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Featured Studio Owner

Home Video Studio FL
Home Video Studio - Naples

Date: 04/14/2015

Todd Piper was our studio Owner of the Month in October of 2013. Since then he has not only steadily built his business, but has also won some impressive awards, taking the 2014 Hanley for "Best Rookie Video" and the coveted "Rookie of the Year" at last year's Annual Getaway. We are republishing his original article from 2013, followed by a follow-up:

Folks in Naples, Florida enjoy a certain lifestyle. It comes with an abundance of white-sanded Gulf beaches, a relaxed year-round wardrobe of shorts and flip-flops, and the most golf holes per capita in the world. Todd Piper, our October Studio Owner of the Month, likes the beach and flip-flops and golf. It's not surprising, then, that when he was looking for a business opportunity that fit his Naples lifestyle he found that Home Video Studio fit him to a T:

"This is a great area for a video services business like mine," says Piper. "The demographic skews a little older than a comparable sized area elsewhere. That means my customer base has the older formats and lots of them." They also skew higher in income: "I love the chance to provide excellent customer service and my customers like competence and convenience and they will pay for it."

So what landed Todd Piper, who is relatively new to Home Video Studio, the title of Studio Owner of the Month and an up-and-coming owner to watch? Well, besides an outstanding September of sales let's chalk it up to a few skills and attitudes that he brings:

Marketing sense - Todd grew up the son of a salesman and attributes his marketing awareness to this environment. "You know that old saying 'Nothing happens until a sale is made'? I grew up with that. My dad was a very good salesman for an international industrial supply company and I saw the importance they placed on sales - starting with compensation." Piper also credits having to move every couple of years as helping his development as a networker: "I had to get very good at meeting new people, making new friends and learning how to start conversations."

Creative and technical acumen - Like several Home Video Studio owners, Todd's early love of music brought him to video: "I have been a lifelong musician. My rock and roll dreams led me to learn guitar, bass and drums." (He also has a killer rockin' tenor voice that practically breaks glass!) In due course Piper began to also love the techno/creative process of knobs and faders and meters in a studio environment: "I loved recording and got into radio and TV production classes in high school."

A supportive partner - Todd and his wife Jennifer have been doing life as a team as long as they've been married. Jennifer's attaining a master's degree in the demanding field of Nurse Anesthesia was a collaborative effort of moral and financial support and the Pipers see Todd's business the same way.

Drive - Although Todd loved music and studios and production he also knew he wanted a certain lifestyle - and he suspected that it wasn't readily attainable by being strictly an artist or a technician. So after high school Piper attended college at the University of Texas - Dallas and earned his degree in Finance and Economics. Upon graduation he immediately went to work for Citigroup and got his feet wet in the lending industry. He then took a management position for a private lender. You can't contain a "man with a plan" in a cubicle, so Todd decided to start his own company. The good news? It grew quickly and soon he was presiding over thirty employees. The not so good news? He was working twelve hour days, commuting three hours, and incapable of taking a vacation. More good news: The fruits of his vision were providing a nice living, not just for Piper, but for everyone in his company. More not so good news: There was financial turmoil looming that was out of Piper's (and most everyone else's) control that would change the industry. To his credit Todd saw it coming on horizon, swallowed hard, and closed and boarded his business before the squall hit.

Reinvention - Most of us, at least once in our life, will face the prospect of having to reinvent ourselves. As he began to reimagine himself here's what Todd Piper's reinvention looked like:

1. My own enterprise (who's going to hire a guy with my experience and success as entry level or middle management?) 2. Home based (I'm tired of three hour commutes.) 3. Simple (What if I could even incorporate my family in some aspects?) 4. Control (I run it instead of vice versa.) So Todd began the work of looking for a viable business with these stipulations. After some disappointing results with franchise brokers he started to personally investigate the Entrepreneur Top 500 Franchises. Soon he found Home Video Studio. Not only did it entice him by satisfying his four stipulations, it featured the quintessence: 5) Creative - (Video, music, editing, knobs and faders? This would be heaven!)

He called Home Video Studio and by the end of an initial conversation he was convinced this was the opportunity he was looking for. In January of 2013 Todd's studio was installed.

Todd hit the ground running and has been gaining momentum each month thereafter. Last month was his best yet, financially. Most notably Todd seals the sum of our line "It's a Wonderful Lifestyle." He runs his own business out of his own home (his Dad even comes over and helps!) on his own terms in Naples Florida - where lifestyle is required.

Any words of wisdom from someone who has seen a few ups and downs from a few different angles? "Personal freedom means personal responsibility," says Piper. "I enjoy the franchise with the services they provide, the support they offer, and the fact that I don't have to reinvent the wheel. But in the end it is my enterprise and I am responsible for its success or its failure."

That's a winning attitude that will keep Todd on top! Congratulations to Todd Piper of Naples, Florida. Our October Studio Owner of the Month!

We caught up with Todd recently. Here are a few comments he had with a little over two years of Home Video Studio ownership under his belt.

What have you found works for you?
Keeping things simple. I keep my pricing structure simple, my sales process simple, and I make the customer's decision to do business with me simple. Small businesses have enough to worry about, so don't over complicate the process - of anything. I also like to have more equipment than I really need. More studio devices are like leverage in this business. The more production work I can do per hour gives me greater earning potential.

What doesn't work for you?
Contrary to popular consensus, I don't need to discount much in this market. There are valid arguments on both sides of that decision, but my experiences in business have taught me to generally stick with my standard pricing structure. One thing is for sure - you'll never get full price on a large job if you don't ask for it.

What's your favorite part of the business?
The lifestyle. I'm known to take the lifestyle side of this business a bit far (flip flops, early happy hours & tee times), but the lifestyle was a large part of my decision to buy a studio. I like the time flexibility, the casual nature of the business, and it also satisfies the inner techno geek inside me. Additionally, most people know that my father has started working in the studio with me. The time we spend working on projects and drinking coffee together in the studio is priceless. I wouldn't be where I am today without him.

What has surprised you?
Repeat business. I really was shocked at how many Year 1 customers came back in Year 2. Everyone said it would happen, but I was still surprised at how much repeat and referral business I do in the studio.

Cite a few success stories in your studio.
My biggest success was winning Rookie of The Year last year - until now. I'll take last month's sales over a trophy anytime. (Note: Todd earned just shy of $10,000.00 last month)

What does your business look like in 5 years?
TBD. The finance guy in me is always looking for an end game. Storefront? Multiple locations in Southwest Florida? I really don't know the answer to those questions yet. My focus is still on driving business revenue higher and pushing expenses lower at this point.

What do you feel is absolutely necessary to thrive as an HVS owner?
HVS owners need the same skills any other successful business owner needs. That does not include a ripple edit. They have to master sales and marketing. They have to understand the financial metrics that will ultimately decide the success or failure of their business. Find your highest margin product or service and find a way to do more of it. Sometimes it really is that simple.

Who are some of your inspirations?
My inspirations are self-made success stories. No one really does it all themselves, but I'm a sucker for a rags to riches story. It makes me feel like if they did - so can I. In fact, I can probably do it even better. No one ever said I lacked self-confidence!

Home Video Studio FL
Naples FL

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