How Bryan Clayton Grew GreenPal To Over 300,000 Active Users Using A Handful Of Traffic Strategies
In the podcast:
00:38 – Guest & Episode Overview
03:53 – How GreenPal Came To Life
06:28 – Toughest Sell In the Marketplace When Starting Out
12:31 – Early Stages and Challenges of Building the Marketplace
16:33 – Getting The Message Out There
20:44 – SEO & PR As Their Primary Channel
26:56 – Challenges of A Growing Business
29:36 – Books & People That Inspired Him With The Thought Process
32:49 – Growing & Scaling His Business Today
35:41 – Why GreenPal Didn’t Delve Into Paid Ads Side Of Things
38:09 – Piece Of Advice For People Starting Out
41:02 – What Drives GreenPal Everyday
42:46 – Learn More About Bryan Clayton & GreenPal
How Bryan Clayton Grew GreenPal To Over 300,000 Active Users Using A Handful Of Traffic Strategies in PDF
Guest & Episode Overview
Welcome back to another episode of Teach Traffic. I am your host, Ilana Wechsler. And today I’m really excited to have a very special guest, Bryan Clayton from GreenPal , thank you so much for coming on.
Hey, thanks for having me on. Great to be here!
Ya know, it’s awesome for you to be here. And before we hit record, we were just chatting.
And I sort of said how I have actually listened to a couple of your episodes on the podcast before and you’ve got a really fascinating story. And you’re obviously an amazing entrepreneur.
So I thought I would invite you one to share your knowledge and to share your wisdom and you’ve done some really, really incredible things.
So for the purposes of our listeners who don’t know who Bryan Clayton is, and who I guess who are you and what do you work for now?
Yeah, so Bryan Clayton, I’m CEO of GreenPal, so GreenPal in one sentence is the Uber for lawn mowing.
So let’s say you’re a homeowner, you need to get your grass cut. Rather than calling around on Craigslist or Facebook or asking for friends and family for referrals, you would just get on our app, and you can order somebody to come mow your grass like an Uber.
So you’ll sign up, you’ll get quotes, you can read reviews, hire them, they come out and mow, and then you pay them right to the app. If they do a good job, you can book them for the rest of the lawn mowing season.
We’re in the United States, we’re nationwide in the United States, we’ve been around for seven years, or 300,000 people use the platform to get the grass cut. And this year, we’re going to surpass $20 million in revenue. But we’ve been at this for a long time.
We weren’t finished our first year and we had 23 customers. So it was a long, hard slog in early days getting this marketplace going.
But we stuck with it. And so we’re like a seven year overnight success. Before GreenPal, I actually had just a lawn mowing business.
Believe it or not, I’ve never had a job. I’ve always been in business for myself, I started cutting grass in high school as a way to make extra cash.
And I stuck with my little lawn mowing business all through college, grew it little by little in over a 15 year period of time, I built that into one of the largest landscaping businesses in the state of Tennessee where I live in the United States.
And I got it over 150 people, $10 million in revenue and navigated it all the way through to successful acquisition in 2013.
So starting that business from scratch, zero to 10 million, just myself with a push mower 250 people or 15 years, I learned a lot about the hard way of building a business from scratch and the school of hard knocks, just trying stuff and never giving up just iterating and figuring it out as I went and applied all that knowledge.
So when I started GreenPal seven years ago, that’s like 20 years of entrepreneurship for me and a couple minutes.
And a few scars and bruises embedded along the way. Right?
Yeah, you know, success is a lousy teacher. And so I’ve had a lot of failures in 20 years. And that’s where I learned.
Yeah, I look. I know, I can certainly relate. I’m just curious, though. I mean, did you get the idea of GreenPal from your landscaping business?
I mean, did you go through some struggles there that you thought, you know, we need that Uber for lawn care do what was a light bulb moment for you.
How GreenPal Came To Life
It was a very natural progression. So I think when you’re starting a technology oriented business, and you’re inventing a new tech product, I think it really helps to solve your own problem.
And that was certainly the case for me. When I sold my first business, I kind of retired, I didn’t have the work anymore. I had a good outcome from that business.
I took six months or a year off, and I quite frankly, got bored. I wanted to get back in the game. I wanted to get back into working on something and in pouring my soul into it.
And the idea for GreenPal is a very obvious one I saw every single day how difficult it was for homeowners just to hire a great lawn mowing service.
