In the late Spring of 2020, I knew it was time to focus on my endeavor here at joshhall.co where I teach web designers how to build awesome websites and grow their own web design business, full time. This left me with a big decision and a big question…what do I do with my web design agency?
Some of the thoughts that went through my mind, among many others, were:
- Should I hire a project manager, a sales person or someone to run the day to day?
- Should I sell it and hand off my clients?
- Should I merge with another agency?
It was a big decision and in short, I decided to go the best of both worlds. Sell the business but also retain some ownership to be involved with the business, the team and my “A” clients who are still dear to me and who, in some cases, have been with me for over a decade.
In this “behind the scenes” case study style episode, myself along with my new CEO and partner Eric Dingler who acquired my business, open up about went on with selling my business (from my end) and acquiring the business (from his end.)
I know it’ll be a super beneficial chat and reference guide for those of you who are looking to sell your business either soon or one day down the road and even for those of you who aren’t looking to sell your business, hopefully it’ll be a very valuable resource for you on how to organize your business and prepare it for whatever you want to do in the future with it.
In this episode:
00:33 – An introduction to selling my business
05:11 – What went into selling
07:24 – When you know it’s time
13:46 – Seeking advice from mentors
18:36 – Trust your gut
25:35 – A new mission (10% goes to funding adoption)
28:58 – What we did was a hybrid approach
29:59 – Keeping skin in the game
36:54 – This is where the work came in
43:55 – Creating a schedule and deadlines
45:35 – A video about all the clients
49:34 – No regrets
53:50 – Most emotionally draining aspect
1:01:14 – More domain authority and SEO
1:05:26 – It seemed too good to be true
1:10:12 – Creating a succession plan
1:15:14 – Eric’s appreciation
Connect with Eric:
Here’s my 6-Phase, “Selling The Business” action plan:
Phase I : When you know it’s time
- Recognizing the red flags
- Making sure your new income source is solid and sustainable
- Seek advice from close mentors, colleagues and folks who have been there
Phase 2 : Finding the right fit
- Kept an eye on colleagues who were client focused and had the same values (not necessarily vision and goals)
- Reaching out with a call to see if interested
- Making sure they had the bandwidth and long term vision
- Following up one week later and move on the deal
Phase 3 : Making the deal
- Sell, merge or hybrid approach
- Getting the books and numbers together to find actual value of business
- Making sure it worked for acquisition partner as well
- Getting it in writing and both parties sign
Phase 4 : Planning the change
- Planning when Eric would take over the business
- Planning the time to transfer details and let clients know
- Planning internal bank, accounts and taxes
- Letting CPA, Attorney and
Phase 5 : Handing over the keys
- Preparing client master lists, information and details
- Creating videos for every client
- Turning over all client assets and logins
- Turning over all internal subscriptions, assets and info
- Letting clients know (one by one via email)
Phase 6 : Following up
- Checking in regularly with Eric
- Checking in with top A clients to see how the transition is going
Full Episode Transcription #053
Hey, everybody, welcome into Episode 53. So this is a very different type of episode. This is kind of a case study, it is a behind the scenes or maybe peek behind the curtain look into what went on recently with selling my web design business. So over the past few episodes, you’ve probably heard me talk about fact that late spring 2020 here, I sold my web design agency and I still do own a percentage of it and we worked out a great deal so I can still, you know, oversee the processes and the team and, and have some good contact with my best clients. But I did sell the agency so I could focus full time on what I’m doing here with Josh Hall.co and it’s been one heck of a journey. I’ve learned so much over the past few months. And I wanted to just kind of share with you guys what I’ve learned. But I didn’t want to just share from my perspective, as somebody who sold the business, I also wanted to bring in the guy who purchased the business and that’s Eric Dingler. And you probably recognize his name because I had him on the podcast previously in Episode 23, because he’s been a student of mine for a few years now. And I kind of saw and helped him grow his business and saw him grow his business to six figures. And as you’ll hear, I felt like he was going to be a great fit for me. But the reason I wanted to have him on this as well as I wanted you to hear things from his perspective, as somebody who is acquiring the business. So you’ll hear a lot of, you know, my perspective as somebody who wanted to sell the business but then you’ll hear on his end with acquiring it, what it looked like and I think this is going to be valuable for so many of you even if you’re not interested in selling your business. I know a lot of my students are interested in setting up a business to eventually sell it. So this is going to be right down your alley. But even if you’re not interested in selling, or maybe you know, you just want to have some reference point for the day ever comes, this is going to be super beneficial for you because I just learned so much about how to organize a business better through these last few months. And you’re going to hear a lot of things that I did well, but you’re also going to hear a lot of lessons learned the hard way that Eric and I kind of had to work through together. And I will say, the biggest lesson I learned you’ll hear this in the episode, but I’ll just tell it to you right now as a quickie before we dive in. And that is you’ve got to get your business out of your head, you’ve got to get it on file, you’ve got to have some sort of SOP a standard operating procedure are the main things on file somewhere that somebody else could assist with. Whether you want to stay a solopreneur or not, it’s just good to get things out of your head because I really realized through this process that man I had a lot of stuff in my head that I had to get out and give to Eric during this period. So you’re gonna hear a lot about that. You’re going to hear a lot about how you can set up your business to sell one day or again, even if you’re not interested in selling, you just want to have an organized business for whatever the future holds, this is going to be invaluable for you and it’s going to be a great resource. Now, before we dive in one thing I realized and one thing I found out when I talked to a lot of people who sold businesses in the past, is that if you are your business, if your business is entirely rely on you and your mind, your business is not going to be worth that much. What you really want to have a valuable business to sell is some sort of recurring income that can be easily transferred over. And the best way to create a solid recurring income plan for your business is with a website hosting and maintenance plan. And if you’re interested in starting a maintenance plan, or maybe you have one, but you’re ready to take it to the next level, I have a maintenance plan course where I walk you through my entire plan, which is what Eric purchased, and honestly it’s what was the most value in my business and it’s what gave me the most leverage to sell the business, was my maintenance plan. So if you don’t have one, you need one. And if you have one and you’re ready to take next level, I want to help you do that, we can do that through my website maintenance plan that’s ready for you to join right now. So I would love to help you create a super valuable asset in corporate business terms. In any case, guys, enjoy this case study style episode because Eric and I just opened up about our experience, and it was fun and we discount everything we’ve learned. And I really hope it’s fun to listen to kind of a fun peek behind the curtain and it’s as good some good value for you. So without further ado, enjoy.
Eric, welcome onto the podcast again, man.
Josh it’s good to be back.
A little different circumstances this time because I had you on the podcast back on episode 23. When we talked about you taking your business to six figures and since then, a couple things have changed. Because you have now taken over my business and I figured what we’ll do in this podcast The reason I wanted to do this was I just thought it would be really cool. For my audience to hear a little more about what went into selling a web design business, from my perspective, but then also acquiring it from your perspective. And, of course, what I’m really excited about is we worked out the deal to where, you know, we’re partners on this, I still have a percentage of the business to help keep me involved with the business, particularly on the high level stuff in managing you the team. So with all that said, Man, how do you feel right now? I mean, we’ve been through a wild few months.
It Yeah, it is good, you know, was unexpected. Mmm hmm. You know, I tell people often that you reached out I think in an email or something like, Hey, can we chat, you know, next week sometime on the phone and honestly, I thought you were calling to ask me to buy your most recent SEO course you had you were just launched. You were in pre-sale, I think at the time, and so that’s what I thought you were calling for. And no, it was to me if I had any interest in buying InTransit so. Good you know, we’re actually, as we’re recording this right now, it’s August 2020 and September 1, I’m doing this full time. So yeah, so it’s, it’s exciting.
So awesome, man. Yeah, I’m really excited to, again, talk about this in both perspectives. But the reason I wanted to do this right now is because this is fresh for us. We’re still at the tail end of, you know, really kind of getting everything squared away. So I thought it would be great to cover this in a lot of good detail what I did, and I think you’re looking at this as well. I broke this down into kind of six phases. So this is a different kind of episode. It’s a case study style episode. And one thing I’ve always appreciated appreciated about you, Eric is you’re an open book, you’re real, you’re transparent. So I know we’re going to talk about pretty much everything we experienced through this all the goods I was gonna say all the bads, but we really don’t have any bad’s but inevitably there’s difficulties and a lot of work that went into this. But I kind of laid out six phases, and I figured we could just kind of go through them one by one. I’ll kind of talk about, you know, things from my perspective, but I want to hear about your’s as well.
I kept all the bad stuff for this.
Blindside you with it, you know?
