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Stephen Eoff How StoryBrand Helped Grow His Family Business - The ROI Online Podcast Ep. 8

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On this special segment of Client Convos on the ROI Online Podcast, Steve chats with Stephen Eoff about the importance of having a digital presence in today's fast-paced world, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Stephen Eoff is the current owner of Jack Tyler Engineering, a third-generation family-run business. Back in the '60s, Stephen's grandfather Jack Tyler started the company with an engineering mindset. His mission: provide top-of-the-line equipment and repair services to municipal, industrial, and commercial operations. When Stephen's father, Sherman, married into the family, he started working in the business as well, eventually becoming an owner in '92.

One of the interesting things about Stephen's story is that he found his passion at home, but he had to leave home to realize it. Stephen grew up in the business and felt comfortable working alongside his family, but his father talked him into working out in the world instead. There, while studying engineering and working in the field until he turned 30, Stephen realized how much he loved working for Jack Tyler Engineering. It was more than just supporting the family. It was his passion.

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While he studied engineering, he found the sales aspect of running a business to be much more interesting. Stephen preferred to spend his time talking with people than working behind a computer. It's a skill that, to his surprise, ended up working to his favor. When he came to take over the family business, it became clear that Jack Tyler Engineering needed a strong sales

As a business owner, Stephen recognized a problem many of us entrepreneurs have to face sooner or later: the business wasn't built to scale. The world has changed, and the word-of-mouth strategies that worked for Sherman and Jack used weren't standing the test of time. The people he worked with now expected the company to have a strong digital presence. It was a kick in the gut since Jack Tyler Engineering didn't even have a CRM at the time.

So Stephen did some digging into the world of marketing and discovered "Building a StoryBrand" by Donald Miller. That discovery led him to ROI Online, where he learned how to build a digital business foundation that helped him grow his business even during a pandemic. Today, he's continuing to create the pieces his business needs to secure the right talent, keep vendors happy, and maintain customers' trust.

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Stephen Eoff is the owner of Jack Tyler Engineering:

https://www.jteng.com/


To learn more about StoryBrand, pick up your copy of Donald Miller's book, Building a StoryBrand, by clicking this link.


And you can get a shiny copy of The Golden Toilet on Amazon here:
https://amzn.to/2X3NKlB

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Topics: ROI Online, Marketing, Sales, StoryBrand, Business GrowthStack, Small Business, Engineering

Stephen Eoff : 

So we woke up, I guess it was two years ago, and a year ago where you and I met, just realizing, "Gosh, our story and our messaging really isn't clear to someone that doesn't know who we are." And there are a lot of consultant engineers that were contacting one of our main vendors saying, "Hey, who's the...Who's your distributor in Arkansas?" And we were just floored and and honestly, just scared to death. It was one of those kind of "holy crap moments." How does this 28-year-old engineer at one of the largest consulting engineering firms in the state not know who we are?

Steve Brown : 

Right?

Stephen Eoff : 

And I know that sounds really arrogant, but it also sounds really kind of like a... It was an eye opening reality to us.

Steve Brown : 

Hi, everybody. Welcome to the ROI Online Podcasts where we believe you, the courageous entrepreneurs of our day are the invisible heroes of our economy. You not only improve our world with your ideas, your grit and your passion, but you make our world better. I'm Steve Brown, and this is the place where we have great conversations with winners just like you while we laugh and learn together. OK! Welcome back everybody to the ROI Online Podcast and I'm excited and very proud to introduce you to Steven Eoff. He's with Jack Tyler Engineering. And Steven is a client of ROI and has been for a while. And so I think it's somebody that you should know because he wrestles with a lot of the common problems that every business owner does. Steven, welcome to the ROI Online Podcast.

Stephen Eoff : 

Hey, thank you Steve. I wanted to be here. Appreciate your time. Thanks for inviting me.

Steve Brown : 

Yeah, well, I appreciate you carving out some time to just chat and for people learn about what you guys do and some of the things that you wrestle with as a business owner. So one of the funny stories I like about Steven is, it's on their website, but Stephen's first job was with the company. He was a janitor at the age of 7. But after high school, his his dad, Sherman, told him, "Go get your degree, and call me when you're 30." And so... And the thing about Sherman is, he meant it.

Stephen Eoff : 

He did.

Steve Brown : 

So talk about Sherman, and did you really leave and think, "Alright, I'm gonna call at 30."

