Marketing Panes is a monthly podcast of marketing interviews like this one. Click here to subscribe on iTunes.
In this episode, find out things like:
- Why he's not planning on doing much direct mail in the coming future
- How the Trade Winds (and bugs!) affect the fabric he sells
- The offline method that's still working well
Bobby Nakamura is a third-generation business owner under the Naka's business name. The business started back in 1957. Bobby has a lot of experience on what works in the industry, particularly on the Hawaiian islands.
pssst.... want to be a guest on the show?
Will Hanke 0:06
Hey everybody, welcome to episode number three of marketing pains. My name is Will Hanke II thank you for joining us today. I've got a fantastic guests in the very comfortable state of Hawaii and Maui to be particular while it's getting ready to snow and do some craziness here, I'm sure he's not preparing for snow. Bobby, nice to have you on. Thanks for having me.
Bobby Nakamura 0:31
Yes, actually, it's actually a little rainy right here today. So it's bad for us is so bad.
Unknown Speaker 0:39
you for saying you don't have you can't go outside, right.
Will Hanke 0:45
It's great. Well, thank you so much for jumping on today. I really appreciate it. I'm interested. Do you prefer Bobby or Robert or what do you
Unknown Speaker 0:53
buck Bobby's? I like Bobby. Yeah.
Will Hanke 0:57
Okay. So, so why don't you go ahead and listen Jump in. Tell me tell me your name, your business name and give me the kind of the two minute elevator pitch about your business.
Bobby Nakamura 1:06
Okay, my name is Bobby Nakamura, I'm an owner knockos drapery and it's a family run business. It's it started out 62 years ago, my grandfather say we do all kinds of window coverings drapery shutters. We do some flooring to complement that. And we have our own drapery fabrication shop in house and so that's that's our bread and butter. Do it.
Will Hanke 1:37
Okay, how what is the percentage of Window Treatments versus flooring?
Bobby Nakamura 1:44
It would be about 90% window treatments and 10% flooring. Yes, it's it's not even close.
Will Hanke 1:52
Is the flooring just something that you know and it's easy to kind of pick up that business once your house
Bobby Nakamura 1:59
It's it's Yeah, it's a it's an extra business that we we have on there extra money maker. It's we've previously um my father used to do a lot of flooring you would just flooring flooring flooring, but since the market changed, you know, big box stores came in and so they took over a lot of flooring stuff. So we we focus more into window coverings now and when the treatments and the flooring is to complement to that, you know a lot of old time customers, they they still know us and they still want you know, the services we provide them.
Will Hanke 2:32
Okay, and how many employees how many trucks
Bobby Nakamura 2:36
we have three employees including me and two trucks ,
Will Hanke 2:43
okay, and obviously you only serve Maui, you can't really drive any further. I'm assuming.
Bobby Nakamura 2:51
I've been asked to go to other islands and do work several times and I've actually I've gone over too long. Done measuring a site the logistics of you know getting everything done in a. But you want people want me on this.
Will Hanke 3:08
Yes. Crazy though. Interesting. Interesting. Okay. And you mentioned that your business about 60 years old so I think you said your grandpa started your grandfather.
Unknown Speaker 3:18
Yes. My grandfather started. He actually started as a poster in mini blinds. So but basically the Naka's name is it's been transformed over the years. I mean, with, of course with the, with the market and how the how it goes and yeah, so about 60 in 19. Oh, it's 63 1957 you started, actually before Hawaii became a state.
Will Hanke 3:39
Oh my gosh,
Bobby Nakamura 3:40
yeah. When you're in for Hawaii became state.
Will Hanke 3:43
Wow. Wow, that's awesome. And was it always on Maui?
Bobby Nakamura 3:47
It was always on Maui. It was three different locations on Maui though.
Will Hanke 3:51
Okay. Okay. So, kind of the way that I wanted to do this today is to talk about the the three pillars of marketing which is the market the message in the media. So let's talk about those a little bit. We'll start with the market Who is your ideal customer
Bobby Nakamura 4:13
my ideal customer actually means everybody's ideal customers who has a lot of money wants to wants to give it to me. But uh, basically ideal customer target. Our target market is become local customers repeat customers that we have, you know, we don't a lot of people for a lot of years. And we do target a lot of vacation rentals because of the high turnover rate. And property managers and new builds are always in there but it's hard because a lot of new first time owners, they don't have a lot of money to spend at the end of the process which is when the treatments but so a lot of us that are local and Vacation Rentals that we Protect dealing with.
Will Hanke 5:02
Okay. And those are people that are not probably residing on Maui. Correct?
Bobby Nakamura 5:09
Yeah, not residing there part timers, isn't there the rest time to rent the rent out their properties as vacation rentals.