There’s no way to figure out who’s good, who’s not. These smaller service providers. They don’t have any sort of online brand or presence on the internet.
And so it’s hard to find them. It’s hard to reach them because they’re busy cutting grass. And so we saw this every day running my first business and so the idea for GreenPal was really clear.
And the weird thing is seven years later, like that idea hasn’t changed really at all.
The tactics we have tried to implement along the way have changed. But the vision of push a button, get the grass cut hasn’t changed at all. And so I saw what Uber and Airbnb were doing for these traditional analog transactions.
And I knew that an app needed to exist for this sort of thing. Now, luckily I was naive. And I didn’t know how hard it was going to be to build a technology enabled marketplace.
I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And that was a good thing. Because if I knew how difficult it was going to be, I never would have gotten started.
And so as it turns out, building a technology enabled marketplace like GreenPal, it’s like, it’s hard because you’re having to execute on like, five different paradigms.
Like you have to be good at building tech, you have to be good at product design, you have to be good at acquisition on both sides of the transaction, you have to be good at crafting the dynamics of the marketplace. And figuring all that out as we went, was just something that took like a relentless attitude for persistence.
And really the only reason why we’re still here is because we didn’t give up.
Yeah, Wow, amazing. If we can just sort of track back a little bit from when you had your idea. I mean, as I understand it, it’s really a two sided marketplace, you’ve got the people who want the lawn mowed, and then you’ve got the the lawn mower people who are looking for, for customers, what starting out, what was the biggest side, that was the toughest sell.
Toughest Sell In the Marketplace When Starting Out
Yeah, so when you’re starting one of these multi sided marketplaces, that’s one of the hardest parts, it’ss that chicken and the egg problem and getting over the cold start, because if you don’t have service providers, then and then when lot when homeowners come onto the platform, it’s a ghost town, they’re going to leave.
And the opposite is true. If homeowners come onto the platform, or service fighters there, and there’s nobody wanting their grass cut, they’re gonna get bored and leave.
So the way you get over that in most marketplaces is you focus on one side first, and then you attract the other. And so for us what we did, in the early days, we really had a crappy product that we kind of hack together, it was really hard to use. But it was just enough.
And so what we would do is, we would cold call dial for dollars off of Craigslist, and Yelp and, and Angie’s List, I don’t know, if you hit you know, I don’t know if you have these sites in Australia or not. But these are like websites to aggregate information for local businesses. And so we would cold call like 100 or 200 of these people a day, and just pitch them on the idea for GreenPal.
And, and the way that we kind of like sweeten the pot was, I would offer free consulting to these business owners as a way to kind of like earn their attention, because I knew everything there is to know and I still do about building a lawn mowing business from scratch, I did it, I was one of the few people to build an eight figure business in lawn mowing and get it sold.
And so just being able to, like have that conversation earnestly with them and say, Hey, you know, I’ll help you for free for two hours a week to grow your business.
And then that would, in turn, like Garner their attention to use the platform for the first year. And that’s how we got our first two or 300 service providers. It was just to get in the trenches with us and help us figure it out.
And so we had that we had them retained, they were ready to go, they were on the platform. And because I had that personal relationship with them, they would stick with it while we were building the product around them.
And then we would go to work on the demand side, we would do that by any means necessary. Like the first few hundred people we got by passing out door hangers all over Nashville, Tennessee. And that was the only way we knew to just get the word out.
And we got our early adopting customers that way. And then we would talk to every single one of them that we could and we were trying to figure out, Okay, how do you normally get a lawn mowing service? And the thing that we kept coming across was people said, Well, I will just search for lawn care service nearby me on Google. And I will just call people off the first three pages.
And so that just kept coming up over and over again. So we were just thinking okay, maybe we should just bet the company on organic search as our primary channel and and we did that was an early bet that we made it was one that paid off.
And it wasn’t one that we would have known to do, if we had not talked to those first few hundred people that tried the platform. So we use different tactics on both sides of the transaction.
Yeah, amazing. So just dump on what you’re saying before you physically went around and put door hangers on people’s doors.
If we are talking about you and your co-founders personally or you hired people to do that.
No, personally so it was weird it was a very humbling journey and in my entrepreneurial journey. I guess you could say biography, so I built my first business, sold it. Huge exit. I’m feeling good. I was highly respected in my community and in my industry, everybody knew who I was like, that was the other thing too.