Stephen Eoff : 

So it's kind of a, I don't know ever... As my father also says, "We put the fun in dysfunction, family dysfunction." So two things on that: One is he started in... So he's the second generation. My grandfather started the company in 1963. And so my father Sherman graduated college in May of 1975. And the day after he graduated, he started working. And so he had always just told me, you know, kind of as a dad that, "I want you to, before you come into the business, if you ever come into the business, I think it would be wise for you to have a different perspective." He also said, "Let someone else train you. Get familiar with the world a little bit more. Because all I've known, all I've ever known is this and I love it. I'm so glad I found it and kind of stumbled into it. But I also think that you can be shaped a little bit more about the outside world, if you if you start from 22 to 30 somewhere else." So that was kind of his thought process and then also was just, he knew I needed to grow up and he knew I needed to experience some wins and some successes outside of the family, and then kind of get... I think that was his very kind of way of saying, "Hey, neither one of us is really ready to work together. So why don't you go somewhere else for a while until we kind of sort things out." So it was really the best thing in the world. It could have happened to me to go work somewhere else for 10 years before I came into the business. Because when I came in, I knew that this is absolutely what I want to do and spend the rest of my life doing. So it worked out really well. I wouldn't trade the experience that I got in the two companies that I worked for before I came into the business for anything, I was actually talking to my wife Whitney about that last night, thinking, "You know, what we do is really technical. And I wish I would have come in at age 22 before we had kids and I could have gotten just such a better foundation and learning everything." And she said, "Yeah, but you would have missed A, B, and C and you wouldn't have gotten X experience this, that and the other. And you and I wouldn't have been able to live in Dallas for those six years." And she said, "I just think it worked out perfectly." I was like, "Yeah, you're right. Ultimately, no regrets. But now that I'm in it, I wish I would have had a 10 year head start." But you know, you can't go back and it all worked out. It's working out.

Steve Brown : 

Do you think that your dad wanted you to avoid some of the struggles that he had to stepping right in right away with your grandfather?

Stephen Eoff : 

I think so. I think it... You know, he has always said, "There's the right way, the wrong way, and the Jack Tyler Way." So that's kind of his mindset as well. And I don't know what that means, except for what he says. And I think... Yeah, I just think it was just an opportunity to see the world, experience, work for someone else, kind of grow. Like I said, I needed to grow up, Steve, and he knew that so that was his way of leading me well in that moment.

Steve Brown : 

So in those 10 years, where you were out earning your chops, getting some experience, where did you kind of land as far as figuring out what you are really good at doing?

Stephen Eoff : 

So my first job was just an entry level engineer in a telecommunications company in Little Rock. Alltel was the name of the company, and it's since been sold to Verizon while back. So I hated that job. I mean, I worked on the sixth floor and I took the stairs because the elevator just got me there too fast. Stuck behind a computer doing entry level engineering and just thought I was gonna die. And so I knew I wanted to get into sales and I knew I wanted to get into... but I didn't really know what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to get away from the computer and go interact with people. So it's kind of funny. In college, as I was studying engineering, I was kind of the one that was always elected to get up and give the presentation where it all been designed by the smart people. So I said, "Hey, y'all figure it out. And I'll talk about it." And they love that because they could figure it out, but they didn't want to talk about it. So that's kind of how I'm wired is, sure, I may have a technical degree and understand a little bit of what's going on, but put me in front of people. So I left after 18 months of doing that and went to sales and just loved it and then was kind of promoted into sales management and that's what allowed us to move to Dallas. And with the company that I was with there, became a partner in the firm in Dallas and just loved it and then kind of recognized, "This is what my family does it sales and sales engineering, so I can keep working for this company or I could go work for my family's company ultimately work for myself." And that's kind of what led me back home was the opportunity to work with my family and lead this company.

Steve Brown : 

So when you made that made that transition into the family business, I would imagine that going into this new culture, new environment that you were familiar with it and you had some expectations, but I imagine there were some things that you didn't expect. What were those?

Stephen Eoff : 

