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From $250k to $3M to $5M - Jason Glebers Journey To Scaling Unique Tees

Business Lessons

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Jason Gleber from Unique Tees stops by to chat about how he turned a business worth $250k in 2008 to $3M in 2016. That's over 1,000% increase in 8 years!

He has a team of 26 employees now and is looking to double last years revenue growth. In this episode we'll go over:
- Transitioning a business after purchasing it
- Betting on your revenue when hiring
- Government contracting
- Generating sales early on
- Volume vs Price

Transcript

Bruce: Hey, everybody, this is Bruce from Printavo, simple shop management software. Today, we've got a very special guest joining us, Jason Gleber, from Unique T's out of Wilmington, Delaware. Jason's got a really unique story. He's got a large shop out in Delaware. And he had some really cool different interesting points that I wanna get into in different parts of the business. So, Jason thanks for joining us.

Jason: Thank you for having me.

Bruce: Yeah, of course. So, tell us a little bit about the business. I know you guys started off in 1979 as your father's business, and you took over and really blew it out from there. So, dig into that.

Jason: Yes, so my dad started the company in 1979, and my brother started working for him in probably 2006-ish. I had gone to school for Hotel Restaurant Management, and my dad was gonna sell the company and asked if my brother and I wanted to purchase it from him. So in 2008, my brother and I joined forces and we purchased the company from my dad. And we pretty much have blown it up by about 1,000% over the last eight, nine years.

Bruce: To give people a sense of where you guys are right now, what was your revenue like last year, how many presses you guys have, things like that?

Jason: We have three presses, and our revenue was hovering around $3 million.

Bruce: Okay, got it. And how many folks you guys have at the shop now?

Jason: Twenty-six.

Bruce: Got it, very cool. So when you bought the business from your dad, how did that work? I mean, obviously, he wants to value it probably a different number than you do and getting financing together.

Jason: So, actually, he was going to put it on the market. So he actually brought in a business evaluation team, and they gave him a value of what it was going to be worth should he put it on the public market. And that is exactly what he offered to sell it to us for. He wasn't gonna sell it for anything less to anybody in the public. The best part about it was, though, that regarding financing, because he didn't really necessarily have a retirement set up being a small business owner. You know, back then, nobody was pushing you to putting money into a 401K or anything of that nature. He basically sold it to us, and he held the note. So we pay him a monthly buyout. The initial buyout started off in a 23 year buyout. We've accelerated those payments. So we should finish up in around twelve and a half years. And I guess we're approaching year nine of the buyout. So we actually have about three and a half years left of that buyout. And he basically uses it like a pension. So we pay him on a monthly basis. You know, it allows him to, you know, pretty much have a retirement income for all intensive purposes.

Bruce: So that's an interesting process. What was the company value at then? Can you say?

Jason: It was 285,000.

Bruce: Okay. And the way that it's structured, when you stepped in, were you working at the shop before? Did you know much about printing or how did that transition go?

Jason: Well, I was born in '82, and then the company was started in '79. So, the fact is, is that I grew up in the industry. You know, for the first eight, nine years of the business, it was in our basement. Our entire basement was a print shop. You know, it had a separate entrance and everything, so clients could come in and out of it, but I kind of grew up in that. You know, summertime was, you know, spent half working and half playing. So I'd grown up in it until probably the age of 13, 14. You know, we actively participated in working at the shop.

So I was familiar with the with the basics, obviously, at that point, you know, almost 12, 13 years later, you know, advancements and so forth. There were some changes that had come along, but nothing was so drastic that I was unable to jump back into it.

But my brother was working in a production portion of my dad's company. And when I came back in, I had no desire to do production. So it actually worked out well. I didn't really need to know how to do the production side of things. I needed to know how to sell. And so I was a sales guy, you know, previously working in, you know, that hotel restaurant management industry.

So I came back on as the head of sales, and my brother stayed on as the head of production. And so that's basically how we work and sell. I got lucky. I still to this day. I mean, I've done everything from, you know, screen printing, embroidery, all of that stuff. I competed in Atlantic City in a print competition with my brother as the unloader in an automatic fastest, you know, load and unload on an automatic. So I can do it, but I would much rather work at an air-conditioned office then in the production end of things.

Bruce: Sure. What was that contest you were in?

