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tv   Your Business  MSNBC  February 4, 2018 4:30am-5:00am PST

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good morning, everyone. coming up on msnbc's "your business," a houston store pivots to ecommerce to survive the storm. and a houston trash hauling business takes the position, but the customer is not always right. and finding fame and fortune on youtube. let's work smart. that's all coming up next on "your business." >> "your business" sponsored by american express open, helping you get business done. hi, everyone. i'm jj ramberg. and welcome to "your business,"
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the show dedicated to helping your growing business. heavy rain, strong winds and flooding. the city of houston is still rebuilding after the destruction left behind by hurricane harvey. the widespread damage forced houston to shut down which, as you can imagine, was a major blow for area businesses. one owner had a gut feeling that they were going to be tough times ahead, so he changed up his entire sales strategy to make sure that his business didn't become a victim, too. ♪ >> the store was absolutely shut. there was a decision to think outside the box and not be a statistic. >> it is hard to shake the images left behind from hurricane harvey in houston. >> the whole surrounding area was absolutely flooded. we were kind of on our own island. >> local business owner travis
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weaver feared for the future of his store. >> i knew if we didn't do the right things, this business would close its doors. >> the owner mercantile had to come to harsh reality. its coustomers wouldn't think o shopping for a very long time. >> knowing what happened after harvey, i needed to act quickly and needed to know if the people of houston would be spending again. and our store front is the bulk of our business. so i just knew things were going to change immediately. >> time wasn't on man ready's side. food traffic declined fast. and even though the store didn't flood, travis was forced to make a decision, should he risk it and keep the store open or shut it down? hoping he had enough money to survive the sales slump. >> the immediate change happened to offset what was going on in our surroundings. when we knew the money wasn't coming from the front door, we had to open up other doors.
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>> the first thought was for fellow houstonians. as clothing and toiletries were coming in the front door, the backup house was buzzing about the next move. >> it's scary there is no one in the store face. don't worry. >> my focus was lots of other areas besides just how to generate revenue through the brick and mortar. we wanted to sink our teeth in right and make a dramatic impact on wholesale and online. >> the company's online sale got a much-needed boost for everyone who could safely get to work. >> i think it was so unreal that we didn't have to say a lot to each other. we just showed up to work, the people that could get here, and we kind of just assumed that role immediately. >> the group took a hard look at the manready website and social channels. each platform was quickly and carefully updated to ensure more views. >> i started working on new products we could add to the website and were taking time to
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revamp the existing products and equip better photography, better sco and back-hand data to help with reach, posting things on social media, encouraging people to shop small. >> incentives encouraged sales of the clothing, soy candles and leather goods, some made right there at the store. >> we were able to go online and offer a couple of flash sales, a couple of online only offers. >> employees figured out which orders needed their attention and prioritized them based on what was on the shelves. >> so we're focusing on what we've got. we focused on materials in-house, what we could make, we focused on where we could still ship, how to get the shipments out, and from where we worked backwards and saw what available product we could give them. >> the plan wasn't perfect. it was anybody's guess how long the operation could actually sustain itself with very few supplies coming in. >> there was a thrill and we
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just looked around to ma gooigu what we had. we tried to figure out if we have one week or two weeks without the supplies needed. >> there was plenty of juggling going on but nobody was giving up. manready needed to be prepared when sales went up again. >> we are on the survival instincts waiting for reinforcements and making due with what we've got. instead of being back-logged, we overproduced in other areas. >> follow along, travis was playing employees and pledged to sport them knowing they were facing hardship themselves. >> we have a lot of staff here and a lot of responsibility. and as an owner, i just couldn't set back and be idle. and i made a deal with my staff, i told them, i'll continue to pay them, even if they are not working. they do what is right by us on a daily basis, and it was my turn to do what was right by them.