Well the funny thing and, it's kind of an inside joke now is, I called dad and said, "I really would like to come in. I should talk to you about it." I said, "But you know me. You know I'm not super technical. And as as I say, 'I got my degree through grit, not giftedness.'" And I was like, "So is what you do very technical? I mean, really kind of break it down, or am I going to be more of the people side and sales and sales management?" But, "No, it's really not that technical. What we do isn't very technical." When I got here, and started getting into I was like, "Oh my gosh, this is... I am an idiot. I'm a fool. Why did I think that an engineering company was not going to be technical?" And so that's been the hardest part for me is just the the technical side of what we do. And as my dad said, he's like, "It's not technical to me." And I was like, "You've been doing it for 45 years and it's right in your wheelhouse. And it's just way you're wired." And so kind of seeing where he and I are really different. And he just geeks out on it. And I'm just kind of thinking, "How can I get through this?" So it's different mindset there where he just wants to go down deep and stay down long and actually solve the problems and I'm looking for someone to tell me the answer and the solution so I can go sell it to somebody. So that's been a real, real different thing. But kind of what... A couple of years ago, he kind of grabbed me by the shoulders, one of those come to Jesus meetings and said, "Look, you can't BS way through this. And you have to know how this stuff works. Because when you sell something and you get a purchase order from a customer and you show up with the product and then you you leave after it's installed, it has to work perfectly the first time. And if you size the wrong pump or you missapply the right whatever, if you do the wrong math problem, you get the wrong answer and it doesn't match up or work, then your reputation is really crap. And you know, one mess up can screw up 100 atta-boys. And you've got to slow down, just go slow and think, and solve this problem, and then go forward from there." So that was a real... I don't know if that makes any sense to you or not, but that was a real hard thing for me to come to grips with was just a reality of, it takes a long time to figure this stuff out. Because I'm always looking for how can we systematize it? How can we solve it once and never saw it again? I keep saying every problem is different, every situation is different. So that's just kind of been, and that's probably too deep into our world, I guess, I don't know if that's true or not.

Steve Brown : 

No, I think it's important that... So let's back up and tell everyone why this particular problem you're referring to is so important. This is not just... You're not installing a light bulb. You're not putting a new door knob on. You guys aren't doing some serious stuff. Talk to us about that.

Stephen Eoff : 

So yeah, we provide engineer solutions for our customers in the municipal, industrial, and commercial markets, mainly around pumps or rotating equipment, air compressors. So literally, when someone flushes their toilet and that water leaves their home, where does it go and then get back to where it is clean and it comes out of your tap? So we handle it. Once someone flushes it, we collect it, we treat it, and then we distribute it. Our equipment that we do handles water and we make sure that we provide the equipment that can provide clean water to cities. And then industrially, you know like a paper mill or Tyson's chicken is a huge plant in Arkansas that people are familiar with nationally, to make chicken, the bird is alive and it comes into the plant and it leaves in a nice packaged wrapper for us to feed our families with. Well, a lot has to happen in between those two cycles whether you're flushing the toilet and then turn on the tab or whether you bring a live chicken in and then you're serving your family dinner. So our equipment allows municipalities to run their water systems and wastewater systems, and our equipment industrially allows Tyson's to actually process their chickens. So our equipment has to work because people really care about water and Tyson's cares about processing chickens. So if I go in there and I'm just full of fluff and hot air and don't know what I'm talking about and don't solve the problem and I appear incompetent, what value am I?

Steve Brown : 

Right? That's, you know, I think about where civilization really started changing and reducing disease and stuff as figuring out how to handle all the waste, the water. That was a big change in civilization as for... It impacted so many lives, so what you're dealing with is not not any less important.

Stephen Eoff : 

Right, right. And you can imagine, you know, if we're supposed to move water from point A to point B, and I put a pump in the ground that won't do that, and then it overflows and you got sewer running on on the street. Well, that's just not okay.

Steve Brown : 

Right.

Stephen Eoff : 

It sounds dramatic. I'm not trying to be dramatic, but...

Steve Brown : 

But it's the truth.

Stephen Eoff : 

But it is the truth. Yeah.

Steve Brown : 

Yeah. And if a municipality chooses you guys to come in and usually you're not taking over this nice new thing you get to plan out all the time. You're probably being called in a situation that has gone bad, and which makes the situation even harder to solve. And so your dad Sherman's conversation to you that day was probably from a lot of experiences where he learned the gravity o that trust that the municipality was giving you.

Stephen Eoff : 

Right and he helped me to understand the weight of responsibility and the seriousness of it. So I think that's kind of where I said earlier, had I come in at 22 and just given me 10 years more experience on the technical side, then I wouldn't have had the 10 years of experience of learning how to sell and learning how to lead. So that was... That's just as valuable, especially when you're wanting to run a run a whole company.

Steve Brown : 

Yeah, you're talking about about the multiple hats that a business owner or a business leader has to wear every day. And the problem is, we have signed up to wear all of those hats, whether those hats look good on us or not. Or whether we're good at it or not, right?

Stephen Eoff : 

Right, right. And if you're not good at it, you better find somebody that is.

Steve Brown : 

So in the... Here's your technical. Here's your sales. Here's your leadership. And I want to ask, which one do you think is the most valuable?

