Success Stories with Marshall Atkinson

Success Stories EP 25 - "How Does Humor Play into How You Think About Sales?" with Ron Goodwin

July 28, 2021 Marshall Atkinson Season 1 Episode 25
Success Stories with Marshall Atkinson
Success Stories EP 25 - "How Does Humor Play into How You Think About Sales?" with Ron Goodwin
Show Notes Transcript

How does humor play into how you think about sales?  Not sure if you ever have considered that, but I know one person that has, and it is Ron Goodwin with Goodwin Graphics in Cohasset, Massachusetts.

Ron has been using humor in his sales approach since 1976 to help keep his customers coming back and develop relationships.  45 years later, some of his best customers have their sons or daughters doing business with his shop.  Now, that’s loyalty.

In this episode of Success Stories, we’ll learn how he speaks their language keeps his customers coming back for more.



Marshall Atkinson  

Welcome to success stories brought to you by S&S Activewear. I'm your host, Marshall Atkinson. And this is the podcast that focuses on what's working so you can have success too. How do you ever plan to how you think about sales? I'm not sure if you've ever considered that. But I know one person that has, and it is Ron Goodwin with Goodwin graphics in Cohasset, Massachusetts. Ron has been using humor in his sales approach since 1976, to help keep his customers coming back and develop relationships. 45 years later, some of his best customers have had their sons or daughters doing business with his shop. Now that's loyalty. On this episode of success stories, we'll learn how by speaking their language, he keeps his customers coming back for more. So welcome to the success stories podcast, Ron, how are you doing?

Ron Goodwin  

I'm doing great Marshall, thank you for inviting me to be here. It's an honor to be with the other luminaries that you've had in the series. I've listened to a few of them a lot of my close friends, and I'm glad to be here. 

Marshall Atkinson  

Well, I'm so excited to have you on the show. And you're one of the guys, I think if anybody is doing things, right, it's you. You've been in this business for quite a long time -- 

Ron Goodwin  

Can you call my wife and tell her what you just said,

Marshall Atkinson  

I can't call your wife. And I think it's gonna be very interesting to hear your approach to it. Because, you know, sometimes you got to go back to the Oh, gee, guys to find out what's going on, you

Ron Goodwin  

know what I mean? So my interest in using numerous as a way to sell is, it's a generational thing. My dad was a salesman, and he sold metal for people who fabricated stuff. He had a whole bunch of tried and true stories and jokes that he would use with his customers. And as a kid, I didn't go on sales calls with him. But I did realize he always brought a funny story to whatever transaction he was doing that he as a young kid that was like, this is pretty cool. My dad's making these people smile.

Marshall Atkinson  

Right. And I think humor transcends a lot of situations and we're gonna get into some of that later. But first, I want to start talking about your business. You've been around for 45 years. And that's quite an accomplishment. So who are your customers? And how do you think you're serving them best. So let's just get that out of the way,

Ron Goodwin  

this is gonna sound a little bit corny, but one of the best things about having your own business and being in business is the people that I get to meet and who I get to interact with, we like to look at the numbers, and we like to make sure we're making money. And that's a big component of it. But for me, it's like we're here to make their dreams come true. So when they come to me, they have a design, I can't judge whether that's a good designer, I just do the shirts the way they want them. And if they're happy, I'm happy. So most of my customers are not being transactional-type customers. I'm not dealing with a lot of larger companies, although they do find their way here. And we do some pretty decent size jobs. Like our average job is $700, I think. And so most of its smaller companies, and we have the luxury of knowing these people and knowing their families and getting to know that the longer you do business with them, the more you get to know them. I can't say that every customer I've ever had is still with me. But I would say the vast majority.

Marshall Atkinson  

So the folks that you are doing business with back in the 70s and 80s, their children are now running their businesses, because Pop's retired or whatever. And now you're still printing for them. And it's just like it's what you do in your areas. You see Ron about your shirts,

Ron Goodwin  

right. And the interesting thing about that is saying how the sons and daughters take over for the parents. That's not as common as we seem to believe it is. Now I always thought that oh, this is a disk company that has been three generations and I thought, well, that's not that big a deal. The father passed it to the kid that the kid best is good. Well, it is a big deal because most businesses, don't make that transition. So it's a lot of there are a lot of those. I'm not saying they're out but I'm saying for a company to make generational leaps is a pretty good accomplishment. And it says something about the families that that can do that. I know I'm not gonna be able to do that. My daughters don't have any interest in Goodwin graphics.