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>> once it was safe to travel, travis relied on pop-up shops to offset the lost revenue. unfortunately during one of the trips out of town, manready suffered a setback. the store was burglarized. >> they came up, broke the window in and stole the electronics and everything to make a quick buck. for no care in the world for anybody else or anything. >> travis was stunned by this but wouldn't dwell on it. he stayed focused on making manready alive and ready. >> i don't want to think about it anymore. i want to move forward. >> months later the store's open and what was a slightly unorthodox work flow has paid off. >> at first we didn't see a dramatic increase, but then we were definitely getting more sales because we were marketing more through our social media. but i think now that the internet has had time to catch
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up with what we are doing, we are now seeing tremendous increase in online sales. >> travis will never really know how much harvey cost him. and he doesn't want to think about it too much. he's incredibly grateful some creative thinking and a dedicated team helped manready stay open while so many other businesses failed. >> what do you do in times of desperation? you sit back and do nothing? or do you fight and overcome and persevere? it really is a reality check. there's a lot of other people a lot worse off than us, that's for sure. more things will come our way, they will happen, and we'll do it over again and not give up. there's the saying in business that the customer is always right. but what if they're not? the owner of a houston area garbage company believes if somebody has a problem, it should be corrected immediately, but he doesn't always assume there's an issue. unlike many of his fellow business owners, he's a firm believer that the customer is
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not always right. ♪ >> it's nasty, it's smelly, it's dirty. if i can get people to not think about what i do, we'll have a good time. >> people hate their garbage. and kevin atkinson knows it, but to him, every recycling bin is actually an opportunity. >> i knew all along owns my own garbage company was something i always wanted to do. >> as the owner of texas pride disposal in texas, kevin said his brand like so many garbage companies has an image problem. >> it is very tough to garner respect for what we do. this is an industry where people, as long as it goes away, people don't think about it. >> kevin needed a strategy to fight this negative perception. so he and his staff focus on their clients. >> the service we deliver and the customer experience behind it, that's all i have to offer. without a happy customer, i have nothing. >> but there's one part of the texas pride service philosophy that may leave some small
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business owners scratching their heads. >> the customer is not always right. they are right most of the time, but there are certain instances where they push the boundary. >> this approach came to light after years of interacting with clients. >> they're not always 100% honest with us. they're just really trying to take advantage of the system. it's garbage, people just want it to go away, and they will sometimes do whatever they need to to make sure it goes away. >> we'll get somebody out there, just leave it out there and we'll get it cleaned up today. >> every time a call or e-mail comes in, kevin is curious about the nature of the complaint and who is making it. here's just one example. >> you get that customer that calls and says your guys dnts pick up my garbage. okay, that's what we do, day in and day out, i can't see why they would have just missed yours. was it out on time? is it something that we're supposed to pick up? or is it something that is hazardous and we can't pick up?
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is it not 100 bags and not one bag? >> yes, ma'am. how can i help you today? >> nine times out of ten it is a misunderstanding on the customer's part about what they can and can't put out for trash. >> but when more serious complaints come in, kevin has to take a pragmatic view. he won't assume the customer is right, and that is for the sake of his team. kevin has a unique perspective on the work his crews do. he knows them and he trusts them. texas pride balances its customer service approach by setting a high bar. kevin doesn't want his clients to have a single reason to complain. >> i hold my guys to probably a higher standard than anyone in this market. than most in the country, i would think. we do our best to be as customer oriented as possible to go above and beyond. >> everyone is serious about these guidelines. field crews abide by rules of the road. they are reviewed constantly and the teams function as the first line of defense. if there's a problem with the trash being picked up, customers
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are notified. >> we have a yellow tag and ten different reasons why we didn't pick your trash up. everything from you haven't paid your bill to the container's over weight, so the yellow tags are a big deflector. >> random quality checks are a reminder of what is expected. >> we go out and do what we call route observation on the crew to make sure that drivers and helpers are doing the proper things. so they understand the importance of customer service so we never lose that. >> pictures are a key component to the service model. no matter the issue, the photos speak for themselves. employees will submit pictures to the office if they see a potential problem. clients are encouraged to send in pictures, too. >> if you really feel justified in your complaint anot willing to send me a picture, i'm going to be skeptical. >> not every day is perfect. the company does make mistakes and the team tries to resolve them quickly. >> if it is our mistake, i can go back and get it.