Jason: It was an M&R... M&R ran a contest when they had one of their new presses come out. This was probably, almost four, five years ago at the ISS Show in Atlantic City. And we got nominated as one of the faster duos. So we went. I think we got placed in it, maybe third or fourth. But there were some guys that were loading and unloading at like 2.8 seconds per shirt. And we were over three seconds, but still pretty fast for a guy that doesn't normally do production and, you know, both of us being in our early 20s. So, like I said, I can do it, but it definitely is not my choice, you know, for day-to-day work.

Bruce: Yeah, that's pretty cool, though. Talk to me a little bit about the transition to buying a business. So first, you partner with your brother. Did you have to sell him into it? Was he already interested?

Jason: Yeah. He's the type of guy that didn't really wanna work for anyone else. He wanted to work for himself. And I was getting ready to start a family. And the idea of being able to control my own hours, you know, my own schedule, that type of thing, became appealing to me. Obviously, in the hotel restaurant management business, you know, you could work 40, 60, 80 hours. So, you know, having a child, having a wife, those things were definitely not conducive to putting in 80-hour workweeks.

Not that I didn't put in some long weeks to get this thing to where it is, but I certainly had much more control over my schedule. I could work from home, especially being sales, you know, from my computer if I absolutely needed to. So that gave me that type of flexibility. He was on board, man. You know, the fact that we both were gonna have our own portion of it where he was gonna be doing production and I was gonna be doing sales, it worked out well.

You know, and when we first started, we were in the same building. You know, as any brothers will do or business partners, we [inaudible 00:07:03] our strenuous times. You know, at the end of the day, we still walk out the door as brothers. And so that kept our relationship solid and, you know, we never had too much of an issue. And now we both have our own buildings. He has a warehouse, a 9,000 square foot warehouse, and I have a 6,000 square foot retail store with, you know, offices and employees. So we each actually run our own portion of the company, kind of.

Bruce: Did you think that it was important looking back, sorry, to your success to have a partner? Or do you think that it was still doable solo like, you know, guiding direct and splitting things up?

Jason: Yeah. To be honest, I mean, having him on the production end and knowing and trusting that the quality that he was kicking out would have been exactly what I would have expected, I think was very important, you know, unless I had another really go-to guy for that production portion that I would have gone in this direction at least. You know, maybe I could have done image as subbing everything out, you know. And we were that store that represented that we did everything but subbed it all out behind the scenes. But I don't think I would have kept all of our production in a house without having someone like my brother on the opposite end to be able to trust doing that portion.

Bruce: What would you say is the difficult part about the transition of buying the business, you know, going in from...like what were you doing before?

Jason: Well, I was I was managing restaurants.

Bruce: Okay. That's right. That's right. You said you were travelling.

Jason: Yeah, I was traveling. Actually, I was working for the Macaroni Grill Group. And I was traveling up and down the East Coast, opening up their new restaurants. So that responsibility...I think that the biggest transition here is there's no days off when you own a company, you know. I mean, you're pretty much...you know, you have to make sure that payroll is hitting. You have to make sure that all of these things are going on. Whereas, when you work for somebody else, when you walk out the door, you walk out the door, you know. And it's no longer technically your problem. You know, it's somebody else's problem.

So I think that was, you know, a big deal. You find people that do care about your company like you do, but they're few and far between. I mean, those are situations where, you know it's...I think that would be one of the biggest things is that, you know, you're worried constantly about, you know, making sure everything's moving forward.

Bruce: Sure, sure. And organizationally, what were some big changes that you guys made that then you saw some big improvements? I'm sure, when you stepped in, you were like, "Holy crap, I can't believe we're doing this this way."

Jason: Yeah, just the basic organizing period, Bruce, to be honest with you. My dad, you know, being a guy that had, you know, two, three employees, four employees at most, you know, his idea of organizing was completely different from our idea of organizing. You know, art work wasn't in alphabetical order, you know, things weren't kept up as the way that, you know, a bigger shop would need to. There really was no production schedule for all intents and purposes. It was, you know, more along the lines of, you know, let's knock these three jobs out today and then we can roll out. You know, it's a hot day. We'll get three jobs done and we'll get the hell out of here.

