have like that?

Debbie: It’s really all over the board, business owners, schools, clubs, teams, churches, family reunions. Really anybody, any kind of event that they’re doing. If they want to commemorate it in a unique way, they can get T-shirts for everybody attending and we can do the one-off, the gag gift, the birthday present, the “I just saw this design and wanted it, wanted to wear it.”

That’s how we have the business here. Being able to print one, starting with one for that person. They find out what we do, how we do it and they come back and they buy a hundred.

Kody: Wow, that’s great. That’s great. So I can come into your store and buy right off the shelf or I can come in with a design of some kind and you build whatever I want basically.

Debbie: Yeah. Well, what’s really unique with Big Frog is that we have graphic designers onsite all of the time. So when you enter the store, you’re greeted and they help you decide what color shirt, what size, the style of the shirt and from there, they will actually put the design together onscreen for you in front of you, so you can check and make sure everything is the colors you like, the fonts and typefaces that you like, images.

You can bring in photographs. We will print full-colored photographs on T-shirts for you and we can have things ready for you the next day. So a very fast turnaround as well.

Kody: Very, very cool. OK. So you worked for a franchise owner for like – you said five or six years, right?

Debbie: Uh-huh.

Kody: And recently, you actually purchased a franchise from your old boss. Is that right?

Debbie: That’s correct, yes.

Kody: So you are the boss now.

Debbie: Yes.

Kody: You get to do what you want to do now and running this shop, right?

Debbie: Yes. But not too much has changed.

Kody: Yeah. Well, typically this is a question I have and I know a lot of our listeners will have. When I think of a franchise, I think a – if I buy a franchise, the franchise kind of tells me exactly what to do. So I’m assuming that your franchise recommends ways to advertise and market your store and your service out in the marketplace. But you have come in and you’ve done something different than most of the other franchises.

So I wanted to ask you about that. What are other Big Frog T-shirt shops doing and how is it that you’re able to do what you want basically? I mean tell us a little bit about the rules of your franchise.

Debbie: Well, they do recommend various marketing practices and as long as we abide by the logo standards and what not, then we are able to proceed with most of the marketing tactics that you might envision. Other stores have had a lot of success with the face-to-face marketing with communities and getting out and going to community events and festivals and in this case, I needed to do a marketing event in the winter months. So I went to doing the mailer, to doing the SendOutCards campaign and I was very happy with the results.

Kody: Let’s talk a little bit about that campaign because a lot of people are listening in today because they’ve seen some incredible results that you got when you sent out a campaign to 500 customers and got like 12 times return.

So this is one of the very first things that you did. So I want to talk a little bit about that. First of all, you came in and you bought the franchise and with the franchise, you told me earlier that you had a database of about 8000 people that have purchased from that store before. Is that correct?

Debbie: Yes.

Kody: So you’re really smart in that the very first thing you did is you went to your database, to mine the database. Most people say, “Well, what new people can I go find?” They go try to advertise out there to bring in new people.

One of the first things you did is you went to the existing group and said, “OK, who from this group should I reach out to?” which kudos to you because that’s – it’s amazing. It seems like common sense.

But I’m telling you, most people don’t do that. It’s crazy. So one of the first things you did is you went to your database of 8000 people and you – well, you tell the story. What did you do? What was the first thing you did there?

Debbie: Well, with having this new store or taking over the ownership of it, everybody is on a budget when they’re marketing and your, I guess, most cost-effective marketing are your repeat referral customers. So these are customers who I either have worked with in the past and personally knew and knew that they would remember me when seeing this logo again or customers that hadn’t been here in some time and maybe were ready to see our logo again and remember that, “Oh, yes. I had purchased this a while ago. I had a great experience when I was in the store. I’m looking for this again. I’m going to go back.” So that was the drive and motivation behind putting together this campaign.

Kody: OK. So when you did that, you ended up with a list of 500. So you had 8000 names to choose from. But you ended up with a list of 500 people. I guess what you would call a VIP list and based on buying activity and like you said, buying activity and how recently they’ve been in the store, those kinds of things.

