Andrew Faridani knows that you can’t rake in millions of dollars in revenue if you nickel and dime your clients.
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Andrew Faridani’s story isn’t too uncommon, especially in today’s world. He graduated from York University in Toronto with an honors degree in Kinesiology and Health Sciences, hoping to find a career in sports medicine. Although he enjoyed volunteering at hospitals and clinics after graduation, he admits that it wasn’t as fulfilling as he thought it’d be.

“Some friends living in Europe said that they were doing something in the tech space and asked if I’d help them roll it out,” Faridani said. “I flew to Manchester and quickly realized that it was exciting, that I liked the people, and that I wanted to participate.”

The tech in question? Web conferencing.

Sure, the software is so commonplace now that Faridani and I would be considered fools for conducting this interview in a less-efficient way, but when Faridani moved to the United Kingdom in the early 2000s, web conferencing was a shiny new toy in the business world.

“Web conferencing is a mainstay of business now, but then, it was a luxury that might or might not get mass adoption,” he recalled. “Business owners thought it was so cool that we could share a live whiteboard online and that we could transfer files while we spoke.”

Without the budget for outsourcing, Faridani was tasked to advertise this web conference service to new clients. The only hiccup? Faridani had zero background in the advertising industry. He simply Googled it, bought a $99 PDF detailing how to create ads online, and taught himself.

“You have to be a risk taker, especially if you’re an entrepreneur. The risk wasn’t the $99 expense; it was the success or failure of the company on our own terms as opposed to cold calling and door knocking for new clients.”

Eventually, the web conferencing company was successful enough to sell to a larger company. Around 2005, he and his colleagues started a side business selling Google ads in the European sector. By 2007, he saw the potential in digital advertising, sold his shares of the company, and moved back to Canada to found BreezeMaxWeb and help North American businesses adopt this new advertising strategy.

Building A Web-Based Business is Far From a Breeze

From soup to nuts, Faridani was BreezeMaxWeb as he tried to convince Canadian SMBs that digital advertising was the future. When he finally grew to 50 clients, he enlisted the help of his wife to create processes and systems for accounting and on-boarding while tasking his brother to help elevate the tech side of the operation.

All from his parent’s basement.

“This was not as easy as it was in Europe,” he said. “It was hard convincing people that this, at the time, luxury advertising strategy was going to be necessary for all businesses in the years to come.”

He struck gold when a Canadian company selling physical advertising space was sold to Yellow Pages and let go of their sales staff. Faridani brought them on board and eventually grew the company to a two-office agency with over a thousand clients.

Chart the success of BreezeMaxWeb and you’ll see consistent gold stars across the board – with the exception of one big black mark. From 2008 until today, Faridani has steered the ship steadily through whatever rough waters were on the horizon.

With a proven method of success, surely his company’s single year of negative growth must be attributed to a monumental event.

A recession?

A pandemic?

Worse: a single sales rep. More importantly, one of his best sales reps.

“We’ve grown 10 to 15 percent every year, with the exception of a 20 percent drop in 2012,” he said. “It was the only blip I had in this company, but it was a big one.”

He explained that when a rep makes a sale, they are then in charge of maintaining and managing the relationship with that client. One rep was able to secure multiple clients, and thus, was required to touch base with them from day to day or week to week as needed.

“We believe in constant communication to gain control of the client’s campaign,” Faridani said. “We rely on their feedback to know how we need to change or pivot.”

The rep was involved in an accident in late-2011 which resulted in some mental trauma. To make recovery easier for the rep, Faridani told his team not to pressure the rep to generate more sales; he was a trusted two-year employee, after all.

Unfortunately, the rep’s clients started to dwindle as 2012 ticked by.

“All of our other client accounts were growing. After due diligence, we realized that the tech team and the staff weren’t at fault; their results were great. We chased down these former clients only to discover that the rep was not keeping in touch with them.”

The rep spent nearly one-third of the year ignoring his clients – and lying about it to his team. Every Monday morning meeting was met with the “all good” response despite clients canceling their contracts.

“I learned that you should never have one rep own a majority of your clients,” Faridani said. “If they go pear-shaped, so does a good chunk of your business. We now have backup reporting and accountability systems in place for our reps.”