Yeah, publicly. That’s perfect. Yes. Yes blindside. No. So phase one, or I call this phase one. And calling this when you know, it’s time and I think this episode and these phases will be really impactful for people who one day want to sell their business or maybe you don’t want to sell your web design business but you’re just curious about, you know, what goes into it. I think this will be a really good reference guide for it. And phase one for me, was when I knew it was time. And I’ll just start off by saying there was a few red flags for me that I realized you know, it was time. We talked about this Eric the first time we chatted then back in May. But I was doing a proposal for like a $4,000 website, job. And this was back early spring this year, and in 2020, and I just remember going through it and I just was like, I don’t feel like doing this. Like, that was the first time I was ever laying out a proposal for a decent size job it wasn’t like a you know, $1,000 job or something like that was a $4,000, you know, that’s a decent chunk of change type of job. And I was just like, I just don’t feel like doing this anymore. And I want to make a big statement out front here, it’s not that I was burnt out from web design or anything like that. It was that I had so much more I wanted to focus on with Josh Hall.co like that’s when you know, this spring, to be transparent stuff has just blown up with my courses and everything I’ve been working towards over the past few years with Josh Hall.co. It finally turned the corner. And this is where my passion is and so I felt like my that’s another red flag I have is I felt like I was giving kind of half assed work to my clients with InTransit and I knew that wasn’t good. I kind of caught myself because I was spending more time with doing courses and Josh Hall.co and I had started the podcast. So my first red flag was that and then when I got to that proposal, I realized, I’ve got to make a change, I’ve either got to bring somebody in, or I need to kind of hand this out. Now, I didn’t know exactly where to go about this. I didn’t know whether to just, you know, bring somebody in to do project management and all that. But I realized, and this is just a big, crucial lesson for anyone in business, to have a business move forward, you kind of have two things, you need somebody to market it and innovate it. And if you as the solopreneur are not doing that, then you need somebody to do that you need to market you need to innovate. I was not doing that with InTransit. Now our numbers dipped a little bit in transparency with InTransit. Not terribly. The business wasn’t crashing or anything but the numbers did dip and it’s because of just that I was not marketing and innovating because I was focused on Josh Hall.co so I say that say I recognize the red flags, I realized that, you know, I needed to make a change. And that’s what kind of spurred the deal, which is probably why you felt fairly surprised, I’m sure. I don’t know if I, you know, lead on to that at all, but that’s probably why I was pretty surprising.
Yeah, no, well, probably because I was only engaging with you on the core side, which was your passion side. And so I was experiencing the best of it.
That’s a good point. Yeah.
Yeah, not I would say not that any of like, now that I’ve, you know, been building relationships with the InTransit clients, not that any of the clients also were picking up on anything. Not to say that but like you said it just like you weren’t marketing, you weren’t innovating there, you know, was there wasn’t a stream of new things coming in and stuff like that. So, and I would say, the only thing I would want to speak into that is if somebody hears that, like me, you know, thinking back through, listen, and even now, listen to the podcast if somebody said, you know, phase one was I was working on a proposal, I didn’t want to do it. But that was a red flag for me, I’ll be honest, every time I work on a proposal, I don’t want to do it. But it’s just because I don’t like that kind of work. Um, it’s important. It’s got to be done. But it’s not value adding to the client. It’s not that innovative marketing. So if somebody hears that they’re like, oh, maybe I should sell my business. No just means you may not be doing the work in your business that brings you the most fulfillment.
When you’re swinging from branches, you’ve got one income branch and you’re swinging to another, you need to make sure that next branch is stable and secure.
That’s a great point. Eric, I’m so glad you mentioned that. Because yeah, that is because that’s a really good thing. Sometimes if you get to that point where it’s like, I don’t want to do this. Well, maybe you can hire that out but you want to do the other stuff. For me, I’m glad you mentioned that because for me, it was the other stuff too. I was just thinking like, I don’t want to do this proposal, but I don’t even feel like doing the onboarding process or overseeing the project, or even the offboarding like it just didn’t. I and again, it wasn’t because I felt burnt out or anything it was because I had so much more that has been building up with Josh Hall.co. Like I have courses I need to start revising and so much more I wanted to do. And it was obviously where my passion is shifted. So that’s a great point, you know, because that is a really good thing when you realize like, I’m ready to hire this out which I just got to this point this week. Kam, the VA for InTransit is now going to be my virtual assistant for Josh Hall.co for editing and publishing and distributing all my podcasts because I just got to the point with this to where I realized, I’m kind of done with doing the editing of all the nitty gritty stuff, I want to start hiring this out to free me up. So it’s a good thing. But for me, it was more than that. It was definitely the whole thing in general. Now, another point I made in this phase one was that before making a change like this, I wanted to make sure that I had a metaphor a lot of people use is like when you’re swinging from branches, you’ve got one income branch and you’re swinging to another. You need to make sure that next branch is stable and secure because the last thing you want to do is make a big business change and pivot and then you know grab onto a little twig and then come plummeting to the to ground. So, for me, just in full transparency, I was making a lot more with courses and I was doing with InTransit and beginning of this year, it just, you know, again, I’ve been working really hard at it, it’s when it started blowing up. And again, our numbers did dip but we’re still around the six figure range for in transit. But really, for me, I felt like I would be stupid not to go for this like not to really dive in, just hold on to and take it to the next level. So I say that to say if you’re in this position, and you’re thinking about selling now or maybe one day in the future, make sure that next income source is strong before you jump from one branch to another. And the last thing I did in phase one here for when you know it’s time when I knew it was time to make this change is I was really big on seeking advice from close mentors. I have a few local colleagues who I knew sold businesses. And I don’t know if I told you this Eric, but I set up calls with them. I met with a mentor last fall I kind of thought that I may be getting close to this, you know, I didn’t think it was going to happen this year, I thought it would happen in like 2021. But I just it kind of hit me and I realized I need to make that change. But I was already proactive and reaching out to mentors. So I met with a local guy, a mentor of mine who had sold a couple different web businesses for like seven figures. So he was like, he was the real deal. So we talked about that. He gave me some really good advice on on how to pivot and what to do. And, you know, making sure again, I had that solid income on this new branch. But then I also talked with some people who sold businesses for much less I talked to one guy who was an IT guy, who basically just sold part of his business and then took a full time job with his main client. I actually interviewed one of my colleagues who sold his video business, and that was episode I think, 12 on the podcast with Doug Diver who sold a videography business. So I did a lot of research in preparation for this which really helped me know when it’s time so I don’t know if you have anything else to add to that Eric or what it looked from you’re end, but that’s, that’s kind of what went into my phase one.
Yeah no, same thing here, you know, making the decision to, you know, take that now that we had now that I was combining Coastal City Creative with InTransit Studios like, looking ahead, and I would say for me, the other thing that I took into consideration was and I know you did too, not saying that you wouldn’t, but our spouses, we’re both married. So talking to our spouses, that was a big one. I didn’t just walk out one day and say, hey, how do you think about not having a salary from somebody else but it all be on me? How do you feel? You know, just having that conversation? So, yeah, so that was the big thing.
Yeah, it is. It’s every area it’s every aspect of life for sure. Would you make a big change like this? I mean, InTransit has been my main income for over a decade, or almost a decade, this fall will be 10 years since I set up InTransit. So yeah, almost a decade.
You and your wife are a little more used to that. This is like my wife is like, I don’t I know you well enough like, I don’t know if I’m comfortable, you know? But yeah, it is different for us. You know, we’ve got four kids, obligations like everybody else, like, it’s a big deal.
Yeah. And then same thing here, you know, with with my wife and two kids and a hungry golden retriever. Like, you know, I needed to make sure that what I do a Josh Hall.co was, you know, definitely reliable and secure and sustainable. But the really cool thing about this is we’re going to talk about synergy with how we’re working together and both with InTransit, but then also with with what I’m doing with, with Josh Hall.co and that kind of segues me to phase two, which for me, was finding the right fit. Now this was the struggle. This was the big one because I going back to the start of InTransit Studios, as I’ve talked about in previous episodes, I did not start the business in order to sell it. I didn’t even technically quote unquote, start the business. It just kind of happened. I just started doing Graphic Design and web design on the side and I created the name, which was based off of my band’s third album at the time InTransit.
