260 : Frankie Wells – Growing a family along with growing a strong Private Label business selling on Amazon
Frankie has it right. His family is always first, and staying close to his overall family is the village he is using to help raise his. Smart. Finding balance is elusive for many of us but be sure that is what you want. This time of year balance looks differently than it does in February or July. I love the intentional approach that Frankie takes and I think you will too.
Transcript: (note- this is a new tool I am trying out so it is not perfect- it does seem to be getting better)
Stephen: [00:00] They want to jump in here and just bring back up episode 250 Toys for Tots campaign put together buy sell or Lams. It is such a great opportunity. I was with the seller on Friday. Their team is working on it. I’m very very excited. This is a chance for you to use the skills that you personally have developed. You’ve got sourcing muscles. Not many other people have it. And this is a chance where we can take and use our skills to help those less fortunate. All the information is on episode 250 such a great cause. Kip back. Give back give back. This time of year. Thanks hope your Q4 is going good. It’s a great time to be selling and sell a lot. Watch your reprice hers. I just got whacked down and lost fifteen dollars a unit.
Stephen: [00:48] I didn’t lose I lost in profit because I shared a blocked one wasn’t paying attention. So please do me tell you by couple sponsors in scope from Sellar labs. If you’re not using it to e-business to take your wholesale accounts of course you’ve got to use it for private label right. You need to understand the keyword you want to understand a key. Go look at your competitors get their keywords and then use them. That’s smart business right because they already have proven that proof of concept. But take the same approach to your wholesale accounts. Make sure that those keywords are in there. If not upload those changes many times you can but many times you can take advantage scoped from seller labs go to Celebes labs dot com slash scope use the code word momentum save a few bucks get a few keywords get your listings found got to find that keyword and scope will be the product that will help you their solutions for e-commerce.
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Cool voice guy: [04:29] to the e-commerce momentum podcast where we focus on the people the products and the process of e-commerce selling today. Is your host Stephen Peters then welcome back to the e-commerce momenta podcast. This
Stephen: [04:44] is episode 260 Frankie Wells. We’ll get ready to be inspired because I was really inspired talking with Frankie. I knew he was into a whole bunch of things. However I had no clue the level of detail the focus the intensity that he approaches this business with and there’s no doubt that’s the reason he’s having so much success. I love the way he talks about his family love the way he’s clear about what are absolutes in his lives. And I just think that this is such a smart way to run your business. Don’t be chasing something you don’t necessarily need at the cost of something else. I think Frankie is a really good example of that. Let’s get into the podcast. All right welcome back to the e-commerce momenta podcast very excited about today’s guest. He is he is well known I think but he lays low. So it’s funny because everybody knows him. Yet he lays low he’s real laid back real quiet. Frankie Welles welcome Frankie.
Frankie: [05:48] Thanks for having me Steven. It’s great to be here.
Stephen: [05:50] You really are well known. Everybody knows you. I don’t know how you get around so much. Is that intentional. Like we were when we last together was at New York. We
Frankie: [06:01] were in New York for something up at the Amazon to boost the boost.
Stephen: [06:05] Yeah. Yeah. Do you make it a point to get to a lot of those kind of events. I
Frankie: [06:11] try to you know I’m a family man. So my time is limited how much I could get away. But when I can you know I love to go I love to network and I love to be around all the face the people and the Facebook people since so you know it can be very solitary work and alone at the computer all day. So to get to be face to face with people is great.
Stephen: [06:32] You know we will get to that part of the story where Frank used to work with a bunch of people and he doesn’t anymore but that’s a choice that he made. And in a pre interview we talked about that I appreciate it because I think it’s smart that you’ve thought through this I won’t get all that. All right let’s go back though so you. You know when I read your bio you were an Internet marketing. But what were you. What were you going to do in high school. I
Frankie: [06:56] mean did you were computers a big part of your life you know in high school and as a kid I was always trying to make money somehow. You know I always had the internet or entrepreneurial spirit but I didn’t really know where I was going but I knew I wanted to kind of own my own business even at a young age. But you know my parents they were immigrants from Italy you know right off the boat and down you know the American dream for them was to send me to college so that would be a big deal and your world.
Stephen: [07:27] Going to college for your family. That’s a big deal.
Frankie: [07:31] Yep. So you know I was the youngest of three and you know my siblings went and I went and graduated. And you know I learned a ton. I was never against it. I just knew I never really wanted to have a 9 to 5 job. Would you go to school for. So I went for marketing and design.
Stephen: [07:47] OK. So design what does that mean. Tell
Frankie: [07:49] me is that clothing is that art is more digital based. You know this is a little late 90s early 2000s so the web was there you know the dotcom boom and bust but it was still you know in its infancy in terms of all the the marketing abilities that we have now today.
Stephen: [08:10] So so you have an art.
Frankie: [08:13] ZAFIR Yes hi. If if I didn’t have to rely on making money I love design and I love art and I love creating. But I don’t like to do it for a paycheck because it loses something then doesn’t it. Yeah absolutely. And to please other people’s really difficult when it comes to to our. You know it’s very subjective but that’s what’s beautiful about private label. I get to be the the head of what I want to do and put out the products I really want and dumb my customers seem to love everything I do. So does it feel like art. Does that feel like art to you. Yeah in some ways. You know it’s the whole process of creation you know from. I love every little bolt from the start to the end of it. And you know I mentioned I always had the entrepreneurial spirit.
Frankie: [08:59] So I’m not afraid to get in the ditch and dig and do a task that I probably shouldn’t even be doing. You know if it’s kind of lower level but I’m just not afraid to do any of it. And I think you know having that mentality helps me get ahead in the end.
Stephen: [09:13] I think being now I was surprised how old you are you probably hear that often cause you look like you’re twenty one gone maybe 22.
