137 – Develop A Passive Income Stream Through Vending With Matt Miller

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Matt Miller spent the first 9 years of his career as an Air Force pilot, before entering the corporate world to work at both Abbott Laboratories and Valassis.  While a top performer for both companies, his long term desire was to start a business and be his own boss.

A good friend one day mentioned the gum ball machines he and his young daughters owned, and that conversation began a 10 year business quest that has brought Matt’s franchise company, School Spirit Vending, to the cutting edge of both the vending and school fundraising industries.

Today, the School Spirit Vending franchise is helping professionals across the country develop more freedom and security, while supporting local schools at the same time.

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One Incredible Story About Passive Income

Matt Miller enjoyed his time in the U.S. Air Force, flying fighter jets.  The transition to the corporate world was it’s own challenge.  As a salesman, he had to battle rejection on a regular basis.  During many conversations, he experienced a variety of different objections. This made him realize that only a few people in the corporate world are actually willing take a chance.  A chance to have a normal life with their family.

Mike spent a year and a half at Abbot Labs selling hospital diagnostic equipment in and out of about 30 hospitals, when the company was bought by a larger company, they made him the direct mail sales advertiser. During that time, they had  around 750 salesmen across the country. What he normally did, was meet with clients, develop sales ideas and then have the design team handle the details and process.

With hard work and discipline, Mike became the number two sales person in the country during his first full year at this new company. However, his boss did not like the fact that he got accolades. What did his boss do?  She increased his quota 96% the next year. This hurt him and his family financially and making things even worse, was going from being a hero to zero at work.

Mike had no option but to do others things on the side just to make ends meet.
His corporate pay will not cover all of his family’s expenses. He sold books online through Amazon, Alibris and Half.Com, he even reached the point collecting aluminum cans. Some people may find it nasty but Mike did everything that he needed to, just to keep food on his family’s table.

Reading Robert Kiasaki’s book “Rich dad, Poor Dad”, challenged him to measure everything that he was doing.
All of his actions should result in generating passive income. That’s when the idea of having a gumball business was introduced to him from a friend at church.  Nobody he knew, would take that business seriously, but while really thinking it through something occurred to him.  Gumballs might cost a quarter or even just a few cents, but how much money do vending machine make?  Just a short while later, gumball machines became the answer to him making money “passively” while still working at his corporate job.

Today, his School Spirit Vending is in 26 states, around 2000 schools and he now has a team of 55 families who purchased franchises working with him.  Now, his business is in-demand and growing.
What’s next?  Adding to the gumball business, Matt’s company is now offering temporary tattoos and stickers primarily for high school and younger kids, making school events more exciting and fun.

“Measure everything that you’re doing, 
all of your actions must result in generating passive income 
for you and your family” 
Matt Miller

Great Benefits Of Podcasting

  1. It gives you an opportunity to share what you do best.
  2. Develop a relationship with your Listeners and co-podcasters.
  3. Share your message and your business model, in return the audience will know you in a more personal way.
  4. Gives you the opportunity to promote your own business. For Matt, he used podcasts to promote his business to schools. His podcast is called the “School Zone Podcast” where he interviews fundraising and resource companies for schools. He then shares their background, digs deeper with them and provides ways for the audience to connect with them after the show. Podcasting gives him the ability to promote “School Spirit Vending” in a way that makes him an exclusive sponsor of School Zone Podcast.
    The best part is, paid commercials can also be integrated into the shows.
  5. Unlike email marketing where you have to produce blog and educational content which people don’t read, even though you took the time to write that content, podcasting is real live action, in a 30-45 minutes conversation, your guest can talk about their past, success, failures, where they came from, etc. These stories brings all of your listeners much closer together.

Your Edge In Any Industry

Having the ability to come into an industry without all the baggage that insiders have, is Matt’s edge.
You need to come from a completely different perspective and point of view.  You have to make sure to exploit the niches and the areas that could be tweaked and changed.  This will be for your benefit and others may benefit also.

“Don’t Just Accept Canned Training
Use Your Own Perspective”
Matt Miller

That One Thing That You Need In Any Business

Family is always a factor for why we strive to work hard.  Matt is happy because he has built a business surrounded by his family. In today’s world, aside from family, there is one thing you need to be fired up about that will keep you going:  “Growth”. Don’t be afraid to grow. When Matt left the air force he lost his ability to fly aircraft.
Switching from one career to another is never easy. He always asked himself if he will the same amount of excitement on a new path. He has no vending experience, has no prior business experience but he did it anyway. He embraced what he had and grew into it with the support of his family.  Now he is amazed that he was able to encourage other families to do the same business.

Matt started his company when he was 40 years old. He was such an inspiration to his friends and family.
He did not understand entrepreneurship until he was in his 30’s. Now he sees his children thinking like entrepreneurs at such an early age and he gets a real kick out of it because he knows he played a small part in their growth.

