The Kade Wilcox Podcast: Matty McLain
Posted By Kade Wilcox | May 25, 2021
If you’re an entrepreneur, you might think you have to have BIG goals.
But co-founder of Boost Bariatrics, Matty McLain, disagrees.
In this episode, childhood friend to host Kade Wilcox, and successful entrepreneur, Matty, explains why he believes it’s the systems and processes you put in place, and your dedication to consistently refining them, that breeds success.
Connect with the folks behind the episode: Matty McLain and Kade Wilcox
Kade Wilcox: Welcome to The Kade Wilcox Podcast. I'm Kade Wilcox, your host, and I love small business. I love the leaders who lead small businesses. I love the journey of starting a new company and figuring out how to manage people and culture and vision and operations and finances and sales and marketing. And so on our podcast, we feature local small business owners who are in the trenches and doing the work. And we learn from them. What's going well, what's not going well. Things they've learned throughout their journey. So thanks for joining the podcast and enjoy learning from others who are in the trenches and doing the work.
Matty McLain: Before you have any money, you assume that most of your problems are money problems. If you suddenly wake up and you're 25 years old and you think, "My life's not going the way I wish it would. It must be someone's fault. Oh, it's my income's fault. If I make more money, then my problems will go away." And then if you make a little bit of money, you realize you're so fortunate if a problem is a money problem. Unfortunately most of our problems have nothing to do with money. I'm not really money motivated. I wish I was. I think that'd be easier. I have a really, really low capacity to do something where I'm not having fun and feel like I'm making headway and making a difference.
Kade Wilcox: Hey Matty, thanks for joining the podcast. This is a really, really fun one for me. For those listening who don't know who Matty McClain is, Matty and I grew up together in the small, but mighty and exciting, Nazareth, Texas. I will never forget, I was in seventh grade, you're in eighth grade, we're on one of those old yellow buses, because, you know, we didn't have anything nice in Nazareth growing up, and we're driving to Matador and we were sitting together in the bus and we were daydreaming. We were dreaming about our spouses and what our lives would look like, and it's a memory, you know, I'll never forget. So, do you remember some of those conversations?
Matty McLain: Absolutely. I remember exactly where we were sitting on the back of that bus.
Who is Matty McLain?
Kade Wilcox: I do, too. That's crazy. Some other fun things about Matty, for those listening, is he's one of my longest standing friends. We went to school together. What's really funny about our story, in my opinion, is when I was in sixth grade, you were in seventh grade, we hated each other. Or at least I hated you. I don't want to put that on you. But our classes were big rivals and then we became really good friends. And now, man, 20 plus years later, you're still one of my go-to friends and someone that I really admire. And then my last fun thing is you're the whole reason, you know, Primitive exists. I mean, you're the one that had the original idea. You're the one that was the original encourager to Lacey and I to start it. You introduced us to our first client, Moore County Hospital in Dumas, Texas — first invoice, October 1st, 2011. $550. And so you've been a great friend and super instrumental in all that I've accomplished and, yeah, what we've done in our own entrepreneurial journey. So it's fun to reflect on that and then to, here, have you on our podcast.
Matty McLain: That's great. Thanks, man.
Kade Wilcox: I'm just glad you haven't asked for any commission checks, you know, from some of those early referral clients.
Matty McLain: I've been waiting. I know, you know, when you got to 30, 40 full-time employees, I thought this would be the time for me to ask for 10% of all royalties forever.
Kade Wilcox: That'd be a good deal. That'd be a good deal.
Matty McLain: As you know, because you're not the only person that I have thrown out something, but now that you've done a few things in the business world, you know clearly, that ideas are a dime a dozen. Everybody's got them. Everybody's got a great one, even, or a handful of great ones. And I might've given you the idea and said, "You guys should do some social media management. Lacey is a great writer. You know, you seem like you could manage people and operations and things.” And that was, you know, probably on a phone call or sitting out at your house. And then you're the one that took that, and you guys worked your guts out to turn it into a five, six, seven, I don't know how many millions of dollars you do now, but definitely had nothing to do with that. So don't put too much stock in that idea.
Kade Wilcox: Yeah, it's a really good point. And probably something a lot of people wrestle with. I know I've had conversations with particularly younger people, you know, when I used to work at the church. And you'd have these college kids you know, they would all be excited about the idea of entrepreneurship or excited about the idea of business ownership. But it's really kind of like that way in all of life, right? Lots of people would love to run a marathon or would love to get into CrossFit or would love to hike fourteeners in Colorado or, you know, whatever their adventure is. It's one thing to talk about it. It's another thing, you know, to do it. So give people some background on your background, you know, just kind of your entrepreneurial journey, the work you're doing now, some of the experiences you have, you know, just to give context to some of the things you and I are about to discuss as we, as we go through the podcast.
“What’s that building over there?”
Matty McLain: Sure. Yeah, man, I'll start with college. Well, actually I might start a little before college because it's unique because you and I grew up just down the road from each other. And I think, you know, when your parents are doing that kind of hard work, no matter — it doesn't matter what your parents did. If you live in Nazareth, Texas, you are from the agricultural, you know, get up early, stay up late, get to practice early, stay at practice late. That is kind of, I think, in your DNA. And so also when you grow up in a town the size of Nazareth, you don't know much of what's out there, right? When people say, "Hey, what do you want to do when you get older?" I don't know. I mean, I think there's just a couple of options. So I went and toured the campus at UNT in Denton and we took the tour and they said, “All right, you need to choose a major.”