Frankie: [09:25] I’ll take that as a huge compliment. You
Stephen: [09:27] do hear that off the Dell correct. Yeah they’re only 82. But I was I was surprised at how long you’ve kind of been in this Internet world. I mean when you think about it you’re on hold dude. I mean to most people I mean you know think about the people coming in this business you know. Oh I just started. But you’re an old dude. You’ve been you’ve been messing with the Internet now for quite a long time.
Frankie: [09:51] Yeah I mean I’ve gone through my paces I’ve the beauty is I’ve I’ve learned in every stage you know from the earliest days of you know just being a consultant you know I was doing search engine optimization before it was called that I am was doing paperclip marketing before Google Edwards even existed. And I’ve just made money in and had fun developing. You know throughout all those phases of software you know Google Ad Sense Affiliate Marketing. I mean I flipped domains I’ve done Legion sites some now doink you know FBA I’ve been an eBay seller since probably 1999 I’m dabbling it click funnels now I mean I’m just all over the place. Have you messed with Mirch. Yep I have an account. You know I have designs that sell you know every day every week. I see the commissions but it’s low on my priority list now.
Stephen: [10:43] But not surprising because you’re an artist. I mean I would have thought I mean when I looked at your stuff I was thinking oh he’s going to tell me he’s he’s knee deep in Mirch just because you have that creative side.
Frankie: [10:54] Yeah well I usually do my own design so I’m not a kind of guy who’s you know farming it out but design takes time and the time I put towards a new private label products makes me a lot more money than a shirt would.
Stephen: [11:09] So does it give you the same reward though. I mean does it give you that same cause isn’t it. I mean finishing it right. It’s it’s the pain and the struggle of coming up with it and getting it through. But then when you finish it it’s like you left it all on the table Frankie his private label the same for you like that. I get the vibe it is.
Frankie: [11:30] It isn’t a lot of ways. You know it’s I guess it’s about creating as a whole. So you know it’s kind of it’s easy it’s lax I could just do it and be really creative where you know when I’m creating a product I do lots of you know sophisticated market analysis competitive analysis. You know I’m putting numbers together so it’s it’s creative it’s just more structured and not as bubbly and fun but the process is still great. You know start to finish.
Stephen: [11:56] Do you enjoy the private label side more than the just the standard FBA yes I do.
Frankie: [12:04] If my experience is mostly private label you know I’ve dabbled with my Ouray and so we started right in private label I started with private label and then I backtracked and I went to our address. Actually I wanted to learn the interface and and everything better you know the whole process of shipping. So are a really taught me that and and then I went back to a little wholesale but private label has been about 90 plus percent of my business. You
Stephen: [12:32] know you still sell the first private label product you have. Do you still sell it.
Frankie: [12:37] I don’t anymore. It was I was a new guy.
Speaker 5: [12:41] So go ahead tell us what it was tell me it was a silicone glove. Come on admit it. You had you had claws or something. Right.
Frankie: [12:46] Well it was it was it was pretty it was pretty popular and a lot of people were selling. And unfortunately the original seller didn’t have a trademark or any type of protection. He was a guy that just put a product out and it was a fabulous product. But the quality was horrible but the concept was top notch. So I sent it out to China. I found a couple of manufacturers I changed it. I tweet it made a higher count in the in the package. I changed the design of it and made it more reliable and dumb. And eventually this guy went on Kickstarter and raised over a million dollars and under 24 hours. And the first thing you did was the lawyers were knocking on his door to represent him. So. So it kind of a crash and burn in that sense I had my funding made a lot of money I learned a lot and had a get out.
Stephen: [13:39] What did you learn not to do there. Because I hear a lot of people tell you you know hey here’s what I learned. And you know I learned to you know blah blah blah blah blah. But what did you learn that are like. No way don’t do that again.
Frankie: [13:54] Well I guess with that scenario it was the guy didn’t have trademark protection OK. But I knew it was going to come so you know maybe in hindsight it would have went to him and tried to help him grow the brand. Or by licensing to it you know early on before he did anything. So I’d have a major stake in it now instead. You know the lawyers took over and now exploded.
Stephen: [14:15] Right. So. So by going to Indy tells a story. Oh my God. I forget how many years ago this was one of his products was a couple of years ago. And that’s the true story. Literally I’m at a yard sale early in the morning and it was it’s a special one and I went because I was looking for bunk beds for my grandkids. Anyway I’m there. He calls me it’s like seven o’clock in the morning. He’s like Steve blah blah blah. And he tell I think he’s told the story publicly even he you know notified from a lawyer he was getting sued over this product and blah blah blah and this woman you know said he infringed. It turns out he didn’t. But I remember that moment when his world was like stopped and crashing. However he he got a letter from the attorney he actually called and spoke to the person who invented it and she said No you’re right you’re not infringing.
Stephen: [15:06] And it all was done. But because he took a proactive approach to it and I remember that and I’m like everybody else would have ran away and just taken that letter and just went away. And so there is a lesson there. I like what you’re saying it’s just a go right in and see if you can make a deal early on. Have you. Have you been able to do that. Have you. Or is that just something you keep an eye out for if it starts heading that way. You’re going in yeah.
Frankie: [15:33] You know I have one other product that I was able to kind of open an opportunity like that which has been more of a partnership with the original owner and it’s been nice because I haven’t had a deal with any of the legal side trademark side. It’s more of a partnership I’m helping him sell. I kind of have not rights to it but I’m basically representing the product and the Amazon space and she’s not interested in any part of that. So it’s allowing me to sell Win-Win.
Stephen: [16:01] Absolutely right. You don’t have to worry about that. Now you have to keep others at bay then I take it.
Frankie: [16:08] Yeah I have to kind of help with that. And you know it gets a little sticky where you know people want to come in and maybe they have a benefit to bring to the table. So try and help him navigate while I’m not fully losing control.
Stephen: [16:21] But being fair about it that’s interesting. So let’s just say it’s trying to think of what’s looking on my desk. It’s a tape dispenser and somebody can bring this amazing tape into the dispenser. You wouldn’t necessarily say whoa whoa whoa I’m in charge I’m selling that you would say hey you know this might add some value therefore you know let’s bring it in. Is that kind of the way it goes.