Will Hanke 5:17
Okay. Okay, that sounds like a position I need to be in. I mean, I'm pretty sure that's, that's where I need to be right.
Bobby Nakamura 5:23
Definitely a lot of my clients, I look at them and I get jealous because some of them have like, three or four properties and say, Wow, I want that.
Will Hanke 5:33
Yeah, definitely. Um, what about your unique selling proposition? Or how do you position yourself in the eyes of your of your customers?
Bobby Nakamura 5:43
Um, well, that's pretty easy. I'm being that we've been here for so many years. I use that to the advantage of, you know, we know our clientele, we know our client, our climate, we know what works and what doesn't work, right. There's there's a lot of things that are Aren't you scientists that do not work here, you look beautiful. But things do not work here. And we're very knowledgeable in that. And you know, we can pass it on to the customer and you know, we feel comfortable with that. So
Unknown Speaker 6:13
what are some of those particulars for that area, I would assume solar shades,
Bobby Nakamura 6:18
solar shades, a lot of the our treatments are have to be able to withstand the elements, because we do have a lot of trade winds here and I'm not very many people what there is central errs, but not very many people using the left there in Hawaii, they want to have the breeze and things come through. But along with that there's problems with bugs and insects. We've had incidents where insects eat certain materials, like termites and stuff coming in the eastern materials. So there's certain materials that we don't we don't recommend or sell out there. And even if customer you know, they really want it, we let them know that you know, we're not going to do it because of this factor. You know, there can be like bugs and, and things and you know, it's just going to ruin your whole, your whole experience. So, yeah, it's, it's good knowledge for us to have and
Will Hanke 7:09
yeah, that's interesting. I would never even think about that, you know, our house in St. Louis is of course always sealed except for, you know, two weeks in the spring two weeks in the fall.
Bobby Nakamura 7:20
Yeah, it's it's very unusual and it's it's surprising sometimes when I when I go out to job and I see they call me and ask me there's there's holes in my this and data treatments and I go out there and and tell them you know, you can you can tell by the perfectly round hole, you can tell what it is a termites and certain. And bugs and geckos we have a lot of geckos here so Oh, yeah. geckos like to make homes or nest in certain areas and products. Hmm,
Will Hanke 7:51
do you guys do any outside, work on you know, awnings, shutters?
Bobby Nakamura 7:57
Not so much awnings, we do exterior shades, though.
Because it's always sunny out here so there's a lot of
people want to have like, blocking from the sun think so we do I would say cheat exterior shades and the simple rule roller shades I'm dude they work really well. Yeah situations.
Will Hanke 8:16
Okay, okay, good. So let's switch a little bit over to the the marketing side what you're doing and let's talk about what kind of marketing you are doing. I should go ahead and put in a quick disclaimer that you are one of our clients. I appreciate that. And so that's kind of in the mix in that and i and i don't definitely don't want it to turn into a window treatment marketing pros commercial. But I want to make sure that disclaimer was out there. So tell us what kind of marketing you're doing and how you've kind of watched it progress over the years.
Bobby Nakamura 8:57
Okay, um, I actually took a It is the business in 2011. So I've been to then No, my only training was through a to my father. We did a lot of local newspaper, never anything online, we never had a website or anything. It was just newspaper, word of mouth. And
you know, it worked for time before.
But I've been noticing that, um, we we've been losing customers to a lot of other companies that have, you know, more of an online presence. So that's where we, we switched over to getting a website and getting that done. So a lot of our marketing now is is on the internet and some kind of website marketing. We do still have newspaper I still deal with the newspaper because we do have leads still coming in through them. A lot of the old time customers, you know, the ones that We all want our target customers sometimes, you know, because they're the ones that they come in and they're 100% going to buy. So we want to make sure date they have you know, our number our information out there. So, we still do some of the newspaper advertising and marketing, but more know now is going over to the internet and, and web web searches and things like that.
Will Hanke 10:26
When you took over with your dad was he was he mostly relying on referral business?
Bobby Nakamura 10:33
Yeah, it was mostly referral business and you know, it took a long time for him to retire so he would he was doing the this is enough work we had we have enough work for now. But now since I took over new blood and I want to grow the business, and this is no market, it's Mr. Kings way to go.
Will Hanke 10:54
Yeah. Okay. What about direct mail? radio are you doing Any of those, I've
Bobby Nakamura 11:01
I've actually I looked in direct mail, I've got all the flyers things, but then costs for what I would, you know, I did some kind of research in that and the cost per per customer per lead would not you know, wasn't justifiable for me. Sorry. I didn't get to I didn't go that route. I actually talked to someone that started in radio, he was going to sell some ad spot so we're getting information on that and it's something of you know, I'm not sure how many people out there you know, listen to the radio, but it's something I'm exploring Also, I'm sure
with different avenues.