Stephen Eoff : 

You know, I don't know. I think it depends on the life stage of the business and the size of the business. Because as a sole practitioner that is only wanting to manage what he touches and what he does, and not really worry about all this stuff on the peripheral, then if that person is a great engineer and a great technical person that can also connect and relate, then then they can just kind of go forward and be very profitable and sell. But the problem with that is: you can't grow past that individual. If you just are a sole practitioner and you're not really wanting to grow, then the sales and leadership would become secondary to the technical side. But if you want to really grow and then you've got a lot more people to manage and lead and and personalities to deal with, within the leadership side becomes critical. And as Jim Collins put it so eloquently, "Getting the right people on the bus and getting them in the right seat." That says really easy in those really hard when you get nitty gritty down to it. And then you get the HR side of it and payroll and then all... Your team member, well their mother gets sick and then what do you do, and then, "Well you let him go home and take care of his mom. Can I go home and take care of my mom?" And then you're just kind of thinking, "Well, when are we're all going to work?" So you get it. You're leading a company and a team and growing a business. So I think that you really have to address all of it. You can't let one piece go. It's kind of the analogy of the gaplin, spinning the plates. You can stop spinning this one, but not for long,

Steve Brown : 

Right? I think that's excellent. So when you talk about the stages of a business, I'd love to... So your grandfather drove it at a certain time and brought it to a certain stage Your dad has done the same. So talk to us about those. And then where's your stage going to lead?

Stephen Eoff : 

Sure. So I really kind of want to acknowledge my grandfather and father. We talked a lot about my dad already, but really, it was my grandfather. The business in general, it's really a, a brilliant business to be in. Because for several reasons, so I just kind of want to first say great job to my grandfather for having the foresight to start a company that could last half a century, but also even now, in this moment that we're in with COVID-19 and the social distancing and the quarantining, working from home, we're still... Thankfully, we haven't laid anybody off. We haven't furloughed anybody. We're maintaining the full staff and the full payroll, and we're working well in this environment, because people still want clean water. So while our industrial customers have closed their plans and said, "No visitors are allowed," and we really can't get in there and work with them on on that as we did before, we are able to still stay strong in the municipal side. So I say that because one of the things that my wife and I have entered into personally outside of work is foster care, and we've become foster parents. And I recognize more so now than ever, that these children that have been born into hard circumstances didn't do anything to deserve the hard circumstances they were born into. I say all this because I didn't do anything to deserve the good circumstances or the good I was born into. So I recognize that, here I am. This is the third generation. But I didn't hit it. You know, I'm not standing on third because I hit a triple. I'm standing on third because I've been able to stand on the shoulders of my grandfather and father.

Steve Brown : 

Yeah.

Stephen Eoff : 

My grandfather really started the company in the '60s, where he was a consultant, engineer, contractor and an equipment provider. And this was really before you had to be one of the three, where the industry has evolved to now, and you could be all three. So he was incredibly successful at laying a solid foundation for the family, because he could design the work, have the crews to go install it, and also he could sell the equipment that he designed around. That's kind of a monopoly and things have been broken up. So now there's a consulting engineer profession, a contracting profession, and an equipment provider profession. So as we have evolved, when the rubber hit the road, and we kind of did have to choose, "What are we going to do?" Our family... At some point in time, my grandfather really chose to be to stay with the equipment and go away from the consulting and the contracting. That being the case, we're still a licensed contractor, but we don't market our contracting company. We just kind of market our engineered sales equipment. And then the contracting stuff helps us with retrofits or specific projects. But the stages of the company and then in the late '90s, when all the manufacturing left Arkansas and the region and paper mills started to close and a lot of the manufacturing went overseas as her dad made a strategic shift to become more in the municipal market to provide the wastewater equipment and pumps, and then he also... The internet boomed in '99. That's when he said "OK, we're going to really solidify ourselves in the service business and repair business." And so if you can imagine, some of these pumps are as small as just a two horsepower, 85 pound pump. And some of them are 285 horsepower and they're 2000 pound pump. So Sherman made the decision that we're really going to be a service business because you can't buy a service on the internet. And if you've got a broken pump, these things can be repaired just like your car. So we now have a very thriving service business that's 20 years in the making, from you know, when he started literally in '99, 2000, and saying, "OK, we're going to build up this. And so our customers will bring their pumps into our shop, and we'll fix them just like you would take your car to the shop." And that's a big part of our company is the service side. So it's evolved and so that... Where granddad had all three and then we've kind of gone to equipment and service, and so now manufacturing is thankfully coming back to Arkansas in America. Hopefully it'll come back even more now that we've realized our dependency on foreign markets and we're having supply issues. Hopefully that'll bring it back, which would be good for us because it would strengthen the industrial economy in our state and region. So all that to say is where we are today, kind of growing forward is we're now looking at growing through acquisitions and finding really good, quality people and buying their company and bring them into us. So in the last three years, we've bought two companies. And that's kind of how we're growing now. And we just finished an acquisition in March. It's great time to buy a company, right? So that's been a huge strategic place for us, because where we've been in the past has been just mainly focused on the collections and distribution for the pumps that actually moves the water. We can move dirty water, and we can move clean water, but there was a huge gap in the middle of treatment, where we didn't really spend a lot of time treating the water. We didn't sell the equipment that treated the water. Now with this latest acquisition of a company, we brought in four fantastic team members that are super sharp, that have a combined 50 years experience of treating water and wastewater. And so they came in and now that really allows us to solidify ourselves as one of the major players in the water and wastewater equipment business. So we feel like that's where we want to move forward into the future. And then industrial plants often have to do either their own treatment of their water before it goes into the city sewer, or they have to pretreat it. So this gives us to have a handle on the actual process pumps that are inside. Whether it's a pulp and paper mill, or whether it's a chicken plant, or chemical plant or steel mill, there are pumps that are required for the process of that plants product, but they all use water and then that water becomes a wastewater and then it has to be pre treated or treated before it goes into the city sewer. And so industrially, we're kind of solidifying ourselves. And the next stage of the company, like I said, is treatment. So we're really super excited about about that and where we're going.