Frankie: [16:46] Yep you know or if I see them just doing something you know they’re not optimized for they’re selling a lot but they could be doing better and I see the value in potentially helping them and you know benefiting myself you know maybe there are they’re not on FBA yet but they’re selling great and eBay something like that.
Stephen: [17:03] So is that one of the methods that you use let’s use the secret sauce. Come on tell us that you’re out there looking and if you see an opportunity like that because you have acquired a nice set of skills right. You have proof of concept. You have somebody somebody can talk to which I think is a huge opportunity right there. The fact that you could say hey go talk to Bob who I’ve done this with here’s his reference and he can tell you what we’ve been able to do. Those are all very strong things. So is that is that kind of the approach that you also have in your hip pocket or is that the only approach you take notes. It’s
Frankie: [17:37] absolutely one of them and it’s how it’s something I’d love to do even more of. But you know I do a lot of things that I’m involved in a lot. So I’m constantly putting my blinders on but finding opportunities is just really easy to do once you’ve done it over and over and over then it becomes time so you don’t have this oh my God there’s nothing oh my god the world’s ending Amazon shut me down.
Stephen: [18:00] This is terrible. You have a whoa there’s too much opportunity. I’ve got to keep my blinders on because I’m going to get distracted and go that way.
Frankie: [18:08] Absolutely. And dumb and you know back to where you mentioned the warehouse and stuff. That was kind of part of the goal of you know getting rid of my own employees and warehouse and moving towards a more automated system to give myself more time to spend on doing what I like which is finding new product creating a launching versus you know putting labels on and packaging things.
Stephen: [18:30] Let’s explain that whole thing because you know one of the cool things you did was say you know this isn’t my lane or this is not what I enjoy. Not that you couldn’t do it. Was it the employee part. Was it the mundane. Was it the crisis mode. Was it just the monotony. What part of it didn’t you enjoy it.
Frankie: [18:51] It’s probably a little bit of all of them. You know in the beginning I you know loves staying up late labeling and packing. I mean it was so exciting and watching the money come in here. You know it gets old. Yeah. You know me and my wife we we have a 3 year old and five year old daughter. And you know it would be midnight. And we’re still packing away and you know we’re both bright and early with them so. So you know I knew I have to automate this. It can’t last this way forever you know. And and then I got my own space and I had employees from a different business. So it’s kind of easy to integrate in the Amazon side and it was going good but you know if you’ve ever managed people you know it’s a task in itself to you know deal with who could come who camp what their schedule is you know keeping them busy you know depending what type of work you have coming in. And it’s just a job and it’s own you know and it takes responsibility.
Stephen: [19:46] I mean to me that that’s the thing that turns me off is the responsibility. Their lives have an impact on yours right because like you said whether they’re coming in or not well if their kids sick. I mean that’s not fair right. I mean it’s not reasonable. That part is bad enough but the responsibility of knowing that you have to keep them going that you have to source or whatever it is in your case manufacturer. That’s a lot of responsibility.
Frankie: [20:10] Yes. It absolutely is. And you know like you’re saying if one person you know didn’t show you know that many times where I’d say you know I don’t want to work the employees that did show up to death. So you know I’d go right beside them and pack away so they didn’t have to work till all hours of the night. You know so just consi picking up the slack basically.
Stephen: [20:29] Was there a line in the sand that got crossed you said OK this is it. I mean because you probably were toying with the role. Maybe I should. Maybe I shouldn’t because I think that happens to a lot of people. Like should I have my own. Should I not. Or or you know Wendy you move up. You know we’re moving up inside a warehouse right now and we needed the additional space. But it took a long time and we dragged our feet right from a cost point of view waiting and waiting until there was a tipping point for us. Was there something in your world that happened or a line that just said it’s time to move on. It’s run its course.
Frankie: [21:01] Yup. And like you said it’s kind of a numbers game. So you know I really did or as I did all my numbers you know from rent from employees from supplies insurance you know all the details. And I just had the random idea you know what if someone else is doing all this for me and dumb I know there’s a lot of FBA you know based warehouses but you know I do some high volume with certain product and it really adds up if you’re paying a dollar a unit. But you know when you have your employees it’s lower so. So what I did was actually found just general fulfillment warehouses. There are a lot of them. There are a lot of them yet and they don’t know anything about Amazon and actually wanted it that way for a couple of reasons. The first reason was I could kind of teach them how I think I want it to be done and the way I’ve been doing it it’s been working great interesting and dumb and you know.
Frankie: [21:57] So that was like you know the first step you know saying OK imagine the free time if I didn’t have to maintain people myself and dumb. And then you know I put a couple of our jobs we were doing outbid. And you know I already knew how long it would take to package a thousand units or whatever it was. And I was really surprised that the amount that they came back with you know when I did the math it was maybe only a few pennies more. You know 10 cents 20 cents more than managing all of it myself and it it became a no brainer.
Stephen: [22:27] Yeah I mean that’s huge because the responsibility again when somebody calls off from there you don’t care. Right. I mean it I mean you know you feel bad form or whatever but that’s not your issue. That’s their issue to figure out. And so that’s the first time I’ve heard somebody talk about training their own company the way they want to. What do you think makes and maybe your product specific right. Is there a lot of assembly in your products that you bring in.
Frankie: [22:56] Yep some of them are some assembly some that just require no inspection. I’m really strict on my quality that goes to Amazon. So um even if it’s come from China everything pit stops at one of my warehouses is rechecks even though I use inspection services you know things get beat up you know while they’re in transit from China to the U.S.. So you know some products have manufactured and had it packaged here all sorts of scenarios but just allows me like you know high end control and the ability to just make sure I’m giving my customer the very best product possible and using a non FBA fulfillment center probably gives you more opportunities to do different unusual things because of design for another bag. I
Stephen: [23:40] was thinking of a bagging. I’ve seen some of these fulfillment where there’s one not far from here. Massive. I think they have 28 brands or companies that they handle. And I mean it’s crazy what I buy from them. But I mean when I looked at the other products they handle I’m always like wow that’s in this warehouse anyway. But they have packaging equipment and stuff like that that would be like whoa that would be cool to have but nobody else has it because it’s machines you know they’re there. They’re done for volume like you described. So has that been another benefit that you found.