And I said, "What is that building over there?" They said, "That's the center of entrepreneurship." And I said, "What's entrepreneurship? And they said, "Oh, you know, if you think you might want to start something when you get out of school." I said, "Yes, I will do that." And so that's how I chose my college path. And so I went through the entrepreneurship program at UNT, which did turn out to be a pretty solid program. And then, man, we lived in Dallas/Fort Worth for six years. And in those six years I probably had six different jobs, maybe five, but I worked for some guys that recycled cell phones and ink jet cartridges. I went to work for guys that sold airplanes and corporate jets at the airport in Denton. I went to work for a big commercial bakery. So I, and I will say, this is an important point. I never got fired. I always left of my own volition. And really, I, you know, I worked somewhere for a year, or a year and a half, and then I was ready to do it.
I thought, there's gotta be something else out there. There's gotta be something that's more exciting or more opportunity. And so that's what kept me chasing the next job, so I had lots of different jobs, moved to Kansas City for a year, then moved back here to Amarillo. And then it wasn't until, you know, 10 years ago that I kind of settled down and got into what I do now.
Kade Wilcox: Yeah. I remember when you were selling the really high quality filters for that trucking company. And I remember, I want to say it was outside of like Muleshoe or Lazbuddie. It was out in the middle of nowhere and there was a group of 15, 20 people who were listening to your presentation. And it was probably, honestly, one of my first exposures to like an actual sales presentation. You know what I mean? Because, like you said, when we were growing up, the people we were observing and admiring and learning from were not doing sales, you know? And so I remember being really impacted by just the way you approached it. It was just a filter, you know, but you made it human, you know? And you connected it to the reality of those people who were sitting in that bar and listening to your pitch. And I was really influenced by that.
Matty McLain: Were you at that? What were you doing there?
Kade Wilcox: I was just with you. I was just hanging out with you.
Matty McLain: That was Robert Gallman, was that guy's name, and he had 10 or 15 of his employees and buddies show up for that presentation. That's funny.
Kade Wilcox: Yeah. But I — it was a great experience for me. Like, what would you say, because you're right. You've done a lot of things. I remember visiting you at the place where you're selling cell phones. I'd never seen — not selling cell phones, but refurbishing — and I've never seen so many cell phones in my life. I went on an early morning, you know, 4:00 AM bakery delivery with you, you know, when you were doing the bakery right before y'all started Dunk Love. I mean, so I've gotten to go on some of these adventures with you.
“You just need to go and do it yourself.”
How would you say to, like, how would you say those experiences really influenced, you know, the eventual reality for you and Sarah, where you started your own businesses and that's what you do now? Like, what influence did all those experiences have on your journey and kind of what you're doing now?
Matty McLain: That's a good question. You know, when you go to college and study entrepreneurship, which seems like you're going to graduate and start a business. And probably 5% of people who go through an entrepreneurial program start a business, right? Everyone goes and gets a job, because, I mean, I would say for most people, my own opinion, college is a waste of time, even for entrepreneurship. As soon as I got out of school, I had a job and Sarah had a job and we started our first company, which was Dunk Love. And we would come up on all of these challenges and Sarah would say, “Well, you know, we need to set up QuickBooks. Did you learn how to do that?” And I would say, "Of course I didn't learn how to do that. They don't teach you any real world stuff, in, you know, in Marketing 201. It's a joke.”
I mean, you're studying marketing campaigns from Ford and Nabisco; things that don't apply to the mom and pop business that we do. So that was my experience. And then working for all these people, you know, it always seems like I do have a few skills, but not very many. I don't have lots of operational skills. I don't have a desire to employ lots of people to have lots of overhead. So that was always kind of my sticking point of, man, if I could just be part of this team and do what I do and get paid really well. And it's fun, I will do that. So I think the unique thing that I had was, you know, working with Richard Gonzalez and working with Randy and working — and I got to hear and see and observe all those challenges, the opportunities, the good, the bad about small business ownership. And then finally just decided, you know what I mean? You can only talk about how someone else could do it better for so long, and then you just need to go and do it yourself.
Common Characteristics of Small Business Owners
Kade Wilcox: Yeah. So talk a little bit about your experience working with other small business owners and entrepreneurs, because you've done that for a long time as well. What are, you know, what are a handful — two or three, whatever comes to mind — what are some things you've noticed over the years that you feel like really are common characteristics of successful business owners? Whether they're a two-person team or 300, it doesn't matter, you know? What are some things you've seen over the 10 to 15 years you've been doing this work now?
Matty McLain: Well, I think two categories, right? You have the, you have the really professional, self-employed, freelancer. And there are lots and lots of those people. And that one's pretty easy, or not necessarily easy, but it's very simple, right? If you are really, really good at doing tax returns, if you're really, really good at putting roofs on houses or driving heavy equipment or making cakes, and you have a decent amount of soft skills — you know how to talk to people, you know how to follow up, you know, how to show up when you say you're going to be, and say you're going to be 30 minutes late. You know how to invoice. If you have a skill and you have some soft skills, you can go be self-employed and do fantastic. Because, you know, as you know, half the battle is just call people back and show up when you say you will, right? Other than that, if you can bake the cake or do the dry cleaning, then you're going to be fine. So there's lots of self-employed people.