Seeing the old and new generations working together, a family working together and having fun is what keeps him getting up every day.  It’s a strong force that drives him to continue to grow and build more.

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SHOW

Click Here To Read The Full Transcript Of The Show +

Matt:              Hello.

Jordan:            Hello. Mat?

Matt:               Yes, sir.

Jordan:            Hey, this is Jordan, Nile’s cohost. How are you today?

Matt:               Awesome Jordan. How are you?

Jordan:            Doing very well. Nile’s here with us but he is getting levels and setting up all the stuff that we’re going to need to make sure that you sound great and he asked me to kind of give you the rundown if that’s okay.

Matt:               Yeah, no problem.

Jordan:            All right, so we’ve got a tease that we do for each show. I’m not sure if you listened to any of our shows yet or not but we have our guest say hey, this is Matt Miller. You’re listening to the social media business hour with Nile Nickel and today we give them a hook. We’re going to talk about how you can do this or the three steps to that or whatever hook you want to come up with. Obviously, we’ve got to make sure that we deliver on it at some point in the show but it can really -- it could be whatever you’d like.

Matt:               Okay.

Jordan:            And you just feel free to think about what you want to say but like I said it’s always the same format if you don’t mind. It’ll be hi, this is Matt Miller with -- on the social media business hour with Nile Nickel and today we’ll be talking about -- and then what’s going to happen is we’re going to give it about five or 10 seconds of dead air and Nile will come in just like the commercial ended as an example.

Matt:               Okay.

Jordan:            Now, do you hear that music?

Matt:               Barely.

Jordan:            Okay. So, I don’t want to overload you. Nile’s asked me to give you everything so I’m going to give you everything. There’s only one more thing but all right Nile. We got it. So, we’re tightly timing our segments. Nile’s got four different radio stations after him to produce this show and they require 13 minute segments.

Matt:               Okay.

Jordan:            So, if you are giving us an answer and we’re budding up against that hard time you may hear that music. That’s Nile cuing you out. That means you only have a few seconds left and we’ll have to wrap it up and maybe even carry it over into the next segment.

Matt:               Okay.

Jordan:            That’s just a warning. We don’t want you to think we’re rude. Aside from that, we just like to have fun man. We’re just going to keep it easy and we joke a lot. We’re going to hope that you want to joke with us.

Matt:               Sure.

Nile:                I want to hear if he could hear that better.

Jordan:            Could you -- did you hear that better?

Matt:               Yes.

Jordan:            Okay, yeah.

Nile:                Okay, good.

Jordan:            Yeah.

Nile:                Okay.

Jordan:            So, yeah. In fact, we tend to make fun of each other a lot and I personally like it when our guests make fun of Nile and there’s plenty to make fun of.

Nile:                Of course you do. Hey Matt. Glad to be with you.

Matt:               Hey, Nile. Thank you very much for having me on.

Nile:                Oh, absolutely. We’re excited about it. What is the main point that you would like to leave with our guest tonight?

Matt:               The biggest thing is just the fact that they can develop a passive income stream on a limited time commitment whether it be with inventing or -- of course, you guys are all about social media side of things and it is possible. It requires hard work and persistence and consistence over a period of time but I’m living proof as have been many of your guests that it’s possible with the right idea and the willingness to put in the effort.

Nile:                Do you integrate social media into any of what you do?

Matt:               Yeah, I -- well, much of my promotion today is utilizing the podcast. I also am a podcaster myself that we utilize. I’ve got a podcast called school zone podcast and what we do is we interview school fundraising companies and resource companies to kind of be that place where our schools, educators and administrators can dive a little bit deeper into some of the companies that they might potentially want to work with in another school. And then I also have two podcasts that I run internally with our franchise team and it’s our way of developing our community. One each week is interviews and success stories and all that type of thing from both folks on our team and folks outside of our business, outside experts. And then the other is what I call SSV tips and it’s just a short five to 10 minute segment talking about a specific topic, I dive pretty deep into it but for a short period of time surrounding business or life in general.

Nile:                Okay, okay. That sounds good. Good. I think we’re ready to go any time you are.

Matt:               Okay.

Nile:                Is school spirit vending a franchise that you started?

Matt:               Yes.

Nile:                Okay. And when did you start that?

Matt:               It was started -- let’s see. It would’ve been October of 2007. It has just been a franchise in the last six or seven months. Prior to that we had a distributor ship model and grew for about seven and a half years doing that model and then realized that in order to continue to expand across the country especially in a lot of the states in the north that have a lot more bureaucracy and regulation surrounding them we needed to be a franchise in order to successfully expand in those areas. So, we made that transition starting this last spring and by the end of this year we’ll have total of about 40 to 45 franchisees some of which have transitioned over from the old model internally and we’ve got a huge pipeline of folks that have interest in what we’re doing today that we’re going through the sales process now.