Frankie: [24:11] Yes it’s been great. You know like gum for example in the packaging like you’re mentioning. You know I’m like one of my products I was having assembled in China and it had maybe 15 components and you know they would forget one here or there it was. It was hard to catch without opening the products in the USA. So instead I have all the peanuts made in China. They come to America and then they’re assembled. You know there’s people here quality checking and then they have a shrinkwrap tunnel and everything’s really quick and automated but I have that extra level of control being here in the USA. And
Stephen: [24:45] so I mean logically India is going to be like dusty of course but let’s say it you can get a better price then if it’s not assemble because they’re going to charge in China. I mean obviously it might be a little more expensive here but if you’re opening it up and doing the same thing it’s you know it’s not but you get a better price then from China by saying hey don’t poly bag or don’t do this don’t do that we’ll do that here. And then therefore then you have that additional cost here which you were probably spending anyway if you had to inspect. Have you looked at what percentage of reduction in quality complaints non you know lack of quality that you have received since you started doing this.
Frankie: [25:25] I mean to be honest I’m I’m really lonely I get almost no support tickets anymore. And I used to like actually answer sometimes I get so few now. It’s I it’s just ridiculous. By taking control of that yup by basically just bringing it you know closer to home and now and and you know paying a little bit more to make sure the quality was there. So
Stephen: [25:46] let’s give some advice to somebody because I think this is a pro pro a high level pro tip somebody who’s got a product what should they be looking for. What’s what would be the trigger for you that said hey you know I’m at you know to get 2 percent returns anyway right and normal thing. And so I started seeing three or four. I mean it’s math right. I mean I guess it comes down to math. But what was it that somebody should be saying hey wait a second if I’m getting this level of quality complaints this is probably worth me bring in and taken a hard look at it.
Frankie: [26:19] Yeah. You know anything above the usual you know depending what your volume is you know if it’s you know 1 percent 2 percent 3 percent you know you have to expect that. But if you see the same complaint over and over that probably means something is there. And we all know people will complain just to get free shipping sometimes. But true complaints are usually wordy and they really filter them out right.
Stephen: [26:44] Those other ones you’ve got what’s left. Have you. Does it give you a marketing opportunity. The fact that you’re assembling it in the U.S. do you. Is there anything that you’re able to say that you do here that helps make more sales. I
Frankie: [26:57] mean you know I do say Made in the USA and my products and it’s actually one of my bullet points.
Stephen: [27:02] Very cool. OK. So if that’s important to people then you get to say that. Do you. Are you able to warranty a product because you know the quality is there and then therefore collect customer information inside of time terms of service not going outside of it. Are you able to do anything like that.
Frankie: [27:18] You know I try. It’s it’s always the time factor if you know I’m always trying to get better on those processes. But I do we have some type of inserts or sign up for a Khubani or center for warranty and and just make the customer feel comfortable with the how many you know give in to the offer you know is measurable but it’s something Woj striving to do better. But it allows me to do it with more confidence because I know that I’m putting the best of the best out there.
Stephen: [27:44] And that’s that’s perfect. Makes perfect sense. I know someone who went from 15 percent returns or complaints to less than 1 percent. Wow. Now you want to talk about mega amounts of dollars. I mean that’s an enormous amount of money. But exactly doing the same thing bringing everything into the U.S. opening up the package doing some couple little tweaks and changes and putting it back in a package. It’s very inefficient. However you can argue with that. I mean that’s a massive I mean you want to fix the problem but until then you want to take control of your situa you could control what comes into us right. I mean it leaves your warehouses. You can control that. Right Frankie. Absolutely. How hard is it to take in train a fulfillment center to learn how to be to handle your products the way you want and can you walk us through that what you did. Sure
Frankie: [28:36] . So you know the first job I put out to bid and you know it included you know let’s say there is 15 components you know say you know five of these components are the same. So you have to grab x amount. And what I did was actually mailed them a complete assembled package of what the product was so they could take a look at it you know touch the components think about how they’re going to set the tables up or machinery. So that was the first step. You know getting in touch asking if they do custom work like that they’re Willink and then showing them the product. And then once they did that it was it was pretty easy from there. You know I made them a guideline. So I I provide them boxes so I never have to worry about boxes being too small.
Frankie: [29:20] Your specific box yup are they custom printed. Well the product boxes yes. But I guess I’m thinking even beyond like their home depot box or a U-Haul box just a cardboard box so I could control that. You know let them know the 50 pound range.
Stephen: [29:38] You know I keep everything I do like at 48 pounds or less just to make sure I don’t get anybody I don’t want to poison me I’m going to pull you there I’m sorry to interrupt but it makes sense what you’re saying. So you gave him the box for the outer container because you know how many of these components are going to fit in to make it to the 48 pounds kind of you’re taking away a lot of chance for error there also.
Frankie: [30:01] Yes exactly. So you know it’s like our final product is this dimension in this box and we could fit you know 42 in that box which is going to equal 48 pounds.
Stephen: [30:10] She has to do that so smart. I mean it’s otherwise you’re again just letting somebody who might not care about the day they’re having to fight with their spouse and whatever and they came into work and are given a hoot and you get doing your business is in their hands. Right. And so by being that proactive again. Oh that’s so good. Go ahead keep going.
Frankie: [30:32] And what’s kind of crazy now is you know they have just boxes packed on the shelves. So let’s say there’s you know 42 to 48 pounds to this dimension box. So I just call them and say hey I need you know 12 boxes of product number one to go out and I already know what the weight the quantity the size of the box I print the labels I email them and that’s the the. Pretty much the involvement to get boxes out I just all a little I’m what I want. Let’s
Stephen: [30:57] pause there a second. So they already have your UPC or if it’s your product you don’t have to have any UPC you would have send whatever you have you have it labeled the way it needs to be labeled already they seal it in a box. It’s sitting on the shelf. And in fairness you paid some of the work in progress costs right. Because you had to pay them to process that so far.