Marshall Atkinson  

And your dog's not taking over?

Ron Goodwin  

Well, maybe Ruby could handle it.

Marshall Atkinson  

She Wags her tail and people love your dog is in all of yours. Social media and stuff, always seek love to see and what your dog's up to.

Ron Goodwin  

Nice.

Marshall Atkinson  

So tell us exactly where Cohasset Massachusetts is. Because if you're geographically kind of dumb like I am, we don't know these things. So how far around your area do you serve in mass or like everywhere. So we

Ron Goodwin  

are, we're about 20 miles south of Boston, we're on the coast, you know, they say, you take us, you make a circle around your business, half of that circle of mine is in the ocean. So I have to work twice as hard to get the other half to work. But I'm blessed in that I do have competitors, but not a ton of them. And I do get a lot of work from Boston. And you know, we get a lot of work. So generally, I got an order from Italy today. So and we've shipped shirts all over the world, but the majority of our businesses are probably within a 20-mile radius.

Marshall Atkinson  

So let's just talk more about using humor. And you have this good-natured way of dealing with things and tell everybody what your slogan is, because I think that kind of feeds into that, too. How are you using humor and that kind of positive energy to attract customers, and keep everything going with reorders and keep them coming back? 

Ron Goodwin  

So one thing is that there's a guy out there, his name is Steve Rizzo. He was a stand-up comedian. Now he's a motivational speaker, he's got a couple of books out, but he talks about your inner beam, not a human being but a human being. And he says that everybody has a sense of humor, and inside of them this humor and that the more we can use that better things are going to work out. So when you go, like on a sales presentation, if it's all about the numbers and the exact things and no one's have fun, you immediately put up a barrier, and you're like, Okay, I have to be analytical. And this is all about what's, you know, the best cotton material. And whereas if you use a little humor, and you kind of break that down a little bit, people are willing to not be so analytical because they're having fun. And it tends to break the barriers, so to speak. If you've been in a situation where you're dealing with a customer service rep and one of your suppliers, and they have given you the party line, and you throw out a joke, it kind of cuts the anger, and it turns it into a more of human interaction. So our slogan is, it's a good day. Part of the reason that's our slogan is I want to remind myself, that's a good day because not every day Do we love going to work and not every day that we relish every job we're doing. But if you stop and think, say, this is a good day, we have a business that's thriving, we're worried about the five doesn't Bella Canvas, have the green shirts, we can't get in reality, we got all these other jobs that are going through no problem. So I don't know, it seems like human nature is to kind of focus on what's going wrong and not stop and say, you know, today

Marshall Atkinson  

is a good day. You're really good about that. You put that in social media posts, one of the things I love is the fact that you had that awesome challenge coin that you gave me at some trade show years ago. I still have that thing. I love the positive energy that you just put out there in the world. Let's just let's do a little scenario. So a new customer you've never seen before comes in the door. How are you using humor to greet them? Or what goes on during the order? How do you get that like humor banter going to keep everything positive? Give us an example where

Ron Goodwin  

you have to let them set the tone. They for the moment or your boss, if you get the feeling that they're not into any jokes back off because you know, it can get ugly. But you know, someone might come in and they say, Are you, Ronnie Goodwin? And I'll say, Oh, no, that jerk only comes in on Fridays to pick up the money. But maybe I can help you. And then they'll go well, and then I'll say something. They'll go, Oh, wait a minute. You II him? I say yeah, yeah. Then if they ask for Mr. Goodwin, I always say Mr. Goodwin's, my father, he doesn't work here. But I can help you. You know you lead with a little bit of humor. And you can't laugh at the artwork that they bring you that they want to be reproduced on the shirt, you have to be sensitive on that stuff.