I mean, when we first started, we actually had a handwritten production book, a binder. And it had 52 tabs in it. And it was week by week, and we kept it from year to year so that we could go back and can see, you know, when we were busy and when we weren't. You know, I literally would write in every single day jobs for the following week because we knew we would book five days ahead of time and we would write the jobs in the quantity of pieces and the directions and so forth. And every day they'd come over and grab that production book and write it on the white board. You know, then I would take the book back and fill it in for, you know, the following day. That's what we did for a very long time. Then we went to, you know, kind of a Google Docs type of thing. And then eventually we got to Printavo. And now obviously, you know, our calendar, you know, works for all of our departments.

Bruce: Gotcha, very cool. Now, talk to me. That's interesting, the changes in the scaling the business. A lot of shops reach these growing pains, too where you're talking about a business just not even ten years ago at 250,000, call it. You know, you guys made three million last year. So the company's valued at way more than it was originally. Those stages, what would you say was the first kind of change in the business? Other than you buying it into it there, was it, you know, "Okay, we need to hire X amount of people right away or we need a sales team right away?" What was that first challenge?

Jason: We had an artist. We had an art department. It started off as a single artist. I was the sales guy. If two people came in at the same time, my brother would come up front and help or, you know, somebody would come up and kind of, you know, bide my time until I could get done with the previous client.

So I think the first big changeover was realizing I can't handle everything anymore from the sales perspective. And when that happened, obviously, we had to go out and figure out how to hire a sales person. And then after that, it was another artist and then another sales person and then another sales person. And along the way, my brother's side was also trying to figure out how many production people they needed.

So adding employees was definitely very scary because you're adding salaries, you're adding thing, expenses that, you know, have to be taken care of. You're adding things to payroll that, you know, you're not used to taking out. You know, and do I need that position? Have I grown enough to be able to keep them busy?

One of my biggest, you know, kind of roadblocks along the way is I always had the force unique image to be busier than it should be with the people that had had to make sure they take on someone else. And so I was probably hiring after I should have, but I wanted to make sure that I could pay and keep that person busy before brought somebody. So my brother and I would work all that extra. You know, and we felt it was time to bring somebody else in. And then when we did, you know, we would obviously slowly shift work every...I mean, and get them into the swing of things.

Bruce: Okay. So this is a really good thing that I wanna touch on, Jason, and that's kind of hiring in a prediction model instead of as much as a month behind. Obviously, there's a lead time to hiring someone, right? So there's the finding the person, which God knows can take a while. The qualified talent out there pool is relatively small. Then there's training someone and hopefully that they are working out longer time so that you can keep them, because, of course, if you can't, then you start all over the process. If you were to go back, obviously, this is tough, right, because it could put you in the red easily if you bring on someone where you're saying, "Well, we could get to this revenue and be able to cover them in a couple months." What would you have done again? Would you have done the same thing and be more conservative and hire after the fact or try to bet on your revenue a little bit more?

Jason: I think some of our transitions, I probably would have bet on our revenue a little bit more. You know, I think that there were certain points where I knew that we were continuing to get busy and we probably could have hired maybe two three months ahead of time. But that being said, I never put myself or the company in the position where we couldn't afford what we brought on. I've never had to lay anyone off because we weren't busy enough. I never had to fire somebody because we weren't busy enough. So from that perspective, did I make a mistake? No,

I picked up the slack or John picked up the slack. You know, if we were too busy on production side, him and I would come back in at ten o'clock at night and we work a couple hours to make sure we stayed on pace. There were years, Bruce, where I was at home, you know, working until two, three o'clock in the morning on my computer to make sure that I stayed up on my emails. But that goes into any small business being successful. I mean, you have to put that time and that effort in at some point in time or the fact of the matter is, is you're not gonna succeed, you know, I don't care what it is that you're doing. So I don't think that I did it wrong. You know, what I love to look back and be like, "Damn, I know that we're gonna hit 2 million next year and I can afford to bring another sales guy in."

Bruce: Yeah. [inaudible 00:15:41]

Jason: Right. Yeah, I'd love to be able to say that and could have brought somebody in, you know, ahead of time. You know, realistically, like I said, I never had an issue with cash flow or anything like that. So from that perspective, watching people have to borrow or struggle or even close down, I can't say that I necessarily did it wrong either.

Bruce: Sure, sure. So that's great information on hiring. What's another milestone that's through that growth stage of the past nine years where you say, "Okay, wow, you know, this is definitely a point here where we're changing"?

