444: The Psychology Of Starting And Running An Agency | Robert Davis

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This week we welcome Robert Davis, Vendasta Partner and CEO of KOR Unlimited. KOR stands for Knowledge, Opportunity, and Results. Robert has 25 years of sales and marketing experience within the financial services industry. As a financial advisor, he provided sophisticated financial solutions to 250+ high-net-worth individuals and families, as well as small-to-mid-sized businesses. The opportunity presented itself to start his own agency, and he approached it with the same results-oriented, incredibly methodical, and passionate approach he carried throughout his financial career. In this episode, Robert takes us through his approach to starting and running an agency. This includes; the 3 P’s to keeping your sanity, why positioning matters and how to position your agency, how to structure your day with categorized tasks and time allotment, prospecting with efficient funneling, and real-time, in the wild Google My Business audits (a must-listen tactic).

Conquer Local is presented by Vendasta. We have proudly served 5+ million local businesses through 50,000+ channel partners. Learn more about Vendasta and we can help you build your dream agency or learn more about Vendasta’s Affiliate Program and how our listeners (like yourself) are making up to $10,000 off referrals.

Join the conversation in the Conquer Local Community and keep the learning going in the Conquer Local Academy.


George: This is the Conquer Local podcast, a show about billion-dollar sales leaders, marketers leading local economic growth and entrepreneurs that have created their dream organizations. They wanna share their secrets giving you the distilled version of their extra ordinary feats. Our hope is with the tangible takeaways from each episode, you can rewire, rework and re-imagine your businesses. I’m your host and creator of the show, George Leith, and we’re very proud to feature Robert Davis, a long time Vendasta partner, all the way from New Jersey. Robert is the CEO of KOR Unlimited. KOR stands for knowledge, opportunity and results. And with 25 years of sales and marketing experience in financial services, Robert brings that rigor to his day-to-day agency operations. Robert provided sophisticated financial solutions to 250 plus high net worth individuals and families, also small and medium businesses in his career. Get ready conquers for one of my favorite Vendasta partners, Robert Davis is coming up next on this week’s episode of the Conquer Local podcast. My good friend Robert Davis, joining us on the show today, CEO at KOR Unlimited. Robert, great to have you on the podcast and I can see you because we’re recording this and I can see you video-wise but the last time you and I broke bread was at the del Coronado at Conquer Local, the conference, the last time we were all able to get together. So it’s great seeing you and great having you on the show.

Robert: Absolutely George. Amazing, and yeah, it was quite a while ago. I really hope that we can get back to that meeting in-person but to actually see you now, it’s really a breath of fresh air. Good times.

What’s Behind A Name? Why Is Branding So Important?

George: Well, it’s great having you on the show. And KOR Unlimited can we, KOR is an acronym and I’m killing acronyms this year, me and Elon Musk. What does it stand for?

Robert: Great question. And I got to say off the bat typically what we’ve been experiencing a lot is people they think of KOR they say cora. I don’t really make it a habit of purposely misspelling words to be clever, but there is meaning behind KOR and KOR, K-O-R is knowledge, opportunity, results. It is the three tenets of which we live by. So three tenets which we engage with our customers and our clients. And real simple, we are really big believers that if we can help our clients, not only understand what they have in terms of digital marketing, but why they have it and how it kind of helps flatten their learning curve. And when you do that, you strengthen and deepen the relationship they have with us. And then the opportunity itself comes into focus, once we have a good grasp of the knowledge part.

George: I remember when you and I first met, we had a long discussion around your philosophy. And I recognized right away that you very much care about your customer. You very much care that you’re delivering what your promises are. And it’s interesting this idea of knowledge first, then uncovering the opportunity and then making sure that there’s results being your philosophy for the way that you’re running the business. How did you arrive at this like is this your first kick at the cat or how did you get here?