You were a drummer…
I was a drummer. Yeah, my job, my business card had drum lessons on it in the first round. Like, it was very clear that I was not super business savvy. And I just kind of fumbled my way into it. And it was a couple years into it when I, I think I made like 30 grand while I was doing it part time, and I was thinking, wow, I did like 30 grand like part time, just, you know, in college and day taking night classes and working side jobs. What if I went full time so you know, that’s what it all started for me. So I say that to say I never had the intention of selling but as I’ve got to this point, and as I’m doing what I’m really passionate about what Josh Hall.co with teaching other web designers, that’s when I realized it was time to make this change. It was certainly wasn’t planned or anticipated. So I had to plan fairly quickly. But the big part of that was finding the right fit, who would I trust, which I’m sure we’ll talk about the different avenues of bringing somebody in which the phase three is making the deal, which we’ll dive into next, because we could talk about that. But I really was left with some choices. Do I want to just hire somebody? Do I want to bring somebody in as a partner? Do I want to sell it, but either way, I had to find the right person I felt comfortable with. And over the past about two years, I have had multiple people approach me about either purchasing the business or merging. And I never felt comfortable with any of them. I was left with kind of this weird gut feeling like it just didn’t feel right. Which that’s a bit that’s a business advice that anyone can follow. Trust your gut. If you feel like something feels weird, or it’s just not quite right. Don’t go for it. Trust your gut. And I did that I had some some close colleagues who one was was popular he has a popular media agency downtown in Columbus. He approached me a couple years ago about purchasing InTransit and having me run the web design side. But I just didn’t, I just didn’t I wasn’t feeling that I knew I was gonna lose control. And I didn’t want to have to leave to go to go to work downtown either. I wanted to work from home. And then I had a couple other colleagues who approached me about merging the businesses with their businesses. But again, it never felt right. Until I kept an eye on you, Eric, because you are a student of mine. I kind of watched you grow your business. I know you’re a go getter. I also knew that you are balancing that with being a pastor. And I was involved with several churches in the past and I’ve never was never on staff, but the church that sent me to some community college classes for web design, I was kind of in the creative team there. And man, I’ll tell you this, if anyone can handle being a pastor, they can handle doing web design, no problem, like nothing, I don’t think is harder than being in a pastoral role, where you’re mixing business with volunteer roles and stuff like that. So I knew you were somebody who was strong that could handle it and I watched you grow your business. I mean, our previous episode, Episode 23, was about how you grew your business to six figure so I know you are on it. And and here’s the big kicker for me. I don’t know if I told you this yet, in the Facebook groups where I think it was one of the Facebook groups were in, when COVID hit a lot of people were kind of freaking out a lot of people were talking about what they’re going to do. You came in and you didn’t have that approach at all. You said, Here’s something we’re doing for our clients, we’re being proactive. You’re adding these headers, you’re reaching out to them and saying, like, Hey, we could create a header that says, you know, our hours are changed, or we’re temporary closed. You are one that was not freaking out. And that time you were being proactive. And I’ve learned anything it’s a there’s a great quote, I think was Mr. Rogers, who said in times of struggle and strife, look for the helpers. And that was you, you helped your clients and then and then I saw that right as I was going through this mindset shift of like, I’m ready to get out of these areas in the business. And I saw that and said, that’s somebody who I would feel comfortable turning my clients to. So I felt like you know, you would be a good fit. And I wanted to see if you’re interested. So segue over to your thoughts on this. And it was really interesting because you and your wife had a conversation before our talk, which we could talk about here. But I yeah, I reached out to you and said, Hey, do you want to set up one of the setup a call? I was very vague. And then as you mentioned, you were surprised and what did that look like on your end? Because again, I know you and your wife talked about, you know, making some changes. And then here comes my call.
Yeah, we we were exploring, you know, what was next for us? Um, you know, and and things in the church are great. So we we took stepped into a church that we actually merged, so we moved to Virginia, Virginia Beach in 2016 to plant a church. While here, this other church, 150 year old church and divide down to about 18 people. They just need somebody to preach for a couple weeks. I wasn’t sure they said we’ll give you $200 a week I went okay, um, so went there. And long, very long story short, they just and they ended up merging with us. And you know, we’re stepping out now, at the end of this month we’ve installed a new senior pastor, the church is a few hundred people. Doing very well. It’s very healthy. It’s it’s completely focused on impacting the community and not serving themselves. It’s just a great group of people…really healthy place. But through our adoption process, we just felt like the next thing we were being led to do is to start a nonprofit, for helping people adopt. And we’re going to we’re also going to go into some countries and work to help indigenous people in their culture adopt their own orphans. So, so we were wanting to do that. Things were going really good with the business. I wasn’t having to, as I was hearing you talk about the fact that we’ve merged to six figure businesses, um, people might be thinking like, wow, that’s easy Street. The thing is, yes, my business was up to six figures, but I was hardly taking a salary because I have my pastorial salary. So I had several freelancers on, you know,that was doing the lion’s share of the work, you know, well now I’m to a point where I’m having to step back in and do a lot more of the work just to make sure that there’s enough in the owners pay account, you know, every month. Um, and so I have less because we both follow Profit First. So I have less in my operating expense to use some freelancers right now. Um, so I just couldn’t see how it was going to make that step with the size of Coastal City Creative and have time to work on the nonprofit and all the stuff and then boom, you called and I’m like, hey, with the two combined I think I can make this happen. So it just as a person of faith, and I this isn’t everybody that listening and that’s fine but you know, as a person of faith for me, I felt like it was a God thing. So…
It would tough to be tough to say it was just a coincidence because I think our call was on a Tuesday or Wednesday if I recall. And I think you talked to your wife like that Sunday, right?
Yeah. Like we were talking about it driving home from church.
So so crazy. Yeah. Yeah, man. It’s Yeah, it was really cool. And it was so good for me to hear. Because when you said that it made me feel so relieved. Because I knew you were like, honestly, I think the pressure of combining these businesses and then moving away from from the church roles, it kind of forces you to go for this. If you had a stable job somewhere else, or this will be anybody if I were to turn my my clients over to anybody, I wouldn’t want them to have a cozy job elsewhere because there would be no reason there would be no like fire. Drive. Yeah, yeah. And so it was actually I think I really worked out in every in every best way. I feel like because I just talked to you and I was pretty open right from the get go. I was like, Hey, man, should have recorded that call. It’d been a fascinating call to listen back to but I think I was just like, Hey, man, I’m gonna be honest. I’m at the point where I’m ready to start handing off my clients and I’m ready to do Josh hall.co for full time, and you’re just like, whoa. And then I remember you saying, Well, first of all, I’m honored that you reached out. And, you know, whatever happens here, I’m just I’m really excited. And then we just got the gears turning man. Now there was a lot that I did not know about you, but they ended up being all really good things. I knew that you are client focused, client centric, and you were your big on vision and you have a deeper meaning with being faith based and also being one of the first things we initiated thanks to you with InTransit was that 10% goes to our adoption fund, right off, you know, the profit margin. So you’re big on having a lot more meaning and mission behind just, you know, a business. So that was huge. What I did not know about you was how organized you were. And I think that you actually really helped me I’m never going to talk about everything we did, but you helped me in a lot of those areas, particularly since you had been through merging a church because even though this was different, there were still a lot of things anytime you merge anything together with whether it’s a church or whether it’s a nonprofit, or whether it’s small businesses or big businesses, there’s a lot of fundamentals that are similar. So that ended up being like, really perfect to bring you in to kind of match. You know what I’ve done and what I’m good at, but then also what you’ve learned in your experience, and it was just huge. So I know we’re going to talk about that but one thing I do want to mention kind of wrap up the second phase of finding the right fit was I wanted to make sure number one, you had the bandwidth to be able to do it well. But I also wanted to see what your vision was. And I remember asking you like, where do you foresee yourself with the business? And what I liked about what you said was that you were really interested in having almost like a family run business. Like it was personal to you. It wasn’t you didn’t want to just build a business up in two years and sell it because I did not want to do that with my clients. I wanted somebody who was going to be in it for the long haul. And yeah, that ended up being a great pair for me because I listened to your vision and I was like, man, I just it really put me at ease in that first conversation.
Yeah, yeah, no. And it’s, you know, in part of that with our, with our adoption, we’re wanting to have some opportunities for our kids kind of baked in, you know, if they choose to go that route and having a family business is very beneficial for that. My, and my 10 year old daughter already talks about the fact that one day she’s gonna own it, so.
Yeah, so she’s pretty cool. And I think in what you wrote here, I’m looking at the document said, um, but you kept an eye on colleagues who are client focused and had the same values and in parentheses, you said, not necessarily the same vision and goals that you had. And I remember in our conversation, that conversation, I was very clear back that like, you know, listen, I’m not I’m not looking to be somebody’s puppet. Like, if I own something, I own it. I’m calling the shots, but I’m always seeking advice and wise counsel, but I didn’t want to have to like, go 50 rounds with you, you know, on something and you’re like, no, like, it’s, you’re gonna be you’re gonna be that CEO role. You know, and your decisions to make and stuff like that. So that was important because, you know, I, I do want to expand our services and other stuff so anyway, yeah, well that I think to look for.