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i can text the soupervisor righ away and they turn and go back. we correct our mistakes. >> the provider had 32,000 customers and that number continues to climb. complaints are at a minimum. there are no reoccurring issues and the staff is happy, too. >> we have literally had no turnover. great service, a great product. it will speak for itself. be responsive, be attentive, make the customer your priority, but at the end of the day, know that the customer is not always right. if you were not paying attention to the opportunities provided by youtube, you should be. entrepreneurs are using the site and the fame it can bring to make millions. and nbc's joleen kent tells us how they're doing it. ♪ >> reporter: from rachel ray to ellen degeneres. >> they are so soft. >> reporter: celebrities long
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used their fame to hawk their line of products. now the next generation is taking a page from the same playbook. youtube stars are cashing in. >> finally we arrived at this formula. >> it smells clean and smart and funny. >> reporter: over a billion hours of video are watched on youtube every day according to forbes, the top ten youtube stars earned a combined $127 million this year from ad revenue alone. on top of the list, daniel middleton, evan faun and dude perfect. and now are searching fame in the real world branding their own merchandise. >> their fame has an expiration date. if they want to have a career out of this, they can't just be an influencer, they have to being beer than that. they have to be a brand. >> reporter: between homecoming and gymnastics classes,
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17-year-old twins brooklyn and bailey mcknight document their every move and some on their youtube channel. brooklyn and bailey are now putting their own line of products branded with a double "b" in front of the 4 million subscribers. >> i would call it the every day line, t-shirts, wallets, pencils, notebooks. >> reporter: they recently just launched their own mascara, too. was merchandise something your followers were asking for? >> people were asking, what is that outfit? so we were seeing they were wanting the things we were wearing and decided to create something of their own to feel more connected to us. >> reporter: brooklyn and bailey didn't say how much they're pulling in other than the line is doing well. they're saving all that money they make for college tuition. >> on the weekdays we go to school, it is very normal. we have math homeroom, but we live a totally different life going to business meetings. >> reporter: another youtube
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star cooking up a success -- baker roseanna panzino. >> i just arrived on my first stop on the baking tour. >> reporter: she is road tripping across america promoting her new line of kitchen tools. >> it feels surreal. it is the only word i can think to describe it. >> reporter: fans anxiously waiting to get their hands on aprons, mixing bowls and sprinkles. >> this is the first time i have ever made a baking line, so i have learned so much about the process. there's so much work that goes into it. >> you built a physical business out of a virtual business. >> i knew it was possible to have a career online and make a living creating content full-time, but i didn't know that was going to happen for me. >> she's amazing. >> reporter: why? >> she's like the coolest person in the world. >> it's just so fun to watch her.
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>> reporter: the next generation of stars turning their virtual fame into a real-world fortune. joleen kent, nbc news, los angeles. no matter what industry you're in, it is changing. and it's going to continue to change rapidly as consumer tastes involve and new innovations prove their value. so no matter your industry, here are five skills that all leaders need for continued success in 2018 and beyond. one, digital literacy. even if you're not doing the work yourself, you should be able to direct someone in how to tell your story. try learning today's digital basics at a community college or on a platform like youtube for free. two, good manners. if the rise of online bullying is any indication of the state of manners today, then it's worth mentioning that good social grace is a huge asset for employee leaders. managers should be able to
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navigate even the stickiest situation tactfully. three, an appreciation for innovation. if you're not innovating, you're failing. practice spotting new ways to operate business as usual. four, analytical skills. we live in a data-driven society. do some research about which data is most important to your bottom line and then keep track of it. and five, cultural awareness. it may not always be appropriate for you or your company to take a public stand on the most controversial issues. however, you need to make staying aware of the cultural hot topics a priority so that you can make that decision fully educated. we have seen reports about this year's very active flu season and its effects across the u.s. however, what is not talked about a lot are the challenges business owners face with employees living with a chronic health condition all year long. so how do you manage those employees conditions and if they take it, miss time from work?