Then, you know, you and I've had this discussion. If you want to morph over into, "Hey, I don't want to bake the cakes anymore. I want to get some other people in here to bake the cakes. And I want to run this system where I find talented people and put them in these jobs. That is a whole different category of skillset and mindset, I think. I think one of the only things that is common amongst the two is just a fanatical desire to sell your services. That's what every single one of those people has in common. Whether they call it sales or not. They're passionate about talking about it. They're passionate about asking for business. They know how to ask for business. They know how to follow up. So I think if you said what's one thing that all these people have it's that — they can sell their services.
Kade Wilcox: Hm. Yeah. I think that's, I think that's really good. And it has been consistent with my own experience, and in something that, you know, when you talk to people who want to start a business, or they're asking for advice, it's something I always try to stare at, which is, you know, you may not like the idea of sales or want to be referred to as a salesperson. But if you have an idea, if you have a product, or you have a service, and you don't have the ability to convince people that it matters to them and its value to them, then what do you have? You know? You have the best operations. You can have the best product. If you have no customers, you have no business. And if you don't have the ability to, you know, to make that transition, you're gonna really, really struggle.
So what, when you think of starting a new business or running a company, what are some of the things that are most intriguing to you and some of the things that are most challenging to you for you personally? Not necessarily, you know, for other people, but when you wake up every day or when you go to bed, you know, what are the things you're really excited about and you're looking forward to? And then what are some of the real challenges you have as a business owner?
Loving People More Than Money
Matty McLain: The things that I get excited about and look forward to are all, I think, all people things. You know, the money aside, you know, I think — this is what I think. Before you have any money, you assume that most of your problems are money problems. And you think, you know, if you suddenly wake up and you're 25 years old and you think, "My life's not going the way I wish it would. It must be someone's fault. Oh, it's my income's fault. If I made more money, then my problems will go away." And then if you make a little bit of money, you realize you're so fortunate if a problem is a money problem. But, unfortunately, most of our problems have nothing to do with money. So you take money out of it. And I'm not real money-motivated. I wish I was. I think that'd be easier. I have a really, really low capacity to do something where I'm not having fun and feel like I'm making headway and making a difference.
So the things that I look forward to and get excited about are all people things. I mean, you know, family, coworkers now, employees; what do they want? How's this going to help them? And certainly client things. If our clients are happy, I mean, you know, when we get one of those emails or texts that say, "Oh my gosh, thank you guys so much. This is the best thing," I can ride for a week on that. I just love it. And those are the things that keep me going. You know, the things that I cannot stand, the things that suck the life out of me are all operational. I do not do well getting in the weeds. I do not do well getting into paperwork and negotiating the insurance. And that's not my favorite spot to be.
Kade Wilcox: Yeah, no, that's really good. So let's talk about — so you own a company called Boost Bariatric, and you and Jonah built that over the last couple of years. You have a dozen — 15, 20 clients, whatever it is. What I'd like to talk about now — and I'm constantly talking about this with small business owners, and I'm really excited to hear your own feedback, because you may disagree. You may think this is too much or too little, I don't know, but I'm excited to hear not just from your experience over the years, but like, you know, you've recently started building Boost in the last couple of years, which is not that long. And so when I think of a framework, like I'm a real simpleton. So when I think of Primitive or when I think of one of the other companies that I own, I think of like four or five categories and I go, okay, are we healthy here?
And those categories would be things like vision, what are our goals and objectives? What is our vision? Like, where are we going? I think of people and culture. I think of operations. I think of finances, like healthy finances. And I think of sales and marketing. And so, not just your experience with Boost, but in the past, like have you often tried, do you have your own framework in your own mind that you utilize to kind of, you know, map out your future and map out the essence of the company, and try to grow it? Or are those things kind of consistent with how you would view these core pillars of each company?
Matty McLain: Hmm, yeah. That's a big question. Yes. I would say the way we set and adjust the sales for Boost is Jonah and I, you know, we start with the big thing. So we get together twice a year, we spend two or three days going over it, you know, what's happened so far, where are we at financially, operations. We have this document that any time anybody has an idea for a new service, a new product, a new way of doing things, it goes on the ideas list because, you know, when you're small and especially if you're growing quickly, you can have lots of those things. And if you're not careful, they will bury you. So we have this ideas list. And when we get together two times a year, there's a lot of time spent calling through that and saying, “Okay, is this, you know, someone six months ago had an idea for this feature because all of our clinics have issues and challenges with hiring.”
“Losers have goals. Winners have systems”
So we have this widget we could build that could hook up to this thing that can do this. Is this worth pursuing? Is this a painful enough problem? Do we ignore this? Do we tackle it? Do we put it on the shelf for later? So that's where we hash through all of those things. That's where we talk about money. So we talk about, you know, are we still happy with working with each other and with the rest of the team? And then we set expectations and systems up based on that. We're not really big on goals. I don't know if you've ever, which you probably hate, you seem like a real goal guy, but, you know how, what is that guy's name? He wrote the comic strip Dilbert, and now I can't remember his name, but now Scott Adams, he has a great book. I can't remember the title, but in it, he says, "Losers have goals. Winners have systems." And so we don't have a ton of big goals at Boost, but what we do have are some really dependable, well-oiled systems. And that's what our business runs on.