Nile:                I’ll -- we’ll get into some details of that so -- because I think a lot of people that -- our listeners might have some interest in that. So, let me be quiet. Let’s do the tease and then let’s jump into it and then again if you hear the music that means that we need to wrap up a segment.

Matt:               Okay. Sounds good.

Nile:                Okay. Very good. Any time you’re ready.

Matt:               Hi, this is Matt Miller, founder of School Spirit Vending and you’re listening to the social media business hour with Nile Nickel. Today we’re going to talk about passive income made through vending.

Nile:                Hey, welcome back. We’re so happy that you’ve joined us for the meat of the segment. Social media business hour.

Jordan:           Where the good stuff is.

Nile:                Where the good stuff is. After we get past all of the zany news.

Jordan:            Yes, yes. And that’s --

Nile:                Just the bit of the zany news.

Jordan:            Yeah, but it’s good stuff.

Nile:                It’s -- it depends on -- if you’re in the article it’s not good stuff.

Jordan:            That’s true. That’s true.

Nile:                But if you’re not, hey, it’s great. We’ve got Matt Miller with us tonight. Matt spent the first nine years of his career -- I like how you say that. Nine years of your career as an air force pilot.

Jordan:            Oh, man. You know I’ve got a million questions for Matt. Matt, I’ve got a million questions for you.

Matt:               Bring them on Jordan.

Nile:                You’ll have to ask him later. But before entering the corporate world at both Avid Lavatories and -- okay, Matt I am not going to pronounce that. What is the next one?

Matt:               It’s Velasis. It’s not Velasic, the pickle. It’s Velasis, one of the largest print media companies in America.

Nile:                I have the pickle interest.

Jordan:            Yeah. It’s not the pickle company Nile.

Nile:                That -- what’s wrong with pickles? I just want to know. Anyway, Matt turned out to be a top performer for both companies and I’m sure that came from being a high flying air force pilot. That makes you a top performer. Hey, they only select the best. Isn’t that right Matt?

Matt:               Yes, sir.

Nile:                You have to go through a whole bunch of stuff before you start to get behind those jets because they cost just a little bit of money.

Matt:               Just a tad.

Nile:                They don’t like you making little mistakes in those expensive pieces of equipment.

Jordan:            Yeah, speaking of which I’ve got to ask the question that everybody wants to know. I’m sure. Any time somebody hears that, what did you fly?

Matt:               I was a T38 instructor pilot for six years in _____08:59 Texas and then I was a C5 transport pilot in Dover, Delaware for the last three years of my military career.

Jordan:            Wow, that’s great. Now, the T38 is a really interesting little aircraft. If I’m not mistaken --

Nile:                I’m going to sit back here.

Jordan:            If I’m not mistaken they used the T38 as kind of a MIG kind of in the dogfights so they don’t have to always fly and train against each other with the same aircraft. Is that correct?

Matt:               Correct. It’s also called the F5 and yeah. In fact, we would go oftentimes to Nevada and they would have us do simulated dogfight scenarios with the fighter pilots out of _____09:47 air force base in Top Gun. Or not Top Gun. Excuse me. Red Flag. My air force buddies are going to shoot me at this point. But anyway, it’s called Red Flag and we would go out there on occasion and we would simulate ourselves as cruise missiles and we would come in in formation at a variety of different altitudes and formations and then whatever fighter unit we were up against would practice their intercepts on us so we were basically targets during those sorties but it was a lot of fun.

Jordan:            Wow.

Nile:                I was going to say any time you’re up are you a target? Just saying.

Jordan:            Well, it all depends.

Nile:                But I could hear that now talking with your children. So, dad what did you do when you were -- well, I imitated cruse missiles so people can try to target me.

Jordan:            That’s right.

Matt:               That was just once or twice. That was once or twice but that was fun. We got the chance to take the jet about once a month pretty much anywhere in the country as long as they had the right kind of fuel and liquid oxygen for it and -- because we had a variety of different approaches and landings that we had to do each quarter to maintain our currency so we hung out on Fort Walton Beach for spring break several years in a row back in my single days. I had a good buddy in Tucson, Arizona and we were out there it seemed like every couple of months hanging out with him. My folks lived up out of the Chicago area which is where I grew up. We flew up there. We kind of had our own little supersonic taxi service of sorts during those early days when I was much younger and much more aerodynamic at that point in time if you know what I mean.

Jordan:            Well, you can't see it nor can our listeners but Nile can see that I’m green with envy. That is really something else. And there is a business takeaway just on this section Nile. You have to be unbelievably disciplined to do that stuff.