Steve Brown : 

We're going to take a moment here so I can tell you about a book I believe you need to read. Most every day for the last 10 years. I've worked with business leaders such as you. And there's this common conversation that I've had over and over again. It goes a little like this, "Steve, I see other brands excelling online, and I feel we need to do the same because my customers are expecting out of us. I'm not sure where to start, but I think we need to redo our website. What's the best way to approach this?" And this is why I wrote my book, "The Golden Toilet: Stop Flushing Your Marketing Budget into Your Website and Build a System That Grows Your Business." It's a book designed to empower my business leader so that they have the words and the proper expectations to communicate what it is they really need and get what they really need instead of something that's sold to them, it puts them in a position of confidence and clarity. And so to get this book, it's a great read, you can go to Amazon, get it there, or you can go to thegoldentoilet.com, and click on Get your copy. Now, back to our conversation. You know, in your notes for this in preparation for this call, you talked about you never really done any advertising relative. It's been word of mouth and had a great reputation. But one of the reasons that we started a relationship because you started to realize that that was an area you were going to need to really get squared away. Talk to us about that.

Stephen Eoff : 

Yeah, so in the '80s and '90s, the plant engineers at Georgia Pacific, Tyson's chicken, those those key American icon companies... Well, my father was in his 30s and 40s. Those plant engineers were in their 30s and 40s. So they literally grew up together. Now my dad, he's 67. And I turned 40 this year. So now I'm talking to a completely different market segment and demographic then he talked to because as he's on the tail end of his career, all of his customers are on the tail end of their career. Consulting engineers are the exact same. Guys that he's worked with are retiring, just like he's retiring. So we woke up, I guess it was two years ago, and a year ago when you and I met, just realizing, "Gosh, our story and our messaging really isn't clear to someone that doesn't know who we are." And there are a lot of consultant engineers that were contacting one of our main vendors saying, "Hey, who's the...Who's your distributor in Arkansas?" And we were just floored and and honestly, just scared to death. It was one of those kind of "holy crap moments." How does this 28-year-old engineer at one of the largest consulting engineering firms in the state not know who we are?

Steve Brown : 

Right?

Stephen Eoff : 

And that sounds really arrogant. But it sounds really kind of like a... It was an eye opening reality to us that there's a whole nother group of people in our industry. And they hear Jack Tyler Engineering, and they have no idea what we do. They have no idea what markets we're in. And so that became a real kind of blinding glimpse of the obvious of, "Oh my gosh, we got to have clear messaging." Because Sherman's whole philosophy was, "Jack Tyler Engineering Rotating Equipment: We're Serious About Service." Well, that's really vague unless you are a mill maintenance guy that is responsible for the pumps in that mill or you're a collections manager for a city. So we kind of thought, "How are we going to grow and get our messaging out?" And I read Don Miller's book, "StoryBrand."

Steve Brown : 

"Building a StoryBrand."

