Living In A Basement Apartment With 5 Kids And Not Knowing Where Our Next Check Was Coming From
As a husband-and-wife team, we started Mid Atlantic Data & Communications, LLC, in Roanoke, Virginia, back in 2004. As co-CEOs, Mary is the business piece and Brian is the tech piece. Mary brags on her husband as a natural-born salesperson: “Brian is the Magic 8-Ball because he’s really good at networking. As a salesperson AND a tech, he’s definitely a unicorn.”
We started out targeting residential with a handful of small business clients. Brian’s connections and aggressive cold-calling regimen enabled us to grow by 15% to 20% most every year. However, because we were 100% break-fix with ZERO marketing, there was no consistency. Every new month meant we had to scratch and claw all over again.
When you have no idea where your next paycheck will come from, you become life’s punching bag. I’ll never forget losing our biggest client that totaled 30% of our revenue: $100,000 a year GONE! And our MRR immediately plummeted from $7K a month to only $1,800 a month! At that same time, we moved our five kids into our friend’s basement apartment for 20 months while trying to build our house. In previous years, food was scarce, we had to share a car, and I’ll never forget Brian saying in a moment of desperation, “Mary, I just don’t know what to do anymore.”
ALL CHIPS IN With Marketing!
It’s almost as if Robin knows when we need marketing the most. In the summer of 2018, we received the Godfather campaign. Brian is the visionary. He’s very ambitious and knows what he wants. Mary, on the other hand, WAS a big scaredy-cat. She’s the numbers person and afraid of taking any risk. But after researching everything about Robin’s marketing, we were both sold.
Mary said, “We’re not going to dabble in this. We’re all chips in, baby!” Before we knew it, we got the Toolkit, joined Accelerators Club, went through the Rapid Implementation Program, attended Robin’s Roadshows and went to Boot Camp. Whew!
We’ll never forget walking into our first day of the Rapid Implementation Workshop in Franklin, Tennessee, and seeing all the Geniuses of the Month covering the walls. We read their stories and thought, “I don’t care what we have to do, we WILL be on this wall someday!” And after former Better Your Best winner Jay Ryerse shared his story, we KNEW this marketing works. It’s not a feeling or a hope, it’s science. It’s numbers. It absolutely WORKS!
Changing Our Security Stack
(And Our Mindset)
The Roadshow in California transformed the whole foundation of our business. Literally. First, Brian connected with multiple security vendors to considerably improve our security-stack offering. Suddenly, the technology we provided was far better than the $100 to $200 a month price tag we were selling. Now we were absolutely worth $600 to $2,000 a month or more!
Our next aha moment: Brian said matter-of-factly, “We can’t do break-fix anymore. We MUST do managed services!” Who knew at the time that this single mindset shift would totally transform Mid Atlantic Data & Communications?
Working 18+ Hours Every Day
(You Read That Right)
Yes, Robin’s marketing is science and numbers. Yes, it works. It’s the bike that will absolutely take you to the Promised Land, but in order to get there, you’re going to have to pedal like crazy. Brother, we pedaled so fast and hard…
When we were living in that tiny basement and sharing two bedrooms between seven of us, our schedules were RIDICULOUS! Brian would work all day, like 8 to 5. Then we would get a babysitter (remember, five kids), and Mary would work ON the business from three in the afternoon until two or three in the morning. Yes, EVERY DAY! But we committed to doing this, and we were all chips in.
Thankfully, when you push so hard for so long, results come from every angle possible. New clients, considerably more MRR and lucrative deals were our rewards.
Adding $7,500 In New MRR
From Our FIRST Marketing Initiative!
Remember, we were barely keeping our heads above water at just $1,800 in monthly recurring revenue. Heading into Robin’s Rapid Implementation Workshop, we now had an impressive security stack to sell new clients. But Brian also had a mind block: “Nobody’s going to pay this much for our new security stack.” But Mary wasn’t going to budge: “YES they are! What we got is amazing. We are quality.”
At the workshop, we sent out the 9-Word E-mail to prospects and dried-up leads. It was our first real marketing effort, and we were nervous we wouldn’t get a response. But it worked better than we could have ever hoped. That single e-mail initiative more than QUADRUPLED our monthly recurring revenue by adding $7,500 in new MRR!