Kade Wilcox: Can you go into that a little bit more in depth? So you guys have — you guys get together twice a year and you really vet out some of those things you just said. But what do you — go into detail on what you really are saying about systems. Because that's interesting and I don't think of my life and all that I'm doing, as a system. And so I would love to learn maybe a little bit more about what you mean by that.
Matty McLain: Mm, well, let me think of — trying to think of a good example. Well, here's a perfect example. You know, usually the need for a system is born out of somebody is frustrated, or there's a big opportunity we can't take advantage of because we are relentless about keeping overhead low and staying small and nimble. So, you know, we don't have a lot of people, then you have to be relentless about if new work pops up, is someone going to take it on? Or are we just going to say no to it? Are we going to hire someone to do it? Is one of us going to take it on? So just recently we spent enormous amount of time redoing how everyone gets invoiced. So Jonah is the process master. That's what he lives for. He literally gets physically excited about new systems and checklists.
So we spent time — have you ever heard of Process Street?
Kade Wilcox: No.
Matty McLain: Okay. So Process Street is a software that you can build a checklist in it, and you can assign those checklists to people. You can have, you know, tutorial videos inside the checklist to explain what's going on. So we spent time checklisting how all of our clients get invoiced, how they pay, how we make sure they've paid, because everyone's now in a different spot, right? We have hospitals that are invoiced through FreshBooks and they write a check. We have clinics that are set up in FreshBooks and they pay by credit card. We have clinics set up in Stripe and they pay by ACH. So, all of this getting confusing, we sat down, it was becoming a huge headache. We took a couple of hours and said, "Let's just turn this into a checklist that runs on schedule." And so now, twice a month, someone manages that checklist, goes through every client, makes sure everyone's all up to date, and we're good. So that being an example of, man, do we need a system? You know, we do have a system for sales and lead generation. We do have a system for when clients turn in a support ticket. So those systems are what I'm talking about.
Kade Wilcox: Yeah, it's really good. I — something I admire about your business model for Boost, specifically, is you serve a large number of clients. And until recently when you hired a new teammate with two of you, there've been two of you. And, you know, it's — that's an unbelievable feat, in my opinion. And it sounds like one of the reasons you've been able to accomplish that is because of how committed to really good systems and processes you are. So is that, I mean, it sounds like that is — it made a huge impact on your ability, like you said, to keep overhead low.
Decreasing Problems and Increasing Opportunities
Matty McLain: 100%. Yeah. Which I give credit to Jonah for that. He's — that is how his brain works, is systems and checklists. And, you know, if you draw three circles that all interconnect every business, no matter if it's, you know Janie's Dry Cleaning down the street, or if it is Procter and Gamble, or if it's Tesla, all businesses, anytime you sell something and make money, they all have the same three big circles. So you draw one circle, that is the product or the service. That will have to exist because that's what people are paying for. You draw another circle that dips into that one, that is money, right? You gotta manage money. And I would say people. So you've got people and money. You got the product or the service. And the other big one is the process. So you gotta have processes. You gotta manage people and money, and you've got the product. And if you can do those three really well, then you should be fine.
Kade Wilcox: Yeah. It's really, it's really interesting, I think in my past, and I still need to get way better at this, going back to what you were saying about money earlier is that a lot of small business owners — and I'm in this group or historically have struggled with — just throwing money and people at it. It's like, oh, there's friction. Like, you mentioned systems are oftentimes born out of either opportunity or friction. And, I've been, I think, guilty. And I've learned a lot from you in this and in doing so now, you know, when there's friction or there's opportunity, just spend more money and hire more people and either solve that problem, or take advantage of that opportunity. And, you've done that, you've done that, the opposite. You've created systems and processes that help you really either solve the problem, maximize the opportunity while keeping overhead low, which reduces risk, you know, because when you approach it, the model that I've historically struggled with, you increase your risk.
So you're decreasing your problems, increasing your opportunities, lowering your overhead, increasing your profit, and lowering your risk all at the same time. And yeah, just even talking it out loud, it's like, oh my gosh, I've got to keep, you know, keep working on this because my favorite thing in owning a business is building a team. And so my natural propensity is to just, oh, well, let's hire someone, let's hire someone, let's hire someone. And sometimes that's the right thing to do. And other times a tool or a system or process could actually probably even do a better job of it.
Matty McLain: Yes, absolutely. I, man, you know, I think the first person who started saying this to me was Spencer. And I think when you first get into the world of business, you, you, maybe it's just me, but I assumed that if you want to be a business owner, you're going to have to — you've got to take on risks, right? No risk, no reward. In fact, I still remember my — the quote that's in the high school yearbook for me is, "He who risks nothing, risks everything." And, well, that's so funny because I think it's totally BS. Now your job as a business owner is to avoid risk, it's to mitigate it, get rid of it, find a way that you don't bet the farm. You don't bet your, you know, your family's dinner. If you can reduce enough risk you'll probably have a higher chance of being successful rather than, you know, there are people who are just addicted to adrenaline and chaos, and that usually doesn't go that well.
Kade Wilcox: Yeah. It's really good. That's a really, really great point. Okay. Let's talk about operations for a minute. You talked about how, you know, you're not really into operations. And so what have you learned about how to focus in operations, how to pay attention to it, how to make sure, you know, that operations are really healthy? Because I see a huge impact on your delivery of your service to your clients, and client happiness and retention is really critical to have a healthy business. And so I'm fascinated that you're not into operations. And so therefore, how do you think about operations? How do you approach evaluating the health of the operations of your business? Like, how do you navigate that?