Jason: I mean, when John and I came on together, we set some goals. You know, by certain ages, we wanted to hit certain revenue. So I think, you know, hitting the million dollar mark that was huge. That was a big, you know, like a really big deal for us. You know, a lot of small businesses hope that someday they're gonna be a million dollar company. So that was a huge deal for us. We actually, you know, celebrated that milestone.

And then after that, the next number that we had targeted was 2.5 million. So when we hit that, that was also cool but not as big a celebration. You know, that was kind of like, "Hey, it happened." But we knew it was gonna...we knew it was coming. You know, we were crushing things at that point in time.

Now, I will say, you know, our next milestone is five million, and we have a certain age that we wanna hit that by. That will probably be a much bigger celebration, you know, because at that point obviously now we've become a bigger player in the market and now we're, you know, not just a blip on the map. Now people know about you. I think that was big.

And I think also some clients along the way, landing certain clients that we had been trying for a while. You know, the first time that we got to work with the 76ers, that was a big deal for us, you know, obviously with them being in Philadelphia and that market being so tough within screen printing and promotional products and just, you know, professional teams period. You know, I've been bidding on Washington National stuff for 10 years, haven't won. One time I was even the best price, but they went to the guy previous year and offered him the match. You know, he obviously agreed to match so that he wouldn't lose the business. So it's one of those things where getting in that door was a huge thing. Besides the dollar milestones, I think some of those larger clients, you know, that we targeted and just kept after. Those would have been, you know, some of the other big things for us.

Bruce: Okay. So that's interesting. So the sales side of this, there's the bigger and the smaller side. Let's talk about the bigger first. Bidding for some clients like this whether sports teams or large companies, how does that process work? You talk about bidding. Is there some sort of marketplace where you go to or you have to connect with the folks who [inaudible 00:18:31]

Jason: Yeah. Like especially for government bids, you know, there's actually a site, and I'm not very familiar with it because one of my other sales guys that's his portion. He basically works on these bid sites. We actually have two guys that we're assigning to it now, but they're almost daily, highly competitive. You know, a lot of times you're not up against multiple people because they're coming out at such a rapid rate that they wanna bid a price turned around within 24 hours and so forth. So you can land some of those jobs.

With regards to the professional sports teams, basically, they're sending their bids out for the following year, pretty much when the season ends the previous year. So, for example, we work with a minor league baseball team. I get their bid sheet in October, November, you know, when you think about minor league baseball ends in September. By October, they're sending me 120 pages of next year's giveaways and promotions and so forth. And not to say that they've even sold all those, but they're trying to sell those as the promotional giveaways for their games.

And so, we'll pick out the ones that we know we can be competitive on. Sometimes we'll take a shot at some that we know we might not be competitive on, but he'll why not? You know, 9 times out of 10, we're winning some. You know, the things we usually do win are screen printing. But you gotta get aggressive. You know, when I first came into this, my dad was always like, "You know, don't cut your margins." And I believed that for a long time. And then I started realizing that if the volume makes up for the extra nickel, you know, then you can cut that nickel to get the job if he's coming to get 10,000 t-shirts. So it started to become a balance of, you know, are we keeping a press running consistently? And is that press, even if it's only making $1 per shirt instead of $2 per shirt, but its running non-stop? In the end of the year, am I still making the same amount of money? And the fact that matter is, is that you are because your volume makes up for the fact that not being busy. So $1 is better than no dollars. Even though $2 is better than $1, but if I'm at $2 higher, I don't get the job, period.

So, you know, we started doing some larger volume runs. We started working with some national vendors, the national groups. I mean, like right now, you know, I'm in a bid right now for a company up in New York that wants to subcontract their screen-printing down to us, and it's 100,000 pieces. You know, when you think about that, it's like, "Okay, if I make a dollar on that 100,000 pieces, I added 100,000 in gross revenue." Is it really costing me a dollar to print each t-shirt? No, probably not. It's probably only cost to me 50 cents, 60 cents after my...you know, you factor in all of your factors. So I'm adding 40 grand to my net.

You know, when you start looking at numbers like that and that type of volume and you have a partner that's 50/50, you start saying, "Hey, 40 grand nets, a $20,000, you know, salary increase. I don't know there's too many people out there that wouldn't take a $20,000 salary increase.