Frankie: [31:16] Yeah absolutely. So they process it all and they charge me you know like a per unit fee and then it sits in the warehouse and then I pay like a long term storage fee which is much much much less than Amazon’s fees.
Stephen: [31:29] So and then you just pull a box off slap a label on it and it goes Yep.
Frankie: [31:34] So it’s you know extremely efficient. It’s cheap for them to do and all the hard work done and the quality is high.
Stephen: [31:40] Well the other smart move here is that you can turn your inventory. You can wait just in time inventory pretty close if you know. I mean obviously now this quarter it’s a little harder. But generally speaking if it if it’s going from wherever you’re your place is to let’s say Hazelton is a good example right. You know what it’s going to generally it takes four days to get there so you could kind of plan your inventory levels planning with a little buffer in there and you don’t have the processing time it’s literally slap a label on it get it out that day. So that’s a huge competitive advantage.
Frankie: [32:14] Yes absolutely. You know as good as you want to be you know being out of stock is kind of something that goes with the territory. Because you know you never want to go too deep or too little. But I’m probably you know out of stock 20 percent in comparison to what I was. You know so I’m I’m hardly ever out of stock ever anymore basically.
Stephen: [32:33] Do you. Let’s be honest here. Do you think running a warehouse and having employees and all the responsibilities that go allow along with that allows you to work on the business like you’re describing not nearly as much. You
Frankie: [32:47] know when I was managing everybody else you didn’t get to work on that.
Stephen: [32:51] I mean what you’re describing is what people can do to take a really good business and make it a grape and right that 10 percent on a good degree it’s only 10 percent. The difference that 10 percent is huge right because you don’t have to sell more items if there’s more profit. Right. I mean if you could squeeze more profit out you get. I mean without selling more items that’s nirvana. I mean that’s the best thing you can do. Absolutely love it. Smart talented guy smart. Ok so so a fulfillment company so how did you find a fulfillment company was this little tool called google or was it was there a different way.
Frankie: [33:26] Yep it was Google and it was Thomas net.
Stephen: [33:30] Right. And manufacturers you could do us manufacturers on Thomas net. And so that will help you. OK. Wow. Love it. OK. So you’re utilizing the other thing that I think Franky’s doing very very well. And it’s not a criticism of anybody else and it’s not a criticism criticism of a prep center. I don’t mean it this way. The fact that you spread them out. Talk us through why you use different fulfillment centers.
Frankie: [33:54] So you know from an East Coast standpoint to have you know one local. So if I have a product that you know I’m really really picky about the quality I could literally go there and look at it and see the production. But then you know I have one that’s lower down on the East Coast and then I have one on the west coast. Sometimes depending if the product is coming from China or not and dumb and you know at any given point one of these warehouses can now say hey I don’t want to do it anymore and I mean would be dead in the water. And I actually I’ve experienced that a little bit with one of them at one point. They come out of nowhere. They backed charged me six months for incoming boxes and it was it was like a you know it was you know a six figure like shoes.
Frankie: [34:40] Let me think it was. It was six figures worth. I mean I bring in a lot a lot of boxes and they sent me an invoice. And my jaw dropped to the ground. And you know I’m like we never talked about this incoming fee. And you know it was a kind of a change of it a hands at the account and somebody thought they should be charging for incoming when in reality we never talked about that. And that really would change the game and the cost per unit. And I was able to reach an agreement with them where we’re not charging incoming fees any longer. But it was a really good scare because everything I built in terms of relationship and automation almost came crashing down. So after everything was fixed and good I made it a point to find you know warehouse number two as a backup and then warehouse number three as a backup as well. Do
Stephen: [35:27] you have. So like when you put things out for requests for bid and RFP. Do you have hey these are the you know the understanding these deliverables or whatever terminology use now especially given that you had that scare. Has that been developed over time. Absolutely
Frankie: [35:45] . You know I’m I’m more in tune to think about potential like you know back charges or small charges or little charges that gets squeezed in so you know I really want like a final Altidore cost and storage costs. When I’m doing things and I usually have them actually price me in tears as well. You know let’s say 1000 units 5000 10000. So then I could determine if it makes sense to pack them all and leave them on the shelves or do them incrementally.
Stephen: [36:12] Because that matters to you. You know what. What drives you now. So you know you’ve you’ve hit you’re the official mega seller. You have downsized to it’s just you. Is it one of the person working in the business with you.
Frankie: [36:28] Yeah pretty much to other people but to other people say there’s three of you. Yes but I have other businesses so they they only work at FBA when needed. So it’s it’s very low low volume for them.
Stephen: [36:39] So so what still drives you. I mean you’ve had enormous success. You’ve got a great young family you’ve got you kind of half the world at your feet there Frank. What still drives you to be successful.
Frankie: [36:51] You know I guess it’s just the passion to to create and grow in and succeed and you know I’ve had it since I was young. Now it’s like a fire. You know I wake up every morning excited and now still. I love mondays and I don’t like Fridays really study because you still do.
Stephen: [37:11] I mean that that says something about this when I think about habits right. I always ask everybody to ask Hey tell us some habits that you do. Frankie you know what time to get up and all the rest. What are some habits that are just absolutes for you no matter what happens.
Frankie: [37:28] So it’s you know I’ve been doing what I do for quite a while. And you know at first I was young doing it and you know with all the flavors until it’s all rolled into it. But I guess the thing that I has really driven me and it’s a system that if I fall off you know everything around me starts getting a lot more stressful is I plan my days I plan my weeks. And I have clearly defined goals you know short term and long term do you have a system that you use or anybody’s method one that you stuck with. Or
Stephen: [38:02] is it just something it’s a ball for you over time.
