Before I start I want to let you know that there is always two sides to every story. And in this case, there are two versions. I have found that there are two types of people when it comes to reading content. One half wants the information as quickly as possible while the other half like the long detailed version. Hope you enjoy!
Like most of you I started part time and worked my ass off for 2 years be able to do this full time. I worked about 55 hours a week for my day job and then spent another 30 hours a week doing the fencing. Definitely wasn’t the greatest feeling to never be home and to never be fully awake but if you want something bad enough you will be willing to do whatever it takes.
Lord Of The Rings Version:
And speaking of Lord Of The Rings, if you haven’t seen Clerks 2 you have to watch this! The rest story is below, I have a habit of getting off track.
If you didn’t see this movie before what did you think? Please comment and let me know.
So back to my story… Remember I did warn you that this would be long.
This all begins in 2015 at a McDonald’s in Woodbury Heights New Jersey. At the time I was working for my uncle as a general manager. On this particular day I was off and started getting group texts from work (like most of my days off) talking about the bad storms that had just come through. Apparantly we had a freak storm that resulted in a tornado and a ridiculous amount of damage in the area.
In totaI we just had one post that was damaged that needed to be replaced. I contacted the fence company that installed the fence and they wanted $400 in labor plust the cost one post. So I told my uncle I would be willing to do the job for the same price.
And so Deptford Fence was born.
I replaced the post in about 90 minutes with the help of youtube. From there I started posting on craiglist that resulted in a few repairs and some small jobs. Those jobs led to some word of mouth and in total I probably did 20 jobs for the rest of 2015.
I registed my business in the beginning of 2016 and continued to advertise in craigslist. I also tried advertising in the moneymailer as well. Money Mailer was a direct mail program that went to 10k homes in the area I chose. I went for this method first because it was cheap at just $350 per mailing.
Did Money Mailer Work?
Sort of. At first I was happy to get 5 calls per mailing. Those calls reulted in 3-4 jobs becuase like everyone else starting out, my prices were way too cheap. Did I make money? Yes, but I wasn’t thinking long term about things like: taxes, employees, insurance, etc. I occasionally get calls from some of my first customers and let’s just say they are shocked about my current prices lol!
By the summer I had my wife’s cousin helping me out and eventually had him running small jobs by himself. A few weeks later I started another helper and about a month after that he and the cousin were running jobs by themselves.
Then the issues started rolling in!
Little by little small issues popped up and then they got a little bigger each week. Nothing major, just stupid shit. I’m sure you know where this is going.
Then the shit hit the fan.
One job got so screwed up I had to rip out 22 posts and start over. The job looked my my 7 old son did the job. Not a single straight line, posts set like crap, took 3x longer, etc. That when I found out the two guys were on heroin. Needless to say they had to go and I back by myself. And that’s how it went until the end of the year.
By November I was referred to a guy that already had experience and a had a helper. I gave them a test job and they knocked out 30 posts in one day! Up until that point I was lucky to put in 15. That day was the best feeling in my life. I realized that I could quit my day job if I had enough work for this one crew.
By the end of 2016 we completed about 75 jobs. That was a really, really long hard year!
During the winter I spent the majority of my time building my website learning about SEO and basically just learning how to be found online. Along with that I kept running numbers to make sure that I could quit my day job and still be able to afford my house, car, family needs, etc.
On March 1st 2017 I put in my notice and worked my last day at the end of the month.
The first day I woke up without having to go to that job was one of the greatest days of my life! Sure, I had the stress of not having a backup plan, but now it was all up to me. Now I was able to do things on my own terms and my own way.
2017 was one for the record books!
Since I was determined to make this work and to make sure I would never have another job again I advertised A LOT! I used craigslist, Money Mailer and also started using the Clipper magazine. The Clipper Magazine was another direct mailer but instead of going to 10k homes it went to 330k. Of course this also meant that the price was dramatically higher as well, to the tune of $2500 per month!
I also increased my advertising with Money Mailer as well. Instead of doing one area I was using 8. This cost me $2700per month. Yes, the Clipper Magazine was way cheaper per house compared to the Money Mailer but at least I knew the Money Mailer worked for me.
Or did it?
In the spring time everything was going great. In total I was receiving about 70 calls amonth for the Clipper Magazine and about 50 homes a month for the Money Mailer. So I was definitely making my money back but how much of a return was I really getting?
During that time I also started messing around with Google Adwords. Seemed simple enough, put up an ad, people come, and I make money. But like everyone else starting Adwords I did not know what I was doing and spent wayyyy too much money with very little results.
I wasn’t tracking anything and worst yet, wasn’t targeting people correctly. I ran an ad for a few days unchecked and turns out I was advertising to the entire country! Huge (very costly mistake!
After that I stopped using Adwords again until the fall of that year.
Unfortuneately back then my tracking was pretty much zero. I knew how many calls but didn’t track how many jobs booked, size of jobs, etc.
The downfall of print advertising.
Starting with the June mailing of the Clipper Magazine and the Money Mailer I noticed a HUGE drop off of the amount of calls I was receiving. I was receiving about 5 calls from the Money Mailer and about 20 calls for the Clipper. So that mean that I was putting out $5200 for 25 calls.
$200 Cost Per Lead (CPL) for direct mail!
I know, crazy right?! $200 per person for my direct mail. Thats when I decided I needed to look back into Google Adwords. I spent the next month learning as much as I could and spent another 2 months on fine tuning my adverting online. Sure, I spent an extra $2000 per month just learning but it was the best $4000 I spent in my life!
I went from getting $200 cost per lead all the way down to $50! So for every lead I was getting with Direct Mail I was getting 4 with online. Talk about a nice change!
From there I spent the next 4 months of 2017 and 3 months of 2018 getting as much knowledge I could with Google Adwords, Google My Business, SEO, etc.
For the 2018 season I am averaging $30 cost per lead with Google Adwords.
And The Best Part???
only 40% of my leads come from Google Adwords. 50% of my leads come from the work I did with SEO and the other 10% come from word of mouth.
So that’s my story. Started with nothing, ended up going from unknown to one of the leaders in my area in under 4 years.
I do consider myself very smart but my super power is that when I focus on something it becomes as important as breathing. Its all I can think about from the time I wake up to the time I am hitting the bed.
I don’t claim to know everything, and that’s a great thing for you!
Once you think you know everything you have the habit of stop learning. I take each day with a new sense of wonderment. I still watch about 20 hours of video a week and read for another 20 hours of books, blogs, basically whatever I can get my hands on.