When I was calling these lawn mowing services, I’ll say this is Bryan Clayton, they’d be really, and I, you know, like and so they knew if you mowed grass in Nashville, Tennessee you knew me.
And so I would call them and that made that conversation very easy. So here I am, you know, big fish in a small pond.
And now I’m back to hanging out door hangers, like I was 15 years ago. And it was. So I mean, for a couple reasons. One, we were a bootstrap company, we had no outside capital, my two co-founders put tons of money on their credit cards to get this business going.
So as a CEO, I had to do it just to let them know that I’m willing to do anything it takes to get this business going. And the other thing too, from a practical standpoint, I didn’t want to put like a million dollars in this business. Because I didn’t know if it was gonna work.
And so I knew I never wanted to go pick up a weed eater again, I knew I never wanted to go push, mow a yard again. So like, from a personal standpoint, my personal finances were such that I didn’t, I wasn’t going to put a bunch of money in this thing.
So we had to start from scratch, and start all over again. And part of that was for months, walking all over Nashville, Tennessee, hanging out door hangers, because we had no other acquisition channel.
And we knew we had to do something to get people to use this thing. So manufacturing, that momentum in the early days of any business is just kind of table stakes and what it takes, yeah, you don’t want to be doing that.
You know, here we are seven years later, we don’t pass out door hangers, but it was what we had to do to get over the cold start to get something going.
Like, for me business is like a video game. And if you think about old school, Super Mario Brothers, you know, you got level one through level 12. And like, I think what trips a lot of people up is that they get started on level one, and they’re worried about Bowser on level 12.
And like, that doesn’t matter. You’re on level one, you just got to get to that first board, you got to get to that first level.
And a lot of times, that’s just hustle up 100 customers. Yeah, you know, doesn’t matter if it’s scalable and repeatable. Just hustle up 100 customers, because you’re going to know a lot after those first hundred customers and you do today.
And that’s certainly the case for us for our first summer launching this thing.
Yeah, amazing. And I’m assuming you had sort of a base level program available that created that two way marketplace.
But I mean, that would require some level of investment to create.
Early Stages and Challenges of Building the Marketplace
Exactly. So we were students and still are of the Lean Startup methodology. And we read the hell out of every book, we could by Steve Blank, and Eric Reese.
And so what those guys preaches is just like, get out the minimal viable product, hack it together, if you’re not embarrassed of it, then you waited too long, get something in the marketplace that does the minimum in terms of feature set that you can to validate the idea because what you don’t want to do is go to work for a year, and build something that nobody wants to use. And that’s it.
And as simple as an idea that sounds like that’s what most failed businesses do. They just go straight to work in a work their butts off building something that nobody wants to use, or nobody wants to pay for.
So that’s the trap we were trying to avoid was that we had actually paid a development shop in Nashville $150,000 to build the first version.
And that was what we had to do just to get it out the door because we really didn’t know how to code either. Like we didn’t know how to build software. And so we did that.
That’s not a small amount of money.
No and so like when I was saying it was called my credit cards like that the majority of that was on credit cards. And and you know, we had, we had just like a dozen credit cards that we put the first hundred 50 grand to get the first version, which by the way, turned out to be a total flop, it was a total piece of crap. It was hard to use.
And we realized really quick that we couldn’t build a tech business by outsourcing it. So we had to really go to work on ourselves in terms of taking online classes and going up boot camps and online code schools to learn how to code while we are building the second version of it.
So the first three years of getting that business going. Were excruciating, very challenging. I’m glad I didn’t like what I said, I’m glad I didn’t know how hard it was going to be. I wouldn’t do it. But looking back, like I’m glad I did because now I’m a totally different person, I have all these skills I didn’t have seven years ago.
That’s one of the beautiful things of business is that it will require things of you that you didn’t think you were capable of and quite frankly, you would never do. But the business extracts it from you. If you want to be in the game, you’re just going to have to do it.
And as you say you just some you got to roll up your sleeves and do some things that you just wouldn’t normally do and wouldn’t have done in your previous business that you never had to do and it’s just um…
Yeah and businesses only dynamics you can place yourself into, to really have to do that kind of stuff.
I mean, if you work for somebody, I mean, yeah, I mean, they’re going to require you to do certain things, but it’s not like, it’s not like running your own company and building your own business from scratch.