Stephen Eoff : 

Thank you, Don Miller "Building a StoryBrand." And I read that book. And I just thought, "This is just so clear." And it was just... His whole mantra was, "If you confuse you lose." And so that's where I read his book. And I wanted to implement his strategy. Or our website was literally something that I had made on some internet platform by myself and hadn't put a lot of thought into it except trying to get information out or as you put in your book, "The Golden Toilet," just a brochure. That's what my website was, and it wasn't fulfilling any specific function other than just having a landing page. And so I went to clarifyyourmessage.com. I think that's the website where they had affiliates of people that had been trained by dawn in the StoryBrand framework that could then help a company like ours tell their story and get the messaging out there. And so I picked picked out three companies that were listed on that website, yours being one of them. Called interviewed all three and I think you and I just number one, hit it off. But number two, and this is a sincere comment. It's not just a awkward promotion, but you were the only one that talked me through building a system and talked me through, "Hey look, you've got to understand..." Because I think I was just like everybody else. I came in. I was like, "Hey, Steve, you know search engine optimization, Google ads, Facebook marketing. Help me help me get a clear message so that when people want to find me online they can." And that you kind of really were able to slow me down and say, "Hey, it's so much more than that." I think you called search engine optimization at a time snake oil, and that whole mantra, and then your book that you've just recently released, read your book, which is exactly in line with the conversation we had in February of '19. And just said, "Hey, look, this is not me coming in helping you create a BrandScript, building a website and then leaving and charging you X number of dollars to do it. Or this is not just doing a sales funnel, and then me leaving and then you still kind of scratching your head." And so you took me all the way back to I guess the fundamental playbook of how to grow a business online and said, "We've got to put these foundational core pieces in place. And it's a step by step process so that you can wake up in a year, and wake up in five years, and wake up in 10 years and still be relevant, and not be worried about the latest, greatest thing out there, which whether it be SEO or whatever else, but be in a position to where you have a system that fits your business and you're in the goals of that business." So that's how you and I got connected, and then we've kind of gone from there.

Steve Brown : 

Yeah, so let's talk about that. Now that we've been working together for a year and a half now going on... Yeah?

Stephen Eoff : 

Yeah.

Steve Brown : 

So talk about how you feel, especially with this acquisition of this new business. You got the... You're bringing in some folks that had a different culture. So you've got them. You've got to matriculate them into your organization. How do you feel now as far as communicating with your team or communicating with your potential new prospects or your existing vendors? Talk to us about that.

Stephen Eoff : 

I think that going back to where we were, if someone can believe this or not, we were a 50-yea-old company that didn't have a CRM. And if we wanted to send an email to every single one of our customers to announce something, promotion, product, idea, we couldn't. We literally did not have that. We didn't have a social media page. And this is 2019. so embarrassed to tell you., but this is where we were. And so... But again, kudos to my father and his team and my grandfather and his team. They didn't need it. And isn't that what every business wants is just a good word of mouth referral, where you don't need advertising and marketing? But we just... Again, you can't grow like that. So to answer your question, "How do I feel?" Well, I feel very educated, feel very confident. And I feel very secure knowing that our system is in place and then as now going forward now. It's not finished. It's not even close to being, you know, where we want it to be as a big picture as a whole.

Steve Brown : 

Right.

Stephen Eoff : 

The foundational pieces are in place to add what we need to add when and how we want to grow and migrate into that.

Steve Brown : 

The cool thing about your dad or Sherman is that he, although that maybe wasn't his world, maybe it's something that he was hesitant about exploring, I think he's realized that it's this system that we put in place now, even though some of its virtual or digital, but it still impacts your physical world. He had the wisdom to know that's what you're going to need to continue to be successful whether he understood it all or not.

Stephen Eoff : 

Right. He's always had a very good kind of foresight vision mindset of where to go next. He recognizes and also our vendors are almost demanding it. They say, "Hey, how are you promoting me? How are you telling my story? How are you... How am I getting good representation?" And if you can't answer that from a digital perspective, you can't keep their line.

Steve Brown : 

Let's talk about that. How are you doing that for some of your vendors?

Stephen Eoff : 

Well, I think one of the things that we always want to maintain in our integrity is we don't want to promote a product because it's the only one are on our line card. And we don't want that product to... We don't want to leave the conversation to where we're ultimately driving someone to buy a specific item. Kind of loses the integrity of the engineer, technical sales is that we kind of want to understand, "Hey, what problem are you having?" Or walking into a plant and understand, "I bet that's your problem, isn't it?" because of A, B, and C and being able to see their system as a whole and understand what they're trying to do, and then understand how our equipment is just a tool to solve their problems. So it's, you know, talking through that with you and you understanding, "Yeah, we have 50 different lines. And they all want to be no. 1. They all want to be promoted. They want to be talked about." We didn't want to lose our approach of, "Hey, we're going to come in here, understand your system, and solve your problem with the best tool we've got." So that was something that we can now position ourselves as, and we want to position ourselves as, the the expert with the support of all of these vendors and manufacturers that we can come in and solve your problem. And the vendors understand that. One of our vendors makes the best asphalt pump in the world. That's their niche thing. And a lot of plants have, if they are using asphalt, they've got a pump it in their plant. So that's one way where we can become very strategic and very... You know, we talk about campaigns being clear message. If you're pumping asphalt, we can help you. And we can identify the exact plants in our territory that are pumping asphalt, because there's only a select few. Not everybody is in their backyard trying to figure this out. So we know who to call and then when we know who these plants are, we know who the decision makers are, then we can do a...help them to discover us. And then I think two words that really stood out to me in our discussions early on was, "Hey, let us help our customers that we want to do business with discover us and then educate." We educate them because people are so much more educated before they come to us than they ever have been. And so we don't want to... It used to be that the phone ring in 1985 and say, "Hey, Sherman come to my plant. I need to talk to you. I got a problem."But now they're coming to us online, and they're saying, "Hey, this is my problem. I really feel like this is thr solution. I see that you have dealt with it in the past. Can you help me?" So that that sounds small, but it's incredibly significant.

