Owner Lori Denton Shares her Journey
On this brand new episode of the Capitalist Sage, Karl Barham and Rico Figliolini sit down with Lori Denton, owner of Lift Yoga and Body to talk about what business looks like in this new world. Lori has been able to figure out ways to work through the current COVID climate, listen in to find out how.
Timestamp (where topics appear in the program):
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:02:41] – About Lori and Lift Yoga
[00:03:51] – The First Year
[00:06:09] – Why Yoga?
[00:08:25] – Starting from Scratch vs. Buying a Business
[00:09:53] – Work Balance
[00:10:55] – First Impressions of COVID
[00:13:12] – Opinions on Local Leadership
[00:15:57] – New Implementations
[00:19:35] – Coming Back to the Studio
[00:21:31] – Virtual Class Launch
[00:26:07] – How to Keep Moving
[00:28:48] – Serving the Community
[00:30:27] – Learning Opportunity
[00:31:34] – What’s Going On at Lift Yoga
[00:33:12] – Closing
Recorded socially safe online and in the City of Peachtree Corners, Georgia
“I couldn’t ask for a better staff than I have here at Lift Yoga. Everybody from the people that we have cleaning the rooms to our instructors, to our social media and photography resources. They’re just an amazing group of people and I couldn’t do it without them. So when they say it takes a village, I fully believe in that and they have done just wonders to help me balance that corporate life with the small business world.”Lori Denton
Karl: [00:00:30] Welcome to the Capitalist Sage Podcast. We’re here to bring you advice and tips from seasoned pros and experts to help you improve your business. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors, and my cohost is Rico Figliolini with Mighty Rockets, Digital Marketing, and the publisher of the Peachtree Corners magazine. Hey, Rico, how’re you doing today?
Rico: [00:00:49] Good Karl. Beautiful day outside. I can see it from my window.
Karl: [00:00:53] It is, we are in August and things are going along. School’s coming back soon, all the very various versions of it. But why don’t you tell us about our sponsors for our episode today?
Rico: [00:01:05] Sure. Our lead sponsor is Hargray Fiber. Hargray Fiber is a company located in the Southeast and across the Southeast they’re a fiber optics company. They work with a lot of small businesses, as well as enterprise size businesses. Bring in cable optics, optic fiber, specifically, to be able to bring that into that connection to your home, if you’re teleworking, or to your businesses. They’re working with a lot of different companies across the Southeast here. They have a special promotion going on right now. So if you’re connecting, if you connect with heartbreak fiber this month, they have a thousand dollars gift card that would come to you, Visa gift card. So check them out, go to HargrayFiber.com or Hargray.com/business. And you’ll find out more about them. You can even call them at (866) 407-0104. Find out more about their services.
Karl: [00:01:59] Oh, fabulous. Thank you very much Rico and thank you Hargray Fiber for being a great partner in the community and the Capitalist Sage Podcast. Well today, we are excited to have our guest today, Lori Denton. Who is the owner of Lift Yoga and Body based in Alpharetta, Georgia. And today we’re going to talk about, how businesses, small businesses are navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Talk a little bit of what it’s like after we’ve reopened. And some of the things people are doing to innovate and to thrive through this global pandemic that we’re all experiencing. Lori, how are you doing today?
Lori: [00:02:39] I’m great, thanks. How are you?
Karl: [00:02:41] Great. Why don’t we start off by you telling us a little a bit about yourself and how you got into Lift Yoga.
Lori: [00:02:50] Sure. So, I’m fairly new to the Atlanta region, I come from the DC area. And I’ve moved all over the country. I’ve had a good, career in business development. I’ve had the fortune of living a little bit of everywhere. So when I moved to the Atlanta area, I realized that there was a good business opportunity to create more of the yoga environment that I was used to finding elsewhere around the country where I’ve lived. So, as soon as I moved here I kinda started dreaming about owning a yoga studio in this area. And again, bringing that style of yoga here, and I had the good fortune last year to purchase Lift Yoga and Body, which I am coming to
you from live here. And it’s been in business for about seven years. Took it on last year and it’s been an interesting year I have to say, not what I expected in my first year of ownership, but it’s been a good learning experience. I’m just thrilled to be able to take on such a wonderful location.
Karl: [00:03:41] Oh, that’s fabulous. Why don’t you tell us again where is Lift Yoga located?
Lori: [00:03:44] Lift Yoga is in Alpharetta, Georgia. Just down the street from downtown Alpharetta. Very great location.
Karl: [00:03:51] Great. Alpharetta is in North Georgia and got a great location and a beautiful studio, what a great history there. So you’re experiencing your first of couple years in business. I’m curious, how was it when you, before COVID-19, some of the highlights in your first year, but what were some of the things that you learned and experienced in that first year?
Lori: [00:04:15] It was, business was great. You know, I focused a lot, I’m a big numbers dork. So I tried to focus a lot on the numbers and what the data was telling me about what people were looking for, what classes they were gravitating towards, what times and days really tried to dig into the data as much as possible. I’m also a big fan of surveys and keeping tabs on what our main members were looking for. So I did a lot of surveys, tried to figure out what they were looking for. And from July to February, our first time visitors doubled over the prior year. And we were able to increase retention rates by about 25%. So things were going great. And again, I think that’s because I listened a lot to what our members were looking for. I think that’s very important and also listen to what my staff was asking for and what they were hearing from the community. So I tried to keep as close to that as possible. And we were seeing some really good results, positive changes in the business because of it.
Karl: [00:05:12] So, where did you learn to do that? Cause when we talk to a lot of small business owners, we don’t often hear them using data, getting surveys, from there. Where’d you get some of those ideas and how did you find applying it in a small business situation?
Lori: [00:05:27] Yeah. So, and it was funny because, I got a funny reaction from a lot of my members and the staff when I started to talk about statistics and numbers and put out these surveys, they were kind of surprised to see that in this environment. But my background is in big corporate business development and product marketing. And so throughout my career, I have relied very heavily on data. That’s where I start. And then I try to pull out insights from that and then get the real life, personal, feedback from consumers in order to match that with the data and then move forward. So a lot of it just comes from my personal experience and background in business. And tried to apply as much as the best practices that I learned from that as possible to the small business.
Karl: [00:06:09] So I’m curious, what made you chose a fitness industry in general and yoga specifically? What connected you to that?
Lori: [00:06:17] You know, I believe a lot in doing what you love and I’ve practiced yoga for about 20 years now. So I am a Yogi at heart. And so it was very easy for me to transition into owning the business because I had personally experienced it. You know, like a lot of people are very successful owning businesses that they don’t know a lot about and bringing in consultants, I felt like this was space that I knew a lot about. I could provide a lot of personal experience and best practices that I had seen myself. And so that’s really why I was looking for something in the fitness industry to get into a small business.
Karl: [00:06:52] What do you see as some of the benefits when folks, you know, join or get involved in this type of fitness in general and yoga specifically. How is it really helping your clients and the folks that support your business?
Lori: [00:07:07] So that’s one of the reasons why I firmly believe that yoga is absolutely for every body. And I mean that truly every body, every type of person, every age range, every body type, because it has so many benefits from physical to mental. So and one of the reasons that attracted me to lift yoga specifically is many other studios have a very specific focus and only, may appeal to a specific target market. The brilliance of Lift Yoga, and I can say that because, the previous owner built a lot of that, so I don’t feel like I’m being conceited by saying that, but you know, the brilliance of it is that there’s such a wide range of types of yoga that we provide. So depending on how you’re feeling on any given day, we have the services that will match that need. So if you’ve had a really rough day and you just need to sweat it out, we have a hot power yoga for you. If you’ve had a super stressful day and all you need is to sit back and relax. We have yoga nidra, which is actually a guided meditative sleep. So there’s no movement. You lie there and somebody guides you through a meditation and it’s the most relaxing thing ever. And we have everything in between. And I think that’s very important because on any given day and I know I want to unwind in a different way than I did the day before. And we have something to fit every need.
Karl: [00:08:25] Often we talk to a lot of folks and their dream is to own and start a business. Why did you choose to acquire versus kind of start one from scratch? What was some of the things you considered and what do you think now that you’ve done that?