I mean, literally like the analogy of burn the boats. You know, there was a, I don’t, I don’t know the exact story, but like, there was an agent general that would, invade with his invading army.
And then when his army would land on the shore, he would the boats in the harbor, he would burn them. And so his soldiers would see the boats on fire. And they would know that they would have to fight or die on that shore, and they would, assuredly be victorious, because there was no retreat, there was no going back.
And so that’s in a lot of ways. That’s how business can be like, we were, you know, 150 grand in credit card debt, you know, we had to make this work, we had to move forward, we had to learn the skills needed to learn, we had to do the things we had to do to make it successful.
Yeah, amazing. Okay, so talk us through some of your acquisition, you know, channels that are starting out, I mean, you got, you got nothing, basically, you’ve got no traffic coming to your site, you barely got people who know about you, or any of the people who’ve got the door hangers hanging on their door, and there’s only a couple of you who have got a limited capacity of getting the word out there.
What’s sort of, what was your starting point of trying to get the message out there?
Getting The Message Out There
Yes, so I think most businesses, technology based businesses, it’s like, half of the game is, is innovating on the product and solving the problem that people will pay for. And then the other half of the game is distribution.
And so you, it almost doesn’t matter how good the product is, if you don’t have some sort of distribution, like baked into the product, and you don’t have, like some sort of innovation going on with the distribution.
And that’s, like, that’s on the one hand, um, and I and I think that, that, like, a lot of business owners will take a product, and then they’ll, like, work really hard on it, and then they’ll sprinkle on the marketing.
And, and that gets them into a trap, when in fact, marketing and growth and distribution has to be baked into the product for it to be successful. And so that’s something that we learned the hard way.
Getting over that cold, that cold start. So for us, you know, going back to the analogy of the video game, like I think you’re your channels, and your distribution does evolve over time.
And so for us, we passed out door hangers, and I was giving out free coaching as a way to get supply and demand going that got us through level one, maybe level two.
But then we had to figure out okay, how do we get some sort of sales engine at the core of this thing and get some sort of repeatable acquisition strategy. And so like I said, we started hitting on organic search, we started seeing some results there.
And the idea of like firing bullets, then cannonballs, I think is appropriate to organic search. So for us, we we spent three years just in Nashville, Tennessee, perfecting the product, teaching ourselves how to code building the product, making sure the push a button, get the lawn mowed, experience works reliably and seamlessly, over three years, and part of that, too, was organic search strategy, we only competed just in Nashville.
So here we are, as we’re trying to get traffic for people who are looking for lawn mowing services, only in Nashville. And so that focus just on one, one mid level market in the United States, not even a big one is what enabled us to get that sort of early traction, to get some sales to get the product dialed in to get the liquidity get some kind of momentum going however small that focus and limiting it down to something that we could we could compete in was it was what enabled us to get get over the cold start.
And then that also in turn enabled us to develop the repeatable framework for Okay, this is how we compete on an organic search in every city in the United States, and building all of those little markets from the ground up.
It was something that we didn’t know how to do in level one, now we get to level five or whatever, you know, we learned how to do that. And it was just because we were able to get something small going and getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
So a lot of times I’ll look I’ll coach other business owners, you know, for free as a hobby and I’ll look at their business plans. And under acquisition, they just have things like SEO, PPC, SEM, okay, check done, you know, and when in reality it doesn’t, it doesn’t work that way.
You have to have some sort of like real thought out plan on how that how you’re going to enter that channel and like to wedge your way in, and how that’s going to evolve over time, because it’s not as simple as just putting a three letter acronym in that bucket in that box.
Yeah, absolutely. And I think there’s so much noise in the market, in, I guess in the community and it around, as you say, you’ve got to do SEO, your SEM, your Facebook ads, you’ve got to do all these other things, you know, content, marketing, all this kind of stuff.
And so people are very, very overwhelmed, and feel his need to do everything. But the problem is, and they do everything badly, as opposed to doing one or two things really, really well.
And then getting that process dialed in. And then and then adding things on, on a core base, rather than being diluted way, way too thin.
SEO & PR As Their Primary Channel
Absolutely, you look at most every successful business big or small, they’re really good at, most of the time, one channel sometimes too.
And so rarely is unless it’s just a huge, huge, huge juggernaut. Rarely our businesses like really crushing it in more than two channels. And so you have to like, experiment and all of them.