Steve Brown : 

It is. It's totally... And I'm sorry, I'm interrupting you. But what you're... In my book, I talk about the problem was sales is the quota. And you were addressing that. If you just went and said "Hey, this is the best product you need it." You're totally disregarding whether they need it, no. 1, nor are you caring about their system and their process. And so what you illustrated is, that's the significant thing that you're referring to right now is that the way you approach it has a relationship as opposed to making my quota.

Stephen Eoff : 

Sure, yeah. And the vendors, they recognize that. I mean, at the end of the day, they respect that, but as long as they're getting promoted, and so that's what they want, is they want they want to feel that we are doing an adequate job of telling their story. And not telling their story online. What tangible way do they have or what proof they have that their story is being told at all? And that was another tangible, factual way that you were able to help us say, "OK, this is what we're doing. This is how we're doing and we can track it." So I had some one of my vendors called me and said, "Hey, I know you did an email campaign. last week. What's the open rate? Well, I was able to tell right now it's only 19%. But it's only been sent out for six hours. So let's get this time." So he was like, "Keep me posted," but he was loving it, loving the fact that he could be a part of that process. So that's how we're doing it.

Steve Brown : 

That's... think about 10 years ago. He wouldn't even had that conversation nor you.... But for them to now go, "Stephen's got the data. Stephen is sophisticated. Stephen is modern."

Stephen Eoff : 

Right!

Steve Brown : 

Yeah, their view of you or respect of you or their perception of your authority and expertise is way different than that call going, "Well, I don't know. The spam filter blocked me out because I sent a bunch out on a BCC."

Stephen Eoff : 

Well, you're absolutely right, Steve. And what also is happening in our world and, I know it's unique, not every one of your listeners or customers is going to feel this, but our vendors are such a critical part of our company. But who is running their companies has changed drastically because it used to be that the pump company in Iowa was a family-owned company. And it went from a family owned company to maybe a ESOP or something else. Well, now it's been bought up by a conglomerate. It's a stock company. And they now have 16 pump companies that they own, and it's being run by CPAs and accountants not engineers. Before they cared so much about, "Yeah, I know Sherman down in Arkansas is doing a great job pushing my product." So you can have a good old boy network and they felt like they knew Sherman on a first-name basis, and Sherman would drive to Iowa and they would have a great conversation and everything was fine. Well, then, as that company gets sold a few times, it's now a CPA in Portland that's never met Sherman, that knows nothing about Jack Tyler Engineering, that only sees this as a digit on the on the spreadsheet of, "OK, so I had one of the vendors come into my office and say, 'What are you going to do to increase this pump sales in this county by 2%. today.'" That was literally what he said to me. So the way that they're managing their data is so hyper analytical that, if we're not managing our data the same way and can respond back with a clear answer, then we become irrelevant and insignificant and almost like, "Well, why do I need you?" But to be able to answer back, "OK, I'll see your data and I'll raise you this with this data." It's almost like, "Well, great." Then it just... It's the street credibility is almost just as important as the actual results that you get when you send that email to an end user. Because you've got to have the line to sell the product. And you can't measure that. When you say, "Hey, how is your ROI? What ROI are you getting on your email campaign?" Well, you can't measure the goodwill and the faith that a vendor has in you because you have the system set up to begin with.

Steve Brown : 

Wow.

Stephen Eoff : 

That's significant. And you and I know that that's important because we've talked, but that's a huge component of it.

Steve Brown : 

Well, I love that. I'm asked by people that are considering and they haven't made that conceptual shift like you have, they're wondering, "Well, how can I show my ROI? What can I expect?" And the gravity of having a legitimate... The conversation that you had and a I had went from a marketing conversation to a business process conversation. And because because of the stage that your company is in, because of your sales background, that clicked immediate with you and you were able to start to take action advantage of how this system was going to become an asset for you in the future.