Nile:                Absolutely. That’s why I said they don’t like to have you take out those expensive pieces of equipment and not bring them back in working order.

Jordan:            That’s true.

Matt:               It was kind of fun is when I was making the transition from the air force to the corporate world the biggest concern the companies I was interviewing with had was I had had these millions of dollars’ worth of training and here I was a pilot, not wanting to continue to fly like most of my peers did with the airlines and their biggest concern was that I’d get in the corporate world, would not be happy and within six months to a year I’d go back to flying again and they would’ve spent all that money investing in me in sales and what have you with their company. So, that was a big objection I had to overcome as crazy as it was because there were so few people like me that were ready and willing to turn their back on flying because so many people wanted to do it all their lives.

Jordan:            Absolutely. That’s amazing. So, but you proved them all wrong and you continued into corporate America.

Matt:               Yes, I did. Yes, I did. spent a year and a half at Abbot Labs selling hospital diagnostic equipment in and out of about 30 hospitals on the north east side of Houston and then transitioned to a company like we talked about. It was Advo at the time. They were bought out by Velasis a couple of years into my career there and specialized in direct mail advertising. I was one of the guys that filled your mailbox with junk mail every single week which I’m sure you guys are grateful for.

Nile:                At supersonic speeds we might add.

Matt:               Yes, sir.

Jordan:            So, did you do the copywriting for that or other creative aspects of that?

Matt:               No, I was the sales -- one of the sales guys. There were 750 of us across the country at the time. I met with the clients, I developed the clients. Oftentimes we worked together to develop the copy and then we had an entire design team and the design process that handled all the details. Some of my clients at the time were _____14:08 in Texas. Midas of Midas Muffler fame. Direct TV and dish network. Those were the ones that really helped to pay the bills during that time in my life.

Nile:                Well, here we’re talking about all this stuff and then you’ve started a conversation with a good friend one day about gumball machines that he and his young daughter owned and lo and behold that started you on a 10 year quest that has a -- sort of fast forward to today to your franchising company school spirit vending and that’s quite a transition. I’m interested in the taglines that you’ve created there.

Matt:               Well, I ended up being number two in the country in sales my first full year at Advo and my boss didn’t like the fact that I got accolade so quickly. She thinks I -- I don’t think she thought I deserved it. I just happened to be at the right place in the right time and of course the discipline and all that that you guys previously mentioned helped me do some pretty incredible things fairly quickly. Anyway, she increased my quota 96 percent the next year. That essentially cut my pay 80 grand and I went from being a hero to a zero at work and of course my family was in a world of hurt financially so I started doing things on the side because I had to make ends meet and the corporate pay scale -- there was no way for me to make that up any time soon. So, I sold books online. My garage at one point in time looked like a library full of used books. Through Amazon and Alibris and half.com. I ended up collecting aluminum cans for a while. Man, talk about a nasty, nasty thing but I kind of had to do whatever I had to do to keep food on the table. The challenge was I had read Robert Kiasaki’s book Rich dad, poor dad and so I measured everything that I was doing against his book and the whole concept of passive income and none of those things provided income passively whatsoever so when the whole idea gumballs came up from my buddy at church I kind of -- even though gumballs -- nobody really takes them seriously. They cost a quarter. How much money can really be made there? But what I saw was a way to make money passively while I was at work continue to perform in my job. And so I taught myself bulk vending, got a bunch of books on Amazon, kind of learned the ropes and then got out there and literally started door knocking and figuring out the business. Fast forward a year and a half later, I’ve got a 150 locations in the northern Houston area and then ’07 and ’08 hit and my revenue plummeted because people weren’t going out to eat and if they were little Johnny and Susie weren’t being given quarters from their mom and dad to put in my machines so I was frustrated because of all I had put together. I had four young kids come knocking on my door selling me stuff for the local school for fundraising. I thought it was odd that their parents weren’t with them. I didn’t know the kids personally and essentially they were door to door sales people and I wasn’t really excited about that being that I had kids about the same age at the time so I kind of put two and two together. The whole idea of what I had learned in vending with fundraising in schools and thought maybe we could get some kids off the street and that’s kind of where school spirit vending all got started.

Nile:                Well, I’m really interested in the background of that. I think we’re going to have to wait for our next segment to get into the background of that because we’re just not going to have time but give us -- we’ve got a little over two minutes. Give us, if you will, sort of the 30000 foot view of what the business looks like.

Matt:               Well, today we’re in about 26 states. We’re in about 2000 schools currently. We’ve got a team of about 55 families and like I told you earlier we transitioned to the franchise model in the last six, seven months and we’re just growing like a weed. We actually have more demand than we can keep up with right now just because we’re filling a real need with the schools today whether they’re lacking volunteers and of course they’re lacking funds always so we step in, kind of fill the role of the volunteers for some of the fundraising that they do and in the process it ends up being a win-win. Our schools have the ability to make money passively and to supplement the other fundraising that they’re doing and our business team has the ability to drive an income, a secondary income in many cases on a limited time commitment without sacrificing their career in the process.