So you end up with this list of 500 names. Tell us – and by the way, you just started using this system in December. Like we’re not talking a year ago December. We’re talking like last month December. You barely just started using this. So the story that you’re telling right now, I want to make sure our viewers understand that this was one of the very first things you did only about 30 days ago.

So you created a list of 500. Show us what you – what did you send out to that group and what happened?

Debbie: Sure. It was a postcard and it was designed as a coupon format because anytime that we send something, I do like to see how effective it is. So that’s why we put the coupon on there to try and bring people back into the store, so that we can track the response of it and it not only brought back people with the coupon but people coming and saying that they did receive it or a family member received it and they saw our logo on that card somehow and came into the store because of that.

Kody: Excellent. So you send out 500 of those and you got – what were the results? What started happening?

Debbie: Well, the next day, when people started receiving them in their mailbox, we started getting them the next day and they just continued to come in. We saw the bulk of them prior to the holiday. This did hit mailboxes December 5th and it was the holiday right around the corner. It was very effective in reaching people when they were looking to purchase or looking for gifts.

Kody: So I’ve got notes here that say that you think – because you monitor as they bring the cards in and what – bring the postcards in with them because they get a discount. You’ve got like 50 people. So out of 500, 50 people. What is that? Ten percent?

Debbie: Yes, yes.

Kody: Ten percent response on a mailer piece is phenomenal.

Debbie: And trackable too.

Kody: Trackable, exactly.

Debbie: Yes.

Kody: So 10 percent response on this mail piece. Why do you think that was so successful? By the way, for our listeners, 500 went out, 50 people came in, generated $5000 in incremental sales for you, all within about a two-week period of time. That’s sales you probably would not have gotten at all had you not have done this campaign. What do you attribute that success to? Why was this so successful?

Debbie: Well, a lot of it was the timing and the people that it went to, but also the platform. It was very easy to put together. I actually didn’t mention earlier that I didn’t have much time to put this together because I was due with a baby girl any day at that point.

Kody: Wow.

Debbie: And I needed to have something marketing for me whenever I couldn’t be out marketing and this, as I said, hit the mailboxes December 5th and she was born on the 12th.

Kody: Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. So the story gets better. So through all this, you had a baby too?

Debbie: Yes.

Kody: Well, congratulations by the way.

Debbie: Oh, thank you.

Kody: Wow. That is amazing. So this just goes to show you there’s no excuses out there business owners. I mean Debbie is nine months pregnant and she gets one of these things out and goes and has the baby and has this kind of results with something as simple as what you did. It’s really cool. Now one of the things a lot of your other franchises do that you had mentioned is they actually do a lot of bulk mailing, direct mail pieces.

What you like about the SendOutCards system is that you can really customize and get more personal with people. So tell us a little bit – like you’re brand new in this. Tell us a little bit. What do you plan to do in the future with your customers using the SendOutCards system? Because I’ve noticed it’s real important to you to get personal and customize it to the person you’re sending to. Tell us some of your ideas and what you plan to do.

Debbie: Oh, that’s what I appreciate most about SendOutCards and a lot of the motivation for me joining this franchise was because of that interaction with customers. This business offer is a very unique customer service level that it really separates us from competition in that regard and that we have so many repeats. We know who they are when they come in the door. They tell you a little bit about them and you remember that for their next visit.

That’s where SendOutCards is really going to be a great addition to our relationship marketing campaigns here and that we will be able to take those personal touches that people tell us when they come in. We have a grandmother that comes in and says she just had a new grandbaby and she bought a onesie for them and put the – you know, nana’s favorite or Gaga’s favorite on the onesie. We can then send her a card using that information again and just reminding her that we helped her with that and she had a great experience in the store from it.

Kody: So what you plan to do is somebody comes in, gives you an order. You’re going to build a custom T-shirt design for that customer. While the shirt is coming off of the press, so they’re – so you can see the process of the shirt being made. You plan to take a picture of that. Put it on a greeting card and send it out as a thank you card to that customer, right?

