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Featured Studio Owner

John and Tammy Montgomery
Home Video Studio - Newark

Date: 01/07/2015

John and Tammy Montgomery were featured as “up and coming” owners about a year after their opening in June of 2012. Since then they have been going strong building their business, winning several Hanley Awards including Rookie of the Year, and still faithful to their daily plan of taking the next right step. Here is their original article, followed by an update:

“You don't have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step." - Martin Luther King Jr.

A business grows in steps. It takes patience. It takes planning. It takes faith that today's labor will yield tomorrow's fruit. John and Tammy Montgomery have been diligent to daily take the "next right step" since they opened their Home Video Studio a year ago - and it’s already paying off with rewarding projects, satisfied customers and increasing income. Meet Home Video Studio's June Studio Owners of the Month, John and Tammy Montgomery from Newark OH.

Like many HVS couples John and Tammy are a team, complementing each other with their respective strengths and abilities. John usually stays busy with the production, creative and technical issues and is the networking "face" of their business. Tammy keeps the business end afloat and, as administrative master, takes care of the books, pays the bills and, as she coyly admits, "keeps John from going down rabbit holes."

Another vital aspect of this dynamic duo is their tandem marketing. This is a necessary part of any Home Video Studio and rarely a day goes by that they aren't sowing seeds for future business. "Something that never ceases to amaze us is the positive energy that is created when we are active with our marketing," says John. "There isn't always a direct correlation between marketing and the business we are marketing for, but there does seem to be a correlation between being active in your marketing and having business come in."

John's successful modus operandi of taking the next best step began early in his life. John accepted an internship at a new local TV station while still in high school in Prescott AZ and, after a couple of months of running the teleprompter for the evening news, he was given an opportunity to work as a Master Control Operator. Upon graduating from high school he soon added production assistant to his duties. In 1985 (the same year he and Tammy married) he was promoted to Production Manager. Now John was a young man in all his audio-visual glory, spending two years as a one-man-band shooting, directing and editing numerous commercials and studio shows.

Tammy was born and raised in Arizona as well. She has always had a keen eye for visual arts as well, studying calligraphy and interior design after high school, as well as doing modeling work. Another area of keen interest for Tammy has been equestrian activities, an interest in which she was very involved, helping their daughter participate in Hunter Jumper events as well as Pony Club.

The Montgomerys changed course in 1987 when they heard duty call and John joined the Navy. Once again John followed his plan of stepping through the ranks - literally. He became a Damage Controlman and did his first at-sea tour aboard USS Okinawa (LPH-3). Then things moved quickly! "We were halfway into our deployment when Iraq invaded Kuwait," says John, "and ours was extended. We participated in both Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm and our deployment set a modern record for amphibious ships that was only surpassed last year." While on that tour he was accepted into the Enlisted Commissioning Program.

After John left the USS Okinawa he went to the University of Arizona, studying Political Science as a major and Russian as a minor. He also received his commission as an Ensign and soon was back to sea. He received his MBS at Naval Postgraduate School, with the highlight of his remaining military career as second in command on the USS Oak Hill.

As John prepared to retire from the Navy he knew he wanted to work for himself so he began to investigate various franchise opportunities. After considering some of them John heard the siren call of video again as he ran across the HVS franchise website in February of 2012. John and Tammy were intrigued by the prospect of a proven plan to make money in video. It also looked like a great husband and wife business. So once again, in systematic fashion, John and Tammy took the necessary steps to see if this would be a good fit. In March they attended an HVS webinar, in April they came to HVS headquarters for a Show-n-Tell and by late June they were installed and ready for business!

It's been a year now and these days you will find the shelves in their studio full of various types of video projects. "Photo keepsakes are always enjoyable," says Tammy, "because the clients are always thrilled to see new life breathed into their old photographs. Plus the keepsakes are usually done around a major milestone in someone's life." They are also currently in the middle of a DVD duplication project near and dear to their hearts for the Veterans Initiative Program involving a joint effort with the Vietnamese that is focused not only on recovering Americans, but also assisting the Vietnamese with locating their own troops who were buried by U.S. forces. Plus, they just wrapped up their first full production job, a four minute promotional video for Look Up Ministries. "That was satisfying because we could flex all of our skill sets and learn some new ones," says John.

What's their favorite Home Video studio profit center? "Honestly I'd have to say film transfer orders." John reflects. "There's something extra special about film. Often times it hasn't been seen in several years or even decades. It's rewarding seeing people reconnect with their old memories."