Lori: [00:08:40] Yeah. You know, there are lots of pros and cons of each. I think if I hadn’t found a good fit in an existing studio, then I would have looked to open my own. And you know, I don’t see the, the positive in acquiring a business and then doing a total overhaul. I think it has to be a good fit. And so it took a little while to look around the area and see what may be a good fit for me. And I think, again, that’s what has made it a very successful is that it already fit a lot of my needs. But overall, I think the thing that led me to acquiring a business versus starting from scratch is I have a full time job in another life, in my business development world. And the startup costs to completely build out a facility and find the right staff and find the membership base. I was looking at about a three year ramp up period when I did the full marketing plan to get to the place where the business already was. And so for me, it was worth it in order to
purchase the business that already had that established membership base and already had a phenomenal staff that was up and running and knew the inner workings of the business. That’s really what made the difference for me
Rico: [00:09:53] I was going to say, I have a question as well. You worked in the corporate world as well, right? Before this?
Lori: [00:09:59] Correct. Currently. Yep.
Rico: [00:10:01] Well, currently, even still. So how is that? How do you, how does that work with, you know, not only your lifestyle, but the fact that you have a job somewhere else? How does all that work? What’s the, is there stress level? Is there, where do you go with that?
Lori: [00:10:16] Yeah, so, and, you know, I’ll come back to the staff and again, that being a main reason why I look to acquire versus starting from scratch. I couldn’t ask for a better staff than I have here at Lift Yoga. Everybody from the people that we have cleaning the rooms to our instructors, to our social media and photography resources. They’re just an amazing group of people and I couldn’t do it without them. So when they say it takes a village, I fully believe in that and they have done just wonders to help me balance that corporate life with the small business world.
Karl: [00:10:55] You’re navigating that. So, I’m curious when, how did you first find out about COVID-19? What was the first place you heard about that? And what was your first impression as communication was coming out about it? That it was going to impact us back in probably February, March, early March timeframe. What were your first impressions?
Lori: [00:11:19] Yeah. Probably denial at first was my first reaction. As I think that was probably a lot of people’s reaction. And then I was just trying to stay on top of all the current news and it’s hard to know what resources to listen to. So I’d always try to go back to the main source, the CDC, you know, and try to sort through all the information that was being thrown at us during that time to try to figure out what was the best course of action. And it was interesting cause every day changed. And so, you know, somebody would ask me how I was doing today. I’m like, well, you know, it’s a whole new day. So we’ll see how today goes. We had to pivot quite quickly because as the days went on and as we got closer and closer to March 16th, which was when we ultimately closed the studio temporarily, more and more of the instructors were starting to feel more and more uncomfortable coming into the studio and being in large groups. And you know, in one of our spaces, we could have 30, 35 people in one class. Right now, the way it’s laid out with the size restrictions, we have 12 people. So that gives you an idea of how busy our studio was back in February. So as the days went on, I was trying to just treat every day as it came and make the best decisions that I could for that given day. And the day that we actually shut down, I didn’t plan on that happening, but I was trying to stay close to the business. I was here that day. It was a Monday. I remember it very well. We had two classes that morning and right before the second class, I turned to one of my instructors, Gail, and I said, Gail, I think
we’re going to have to close after this class. I don’t feel comfortable and I would never put somebody else in a position asking them to do something that I personally don’t feel comfortable doing. So, after that class, we announced that we were closing and we closed, March 16th and didn’t reopen until June 1st.
Karl: [00:13:12] How do you feel the reaction of the local leaders? Both the government, locally, city, state national, in those first few weeks and months to help guide your decision. What helped? What were, where did you get information and where do you feel was helpful? Where did you thought that we could have done better in helping the small business owner like yourself?
Lori: [00:13:35] That’s tough, you know? And that’s kind of a touchy topic, huh? You like to get straight to it? You know, I think it would have been really helpful if local government could have helped parse some of the data that was coming into small businesses. So there was just a flood of information from a whole bunch of different sources. So it would have been really helpful if they could have helped us kind of navigate who to listen to, what the best resources are and collect this is the majority of what people are saying. Cause it was very hard as a small business to both try to manage your business and sort through all that. So for sure that would have helped tremendously.
Rico: [00:14:16] Were you able to take advantage of some of the loans or things along those lines. Was any of that helpful to your business?
Lori: [00:14:24] Unfortunately not. And that was going to be the other thing that I said, you know, it would have been helpful if the loans were structured in a way that was more understanding of true small businesses, like, you know, a micro business such as mine just didn’t qualify for anything that was out there. The next tier up of small businesses probably did qualify, but the micro businesses, I think are most, much of what was hit the hardest by the closures. And so for us to not have gotten any support was really difficult and made me quite angry, honestly, at some of the things that were passed. You know, they were supposed to be in support of us small businesses, but they, I just didn’t qualify. You know, most of my, actually all of my employees are 1099 employees and that salary wasn’t considered in any of the loans.
Rico: [00:15:19] I’m sorry, was there anything else that you would have liked them to have done that would have helped the business?
Lori: [00:15:25] Yes. And so I think it was really important. It was all based around salaries. And I can understand why that may have been done, but if there could have been some funds that focused more on the fixed costs that small businesses have like rent, like electrical. And it was, those were all part of the staffing. So you had to have W2, basically employees in order to get any funding. And then you could use some of that for these other fixed costs. There was nothing that covered just the fixed costs for small businesses. So that’s what made it really difficult.
Karl: [00:15:57] You’re hitting on something that’s really important. so many small businesses are like, you know, some fewer employees, they may have 1099, those types of things. And when they pushed real fast, I don’t know that they were able to contemplate all the different types of small, especially if it’s a single, you know, one owner or one or two people, they started to figure it out later. I remember four weeks later you would start hearing, if you don’t have a payroll and you took draws and they started figuring it out after it, but you would think with so many really smart people and economists just separate them in a room and say, you know, a bunch of smart people over there, look at this group. Bunch of smart people over there and look at this group and help navigate through that. So that fell to the business owners like yourself to kind of help navigate. So after that initial shut down, when you had to start contemplating reopening. What were some of the things you implemented to make you feel comfortable in being able to open and stay open?
Lori: [00:17:05] Mostly, cleaning processes. And that is one of the things that I felt like again, I don’t, I think there’s so much still that we don’t know, but I have to go off of the data that’s available to me right now. So, before we reopened, I tried to research everything that was available that told me the best possible cleaning practices and what steps I could do to make it as safe of an environment as possible. There’s nothing that’s going to be 100% again, because there’s so much that’s unknown right now, but I tried to take every step that we could. So we increased our cleaning procedures, changed how we clean and when we clean. And I also acquired a UV yoga mat cleaner that mounts on the wall that is sort of touchless. So you just slide your yoga mat on and it goes through, and it has a UV light on each side that sanitizes the mats. So that was one thing extra that I specifically purchased just because of the environment. And again, who’s to say, who knows how effective that is or what it does. But my primary goal was, especially when it comes to a yoga studio. People come here to find a safe space, a place that they feel fully comfortable and welcome, and safe. And so that was what motivated me was to take every step that I possibly could to make sure that they feel that same way. And it ultimately, you know, just like the day that I closed, I had a feeling that said, you know what? I don’t feel safe here. And if I don’t feel safe, I wouldn’t ask anyone else to come into an environment that I feel unsafe. And so the processes that I put in place are well, what would make me feel comfortable coming into an environment like this? I know, with the fitness industry, it’s tough with all the spacing requirements. I’ve looked at the Legislation that was issued. And I’ve used the maximum amount of space that they’ve said is safe for fitness environments. And, you know, there’s a lot of yoga classes that don’t have a lot of heavy breathing. And so the philosophy in some of the yoga world is that you could probably pack in more people. Again, going back to what makes people feel safe and comfortable in this environment? I didn’t feel like that was the right way to go about it. So I have a full 10 feet in between each space that people set up in the studio. I have spots marked out on the floors so that everybody knows where they’re supposed to stay. And again, it’s every day. So as new information comes out, I’m always trying to stay on top of that and adjust however we possibly can.
Karl: [00:19:35] Well, I’ll say that, as I’ve been visiting business owners, especially in fitness, a lot of the small boutique gyms type that have reopened have been successful in keeping people safe. I mean, there’s nothing that’s foolproof or a hundred percent. But a lot of the great business owners have implemented safe. So people, I’m wondering if you’re seeing people come back more and more, the more time goes on from those first over the, probably the first ones that just needed to get out of the house. And now other people are probably getting more comfortable. Have you seen that pattern play out for you?
Lori: [00:20:11] Yeah, absolutely. And it’s been really interesting again, cause I’m a numbers dork. So I love to take a look at class sizes and numbers and how many people are registering and then how many people are showing up. All of our classes, we have 33 classes a week right now, all of our classes with the exception of two are also offered virtually. And that was the other thing that I felt was really important. Even after we opened the physical space back up, still having a way to make the people who don’t feel comfortable with coming into this space, still have a way to access, have some line to their previous lives. You know, like the way that they got their exercise or their, stress relief, before COVID so almost all with the exception of two of our classes are still offered virtually, but it’s been really interesting because June 1, when we opened, it was probably about 75, 25% of our people were joining virtually versus in studio. And now it’s the complete opposite. So as the weeks have gone on the majority of our members are coming into the studio and we have several classes where nobody even joins virtually any longer. Which is, it’s nice to see. Again, I plan on continuing those virtual classes just because I think that is important to have an offering for everybody, but it’s been interesting to see how people are slowly transitioning back into in-studio.