Because there’s product market fit, there’s building a product that people want to pay for, but there’s, but there’s also product channel fit.
And so for us, like we’ve experimented in paid channels, but the economics just don’t make sense. Like, we only take a small piece of the transaction. So we can’t, you know, we can’t afford to spend two or $300. To acquire a homeowner, we have to think of other ways to do it organically.And so for us, SEO is the primary channel.
The other the other thing that works for us, too, that that informs SEO is also PR, we we place a lot of a lot of effort into PR my co founder, all he does is PR I mean every day, he is emailing 100 journalists, um, you know, every single day talking about GreenPal and stories about GreenPal and expansion into their market. And so we’re getting that coverage.
We’re getting the signals from an SEO perspective, so like PR, and SEO, and SEO are our primary channels. And it took us three years to figure out that they would be our primary channels, because we experimented and everything else.
I’m just curious if the reason you chose organic search and SEO as one of your primary channels, was based on your interviews of your first initial customers that that’s the process that they went through to find. I mean…
Yes, that’s exactly the reason and that customer discovery process of first off level one, hustle up a dozen 100, 500 customers to use your product, and then talk to every single one of them, you can make it easy for them to talk to you, remove all of the friction for them to speak with you.
One thing we did is we had live chat, and in our app and on our website, and it would you know, it would hit us up here, seven days a week.
So you would be you know, out to dinner with your girlfriend and be like, Oh, wait, so Mrs. Smith didn’t get her grass cut today, let me figure out what happened here, hold on.
And so like seven days a week. And so you’re constantly talking to your users, constantly talking to your customers.
And that informs everything from product design, things you need to work on. And then also how you can acquire more customers, because you can talk to them and ask them things like, Okay, well, how did you normally get this done.
And the thing we kept coming across over and over again, was organic search organic search. And so that’s how we knew that it would be a good, good option, a good channel to explore.
And then we were confronted with the reality of if you want to compete in organic search, it’s a bet on the company decision.
It’s not one you can just layer on like, if your startup, one man or two men or three man show. Somebody’s gonna be working on it full time. It’s I mean, it’s that hard.
I mean, just from the content creation piece, the technical SEO, the outreach, for getting backlinks to increase your domain authority, the PR aspect of it, all of these things require lots and lots and lots of grueling hours of work.
So if you’re gonna, like, want to compete in organic search, it’s a better company decision. And it’s also going to be a year before you see any sort of real real momentum in that channel.
And so that’s one of the reasons why it’s often overlooked, but it can, it can prove to be the thing that that makes kings like it can be a kingmaker.
And it can also be the thing that, you know, you’ll be glad that you did seven years from now, but it’s really hard. It’s very much an exercise of faith when you first get started.
And it’s also, I mean, you putting a huge amount of the result of your success in the hands of Google.
I mean, they’re ultimately deciding if we got to rank you or not, and, you know, so literally rolling that dice in that…
Yeah, absolutely. Um, you know, anytime that you marry your product, t o one channel, it’s scary.
What I mean, that can be said for anything, you know, if you’re really good at Instagram ads, and you’ve got a, you’ve got a fashion product or something like that, you know, the rules of that platform can change the CPC on that platform can change overnight.
So all of these channels can collapse and can become non viable. Um, and so that’s why, you know, like, you constantly have to be evolving with it. And you constantly have to be willing to look at what’s working and what’s not.
But a lot of times, it’s, you look at what the best practices are, you always play the long game, especially in SEO, you don’t do anything shady.
And you know, you look at the last 20 years of SEO, it still revolves around one thing that is satisfying the query.
If your result satisfies the query better than anybody else, and you’re doing everything you can to optimize around that, then you’re probably going to be okay.
Yep. I can, I mean, I’ve never built and grown a business to the scale that you have.
So I’m curious to ask, ask you this.
I would imagine that, you know, getting a business to, you know, six or even early seven figures is a vastly different experience to growing it beyond seven figures to sort of high seven figures.
What are some of the challenges that you went through, in transitioning from that early level, which I mean, I know, personally, you know, getting to that first level is a real battle, it’s a real struggle.
And then the next level is infinitely easier, because you’ve got momentum behind you, etc.
But you do reach a point where you suddenly you’ve got all these staff and all these people in these different roles of people, how did you kind of get over that transition to I guess, a different skill set?
Challenges of A Growing Business
Yeah, and both businesses, that that journey has been a challenging one.