Frankie: [38:05] Yes. So it’s it’s a little bit of everything. You know I’m constantly adapting it. But but I love to use Asuna which is a you know a to do list system that I could build out as far as I want. And I love putting all the details in there and just emptying my brain so I’m not carrying you know the stress of the world in my work on my shoulders all the time. And I also I love to time block. So I’m really big on the Pomodoro Technique which is twenty five minutes of work five minutes or whatever you want to do 25 minutes of work five minutes of just a break. And that really helps me define what I need to do in a day and make sure I get it done.
Stephen: [38:43] Pomodoro Technique I’m going to look this up I don’t know that I’m going to link it. All right so give me a habit that you’d like to improve or you wish you have added that you just putting off for whatever reason.
Speaker 5: [38:58] Habit I wish I could do so. I mean do you have exercise. Do
Stephen: [39:01] you read meditate do you want to you know pick flower. I mean what is it that you would like ride a bicycle you know.
Frankie: [39:08] Yeah yeah well you know I am you know being such a you know a strong worker and having such a strong work ethic I definitely put my family first and I put myself last a lot. So I go through waves of you know wanting to spend a little more time on myself you know whether it’s working out meditating reading. So but I go through waves of doing it you know now Q4 so I’m back at the bottom of the list. But as soon as January hits I will definitely back to meditating reading and distressing a bit from the too forward.
Stephen: [39:39] I love the guys who take like 20 days vacation right in January. Like man that’s that dude. He gets it he gets it he killed it and he takes his family and takes them to levels. OK. So let me ask you this because there is a follow up question you’re going to guess what it is. So what matters to you. So you’ve got a wife and a couple kids couple employees other businesses. What really matters to you.
Frankie: [40:03] You know at the end of the day it’s really family. You know my kids my my wife I mean you know growing up you know my parents like I said you know came here from Italy and you know at times we only had each other. You know my father worked a lot. My mother worked. So you know the time we spent together was very valuable. And are you still tight with them. Extremely tight. You know Sunday dinners and my brother and sister come down with the kids.
Speaker 5: [40:28] And I married a Sicilian did I get it. Oh you get it. You get it. I get it. All right.
Stephen: [40:33] Well what have you figured out that doesn’t matter to you. Right now at this whopping you know midnight you’re not middle aged you’re you’re gaining above. You don’t know how to call. You’re good they’re your third of the way in. You’re stretching. What have you figured out that really just doesn’t matter.
Frankie: [40:54] Well you know trying to trying to please everybody and trying to do everything you want and you know putting the blinders on to to really do what’s going to make you feel satisfied versus you know trying to please everybody around you and Dom and not thinking about yourself a little bit when you do get off track so use a sauna.
Stephen: [41:16] I think my son there isn’t a sign of their use and Trello. Right. Him and his wife. I mean he’s literally in the grocery store so the list just change we need to add this on my how she added something to travel. It is a ritual. It is discipline. It is organised. I’m like oh my god I’m not that organized. They have. And they’re about your age even a little younger than you actually. And that keeps them on track. What do you do when you do derail. Because you have to derail. Right. I mean I’m sure there’s a time when you just you know you end up being a whole bag of chips or a half gallon ice cream. What is it that you do to get back on track.
Frankie: [41:54] Well you know it definitely you know I like to keep my speedometer pinned at 100 miles per hour and the engine can’t run it 100 forever it will break eventually so. So you know when I fall off or have an off day I’ll usually pretty much a lot of times go back to paper and a really cool dump my brain and try to religious figure out where I’m trying to go what I’m trying to do and I actually go to YouTube a lot and just put in you know inspirational speech or something like that. And I love to just hear others talk inspiring and it helps me get back on track mentally.
Stephen: [42:27] It’s like a perspective thing right. Yes. Absolutely. When you think about you know when you’ve had success you know you remember that moment when you were like OK I got this right. You remember that. Absolutely. What do you think. Was it that pushed you over the edge right there to get you. Because a lot of people they get to that point right the acres and diamonds move right where they’re their pick and pick and pick it up and I can’t make. I got to get out of this hole. And yet the diamond was right you know. One pick axe away white one swing. What did you do that pushed you over.
Frankie: [43:03] You know it just just kept with what I thought in my gut. You know at the end of the day was was true and real and I thought it was going to work out. And you know I’ve always been one to try to under promise and over deliver. And you know I try to keep that promise with myself too and that that at times where I think something’s not going to work has has helped me you know put that extra swing in or you know work late that extra night just to try to get to the end.
Stephen: [43:29] So pushing through even it was hard. I’m sure you had to hit the wall like everybody else does.
Frankie: [43:35] Just pushing through and pushing over top and just just not being afraid to kind of trust in yourself sometimes. And it’s OK to fail. You know I’ve I’ve been fortunate enough to have lots of successes. But you know I have my failure stories too. So you know what doesn’t break you only makes it stronger for sure.
Stephen: [43:53] And you mentioned fear is there fear. Do you have a fear about this business or any of the businesses you are involved in.
Frankie: [43:59] Yeah you know I mean you know Amazon you know the game changes rapidly. You know whether you’re playing say you know you know or you’re you’re kind of being sly. So I look at his Amazon as you know one of those amazing opportunities ever. But I definitely see it as something that should be one part of an overall strategy. You know is an evolution of you know where brand to make go where a product may go and now you know there’s some brands that may never come off of Amazon. But every single product they have has a potential to go beyond just Amazon.
Stephen: [44:34] Oh that’s good. So you’re sitting there now and I think this is a no know executive level Protip You have X number of skews how many Skewes Do you have. Some
Frankie: [44:44] of my product is seasonal. So I Hulver you know anywhere between 15 and 25 skews okay.
Stephen: [44:51] So it’s manageable what you’re describing. So what you’re saying early on in the conversation was Hey I’m working on those products and finding a better way always trying to find a way to keep costs down and get it done right get the quality right. All that kind of jazz. The other thing that having only 15 or 20 skews allows you to do is now you get to work on what else can they be right because ultimately if you have you know think of think of somebody who has invented one item and yet it has multiple uses right or multiple applications you don’t have to have a thousand products right you can just have one amazing product and do everything you can to get all the utility out of it I guess that’s where I’m going with it. And so again because you’ve been able to work on the business what kind of hours are you working today.