Karl: [00:21:31] I’m curious as you, I’m sorry. When you were saying about the virtual, how did you set that up so quickly and get that launched?
Lori: [00:21:41] Right. You know, it’s interesting cause a lot of my teachers have, instructors here have said how they were surprised how quickly we pivoted to the virtual world. And I think it’s one of those things and I probably, this is a characteristic of any small business owner is, it’s that fight or flight syndrome, you know, you learn a lot about yourself when faced with a crisis. And it was the first day we were closed. I said, alright, well, what can we do to keep things going? And the next day we had, almost the next day we had virtual classes up and running and it wasn’t easy. I don’t mean to make it sound easy at all. And I am so again, very thankful for my staff and their support in finding the right way to go about it. And our members for being so patient while we’ve worked through multiple iterations of it, not working in order to find a solution that does work. But they’re, you know, their support was what got me through that. And it’s been interesting. And this is one of those things that I’ve learned transitioning from the corporate world to the small business world is, at least my experience in the corporate world is that, you know, I’ve always been in leadership roles and if you’re a strong leader you dictate what needs to happen and you move it forward. And in the small business world, it’s been an interesting transition to really listening to my people and taking their feedback and their wisdom and their experience into account and trying to apply that. And so, you know, I firmly believe your staff
and your support group is everything and really the key to success. So, and I’ll mention Gail again, cause she’s just been incredible. Gail was my poor Guinea pig. So every time she’d come in for a class, I’d say, all right, we’re going to try something new. And we’d try something new and it would either work or it wouldn’t. And at the end, we’d sit down and I’d say, what worked for you? And I’d get her feedback and I’d say, okay, thank you. I’ll take that back. And we’ll try again tomorrow. And so, it was an interesting transition, but you know, it was again survival. And everybody said, you know, like, how are you doing? And I said, right now I’m in survival mode and this is how we’re operating and we’ll figure it out one way or another.
Rico: [00:23:43] You know, it’s amazing cause you’re one place versus a franchise, right. Franchise like, not in yoga, but like Crunch fitness, let’s say. I mean, they have a whole big corporate entity behind them to figure out what to do. There’s actually an app or a service out there that has zeroed down to the yoga business to be able to help a variety of yoga businesses, book classes online, for example. So there is a service like that. That’s out there. I don’t know if that’s still, I just saw a podcast on that, on how I built this. They just were doubling their business up until COVID and then all of a sudden things even got better for them in a way, right? But you were able to solve it on your own. I mean, were you able to, and it’s not like you’re shooting from your studio, so were you? Or were the individual instructors doing it from their homes? For example?
Lori: [00:24:34] Yeah, at the beginning and I certainly didn’t do it alone again. I owe a huge credit to my entire staff. So certainly didn’t do it alone there. That was also, we took it day by day. So for a while, the instructors still felt comfortable coming into the studio to shoot. And then there got to be a period where it got really kind of scary and we found solutions so that they could record from home. And for those that didn’t have the technology, they would still come into the studio and it would just be me and the instructor and I’d be the technical person. And they always joked that I was like the elf under the table. Cause I’d be sitting under the table with like two computers and I became like an AV expert. I never thought I would know anything about audio visual anything, but you know, I have the two computers and the microphone. We tried a different headset every time we came here. But it was just trial and error and Survival mode.
Rico: [00:25:26] So I know that, I mean, if you, if you, if we ended up going into a second wave, obviously, but you’ve set up, could be rolled back out again.
Lori: [00:25:34] Yep. And there’s lots of, you know, when we opened back up, that was my priority again, to make sure that this was a safe space. But one of my goals is to come back to the virtual classes and see how we can even expand on that further, because there is a big market there. It’s going to be a while before some people feel comfortable coming out into public and being in group gatherings again. So I want to be sure that we’re serving that part of the population. So there’s a whole lot of opportunity. It’s just a matter of, kind of biting off one bit at a time and kind of managing it as we go.
Karl: [00:26:07] I love how innovation comes kind of out of need and how small business owners are the ones that drive. Before there were the large Starbucks, there was a small, you know, individual place that started figuring out what to do and continue to grow their business. I’m curious now that we know that this will be around for awhile and I know, school’s coming back the fall. How are there ways you can innovate and change your business and do things differently to continue to prosper and try to, you know, just excel through this.
Lori: [00:26:43] Yeah. So, that’s a great question. And again, I always try to keep in touch and keep as close as possible with my members and what their needs are. And a lot, just because of where we are, the demographic of where we are. I do get a lot of stay-at-home parents that come here and I tried to listen to them. And, you know, as we come up on another year of homeschooling, how is that impacting you? Because, a lot of our day classes are filled primarily with stay at home parents. And so that was a concern for me. And it was a concern for them, you know, how are they going to get out and still get their, their yoga time and their me time, but also still deal with homeschooling. So actually we have a new program called om school, like, Om as in yoga. And homeschooling. So it’s called Omschool. And we have the fortune of having two distinct spaces here at Lift yoga and so the idea is that the parents get together with their neighborhood or their friends or their pod and bring the kids. We’ll have a tutor for the kids and they’ll stay in one room. And the, you know, have somebody taking care of them and answering any questions and helping them with their school studies while the parents come into the other room and do a yoga class. Or if they would like us to facilitate a book club for them, whatever it may be. We’ll take care of the parent’s needs while their kids are being taken care of in the other room. And so that was our way of addressing and continuing to try to innovate and meet our members needs.
Karl: [00:28:13] That’s fabulous. Can you imagine a big corporation, the malts of decision makers that would be involved and from your corporate career to try to do something? And one of the best things of being your own boss is, you know, you can get input from your customers and your team, and you could say, let’s try it. Let’s do it real really quickly,
Lori: [00:28:35] Being nimble and being that small business and being able to be nimble has been really great. And it’s a good to apply my learnings from my corporate world, but also be able to implement them in the way that I see best in my small business.
Karl: [00:28:48] I know, I know that. I see a lot of stuff that, that you and Lift yoga does in the community and connect people with that. Why don’t you share a little bit of how you, some of the things you get involved with that helps connect you with the greater community that you’re in.
Lori: [00:29:04] I’m so glad you asked that because, you know, this is again, coming back to how best can we serve our community and it going beyond just our physical space where people pay to come into here. I really think that every small business has a duty to represent and fill the needs of their community. So we’ve actually expanded the number of free community
classes that we offer to people who live in the area, both through the city of Johns Creek, as well as Alpharetta. We now have, six, I believe, free classes that we offer to the community in outdoor spaces. So there’s the big benefit that they’re in outdoor spaces. So, we can get larger gatherings. People can still have their yoga time and it also helps obviously to get the word out about Lift yoga and what we’re all about. We always offer free class cards to get people to come in and try the studio. But I do feel that it’s very important as a small business to support the community. And that’s a small way that we do it. It also helps our, we have a very successful teacher training program or yoga teacher training program. And it’s a great way to allow those new teachers and especially now that a lot of studios are closed and there’s limited teaching opportunities. Those community classes are a great way for them to get experience. So it serves the needs of the community, the needs of our new yoga teachers who are just coming out of training and a good way to get our name out in the community.
Karl: [00:30:27] So, I’m curious now that you got in this experience over acquiring a business, owning it, and running it and then dealing with a pandemic in the first year. What would you say is the biggest thing you learned about yourself in this part of your journey?
Lori: [00:30:47] Ooh, that’s a good question. Definitely just the ability to quickly pivot and do what it takes. I’m not the type of person who sits and considers something for an overly, or a long, long time. You know, like I weigh all the data that I have. Again, I rely very heavily on numbers. I also rely very heavily on my gut. And if those two things match up, I go for it. And I didn’t think that it was to the extreme that it has been over the past six months, but it has been interesting to reflect and say, okay, yeah, we changed it was on a daily basis. Every day we’d come in and have a new business plan. So that’s been interesting to see, again, how I’ve mirrored kind of my corporate life and my personal life and kinda brought those together to continue to expand the business.
Karl: [00:31:34] Well, that’s fabulous. Well, I’m curious, you know, as you go into, end of August and into September, do you have anything going on that you want to share with folks? What do you have going on over the next few weeks?