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eric peacock is the ceo of my health teams that serves 1.2 million people with chronic health conditions. good to see you, eric. >> good to see you, jj. >> i said this before, it is not talked about a lot. if you manage people, you are likely managing someone that either has a condition or is helping someone with one. >> that's right. one in two americans have a chronic condition right now. we're talking about diabetes and depression and migraine, not just for tired people who have the conditions. if you are managing the staff, the staff is managing more than ten people, you're definitely going to have people with chronic conditions. or people taking care of maybe an older parent with a chronic condition. >> so how do you think about this? because companies have sick policies, right? you get this many days off and have to let us know by this amount of time. and do you have to create a separate policy for this group of people? and how do you then make it seem like it's fair for everyone? how do you deal with it? >> well, i think there are four
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things, probably, at every company of any size can do. basically, no matter what your policy is, somebody is sick or they are taking care of their mother, they have to deal with that, right? unfortunately, the health care system pretty much works 9:00 to 5:00 monday to friday, exactly when you want to be at work. so things to prevent absenteeism, which is like a $790 billion productivity problem in the united states, or another aspect is presenteeism when people come to work but are not at their best, suffering a migraine or something like that. so address it head-on. and the first thing you can do is be flexible. if you have a business where, look, i know you can get your job done in eight hours a day, i don't care when you do it, then if i can let you work in the morning or in the evening and just focus on the output of your job, that's hugely helpful to that person. >> do you have to do that for
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the whole staff or everyone in the department or everyone with the same job title? or can you carve out, okay, you have this illness and we're doing this special for you? >> it is okay okay to accommoda someone with a chronic condition and not make it across the board. i think people get that. you have to take cues from your employees, too. i can't come up to you and say, hey, >> judgjudg.j., tell us about y ailments. you can say, what can we do to make this work for you? it might not even be a time flexibility. say you have psoriasis. it's hard for the person to be at work but maybe they can work from home. you have to ask the person and take their lead. >> so what do you do with someone who comes to you, i have this condition, i can still do my job, i just need to work from
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home, or on mondays i need to work from this time to this time, but don't tell anyone else. you want to accommodate them, you want to be fair to everyone else, but you don't have the power to say, hey, i'm helping out eric because blah, blah, blah. >> right. i think you have to work it out with that employee and say, look, we have to explain something to our team, but you don't have to go into detail. it's okay to say, hey, the next six months, if the person is okay saying so-and-so is dealing with a health issue -- >> or for personal reasons? >> yeah, you don't have to get into detail. if you're building the right kind of culture, people will support that and understand that. i think flexibility is there, but a lot of people with chronic conditions absolutely can come to work, so presenteeism, this issue again of people coming to work but maybe aren't at their best, what can you do to accommodate that? let's say we're talking about diabetes. 35 million americans have diabetes. you have people in your company,
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probably, who have diabetes or are at great risk of getting diabetes. if they're on their feet all day, they probably need a rest. diabetes can impact the extremities in some ways. >> this is so incredibly helpful. i'm glad we've taken the time to talk about it because i don't think it's talked about enough. we have something exciting. we're offering five people to come onto the program and give an elevator pitch to two buyers from hsn. this is great for all you inventors out there. they'll be voting on who can pitch their product live on monday night's show "american dreams." that means you can get your product in front of the hsn audience who are sitting there ready to buy. send us an e-mail of your pitch of your business to tell us why you think you would be a good fit for hsn. when we come back, what you
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need to do to provide a consistently great customer experience, and why you should trust your instinct when looking for funding. thank you so much. thank you! so we're a go? yes! we got a yes! what does that mean for purchasing? purchase. let's do this. got it. book the flights! hai! si! si! ya! ya! ya! what does that mean for us? we can get stuff. what's it mean for shipping? ship the goods. you're a go! you got the green light. that means go! oh, yeah. start saying yes to your company's best ideas. we're gonna hit our launch date! (scream) thank you! goodbye! we help all types of businesses with money, tools and know-how to get business done. american express open.