So on the one hand, it’s in a weird way, it’s easier to run a million dollar a year business than it is a $100,000 a year business. And another weird way, it’s easier to run a $10 million a year business than it is a million dollar a year business.
Because as you grow, if you do it right, you’re building out systems, and you’re building out processes, and you’re and you’re tuning those, and you’re optimizing those, and, and you’re and you’re surrounding yourself with practitioners of things that are doing them better than what you can, and they can focus on them and execute better than than you could when you were doing them.
So, a lot of times when you’re growing from your first million in revenue to 10 million in revenue to where we’re at now. 20 million in revenue, it’s like, it’s harder, it’s more challenging, but it’s also easier.
So there’s, there’s that piece of it. And then like it, also going back to the video game metaphor, just really trying to dial in on where you’re at, on the continuum of, of challenges.
And understanding that when you’re at a million dollars a year in revenue, you don’t need to be worrying about stuff like flyers anymore, you need to be thinking bigger than that. But you also don’t even need to be worrying about things that nine figure businesses are worried about.
So it’s constantly focusing on how you’re going to get to that next level.
And, and a lot of times, it boils down to the difference between working on your business and in your business. And so as when you’re first getting started, you’re working in your business, you know, seven days a week, just trying to get it going. So you know, in my example, would be passing out door hangers and talking to Mrs. Smith on the phone, as the wiregrass didn’t get cut, that’s working in the business. But working on the business is really taking a day out of the week and developing the system around.
Okay. So we’re not passing out door hangers for the rest of our lives here. What do we see? What can we do to scale this, what is the system we can put in place, and really forming that system is working on your business.
And so as time goes on, whether you get from one to 10 million to 20 million to 100 million, you as the CEO, the business owner, or are like working this continuum of getting out of it and getting more on it, and doing the things that only the CEO can do, such as like set strategy and like really nail the value proposition and like look at the systems and processes that are going on in the business and making them better and more effective.
But you can’t start from that mentality. You have to really start with being in it. So to answer your question, it’s like getting out of like 90% in it to 90% on it.
Yep. Were there any particular books or or leaders that you followed that really taught you that process?
Books & People That Inspired Him With The Thought Process
Yeah, at a very fundamental level, like the essence of this idea of in it and on is a book called The E-Myth, and Michael Gerber, and that is just like a really good book for anybody almost at any level of business to read to understand that differences between, like building a, you know, having a job and building a business.
A lot of new business owners, you know, if even if they’re at like 500 grand in revenue, they really only just created themselves a job. And they haven’t built a business yet.
And that book, The E-Myth is one that can really, really help you understand that and, and and in, codify that in your head and understand how you build those processes?
And how do you get, you know, remove yourself from the day to day activities of the business, that’s one that I like. Um, another one that I like, is a book called Good to Great, it’s a classic 20. It’s been around now for about 20 years. And what that book talks about is like the core fundamentals of the business and like the flywheel effect, at the center of your business. So as you start building a big company, you have to think about things like a flywheel internally of your business, like what is it that it does, that helps it propel it to the next level.
And so, like, for us, our flywheel is like, the more homeowners that use GreenPal, the more vendors will want to use it, the more that vendors want to use it, the more vendors that we get per zip code that drives down costs, so that makes more homeowners want to use it, which makes more vendors want to use it. So this self fulfilling loop.
And we look at where we can like, juice those steps along the loop, like understanding and identifying what that flywheel is, is something that you need to identify and work on.
As you get further down the path. You really don’t have to worry about it in level one. But maybe in level six, seven or eight you do.
These levels are just arbitrary. This is not like a set scale that I have. It’s just like trying to, like, illustrate a point.
Yeah, no, I actually really loved that video game analogy. I think I’ve never heard it before. And I think it’s very, very true.
And I think, you know, starting out with my business, I was doing stuff that I’m certainly not doing now. But you just can’t even focus on that.
It’s just like, let’s just get a few runs on the board here. Let’s just try new things. And let’s just deal with that laid out.
Like that’s just not a primary focus now. And I think so many businesses, that startup is, as you say, like they’re so focused on Well, you know, like, how’s this going to scale? It’s like, not just get some sales, like get some sales on the board? Yeah. Or they’re worried about…
Stuff like, what’s my brand positioning look like? You have zero customers? You had 100 visits to the website last month.