Bruce: So how do you get on these some of these bid lists? You talk about they send out these bids. Is it just connecting and networking with them?

Jayson: No, no. I mean, we had to jump through a lot of hoops. You know, you have to upgrade your Duns and Bradstreet number. Make sure that you're all solid with them. You have to go through some different hoops with the government and get approved to be on their vendor list. I mean, it literally took us probably a better part of a month. My Director of Operations, Katelyn, who you talked to probably filled out 600 forms, you know, and went back and forth and phone calls, you know, people walking her through processes and my sales guy business-to-business sales guy, Steve, same thing.

It was a crazy, crazy process that we had to go through to get onto this. You know, it's very tough. Now, with regards to some other bids, I mean, realistically, anybody can call up to the marketing team at, you know, their local NBA team and say, "Hey, would you mind sending me your list for promotional products? Some of them might say yes. If they're not rude, they'll tell you sure, you know, and you're welcome to send in a bid. The fact of the matter is, is that they're probably really only looking at the top three. So if they scan your pages and you're not good on the first three or four pages, they're probably gonna throw it in the trash. So I don't know how much time you wanna waste on filling out 120 bid sheets. You know, you can still get that opportunity. They're not gonna give you any feedback. So if you lose, you lose. They're not gonna tell you, "Hey, you were high." But you can pretty much gather that.

With regards to like your local state and county governments, I would tell everybody to bid on those. They're not huge contracts. I mean, if you got a big county...you know, I'm in Delaware. You know, when we start talking about the state contract, you know, in comparison to the state of California or Pennsylvania or one of those other states, it's probably a joke. Like our county, the city of Wilmington, you know, that contract is only a $30,000 contract for their Parks and Recreation, for example. But it's a three year, you know, and they have the option to renew. And as long as you don't screw up, they're gonna renew with you.

When you get into that type of stuff, then it starts to branch out. So what's the city funding? Okay, the city's funding this project. Well, then that project is gonna ask the city who they're using for all their products. Well, now you get into that project, but that project is not a bid. So now you actually start making some money on those projects even though you cut your margins for this to get the city contract. You know, like we've held local city contract for a number of years. But we have the New Castle County, which is our county that we're in. We've held that contract for their maintenance division and Parks and Rec and so forth and those types of things. You know, we bid on those every year. And we're very aggressive. And again, I'm aggressive because it transfers into other departments where they might not have to put out a bid for their requirements, and so therefore you don't have to cut your margins as tight, but they're still gonna use you because you're the sanction vendor for the county or for the city or for the state.

Bruce: Got it. Is this one of the reasons that you guys kept continuing to grow over this nine year period so much? Did you tell your sales team and you guys to focus on these larger contracts?

Jason: I did not, absolutely not. To be honest with you, Bruce, probably the last 12 to 18 months, and we started going after what we call the whales because...you know, we were dominating the local bit small business and that type of stuff. And even still I don't have everything that Delaware has to offer. But the cool thing about Delaware, and I was telling you this in our conversation, is that because of our tax laws, there's a ton of headquartered businesses here in Delaware that are national companies like DuPont, AstraZeneca and, you know, these banks. I mean, think about even our president. Trump has like 20 of his companies are headquartered in Delaware because of the tax breaks that these guys get. So we have an advantage because they're in my backyard, you know.

Bruce: How did you dominate the local market then?

Jason: Word of mouth, honestly, you know, our turnaround time and Delaware is a different beast than a lot of other places because it's so small, everybody knows everybody. You know, it was kind of like, "Well, who did that? Oh, your shirt looks great. Your company stuff looks great. Who did it?" "Oh, Unique Image did it." And then all of a sudden it's like, you know...It was a landslide for a while that type of stuff, you know. And that was even before Facebook, you know. And then when Facebook came around, we started utilizing that and the other free marketing.

Bruce: You have to have really put your name out there more. Were you kind of the t-shirt guy in the town or like, you know, just blasting out that hey, do you need something or reaching out or cold emailing, cold calling?

Jason: When I first started, I did some cold emails. And literally you're gonna laugh, but I broke out the Yellow Pages, and anybody that had an email address in the Yellow Pages got an email from me. I literally went through the Yellow Pages and that is exactly how I started, you know, building the growth of the business.