Yeah and I think that leads us right into phase three which is making the deal because there is quite a few different routes that we explored and I found being from the advice that I talked with from my mentors when I when I did call all them I kind of came to the realization I remember you and I talking about this Eric, there’s really three ways to go. You can either just sell the business flat out just sell it and then be gone after a certain amount of time. Whether you make a contractual deal to like assist with the merge or you know, assist with all the details and then just disappear. You could merge which is there’s there’s pros and cons to either one of these merging would have been like, you know, you having say a, you know, 70% of the business and be having 30 to take on certain roles, but what we did was kind of a hybrid approach which I really enjoyed and was what I was really wanting, which was to sell slash merge so sold the business but I am retaining 10% of the business but I’m not the CEO anymore again going back to what you just mentioned. And you were you had some you know reservations about this you asked me like, you know, are you going to be the the guy leading the ship or is that going to be me and I said, that’s you. If we merged in we each had like a 50/50 cut or something that would be a whole nother ballgame because and that’s where partnerships get really hairy with a lot of people that merge. I remember one of my mentors are my current business coach was like do not merge do not merge with a it’s just partnerships like that never work out. So I was much more interested in selling but I also again, InTransits my baby. My clients are, you know, I love my clients. I still do and we’ll talk about how I follow up with them, but it was something I wasn’t going to lightly just give up. So I wanted to make sure you know, I still had some some skin in the game, but I didn’t want to do the day to day and I wanted you I really needed you to run because you’re a visionary. You’re a dream caster. And you’re a go getter just like me, I needed someone to take that seed. And so what we came up with was after kind of going back and forth, I laid out some options. Had I just sold it outright, I’ll just tell everyone the deal was a bigger sale price. But then I would just stay on as a consultant for like a year, just to help you out with all the clients all the transition, and then after that, I’m gone. But I did not want to go that route. I still wanted to have some skin in the game. But again, I didn’t want it to be this like 50/50 thing. So I think we came up with the best thing possible, which was a lesser sale price, over a period up to 10 years that you’re paying back. And then I still have 10% of the business as well which to be honest, it wasn’t a sexy sale. So like when I say I sold my business people probably think oh, I made you know, we’ve made a million dollars and he can, you know, retire.
They got a big check.
That’s not the case. No, it was not a sexy sale, but It was a really great long term decision for both of us. Because the other thing I factored into this too, when it came to finding the right fit, but then also making the deal was I was very cognizant of your situation, Eric, like, I realized that you were going to be stepping away from the church, that was a lot of your stable income. And I didn’t want to put your family at risk, like I didn’t want you to have to pay me a huge check and then go into hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, just to buy the business because the other thing to think about here with InTransit was, as I mentioned, we were still in the fixed six figure range, but the numbers had dipped a little bit. And that’s just because I wasn’t marketing innovating. But truthfully, the business wasn’t worth that much. Because the business aside from Jonathan doing the design and my other subcontractors, the majority of the business was still me. And that’s a big lesson for anyone curious about selling their business. If you want to sell you really have to get yourself out of all the roles first. Otherwise, you are the business so with InTransit was still like 75% of the business. It was still primarily me. I was doing all the onboarding, all the sales. And I had thought again about, you know, getting myself out of those seats and bringing people on. But, you know, had I not had Josh Hall.co, I probably would have done that. But I just want to focus on courses, I want to do my podcast, I want to focus on courses, I want to focus on helping other web designers. I didn’t want to have to bring somebody on to do sales and project management, and they have to worry about the taxes for all that as well. So it really ended up being…
And then replace them when they leave.
Eventually, that person is going to end you’re going to have to now step back into that role. Maybe you haven’t been doing it for three years. You know, there were there’s a lot to that.
Yes, yeah, yeah, there was a lot like in the future that I saw that I just knew I didn’t want to deal with. So I say all that to say, I feel like we came up with the best approach. I mean, basically what I did was I laid out those options for you. We talked about it, we slept on it. I think you came back to me like the day after that. I maybe two days. Later, and you said, Hey, man, here’s my offer. Here’s what I’m thinking, which is what we came up with, which was, you know, through a Loom video user Loop. Yep. Yeah, yeah, this was not like high level stuff. This is Loom video and Google Docs that we did this through. But that’s the deal we made where it was the sale price over a certain period with a smaller percentage tacked on to the 10% owner ownership of my my cut, but that was it, and it worked out great. And then thing I appreciated about that was we got going on it. So before we get talking about how we got going on it, do you have anything on your end? You know, what you what did that look like on your end when we were talking about the deal? From your perspective?
You know, it was, you know, I researched a lot like I you know, I talked to the bank. I talked to a business coach and stuff like that, and just with everything going on with COVID like I didn’t want to go and you know, and add debt to our family. We had just, we were able to just come through our adoption process debt free and we’ll do that you know, we, we had all of these things about to hit us with, um, you know, therapies and things like that that accompany, you know, an adoption experience. And so I just appreciated be able to come back to you and say, Hey, here’s the deal that I can do. Um, and you took it and came back to me and said, Yeah, like that was great. So I think having that, I think this, we were both very transparent. We took in leadership, I have several favorite axioms. And my one of my favorite axioms is take the conversation the last 10% generally people leave a meeting, and they have the meeting after the meeting, driving home. I wish I would have said I should have said, you know, da.da.da. If you’re going to be a leader, leaders take the conversation the last 10% they say everything that has to be said, and I feel like we both did that. We we came to the table with all of our cards on the table. Because bad things grow in the dark. We put light on all of it, and I think we were able to make a wise choice because of that.
That’s a great analogy, man. You I feel that 100% because I feel like we were both that was one thing I appreciate appreciated about you, too. There was no beating around the bush. It was, here’s what I’m thinking. And here’s what I’m thinking. And we I felt like we’d never had any strife or pushback. I mean, we each. I mean, and the thing was, is I was quite open to, because I was I think I told you this right from the get go, I wasn’t looking for a big payday. So I could go do nothing on the beach for a few years. I was looking to hand this stuff off to somebody I know,like and trust and who’s going to do well for my clients, so that I can focus on JoshHall.co, so it was a little bit different than if somebody’s like, purposely building up a business just to retire, which I’ll be honest, I don’t know if I’m ever gonna retire. Like I feel like I barely work now. Because I’m doing what I love to do even with web design, for the most part, I loved everything about it. So I just can’t imagine just not doing anything so that you know, that wasn’t the goal. And I made that very clear. And then you made your goals clear to I mean, I wanted to hear about your vision. And what you had in mind, and I think I could tell that we were both very interested in doing this but not dragging our feet. I mean, we moved on we didn’t we make the deal. I think we made the deal on May 28? If I remember right.
It was right that last week of May to and the deal was it would that go date would be July 1
Yeah. Yeah. So we talked in early May, I think it was only a couple weeks, maybe the second week in May that we had our first call. We went back and forth talk a few times a week there. And then I think it was I’m pretty sure it was May 28. That we were we were like, alright, let’s do it. Let’s go. And then yeah, we were like July 1, that’s when the things are gonna officially change. And that gave us June to get all of our ducks in a row, which perfectly man, he will talk about segue. This is like the dream segue episode that segues into phase four, which is planning the change now here’s where, this is where the work came in, this now up to this point, there was a lot of emotional and mental work but here’s where the physical like boots on the ground work came in. Because we had to figure out how we’re going to do this change which it’s so funny because I think a lot of businesses, depending on how its structured and how it’s set up, I don’t think that many businesses have too much to do during a sale. A sale excuse me. Of course there are but with a web design business, there’s just it’s not as simple like, here’s the client list and here’s our previous stuff. There’s ongoing, there’s hosting, there’s maintenance, there’s relationships, there’s their logins, there’s subscriptions, there’s all these little pieces to a website business that need to be accounted for. And all hold my hand up first and saying the problem that I faced, which I kind of knew was going to not not a problem, but it was just going to be some way to work through was that the majority of this was in my head. I have done really good at laying out my processes, primarily through my courses over the past couple years, and did much better over the past couple years with organizing our files and all stuff like that. But there was still a lot I did not realize I’m still in my head. So when it came to planning this change, and before we talk about planning, I did want to mention you and I did write that contract out, and we signed it. So you and I signed it before. We did put something in writing, so it wasn’t just a handshake, and I had other people. And we had other people look at it. Yep. Because I had my CPA looked at it, and he’s like, yep, let’s do it. And I did talk with my CPA as well. But once we got into doing this, this is again when the real work started. And we had to kind of plan this out. We gave ourselves a little over a month to basically hand everything over and see, you know, basically plan the change out. So we’ll talk about what I call handing over the keys in the next phase, but there was quite a bit that went into the planning. There was the planning of for me, the internal business stuff, there was the business name. There was the accounts. There was the funds we had in the business there were, you know, stripe and PayPal that was pointed to the business. The other thing that made a little more tricky on my end was that I had Josh Hall.co funneling into InTransit. So the numbers are like half InTransit half JoshHall.co and I was open with you about that because on the books it looks very confusing, but luckily, since I have different PayPal and stripe for Josh Hall.CO, it’s pretty easy to segregate the numbers, but there was a lot of that,had to let my CPA, know we I actually had to talk to my attorney and let him know about the change because I never had Josh Hall.co was an LLC or an entity because of tax purposes. I never wanted to pay taxes on two different entities. So I essentially had all Josh Hall.co funneling through InTransit. So I needed to set up Josh Hall.co as an entity now it’s official Josh Hall.co LLC. Holla. So that that is that was official by July 1. It’s I think I think I got the, I think it was official and June 29 is when we finally got the state the form back from the state. So it was like, well, we just made it before July 1. But there was a lot of planning to this. And there was the planning of all the clients stuff, their files, their details, their logins, and all that good stuff. Anything else on your end that you wanted to mention when it came to like planning out this big change that we were going to start because we started, we kind of started handing over the keys, but July 1 was official like that’s, you know, that’s when it really went down.