It’s surprising that 2020’s pandemic wasn’t the source of Faridani’s single black mark on his track record. While many businesses – and clients – took a knee jerk reaction to the world-altering news in March of 2020, Faridani presented his team with two options. The first: shrink the business, which required parting ways with some staff. The second: everyone from the top down, including Faridani, takes a pay cut.

His team rallied behind the company and was rewarded just two months later when clients realized that online advertising was more vital than ever before.

Succeed or Survive? The Future of Web-Based Business Competition

While other digital agencies offer zero-cost setup and loose month-to-month contracts, BreezeMaxWeb sets themselves apart from their competitors by offering firm one-year contracts for a premium offering at a premium price.

“If you commit to building your business the right way, commitment has to come from both sides,” Faridani said. “We are accountable for your success. Some of our clients have left us because they could get the ‘same’ services for one-tenth of the price; most of them got burnt.”

He goes on to describe the poaching that occurs regularly – not just from overseas companies trying to lure his business away with lower pricing models, but the corporations tempting his staff to jump ship for higher paydays.

Which highlights an uncomfortable, if not scary, reality for business owners: it’s nearly-impossible to compete in today’s market.

“Competition is global and it’s 24/7 – I even get pitched by call centers on the services that I sell,” he said. “At the same time, graduates are coming out of college expecting huge salaries without any prior experience.”

Faridani went on to explain the unique balance his success relies on: a combination of the old school, belly-to-belly salespeople who value long-term employer loyalty, and the younger generation who are supremely skilled in the tech space, though are more likely to advance their careers with companies offering higher incentives.

“It’s hard to protect your clients and staff from poaching. You’ve got to be at the top of your game and one step ahead. Competition for the digital space is immense, it’s a necessity for businesses, and those with the biggest budgets will reign. There are tens of thousands of smart people around the world ready to offer your clients a cheaper price. You’ve got to understand why your customer would want to move away from you. The hardest part in our business isn’t selling the service; it’s keeping that customer with you for a lifetime.”

His advice for surviving in a highly-competitive market: hone your skills and listen to your clients.

Any product or service BreezeMaxWeb offers wasn’t drawn from a hat; instead, each was a curated response to a customer’s unique needs. The agency brings experts in to build out each offering, then allows the client to test it for free before setting up a pricing structure.

“We started with one thing: Google ads. We didn’t risk moving into new areas of the business until we knew we had enough clients interested to justify the expense. We never try something new on our client’s dime; our job is to educate, then to upsell so we could all have the likelihood of success.”

Belly-to-Belly Advice From An Old School Perspective

What do you believe is the most common mistake aggressive entrepreneurs make?

Putting all of their eggs in one basket. I’ve seen literally hundreds of thousands of start-ups who go all-in on an idea for a product that’s not in demand. 90 percent of them get burnt. The problem is that they’re not identifying if there’s existing demand for their product before launching it. Perform a simple search query; if no one is searching for it, then no one is going to buy it. If you have an unlimited budget and want to gamble, give it a try. If not, then you need to do your homework pre business launch to determine who you plan on selling to and who has the existing interest to buy it.

Nine times out of ten, trying to reinvent the wheel will not make you financially independent right away. That’s why you need to approach your business with a conservative-aggressive approach. Too many people make rash decisions like mortgaging their homes. Three years ago, we worked with one entrepreneur who created an LED light bulb that changed color and could be controlled via a smartphone app. They went all-in on it; sure, they made a profit when it launched on a shopping network, but just as quickly the larger corporations came out with a similar product that they could make for pennies. You need to have the common sense that irrational aggression in business doesn’t work.

Trusting your employees is key to success. What qualities do you look for when bringing a new employee onto the team?

On the sales front, I’ve gone through 500 reps in the last 15 years to get to the top 25 that I have today who’ve been with me for five or more years. The key assets I look for, even on the tech side, are dedication and commitment. It shows right away when they come in early, leave late, and don’t complain about overtime. It’s okay to have the drive without the technical knowhow. I take effort, energy, excitement, and enthusiasm more seriously than the technicalities of the job. I can teach the tech stuff; I can’t teach being on time or fulfilling the requirements of your position. In less than a week, I can tell if they’re a long-term hire or if they’ll just be treading water. I started with motivation and learned the how-to; some people aren’t great learners, but with motivation, we’ll train them to be successful.


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