Bruce: It's a great initial start for someone who's just getting going.

Jason: I didn't know where else to go. So I opened up the damn phone book. You know, that's pretty much what I did. You know, if I could find a website, I would go to their website and I would look for an email. You know, I never cold called. I hate cold calls. I don't wanna get them. So I don't give them. You know, so from that perspective, I did some emailing, went out and visited a lot of clients and created relationships, you know, things of that nature. You know, it was word of mouth.

We didn't do a lot of advertising, man. Our advertising budget, not budget but our spending for the first couple of years was by 500 bucks a month. Now, we have a much larger budget. We probably spend a hundred plus thousand dollars a year on marketing now. You know, we sponsor the local, the 87ers, which is the minor league team for the 76ers. We're one of their biggest partners. Wilmington Blue Rocks, the minor league team for the Kansas City Royals. We're one of their biggest partners. So now I spend some money. You know, if you come into Delaware, you'll see my UI brand pretty much everywhere. I mean, we blanket the marketplace. We sponsor softball teams and we sponsor, you know, 5ks. And we sponsor as much as we can to get our brand out there. And we've done that probably for four, five years straight. And now, locally, my brand is recognized, and I can put the UI out there without having to put Unique Image under it anymore finally and people will recognize what it is.

Bruce: So do you think that you guys are size now? The kind of blanket local brand awareness type of marketing pays good dividends compared to say really targeted, you know, "Okay, I'm gonna spend $100 on Facebook ads or Google Ads or whatever or newspaper ads and I'll get back X amount of dollars," because like brand is tough to measure, right? But at some point, you know, like I guess so you guys' size you realize, "Okay, we gotta start doing this. It's important for us to continue to grow."

Jason: I think what it was is the repetition. You know. everybody always says like if you're gonna do a radio ad, you gotta do it repeatedly for months before it's actually going to mark. So it's the repetition, you know, having, you know, our hats worn everywhere or our shirts ,or being on just everything that we can get the UI onto even if it's costing me money or I'm breaking even. That's kind of been my mantra is like hey if I'm...even if I'm not making money but my UI is on 1,000 shirts, I reached 1,000 people. Am I gonna make money off of one, two, five of those thousand? Hopefully, you know. And maybe not this year but next year I'll get return on investment from that job. So I felt like that was a big thing.

And we really wanted to brand. We wanted to brand really, really hard. We've been in our new retail location now, it's gonna be a year coming up in August, you know, I think this coming year after the fourth quarter, because our fourth quarter is absolute insanity. I mean, we probably do 40% of our business between...actually probably 50% of our business between August and December.

We're gonna do, you know, like every door direct mail. We're gonna start targeting, you know, the businesses and we're looking for another outside salesperson to go out and target, you know, local businesses that we're not doing business with. And that's gonna be pretty much our first marketing that we've done probably in the last four, five years other than these partnerships that we have with, you know, the baseball teams, the basketball team, sponsoring the softball teams. You know, they put in a really nice mini golf course up here. I sponsored a whole, you know, was a five-year deal. But everyone that goes up and plays this mini golf course, sees my hole and my logo. And you'd be surprised how many people take a picture with the sign and put it on Facebook and tag us, "Oh, I saw you on the riverfront or, you know, this and that."

We sponsor the festivals that are locally. You know, we do contests and stuff like that constantly to try to drive our brand out there.

Bruce: Interesting, very cool. Now with your sales team, too, I'm assuming they're commission focused, like there's a base plus commission or package.

Jason: They're not.

Bruce: Okay. So how does that work because a lot of people wanna go straight towards commission and say, "Okay, well, the motivation here is to sell and you get rewarded for selling."

Jason: I probably did it wrong. You know, guys tell me all the time that I did it [inaudible 00:31:27]

Bruce: All right. Sorry about that we just had a little technical difficulty, but you were just chatting about sales people asked about sales commission. You said you don't commission them. How does that work?

Jason: So all my sales guys right now we're on just a flat salary. The reason that we chose to go this route was because I had so many walk-ins, call-ins, email, clients. I didn't wanna create any issues with, you know, who was getting what leads and so forth. So we were busy enough that I didn't need people to go out and get business. It was coming to Unique Image. You know, we pay everybody a salary. Obviously, their salaries all different based on, you know, how long they've been with the business and so forth and so on. We do do bonuses. You know, those opportunities exist based on performance and so forth.