Lori: [00:31:46] Yeah, so obviously the Omschool is our big initiative. And I think, you know, it’s just a matter of parents figuring out what their, what the schedule is going to be with the kids being at home for virtual schooling for another semester, maybe another whole year. But we have the Omschooling. We’ve got a lot of interest in that. So I’m excited to get that up and running, and have a few groups come in for that. And then, we’re moving forward again with our teacher training program. We have the 200 and we’ll be launching a 300 hour program in the spring. So trying to keep yoga going, even in this new environment. And it’ll be interesting to see how we layer in sort of the current yoga teaching world into our next teacher training program. It’ll probably change things quite a bit.
Karl: [00:32:30] Absolutely. Well, all the people that are worked here from home for all the time, I think they’re going to need ways to relieve stress and to get more centered. So, definitely
encourage folks to check out a yoga studio and Lift Yoga in particular, whenever they have a chance. So, really appreciate that. How would folks get in contact, learn more about Lift Yoga and get in contact with you?
Lori: [00:32:52] Sure, so they can go to our website. Our schedule, both virtual and in-studio and as well as the free community classes are all on our website, LiftYogaStudio.com and that’s Lift not like the ride share community. LiftYogaStudio.com and they can reach me at info@LiftYogaStudio.com.
Karl: [00:33:12] Oh, fabulous. Great. Well, I want to thank you so much, Lori, for sharing some of your experience. I know folks are probably where you were thinking about what do they want to do next in their careers and want to look at owning a business. And you’re a great example of someone that’s been able to navigate that and do that successfully even with 2020, which is a year that had a little bit of everything thrown at it for the small business owner. So thank you, Lori.
Lori: [00:33:42] Thank you very much.
Karl: [00:33:46] The owner of Lift Yoga and Body located in Alpharetta. And again, thank you for sharing your insights and your experience in your first year, first couple of years of owning your business. We also want to thank the community that continue to support Capitalist Sage Podcast. We still get excited about talking to business owners like Lori, about what they’re doing here in the local community and be able to provide this service to the community to help just share the good things that people are doing. So for all those business owners out there that are you know still nervous about what the future holds with their business. I think we saw great examples of how to pivot, how to use data to run your business and help make good decisions, staying optimistic, engaging your staff and team. And if you take good care of your customers, they’ll continue to support you as you go through your business. So, really great advice that you shared with us today. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors of Atlanta Peachtree, our business is to help people become like Lori, their own business owners. We help people with selling and buying businesses. We’re available to consult with folks that might be thinking of selling or buying a business at any time. And you can reach us at www.TWorld.com/ AtlantaPeachtree. And Rico why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you’ve got going on.
Rico: [00:35:12] Sure. Lori, I want to thank you too, by the way. Lots of good work that you’re doing. I love the surveys you did with your clients and learned quite a bit from them. So that’s the only way a business can thrive, right? Knowing their customers just as well as themselves almost. Cause otherwise, especially in this world, you won’t know where you’re going. Right. But we are, hopefully you got this in the mailbox this week, Peachtree Corners Magazine. Right about there, I guess, gotten this in the mailbox hopefully. It just came out this past weekend. Lots of good stories in there we did a great article. Actually, we profiled even Karl in the article where there was seven different people, seven different profiles. It was kind of neat to be able to talk about diversity in the city of Peachtree Corners. So it was, we got a lot of great feedback
and continuing to get good feedback on this cover story. But also in the stories that are in it, I mean, there’s lot of stuff on rocketry on a plan, Natural Air and Space museum, on the opening of the schools and what that will look like. Although 24 hours after we went to press, Gwinnett County, decides they’re going back to school in about three weeks. So some, you know, you can’t help it, but things happen. So, you know, we updated our website articles at least. But there’s a lot of other good stuff in there. We’re already planning the next issue, which is, going to be a lot of good stories in there. I believe we’re going to have pets and their people, we’re going to have a surprise cover story, hopefully that we’re putting together at this point. And like every issue, there’s always a bunch of stuff in there. So hopefully you like it. You can come to LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com to find out more about the magazine and what’s going on in the city of Peachtree Corners. And also to click on the tab for Capitalist Sage, you’ll find our previous podcast there as well, or just go to iHeartRadio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and YouTube. Check you know, search Capitalist Sage Podcast and you’ll find that there. And Mighty Rockets is the company that pulls it all together. It’s going well. We’re doing a lot of social media work, a lot of video, a lot of brand management, besides publishing and podcasts, that’s been fun, been busy and, we’re always zooming or doing something like this, right?
Karl: [00:37:27] Yeah, Rico, just want to compliment you again of doing fabulous job with the magazine online. You know, staying relevant to topics, COVID-19, social justice, the work that you’re doing to just you know, talk to the community and it’s really a great job and a great service to community as well.
Rico: [00:37:49] It’s been fun. And having you working with me Karl, not that we’re patting each other on the back here but Karl’s magnificent, because I mean, Capitalist Sage. I mean, you do the heavy lifting to get the show going. So I’m happy you’re my cohost on this. You bring a lot of insight into this. Great guests like Lori, to be able to talk about the businesses. It’s all good. I think we’re all bringing something to the table that hopefully is helpful to the business community, the residents here and people that we know and love. So I hope that we’re giving something back.
Karl: [00:38:20] Oh, absolutely. So if you want to follow, like us on Facebook as well, and you’ll be updated with late breaking information that really impacts the local community here. And again, you can follow us on any one of the streaming platform, the Capitalist Sage. Next week we have another exciting business owner that’ll tell them about their journey through the pandemic and how they’ve pivoted their business. So we’re going to continue to give you relevant information to help you improve your business. And just want to thank everybody for all their support. Take care, everyone. Have a great day.
Rico: [00:38:51] Take care, Lori, Karl.
CMX CinéBistro Reopens. Popcorn time!
As if the holidays aren’t enough to look forward to, CMX CinéBistro at Peachtree Corners Town Center reopens on November 24! With precautionary measures in place and new policies implemented, CMX CinéBistro is excited to welcome you back from a safe distance.
The nostalgic experience of movie date nights, box office releases, the smell of movie theatre popcorn and the announcement to “sit back and enjoy the show” are all waiting for you. The lineup of movies you don’t want to miss include Let Him Go, Tenet, Freaky, War with Grandpa, Honest Thief, and Elf. CMX is offering new releases and holiday classics to make your return one to remember.
While you enjoy your movie, you can kick back with a classic meal or cocktail from CinéBistro’s new limited menu. As previews are shown, start with an appetizer such as the popcorn chicken or truffle tots. Once the movie begins, move on to your main course of a 14oz NY Strip featured meal or the house-made veggie burger paired with a mojito or beer on draft. As the movie comes to an end, end your night with bottomless traditional popcorn or fan-favorite movie candy.
Enjoy the magic of cinema with special savings! Come on Tuesdays to experience Tempting Tuesdays and save with $5 movie tickets and chef-crafted combos for $18. As a token of appreciation for all medical heroes, free movie tickets on Sundays are offered to all front-line workers. Can’t make it on Tuesdays or Sundays? Special prices for all weekdays are offered.
New age policies are in place such as guests 17 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian for R-rated films with ID required and children 12 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times when visiting the theater. CMX CinéBistro is also offering private screenings to make your experience back feel as safe as possible. Bookings for a private screening for you and your loved ones to celebrate the latest occasion are available as part of CMX CinéBistro’s efforts to make you feel comfortable upon your return. You can begin booking now!
Source– Press Release by Peachtree Corners Town Center
City of Peachtree Corners Receives Silver Award for its Business Newsletter
The city of Peachtree Corners won a silver category award for its Peachtree Corners Business Newsletter project in the Magazine and Newsletter category of the International Economic Development Council’s 2020 Excellence in Economic Development Awards Program. The honor was presented recently at an awards ceremony during the IEDC Annual Conference.
IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development Awards recognize the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and the year’s most influential leaders. Thirty-five award categories honor organizations and individuals for their efforts in creating positive change in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Awards are judged by a diverse panel of economic and community developers from around the world, following a nomination process held earlier this year. IEDC received over 500 submissions from four countries.
The city of Peachtree Corners started a monthly business newsletter in April 2020 during the
COVID-19 crisis to establish 2-way communication with the business community. The publication is in its fifth month and has already increased communication between the business community and the city. It is sent via email to approximately 4,000 business people in the city. People have taken the opportunity to ask questions about a variety of topics from alcohol licenses to special events at the Town Center.