Robert: I’m a big believer that how you name your business and your name in general it truly does matter. And without saying too much, it matters because it will be remembered. And we wanted something that we knew that when people start to get a hold of it and it really started getting traction, they were gonna remember it. So for us KOR made a lot of sense because it not only spoke to who we are, but also what we do in terms of our process. Getting our clients to understand again, what they have, why they have it, having those opportunities come into focus, opportunities for where we can direct marketing dollars or reposition a marketing strategy to be something more efficient. And then as long as you’re the type of individual, and we ask this question of all of our potential customers, as long as you’re the type of person that actually takes action. And we understand that people like to take some time to review and think about it but as long as you’re type of individual that takes action, we really believe in that we can deliver favorable results. So we say knowledge meets opportunity meets results. KOR Unlimited.

George: So are you working in any specific niches or what’s your ideal customer profile for your organization?

Robert: Oh, we don’t have a specific niche because I look at it from this standpoint. If I go back to my previous career in financial services, I was a big believer that everyone needs some form of financial services. It’s just my job as the advisor to help you identify what those needs are and help move them up a little bit higher on the list of priorities. When it comes to digital marketing especially local, every business needs some form of marketing, whether it’s listings management, reputation, social media engagement and so on. So for us, we don’t really specifically deal with any one particular vertical. What we do is though, we make sure that each relationship is given the attention upfront so that we can better understand where they are currently, help come up with a plan to devise where they wanna go and help them find the solutions and pick the steps to get there.

Prospecting: Networking And Real-Time Google My Business Auditing

George: One of the reasons Robert that I like asking the niche question is it leads me into how do you prospect then? What is the tactic that you use to prospect to find those new customers for your organization?

Robert: Excellent, so we actually have four prongs or four tracks in which we prospect. The first one and the most robust one is we network, network, network. And what I mean by that is we are affiliated with professional organizations like BNI, local Chambers of Commerce. We’ve affiliated ourselves with our local department of business and economic development. We do speaking engagements with professional associations like CPAs, attorneys. As a matter of fact, we do a lot of speaking engagements with auto dealership groups, very very robust groups. And we also do public speaking at local community colleges, within specifically their vocational departments. So if they have an automotive department let’s say, we’ll come and we’ll speak to the students there ’cause we know that once they’re done and they get their certification, and they’re now launching their businesses, they’re gonna think of us first because they remember us being there to talk to them about marketing. And secondly, we do what we like to call real-time Google My Business scans and review audits. Some people might call it canvassing, but whenever I’m out whether I’m having dinner at a restaurant or I’m at a local business, I’m always on my phone pulling up their local Google My Business listing. ‘Cause what I’m looking for first and foremost, is whether or not it’s claimed. ‘Cause that’s very important. If it’s not claimed that’s an opportunity to have a conversation. And then secondly, I’m looking at the reviews. Not so much for the review score, but I’m looking at are they engaged in their review thread? Meaning if they’re responding to their client reviews or customer reviews. If they’re not, then that’s easy for me to step up to the manager or even the owner and ask for permission to take a deeper dive into their business.

George: Robert I’ve got to dig into this. What you’re telling me is you’re sitting in a business or you’re driving by a business or you’re thinking about going to talk to a business. And just by looking at Google My Business or Google business profile as they’ve renamed it this week, you’re able to figure out whether there’s an opportunity with that prospect from that one tactic?

Robert: Absolutely. All I’m looking for is a means to start a conversation. I’m not providing any solutions at that time, but I’m doing something in a way that kind of makes them feel, oh my goodness, you know what? We’re overlooking this. And what happens is when I’m looking at their Google My Business listing, and if I’m looking at their reviews and I’m seeing that, wow, they have five stars or four stars, what I typically will say is you know what? I gotta tell ya, I’m so amazed at your establishment here. We were looking for a place to eat this evening. We came across your location. We saw that you had five star reviews and we were really blown away. Here’s what I do. And I explain them a little bit about KOR Unlimited, but more specifically, I say, “I’m noticing that with all of your reviews, no one’s responding.” No one’s saying thank you for that input. No one’s saying thank you for that feedback. Or even if the review is unfavorable, no one’s engaging with them to say, hey, we appreciate the feedback, we’re always constantly striving to do better. Thank you for that. And when you position it that way, the manager, the business owner is always like, you know what? You’re right, we need to be on that. And that’s when I ask for permission again to take a deeper dive and what I mean by deeper dive, I’m talking the snapshot report.