Stephen Eoff : 

Right? Well, you told me—and again, this is going back to February of 19—but there were four key cogs in your system. And it was clear messaging, and that was what I came to you on is, "Hey, help me have a clear message so people know what Jack Tyler Engineer is. What we do." To then kind of have the marketing automation piece, which to me means the email components that we send out and saying, "OK, yeah, we have a 19% open rate. We are promoting your product. This is what we're doing, etc. And this is how we're educating people." And then kind of going from Sales Automation, to then kind of strategic campaign campaigns and landing pages. So I think... You know, I didn't know that the last three of those key things even existed or were important. I just like, "Hey, Steve, I need to clear message and I need to be able to send some emails." That's why I came to you. And you were like, "Oh, man, this guy..." But the system that you had that you put me on it again and I discovered you. I educated myself. I thought I knew something. And then I come to you and you open my eyes tenfold. Well, that's what I want to be able to do online for our customers.

Steve Brown : 

Exactly.

Stephen Eoff : 

They discover us. They educate themselves. They think they know. But then they come, we bring even more value to them, and we get a customer for life where they're not having to Google, "Where do I go for this?" It's, "I know I need to call Steven."

Steve Brown : 

We're getting close to the end here. But first of all, how can people reach you? If they've been listening and they're like, "I need to know this guy." How can he reach you?

Stephen Eoff : 

So jteng.com. That's jteng.com. And that is our website. And you can just go to the "Put Us to Work" session and that email goes directly to me.

Steve Brown : 

OK, awesome. So, so what does the future look like for you, Steven? Um, well, first of all, we're in the situation of social distancing. That's changed the way you guys might have to do sales. What are you doing right now?

Stephen Eoff : 

Well, so our world municipally, it's not slowing down. Thank goodness. We're so grateful. And again, we recognize we're very humbled by this. We're not taking it for granted or acting arrogant at all. It's just thankful that my father and grandfather had the foresight to put us into a recession proof industry where people want clean water. But what we're doing specifically is we're still calling all of our customers, checking on them, letting them know that we're here and that we're open and if they need us. But even the COVID-19 updates that were even open, that you know, as silly as it sounds, a year ago, we wouldn't have been able to send that email. And so Sam, who is been phenomenal to work with in your team. I just kind of have our weekly conference call and I'm like, "Hey, we got to get this email out." She's like, "Great." So kind of put it together and it goes out and it's just effortless. It's just... It's completely set up. And that sounds so simple to someone that hasn't set up. But from where I was, it was significant. So that was a big deal. But then, we literally cannot physically walk into Tyson's chicken. We're not... No visitors are allowed at any industrial plant. Georgia Pacific, the paper mills, the pulp nills, the chemical plants, the steel mills, they're all closed to visitors. So being able to touch them digitally and email them and just kind of provide value or answer questions is critical. But then the municipal side, our pump crews are still going out. We're still pulling pumps. We're still installing pumps. We're still fixing pumps, because a city cannot function with clogged pumps. And anything that's mechanical/electrical is going to break. It's just a matter of when. So, it's a lot of large numbers. If you get a bunch of pumps in the ground statewide, there's always going to be something broken. So we always want to be responsive. But again, the 24/7 service side of it, that's again something we can communicate and we can manage digitally. So that's how we're staying active and keeping our people busy and employed.

Steve Brown : 

And then regions that you service?

Stephen Eoff : 

Arkansas, Western Tennessee, Northern Mississippi, Northeast Texas and Eastern Oklahoma.

Steve Brown : 

Wow. That's a big footprint.

Stephen Eoff : 

Yeah. It is.

Steve Brown : 

Is that the same footprint when your grandfather started or...?

Stephen Eoff : 

Yes, honestly. Yeah. And some of the same vendors that we've had. I think he picked up a pump line in 1965, and we still have them. So it's kind of neat to the legacy there. But some of them we just picked up last month. So yeah, everything's always changing.

Steve Brown : 

Awesome. Hey, I love this conversation. This was fun.

Stephen Eoff : 

Honored to be here. I enjoyed it very much. Thank you, Steve.

Steve Brown : 

So that's another episode that or we call it a wrap on the ROI Online Podcast. Thank you so much for being here, Steven, and I appreciate you. And we'll see you guys on the next next episode. Take care. Thanks for listening to another fun episode of the ROI Online Podcast. For more, be sure to check out the show notes of this episode. And feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, where we can chat and I can help direct you to the resources you're searching for. To learn more about how you can grow your business better, be sure to pick up your copy of my book, "The Golden toilet," at surprise, thegoldentoilet.com. I'm Steve Brown, and we'll see you next week on another fun episode of the ROI Online Podcast.