“These challenging times require extraordinary effort to support the business community,
especially small businesses,” said Mayor Mike Mason. “The Peachtree Corners’ Business Newsletter was developed to address the current crisis and the city’s critical concern for the local business community. Kudos to Economic Development Manager Jennifer Howard for creating a very timely and highly informative resource that, we believe, has contributed to the sustainability of the local economy.
The newsletter highlights job growth, company expansions, and new businesses coming to town. In his column, the mayor speaks directly to the businesses, providing data, and some reassurance that the local governments are working to assist them.
“The winners of IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development awards represent the very best of
economic development and exemplify the ingenuity, integrity, and leadership that our profession strives for each and every day,” said 2020 IEDC Board Chair and One Columbus CEO Kenny McDonald. “We’re honored to recognize the more than 100 communities whose marketing campaigns, projects and partnerships have measurably improved regional quality of life.”
Choosing, planning and Growing a Business, with Barry Adams, owner of Peachtree Awnings
What to consider when starting a business. How to choose the business for you. How to consider when planning your first three years of business. In this episode of the Capitalist Sage Podcast, Karl Barham and Rico Figliolini talk with Barry Adams, founder, and owner of Peachtree Awnings and Tennessee Awnings about his experience in the business world. Barry shares some insightful tips and tricks to help any small or large business owner through their journey through entrepreneurship.
Where to find the topic in the show – Timestamp:
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:01:58] – About Barry and Peachtree Awnings
[00:07:36] – Learning from Experience
[00:10:20] – Making Business Decisions
[00:12:26] – Impact of a Formal Education
[00:14:59] – Business Impact of COVID
[00:17:31] – How to Make Your Business Thrive
[00:23:08] – Making a Business Plan
[00:25:31] – Learning New Things
[00:30:19] – Looking to the Future
[00:32:44] – Innovations
[00:34:17] – Growing Through People
[00:36:55] – Helping the Community
[00:41:23] – Closing
Karl: [00:00:30] Welcome to the Capitalist Sage Podcast. We’re here to bring you advice and
tips from seasoned pros and experts to help you improve your business. I’m Karl Barham with
Transworld Business Advisors and my co-host is Rico Figliolini with Mighty Rockets Digital
Marketing and the publisher of the Peachtree Corners magazine. Hey Rico, how’re you doing
Rico: [00:00:49] Hey Karl. Pretty good, beautiful day. Thank God the power’s on versus last
week. Before we get into the show, let me introduce our lead sponsor Hargray Fiber. They’re a
great Southeast company that works in fiber optics and IT management working to make you a
business sound and be able to communicate with the rest of the world. Whether it’s, you’re at
home teleworking employees or in office, cause COVID is still going on, right? So many different
people are working it differently. And here in Peachtree Corners, they’re very involved. They’re
involved with Curiosity Lab that Peachtree Corners. They’re involved with the city. They’re really
in tune with the community and that’s how they are with every community they’re in. So unlike
the cable guy, these guys are here right in the community that they’re working in. If you need
them, they’re there for you. So any business, whether you’re small or enterprise size, they can
work the systems for you, provide the office tools that you can work with as well. So visit them at
HargrayFiber.com and find out a little bit more about our lead sponsor. We’re thankful for them.
Karl: [00:01:58] Sounds good. Well, thank you Rico for introducing our sponsor. Today’s guest is
Barry Adams, CEO, and founder of Peachtree Awnings. Local, small business that’s located
here in Gwinnett County and one of the business leaders in the community that we’re glad to
have as a guest with us today. Hey Barry, how are you doing?
Barry: [00:02:20] Great Karl. It’s good to be here.
Karl: [00:02:23] Good. Why don’t you introduce yourself a little bit? Tell a little bit about yourself
and what you do.
Barry: [00:02:29] Yeah. I’m Barry Adams the owner of Peachtree Awnings and Canopies I own
the local shop and also Tennessee Awnings up in Nashville service and middle Tennessee up
in the Nashville area. So we are a manufacturer of custom commercial and residential awnings
of all shapes and sizes. We serve the local Atlanta area, but we go outside of Atlanta too. So
we’ve got a pretty good reach. And we’ve been in business for 15 years. I started the company
in 2005. And then acquired an existing awning company in Nashville in 2012. So I’ve had that
shop up there in Nashville for eight years now, and 15 years here in Atlanta. So it’s been a labor
of love. I can tell you that any small business owner, I think, would say the same thing is that,
you know, you do it and you do it because you really are passionate about your product or your
service and whatever you do. You gotta dig in everyday in kind of the same way.
Karl: [00:03:40] So I’m curious, did you grow up in a small business family? What was, what did
you do before?
Barry: [00:03:46] Well, that’s great question, Karl. Actually, my grandfather had the
entrepreneurial spirit because I think he had four or five businesses by the time he was in his
mid forties. A couple of restaurants to his name, ended up having a landfill. And this is all in the
Southern California area. And so he definitely had the entrepreneurial spirit. You know, my
mother’s side, my grandfather on my mother’s side owned a grocery store in the Southern part
of Illinois. And so he was a, both a farmer and a grocer. And so I think I come by it naturally, the
Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. So it definitely was in my genes, I think, to be a small
Karl: [00:04:33] So when you were deciding to start off, what were you considering and how did
you come to that decision? What were some of the factors that you considered?
Barry: [00:04:40] Yeah, I was, it was 2005 and I was in my MBA program, executive MBA
program at Kennesaw state and I knew I wanted to start a business and wasn’t sure exactly
what I wanted to do. I was working with a business consultant that was pointing me in different
directions. I ended up buying, actually buying a franchise business. I got close with several
businesses. I looked at sign businesses. I really tried to give myself a lot of green space, a lot of
greenfields to look at a lot of different businesses. I looked at non-invasive skin procedures. I
looked at a lot of different things and got very close with sign businesses, but I wanted
something a little bit more differentiated. And so they said, how about awnings? And I had never
thought about awnings, never had really even looked at awnings. But I’m an engineer by
education. And so the more I looked at it, I said, I think I can, I think I could do this because you
design the product that you end up building and installing. And so it fit my skillset particularly
well. And so there in January of 2005, we kind of set sail having never built an awning or never
installed an awning. I bought into a franchise business and they educated me about how to build
awnings and how to install awnings. We climbed that learning curve very, very, very fast. So it
was really a challenging time, that first three years of being in business. Of course, the
recession started at like two double ’09. So shortly after that it was, you know, it was a little bit of
Rico: [00:06:27] Well, I’ve got to give a little testimonial shout out to Barry because I must have
been one of the first of the half dozen of regional clients that Barry had. And it was beautiful. I
think it was a summer. It was definitely a summer day. And you put in the awning that I still have
15 years later. Still working, retractable working, and I’m not a maintenance type of guy. So the
cables might be a little rusted and stuff and the fabric might be a little bit dull, but it’s working
fine 15 years later.
Barry: [00:07:04] I can’t tell you how much we appreciate that too Rico, because at that stage in
our career, we, you know, in our business development, I didn’t have any orders and I didn’t
have any customers. So you were, you know, every time I came back to the shop and I had an
order, you know, it was time for celebration really. Because we didn’t, we did not have any
customers at that time. And every time we added one to our, you know, to our stable of
customers, we were really excited. So great times. Thanks for that.
Karl: [00:07:36] So I’m curious about that first year. Is there anything that you’ve learned that if
you wish you knew someone told you about in that first two to three years, about business,
about being a small business owner that you’d pass on to someone else starting on?
Barry: [00:07:54] Well, yeah, a couple of things come to mind Karl, one of the things is, I think
you can plan to be big, but think small starting out. Think small. I bought used office furniture. I
bought used trucks. People want to go, a lot of times they want to, you know, want to buy, have
the biggest, best or newest anyway, the newest and best of everything. And I would say think
small, plan to be bigger, but think to start out think small. Because you can always scale it up
from there. Based on your success or your, you know, your volume. The other thing is of
course, be a planner and I can’t emphasize that enough on the small business side. Be a
planner and always be thinking about that next step that you want to take. It doesn’t have to be
five years out there, but it definitely has to be 12 to 18 months out there. And then think about
that next step. Think about it like you’re, you know, crossing a river, a very, very turbulent river
and you have to step across those rocks very carefully as you cross from one bank to the other
bank. Now, once you start to cross the river, you can’t go back to the other bank, right? You
know, that’s not an option. So, you know, I often say it’s not about making all the right decisions.