Nile:                That makes perfect, perfect sense. One of the things that I’m really interested in is -- and again, we’ve got about 30 seconds but I’m really interested in where your -- these -- the gumball machines are going. Are these going on school campuses or do the schools become a partner?

Matt:               We actually don’t do gumballs anymore. We do stickers.

Nile:                Stickers.

Matt:               Stickers. We do custom stickers for the schools with mascots and that type of thing.

Nile:                Oh, man. I can't wait to hear about this.

Matt:               So, yeah. quite the transition which is a good thing because with the government guidelines today about junk food and all that in schools the gumball thing would not have lasted very long and I’d be out on the street again if we had been just doing that.

Nile:                Man, I appreciate that insight. Well, listen, we’ve got a lot more to share with you. We’d really like you to catch us on the next segment so make sure you join us there. Hey, welcome back to the social media business hour. You’re here with Nile Nickel. We’re talking to Matt Miller of just an unbelievable new program school spirit vending and in the last segment we just started to get into exactly what the business was like. You started out in gumballs but it makes sense -- you said -- can't do that really anymore with the current program you have but you started talking about stickers. Tell us a little bit about what the business is today and by the way, can you share the transition from gumballs to stickers as well?

Matt:               Yeah, well, that whole transition occurred when those kids came knocking on my door because I had been doing the gumballs, I had transitioned into toys and temporary tattoos and that type of thing as well but I was frustrated because there wasn’t as much money being put in my machines and I knew that if I wanted to be in front of the kids on a regular basis it was the schools where I needed to be so that just made complete and total sense to me. my initial thought was that we would do temporary tattoos and stickers primarily for high school and junior high sporting events but what we found out in our initial testing was the older kids didn’t interact with our machines so we pivoted at that point because the younger kids absolutely went nuts over them and the PTA moms for the elementary schools went nuts over our program as well because it was something that they could bring in with no added effort on their part and serve a huge need for them. So, that’s kind of where the transition all occurred and because I spent time in the print media world -- I’m not a designer but I know how to direct a designer to give me what I want and of course I knew a little bit about printing in that world as well so I was able to tie the two together, figure out how best to go about doing the customization that we do that makes what we do very, very special in the eyes of  the schools and the rest is history.

Nile:                In a given school -- excuse me. As part of the sales pitch that you do what sort of a revenue can they expect from this activity?

Matt:               Every school Nile is different and we’re not going to replace the other fundraising that they’re doing but a school can easily make a 1000, 1500 dollars a year which helps out with additional field trips or school supplies or helps the principal do teacher appreciation luncheons every month. Those types of things. Every little bit helps and because they don’t have to do anything to generate the revenue they’re in most cases ecstatic about bringing our program in.

Nile:                That makes perfect sense. And do you hear -- when a program goes into a school do you hear many complaints from parents at all?

Matt:               On occasion and on occasion there’s educators out there that don’t really see the tie between what we do and education. Of course, I don’t see the tie between selling cookie dough and education really either but we actually manufacture and direct the art for a large amount of the product that we actually have on our machines to ensure that it is appropriate from the little three or four year old all the way up to fifth, sixth graders to make sure that we don’t get the complaints from mom and dad. There’s a lot of product out on the market that just really isn’t appropriate for that age group. It’s a little bit too edgy because companies are trying to reach the kids but they’re also trying to reach the teens as well and we found out early on that the only way to prevent having issues was to develop our own product specifically for our market.

Nile:                That makes sense. Now, one of the things that I understand is that based on the number of schools that you’ve been in across the country and what you do is you’ve raised literally millions of dollars for education that’s been directly injected into the school system over the past seven years.

Matt:               Correct.

Nile:                That’s pretty phenomenal. I mean, I know that there’s programs in states that talk about that same level of funding but certainly not from the private sector and the schools generally don’t get to direct that either.

Matt:               Right. Yeah, we’ve raised just shy of 3.5 million dollars in that period of time 50 cents at a time and it’s amazing how things can add up once you start to achieve some mass and we have done that. Initially what we do is a paradigm shift for schools but once we get some schools that understand our program and it’s being implemented successfully within their building they start talking and next thing you know you’ve got a whole herd of schools all around them that are participating as well and it’s pretty cool to watch and see happen.

Nile:                I bet it is and it has to be pretty rewarding to you as well.

Matt:               It is, it is because we’re filling like I said a huge need and it ends up being a win-win all around.