Frankie: [45:39] Frankie you know I’m I play Mr. Mom in the morning my wife works. So I wake up I get my girls dressed fed dropped off at school and you know the beauty is I don’t have a time to start work so just no stress. It’s literally the best part of my day. But you know I try to be at my desk by like 9 30 and you know this is outside of the house. You know I actually I have an office set up at my parents which is down the street from my house which is kind of funny. I’ve had offices all over town and you know there was a time way back where you know the Internet kind of work mindset wasn’t it makes you lunch mom makes you lunch doesn’t she.
Stephen: [46:19] No she’s actually out of the house but my How’s my wife them do life.
Frankie: [46:27] But you know I get to see my parents every day. And you know I’m I’m home with the dinner table every night which is you know one of the most important things I think for my family right now is just to be home as a family and eat at the table like I was able to do with my family. And as just one of my rules I’m home for dinner every single night.
Stephen: [46:44] Your girls get to see your parents a lot. Yes. That’s so big. I mean that’s huge to have that relationship. Oh nobody does that anymore but that’s a tradeoff right. You’ve got. You know I’m sure there are times you don’t want to be there but you know Sunday dinners Sunday dinners day. That’s got to be so. So there are tradeoffs to that. Point the other side of its amazing.
Frankie: [47:10] Yes it really is. And you know just to see the relationship my kids have with my parents is just incredible. And my in-laws are you know they have their own little jokes and they just you know we can drop them off there. And they just adore them and they love it. You know back and forth you know it’s it’s just a it’s a to a relation between them and they’re just kids but it’s just so great to watch.
Stephen: [47:33] You know thinking about you know you’re in a lot of groups you go to a lot of meetings or meet ups and stuff you see a lot of this stuff. I want to start giving some advice. You know for people who are sitting here saying when this is the kind of life I want to design Wait I get to be with my kids. I think of Liron the same way he takes his daughter every single day or met Carlat the same thing it is Dad and daughters. So I mean Dad and sons are amazing I only have boys but Dad and daughters. Oh my God. You know to be able to be a big part of that life you’re developing young ladies. I mean it’s a very important thing. They want to design that life too right. Help us start to understand advice you would give people who are you know just right now grinding away right because a grinding away.
Stephen: [48:20] And my advice is just keep grinding away. This is key for make your money. Please make your money. But this is a chance almost a rebirth. January is isn’t it.
Frankie: [48:28] Absolutely. It’s a fresh start. For sure every single year.
Stephen: [48:32] So what would you advise people to start thinking about different if they wanted to design a life kind of similar to what you’re describing where basically you don’t have to punch a clock. You don’t have to go go go store to store or whatever. You know I mean because I think that’s where a lot of people get burned out because you got burned out in this and you get rid of your warehouse right because you didn’t want to do all that you want something had to give you up. Absolutely. So help us get some advice for people to get going.
Frankie: [48:58] You know I think it comes back down to kind of like that planning and having those goals you know goals meaning you know big picture goals really big goals and really small goals. You know I think the problem people make is they make huge goals and you will give us an example. Give
Stephen: [49:16] us an example of a big picture goal on a really little goal.
Frankie: [49:19] You know like a big picture goal might be to have a product that you know does. Twenty thousand dollars a month in itself. OK. You know a small goal may be you know find three really good ideas that have that potential and you know push it to the next step. Get this you know the samples pick the product and and study how to get it to that level versus you know just seeing the big picture and setting yourself up to potentially fail.
Stephen: [49:46] So your advice is you have that big goal but then break it down into smaller parts and then celebrate those small wins. Because I mean I agree if you could find three products that have that potential even if they don’t pan out that’s a pretty big deal. You found something that has the potential and for whatever reason you can’t be successful at it. But at least you found it. That’s a big accomplishment.
Frankie: [50:06] And you know what. Well to you know I think sometimes in the world of you know virtual assistants and hiring people you know I think people lose track of sometimes you in the beginning you have to do the hard work. You know sometimes the time it takes you to explain how to do a task to somebody you could have done it yourself and had known it had got done right. So I’m not to say you shouldn’t be thinking you know in that direction. But I think in the beginning nobody should be afraid to get their hands dirty you know and really dig into what needs to be done so they can do it to their best ability and then pass it along and teach someone how to do it the right way. You know not just the way they think it needs to be done.
Stephen: [50:46] Right now your fulfillment company wouldn’t be doing the way you wanted had you not taken the time to break it down and put it in writing and give them you know diagrams and all that kind of jazz right. I mean that took but you had to know how to do that right. You just can’t say hey you know Bob. You know tell me how you do this thing and jot it that you had to go physically do it right. Make it walk the walk again.
Frankie: [51:08] Yep absolutely. You know get your hands dirty figure out you know what works what works the best what’s most efficient you know what cuts down on time and you know that’s all going to really in you know when you’re paying someone to do a job because if they’re doing it an inefficient way it’s going to take them more time it’s going to cost them more money. So by doing it yourself you figure out the real way to do it and then you can teach someone how to do it efficiently.
Stephen: [51:32] Well the other thing just by coming up with this almost an S.O.P rightest new operating procedure by doing that you’re going to see the touch points in different things and you’re going to sit there and say Who can I improve on this Friday. Because if you’re doing it and it’s becoming laborious imagine having others do it right. That’s not going to get magically easier right. So if you could figure out and get a tweak to the optimal way then it’s a lot more it and it’s going to be lower costs right. I mean one of the ways you manage your costs is by making it almost foolproof the way you described it by having the right size box and having all that stuff in your control.