Finding a Partner with Complementary Skill Sets
Matty McLain: And I would say — I wouldn't say I'm not into operations. Operation — running something operationally is not my skillset. However, I do think it is absolutely — I don't know if it's more important than sales and marketing. I would say it's not, but it is as important, right? Because if operations are terrible, you can have a sales machine that is just cranking, and every time you plug in another customer, you're just causing more chaos and potentially losing more money, right? So operationally, we do have a scorecard. I guess my way of solving that is I have to compensate for it. So actually in any entity that I'm part of, there is my business partner as the operational piece and they're the ones that are really good at really paying attention to all the things that keep the business humming. And my job is typically ideas, products, sales, marketing; that's the wheel that I handle.
Kade Wilcox: Hmm. When do you think you — that's really profound. I don't think we should skip over that because I feel like a lot of small business owners struggle trying to be all things to all people, and sometimes really struggle to identify, you know, where they're not strong and therefore where they need support or the right teammate. So, at what point do you think you realized, you know, kind of your lane and your sweet spot and then therefore the importance to when you do do business, to do it with people who have really complementary skill sets?
Matty McLain: Well, yeah, I had — it was a fantastic advantage that I got to work with Spencer for, you know, I've worked with Spencer for a decade, who's one of the sharpest people I know. And then beyond that, I got to sit down and coach and work with hundreds of small business people and see their bookkeeping, see their — do they have scorecards? Do they have management? How did they find that management? So I got to observe all that. And I do think, you know, I probably started out the same way thinking, gosh, I better read some books about operations and becoming a great leader and manager. I don't — maybe leader is not in the same category as manager, but I don't know, at some point I just decided I'm going to double down on what it is I'm good at, because that's what I will get up early and I will read everything that exists on the things that I'm into. And I'm, I'm going to just partner up with people who can do the other stuff. You know, nobody really does anything of amazing impact by themselves. And so I spent, you know — we had Leading Edge and I had Clover Method doing consulting jobs, mostly around sales and marketing consulting. And then I started doing the training and, you know, I spent three, four, or five years. I was capped out at what I could accomplish. So I think it was that time when I started looking around and saying, ah, yeah, this is probably as good as it gets if I'm going to stay on my own.
Kade Wilcox: Hmm. Yeah. That's really good. What's this scorecard you're talking about? What are the types of things that are on this scorecard? You mentioned you guys have that to really gauge and monitor operational health. Like what are a few examples of things that you're routinely looking at to kind of gauge the health of y'all's operations?
Matty McLain: Well, we have a very tight grip on our budget. So we forecast our spending a month in advance. So we always know where that is. We like to have a certain amount of cash in the bank, you know, for a rainy day. So we're always paying attention to that. We get paid — we don't invoice and get paid after the fact. So, you know, our software is a subscription. So we get paid at the beginning of the month, which that helps tremendously. So now we're starting to add in different budgets for employees, you know, future people we want to hire in the near future. Operationally, we're looking at, you know, of course we're paying attention to are all the clients happy, and sometimes you don't have a number scorecard for that. So we just go client by client and say, hey, the last conversations with these guys — what's everybody's gut feeling. Are they happy? Is this a home run for them? Do they need some attention and some love? But ultimately you can look every six months and say, how many clients have we gained? How many have we lost? And that's a pretty good indicator of, are you delivering a good experience? I wouldn't say, I would say most of our clients would say we deliver one of the best customer experiences that they've ever had. And I'm going to ask them and get back to you.
Kade Wilcox: Why do you think they believe that? Is it y'all's promptness? Is it your accessibility? Is it that you're delivering results? Is it the relationship? Is it likability? I know you have happy clients because, you know, as you've built Boost, I'll always ask how many new clients do you have? Have you lost any? And like, the reality is, you don't lose clients. And so what, you know, if you were just looking at it objectively, what would be some of the things that you feel like you and Jonah are doing that really are, you know, make you guys sticky with your customers?
You Can Never Teach Too Much
Matty McLain: Yeah. And I would, you know, I would also look at Leading Edge in the same way. Leading Edge does not lose a client. I mean, once every 10 years. And I think the answer for both of them is the same, because we are solving a very important problem for the customer. We're solving a very important problem and we have essentially no competition, right? Those two things are very helpful to our cause. And we approach them both the same way. Leading Edge, Boost — a relentless pursuit of adding more value to the customer. So we are always — you know, we have this little system that we follow, which is if you're gonna take care of your own customers, or if you're going to go after new customers, you follow this little cadence of, you know, always teach.
So take anything you learned from any other customer industry and repackage it and give it to the others because they have the same problems. So in the EDC world and the bariatric world, we're always teaching what we know. We're not — we used to be afraid of people stealing our stuff. We're not afraid of that anymore. You can never teach too much. You can never give away too much information. So we teach, we — what's the next one — we add value. So we're creating little products that we don't charge for. We're connecting them with other people in the industry that they didn't know existed. We're getting them better deals because we have large groups of clients. Number three — what's the third one — entertain. So I know that sounds funny, but every once in a while you know, you should do something human or funny or enjoyable.