Nile:                I understand that you’re a franchise today. You didn’t start out as a franchise. I’d like to understand how you started out and so many people are fearful of a franchise. They talk about the massive dollars that it takes. All of the legal and compliance things you have to do to become a franchise. I’d like to hear it from your mouth. This is something that you’ve lived, that you went through.

Matt:               Nile, a year ago this was not even on my radar but as -- I work with a coach and I’ve been working with a coach here for about the last 18 months. A guy with the name of Aron Walker. Amazing guy. Aron actually is from the Nashville area. He was -- has been friends with Dave Ramsey. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Dave at all for the last 20 or so years and was actually Dave’s second advertising client on the radio 20 years ago. Anyway, Aron has helped me see things much bigger than I ever could before and when we started looking at expanding and that type of thing I realized that there was a lot of states that we were going to have to be a franchise in order to be able to do business there legally and so we decided to make that transition. There was no money in the budget for that, it wasn’t something that I’d been planning on for an extended period of time though I do have to say I did know that the only way for me to scale this was to put systems in place so I have been and we have been putting systems in place all along. Little did I know that many of those systems would allow us to fairly seamlessly transition from the model that we had before to the franchise model today. All we had to do is do the legal and pay all the registration expense in the states that require registrations and all that to have that done. I’ve got a team of folks that are experts at that type of thing that I work with so a lot of those details they manage thankfully which allows me to continue to focus on what I do best which is developing relationships and working directly with the franchisees on our team. And then of course doing the marketing and the promoting of our business as well.

Nile:                I’m fascinated with the franchise business allowing you some additional opportunities because of legal compliance issues in states. What sort of issues did you run into if you don’t mind me asking?

Matt:               Well, there’s a three legged stool that kind of qualifies a business or that the government uses to determine if it’s a franchise or not or if it should be a franchise. One of the things is that you have a trademark that you’re sharing with others and they’re utilizing on your behalf. Another thing is that you have control meaning systems in place that you expect people to follow and that type of thing. And then the third leg of the stool is that within the first six months you accept -- I think it’s at least 600 dollars or more not in product or equipment from that -- in the case at the time distributor now franchisee. We were definitely -- we definitely had the trademark side of things, we definitely had the systems in place. The only thing that was questionable and different states have different rules that are even more specific than the federal guidelines so whereas we were fine the way we were doing things in many of the states that we started out in it wasn’t -- we weren’t going to be able to do it effectively and in the same way in many of the states to the north that are much more restrictive in how they do things. So, we just decided that the easiest way to do things is become a franchise, become a model that is accepted everywhere and then submit ourselves to the guidelines of the states that we want to do business in that require registrations and have more restrictive procedures around business being done in them.

Nile:                Okay. Well, now I appreciate that and I look at a lot of businesses because there’s a lot of businesses I look at that personally I think meet some of the franchise requirements yet they’re not a franchise and sometimes you wander how they get away with some of that stuff so --

Matt:               And then there’s a lot of businesses out there that quite honestly shouldn’t be a franchise either. So, yeah. It’s kind of -- it kind of goes both ways. Like I said thankfully we were kind of -- we fit perfectly with the model. It was just a matter of investing the money to get everything established legally with the government and within the states that we’re doing business in today.

Nile:                Now, one of the things that as we’ve been talking about the business and in the first two segments here is we’ve talked about the business, what it is, what you do, we talked about franchising a bit but we haven’t talked at all about social media and podcasting and I know that podcasting is a cornerstone for a lot of what you do so one of the things that I’d like to do as we sort of wrap up this segment is I’d like to -- as we go into the next segment talk about social media and podcasting. Now, I don’t want to get into podcasting at all yet. I’m going to ask you a question we could answer in about a minute or so. Of all the social media platforms, which one do you currently leverage most often for your business?

Matt:               I would say right now Facebook is the biggest for us though to be honest we’re still pretty new in that whole space. Much of what we’ve done is follow traditional promotion and marketing up to this point in time just because our franchisees have a very limited area that they work within. They do the majority of their promotion within their protected territories in which they operate so to kind of coral social media in a way that allows them to be effective in a pretty small area of operation is a challenge and we just haven’t had the resources to do that on a wide scale level corporately at this point in time so it’s really easy for them to develop relationships with different Facebook groups, the different PTAs in different schools many of them have and that type of thing. So, that’s where we’ve done the majority of what we’ve done today. Now, at a higher level I spend a ton of time on Linked In and have developed a bunch of relationships utilizing that platform and establishing credibility for myself and that type of thing. Once again, a year ago I didn’t even have a Linked In profile. I had heard about it but I didn’t know anything more about it at that point in time? So, there’s been a pretty steep learning curve in the last 12 months. It’s been a wild ride, it’s been very, very exciting but we’ve still got a lot to learn. I just have realized that I can only bite off so much at any given time because there is just so much out there that you can do and if we’re not careful anyone who does that is ineffective in all of them, right? Because they haven’t quite mastered any one of them so our philosophy has been let’s work them one at the time. The ones that make most sense for us as a business and a year from now we talk we’re going to be in a completely different place with much more expertise than we have today and even more effective than we are today just because it’s a process.