Yeah, so um, reaching out and getting to know the folks on your team, you know, the freelancers you were using and other team, you know, Jonathan and all that and figuring out, you know, how we were going to work together and you know, because we wanted to keep everybody on so bringing on my team and your team and meshing all of that. But also, I had to sit back and reconsider my morning routine, my typical calendar, mine, you know, I knew I was going to suddenly have a lot more than time that I was gonna have to put to this and so I had to think through all of that and really rearranged my entire calendar and and had to start handing off some things at church right away and just because I didn’t want to you know, I didn’t want to I didn’t want my kids to sacrifice time um because dad was was doing this and so so there was a lot of that just preparing myself and then figuring out okay, what do I need to tell Coastal City Creative clients and how does that work and our banking and you know, Stripe and stuff, and I will say the convenient thing was setting up my business using your courses, my systems mirrored you 90%. Yes, that was nice.
That is I was gonna say the same thing when it came to handing stuff over like the fact that you are a student who had been through most all my courses. Like I didn’t have to train you on everything and go through all this stuff and go through my processes. Like, you knew how it was set up. And I that’s how, you know, that’s how I have my clients organized. And yeah, that was, gosh, I mean, looking back, I’m so thankful.
Yeah. And it made it super easy to bring on like Jonathan and Christian and you know, the two of them begin having meetings and working together and you know, so our team started connecting, you know, and building relationships. And so that’s been kind of cool to see happen,you know, and so, yeah, cool.
Dude, we made a dream team. I mean, there’s no, there’s no other way to cut it. I mean, we like that was one really cool thing is I didn’t realize how, what great people you had already. And I had known Christian, because Christian came through my business course. And we were talking quite a bit and Christians actually, he’s helped me out with some Christian’s way better than I am with CSS and jQuery and so he’s actually helping me out with a lot of stuff. And then Jonathan’s better than I am SPSS now being that he’s been doing it for two years for InTransit. So like, we really created this dream team and yeah, we kind of plan that out and got them all together. And same thing here like that was one reason I asked you do you have the bandwidth for this because you’re gonna take on what was it 50 like it was like 59 clients all together something like that between A, B’s and C’s and maintenance?
Maintenance and hosting and then an additional you know, hundred or so that weren’t on maintenance and hosting but you know, past projects and stuff like that.
Yeah, so there was a lot like that I knew for you that would be the it was different for me because I was in a place where I could pretty much clearer June to just focus on this because I you know, with Josh Hall.co stuff. I was just continuing to produce content, but I wasn’t working on a new course or anything like that. I could focus on this. Now with you. You’re running your business during the church and taking this on as well. So we really had to kind of stagger that out. But what I like that what we did was we created a schedule, we created a calendar, we were like week one, we’re going to do this week two, we’re gonna do this. I mean, really, with what you and I have learned through project management, we basically just made this a project and followed our rules. And it was awesome. Like we are our own we were our own dream clients, because we both gave each other the content we needed immediately. So, I mean, that’s what we did. We literally just made this a project. And then through the end of May, and through June, we had our deadlines, and we just checked everything off. And I guess this brings us to phase five, which I’m dubbing “Handing over the keys” which planning and handing over the keys, this is where all the work was. Starting with and this was the big thing, I was trying to figure out how the heck can I turn over, you know, almost 60 clients with who are doing maintenance and hosting with me, but then also another 30 or 40, who I’ve done projects for in the past that still might be really good clients that occasionally reach out like there was a lobby, there’s over 100 all together, like clients that you’re going to be talking with at some point. So what I did was, first of all, I organized clients into A, B and C’s. A client’s being the best clients B’s being like pretty good client C’s being like, and I might do hosting, they may leave one day or they, you know, maybe they’re just a low budget or you know, maybe they’re just not a great fit or whatever. So I had those there. And what I did was for all the A and B clients, and actually, I think I did them for most of the C’s was I created little walkthrough videos of every client very time consuming. I mean for you, I’m sure it was like, yeah, it was very time consuming to do that, because I did either up to two five to sometimes 10 minute video of all these clients one by one. And the thing was, though, is for me, it saves so much time in the long run, because you didn’t have to be like, hey, Josh, randomly Who’s this one client? When did you meet them? Like, what’s the situation? I created all these videos, I just pulled up their website talked about them as a client. A lot of the one thing that makes it even more confusing with web design is a lot of my clients have multiple sites. And there’s different hosting plans for them. There’s different deals we worked out, some have hosting here, and some have hosting there, some are hosting with us some have domains elsewhere. So we have one white label client that has multiple sites under one different domain. So there’s all these different situations that I basically did these walkthrough videos for. But then I just created a folder and loom for you. They were videos to Eric. And then you’re able to reference those one by one. So when somebody from you know, this one client reaches out, you just go to their video, you watch my two to five minute video, you’re like, Okay, now I know who they are, how they knew Josh, how long they’ve been working, what their situation is the hosting and maintenance, where their websites at, and we could go from there. So how did that work out man? Was that did you appreciate that was that it helped you save some time?
I still go to those videos and watch because it’s like, Wait, who was this and right? Yeah, so that has been very, very beneficial. I mean that relationship and then just being able to tell people like, Hey, you know, when at first conversation Oh, actually Josh shared with me. I’m like, it honestly set me up to look better than I am. Because it sounded like I knew them and did it up. I had just learned all all I did was repeated what I had just learned five minutes before the call. It was like, Okay, okay, jump on the zoom. Hey, how’s it going? You know, Josh told me that you did this last time. And so that was and I think that helped the clients feel comfortable.
Yes. I didn’t want to turn again, I love my clients. Like this isn’t something where I was sick of my clients and I was burnt out. I just wanted to disappear. This is like the heart and soul for me. So I was really intentional about making sure that clients felt welcomed and like we were taking this very seriously. And I think that’s a great that’s great to hear that, you know, a client would set up a call with you and then you’d be able to say like, Oh, hey, yeah, you know, Josh filled me in on your website, where you’re at how long have you been working together. And it really did. Wow, I’m so glad I really think about the the level of detail on how that helps a client feel trusted and secure and safe. Because when when, from a client perspective, if you’re if the business they’re working with gets sold, that’s scary territory, particularly since we’re dealing with websites. It’s like, well, who’s going to have control of my website? What’s going on? And we’ll talk about here, what I did when I let clients know, but that was a big thing is just yeah, informing you, Eric, on all these clients one by one and having those videos as references. We didn’t do it on one call. And then in a month from now, you’d be like crap, who did just say this client was it was, these are reference points that you can refer back to? And I think that’s invaluable.
Yeah. Some of the videos I’ve had to go back and you know, you can see on the view count, you know, I’ve had to watch some of them, you know, four or five times because, I don’t know there. There’s just a lot you have a lot of clients that their first name starts with J. Yeah. There’s a wait which Jeremy Jerry, Gary? I was really confused on who I was talking to and nervous that I was going to get on and go, Oh, by the way, your real your real estate website and they go, I’m a barber like, right?
Yes. And then the other aspect to that is with clients it’s not just one client, a lot of times they have a team. So there’s several clients where there’s like my main point of contact, but then there may be a couple secondaries. So I had to explain all that in those videos. Either way, if you’re going to sell your business one day, doing something like that is well worth the time. I have no regret, and taking the time to do that. And on a funny note, since those videos were not edited or polished, I just busted through them. And I think at one point, I just like I just let out this huge burp and one of the videos and I didn’t cut it out since I was editing it didn’t you say your wife walked in and was like what was that?
She was she had come into my office for something she was in here and all of a sudden you’re just talking away and it just belch and just kept talking. She looked she had no idea. I was watching the video, she thought I was doing something. She looks over she’s like, I’m like, it’s a video. He just recorded Loom.