It’s about making the decisions that you make right. Once you make a decision. Don’t worry
about whether you, well, have I made rights, make it, try to make it right. You know, and you’re
not going to make every decision 100% right. But I can tell you that if you’re making eight,
seven, eight, nine decisions out of 10 or 80 out of a hundred or 90 out of a hundred correctly,
you’re going to be in rarified air, right? You’re going to be among those small business owners
that are really, really super successful. So it’s not about making all the right decisions and don’t
agonize over. Wow, you know, once you have the information that you have and frequently it’s
incomplete, right. And we don’t have the benefit of having the whole, all the puzzle pieces in
front of us. But once you’ve got enough information to make that, make the decision and then go
about making it right.
Karl: [00:10:20] It’s actually, I can talk about decision-making even at the beginning. What would
you advise people that are struggling with making decisions. To get it right or wrong. But you
know, a lot of folks can’t even make the decision to buy that business, start that business grow,
invest, make that hiring choice. How do you get through that?
Barry: [00:10:42] Yeah, it’s that, you’re right. That is probably the toughest decision because
you’re now, you may be leaving something that’s safe and secure. You may be leaving an
income that’s a known quantity. Which I was leaving something that was very insulated and
insular and embarking on something that’s very uncertain and very unknown. And that’s a very
scary thing. You know, I think it’s important to make sure, obviously that you’re wall capitalized,
you know, that you are not embarking on something that you can’t sustain through the most
difficult period of your business tenure or your business career. And you got to make it through
that first year years. And I can tell you factually that I did take a plug nickel out of my business
the first three years that I was in business. Now that’s a very, very difficult you’re like, well, how
did you do that? Well, make sure you’re well-capitalized and that you can sustain yourself. You
can get real skinny, you know, for a period of time, but you’ve got, you still have to put food on
your table. You still have to pay your mortgage. And so you have to from a personal standpoint,
make sure that you can sustain yourself through those first three years. And plan, really, almost
to the effect that you’re not maybe not going to take an income for that first three years. What
does that look like? Can you sustain yourself through that first three years without taking any
money out of your businesses? There’s a likelihood that you’re going to have to, anything that
you make, you’re going to have to plow back into the business, particularly in that first three year
period of time.
Karl: [00:12:26] That makes a lot of sense. And that’s good advice for folks. You mentioned that
you got an MBA, what effect and impact do you think that that had? A lot of small business
owners don’t get that formal business education. Do you think that’s impacted how you
approach your business?
Barry: [00:12:45] Well, first of all, you know getting my executive MBA at Kennesaw was
definitely a catalyst to me starting my business. I think the Genesis of me starting my business
began as I embarked on that program. And so it was definitely a catalyst for me. I think you
know, I pull some parts or pieces of my MBA program every day, sometimes unknowingly. You
know, but I draw on that experience. You know, I think that the best life experiences, combine
that kind of formal education that you got in the classroom and you can go back as far as you
want, with the practical knowledge that you gained when you’re in the field or when you’re
practicing. And that goes for everything from, the first job that you may have ever had in a fast
food restaurant or cutting lawns. And so you learned something when you were in the
classroom, but that’s formal education without practical experience is almost useless, right? It’s
very antiseptic. It’s very institutional. And so you’ve got to combine the formalized, the education
and instruction that you get with practical knowledge. If you only have practical knowledge, then
it had no frame, right? It had no real design to it and it had no organization. It didn’t step you
through things sequentially. So I always like to think that my best, you know, my best
experience comes from the formalized education that I got and then the practical things that I’m
learning out in the field or through the school of hard knocks.
Karl: [00:14:33] I agree. I notice that a lot of folks, and I meet different types of business owners,
the ones that have formal education. What I notice is they’ve got, they avoid some basic mistake
things that helps kind of guide them. But also they also feel more confident and have a handle
on unknowns being thrown at them. So take 2020.
Barry: [00:14:57] Right. You know, you’re right.
Karl: [00:14:59] You’re running the business, things are going good. And then, how soon did you
know something was happening related to coronavirus and so on. And when did you start
thinking about the possible impact on your business?
Barry: [00:15:13] Well, I think everybody, you know, kind of woke up in mid March and said, my
gosh, what’s, you know, what’s happening? What’s happening here? And it was very uncertain.
We wanted to protect our associate base. We want to protect our families. And then early on, I
guess I would say, you know, in the first couple of weeks in April, about 30 days after we’d
gotten into the Corona or pandemic environment that we. You know, I pulled the audience, I
pulled my associates and I found that they really wanted to work. I mean, of course they really
wanted to work because they knew that their livelihood and income was at risk if we were to
stop, you know, stop work for any reason. We were fortunate that we had projects, orders to fill.
And so we had work that needed to be done. And so I can’t say it was business as usual, but
the word that I kind of continue to use with my team and with the people that I talk to is balance,
you know. I try not to be fearful of the current environment in that we still have a job to do, and
we try to press forward. But neither can we be cavalier about the threats and the things that are
happening out in the marketplace. And so we have to have our head up all the time. Just like
you’re on a ball field, you have to have your head up and on a swivel sometimes to make sure
you’re not going to get hit broadside from somewhere. But nor can you be redisant or you can’t
be fearful or tentative. And so we’ve tried to strike that balance. We’ve tried to protect our
associate base when we go out to projects, certainly for sure residential projects. You know, we
mask up and we go, when we’re in people’s homes or around people’s homes, we make sure
that we’re taking the proper precautions. It’s not business as usual. But we’re pressed forward
and it’s not easy. But I think that it’s suited my associate population that people really, really
want to work. And we’ve been able to make a lot of progress this year and that’s not been easy,
Karl: [00:17:31] We noticed a lot of, this year, at the beginning we talked a lot about a bridge
plan. And it was just simply when this hit a lot of businesses. What do you do to get through this
and empower through and excel? And in the bridge plan, it talked about, you know, making sure
you knew what your break even was and reducing expenses. How do we figure out ways to
pivot and increase income with your business as well as how do you communicate and stay
contact with your customers? But the last two, G and E, was around get working. Like just get
out there and start, you know, when other people are wondering what to do the strong, they’re
gonna figure out a way to do that. And hopefully it leads you to excelling. When you understood
what was happening, what were some of the things you decided to do in your business to try to
not just survive this, but actually to thrive?
Barry: [00:18:23] Well, you know, we did talk, we moved, actually moved our shop in this
environment. We moved up to Lawrenceville. We moved our shop from Norcross to the
Lawrenceville. And so we, there was an opportunity there. The SBA has been helpful. Gave us
a little bit of tailwind. I always say it’s all about the hustle. You know, it’s all about the hustle. You
know, and, I like to think when other people are at home with their feet up on the coffee table,
I’m making that last sales call of the day. And my team is making that last sales call today or
Friday when some people are knocking off at three o’clock, you know, I’m going from whistle to
whistle, you know, and I’m going to go all the way to five o’clock in the evening. And, it’s all
about work and hard work and sweat equity. And the gritty and gutty people in this world
survive. And that’s, I’m a grinder and I just don’t know any other way around that. And so, and in
this environment, I think you can just need to, you need to retrench and look for opportunities.
I’ve tried to be an opportunist and that’s a hallmark, I think of my business career is just trying to
be an opportunist. And so when other people, other businesses may be retreating, you know,
that’s a great time to forge ahead because they may be either pulling back from a marketing
standpoint or a sales standpoint. And so going forward, really charging forward or finding that
pathway is really, really important.
Karl: [00:20:04] It’s interesting. As you said that, I was suggesting to some business associates,
they had strong businesses going in, that it was a time to double down and reinvest and there
were some simple things. It might be training people. If you were shut down for a month, what
training did you never have time to do before that you could implement? Marketing. What a
better time to go talk to more customers, communicate, launch campaigns cause those
customers are out there. But when everybody was quiet, looking at charts every day, you know,
what messages were they thinking about as far as, you know, ways to have shade in backyards
and different things like that. And who’s communicating to them through that. What are some
other things you see people that have really thrived through this and are really poised for
breaking out in the future?
Barry: [00:21:00] Yeah. And you brought up some great, great things, Karl. You know, training
and education and reinvesting equipment. Of course, if I go back in my business career now,
this is not, I say this is not the first difficult economic time that I’ve encountered in the lifespan of
my business. Because as I said earlier, 2009, 10 and 11, we were in the throws of a real, you
know, real recession. And so, again, while other people were pulling back on marketing dollars,
I never cut my marketing budget, not one dime. You know, when other people were looking to
reduce head count, we never reduced. We never reduced head count. Take those people and
see where they’re going to be best utilized in your business. Be a planner, I’d make a plan.