Brand matters, but it doesn’t matter right now. Like, let’s get let’s get the traffic to 1000. Like, like that. That’s not my point.
Yes. No, I think it’s very, very true. And probably a good reminder for some people.
Fast forward to now, in terms of your acquisition strategies, obviously, you know, you’ve built up a huge, fundamental base of SEO, and I’m sure that’s just the gift that keeps on giving for you.
But you know, if you’re looking like, I guess, how are you growing and scaling now? Yeah, so
Growing & Scaling His Business Today
For us, you know, it’s like, what, seven years in several hundred thousand people using the platform.
There’s over 10,000 service providers that use it to run their business. So if, you know, we’ve reached a small level of success and liquidity in every major city in the United States, so it’s, it’s like, you look back and you’re like, wow, we come a long way.
But, but really, it just feels like day one, like the Jeff Bezos analogy of it’s still day one is so true, it’s always felt like day one in this damn business, we have never felt like we’ve made it.
And we still don’t feel like we have. So we have so much further to go. And, and so like, what does that mean, tangibly to like, how you, you know, look at how you get more more users and how you acquire more users.
For us, we’ve just scratched the surface on this one channel for SEO and PR, we still have a lot, a lot more depth to go. In terms of content that we’re creating, in terms of reaching the smaller mid level markets throughout the United States. Yeah, we’re in every major city, but there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of mid level markets that only have 1000 people or so that we’re not in yet. So we have a long way to go there.
There’s still a whole lot more PR that we can do in terms of creating the the the brand name recognition, you know, in terms of like, you know, you say I’m going to Uber to the airport, well, your grass is four feet tall mate, you know, how are you going to get it cut, you know, we’ll just get a GreenPal until like, that isn’t the lexicon of the English language.
You know, we’re not done so we got a long way to go. And so I think like having that singular focus and going deep and not wide is part of our strategy. I’m not saying going deep is better than going wide like horizontal versus versus vertical, I think it is a, you know, you can be successful in either approach.
But you have to really pick one and double down and for us we’re going as deep as we can a mile deep on this one use case this one thing and going deep on the things that are working and is doing more of those as part of our strategy today.
I’m just curious, because obviously I have a very specific lens that I participate in every day. And that’s, you know, obviously the paid traffic side of things.
And it feels somewhat obvious to me like, given the success that you guys have had with organic SEO, given my lens and focus that I’ve got, it feels obvious to me that you possibly would tack on a very basic Google Ad search strategy. Have you? Is there a reason you haven’t done that? I mean, I’m sure there is.
But I’m curious as to why you could go after such a long tail stuff that you possibly are not ranking for, you know, swipe above the organic listings? Yeah, I’m just curious why.
So I think as part of the business owner, the CEO of your company, one of the main roles you have is just, quite frankly, a capital allocator.
You’ve got capital, you’re making, I don’t know, 10,000 a month, $100,000 a month, a million dollars a month, you have to allocate that capital for your best ROI.
And that’s like, one of the things that the SEC that CEO needs to be good at, is allocating that capital on the right activities, the right people, the right fit vendors, freelancers, whatever, to get the best ROI.
And so for us, we do experiment and pay channels, I’m especially in the early days as a way to like test ad copy and test value proposition. Yeah, and and we still do, we do actually do paid ads for vendor recruitment. So on the vendor side, we use paid ads on Facebook and Instagram to acquire supply.
But on but on the homeowner side, let’s say you want to spend $50,000, on on on homeowner recruitment, we can still get a better bang for our buck spend that on organic search than we can on on paid ads, because let’s just say and this is just raw numbers, I mean, these are these are made up.
But let’s just say I could acquire 1000 homeowners for $100 each, you know, it’s 10 grand. And that’s 1000. But I know I can spend 10 grand on a backlink acquisition strategy and, and get double the homeowners.
And so and so it’s like, and I know that because we’re doing it and and and I know that because we’ve experimented in these channels and so until like, that’s no longer the case, then we’re gonna keep leaning into that one channel.
So that that’s that’s how we have arrived there now that could change, you know, a year from now or if the rules to the game change. But for us, that’s still that’s still the case on how it unfolds for us.
Now, if we were selling a, I don’t know, like, I have a coach, a guy who is in the real estate space and like the, the lifetime value of his customers like $10,000.
Um, the paid ads are great for him. I mean, he’s crushing it on Facebook ads and Google ads. Um, but that’s not the case.