Yeah, I was gonna say those videos are great. And actually, it’s spurred an idea that I think what we’re gonna start doing with all of our client websites, is record all new clients record two little videos, um, one a background video about the relationship and this is all in the in case Eric gets hit by a bus, you know, file, um, or, you know, I win the lottery and disappear tomorrow, whatever. Um, but the other one I think we’re going to do is we’re going to record a background, a tour of the back end of a website, because that’s been the thing that caught me off guard. You know, like, I think it was like the very first or second day of July. I get a call from an email from one of the clients, Hey, can you make this update? No problem. I update our client website. Like, I never thought it would be a problem. I logged in, and all of a sudden I went, wait, I have no idea where this is. And then like, Did he put this in? I can’t get it to change it in CSS somewhere, is it? You know, How did this get handled? Wait, what plugin is doing this? Yeah. And I didn’t realize I didn’t it didn’t dawn on me that even though I took your courses, and there’s so much similarity things in web design, every web designer does things completely different.
And ever and you’re also you’re seeing the URL of the evolution of me as a designer. So when you’re editing old sites, you’re probably like, Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe I took his courses. But then you’re seeing new sites and like, dang, I’m privileged to be working on this.
Oh, okay, good. Well, but the one I don’t remember what it was, but I logged in the one site and I’m like, this isn’t even Divi.
Yeah. So, the good The good news is, you know, for any When going to sell your business you want to either you want to make sure that person is comfortable with all the same tools. And luckily you and I use all the same tools, we use Divi, WordPress, Gravity Forms a lot of the same tools. However, there were a lot of customizations and a lot of those sites, some had unique plugins. There were, I think, only have like, maybe three sites that are pre Devi, some of these site. I mean, one, I think that site that you mentioned, I think I built that in 2012. So I didn’t use Divi till 2014. So there were a couple situations like that, where, but again, this is why I made sure I had skin in the game. So you’re not afraid to reach out to me to ask questions. And I’m not like, you know, I’m not disappear. I’m not disappearing. I’m also…
It’s no longer my thing.
Yeah, right. Yeah, I’m prepared like this is a part of the deal. You have a question because this theme is a Divi. I’m like, oh, yep, no problem. Yep. Here’s where you need to do this. Although, you know, in a lot of situations, it creates upsells for you to be able to revise these slides because that’s the other big thing too is with this merge with the sell here. Most of the sites were done. So we didn’t have too many ongoing. So it wasn’t which I think honestly, in hindsight, I think was, so was a great thing because had I had 15 projects, we’re right in the middle of it would have been really, it would have made this much more confusing. But luckily, we just wrapped up a couple big ones only had a couple big ones in the mix. And then the rest of it was just ongoing updates and stuff like that. So with our maintenance plan, so that actually worked out really well. But yeah, there were a lot of things when it came to handing over the keys that you know, I was really I tried to make your life as easy as possible. I also wanted to save time from both of our ends, and then when it came to handing over clients, so here’s the big thing. And I man I toiled over this I told you, this was by far the most emotionally draining aspect of it is I’m like, How the heck am I gonna tell my clients this? How do I go about it? How do I approach it? I wanted to make it clear what was really difficult for me was I wanted to make sure was very clear that you were taking over a CEO. But I’m not disappearing completely. But they shouldn’t reach out to me for ongoing updates. So I really had to think through this. I came up with this like email, this struct, like this outline, looked at the next day, and I was like, this is just, I’m confusing myself. This is going to be extra confusing for clients. So I did what I love to do when it comes to writing, went to a local coffee shop, and just sat there and just kind of formulated this email that I felt like really articulated the changes, but also talked about what to expect moving forward but also introduced you and then really got them excited. I tried to make sure clients were like freaking out like oh my gosh, Joss is selling this. I made it very clear. You know what we were doing and we should be excited and what was really cool about that it was a some of my clients knew about Josh Hall.co most of them did not know. So it came as a shock to a lot of my clients. So I was very clear and saying, I’m not gonna read the whole thing. But basically what I did is I just say, Hey guys, I sharing some really exciting and important news. If you didn’t already know, I started this personal brand endeavor, a Josh Hall.co where I help other web designers learn how to build sites and grow business or their own. And I said basically, in short, you know, it’s really picked up it’s it’s been a true passion and a dream come true. And I’m moving to do it, you know, on a much more, you know, full time basis. So with InTransit, and I said, I said this most all clients, I said, you may or may not have noticed that or you may have noticed that I feel like my attention has waned a little bit and that’s not what I want for you, I want the best for you. So I brought in one of my students who is basically going to act or you know, is coming in as CEO of in transit and is going to be your primary contact moving forward. And then you and I did a little video together we recorded a live video just me explaining the email explaining the changes and Introducing you so they could get to know you. And then we followed up with a schedule or a link so they could schedule a virtual coffee with you. And then depending on the client’s situation, I would customize part of it, I did make it a template, but I would just customize little parts depending on the relationship I have with the client, what they knew. Some of my clients work with Jonathan more directly than they did with me. Were some of my older clients, you know, I had the closer relationship with so there was a lot of that, but man, I’m not gonna lie that was a an emotionally draining thing. And I remember, it was a Thursday morning when I sent that email out when I went through my client list one by one, because I did not and this is the other thing. I did not want to do an email blast. I did not want to make it this cheesy type of I wanted them to feel personal. Better, you know, ideally, I would have had a phone call to let somebody know but at the same time, I think that would have made it more difficult because then they would have been like so are you going to introduce me to this this new guy like, I like doing the email route one by one but man when I did each one of those, I was shaking the first few emails because I mean, it was huge. It was like a lot. I was like, how are clients going to respond? Are they going to hate me? Or are they going to bail? I was really kind of nervous about that. And then I’ll never forget. I was a handful. in I think I had sent six or seven. And then I started getting some emails. And then of course, I’m like, Oh, here we go. Let me see how it goes. First thing I see. Congratulations, Josh. I’m so happy for you so excited. I was like, Oh, thank goodness. And that was Glenda from Sylvan trucking. I will give a shout out to her because she made me feel so much better than I heard from one of my other clients Safex, he was like one of my best client, they’re like, you know, really excited for you so happy for you very excited about the changes and working with Eric because one thing too is I mentioned we’re going to be able to offer a lot more and expand our service and do a lot more for them. So I started getting those emails and some clients you know, of course, were voiced some concerns saying like, yeah, I’m just, you know, like, who’s going to be my contact? Are they local, they’re in the same time zone. For me, that was another big thing I meant to mention earlier. Ideally, I always wanted to find someone local, because most of my clients are still local although we have them all over the country and a few abroad now, but the next best thing was finding someone in the same time zone. So with you being in Virginia, me being in Columbus, Ohio, we’re on the same Eastern Time Zone so that ended up working out just fine and let’s be honest, particularly through COVID ain’t nobody meeting in person these days so didn’t really matter. But yeah, man I don’t know what what you know, I CC’d on all those I don’t know what it looks like from year end, but man that was definitely a draining part of this journey emotionally. Yeah,
No, I I can only imagine cuz for me and my clients it wasn’t that I just we just Farrar and we just sent out a thing and said, Hey, you know, we’re now called and InTransit studios. That was it. Um, so because that was what we did. So what we did is we Coastal City Creative is still the parent company and then we set InTransit opposite DBA and Virginia, um, and that’s our client facing side. And then we’re rebranding Coastal City Creative to handle just our white label side of things. So that’s a little bit something we’re doing. Um, but yeah, and and to be honest, then a couple of those clients you mentioned, like Safex, for example, I immediately, I mean, immediately scheduled a virtual coffee. And, you know, we got on and we had just 60 seconds of pleasantries, and I just reminded them, Hey, you know, I watched this video, I know, your background, stuff like that. And I took Josh’s courses. So I operate the same way Josh does. So I’m already in that line. And they’re like, Great. Let’s get going. I mean, within 90 seconds on every call, right down to business.
Oh, that is so beautiful. Yeah.
And so it just, we were able to just get going, I’m like, yep, we can make that change. Yep, we do that. Um, and so I think it helped them go. Okay, good. He he knows what he’s doing. Nothing’s really changing for me. You know, as people have asked about the new services that we’re rolling out, and I would say the other thing we worked on, I was just thinking about this looking back up through a couple steps ago, we focused everything on client, like if you go to the InTransit studio website right now, like you’re still all of it is like next quarter is when I’ve planned to get to the website like that was our that was the lowest priority. Yeah, the first priority clients.
Yeah, we wanted to make sure the change was streamlined. And we really wanted to, for me, it was important to have some continuity there, which is why I’m so glad because one thing we talked about was like, should we change the name? Should it be Coastal Transit Creativity, like what should we do? So we merged so we just come up with something completely different. And when you asked about what I wanted to do with the name InTransit Studios, I was open to you taking that over as well because again, you know, you’re taking over the business. So I love that and I think InTransit as a name lends itself to a more global audience than the name Coastal because you know, somebody in the Midwest isn’t coastal. Although, you know, it really doesn’t matter. The name does not matter that much. And to be honest…
Except for the fact it has your site has more domain authority and SEO and domain authority. That was a significant part of the decision for me.