Marshall Atkinson  

I've always said, Hey, can I let you know how great our art department is? 

Ron Goodwin  

And I'll tell you, we have an idea. I don't know if he's just gonna hear this broadcast. But I hired him specifically because he was good-natured and he looked me in the eye during the interview. And I mean, you know how hard it can be to hire an artist because they can excel in different things. But David gets it about interacting with people and we don't want to be too serious because these are t-shirts. They're not it's not a hotline machine for your mother in the hospital. We should be able to have a few jokes about it.

Marshall Atkinson  

So have you ever said something and the second it left your mouth? You're like, Oh,

Ron Goodwin  

are you talking about today this week or Korea? So one time, we did a ton of work for a big financial institution in Boston. And they had their fitness program and softball teams and all that they bought a ton of stuff. They bought a ton of stuff through the purchasing department and a ton of stuff through their fitness thing and different events that they have. So a woman calls me up, and she wants to know about softball uniforms. So I go over, you know, what we have to offer and what will be a good fit. So she goes to place the order, we figure out the shirt, she goes to place the order, and she said, Oh, and I need one in 3x. And I said, Well, they only make this shirt up to 2x. So we're probably gonna have to pick a different shirt. She says, Well, no, I like this shirt. Can't we get three eggs? I say no. Unfortunately, we can't we can have, we're gonna have to figure this something out. She goes, Well, what am I going to do? And I say, Well, maybe you can tell it a run the basis a few times more. And you know, the rest of the story, right?

Marshall Atkinson  

Yeah, because it was for her.

Ron Goodwin  

And I didn't find that out two months later, one of the other people there said, What did you say to so and so? And I said, No. Don't know. Because the funny thing is, we did get the order. But I think that was the last one we got that she was involved in, but I just shut up when even think about what a friggin jerk you know, and I just, and I don't know-how. That's my worst story. And I want to call her up and apologize, but I know that would just dig it out.

Marshall Atkinson  

I think we've all stuck our feet in our mouths at one time or another.

Ron Goodwin  

I bought somebody with a 3x given someone crap about 3x in some shirts.

Marshall Atkinson  

 I have to wear 3x I'm kind of a big guy. relate. So it can be dangerous at times. It can be dangerous. 

COMMERCIAL BREAK

Marshall Atkinson  

Can we hear a story about how you're joking around with a customer or kind of these peddle jobs here and there that and that's led to more orders or you said something and that and they told like oh yeah, I do need those baseball hats? Right? Do you have an anecdote about that?

Ron Goodwin  

 So one of the things that we do is we have a home pod, you know, it's the Apple Music thing. And when a customer comes in, and we're going through a thing, I'll stop and say, what's the best concert you've ever been to Who's your favorite musician? And they look at me like, what are you nuts? And they'll go, oh, Diego's I look over to go, Hey, Siri, can you play the Eagles? And the Eagles will stop playing. And it’s kind of like the changes in the mood in the room. It's kind of like human, but it's like, this is their music. And that's what they like, is it and sometimes it's painful because they don't they like crappy musicians. And I have to listen to it through the presentation. But it's worth it for the few minutes that I do. And actually, I've discovered some music I didn't know about through my customers that say yeah, and then that's worked out pretty good in my shop. And it's an easy thing to do.

Marshall Atkinson  

That's interesting. I love that idea. Do people seem to appreciate that

Ron Goodwin  

once you get it to Yeah, yeah. Occasionally they'll be like, Oh, well, I don't like music and I go? Okay.

Marshall Atkinson  

Hey, Siri, play the news.

Ron Goodwin  

But you know, most people, they may have a different sense of humor than you have. But most everyone responds to humor. And if they don't, I'm okay with them by their shirt somewhere else.

Marshall Atkinson  

Have you ever fired a customer?