Nile:                Makes perfect sense. Well, listen, we’re completely out of time in this segment. Make sure you catch us on the next segment where we really talk about social media and podcasting. Welcome back to the social media business hour. Final segment of this series where we’re talking with Matt Miller of school spirit vending and we talked about how he got started, what he was doing, sort of going from a distributorship to a franchise and we’re going to get into more of some social media stuff and podcasting in this segment and I know Matt we’ve talked a little bit. Podcasting is a very important part of your business and I think you use it in multiple ways. Is that correct?

Matt:               Yes, sir. Yes, sir. In fact, it was interesting. I just saw on Facebook today where the Wall Street Journal just put out an article talking about the power of digital in promoting businesses and most specifically podcasting so even the business community, the larger business community is starting to realize this isn’t just some short term phenomena but it’s something that’s going to be around for a long time especially when more and more cars are outfitted with the different services. They’re wired for internet and that type of thing. This whole medium is just going to continue to grow and in my opinion explode in the next few years.

Nile:                I don’t think I could agree more. I think podcasting is in its infancy and just like people used to talk about hey, you’ve got to have a website if you’re going to be in business today. We’re heading to the point quickly that you’re really going to need a podcast if you’re going to be in business today. Talk about the number of different ways that you use podcast and then maybe we could do a deeper dive into some of those.

Matt:               Yeah, so I’ve got three different ways that we utilize podcasting today. The first is what we’re doing right now. It’s a marketing tool for our business. It gives us the opportunity to share what we do and to develop a relationship with the audience of podcasters like yourself and in the process we get to share our message, we get to share our business model, the audience gets the chance to know me and ‘’develop a relationship’’ to where if they were to reach out after a show and have interest in potentially duplicating what we do in their area they already feel like they know me because they’ve kind of heard my story, they’ve heard a little bit of the background and that type of thing versus somebody off the street because of SEO or whatever comes across our website. They don’t have any of that backstory so it requires a much longer education process and there’s a much higher likelihood that what -- we all see eye to eye because they haven’t gotten that background that somebody listening to a podcast gets. So, that’s number one. Number two, we use it to promote to schools. I have a podcast I started. In fact I took Cliff Raven’s crafts podcasting A to Z course last May. We launched the podcast in -- I guess it was early July. It’s called school zone podcast. What we do is we interview fundraising companies and resource companies for schools and share their background and dive a little deeper with them than a school might get on their website or at a trade show or what have you. We have the ability to promote school spirit vending in the process where SSV is the exclusive sponsor of school zone podcast so there are commercials integrated with the podcast talking specifically about SSV and what we do. And then the third way which is the most unique in my opinion is I have two podcasts I do each week internally for our franchise team. I was frustrated in years past because I would produce blog content and educational content for my team. Oftentimes it never got read and what I learned is we’re all so busy and we’re all so bombarded with what’s out there today that for somebody to take time through an email to sit down and maybe read a two, three, four paragraph piece that I’d put together oftentimes was a challenging thing to do so a lot of information was lost. So, I decided to do the podcasting thing. The other thing it allowed me to do is it allowed me to bring in the success stories much like you’re doing with your guests to bring in the success stories of the franchisees on our team and to be able to spend 30 minutes to 45 minutes interviewing them about their past, where they came from, the challenges that they’ve had, the success stories and those types of things and in the process bring our community that’s all over the country today much closer together. And oh, by the way, they can listen to a podcast driving down the road, mowing the lawn, working out or just hanging out and it’s a much more passive way to learn that doesn’t require them to be focused 100 percent on our message like they were with that blog post that I was trying to get people to read previously.

Nile:                Well, I think that’s a real golden nugget or a few of them worth reviewing because what I heard was one purpose is you’re a guest on a number of different podcasts and that’s good for prospecting potential franchisees. Cannot talk Jordan. You always like that. I know. Franchisees and or clients.

Jordan:            You’ll get there by the end of the show.

Nile:                That’s what you always say. The end of this show’s silent. What do you --

Jordan:            And silence is golden sometimes Nile. I joke.

Matt:               Let’s say it together everybody. Franchisee.

Nile:                Franchisee. No, so you use it as guest for prospecting, you’re podcasting to schools -- it’s been a long day. I could tell. For potential clients. But you’re also podcasting, training an inspiration messages to your franchisees.

Matt:               Correct.