Yeah. And there was a lot of Yeah, there’s a lot of links from Elegant Themes going back to all my courses. Yeah, I have built that up. I mean, I never I never really SEO’d that site. But inevitably, I’ve been running it for almost a decade, it has built domain authority. So yeah, that was a big point. But I love that we kept the name because if my clients just talked with this new guy named Eric from a different state with a whole different company, it may have felt like whoa, you know, like, there’s that’s a lot of change. I love that we kept the name because it’s, you know, you have the InTransit email address. domain. Yes, we did not we made a few adjustments to the site, but that’s like phase two. We’re not worried. That Yeah, right now because honestly, like half of my clients don’t even know the business name, they just knew, Josh, my web design guy. So that was not as big of a concern. And I do want to say, for anyone, because I know a lot of my students look at my site as an example, what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna basically put the backup of the site on a sub domain, just for references from my experience and how I built the site as a solopreneur. So I’m going to have a backup from, you know, InTransit from a few months ago before we made any changes, Eric, and I’m going to have that as reference. And then as we change InTransit, people will see it more often to the more the agency style site, but I don’t worry, because I just talked to somebody recently who asked about that, don’t worry, I am going to make sure my InTransit site as a solopreneur is going to be up somewhere as a reference point.
The whole synergy thing. Yeah, we talked about like that. Having that partnership still, like, you know, we’ve even said like we’re still going to be as a team. As you know, developers, were able to feed you You continually, you know, feed you stuff for, you know, CSS tutorials and things like that. And you still, you still completely handle your Josh all site, you know, sound like you’re no longer even using Divi or anything. Um, but there’s just the synergy. And as, you know, the the CEO owner, I’m getting a lead at least once or twice a week from people that from the Josh Hall courses, you know, that’s either took some tutorials or courses. You know, one guy last week we talked and he’s like, I started I tried to show me a site, he goes, I’m just in over my head, I need somebody to finish it. That’s a couple thousand dollar lead that I would not have gotten before.
Synergy is where you said that from one of our first calls, and I loved it, and it’s absolutely true. I wanted to make sure the business would continue to feed my business, Josh Hall co because let’s be honest, my content is based off a real order experience. And I’m never letting that go like that’s I mean, luckily I’ve been doing it for 10 years. I you know, I’ve got I could talk for years on end about stuff I’ve learned in my past decade. But what’s really cool, what I love about our setup is that I have all this experience as a solopreneur. And then I have my experience over the past few years and scaling as a kind of small team. But now I have the experience of overseeing you as we’re doing stuff as an agency. So, like, I’m getting ready to revamp by website maintenance plan course. And what’s really cool is now I have maintenance plan offerings as a solopreneur as a small team, and as an agency, like there’s these different tiers, these different, you know, areas in your journey you can you know, where are you at? Do you want to do a maintenance plan as a solopreneur here’s what I did, if you want to do it as an agency, here’s what we’re doing you know, so it’s really really cool. A synergy is is incredible because again, we are feeding each other and Dude, I haven’t even started like I thought about creating a you know, get help for your, your website, on my site, and that’s, that’s gonna be huge, you know, so there’s all that kind of stuff that really feeds into into this nicely. So it really I mean, it set me at ease to the whole thing. There was not there was not one point. So I remember my wife asked me a few weeks into it. She’s like, How do you feel? Do you feel like you did the right things? I feel weird. I’m like, honestly, I have not had any feelings of doubt or regret or red flags. Like it’s all it went too well, I mean, we had a lot of work. Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of things that both you and I had to kind of figure out particularly from like the books and the the spreadsheets and the client info and there, you know, recurring billing because you have a different billing system that I had set up, so we had to do all that. Some of that was, you know, that was the unfun stuff, but I mean, primarily it it went pretty, pretty dang, well, man, knock on wood. We’re still at the tail end of it, but, I mean, it seemed a little too good to be true. All around.
no, I I would agree. I would agree. And my wife was asked me and she said, you know, she goes, the weirdest thing for me is, you two have never met in person. She’s like this. This is the weird thing like, you know, so yeah.
Yeah, well yeah for you know, for outside people and industries. Yeah, it probably seems weird but for web designers we’re used to. And luckily, I mean, going back to the trust your gut, like, I just I trust my gut with you. I felt like, you know, I felt like you were an upstanding guy who I’ve always I felt like I’ve been able to read people very quickly, and I can tell whether they’re legit or they’re full of shit and I felt like you were legit. And that show through a kind of reaffirm me as we got through the process. I was like, Man, this. I’m so glad I went with Eric. And then again, I learned a lot from you during the whole process with organization, like you are way better with Google Docs and Spreadsheets than I am. I actually was like, how did he do that with the thing here like, you know, there’s a lot of things like that, that I actually kind of picked up and learn from you. And what’s really cool is now I’m applying it to my JoshHall.co stuff and man talk about synergy again, going back to our teams merging. Michelle, our SEO specialists who actually We’re gonna have on the podcast here soon, we’re working together, she did an SEO audit on my site at Josh Hall. co fascinating, absolutely fascinating made me feel kind of awesome because my domain authority is getting up there. However, like it’s gonna make me take a whole different approach with how I produce content being data driven and SEO driven. So I mean, she’s just a world class SEO audit, you know, specialist who I’m referring to my students left and right now like, she’s like my SEO, my SEO gal. Kam, who I mentioned who does the VA services for InTransit now does all reporting she’s coming on board with me to help me out with the podcast and a lot of the stuff I’m doing with Josh Hall. Co. Christian and Jonathan, like you mentioned, our designers they’re mingling and talking together and doing awesome stuff. Amr who I’m having or is going to be the episode I think, shortly before this one, our email domain guy, you know, he came from my side, but you got to you’re using him like crazy now. So he’s, uh, yeah, we really you know, we created this dream team, which is another benefit of merch to two teams together and not screwing over your team, that was the other big thing too. As for me the other big aspect to all this, quite frankly, was Jonathan because Jonathan is working full time for InTransit. And he had been with me since right before my daughter was born. And we were in the NICU and he’s a big, big, big part to me being able to do Josh Hall.co, quite frankly, because he was designing all the sites for InTransit. So they you asked me what, what’s, you know, what’s the situation with him? And after we talked, I let him know. And Jonathan told me, he is like, I kind of wondered if you are going to talk to Eric. And what was really cool about that, too, is previous to that, when you were on my podcast, he randomly messaged me and was like, I feel like I think he said something to the tune of, I could see Eric being a really good person to like partner up with and have as a referral partner and do some work with. And so I knew like he was interested in working with you, too. So I didn’t want to just surprise Jonathan either. But Jonathan knew, like he knew you know, he was working on that area of InTransit, but he knew I was focused primarily on Josh Hall.co. So, yeah, man, I mean, apart from all that, and then apart from, you know, turning over the client stuff versus all the internal stuff. I mean, I think that was pretty much the gist of handing over the keys, phase five, unless there’s anything else you can think of before we wrap this up.
No, I think that’s good. I think you’re, you know, I learned you’re way more organized in your systems of like, you know, building a site and checklists and things like that. So that was great to inherit and bring on and it’s really elevated, that kind of stuff. But I think for me, the big takeaway is leveraging the power of those little videos for the just in case because something happens to me, you know, my wife and kids are relying on this income, she’s not gonna step in and do this. So setting her up with a business that she can sell or you know, and work with you and stuff like that. Like that’s important. So I would say the big takeaway for somebody listening to this is, even if you’re not planning to sell your business one day, if you’re going to really be a business owner, you still have to think of that next step, you need to have a succession plan, even if you never use it. Um, and so you know, leveraging some of that, I think would be a big takeaway for people that I.
And a disaster plan that if I get hit by a bus plan, what happens like Dude, Does anyone else have access to my client files? Does anyone else have access to my stuff? My, you know, the business bank accounts, like, you know, that’s where having a significant others is crucial and helpful in that because at least they can have access, God forbid, but I think having trusted colleagues for that type of thing is valuable, too, which is where which is, eventually when I started membership, that’s where like, you know, people are really going to be able to make these really good colleague connections. I’m not saying you want to give everyone access to your files, but you do need to have someone trusted. That would ideally at least know a little bit about web design. So they could help out in case of an emergency. So we’ll probably do a separate episode on disaster planning, but it’s definitely something to consider and think about.
So I call it succession planning because it’s not as scary.
Oh, yeah. Yeah, but I would view that as more like retiring or moving on as apart from like a, you know, I got
I think it includes it all for me. Yeah, yeah.
I guess succession could include getting hit by a bus right. I guess either.
We always had a succession plan for the church. That was you know, intentional or accidental. You know, need for replacement of the pastor.