How To Position Your Agency

George: So when you’re talking to that restaurant owner or other customer that you’re prospecting, how would you define yourself as an agency and as an owner of an agency? What’s the reason to believe Robert that you use to build that trust?

Robert: It’s interesting you asked that question George because I often find that the agency owner, especially the newer agency owner deals with that conundrum almost daily. And that is how do they position themselves? Are you a marketing agency and from my experience, when I think about a marketing agency, I think about a firm that does absolutely everything soup to nuts. That’s industry specific market research. They analyze consumer behavior. They’re able to take a product from its inception phase all the way to go to market. And they have access to all sorts of media platforms, television, radio, print, exhibitions and so on. And that’s just not us. We don’t have that kind of scope, not yet at least. So then we have to ask ourselves if we’re not a marketing agency, then are we a purveyor of software? Do we resell software solutions that are designed to help local businesses grow their brand increase revenue? I like to say yes we are. But those are really more so the solutions. We have to first find the problem and diagnose the problem. And how do we do that? By positioning ourselves as consultants first. Consultants provide information. Consultants are the guides. Consultants help make sense of what is otherwise a sea of noise when it comes to options that a business owner has to choose from when it comes to marketing vendors. So we are a consulting firm and what we do is we provide information, i.e, knowledge. And that knowledge we guarantee is gonna help you define what the opportunities are for growth within your business. Does that sound like something you’d be interested in Mr. Business owner? Absolutely. Well, let me your email address and your telephone number by the way and I can give you a call.

Structuring Your Day: Tracking Activities And Determining Value From Intangibles

George: It’s an interesting approach and I love how it’s more of a hybrid approach between the three, because you definitely are speaking to them about their sales and marketing. You definitely are providing them with software, but you’re doing it in a lens that is around the entire outcome of the business, not just one tactic. I remember when we met one of the things that you and I bonded over is how do you structure a day? And we’re digging into that with you today. I got really excited to get you on the show because I know you and I share some common ground on having structure around a day. So how does Robert Davis structure his day?

Robert: Oh, wow. So for those listening I know that some would say, well, that’s a lot. Well, some would say I’m a little bit of an OCD personality and that’s okay. But I’m really about doing things with purpose, being deliberate in my actions and be able to really track my activities. So one of the first things that I do and this is to everyone out there, I work with four separate color coded calendar storage. I’ve got a calendar specifically titled KOR Unlimited. I’ve got a calendar for recurring. I’ve got a calendar for tasks and workflows. And finally, I’ve a calendar for personal. And the reason why I do this is that it enables me to check off or check or uncheck one of those calendars so I can see very quickly what my week looks like. But more importantly, I first think about when am I available, when do I wanna be available to my customers and clients? So I have to ask myself, KOR Unlimited right now is open from nine to five, Monday through Thursday. And we’re open from nine to three on Fridays. And what I’ve actually done is I’ve broken that down into 38 actual hours in which if someone were to call our telephone number, you’re gonna get an answer on the phone. Now, I’m sure, again, a lot would say that’s a lot but wait, it gets even better. Because of those 38 hours George, only 29 are available for anything having to do with running my business. And the reason why that is because I have to eat, I like to workout and every morning I have what I like to call a standing appointment with myself to discuss what we call “what’s on tap for the day.” So from 38 down to 29 is what I actually have left for what I like to call activities that drive business. And of those 29 hours, two hours a day I set aside specifically for admin tasks and operational tasks and the remaining four hours a day, exclusively those towards revenue generating activities. And what I mean by that is every day I try to have at least two to three, one hour phone calls with a new prospect or existing client.