Besides learning plenty about modern video production the Montgomerys have learned even more valuable lessons about business. "This past year, has been a huge learning experience for us," muses John. "Neither of us had any business experience, and just about every pre-conceived notion about how to run a business has been challenged."

If they have seen anything it's that "Customers are everywhere" and a maxim they have learned early and apply often is "treat your customers well." John and Tammy have also seen the significance of a persistent market presence and follow-up: "Just this afternoon I followed up on a prospect who was going to come in and then got distracted by life. He thanked me for the call and said that he would bring his large order of video tapes in on Monday. Then a lady who came to our open house last November came in to take advantage of our Memorial Day sale e-blast special. All of this happened in an hour."

No stranger to setting and reaching goals the Montgomerys have set their sights, this year, on really becoming established in the community and being looked upon as the expert in "Video Services for Everyone." They know what it takes to reach their lofty financial goals as well. And we have a feeling, if the past is any indicator, that they will reach them as they always have - one right step at a time.

We caught up with John and Tammy just after this busy Holiday season in which they posted their best month ever. They have also had just finished what was, by far, their best week ever in this first week of the new year. They shared some valuable lessons that have been learned in the past year and a half:

What have you discovered about your business lately?
If you buy more bins to put orders in, you will get more orders. It's like asking the universe to bring you more business when you create the capacity to receive business.

What has surprised you lately?
The big surprise for us is how effective boosted posts on Facebook have been. It made the difference for our Christmas and End of Year sales. December was our best month of sales since we started and the week spanning the end of 2014 and the start of 2015 was our best week ever. The majority of those sales were from people we engaged with on Facebook.

What was your start like? Do you remember your first order?
Our start was a rough one. As soon as the last bit of equipment was setup during our installation a fast moving straight line wind (called a derecho) blew through our town and took out several trees on our property and left us without power for nine days.

We got our first customer before our studio installation. She wanted a video transferred for a friend who was on his deathbed. The only equipment we had was a combo VHS/DVD VCR that we used to make the copy.

Who are some of your inspirations?
My Grandfather (also named John) owned a couple of lumberyards in Newark, and neighboring Granville, OH. He had a reputation for being kind and for treating people fairly with dignity and respect. He was an integral part of the community involved with local service organizations, clubs, and board memberships. We are working out of his home office and we always feel like he is here with us helping to shape our business. So many of our customers knew my grandparents and it is always gratifying to share memories.

We are also inspired by people who demonstrate determination and drive to accomplish their goals while still managing to be decent people. We have become friends with several other local business owners and the undefeatable attitude they show to keep their businesses going and growing is always an inspiration to us.

Finally, of course, are the other studio owners who have already blazed the trail on their way to being successful HVS owners. Talk about indomitable spirits! We want to be like them when we grow up.

What is absolutely necessary to thrive as an HVS owner?
So many things are necessary. Key for us is persistence and dedication to following the plan. "Following the plan" is something we are always working on. If you are in a rut, find your way out quickly. One of the things that always seems to work for us is just to take some sort of action. When you take action, something will happen. If you take no action, nothing happens. The marketing manual is full of action items.

What are some of your future goals?
Did someone say "Make more money!"? We want to expand our home office. Maybe someday we will move to a storefront, but in our area there aren't that many places that would offer an improvement over operating out of our house especially when you take overhead into account. If it makes any sense, one of our goals is to get better at setting goals, so we can, in turn, accomplish those goals. It isn't all about the money, even though that is a definite indicator of success.

What are some of your failures and what did you learn?
Our failures, so far, seem to revolve around missed opportunities. That mostly happens from a lack of planning. We also have to fight against the sell it - do it cycle. Too often we let ourselves get caught in the "working in the business" vice "working on the business" syndrome. We miss opportunities when we fixate on emptying our job bins. This is rooted in a lack of planning. At the moment our job bins are full after the End of Year sale. Our goal should be to keep those bins full, not to see them empty.

What parts of your life before HVS contributed positively to your video business?
An understanding of long term sacrifice through countless military deployments and separations helps us to recognize that building a successful business is not an overnight endeavor. You have to be in for the long haul. Those separations led us to seek out a business that we could do together and each employ our skills. Home Video Studio is a perfect fit for us.

John and Tammy Montgomery
Newark OH

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