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i'm curious to know what steps companies take to ensure that everyone on their team is focused on providing the best customer experience throughout the entire life cycle. >> you need to verticalize your team. what i mean by that is you don't want to have a bunch of people who are generalists when it comes to customer support. you want people to focus on different parts of the life cycle of the customer. people who are focused on lee generation are focused just on lee generation. people who are focused on sales are just focused on sales. people who are just focused on onboarding are just focused on onboarding and people focused on customer support are just focused on customer support. that way nobody drops the ball. the other key thing is to really track that customer throughout the life cycle. that means a lot of note-taking at each stage from the moment they're first introduced to the sales team to when they become a customer and after. that way you have detailed notes
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of someone who has never talked to them before and just joined the team will know exactly how to talk to them and what to say. we now have the top two tips you need to know to help grow your business. blake harris is the co-creator and chief creative officer of fashion accessory brand, and matt skelling is a maker of cashmere sweaters. so good to see both of you. >> thanks for having us, jj. >> matt, you were in private equity. you left that and started this company out of nothing which has been growing very significantly and you have a fund on the side. so you see growing businesses from all sides. what's your one piece of advice you have for people? >> trust your gut. i think i've been placed with a lot of tough positions and that's a theme as we continue to grow. if something doesn't feel right, don't do it. you have to trust your instincts. there are different types of
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founders. i'm an instinct founder, so every decision i make, i have to balance it against, how do i really feel about this? if someone rubs me the wrong way, if they're not a partner for me, that's when i have to make a tough decision. >> congratulations to you and all the success you've had. it's truly amazing. you've seen this from all the early stages to being where you are. what's one piece of advice you have? >> my top piece of advice is to really cultivate creativity. it's so easy to just get focused on execution when you're in a really high growth environment. but you need to realize competition is fierce, things are moving so fast. so if you don't carve out that time for creativity and build that muscle of creativity within your organization, it's really easy to just get left behind. >> you know, i love the idea of hackathons and not just for your engineers, but for anyone. we would do them at our company, and our design team came up with
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this amazing mural that made our office so much nicer, and somebody else came up with this fun birthday hat that you would hang over people when it was their birthday which helped with the culture, and i think that's a good way to do it. what do you think, blake? >> i think you're touching on two key things to create creativity. one is around time management. so it's important to carve out some white space like a hackathon so your team has the ability to switch out of their executive functioning brain into their real imagination network. it's very hard to toggle back and forth between those two, so we like to cluster all of our executive meetings sort of back to back, have really intense days. but then really kind of carve out half a day for our version of a hackathon which is only focused on design, or it could be on branding and concepting, but really creating that space to just dip into your
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imagination. >> many times over. thank you both so much. great to be able to pick your brains because you both have seen so much success. we appreciate it. >> thank you. this week's your biz selfie is a fun one. is comes from melanie restall who is owner of melanie's meadow in burnsville, north carolina. she and her mother create and design ownjewelry and ornaments from recrafted wood. why not send your ideas to please be sure to include your name, the name of your business. do not forget to tell us where you are and please use the #yourbizselfie. thank you so much for joining us today. we would love to hear from you. if you have any questions or comments about today's show, send us an e-mail to
4:59 am also head over to our website, and don't forget to connect with our business and social platforms as well. we have one more thing. we now have a podcast. it's called been there. built that. we would love for you to take a listen and tell us what you think. until next time, i'm jj ramberg, and remember, we make your business our business. so that's the idea. what do you think? i don't like it. oh. nuh uh. yeah. ahhhhh. mm-mm. oh. yeah. ah. agh. d-d-d... no. hmmm. uh... huh. yeah. uh... huh. in business, there are a lot of ways to say no.
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thank you so much. thank you. so we're doing it. yes. start saying yes to your company's best ideas. we help all types of businesses with money, tools and know-how to get business done. american express open. welcome to "politics nation." we are watching developments in that overnight train crash in south carolina that left two people dead. meantime, president trump is back to his old self. just four days after acting the part of a bipartisan unifier in his state of the union address, the president has rerevealed his true colors, continuing with his attacks against the fbi,


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