Every single, business year I do not go into the ensuing year without a business plan. And so
this time of year it is the heart of my business planning period. And so November, December,
when I put my plan together for 2021. So I will not go into the ensuing year without a business
plan. And once I make that plan, while I do make some adjustments, some small minor
adjustments and tweak it, the plan is the plan is the plan. And I don’t very much for my plan
when I embark on a direction and I will tweak it, but I won’t make wholesale changes. I will not
slash dollars. You know, if I had set those aside, there has to be a real catastrophic event for
me to change my direction, based on my plan. And so I try to stick to the plan that I’ve created
and we’ll make some adjustments, but the plan is the plan is the plan. And I think to the extent
that you’re able to really stick to that, and that’s a discipline, by the way. It’s really, you gotta
have the discipline to stick to your plan. Especially when things get a little bit Rocky.
Rico: [00:23:08] Can I ask you Barry, what, you know, just to get into the weeds a little bit, just
the meat of it, if you will. So this way, because people hear plans and they’re not sure what does
that mean? You know, what’s involved? What’s actually in the plan, let’s say for example. So
could you give an idea of what that, you know, two or three points, what that means as what’s in
a plan for you? Is it a sales goal? Is it a dollar amount? Is it adding a truck? What’s in a plan for
Karl: [00:23:34] If somebody were to look at your plan, how would you describe that?
Barry: [00:23:39] No question. I mean, I think it starts with you know, it really does start with your
marketing and sales planning conjunction. You’re either going to, you’re going to look for
geographic extensions. You’re going to look for product extensions. So that’s going to drive your
marketing. So I’m going to advertise, or I’m going to push this product forward with my sales
team or with my marketing dollars. And then, so out of that marketing plan that comes from your
strategic goals that I want to grow in this geographic area, I want to grow in this product group, I
wanna, you know, I want to reach these customers, this and then you create a, you know, out of
that kind of marketing plan comes your sales plan, you know? And so now you’ve got, you’ve
kind of fleshed that out with your team. You know, these people are going to produce this
amount, you know, in terms of selling or sales dollars. And then rolling down from that,
obviously your expense model. And for us I say there’s not a lot of moving parts and pieces. It’s
gotten bigger. At first there was not a lot of moving parts and pieces. There’s more than there
was, but your expense model flows out of that. And so then, you know, this is not a difficult
equation, right? You have sales and you have expenses and that produces profits. You know, I
think Bill Gates said that originally, you know, it’s like, let’s not overthink this. The sales
expenses, the bottom line is profits. And that’s what we’re, you know, that’s what we’re trying to
drive. And so, but it kind of starts out of your marketing ideas and where you want to go
strategically. And then you can decide, you know, what kind of revenue, what kind of volume
you’re going to create from there and what kind of expenses you’re going to take on.
Karl: [00:25:31] I’m curious in your industry, typically I sort of look at where to market. How do
you learn what’s going on in your industry, your market, how do you know what’s going to be
things that you need to react to or things where there’s opportunities? How do you as you and
your team learn things?
Barry: [00:25:51] Well, I think you gotta be in touch with your sales team. First of all, it was to
start out with, it was just me. And so I had to be head up all the time active in my community,
active in the business community, active in my trade association, looking for changes. You
know, I really do think about it as a business owners, like a ship and I’m in the wheel house and
you know, I’m in the wheelhouse and I’m guiding the ship or the captain has gotta be
responsible to be looking out there and seeing what kind of weather conditions are changing,
you know? What’s changing and the tack of the ship and that kind of thing. And so as a
business owner, I have to have my head up and I have to be aware of industry changes, market
conditions and market changes and opportunities for us to, you know, to make hay while the
sun shines. And so, as an example, like home improvement in this COVID environment has
fared very, very well. People were home for months at a time, and they were not spending
money on vacations and going out to eat. Theater and concerts and ball games. And so they
looked for opportunities to improve their homes. And so as a result, that part of our business
has as flourished in this environment. So, as the captain, you have to be head up, looking
around, you know, active in your community. So many people, I think so many business owners,
they get stuck with their head on the desk, you know. Head up off the desk and eyes forward
and see what’s going on and being very much in contact with what is going on around me.
Karl: [00:27:45] There must have been a point in your business when you were doing
everything. And for you to start being able to work on the business and do that and keep your
head up. There was a inflection point where that sort of happened. Can you tell us what that
was like and how does someone else know when that’s happening and how to navigate that?
Barry: [00:28:05] Yeah, that’s great. That’s great Karl cause it takes me back to like 2007, eight
and nine. And I was literally on the ladder. I was on the ladder installing. You know, I think that
first year of 2005, I know I did 110, 109 or 110 jobs. And I installed all hundred nine or a
hundred and ten in that year. And I was on those first three or four years, I was on the ladder
installing the stuff that I sold, you know. I think Rico, I think I installed your awning as well. But,
you know, at some point I think it was long about probably 2008 and nine. I said, I can’t run my
business from the top of the ladder. And so, there’s that continuum, right? It starts out, operator
there’s operator on one side and there’s owner on the other side. And there’s this continuum
from operator, owner operator to owner. So many small business owners get stuck at that
operator phase. They never even, they can never even push the needle toward owner operator,
right. They just get stuck in that operator phase. And around 2008, nine was like, I can’t run my
business from the top of the ladder. And so I started to add head count. I added a sales guy, I
added an installer. And so instead of three of us, there was now five of us. And those are, you
know, those are steps that you make and you’ve got your plan. You’re planning for it though in
your business plan, you’re still like, do you know what. I think by the end of this year, I’m going
to get to five, you know, by the end of 2009. And it was at five people, you know, and I realized,
you know, with a drill in my hand, you know, and screws and hanging an awning over my head,
I was like, I can’t. It worked for the first three years that I was in business, but then about eight,
nine, 10, I was like, I need more help. And then you make those steps, but I can tell you that
that was that adding those heads was a part of my plan for that year.
Karl: [00:30:19] But that’s an important insight that it did definitely be highlight the first part that,
that strikes the rings so true. Those first three years. Let’s make no illusion right? It’s work.
You’re an operator. You’re doing all those. If you are operating a small business, that comes
with the territory of it. But then you have to have a plan to move away. It doesn’t happen
magically. Like people didn’t just drop into your lap and they changed. The best, make a plan to
scale that and start shifting through that. I’m curious, what does the future look like now that
you’ve gone this far along? How far do you look out and how do you start to figure out, you
know, what do you want to do? And what do you want it to be in five years, 10 years?
Barry: [00:31:05] Right, yeah. Right. Well, even in this environment, we moved into a brand new
30,000 square foot facility in Lawrenceville, Georgia. A lot of our product now has shifted from
fabric linings, which is what people think about when they think about awnings and canopies.
Though a lot of our work now is actually metal. We do a lot of metal architectural canopies. We
serve the general contractor trade now. A lot more of our work is B to B and not business, B to
C business to consumer, but B to B. And so, you know, we’ve migrated a good bit in the 15
years we’ve been in business, but we’re a brand new 30,000 square foot facility. We’re going to
add powder coating. I won’t get into the weeds with that industrial process, but it’s a painting
process. We have a lot of our product, metal product is powder-coated. We’re going to start a
powder coating operation, here in Atlanta anyway, into 2021. So that’s going to be a big part of
our 2021 plan is a separate business unit, Peachtree Powder Coating. It’s complimentary, it
dovetails in with Peachtree Awnings and Canopies as well as the operation that we have up in
Tennessee Awnings. So, we’re going to have a real robust plan and I’m not going to, I’m not
planning to retreat in 2021. We’re going to keep forging ahead. This will be a product extension
as opposed to the geographic, you know, organic growth that we, you know, we’ve talked about.
Karl: [00:32:44] I’m curious about technology and how is technology impacting your business
and how do you, you know, how do you incorporate some new technologies? When people
think of awnings, has there been a lot of innovation that we’re not aware of that’s happening and
is there more to come?
Barry: [00:33:01] Not a lot of, you know, our product is a very, very old tried and true product. I
mean, you know, awnings and coverage, it goes back to the time when somebody, you know,
made an umbrella or threw a bare cloth over their head to protect themselves from the
elements. And so our product has been around for a very, very long time. As I said a lot of the
changes and a lot of changes in the products and the materials that we’re using in our products.
A lot of the product, fabric is still is used, still widely used and you’ll still see that product out in
the marketplace. But a lot of it is now architectural metals. There’s been a lot of changes though
on the shop floor, things that help us become more efficient. Job costing pieces of software
there’s been a lot of software, you know, we do a lot of rendering now to help people visualize
that awning or canopy on their home or business. So we’re utilizing rendering software on the
sales side, we’re using the software on the shop floor to help us be more efficient and that’s
going to help us, I think, in the next year to a couple of years.