For us, the LTV for us is much, much lower. So we have to think of a different strategy to acquire them.
Yeah. Interesting. What would you say to some of our listeners, listening to this would be your best piece of advice to them starting out?
If they’re sort of, you know, in the early stages of growing their business, trying to get some traction? What advice would you give them I know, it’s probably too generic a question. But…
Piece Of Advice For People Starting Out
Yeah, so you’re, you’re in the early days, and you’re, and you’re trying to just get something going, like, I can’t, I can’t place enough emphasis on focus, and just focusing on one or two things that you can work on, and treating almost everything as a continuous experiment.
So like, focusing, like you have all of this stuff, and all of this stuff is in your, your circle of concern. And it’s all in the ether.
But then in the middle is your circle of influence, which is much, much smaller in the middle. And this is a concept that is from the book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
And the author of that book talks about this concept of the circle of concern. And that’s every channel that you could do an ad in, it’s all of these is Gary Vaynerchuk. It’s, Tony Robbins, it’s all this crap that, you know, this is crap stuff, great. But all of the stuff that’s in your, in your ether and like, and then there’s your circle of influence inside of that, and that’s much smaller, but that’s the circle that you can act in.
So it’s like what can I do in this small circle of influence to move the ball down the field this week, and a lot of times it’s just one or two or three things. So it’s so it’s like, just that, that that simple fake concept of focus, and really just doing one or two or three things in that circle of influence. And just constantly acting in that circle is something that can get you through that first year and not and like and then also looking at all of those activities as experiments.
Like a never ending, like relentless attitude towards experimentation to where you can try stuff, learn, and then reapply. And then and going through that loop over and over and over again, can help get you through the first three or four years figuring out what works.
Because a lot of times new business owners don’t want to look at it. Like it’s just an experimentation. I tried that. And I failed. I tried that. And it didn’t work. No more of that. No, it’s like, yeah, you knew it wasn’t gonna work.
But at least you tried it and you learned something. And so then you tried it again, you learned you kept iterating through whatever it was, it could be getting Facebook ads to work, it could be trying to compete in organic search, it could be trying to get Instagram as the work like looking at it as an experiment. And focusing on that is something that you can get that can get you through the first few years.
Yeah, awesome. One last question. Before we wrap up, I’m curious as to what your end goal is for GreenPal. What are you guys shooting for that, that drives you every day?
What Drives GreenPal Everyday
Yeah, so for me, like, you know, I’ve been working my butt off on this business for seven years, but I really haven’t worked a day in seven years.
Um, so it’s really what I want to be doing. And so it’s a weird thing, like, my first business was, was the thing that kind of got me to a point where I could do what I wanted to do.
And this is what I want to do. And so until like, this thing is, is a major, like a household name, we’re not going to be completed with it. Um, and so for me, like, my business is the thing that causes me to, to have purpose in life, I think to have an interesting life, you have to have an interesting story. And I think business can be the cause of that story, it can be the thing that writes that story. And so, for me, like that is what GreenPal is, and that’s what I’ll be doing for the next 10 years.
Continuing to distribute the platform throughout the United States, and then UK and, and in Australia, and Canada, and expanding into those markets. So we still got a long, long, long way to go. It’s still very much day one.
But we’re profitable, we’re default alive. And that’s a good place to be. And that’s and that’s another piece of advice.
I’ll give entrepreneurs a long game. Look, you know, understand you’re going to be at this for a decade or two and and figure out ways to no matter what you’ll be, you’ll be default alive so you can stay in the game. Because it’s only when you’re in the game and only when you can win.
Yeah, that’s awesome. Bryan, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to come and chat to me or taking time out of your evening, as it is in Tennessee.
Where can people find out a little bit more information about you, if they’re listening to this and they want to find out more info.
Learn More About Bryan Clayton & GreenPal
LinkedIn is a great place to get me, Instagram’s a good place to get me. Anybody that is in the United States that doesn’t want to waste their weekend cutting their grass, you can just download GreenPal on the app store and get hooked up with a great lawn mowing service in less than a minute.
And yeah, just hit me up. If you need advice about your business. Just be specific about what that is on LinkedIn, and I can help you with it.
Ah, that’s very generous of you. Thank you so much. We’re gonna make show notes available for this episode as well. And yeah, thank you so much for coming on today’s show.
My pleasure Ilana. Thanks for having me on!