Nile:                So, I think that that’s sort of a neat way to look at least three ways that your podcast could be used so I really like that and I know that you said that you’re just getting into social media. I’m curious. Do you use social media currently or have any training that says hey, here’s a way to use social media to engage with our clients which I suspect would be different schools?

Matt:               Like I said, a lot of what we do today is primarily traditional. My last year has been so much in the middle of the whole franchise transition process that a lot of these other things have not had a big focus. Now that we’ve kind of gotten past that we’re in the process of getting much better educated on some of these other tools. Like I said though bringing them on one at a time. Ultimately I’d love to hire somebody or several people that are kind of our social media experts internally, that help us make all that happen but it’s kind of a crawl, walk, run scenario. We’re still crawling right now in a lot of these other things because I’ve had other needs that were much more urgent and the way we’re doing things is working extremely well. Can we accelerate things even more with social media? No doubt about it. So, it’s a valuable and important part of our growth strategy moving forward but it has not been a primary focus just because of everything else that’s been going on.

Nile:                That makes perfect sense. Hey, let me ask you. What’s allowed you to stay on the cutting edge of product innovation in the fundraising arena?

Matt:               I think what it is Nile to be honest is I have an innate ability to come in to an industry as an outsider without all the baggage that insiders have and see it from a completely different perspective and point of view and figure out and exploit the niches and the areas that could be tweaked and changed to my benefit and the benefit of others. That’s exactly what I did in vending. That’s exactly what I’ve done in fundraising. Nobody else was doing what we’re doing in the fundraising space and quite honestly that’s a lot of what I’ve done with podcasting in the last six to eight months. There are some companies that are using podcast internally but they’re very, very few and far between and to my knowledge there’s no other franchise at this point in time that is doing anything remotely close to that but it -- so, I’ve just been able to utilize the creativity that I was brought up with to see things from a different lens, from a different paradigm, a different perspective and that’s been huge for me. I don’t walk into an industry and initially get all the training I possibly can from the insiders in that industry. I look at it from my perspective and then I go get what I feel that I need to be able to be effective in that area and then I go for it and because of that I don’t have a lot of the baggage that others do.

Nile:                That makes perfect sense. New eyes in a business can really be valuable especially with the discipline that we talked about in the first segment that you bring to the mix. I think that’s a really critical factor. If you were to be asked what is the one big thing that has you most fired up about your business today, what would that be?

Matt:               Man, just the growth. Out family is -- or excuse me. Our business is family oriented. Our first mantra is family is our foundation. When I was an instructor pilot in the air force for six years i got a chance to take a student pilot from literally having barely flown at all and in six months’ time see them pin their wings on their chest as a full-fledged air force pilot. I got a chance to watch him fly solo after just a month and a half or so from the first time that they set foot in that airplane. When I left the air force I lost all that ability to do that and that was one of the biggest things that got me up every day and I was excited about my career there. Will I get to do the same thing here? Because I get to take somebody that in most cases has no vending experience, has no prior business experience and teach them how to successfully build a business utilizing our system and our model and then because of the focus that we have on family and the fact that we encourage families to do their business together much like my family has over the last eight, 10 years. It’s cool to see the next generation get it. It’s cool to see them begin to understand entrepreneurship and think like an entrepreneur. I didn’t understand any of that until I was in my 30s. I didn’t start SSV till I was 40 so to see these young kids getting it and beginning to think like entrepreneurs and start businesses at an early age is a real kick for me knowing that we had a small part in all of that. We have second generations now that are getting involved in our team. They were involved as teenagers in their parents’ businesses. Today they’ve started their own business because they had so much fun and saw the potential that their mom and dad were doing in their business and wanted a piece of it for themselves. Man, that’s what keeps me getting up every day and keeps driving me to continue to grow and build because there’s a lot of families out there that are looking for that kind of environment and we’ve created that kind of environment with SSV.

Nile:                It sounds awesome. We’re out of time but if people want to get in touch with you Matt, how will they do that?

Matt:               Yeah, Nile, my email is matt@ssvbusiness.com and I’d love to give away an eBook if you don’t mind to your audience. It’s called live your dreams. The 10 reasons why you need to start a vending business. And they can get that at ssvbusiness.com/smbh for social media business hour.

Nile:                Great. We will make sure we have that link up and I want to thank you for joining us. To our audience, you know I really appreciate you. Hopefully you learned a few new ideas or concepts. Maybe you were reminded of a few things you already know but you haven’t been doing to improve or grow your business. You know that my desire is you take just one of the things that you learned or were reminded of today, you apply it to your life or business this week. We know that a small change can make a big difference. I’m committed to bringing you at least one new idea each week that you could implement. Go back and identify just one small change you could make to your life or business this week, see what a big difference it will make for you. So, until next week this is Nile Nickel. Now, go make it happen.

Jordan:            Matt that was great. Thanks so much.

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