This month I’m so happy to feature my good friend, Mark DiPietro. Not only is Mark an exceptional business owner, with an incredible team, he’s an even better individual. Mark and I met while training for the Myrtle Beach Marathon several years ago. Since then I’ve had the privilege to get to know him, his wonderful wife Kristen and their four sons. Although his business does projects of all sizes, I particularly love hearing stories of major theatre systems his team does for the largest houses in the Charlotte/Lake Norman area. Mark is an inspiration to me because he continually finds a way to balance family, work, faith and health. I strive daily to be more like him in my business and in my life. Read below about Mark and his team at SoundVision Audio Video.
1) What does your company do?
We do a LOT of things. We consider ourselves a SERVICE company first and foremost. This is because, with technology changing all the time, we are vital to keep things working in your environment. What used to be the audio video guys, we are now more of a technology manager too. Specifically, we touch most technologies in your home or place of business. These include, but aren’t limited to, WiFi networks, audio, video, security, camera systems, landscape audio systems, automated lighting and shades, and infrastructure wiring for the future.
2) How many team members do you have?
Currently, we have 8 full time team members.
3) You provide a ton of services in a very niche market for the home; what's the best way you have found to market your business/gain exposure in the community?
That’s a great question and we have tried a lot of different things from SEO to print. What seems to have worked the best for us is a vigilant, weekly request for new customers to review us on Google. We are up to 45, 5 star reviews, and this gets us a few phone calls a week. Additionally, we work with a marketing professional who provides content for blogs and social media on a regular basis to keep us in the customer’s minds eye as they peruse their favorite form of communication, whether that be reading blogs like this one, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Finally, we also do regular constant contact submissions targeted at specific customers we think might benefit from a specific product or service.
4) How have you come about organizing your business and who keeps you accountable?
This has been a VERY long process. We routinely create processes and review them with our team, and specifically with the team members they affect the most. I have four, long term goals for the company which include getting the company sustainable without my day to day involvement, achieve very specific sales, and more importantly, profitability goals, establish a service mentality and subscription based RMR (recurring monthly revenue) model that is win / win for us and our customers so that we can afford to provide them with outrageous service; AND, establish a process manual that allows any 14 year old to perform all the critical tasks in our company (i.e. written in crayon language) so that we can “wash, rinse, and repeat” again providing our customers and our team members with a repetitive process that works.
5) As is common in owning your own business, what has kept you going through the tough times?
Having lost a business in the past and making MOST of the mistakes out there, I can say unequivocally, the MOST important thing is to KNOW YOUR NUMBERS, and allocate money for the future. We have individual bank accounts for profit, emergency funds, customer deposits, sales tax, employee compensation and more. While that might seem crazy, we ALWAYS have money when we need it and we can see quickly, at a glance, exactly where our money is and where we might be tight.
6) Although you have family working with you, how do you maintain boundaries so there is some separation from home and work?
Luckily, in our new home, and since we have decided for financial reasons to stay in the home for a while longer, the basement is our separator. Basically, the guys know they have to come around to the basement office (or IWH (International World Headquarters)). At the end of the day, when I shut the office door and walk upstairs, it’s just like I’m leaving the office to go home. It’s mental really, but it works.
7) Where do you hope to see your business in 5 years?
Corporately, we have talked about this A LOT over the last two years. To grow or not to grow. Instead of thinking of some mythical top line revenue, I work from profit first, or bottom up. My goal in 5 years is to have a sustainable, service oriented business that adheres to my goals listed above, and is 15% net profitable on the bottom line. If we are making money, keeping our team members well paid and happy, providing great benefits for them, and providing outrageous service to our customers, we will be winning and the rest will take care of itself. There are some pretty big plans to get there, but I guess that you will need to interview us again down the road to hear about those.