QBRs WORK! Adding $15K In MRR
And $90K In Projects In Just A Year And A Half
It was clear to us that our biggest untapped gold mine was our existing client base. At the time, none of them had our new cyber security stack. Therefore, we created a unique process for conducting quarterly business reviews (QBRs) by featuring our Cyber Security Upsell campaign, which brought in $4,500 in MRR by itself. We were amazed how many clients APPRECIATED us looking out for their security and how much more they were willing to pay.
Some clients went from $100 a month to $600 a month. Others added our entire security stack, going from $200 a month to $2,000 a month! Before our mindset shift, we were at just $1,800 in MRR. Just a year and a half later, we had added $15K in MRR and $90K in project work.
Converting Our Client Base To Managed Services
At the time of this newsletter, Brian recently came home after closing his latest deal and said, “I’m DONE trying to convert our clients from break-fix.” That’s okay, what he accomplished in just two years was a Herculean effort to convert many of our break-fix clients to managed services.
First, we rebranded and repackaged EVERYTHING. Next, we sent out the Good News, Bad News Letter to our break-fix clients and followed up with phone calls and QBRs. From that campaign, we have successfully converted 32 clients from unpredictable and sporadic break-fix work to a predictable revenue stream each and every month. Of the few clients who wish to remain break-fix, we have successfully sold them off. No more break-fix! From that point on, we start each month with more than enough revenue to run the business.
Adding $12K In MRR And $95K In Project Work
From Our Cyber Security Roadshow!
After attending Robin’s circus-themed Boot Camp, Brian decided we’d put on our own Cyber Security Roadshow by copying her proven process. Through his gift of persuasion, he was able to convince the President of Virginia Tech and most of our vendors to attend. While there were probably fewer than 30 attendees at both conferences, we added $95K in project work and about $12K in new MRR. And it’s STILL paying off! We plan to do another one once this year.
Anointing Brian The Joint Venture King!
At a Producers Club meeting, Better Your Best finalist Fred Sagester spoke about joint ventures. That single presentation absolutely redefined what JVs could mean to our business. We came home and created a JV promotion to entice them with a $500 gift card when they referred Mid Atlantic Data & Communications.
We have run this campaign with all of our electricians, cabling guys, as well as manufacturing and CPA clients. Prospects trust these people, and it’s huge leverage when they promote our business. To date, these joint venture opportunities have accounted for $65K in new MRR and $125K in project work!
A Complete Marketing Arsenal
So Prospects Know, Like And Trust Us
As soon as we started with Robin, we improved our website, and we are always working to make it better. Featuring client testimonials, our referral program,11 Reasons To Choose Us and multiple calls-to-action for a free 10-minute call, our website is now a source of leads for us.
We have also created both a Shock-And-Awe box as well as a Welcoming Box. Every person we have sent a box to has been extremely impressed, and it’s been the game changer for our recent merger. Included in our boxes are our modified IT Buyers Guide and our 21 Questions.
Beyond The Marketing,
The PEOPLE Changed Our Business…Our Lives
Surrounding yourself with the RIGHT people is so important. That is what changes your mindset. That is what drives your results. We were fortunate to get into the right Producers Club Accountability Group. That changed everything for us. Our group is systematic in what they do, and we get to learn from their marketing wins and fails.
So many Technology Marketing Toolkit members and Better Your Best winners have become our good friends. Charles Henson walked us through his successes. Joanna Sobran and Sitima Fowler share the ambition and world-dominating attitude of both of us. Having someone unlock what you’re capable of and really believe in you is everything. That’s when you can fly! That’s how we launched our group and started growing like gangbusters!
Adding A Fourth Location With $95K In MRR,
We’re Just Getting Started!
If you’re wondering where your next check will come from, you just have to put your big-boy pants and big-girl panties on and find your reason why. You can be motivated all day long, but if you haven’t put in the DISCIPLINE, it’s only going to carry you so far. It’s your mindset and your daily habits that will transform you.
A little over two years ago, we were stuck in that basement apartment with five kids. We were scraping by with $1,800 in MRR and way more break-fix clients than we wanted. We were pulling 18-hour days. Today, we are at $95K in MRR and getting ready to launch our fourth location in Dallas, Texas. Here’s the truth: we are just getting started, and plan to be a multimillion-dollar MSP very soon.