Ron Goodwin  

Oh, yeah, I learned that about, I don't know, probably 20 years ago. And I'll tell you for you younger people that you should fire fast and hire slow when you're doing that firing and hiring. But customers the first time I think was one of the first times I did It was a guy was, he just was never happy with anything we did. And so finally, I just told you not happy with what we do. And then he, he came in, and he wanted us to bid on all this stuff. And he had like these bid sheets, and we bid on everything. And then we ended up getting divorced. And it was, it wasn't painful for me at all. Because of that time and effort that we spent with him, we put it towards other customers, they were appreciative. 

And people align in with their checkbooks wanting to buy shirts, and I'm wasting the time in this guy saying, oh, that the green ink on the green ring, it shouldn't match the trim. I'm like, well, okay, but so yeah, we've found a few over the years, there's a couple came back, one of them came back, he's a really good customer. Now. I was listening to some podcasts the other day, and they were saying about, when you first meet with a customer, and you see red flags, you should pay attention and that they may not be a good fit for you. And if you're better off to not engage than to try and make it work and ended up trying to please somebody that you're not going to be able to please. And unfortunately, well not, it's probably good in the long run. The consumer has the power now were they in the past, they didn't they had to buy what the supplier was supplying. Now it's more a customized situation where the consumer can get whatever they want, pretty much and if they're not happy with you make it known that you weren't good for them. 

There wasn't back in the day. You could tell a customer go you whatever, and they couldn't give you three stars on Facebook or Google or there was no request for them. They just would have to go away pissed off. But nowadays, the customers have the power and in some of my reasons.

Marshall Atkinson  

The earth is certainly flat because internet look, you just got to order from Rome, Italy. So then we both know Jeffrey Gitomer and I think he prints his shirts for him. And he's a big proponent of using humor in sales. And he likes to break things up and make it kind of entertaining. And I think kind of a phrase I learned a long time ago is people don't do business with their enemies. They do business with their friends, have your style of using humor. Has that produced some friendships throughout your career? 

Ron Goodwin  

Yeah, I believe and this even trumps the money is the best part of being in business, and having a small business is all the people I get to meet. And I've met some amazing people that have come into my shop and, and I hear their stories and what they've done. David McCullough, I don't know if you know of him. He's an author. He writes books, mostly historical stuff. He's a customer he's been in and he's like, unbelievable. And yeah, get him as a friend of mine and get them as not always the funniest guy, but we have a lot of good laughs in actually Jeffrey introduced me to Steve Rizzo the guy who was talking about the motivational speaker was a stand-up comedian.

Marshall Atkinson  

So how is that working with a guy like that and finding customers through referrals? Because if you're developing using your hammer, using kind of your friendly nature, doesn't everybody go? Oh, yeah, you got to work or Ronnie got to work or Ron, he's your guy. Right?

Ron Goodwin  

Right. I get that. Yeah. And part of the challenge of that is that when someone gives a referral, I got to take that customer and take good care of them. Because, if they go back and they say, what did that guy's terrible, that's going to be a reflection on them flex on me. So I think probably 80 to 90% of our business comes from referrals. And occasionally, they'll say, Oh, we googled you and you were close by but almost all people who end up here are through referrals. We don't do any traditional advertising. You know, we do Instagram and Facebook. And when people posts who's a good place to get t-shirts on Facebook, and a local, I'll get out of 12 referrals, eight of them will be for good one graphics, and I always post in I says yeah, they're a great company, but the owners kind of a jerk.

Marshall Atkinson  

And dude, people see that and get the joke.

Ron Goodwin  

Yeah. And if they don't, they're not smart enough to realize a guy named Ronnie Goodwin could be associated with Goodwin Graphics. It's all good. Right?

Marshall Atkinson  

So how are you doing these days with the economy opening back up? Are you getting busier what's going on there where you live?

Ron Goodwin  

So we're like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. We're doing great. You know, the big challenges can't get black hoodies and extra large and stuff like that. But that's a small challenge. And I call the customer today I couldn't get the light blue Gildan t-shirts in large or whatever. One of my mantras up until this whole thing is that: “If somebody orders a certain shirt, they get that shirt”. Some places will say it's a 100% five-ounce cotton shirt. They'll give you six different brands. We always say you're going to get this brand. So I hate that I have to call customers and say, Look, we can't get the next level and this color, but we can get you the Bella canvas. It's very similar. That's been a small challenge. But we're not a big shop. There are only four of us here. So it doesn't take a lot to keep us busy. And, you know, I can't go on much longer. I'm 70 or I'll, I'll be 70 in August, so I have to start slowing down.