Debbie: Yes, that is something we’re hoping to incorporate. We have a very unique printing process in that what the customer sees onscreen and what they designed onscreen with that designer when they were in the store is pretty much what comes out of the printer. It’s very fun to watch their product being made. So that’s something that they typically wouldn’t be able to see. But if we take a picture while we’re printing it and send them that thank-you card with that picture, it adds that additional element of their experience with the store here, with Big Frog.

Kody: What’s interesting is I’ve been doing what I do for 15 years now and represented a system that companies can use to follow up with their clients and I’ve gone in to retail store after retail store over the last 15 years, showed them this system and said, “You guys really should send out thank you cards to the people that come into your store.” What’s interesting to me is retail establishments are – they’re real late adopters to what we do. It’s like retail owners don’t want to send thank you cards.

They don’t seem to see the value in it or whatever. So you’re kind of – you’re an early adopter here and it’s really interesting because you’ve already had great success and it’s going to be great to see that because there’s no question. This is not a test. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, with all the businesses I’ve helped, hundreds of thousands of businesses over the last 15 years, I know as well as we sit here that you will be massively successful with this.

Like your franchise will break records. I’m telling you right now. I’m going to bring you back on this show in six months. Let’s do that. Let’s make the deal right now.

Bart, you guys in the background, we’re going to bring you back on in six months and we’re going to talk about how what you featured and what you’re doing with the SendOutCards system has catapulted you to the top of the franchises for Big Frog Custom T-Shirts. I’m that confident. Kudos to you for having the fortitude and having the vision to do this.

Debbie: Well, thank you. I should probably mention that this past December was a record-breaking month for our store here. You know, in part thanks to SendOutCards and some wonderful employees who worked very hard this past month as well when I wasn’t here and yeah, the store had a record-breaking month in sales as well as customers through the door. So very exciting in that regard and we’re looking forward to more months with that and moving forward and seeing the positive results of this campaign.

Kody: Excellent and a special shout-out to – you have a special mentor that has helped you set up this relationship marketing system. Carol Regina, we haven’t forgotten about you, Carol. You’ve done a lot to help out this whole movement, to help Debbie out with this and we – before the show started, she couldn’t stop talking about how gracious you were and we have independent relationship marketing specialists all over the country that can help people like you set things up and at the end of the day, we just want to help businesses be nice to their customers. That’s all we do. We just – and when you’re – what you send out in life is what comes back to you. So if you’re nice to people, they’re going to be nice to you.

I don’t know why this is rocket – no rocket science here. It’s the most effective marketing system in the world using common sense principles. So Debbie, thank you so much for the time you spent with us. Any final words of wisdom or any advice that you can give our listeners as we close out?

Debbie: Well, I guess as a business owner, what I found to be one of the most successful parts of growing a business is to do what you say you were going to do for that customer. If you tell them we’re going to do this by this time, do it by that time. You say you’re going to send them a proof or call them, send them that proof, call them and that’s what creates your repeat, loyal and really wonderful customers who are excited to come in the door again and again.

Kody: Excellent. Debbie Miller, thank you so much for the time you spent with us. Please come back on our show six months from now. It’s going to be an incredible story. What we will do is we will feature little highlights of this show talking about how we’re going to come back in six months and then we’re going to do a show six months from now and I’m telling you, you’re going to have some incredible stories to share with everybody.

So thanks again. I appreciate your time. I look forward to having everybody share this story with all your friends on Facebook and we will see you next week. We will have another great show next week. Take care, everybody, now.


To secure your best year yet, you may consider using a service like SendOutCards.

If you would like to learn more about how to incorporate a Relationship Marketing Strategy in your business, you can call or text {LEAD_OWNER_FIRST_NAME|} {LEAD_OWNER_LAST_NAME|} at {LEAD_OWNER_PHONE|}.  {LEAD_OWNER_FIRST_NAME|} will answer all your questions and help you build relationships, increase referrals, and make an amazing impression on all your clients, friends and family!

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