"Like a true nature's child We were born, born to be wild We can climb so high I never want to die "
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Featured Studio Owner

Jack Otepka
Home Video Studio - Apex

Date: 11/07/2014

Home Video Studio was started with one purpose: To make money with video. Yes, there are plenty of side benefits that come along with studio ownership - working in a creative field and a family oriented lifestyle to name a few - but making a good income by providing "Video Services for Everyone" is our reason to exist.

Staying true to this vision Peter and Sharon Galluzzo, Home Video Studio Owners in Apex, North Carolina, made over $30,000 in sales last month – and had fun doing it! And the best part? They have come close to this mark several times before, earning $4.000 to 5,000 or more practically every week.

From their opening in June of 2008 they were "quick out of the gate" and their story, in tandem with their successes, has been frequently documented in the annals of HVS. Peter, with a computer and IT background, became interested in video as an AV volunteer at his church. Sharon, his wife, came from a background in public relations and fundraising. Yearning to leave corporate America they decided to risk what they had to get what they wanted. They became Home Video Studio owners. With daily diligence and strategy this powerful team began to build a business that has been on a success track ever since.

The obvious thing people want to know is the Secret of their Success. We caught up with the Galluzzos with a goal of finding this out and we must, in the spirit of full disclosure, inform you that if you are looking for a magic formula you may be disappointed. We really didn't uncover any "secrets" unless those secrets include the basics of hard work, goal setting, and customer service:

Do you come from entrepreneurial families? Is entrepreneurship in your DNA? No. We've had to learn and grow every step of the way, and will, most likely, continue that way.

Were you looking for a business opportunity or did it find you? We were looking, but it was such a perfect fit that it felt like it found us.

What was your impetus to leave an ostensibly comfortable, middle class, salaried lifestyle and take a risk? Peter wanted to be his own boss. It was his idea to start a business and we wanted to do something that we would enjoy. When we found HVS we knew it was a great business but the decision was difficult because it's still a risk.

Did you anguish over this decision or was it a no-brainer? It took a lot of prayers, sweat, tears and evaluation before we decided to go for it.

You've spoken before about taking the time to get your "ducks in a row" before you went for it. Can you speak about calculated risk – i.e. controlling what you can control, but finally jumping and accepting the unknowns?

The final decision was really more of a spiritual one. When we determined that this was what we were "supposed" to do, it became easier. We did all we could to get ready and be prepared and then we just had to take the proverbial leap of faith.

How many hours do you work per week. We are open 43 hours a week.

Are there any surprises that you are still discovering? I'm still surprised at how many tapes people still have in their possession!

What was your start like?
It was slow at first, but it was great to learn and not be overwhelmed. I think it was a good pace – when we became familiar and comfortable we really started to build the business and make it grow. We also had a good cash reserve, so that when funds got low that first year we were able to continue to function until the money started coming in the other side.

Who are some of your famous or not, living or not inspirations?
I've learned so much from so many people. When we started I made it a point to learn from everyone we could. Listening to what others found successful (and unsuccessful) gave us a reference point from which we could plot a path. I'd say that other business owners, and especially HVS owners, have contributed the most to our success.

Okay, let's get down to it. Do you have a secret formula?
It's no secret. Have the right mindset, set goals, choose what motivates us, execute the plan, review and evaluate, then do it all over again. Also, we have systems in place and we manage the system. Plus, we strive to be professional at every turn. We are organized and have a clean studio so customers have confidence in us and trust us with their most valuable possessions. Finally, we adopt a "givers gain" mentality – and we say we don't have any competitors –only collaborators.

What is absolutely necessary to thrive as an HVS owner?
Positive attitude.

Are you competitive?
Oh, my gosh, yes! We have a great rivalry with other owners, all in good fun, of course, but it really helps keep us motivated, focused and pressing on toward goals.

What put you into overdrive – where 4-5 grand a week is normal and often you make more?
Expectations are primary and when we don't do as well as we projected we start to analyze why and what we can do to make next week better. However, I'd also say that customer service and treating people well on the phone in our studio has a lot to do with earning their trust and therefore their business. We really try to bond with our customers and let them know that we care about this work. We often say, we're not selling pencils! What we do is important to our customers so it's important to us.

What's the anatomy of a 30,000 dollar month?
The big six! I'm serious!! [Note: The "big six" refers to the six major profit centers of HVS – Tape transfer, home movie transfer, editing, PhotoVideo Keepsakes, production, and duplication]

Is there a "one thing" that you attribute to your business's success?
No, it's doing all the things we're supposed to do. Not all at once, mind you. But over time doing all the things we should. Of course, having done this for more than 6 years, we also have referrals and repeat customers. We absolutely need referrals and repeat customers!

Do you want to remain in this mode or are you taking growth steps?
We are always trying to grow - but that means we have to make bigger changes. We have not yet reached our capacity!

What are some of your failures and what did you learn?
We did not receive the Rookie of the Year Award. This was a significant goal for us. We failed. But by having that goal we started off strong and never quit.
We didn't win Hanley for Rookie Video – we learned that the Hanley judges are not always right. [Note: this was said with a wink]
We don't get many of the video production jobs we bid. We've learned that usually we can make more money in our studio and we trust we'll get the jobs we are supposed to get.
It's so easy to put your money in the "wrong" advertising stream. Sometimes it's "try it and if it fails, chalk it up to experience but don't do it again".
Taking everyone's advice. When we started I wanted to learn everything and I went into information overload and actually became so overwhelmed I was depressed. It took recognizing the cause and then letting things go to rebalance. Making "deals" with customers! This was hard particularly in the beginning when we wanted work. We would make a great deal for the customer but not for us. Then we would be unhappy while doing the job. We learned that we need to make win/win "deals" that both the customer and we feel good about. If we feel like we are "losing money" we can't do our best.
Keeping promises to ourselves – We keep promises to everyone else but don't keep the promises we make to ourselves. If we say that we are going to take a break – but then get busy and don't take that break, it's bad. We need to honor ourselves as much as we honor others.

Could any competent business professional that has a passion for video duplicate your success? I think anyone can do what we've done, if they have the right attitude and plan. It's simple! Run this business like a business and take it seriously. Smile and treat others with kindness.

Jack Otepka
Apex NC

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