Marshall Atkinson  

Yeah, that's when Lucy takes over. 

Ron Goodwin  

Yeah. I hope so.  So, Ally, though it's not Lucy. It's Ally.

Marshall Atkinson  

Sally. Oh, sorry. I thought it was Lucy. I'm talking about your dog.

Ron Goodwin  

Oh, that's Ruby,

Marshall Atkinson  

Ruby. 

Ron Goodwin  

Ruby takes over we're all in trouble. Ruby just wants to eat and run. 

Marshall Atkinson  

So Ron, if you had any piece of advice for everyone listening out there, what would you say?

Ron Goodwin  

Well, if don't spend money, you don't have an end and try and invest in your future. But one thing that I've learned is that you should get paid upfront. Because if your customers or potential customers are surfing the internet for a good deal, and they go to custom ink, or one of those other online supplies, all of those supplies require prepayment. And we're in an industry that once you print the shirts, they're no good to anybody except the customer that ordered them. So it makes sense that they should pay you upfront. And we switched over a couple of years ago after I heard Mike Michalowicz they're at.

Marshall Atkinson  

I think it was a printed hustlers prohustlers conference.

Ron Goodwin  

And it changes the whole dynamic. Because you don't have to send out statements, you don't have to send out late notices. All of that is gone, you get your money, and then you have the money to buy the goods that you need to get. And you know, it gives you a false sense that you're doing better than you are because you have money in the bank, do you have obligations, and I've gotten very few pushbacks from customers. And I tell them, it's no reflection and your ability to pay, whether you trust as a don't trust, it's just the way we do business. And I would hope that our industry would adopt that as the norm. This is how you do it. And I know there are guys out there who say, Oh, I got a big customer, they'll never go for that. Well, you'd be surprised. I've gotten large universities to do it. And most all of them have American Express cards that they can put the stuff on. So that would be my advice on that.

Marshall Atkinson  

That's excellent advice. I'm a big believer in that too. And there's something out there. You've probably heard of it called COVID. That's the bad guy that you can blame it on.

Ron Goodwin  

Yeah, right.

Marshall Atkinson  

You can just say, you know, because of COVID. We've had to do this. We're not a bank.

Ron Goodwin  

To be honest with you. We implemented it a year before COVID. But we weren't really strict about it until COVID. And then it's the new normal. They like to say.

Marshall Atkinson  

Right, well… I like to use the term next normal. 

Ron Goodwin

The next normal. Yeah.

Marshall Atkinson

Because the new normal that sounds like it's just yours.

Ron Goodwin 

And it's something else. 

Marshall Atkinson  

Yeah, I think the next normal and I don't even think we know what the next normal is yet. I still think we're on the road to getting somewhere. But we're not quite there yet. Don't you think? 

Ron Goodwin  

Yeah. And they say, you know, if you want things to stay the same, we're gonna have to make some changes.

Marshall Atkinson  

That's right. That's right. All right. Well, cool. Well, thank you so much for your time today, Ron, if somebody wanted to get a hold of you to learn more about what you do, or how you can help them. What's the best way to do that?

Ron Goodwin  

Well, there's always an email [email protected]. There’s Facebook and Instagram. Well, they can pick up the phone and call me.

Marshall Atkinson  

And you'll answer.

Ron Goodwin  

Oh, probably half the time

Marshall Atkinson  

I answer. All right. Well, hey, thanks so much for being on the show. We appreciate you. 

Ron Goodwin  

Oh, thank you. I can't wait to see you guys in flesh again. It's been a long year.

Marshall Atkinson  

Alright, Ron. Hey, thank you so much for your time. 

Well, that's our show today. Thanks for listening. And don't forget to subscribe so you can stay up to date on the latest Success Stories, episodes. Have any suggestions for future guests or topics? Send them my way, and [email protected], and we'll see you next time!