But now we are starting to get into where we're looking for commission salespeople. So the sales position that we're hiring for now is 100% commission based. There's no base salary. There's no anything there. But we're gonna feed them leads, and we want them to go out and generate new business. I haven't needed outside salespeople. I had so much volume coming into the company that I didn't need anybody. And why would I pay them commission on clients that are already coming in here? They're not having to go get anything. They're not having to...you know, they weren't having to do any real legwork other than take orders, you know, for all intents and purposes.

Bruce: Gotcha. Interesting, and how are you comping or planning on comping for an outside sales for those with no base? Is it all percentage of what they bring in?

Jason: Yeah. I've kind of done some research here and there, whether it's, you know, based off of a net or off the gross. But it seems like, you know, 10% of the gross is a number that people have said is, you know, okay, you know, from that commission base or 20 to 30% of the net. My issue with trying to figure the net out is, you know, adding all of those pieces together, you know, utilities and labor and all of these things.

Bruce: It's difficult [inaudible 00:33:39]

Jason: It's very difficult. And I don't ever want there to be an issue between myself and the salesperson. So I feel like just doing a gross commission is probably the direction that we're going to head.

Bruce: Yeah. It's simple for reporting, too. They can get good visibility and...

Jason: Right. And they know exactly what they're doing. So if they up sell, you know, and they can take an order from 800 to $1,000, they know that they just increased their paycheck by 80 bucks...Or I'm sorry, by 20 bucks. There's no question in their mind what it is that they're, you know, at the end like, you know, "Oh, I sold a $1000 order, but realistically what's the net? You know, is it gonna be 650 bucks or is it gonna be 750 bucks." You know, I don't want there to be any questions. You know, it's like, " Hey, you handed in a $1,000 invoice. You made 100 bucks." So I think that's the direction that we're gonna probably go, was gonna be that gross.

But I am currently looking for, you know, one to two commission the sales guys. I do have a business-to-business sales guy. But he has to hit a certain number because of his salary. So until he hits that number in sales, no commissions kick in. So basically, he has to hit a number where it would cover his salary. And then after that, he has a commission base that would kick in if he sells over those numbers.

Bruce: Gotcha, very cool. I wanna switch gears a little bit. You talked about the retail space that you have. It's a large retail. You said 45,000 square feet?

Jason: No, no. Total it's about 6,000 square feet. The actual floor space is about 4,500, maybe 4,000, somewhere in that range. We use the rest for offices, conference room, you know, things of that nature. Yeah, we have about 4,000, 4,500 square feet of open retail space with racks and so forth.

Bruce: Is that to say for the customers that want things customized to come in and pick stuff out or what is that? Are you selling only [inaudible 00:35:31]

Jason: We put our overflow. We put our, you know, miss orders out there, and we put them on racks where people can come in pick them up, you know, instead of me having to ship it back or whatever. I might have a $5 rack. So if it's a polo that would normally cost them 10 bucks, but it only cost me $4, they can buy it for 5 bucks and then I'll logo it. So, you know, if their logo $6 to embroider, you know, now they have an $11 polo instead of a $17 polo or $16 polo.

It also is for consignment. So we've offered the clothing lines that we print for. If they wanna put their clothes in on a rack, you know, they can put their clothes in here and say that, "Hey, my clothes are available at retail location." And we charge a flat fee, every piece sold. You know, we take a flat number off of it. No matter how much it's sold for, there's a flat fee.

And then we have our own clothing line. So Unique Image has, you know, its own stuff. We have T's, you know, all kinds of apparel that, you know, we're...If we ever run into a slower time on one of our presses, we'll throw up one of the 100 designs that we have and print off some stuff and bring it down.

We have a very large hat line. So we have probably 100, 150 different hats out on the floor that have Unique Image on them that are for sale. And then we also have...we have samples. You know, like Holloway, for example, has their own section in our store, UltraClub. You know, we have all of these brands. Port & Company SanMar has probably two or three racks in here of grommeted items that are, you know, Port & Company and Sports Act. So we probably have 1000 pieces in here that are grommeted items that people can come in, feel touch, walk around. And that way when they pick it off the shelf, they can walk right over the sales and go, "Dude, I love this piece. It's got the grommet on the back. We know what colors it comes in. The style number is right there, you know, and it's good to go."