Will Hanke 11:45
Okay. Yellow Pages that Is that a thing anymore.
Bobby Nakamura 11:50
Yellow Pages were not too much in there. Used to be yellow pages book are really big, but now it's a really small it's a really small and simple We had at one point but we've we've never got for me at least for like yellow pages
Will Hanke 12:08
Okay, what about networking so going to different you know big chamber commerce events do you do any of that?
Bobby Nakamura 12:16
I've had the chin I've been with the chamber comments for live it but it just wasn't reaching the audience that I wanted to its it wasn't very big hair. It's not very big on mowing. So right yeah, it wasn't worth it for me.
Will Hanke 12:33
Okay. What about strategic alliances you know, realtors construction.
Bobby Nakamura 12:40
I do some of that I have
some realtor friends and I'm so it's hard getting into the the new housing housing market on this year to have a really good connection of the construction or something. But, you know, we're trying to explore that. I'm sure I'm into Contact with a couple of realtors right now and seeing what's what's going on. But like I said, a lot of times a property managers, you know, they're doing duple real estate, real estate and property management. So a lot of time, that's where a lot of our business comes in and it grows from there. So word of mouth goes out to your community.
Will Hanke 13:19
Yeah, yeah. What do you think? Which marketing efforts that you're doing is driving the most leads right now?
Bobby Nakamura 13:28
Most leads come in would be
through the internet. I'm still trying to figure all that out. But that's, that's where it seems like a lot of releases coming in. Besides the repeat. Repeat clientele. Okay. Or word Amalia?
Will Hanke 13:46
Yep. Now in your situation, you've have people let's say in California calling you know, like you said for their, their summer home, or you know, do you see a lot of those people as As repeat or they more just kind of one time.
Bobby Nakamura 14:04
Um, they're actually a lot of repeat customers.
So we, we have a lot from California and we actually have a lot from Canada. A lot of a lot of our clients are from Canada Andy, you do like the climate here so when wintertime so they you have a lot of places here and you know the because they do vacation Mentos there's a high turnover rate under your treatments there Yeah, sometimes, you know, it goes three years and you know, they want to, you know, something's not working, they're going to change it out or they want a new look on their and they're always updating their biggest vacation rental. So that's a really good avenue for us. So there would be customers. Yeah.
Will Hanke 14:51
Okay. Interesting. What could what marketing efforts and you may have kind of already answered this. What marketing efforts have you stopped using In the couple past years due to lack of performance
Bobby Nakamura 15:05
of course, the yellow pages
really struggled. We didn't start that
mailer sending out
we still trying to we're still trying to figure that out. It's still relevant because I just started the
internet kind of
campaign, you know, just this past year. So, yeah, we're still kind of freaking out, but it it's definitely nice newspaper. Eventually, I'm gonna drop that, but it's still bringing in leads. The profit margin is not as high as you know, the internet or internet but no, he's still bringing in leads. So I'm not going to give it up quite yet. Yep.
Will Hanke 15:55
Yep. It'll it also matches your target market. So yeah, yeah. You don't want to Pull that away, I guess. Yeah. I'm social media. Are you doing anything on the on that side
Bobby Nakamura 16:06
social media, social media, because it's it's simple, easy and cheap. We do try to put a lot of information on there. Well I do anyway. And you know, a lot of times it's, we do it on the spot and when we're working on jobs or things are out there, and you know, it's easy to do this way. So it's it's not complicated for me like we do a lot of those. Yeah.
Will Hanke 16:30
Yeah. I've seen you guys do a couple of like before and after shots. Those always always seem to get decent traction online. Yeah.
Bobby Nakamura 16:38
Yeah, people don't realize what what you know, their their treatments look like, until they see like a before and after. Hey, wait a minute. Mine looks like the before and it can look like the afters like whoa, let's do that. Let's give them a call. We get we get some of those come in. And buy my curtains look like what you just posted. Oh, yeah,
Will Hanke 16:59
yeah. That's awesome. That's great. So I mean, that's worth, you know, spending two minutes on on all definitely creating a Facebook post or something. Yeah. What about online reviews? Those are obviously a sore subject with every business owner in America.
Bobby Nakamura 17:15
Yeah, definitely, um, we've, we've tried over the span of them getting reviews out and tried different different ways to get it, you know, we let them know where we can leave reviews and stuff and you know, most the time they say, I mean, it's, they won't leave a good review, but most of them they don't. It's it. It slips their mind when when we leave the house. So we were trying to do, we've been doing tacky cards, but now we've done a QR code on tanky card and we've we're trying to find new avenues to make it easier for them just to get on and do it. Either instantly or, you know have you know send reminders or something or texts or something that reminders to You get to review. But yeah, and this is a bad review. It's really hard to get a review. Right. People are like bad reviews. They want to put it right now and then and there and a lot of emotion involved and yeah, fortunately we don't have any. So.