George: So what I love about this is the level of detail that you bring to your entire day. Like you have virtually every hour mapped out and you’re utilizing that time to its best result. When you came up with that concept of I’m gonna spend this much time talking to customers every day, was that early in your career or was this something you learned after a period of time?

Robert: This came very early in my career. ‘Cause remember thinking back now I spent almost 20 years in financial services. And during that time, when you’re dealing in intangibles and were dealing with sales of intangibles, you really have to figure out how did you have a productive day? We’re not typically processing paperwork that comes in your inbox and then you look at your outbox end of the day. Do phone calls count, do contacts count, you actually getting off a pitch if you will, does that count? So early on I devised what I call a 25 point system. And what I had to do simply is this. If I were to accumulate 25 points every day, I knew I had a productive day. And those points can be divided up into contacting a lead, actually the contact person on the phone, asking for an order, even more poorly asking for referral was sometimes worth three points. Scheduling a new appointment was worth a point. So with a mixture of activities throughout the day, as long as I could accumulate 25 at the end of the day, again, I knew I was productive and I knew I was getting closer and closer towards my overall goals.

George: I love that idea. And I love the idea of weighting it because all actions are not measured equally or lead to that outcome that you’re looking for. Some of them are more important.

Robert: Absolutely. And that goes back to one of the things I really live by and it’s some people would say that they’ve heard this kind of a methodology before. I call it the three Ps to what I like to call keeping my own sanity. And that’s purpose, process and pay off. Again, everything that I do as long as pertains to my business and even my life I do with some modicum of purpose. In other words, I try to be delivered to my actions. I have meaning behind my choices. And I always have to ask myself what is motivating me for this particular action. Some of us have heard the phrase, what’s your why? I take a little bit beyond that ’cause it’s not just my why, it’s what’s the why for the customer, the potential client, or for that matter anyone that I come in contact with, what’s the value proposition that they get out of engaging with me.

The 3 P’s To Keeping Your Sanity: Purpose, Process, Pay-off

George: So I wanna just unpack these three Ps because I think this is what I’ve been looking for. And maybe it’s something that I can put to use as well because I’m liking what I’m hearing. There’s a lot of structure here. I’ve been struggling with reaching my goals because I’m all over the place and I’m like I need to get some more structure. So we’ve got purpose, being purposeful, figuring out what’s motivating. Simon Sinek finding our why, but then we get into the number two in the three Ps. And I believe that it’s around process. So let’s talk about what are you doing there in the process stage of this?

Robert: Now, this is a behavioral aspect. And it’s something that has to be developed over time and very simply document, document, document. The sooner that we can get into the habit or the behavior if you will of outlining our steps taken. steps taken, I don’t necessarily mean as it pertains to our business. I’m talking about just in our day-to-day lives. Think about the first time you learned how to tie your shoelaces. There were steps involved in that process. And then as you got better at those steps, the process became easier. So again, the sooner we can get the habit of outlining the steps in a particular process, the better it will be when it comes time for us to create, draft, test and even finalize the workflows that we all use in our business models. Workflows such as client acquisition models, new client onboarding models, existing client advocacy models, and of course support and service. But one thing I will always stress is that with a process though, it needs to be repeatable George. ‘Cause otherwise if it’s not repeatable, then there’s no way for you to really track and gauge if it’s working.

George: Robert, I gotta ask this question before you go on because I think this is really important for our audience to understand. How many times do you test it to make sure it’s repeatable?

Robert: Again, I’m a little bit of a perfectionist. I cross a lot of T’s and dot a lot of I’s. So for me, minimally, I try to run through a process at least five times to make sure that it’s not a fluke. I’m not big on probabilities like if you flip a coin, how many times does it come up heads or tails? I just say five times is a good number for me. But what’s really cool George, and it’s really important is that the last piece of this process, it needs to be something that you can teach to the next person. ‘Cause if he can’t teach it, then you’re not gonna be able to scale. You’re gonna be really limited in your growth. So once I’ve tested it and then I’m able to teach it to someone and they can pick it up and they’re not confused or overwhelmed by it, I know I’ve got a winner.