And some of those samples come grommeted. And then we bought our own grommeting system as well. So, we grommet our own samples. You know my VP of Sales does an awesome job with, you know, grommeting and creating tags and everything for these pieces to be on our floor.

Bruce: What was the thought process behind your own clothing line?

Jason: I mean, we saw everybody else doing it, and we thought it was cool. I always said, you know, "I'm printing all these pieces. Why am I wearing somebody else's product when I go out to the bar, when I'm going out to dinner? Why aren't I wearing my own piece? Why aren't I continuously advertising for Unique Image?" You know, believe it or not, dude, I mean, if you go out to local bars, restaurants...You know, Dewey Beach is a huge party Beach. If you go down there any given weekend, you're gonna see 6, 10 of my hats on people down there. You go to the local bars, you're gonna see our T's, our hats, our softball jerseys on guys.

Bruce: Are these blanks or are they like with your logos on them?

Jason: No, no, logos on them.

Bruce: Okay, okay, got it.

Jason: Logos, all kinds of different stuff. We even have like a marketing line that has like a QRC logo on the back that's like says, "Scan me." You know, and it comes up with all of our information. It's a big S, you know, thing on the back of the shirt. So people are always taking pictures of the back of our guys shirts as they're walking around and it pops up Unique Image on their phone, you know, and populates all of our information onto it. And people think that's cool. Yeah, just our own stuff, designs that we come up with and think are cool.

Bruce: Very cool. So the last thing I wanna touch you talk about the next goal is $5 million. You know, you guys cruised past three. How do you get to five? What's the play?

Jason: So the outside sales guys coming in now, the business-to-business guy that I hired. He's going after big contracts. So he's going after, you know, Nemours, a DuPont. He's going after the larger health and wellness groups. You know, he's doing all kinds of things of that nature, you know, pursuing the larger clients locally that maybe I didn't have time to go after, because I was inundated with the smaller clients. So the trickledown effect has worked. I'm now, you know, going after larger clients as well. So there's two of us that are trying to go after larger clients, you know, where our target client might have been a $50,000 a year spend. Now his and my target client might be a $100,000 spend. You know, he's working with a client right now where, you know, the sales forecast is $1.25 million on a yearly basis. So like you add a client like that into your mix and you just increased your gross by 35%. You know, those are the types of clients that we're trying to land now versus the $50,000 a year spend. We're trying to land, you know, the six-figure and seven-figure clients.

Bruce: Gotcha, very cool. All right, Jason, well, I really appreciate the time. This has been really interesting watching you guys grow, and I'm very interested to actually follow up and in a year or two and see where you guys are at. By the way, is there any maybe book or person you're following or you get inspiration from to help with the business?

Jason: To be honest with you, man, there's a guy locally. He and I are very good friends. We talked quite a bit. Kaitlin's got this guy that she always makes me listen to his blurps, Gary V.

Bruce: Yeah, yeah. Gary Vaynerchuk?

Jason: Yeah.

Bruce: Yeah.

Jason: So all of a sudden that like out of nowhere her computer starts spitting out something this guy is dropping "F" bombs left and right. You know, she's like, "Listen to this. Listen to this stuff." You know, we listen to his stuff here and there.

Bruce: He gets you amped up in the morning.

Jason: He does. My cousin is a business coach out in California. So I've, you know, touched base with her a couple of times. But realistically, Bruce, you know, it's all inner stuff, you know, working with my team. I'm a very self-motivated person. I was brought up with a very serious work ethic by my parents. You know, I went through some things as a as a younger guy. I probably made mistakes that maybe, you know, a lot of people would think, you know, you can't rebound from. And I just decided like, "Hey, dude, I've been here. I've done that and I'm not gonna ever return to those things." And once you have, you know, that experience of being, you know, lower than you wanna be, you decide you're never going back there. And that's pretty much where I'm at. Man, I just had decided that I'm never going to return to some of those things. You know, I'll hustle until I can't do it anymore.

Bruce: Awesome, Jason. Well, thanks again for joining us. I really appreciate the time again. Everybody, that's Jason Gleber from Unique T's. Thank you.

Jason: Thanks Bruce.


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