Karl: [00:34:17] Well, one more question. When you see most businesses grow, there’s an
element that they can’t be ignored when it comes to people. And what’s constraints growth very
often as people. How do you manage through that dynamic and grow your business with
Barry: [00:34:36] Yeah. That’s, you know, recruiting and selecting, I think is really at the heart
lifeblood of just about every business. Not just small business, but every business. And so, I’ve
tried to always make a part of my plan the people plan, the recruiting and selecting being a large
part of that. We were fortunate when we moved up to Lawrenceville now. There you go, we’re
five minutes away from Gwinnett tech. You know, Gwinnett tech is a great source of fabricators,
welders, people with technical skills and expertise. And so what did I do? First thing, you know,
within three weeks of landing up there. I was on the phone with the people in their fabrication,
welding department. And we had the first, I say student graduate, start this week. You know,
and I have another one lined up that’s gonna start in three weeks, so right before Thanksgiving.
So, recruiting and selecting, extremely important, not just at small business, but every business.
And that’s proved to be very difficult in this environment.
Karl: [00:35:47] So specifically, how do you find the right people in your organization?
Barry: [00:35:54] I always will say that the best people in our company will continue to come
from other people in our company, they’re already our company. So quite frequently, I think the
best people in our company come from referrals from associates that are already working for us.
That’s a tough sell. People are doing their jobs and they, you know, but if you could help them
for information. This young man who came to us from Gwinnett tech came from one of the guys
who works for us, who is a student at Gwinnett tech. He helped recruit this guy, helped us
create that little pipeline now. And so that’s going to be very helpful for us. I mean, you know, we
use some of the traditional methods too, like Indeed.com just to give them a plug. We use
Indeed.com and we get a lot, you know, we have a funnel. But we, I still think that the best
people in our company come from other people already in our company.
Karl: [00:36:55] So one last thing I wanted to ask you about just in the context, I know you get
involved in the community a lot. And what role as a business leader, are there things that you’re
passionate about or things that you get involved with? Just to help the community in general.
Barry: [00:37:13] Yeah, I can’t stress enough the importance of being a good corporate citizen
and pay it forward. And I think that we have responsibility as business owners to give freely to
others what’s freely given to us as a baseline. And so, I always try to approach my, I say my
philanthropic efforts, my, you know, my nonprofit efforts, with that as a backdrop. And it’s
important that you pick two or three things that your people can get behind. It doesn’t matter
whether it’s, you know, toys for tots or the Atlanta community food bank or the local chamber,
which will funnel you into a number of non-profit areas. But pick two or three and make a
difference, you know. You might say, well, I’m a small business what difference can I make. But
you can. You can make a difference and you can make a difference at a level that’s really
grassroots. Whether it’s a church or a school, one of the things that’s near and dear to my heart
is a school called the special needs school of Gwinnett. My youngest daughter, Megan has got
special needs. And so up in Lawrenceville is the special needs school of Gwinnett. And they just
built a brand new school, we’re providing coverage of their playground equipment, because a lot
of the kids that go to school there, they take medicine that’s sun sensitive and that may be, you
know, an issue for them. And so we are providing cover for their playground equipment and
that’s something that we’re doing.
Karl: [00:38:59] Well, you know, I want to say, thank you. You being part of community. And
when I see you, you’re always willing to give time and you’ll mentor in other businesses. Your
involvement in the Southwest Gwinnett chamber over the years has been, if there was one
thing, if you look at like, Southwest Gwinnett, some of the business that you think, as a
collective, businesses can do better to help the community. Is there anything collectively that
comes to mind that they could be a bigger role in the community?
Barry: [00:39:29] You know, get involved. Yeah, it doesn’t matter. I know that the large Gwinnett
chamber can be a little bit intimidating. It’s a big, that’s a big organization, you know, and I’m a
member of the Gwinnett chamber of commerce, but I’m also a member of the Southwest
Gwinnett chamber as you pointed out. And you know, get involved. It’s, I have a saying, you
know, it’s never too late to become what you might’ve been. You know, and we’re not dogs and
these are tricks, you know, that’s what I like to say that at work, you know. So we have a
responsibility to our communities. Give, get involved. Don’t sit on the sideline and say I’m too
busy to give back to my community or to be involved or to be active. And so I started that at a
very early part in my business career to see and be seen. And that’s not easy when you’re, you
know, we’re already working 12 hour days. But I carve out that hour and a half for the first, you
know, the Southwest Gwinnett chambers first Friday, which is this week, you know. And so I’m
gonna always make time for those community activities and those organizations, which actually
help you become more visible in the community that you serve. Before you can be a big deal
outside of your community, you’ve gotta be a big deal inside your community. Or you have to
get a little feel inside of your community. And if you’re active and looking for those opportunities
to get involved, you know, look for your local chamber. Look for your, you know, look for church.
You know, here in Norcross, Norcross cooperative ministry, you know, there’s lots and lots of
places. Lots of places to get involved, and that’s gonna help your networking overall as well, so.
Karl: [00:41:23] Well, I want to thank you for that. I’m curious, so coming into the holiday
season, the end of the year, do you have much going on either professionally or personally, how
do you plan on closing out this year?
Barry: [00:41:35] Well, we, you know, the fourth quarter is typically our slowest quarter of the
year, but we’re still blessed to have a lot of project business, and a lot of orders to fill. We’re
winding down. I think, you know, the city of Atlanta looks for any reason to take a holiday or take
a break. And so the, you know, that block of time, you know, right around Thanksgiving is a nice
period of respite for everybody. Certainly the end of the year, you know, we think of December
as having one holiday, but in fact it almost has two holidays because you take Christmas and
than immediately is New Year’s a week after that. So that the city slows down a lot between
Christmas and New Year’s and we’ll probably close down that week between Christmas and
New Year’s. I like to give our associates that time off paid and give them a chance to rekindle,
you know, restrike and refresh, and spend time with their families.
Karl: [00:42:35] Amen, after 2020 folks could be ready for that. How do folks reach out to you if
they wanted to contact with more of you know, what you do, and what’s the best way to get in
touch with you?
Absolutely. Karl it’s, you know www.PeachtreeAwnings.com or www.TennesseeAwnings.com.
Barry: [00:43:01] Both companies have independent websites. You can find us on Facebook at
facebook.com/peachtreeawnings or /TennesseeAwnings. You’ll find that we have a social media
presence there and you can see lots of pictures of our current projects. You know, we’re
obviously, you can find us, call us up at our new location. It’s 770-409-8372.
Karl: [00:43:27] Well, I want to thank you so much for, you know, just carving out time to just
share with The Capitalist Sage. Barry Adams, founder and owner of Peachtree Awnings, and
Tennessee Awnings. And you’ll always see him at our local Southwest Gwinnett chamber
event. You know, stop by say hi, see him there. And I just want to thank you so much for
sharing some of the insight on your journey to entrepreneurship.
Barry: [00:43:54] Thanks, Karl. Thanks, Rico it’s good to be able to spend some time with you.
Karl: [00:44:00] We want to thank everybody on with the Capitalist Sage podcast today, we’re
continuing to bring you local business owners, local leaders, people in the community that
impact the business community and be a place. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business
Advisors of Atlanta Peachtree. Our business is available to consult with business owners,
whether you’re looking to improve and grow your business through acquisition, through
franchising, or you’re working on planning your exit strategy, finding someone that could take
the reins of the business into the future. Feel free to schedule a council with us. I can be
reached at KBarham@TWorld.com or www.TWorld.com/AtlantaPeachtree. Rico, what have you
got coming up?
Rico: [00:44:49] Sure. Peachtree Corners magazine, we’re working on the next issue and the
cover story is actually going to be faces of Peachtree Corners. So we’re working through a list of
people and students and educators that’ll be on that cover story. And like every other issue,
there’s going to be a bunch of things. So we’re covering a variety of things that you can look
forward to. You can find out more about Peachtree Corners and what we’re doing at
LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com. Follow us on social media. We’re really big on Instagram and
Facebook. Just look for the Peachtree Corners Magazine or Peachtree Corners Life and
Capitalist Sage, where you can find the podcast on Instagram as well as our website. So, you
know, go out and look for that. We also have Mighty Rockets, so we do a lot of digital marketing,
I’m the creative director for several different companies. I have lots of things I do. So if you’re
looking for video marketing, photography, content online, podcast production, I was engineering
today’s podcast. Feel free to reach out to me, go to MightyRockets.com. So it’s easy enough.
Karl: [00:46:00] Alright. Well, thank you everybody for tuning in for the Capitalist Sage podcast,
stay tuned for more episodes. Have a great day.
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