This is an episode that has been on my podcast ideas list for over a year. It's funny to me that I was afraid in the beginning that I might run out of ideas to keep a viable podcast about cleaning. I was bad wrong as my list of ideas is over 200! I've been wanting to tell this story for a while and now is as good a time as any. In May 2019, I attended a conference called Growth Now hosted by my friend Justin Schenck. At this point, Justin's Growth Now Movement Podcast had over 2 million downloads. He built had a tight community that Justin brought together in Reading, Pennsylvania for a weekend. I found out about this conference from my friend Andy Storch. He lives in Orlando and said this. "Ken, I just interviewed this guy Justin for my podcast. Cool guy. He's having an event in Reading. You wanna go with me?" My response was this. "Reading! There's nothing in Reading except a Pagoda and outlets!" I yielded as the event was an hour from my house and Andy was flying in from Florida. I had no excuse not to drive 60 minutes if Andy was flying across the country! Not long after, Vincent Pugliese joined the fun and drove in from Pittsburgh. That turned Reading upside down with the 3 of us walking into this conference. I don't know what Justin was thinking inviting us! It was a fun event and it turned out that Reading was a much cooler town than I remembered. I'm only poking fun because my mom lived in the Reading area while I was in college. The 3 Amigos absolutely had a blast that weekend, plus we made the walk to the Pagoda for our epic selfie.
Why am I telling this story? Something really cool happened during the conference. Vincent won a Tarantula for his son because he was the only one willing to go to the front and hold it. Yes, that happened. There's more. On Saturday morning of the conference, Andy Storch showed Vincent and I his phone. He had just sold his first ticket for his Talent Development Hotseat Event that was only 6 months away. Rewind... Andy has been a talent development product salesman for years. He moved from employed to self-employed in his niche and made major strides. In 2018, he started the Talent Development Hotseat Podcast with the strategy to use the podcast to pass the gatekeepers. People that were untouchable, unreachable to a sales pitch at large companies would bend over backwards to be interviewed for a show to showcase their expertise. This played on their ego and that is powerful. It was brilliant and the first time I'd ever seen anyone market a podcast like this. These interviews gave Andy great content and connections with other 100 influencers in talent development. Andy went all in at the start of 2019 and set a BHAG to have his own conference and selling tickets for $2,000 each. It was out there, but we rooted him on. When Andy showed us his first sale in May (5 months after announcing and planning the event), we were psyched for him. Andy then said. "That's 1. I just need to sell 49 more to cover the cost of the conference and 99 more to sell out and 6 months to do it."
From that conference, Andy put in the work! He connected with past guests of his podcast to secure sponsorships, speakers, and attendees. He virtually vomited all over social media every day, mostly on LinkedIn about this event by hiring a social media manager and running paid ads. Andy's ticket sales rose. He sold his 10th ticket by early June and 90 by late September. Then it slowed down as many lurkers were checking out the conference, but no one was biting. Andy was in the Total Life Freedom Mastermind with us at that time as he was a founding member with me. On one of our calls, we told him to say the conference was SOLD OUT. If anyone contacted him to buy a ticket, they could get a backdoor link and Andy could raise the prices without a problem. But really, Andy just wanted to see what would happen as there were really 5 or so tickets available until he was truly sold out. He started a waiting list and in 2 days over 10 people joined. On October 9th, 2019, Andy posted this comment in TLF.
"So we marked our conference as SOLD OUT and put a button for people to join the wait list. We've had at least 10 people join in the last 24 hours. Which means we are converting lurkers to my email list. And one of them just asked me how she and her boss can get tickets. Scarcity. This is so funny. Remember when I was desperate to get anyone to buy a ticket?"
Andy did sell out this conference and went on to write his first book, "Own Your Career, Own Your Life", start the Talent Development Think Tank Community, and win a battle against cancer in 2020 and 2021. You can check him out at andystorch.com. He has always swung big and that's what I admire about him. I, on the other hand, have been more of an overthinker and playing smaller. I was amazed to see a friend start a conference and sell it out to over 100 people. I'm equally amazed to see Vincent Pugliese write 2 books, build a mastermind community, and sell out retreat events of 25 people each year.
I told this story because I love what Andy did. He took 5 months to prepare the ground. That's how long it took to sell the 1st ticket to prove that it was viable. He sold his 10th within a month and 80 more in 3 more months. The first 10 took a long time and he was happy just to sell them. The majority of the remaining tickets were sold in a short time at full price. Andy then sold the final 10-20 at a higher price using a scarcity approach. He told us that people want what they can't get. When there is a limited quantity, the demand goes up. When demand goes up, so does price. He sold the final tickets in a few days using scarcity. I did the same thing in my first solo cleaning businesses in Upstate NY. It was hard selling my first customer. I was desperate and was glad to sell at a discount just like Andy showing us the first sale on his phone at the Growth Now Movement Conference. This was our Initializer phase of business. Then I grew quickly with confidence and filling my schedule. I was a one-man show, so I had limited space. My prices were higher and I was earning the money I needed to pay our family's bills just like Andy's 80 sold tickets over the summer more than covered the price of the event. This was our Stabilizer phase of business. The Optimizer phase was fun for both Andy and I. He created a waiting list for tickets. I created a waiting list for cleaning clients. He sold the last 10 spots at a premium. I sold my last openings at a premium.
When Andy posted that comment about his final ticket sales, I released the first episode of this podcast. I was just starting my second solo cleaning business in the Indian Valley near Philadelphia, PA. I was desperate for new clients. I was an Initializer. As you know from listening to this podcast, my second solo business followed the same path as our first one in NY. The only difference is that it took us 15 months instead of 15 years! We sold out our waiting list in early 2021. We had completed the ISO Model a second time. But we wanted more. We started a new freedom journey in 2021 and accomplished our equivalent to Andy's sold out conference BHAG. In February 2022, the Carfagno Family left PA for sunny Florida for an entire month. We had doubled our cleaning business and had a team of 5 cleaning for us. Now we're moving toward the next pinnacle. I'm so appreciative to guys like Andy Storch whose optimism encouraged me to go big and to Vincent Pugliese who challenged me to take the leap and book the Florida trip and keep me balanced with realism and to Josh Melton who coached me from solo to a team structured cleaning business.
If you're listening to this podcast and live anywhere withing striking distance, I highly recommend Justin's event. The Growth Now Summit Live 2022 is at the Rock Lititz in Lititz, PA on May 20-22. I'll be there. If you happen to come, please find me and let me know you're a listener to my podcast.
The Smart Cleaning School Podcast helps cleaning business owners from start-up to the struggling solo to the striving seven-figure get SMARTER in their businesses, reshape their mindset, increase productivity, clear the overwhelm, and get clarity through SMART goal-setting & personal accountability. Ken Carfagno is a lifetime learner and teacher. His mission is to help visionaries make the impact they were meant to make.