It's not just a strictly business relationship. So we send funny socks, we send funny cards. I've had two clients in the last week, text me and say, "You're so weird. Ha ha." Because, you know, I'm just sending random, funny — I will call their office and record the conversation and then send it and give feedback on it. So you have to, I don't know who said that, but you know, something that no one can copy is, is you. So if you actually have a personality and if you're yourself and if you're human and you know, everyone knows you have kids and you have a family and you have a life, that's really hard to copy. So teach, add value, entertain. And then the fourth one, every once in awhile, you can ask for something. Not often. And only when you feel like things are going well, you can say, “Hey,” you know, whatever that might be, “do you guys know someone else that, that might be a great client for us?” Or, “Hey, do you guys want to renew for another year?” Right? So that's kind of a cadence that we follow. And we, you know, if there's anything we have that is almost a science, it is going after new business. And I would say we spend some time on going after new business, but not as much time as we spend making sure our current clients are happy.
Kade Wilcox: It's really good. Thanks for sharing all that. So talk about you know, finances briefly. And then I'm really excited to get to sales and marketing because I don't know very many people better at it than you. So — and the reason I always ask people about their finances and their approach to finances, is because I feel like personally, that's something I didn't take serious enough as a business owner, soon enough. And so I'm always just, even if it's just really practical, I'm just intrigued by how people view their finances and some of the things around best practices to, you know, maintain health and stay on top of good cash flow, and all the basic stuff. But what has been your, your approach to that and some of the things that are maybe most important to you?
Don’t Take Your Eye Off the Ball
Matty McLain: Man, I have — you know, I think for — I don't know who you're — I hope you have a vast audience that listens to this podcast, but I wonder how many of them are selling an actual product. Probably not that many, right? There are just so few people who sell an actual thing that they make anymore. I look up to those people because when you, you know, even to the level of a restaurant, if you run a restaurant or if you run a factory —if you're an Adam Teague and you bring in raw materials and you have people do things to those materials, you repackage them and then you sell them and ship them out. That is a lot of balls to juggle. And that's probably, you know, I don't have any advice to give there. I know that's a different world, but the world you and I are in, we sell services. We sell things that are essentially invisible until people have ideas and when you make them into something. But even that something is usually a digital product.
So man, I just decided a long time ago, if I'm going to sell a product, if I'm going to sell a service, I want it to be good enough and important enough that I could ask the client to pay for it before I actually delivered it. And, you know, with our two entities, that is the case. We get paid at the first of the month, or we get paid at the first of the quarter for the quarter, or sometimes we get paid for the year in advance. And you know, when you charge that way, cashflow is not an issue unless you're just totally screwing it up.
Kade Wilcox: Sure. Yeah. Yeah. So it's interesting. I'm just thinking about our own experience. You know, I think three or four years ago, we had a massive AR, you know, accounts receivable. It's like people were major behind on paying us and used to be all your energy is just trying to collect. You've already done all the work. And so, you know, you're kind of in deep, you know? And it's a mess. And we do the same thing now. All invoices, all of our clients either pay via ACH or credit card, and they get the invoice on the first of the month. Now we do give them the choice of when they want to pay in the month. We do not give them a choice on ACH or credit card because we don't want to spend all of our creative energy chasing down, you know, three months ago, you know, income.
And so I do think for those listening who have service-oriented businesses, I just met with a lady yesterday and they have this amazing business. They're providing a remarkable, remarkable service related to kind of people and culture, and all their income is hourly and project work. And so I just said, “I wonder what it would look like for y'all to get to a point where, you know, you weren't living project to project or hour to hour?” But it's very much a journey. But from what you're saying, it is transformative to the business when you can, you know, when you can do it the way that you're doing it, and we're doing it also. Have you always managed your finances on your own? Have you utilized someone to do that? How have you stayed on top of even just financial best practices?
Matty McLain: Yeah, when I was first starting out, I did everything myself, then very quickly, of course, got a bookkeeper to help with just keeping track of all that. But I, and now, you know, we have a CPA and we have a bookkeeper which we ask advice from both of them. But I don't think — man, I think it's a huge mistake to take your eye off that ball. So there is not a month, there's not a week, that goes by that I don't get in and look at our finances. I look at the bank account, I look at the credit card. And then when the reports come in for last month, you know, from the bookkeeper, I look at those reports as well, because crazy things happen, right? Things break. People are crazy. And so if you don't keep your eye on that, at some point, there will be an issue.
Kade Wilcox: That's really good, and that's really practical. But I feel like it's true in a lot of areas of the business, that if you sign up to start a company or to lead your own small, you know, small business, you're signing up to be accountable and responsible for a lot of things. It doesn't mean you have to do all of it. It doesn't mean you can't have a really great team. But I appreciate what you're saying about the finances and it's something I should be better at, too. I'm like, "Hey, that's Tim's area. And Jerred can worry about that. I just want to make the money and spend the money." And I think that stuff in between, but it's a good reminder that it matters and that it only takes one, you know, it only takes not paying attention for a little — a short period of time — to really impact all the progress that you've made in your company.
The Fall of the Sleazy Salesman
So that's good. So let's talk about sales and marketing. I mean, what are some of the things related to sales and marketing that are most important to you? I mean, for those listening, I would say that I've learned more from you related to sales and marketing than anybody I follow on YouTube, or social or blogs I read. And what I've always admired about you is you're a doer, you know? You don't just have a bunch of sales and marketing philosophies, you know, but you're actually doing the work and the work actually translates into results. And Boost Bariatric, you know, two, two and a half years in, is a prime example of that. And so maybe talk about a few of the things related to sales and marketing that you think are really critical, non-negotiables. Things that you've seen that really work. Things that you really depend on. And things that you find to be really critical for small to medium-sized businesses.