George: I’m sitting here on pins and needles on what the third P is and why it’s a part of this algorithm that you’ve written. So we got purpose, process and.

Robert: So the last one, it’s pay off. Initially, it was value in terms of what’s the value proposition. But then when I took a step back and a 30,000 foot view, I realized I have PPV, which is basically paper view and I’m not selling fights here so I changed it to pay off, right? So pay off in simple words means what’s the benefit. And like I said, it’s not just for you, but for anyone that you come into contact with. How does your purpose, your process for executing on that purpose impact someone else’s situation for the better? And my feeling is that when you can articulate that response clearly, then you’re truly on the path to distinguishing yourself from the masses or in our case masses means competition.

George: Well, basically in the last 16 minutes or so, Robert Davis, the CEO of KOR and what does KOR stand for again, Robert?

Robert: Knowledge, opportunity, results. Put it like this, I use it in terms of digital marketing, but actually it can be used in any aspect of life. If there’s a passion that you have, there’s something that you have an affinity for, something you’re striving towards, if you go after it with the pursuit of knowledge first to educate yourself, get yourself skilled in that, the opportunities are gonna present themselves. As long as you apply yourself and stay committed, they’ll deliver yourself results.

George: So basically you just got a recipe of how to build a successful organization with a couple of different acronyms that lead to some methodologies that Robert has been embracing for a number of years and finding success with. Robert, we truly appreciate you joining us on the show this week and sharing those learnings with us. And I have always admired the structure that you bring, the rigor that you bring to your business on a day-to-day basis. In fact, I’m envious. I wish I was a little bit more structured. So every time I talk to you I’m hopefully gonna take just a couple of pieces and be a little bit more structured. Maybe get back to me in six months I’ll let you know if people are saying, “George you’re a little more structured.” And I’ll go, “That was Robert.” But thanks for joining us on the show today and taking some time out of your day-to-day of helping local businesses. And we appreciate your partnership and the learnings that you gave to us.

Robert: Thank you very much, George, it was my pleasure.


George: I have to write a personal thank you letter to Robert because his stories this week are speaking exactly where I am and that is, I need to get more structure. I need to organize my day better. Like this guy is dialed in. Here’s our team’s top three takeaways from this episode. How do you position yourself as an agency? And what you must do is to understand the value that you’re delivering to your customers. And then how to structure your day. Deliberate in your actions, purposeful in what you’re trying to accomplish. In fact, let’s get to his three Ps to keeping Robert sanity. And I’m gonna adopt these. The purpose, what motivates you and why. The process, documentation is everything. The sooner you get in the habit of outlining your steps, the sooner it becomes repeatable and teachable. In fact, you get more brain space because you’ve got everything dialed in to a proven workflow. And then the last P is pay off. What’s the benefit now not just for you, but for anyone that you come into contact with? If we think about those three Ps, I agree with Robert, you definitely would be a lot more sane and probably a lot more productive. If you liked Robert’s episode, be sure to listen to the next time you’re waiting for coffee, walking the dog or in the car. Episode 424, learning from your misadventures with my man, Larry Long Jr. Misadventures are bound to happen throughout your life and it’s how you react, grow and help others learn from those experiences, that’s what matters. Episode 316, optimizing the sales day from Steve Benson. Steve provides conquers insight into how to optimize their often chaotic and hectic sales days. Or episode 336, be the trusted local expert from our master sales series. How to help your small and medium businesses get back to business by being the trusted local expert. And what does it look like to reopen and how to communicate to the local business community? That’s just three of the over 200 episodes we produced in the last four seasons to help you conquer local. If you found value in this episode, please leave us a review wherever you listen to your podcasts. This feedback will help us grow and better adapt to what you want to hear in future episodes. Be sure to subscribe to the Finny Award winning Conquer Local podcast as we continue to welcome extra ordinary sales leaders, marketers and entrepreneurs. My name is George Leith. I’ll see you when I see you.

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