Frankie: [52:10] Yep absolutely. And you know in terms of being efficient you know there have been times where you know they’ve said to me we don’t know if that’s the right way to do it. You know let’s try a different way and see what’s better. And you know there may have been times where they thought something else was maybe a little better but ultimately I’ve had them come back actually to some of my processes and automate they are more efficient just because I’ve I’ve done them so much and you know I’m a stickler for detail basically.
Stephen: [52:39] It is a fresh perspective though that they have to because they have other products. Is that helpful that their perspective.
Frankie: [52:47] Yeah definitely. You know sometimes they might have like a piece of machinery or some way to organize things that I just never had access to. And you know what I thought was efficient only half as efficient as they can do you know with that equipment. So that’s happened a couple of times as well which has been you know amazing because you know now there’s more profit on the table.
Stephen: [53:06] Basically for me how about this. Are they part of the team. I mean are you able to you know sit down and have a conversation like Hey Steve I’m bringing this product in. There’s 15 pieces. You know this kind of thing. What do you think. And then you go back and design it the way you want. I mean have you modified products based on feedback from them. Is it that kind of a partnership that you can get from a fulfillment company.
Frankie: [53:29] Definitely. You know one of the warehouse owners you know he’s almost become a mentor to me. You know he has so much product experience you know he’ll say to me you know you know this size is you know not conventional maybe you want to do in this size you could pack it better. We don’t have to you know buy him from a custom we could buy him off the shelf. You know maybe packaging so. So it’s definitely helped me a lot a lot of ways.
Stephen: [53:53] OK so we got our planning where we got our big goals we got our little goals. What’s the next step that somebody can do.
Frankie: [54:00] You know let me think there is it pulled the trigger.
Stephen: [54:04] Take a chance is it is it.
Frankie: [54:06] You know test test test Yeah you know I mean I think you could only learn for so long. So you know I suggest people be very calculated with their risks. But you can’t let that cripple you and never make a move. You know if you if you’ve been watching you know YouTube videos maybe you’ve been watching like you said Liron and Andy you know those guys are always posting so much value. You know eventually you need to just jump in and make the move. So you know don’t let your fear cripple you but try to be calculated you know try to make sure the numbers seem to work. You know maybe ask somebody else if it seems like it’s an idea that’s going to be you know grow legs and then just go out and and learn from the process. You know whether it works or doesn’t.
Stephen: [54:50] You had said that not everything you’ve done has been successful so there have been learnings along the way and the good news is you know you and you have a warehouse. Somebody else. We have our own warehouse so we don’t send in all our inventory at one shot. So you can fix it right. This went in in this half. Oh let me fix this and we can you can still go along. It’s almost like you know stages and you can get better at it. OK. So when I think about where you are right where you’ve come from and where you are you’ve got to be very pleased but it’s not didn’t happen by magic and unicorns right. This has been very intentional. Where do you think you’re going next. I mean where where would be a great place if a year from now. I
Frankie: [55:34] had Franki back on we would say I made it well I you know I I never want to stop doing what I’m doing. So my hope is to you know maybe have my product count you know up by 50 percent have a lot of products built. You know I’m trying to grow some other you know revenue streams right now in other areas online that seemed to be working. You know something I’d love to do is a teacher by nature. You know on Facebook I try to post and try to help people. And I’m constantly trying to add value. And you know I just have been there a lot. And you know I’m consi searching for mentors that are above me. And it’s hard to find good advice. So I’d love to even just have a blogger a YouTube channel and be adding value.
Stephen: [56:24] You know no matter what it is just putting something out there just teach in and get some of the learnings I’ve learned you know out to other people is your advice to somebody who’s saying hey you know I have this job or I work in this other business and I want to do this too. This sounds very attractive to me to you. I mean you obviously you have multiple businesses so you’re able to operate kind of simultaneous because you’re intentional about what you’re doing the pieces you like. What’s your advice for people who are thinking about that do they quit their job do they quit their other business. What’s the common sense advice that you would get.
Frankie: [57:03] Well you know I would say you know don’t quit right away. I would say you know put in the hard work and get you know if it’s an Amazon product you know at night time work hard push through try to turn big success before you actually leave your steady income. You know I mentioned them calculated you know if you have kids if you have bills you know none of that stuff is going to stop just because you know Amazon isn’t doing good. It’s all going to need you.
Speaker 5: [57:29] So no matter what right no matter what it does especially with two little girls life happens a lot. Absolutely. You can calculate it now.
Stephen: [57:39] Love it. Did you kill it. You know it’s so inspiring though. I just love it. I love the positivity in your voice. I love the fact that you can just do this. I mean there’s no chance that you’re going to not be successful. Correct.
Frankie: [57:54] Yeah.
Stephen: [57:54] I mean I’m not saying you won’t stumble everybody stumbles everybody makes mistakes all that kind of yes I’m talking about real success.
Frankie: [58:00] Yeah. If you’re if you’re willing to put the hard work in you’re typically rewarded. Somebody has a follow up question what’s the best way to get in touch with the Franki right now is pretty much just Facebook. I don’t do a great job of marketing myself in any way but I am on Facebook now and I like to help people. So my time is slim but if there’s questions I could answer I’d be happy to help people. He
Stephen: [58:25] always answers. I mean you sent him a note. I’m always like Man that dude’s right on it always. And so I picture your facebook. Amazing story. So I mean it’s just so cool to sit back and watch somebody a be so positive be so intentional and then get the results magically they happen because you’ve done the work you’ve planned you planned you’ve executed above it. Love it too. Thank you so much. I wish you nothing but success.
Frankie: [58:53] Thank you Stephen I appreciate you having me on. Now
Stephen: [58:56] the great interview with a great guy. And Tanya he’s just he’s just killing it but he’s doing it on his terms. I know he used that a lot but I love the fact that he knows that. And again his family is number one. He really has it figured out. E-commerce momentum dotcom e-commerce momentum dotcom. Take care. Thanks
Cool voice guy: [59:13] for listening to the e-commerce momentum podcast all the links mentioned today can be found at combers momentum dot com under and episode number. Please remember to subscribe and the like goes on iTunes.