Matty McLain: Man. Yeah. I — you know that I have a deep passion and love for sales and I, you know, I thought that was going to be my business before, right? I was going to do training for salespeople and bring respectability back to the world of sales. Everybody grows up thinking the worst possible connotation for salespeople. And I get that. I get where that comes from because there's no certificate to be a salesperson, right? There's no bar exam to pass. There's no license. There should be, right? As there probably should be for marketing, too, right? But yeah, you can go get a job or start a thing, and instantly you're a salesperson. And so there's typically not a lot of training. There's not a lot of foresight. There's not a lot of thought put into it.
So what you get is the worst of the worst, which is sleazy car salesman who's super gregarious, who will interrupt you, call you, to sell you something you don't want or need. And that is what we think of when we think of salesperson. And if you look around the world, especially now, my gosh in the last 20 years, everyone's job, has a little bit of sales in it. From the person who answers the phone, to the people making the thing, to the people delivering the thing, to the people who clean the office. Everybody has a little bit of, you know, "Hey, we've got to make the cash register ring or this thing's not going to be here anymore." And so I had a really unique opportunity, which completely sucked. But when I got that job for Business Air (it was the company that sold airplanes) and the first day I walked in they said, "Hey, here is a stack of..." The stack of papers was as thick as a phone book. And it was names and phone numbers of people all around the world who owned aircraft. Because there's a database, you can buy that from. And they said, "Your job for the next year is to come in every day and spend a few hours in the morning, cold calling every person on this list and seeing if they want to sell their airplane or maybe buy another one." And man, that was terrible. That was really rough. So everyday I would go in and I would dial, and dial, and dial, and dial. And you learn a few things when you do that, right? You learn how to quickly get someone's attention. You learn how to — if there's any way to cold call somebody and make it a decent experience, you will find that.
And so I did that. And then, you know, there was a — you brought up the oil filter job. In that job it was same thing. We had some calls coming in for customers, but most of how we made a living was going to shows, doing sales, you know, face-to-face, hitting the road, and calling on people and cold calling to set appointments. And so spending enough time doing that, you do realize that, oh my gosh, there is a way to get someone's permission to stay in touch with them if you think they're going to buy at some point. So I think that was what opened my eyes to, man, there is actually a way to communicate with people that is completely — it's not sleazy. It's not in their face. It's not rude. Because all you're doing, if you're in sales, is you're building a list of people who would be ready to buy at some point, right?
So that's what I mean. That's what we have done with Leading Edge. That's what we've done with Boost is we create a list of people we think would be a home run fit for our service. And then we design a campaign to go after those people. And going after those people, I don't mean we just keep calling saying, “Do you want to buy our thing?” In fact, we rarely ask that, right? If you follow those four things, we add value. We send them things to help them. We audit their website. We are sending things in the mail. We're emailing things; all things that would potentially help their business. And then every once in a while we will say, "Hey, would you like to hop on a 15-minute demo and just see how our platform works?" And if you do that consistently, and if you build that audience in your niche, you know, now we have a podcast that we do for that. It's only for that niche. We have an email list for that. There's 60, 70 people on it. But no niche is too small if you own it. (That's Seth Godin, I think.) So that's what we do. We relentlessly pursue a very targeted market with a very targeted solution that almost no one else has. And that's what makes it fun.
Kade Wilcox: So are there — you talked about the importance of systems and then just listening to you talk about how you even do sales at Boost. It is very systematized. I mean, once you get beyond that kind of ideal customer and that small group of people that you really want to work with, is it very systematized or is it very hands-on? Is it a little, both? Like, what does that look like?
An Example of a Streamline System
Matty McLain: It is, it used to be just all in my head and I would do those things, but, you know, once we got to a certain size that didn't get it done anymore. So now it is systematized to the point of we, yes, we have searched the entire country for our top 100 — in fact, gosh, what is that book? Dream 100...uh...The Ultimate Sales Machine. Chet Holmes. He has an approach that he calls the dream 100 and that is essentially what we follow. And that's what he says. So we searched every major market in the country that has a million people or more. We identified every clinic that would be a potential for us. We put them on a huge list. We went through every clinic in that list and pulled out the top 100, put them into pipe drive.
Then we spent, I don't know how much time we spent developing this list of what we call touches. So now we have all the people to send the things to. Now, what are the things? So we have this — I don't know how many pages I had to pull up a minute ago. There's a Google doc that says week one, here's the thing to send in the mail. Here's what the card says with the thing. Here's what our order — the thing on Amazon. The day after that, here's the email to send to say, I'm sending you the thing. And then four days later, here's the phone call to make. And here's what to say, hey, I sent you a thing. Did you get the thing? And then week two, week three, week four, all the way through, I think it goes 18 months of that. And you know — the only reason we do that is because it works. And I mean, in the last four weeks we've landed clients that I've been pursuing for a year and a half.
Kade Wilcox: Do you ever get tired of that system? I mean, do you ever kind of get bored with just the execution of going through the process because you know it works? And obviously you're always making it better. You're learning as you go. But do you ever get tired of the process?