Nice. Nice. Yep. And then finally, just to cap this off, phase six is just kind of wrapping it all up and then following up for me, you and I stayed in. We still stay in regular you know, touch with everything but we don’t do like scheduled weekly calls. But you know, through June and then through July. We still talked a lot now. I did go on. vacation for a couple of weeks in July which was amazing because you just ran everything It was the first time where I felt like I really had like a true like, I don’t have to worry about jack crap vacation. Because well thank goodness because we brought both of our daughters so it was nonstop work. But you know, like the previous year Jonathan was doing everything so we didn’t have any emergencies and if we did, he could handle it. So that felt really good. But this was the first time where I got back from vacation and I think I had like three emails in my InTransit and two of them were for you. So so like, it was amazing, you know, not to have you know, 50 emails backed up that I need to get to so that was incredible. And it was good that we again, we gave ourselves those deadlines to stay on task so I could go on vacation. It was really for me just to be transparent, it was a nice end of one chapter and started the next because we had made the sale the everything was done by middle July when I came back. We can take the next step and really that was checking in with you answering questions periodically that you had. And then I have started kind of following up with my a clients just to see how stuff’s going. Last week I met with one of my “A” clients who she’s, she’s our realtor and a personal friend of the family anyway. And then the other big aspect to this was my networking group because since I wasn’t doing the sales for InTransit, I stepped away from my networking group that’s that I helped start back in 2012 so that was another big emotional piece. Now, those are all still kind of my crew. That’s one reason I love networking is they’re all like my auto mechanics. They’re my realtors. They’re my loan guys. They’re my financial advisors. They’re so you know, they’re all still my crew and I’m just not seeing them on a regular basis because I’m not the salesman for InTransit anymore. But that said they know you know, most of them know you and they can always reach out to me and I can direct them to you. But with that said, like I have been kind of checking in on my best clients just to see how stuff’s going to make sure you know, you’re taken care of them and it’s like, everything’s been great. I haven’t had anyone say like, I’m not really comfortable with this. So it’s been really cool, man. That’s kind of what I’m doing. I don’t know what you have to add as far as this final step. I know, this is where the real work for you is, is kicking in as you’re leaving the church and taking InTransit to a whole new level.
Yeah, no, it’s it’s good. You know, luckily, we had a plan, working plan, um, you know, and I would say those, you know, and even today, you know, even now, you know, you’ll get an email and I’ll open it, and it’ll be like, you know, hey, three things, and it’s just a link to a Loom video, or just like, hey, real quick. and someone links to a loom video, and I’m always like, there’s always this hesitation of like, oh, somebody’s mad at somebody upset, you know? And it’s always just like, Hey, I saw this, I thought it is you know, this and I’m like, Oh, yeah, cool. So…
But yeah, there’s, you know, a couple times, especially like, after I talk to a client or we work on something, you know, because we’ve done some projects now, where, you know, I went in and built the landing page or I did work on a client’s website and the new designer and stuff like that. And then it was like, the next day you get an email from you. I’m like, oh, did they reach out to Josh and complain, but, you know, everybody’s been fine it’s been good.
Yeah, it’s been great. That’s the other thing is…
Glad I took your courses.
But yeah, yeah, really, I mean, that was crucial, you know, having the same processes now we are using Basecamp3 for InTransit now, which is different from what I use with Basecamp2, and there are a few things a little different, but it seems like clients are coming around to that with like, you know, I just made it known you know, if you have an update, reach out to Eric now, not me, and it’s gone over really well. And yeah, man. It’s wild. I mean, we’re at the tail end of this. I know the next phase is talking about the website and and and I’m still involved on some higher level stuff. Like we did a call last week with a client and that’s kind of few and far between, but it’s Yeah, I really think it’s worked out for
Well, the and they’re wanting to do something they’re wanting to use this client is wanting to use LearnDash, which you run your courses off of. I’ve never touched it. It was just like, Listen, we can we can serve this client and take her project further faster if just you meet and her get on the call, or I would have had to go Oh, that’s a great question. Let me get back to you. And I would have to call you anyway.
That’s what’s really cool too. Like, if I ever get to a point where I’m like, I feel like I need to, you know, maybe I want to do well, maybe I want to get into the sales a little bit just to kind of refine, maybe I want to try out some things I’ve learned with some of my guests on my podcast and my courses. I can always tell you like, hey, Eric, I want to I want to be involved on maybe an upcoming like high level project just to, you know, dip my toe, like there’s freedom in a lot of different ways for both of us like that, which I love man, synergy.
I like because I’m like, yeah, test it. I mean, we should always be testing things in our business. So, you know, that’s the thing from you getting, you know, you’re constantly talking to people. So you’re doing all of this r&d, which is if you’re going to be a business owner, that part of the innovation is r&d. You got to be doing research and development. You’re our r&d department, you know, and so that’s great. I don’t have to worry about that. Because you’re handling that. So it’s just really cool.
So that’s true. That’s a great point. Yeah, I am essentially just doing all the research and development for InTransit with what I’m doing with Josh Hall.co. And then, I mean, basically, I’m the r&d for, you know, hundreds of web designers around the world now, because I’m getting I’m getting all the info sharing all the experience and getting all the resources together you just apply it so I love that. Who knew? I had no idea I love doing r&d so much, but by golly, you just made me realize I do so. Well Eric, this has been great man. I hope everyone’s enjoyed this, you know, getting a peek behind the curtain and kind of hear and what both of you and I went through for me selling the business to you acquiring it. And what we did, I just thought would be cool to talk about this to share our experience. And hopefully this helps people again, if you’re interested in selling or maybe you’re not, but you’re just curious, maybe you just want to have in the back of your mind. So when one day, you feel like I did where I was like, I feel like I’m ready to move on or I need to make a change. This is a good reference for you. And again, just to recap, phase one for me was figuring out, you know, realizing when the time was right, or when when you know, it’s time to make some changes. Phase two was finding the right fit. Phase Three was making the actual deal. phase four, planning the change, planning it out giving yourself deadlines, five was actually handing over the keys, and then six follow up and, you know, whatever that looks like, depending on the situation. So, man, with all that in mind, Eric, you have any final words for everyone listening?
No. So, um, I would just say the only thing I would say honestly is, you know, I think I think it was you one day I first heard it said that said it was, um, you know, are you are you trying to build a job? You know, because if you ever do want to sell one day, nobody wants to buy your job. Somebody wants to have a business. And so invest in yourself. Take some courses, begin thinking like an owner. And you know, because even if you don’t want to sell one day down the road, you’ll be so much further ahead if you already got some of this stuff in place?
Yeah. And I would just add to that by saying, Get it out of your head and get it on, get it on file, get it on paper, maybe not paper, but you know, get your spreadsheets in order, get all the details in order, it would never hurt, like you’re talking about Eric to make client videos as you go. That’s probably something I just never thought about doing that. I’m like, why would I spend time doing that? It’s all you know, I know, it’s all up here, it’s in my head. But it’d be so valuable to do that. In any case, even if it’s just you, you know, but if you want to start bringing on a team, you have resources that people can watch.
And like, most of them are under four minutes, you know, to that like, just real quick. You have to go through everything. Just couple highlights. And man, having that repository of those videos, I think is like I said, I know, not 100% but really leaning towards adding that to our deploy checklist, you know, done with a site, like added to Google Analytics and Google search, record the videos like just make a part of the process.
I remember the other thing I did with those videos was I did talk about the personality type of the client a little bit too. I don’t know, that helped at all. Just so you knew, like, Are they a dominant kind of person? Are they more like, what’s their motives? Are they more chill? Are they really cautious? Do you need to like not talk about anything price related for a while, like, there, I tried to include that too, which hopefully helped for anyone, anyone you know, doing that. That’s, that’s a great thing to do to just so you can get to know the client. It also gives yourself a refresher, if you have a lot of clients, you might forget, like, what are they like, you know, so
And you, none of my clients. And I built one website, out of all the sites I built, where they didn’t go on maintenance and hosting, and they took on their own website. None of my other client, I don’t have a single client that ever wants to log into the back end of their website. You’ve got clients that are constantly logging into the back end of their website and doing things and so that was, that was huge to know and good to know, because I was not expecting that at all.
Yeah, I did. And it was a big thing it just so happened, a lot of my clients wanted to be active, which was so great about the resources, the training resources that I put together, on my client training or my client resources page. But that’s the beauty about WordPress and Divi and a lot of that. But as we’re finding, I think, more and more particularly as we kind of revamp the maintenance plans, we’re trying to get away from that to let people just let us do it. But to have that freedom there, it’s pretty cool. And that actually makes clients appreciate you even more when they’re logging in. And they have a question, which is a great time for upsells for other stuff, too, when when they do that. So yeah, that’s cool to hear, man.
Good stuff. Yeah.
Well, Eric, thanks so much for your time. I know you got plenty of work to do as CEO of InTransit Studios, so I’ll let you get to it and we’ll chat again here, not public and talk about stuff moving forward. But this has been great, man. Thanks for filling everybody in on your side of stuff.
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