In this week’s conversation with Karen Clark Cole, Jay Goltz, and Stephanie Stuckey, we once again unearth more questions than answers—mostly because there are rarely one-size-fits-all answers to the questions we discuss. This week, those questions include: Can you be friends with your employees? Can you work with your family? How are you coping with price increases in your supply chain? How do you handle shipping—especially given the example set by Amazon? Are refrigerated trucks really called “reefer” trucks? And what happens when employees question whether you should be doing business with a particular person or company? Plus: Jay turns 65 without a succession plan.
This week, Dana White informs Jay Goltz and Stephanie Stuckey that she has begun the process of franchising her hair salons across the country, and perhaps the world. Why did she choose to franchise? As she explains, she does have concerns about controlling the culture in franchised locations, but she believes this is her best opportunity to grow. Interestingly, when Stephanie took over Stuckey’s in 2019, she bought a franchise business that she says had lost control of its franchisees, which is why she’s now moving in the opposite direction. Plus: Stephanie shares a debate that is raging within her company: Should she price her pecan log rolls for the convenience stores she’s selling them to now or for the more upscale outlets she hopes to attract? And Jay gives us an update on that idea for a new business he told us about just two weeks ago. (Spoiler alert: This is Jay Goltz we’re talking about.)
This week with Paul Downs, William Vanderbloemen, and Laura Zander, the talk leaps from one plague to another—floods, power outages, cyber crime, employee churn, supplier price hikes, and vanished shipping containers—not to mention the actual plague. For Laura, whose wholesale yarn business keeps falling further behind on its orders, these events have necessitated a series of difficult conversations with customers: “They can't get mad about the pandemic,” she tells us. “And they're not going to get mad about the fact that we're moving. And they're not going to get mad about the fact that there's a deep freeze. But at some point, they're going to get tired, whether it's consciously or subconsciously. It's exhausting.” To which she adds, “but if the locusts hit, I don't know how much more of this people can take.” Plus, a friendly discussion about whether raising your prices makes you a jerk. (Spoiler alert: It does not.)
This week, Jay Goltz tells Dana White and Laura Zander why he can’t stop starting businesses. In recent years, for example, he’s considered buying other picture -frame shops, he’s bought a firehouse that he thought he might turn into an event space (or a dog kennel), and he’s fantasized about opening an ice cream shop. “I have a whole list of businesses I'm not starting,” says Jay, who has been down this road so many times he’s developed a five-point test for whether he should proceed. And now he’s got a new idea—an online art gallery—that he believes passes the test. “I think I’m going to do it,” he says. Plus: Dana has a new business, too. And Laura assesses the damage done to the yarn industry by two venture-backed rivals.
This week, Stephanie Stuckey tells Paul Downs and Jay Goltz about seeking the guidance and perspective that a board of advisers could bring to Stuckey’s. But does a business have to be a certain size to warrant having a board? How do you recruit board members? How should they be compensated? And is a peer group, like Vistage, a better alternative? Plus: Uncovering a $140,000 cyber crime. Coping with the nightmare of shipping furniture. And Jay tells us why, if you listen to either the artists or the accountants in your business, you’re likely to go broke.
Should Stephanie Stuckey sell pecans on Amazon? Should Laura Zander wholesale yarn to discounters? Should Jay Goltz’s businesses be active on Pinterest? (Assuming Jay knows what Pinterest is.) This week we cover those issues, plus whether the owners are ready for an economic boom and how Laura made the painful decision to fire several employees she inherited when she bought her wholesale yarn business in Texas. “You have to do it,” says Jay. “And it doesn't make you a bad person. It makes you a bad boss if you don't do it.”
This week, we talk about what we were thinking a year ago as the contours of this crisis began to emerge. It was this week that the W.H.O. declared a pandemic, the NBA suspended its season, and toilet paper started to disappear. It has all taken a toll. “This is where it gets tricky,” Jay Goltz tells us. “Just because everybody shows up every day and looks like they're happy-go-lucky, they're not. People have stresses in their life, whether it's their kids, whether it's their aging parents, whether it's their financial situation, whether it's their physical well-being—any of the above. This is just layered on top of whatever was going on in their life before.” Plus: Karen Clark Cole’s company goes to Mars, Dana White gets a smart question about expansion from a retailer in Canada, and Jay discovers that ESOP companies don’t have to pay federal income tax.
A year ago, Dana White was questioning whether her business could survive the pandemic. This week, she says she’s looking seriously at expanding to another city: “I'd like to make a decision by the end of March, and I'd like to be opening or in the process of opening by this fall. I'm waiting to see how the vaccine does.” Dana also talks about her experience with venture capitalists who seem to be telling her, “We’ll be happy to give you money—as soon as you don’t really need it.” Plus: Stephanie Stuckey explains her team’s recent three-hour debate: Should Stuckey’s be selling the road trip or the pecan? And Dana, Stephanie, and Jay Goltz discuss Clubhouse, the new social media platform. Is it just a time suck, or does it offer real value to business owners?
This week, Stephanie Stuckey tells Paul Downs and Jay Goltz, both of whom have manufacturing operations, about her decision to buy a manufacturing plant and bring production of Stuckey’s snacks in-house. We talk about her conflicted concerns about a minimum wage hike, what it takes to build a strong culture in a repetitive-task environment, why she paid above book value for the company she bought, and how she managed to finance the purchase of a business that is four times the size of Stuckey’s. She’s very happy with the SBA loan she got, but it was not an easy process: “I had to take out an additional life insurance policy and list the bank. I was just waiting for them to call me and tell me my firstborn son has to be collateral as well.”
This week, Karen, William, and Laura cover a lot of ground: For one thing, what do you do when the to-do list seems endless, you’re already working 24/7, and you just can’t get ahead? For another, what do you do when employees decide they want to work remotely from random parts of the country? Does that work? Is it a bureaucratic nightmare? Meanwhile, Laura is confronting several big, interrelated issues. Her co-founder and husband, Doug, is ready to step back from the business. That’s a little tricky because the company operates off a 19-year-old platform that Doug built, and only he knows how to make it work. They’ve been trying to hire tech people for Doug to train, but they’ve been through 15 people in 10 years—and they know they’re doing something wrong. Do they need to hire a recruiter? Is it time to junk Doug’s platform and go with Shopify? If they do that, will they forfeit 19 years of SEO value? All of which has left Laura feeling trapped. “That’s this cage that we’re in,” she tells us. “What the hell do you do?”