Will Hanke 18:15
Yeah, yeah, I think I think there is definitely a key to getting the review while you're standing there finishing the job.
Bobby Nakamura 18:21
Yes, it was
Will Hanke 18:24
always a great opportunity to do it. But not always feasible. Right. Yeah. I think it thing is
Bobby Nakamura 18:32
it's kind of a
some of our clients in a date they think it's it may take a long time to put a review up there. Just a lot of you know, hoops to jump through but in actuality it's not that hard Cooper you I do reviews all over the place and different companies and you know, restaurants and things and but they sometimes they think it's Oh no, I need to do this or did that or said this and it's a lot of times, not so Maybe passing them that information noise. It's really easy to do. And yeah. So that's what we're trying to do for them setting up the QR code and getting into them and whatever we can then make it easier for them.
Will Hanke 19:13
Yeah. And the QR code goes to a place word basically asked for a one through five star, and then it gives them a choice of somewhere to leave it right, Google. Yeah, yes.
Bobby Nakamura 19:22
Yes. Wherever they feel more comfortable leaving anywhere where they were their separation.
Will Hanke 19:27
Yeah. So I think you're right. It's just all about kind of reducing that friction and making it as easy as possible for them. Yeah. So okay, what about follow up marketing to your existing client base? Do you have a CRM that you guys keep people in? Is there anything that you do to reach out to them?
Bobby Nakamura 19:46
Um, we still try and work on that, um, I think we're compiling email lists. And as we've never done that before, so we're doing that now and it's still early on in the stages, so As I gets bigger and can kind of figure out you know, maybe separate all the target market and separate you know what we know how we're doing our, our marketing stuff in them you know, we're still figuring it out though I mean that's something we want to want to get into we want to keep keep the name and keep the information fresh information out to them, you know, as we're going along in business,
Will Hanke 20:25
right? Especially if you you know, come up with a new service or something like that, you know, like motorisation is fairly you know, what not fairly new but new in the window treatment world so yes, I do I'm, you know, in love with the automation home automation kind of stuff and drives my my wife crazy. But you know, there there's some really cool stuff out there that you can do now.
Bobby Nakamura 20:49
Yeah, there is.
Will Hanke 20:51
What, what services do you see maybe along the same lines that are becoming increasingly profitable for you
Bobby Nakamura 21:06
Then the new products that are coming out, like motorisation you know, it's, it's a higher end so there's a higher value in there, you know, we're selling it out there. Of course we're going to price it up more just to cover all our costs and everything. So there is um, there is a emerging market in in in all that is I don't think it's as big as you know, stateside yet but um, is it is growing? Yeah.
Will Hanke 21:34
Yeah, I'm not I'm not too sure. Okay. Okay. Um, well, thank you for sharing all that information. I really appreciate it. What would you say to the owner of a window treatment or awning business that's trying to get their company to the next level.
Bobby Nakamura 21:51
If you don't have a presence online, you need to get a presence online. That's where you know when we did it. We got so much more eyes on us, whether it's social media website, some kind of marketing on there, and, you know, this is still on you to me, but ever since we've done it, we've seen an, you know, an increase in cause customers and, you know, our profits as has actually soared. It's, it's it went up really a lot. So definitely do an online presence, marketing, you know, reach out to all the other you know, whatever avenues or rent those you know, your home builders you know, just just get your information out there. You know, the more information that's out there, the more people know about you the better chance you're having success.
Will Hanke 22:48
Right. Thank you for that. Any additional nuggets of wisdom or insight that you'd like to share?
Bobby Nakamura 22:57
not too sure. No.
Will Hanke 22:58
Okay. We'll take Thank you again, I really do appreciate it. So if somebody wanted to get in touch with you, they're on the island and they they're seeing this, what is the best way for them to do that?
Bobby Nakamura 23:11
Uh, there's two, two ways to get get in touch with us. I'm here to email knockos drapery [email protected] or info at knockos drapery calm or give us a direct call, My number is 882832559 or visit the website, not kosher calm and my visa remembering all their information is on there. You go to the website and you know, it'll point you out the right direction for numbers and email contacts.
Will Hanke 23:43
Yeah, okay, fantastic. And we will also put all this information into the show notes for the podcast with the links below so you'll be able to get that so Bobby, I thank you so much for being on today. I really do appreciate your time.
Bobby Nakamura 23:57
Awesome. Thank you.
Will Hanke 23:58
All right. Well, thank you for Those listening thank you for for listening to this podcast. Of course we'd love it if you could give us a review on iTunes or Stitcher wherever it happens to be that you're listening. And we'd love to have that review and and hope you have a fantastic day. I appreciate your time. Thank you