Matty McLain: No. No. Because as you learn, you know, as you start interacting with this person who says, "Hey, I like your stuff. I see what it is. We're not ready for that yet." We're, you know, the only thing we're doing is saying, "I totally get that. Can I stay in touch, though?" And they say, "Of course you can. Your stuff has been great. You guys have been super, joyfully, persistent." So then it changes a little because you get to know them. Now you're off of the system and you're doing custom, you know, you're editing it as you go. And then that person becomes a very interested party and then you're on a demo with that person. And then that person is a client. And then — so it's not like you're just coming in and punching every day. It changes, right?
Kade Wilcox: Yeah. That's cool. At some point we should do a whole video or podcast just on sales because I have so many more questions and the reason it's so important to me and the reason I always enjoy asking you questions is because I've seen the proof of your ability to make it work. It's not theoretical. It's not like reading a book and going, "Oh, that sounds nifty." You've done it. You've done it and you're doing it. And I think that's what makes some of your ideas, some of your insights, some of the things you're sharing, so, so powerful.
Matty’s Must-Have Tools
So we got to wrap this up; just two really quick practical questions for you. One is what are some of your favorite tools that you couldn't live without? Whether it's your phone or an app, or, you know, you're really good at systems, processes, leveraging those types of things for results. So what are some of the things that you couldn't live without?
Matty McLain: Man coming off of the heels of the sales conversation, it would be Pipedrive, which is how we track people that we're going after, and Loom. I think you used something similar, but Loom is what we use to send videos. And mostly internally, my gosh, it saves us. It just saves us so much time because an email is usually not the answer if there's lots of things to communicate. So you shoot a 70-second video and you're done. So I know that that sounds lame, but those two things are things I use every single day.
Kade Wilcox: No, no, they're actually really good. I, again, I think sometimes people get so busy in the doing, that they just don't think about things that exist that could really help them optimize their time or become more productive or, you know, have a better sales process by actually using a CRM. Whether it's Pipedrive or one of the other really good ones out there. And so I think that's good.
You’ll Never Find Perfect, So Just Start.
All right, last question. What's a piece of advice you would give to either an entrepreneur who's thinking about starting, or a small business owner out there who's wearing 15 different hats? What's a piece of advice when you consider your own journey, what you're experiencing now, what would you share with someone as a way to encourage them?
Matty McLain: Oh gosh, just one general piece of advice?
Kade Wilcox: Or five.
Matty McLain: Right. Eat, eat less carbs and more protein or buy low and sell high.
Man, I _ you know, for — I think you had sent a few potential things and one of them said, “When did you realize you were an entrepreneur?” I've never realized I'm an entrepreneur. I've never called myself an entrepreneur. I still wouldn't call myself an entrepreneur. I'm an opportunist and I'm a professional salesperson. That's my job. And, you know, there's a lot of people thinking, oh my gosh, that's what I did for 10 years was talk to people who half of them were, you know, what you would call a launch-trepreneur. Which is what I was for a long time. That's what you were first. You gotta first think you can do the thing. Then you have to want to do it. And then you can do it. But most people, most of them are never going to do anything.
They're always going to be thinking that they could and that they might, and if this XYZ happens, then I will. And I think that would be my comment or my advice, even though I'm giving advice into a microphone and no one asked for it, except for you, — is there's — nobody has the right answer for you, right? There's not going to be another blog post, another business book. None of that stuff is, none of that's going to get it done. So if you think you're going to read something and then suddenly you're going to be ready, that's false. That's not true. I think if you think you really want to do something, then you find a way to go and get started. Even if, actually preferably, on the side, or very in a very low risk way. Don't start a 30,000 square foot restaurant, you know? Start cooking your barbecue out of a trailer on Saturdays and see if everyone likes it and wants to buy it.
Kade Wilcox: Hmm, that's really good. Yeah. That's really good. I also liked the eat less carbs, more protein one. That's very practical. Man, I'm really glad to be your friend. You have added a lot of richness and meaning to my life, personally, but also in all of the things I've learned starting and running businesses. So, thanks for being on this podcast. I know sometimes these types of things are not exactly what you like doing. And so after like the fifth time of me asking you, I appreciate you finally saying yes.
Matty McLain: Thanks, man. I appreciate your always being joyfully persistent. Thanks for riding on the bread truck with me. I forgot about that. Oh my gosh.
Kade Wilcox: Yeah. I'll never forget it. We went to — it was in Fort Worth. So your route was in Fort Worth that morning. We were at this huge hotel and I just remember, you know, you were earning every dollar doing that job, man. That was some tough sledding.
Last Tip: Don’t Shortchange Where You Work
Matty McLain: Oh, hey, that's it? No, I do have one piece of advice for someone if they want to start a business, because this was the case for me. I had a sticky note stuck on my laptop for a couple of years that said, “Be the kind of employee you want to have someday.” And man, I know lots of people are not happy in their jobs and they think maybe they're going to do their own thing or they could do it better. But I promise you, do not short change the place you work until you're out of there. If you get — I think that speaks volumes. That sets you up for who you're going to be the rest of your life is — if you want to — if you're already halfway out then you should go do something else because you need to do a great job with where you're at.
Kade Wilcox: That's really good. It's a perfect way to end this podcast. Love you, brother. Thanks for being on.
Matty McLain: Thanks man. Talk to you later.
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