“We started from my dining room, until we were able to afford an office space. We were fortunate to get this office space probably about six months after starting the company. But every day, Zack and our program, or our CTO, JJ would come to my house. We’d worked at my dining room table and set up shop. My wife stopped trying to have dinner at the dining room, because our computers were there, it was our office.”
— Sean McCormick, Co-Founder of Covalent Media Group
Sean McCormick and Zack Bloom (LinkedIn: @covalent-media-group, @onlineleadgeneration, @zack-bloom-b933b232, Website: CovalentMG.com) are co-founders of the lead generation and Pay Per Call powerhouse, Covalent Media Group. Covalent was founded as a full-service marketing firm with the mission to help brands grow their customer base. It has since evolved into a behemoth boasting an impressive client list, and was acquired by Subdirect Digital Media Group in February 2019.
Getting Acquired Means More Time to Focus on Growth
“With the acquisition, one exciting thing for us is, with some added cash flow and with some deeper pockets, through some more opportunities that we can now jump into, especially on that side where the media is more expensive and then start to continue to grow that business.”
For Sean and Zack, getting acquired didn’t mean that they were simply going into early retirement. Rather, they’ve used the opportunity to further spread their wings and leave an imprint on this industry. With an increased ability to take chances and become more industrious; the sky is the limit for these two.
Listen More Than You Talk; Leave Ego out of the Equation!
“I think a lot of these times, when you are in this situation and there are maybe one or two or three voices on the executive level, I think there’s something to be said about not always talking and listening a lot. I think we try to avoid letting ego get involved sometimes and just have one person run the show at times and someone else jump in when needs to be, but not trying to I guess overdo it in the courting stage.”
Being an active listener is a skill that you must hone in order for your professional (and personal!) relationships to prosper. This ability doesn’t just arrive one day when you decide to flip a switch – instead, you’ve got to make the concerted effort to develop better listening skills. Being an adept listener, and leaving your ego at the door will allow your partnerships to flourish.
Have a Good Accountant and Bookkeeper
“Make sure you have a good accountant and bookkeeper. Early on we were bootstrapping it. I did a lot of the bookkeeping and I probably didn’t do the best job at midnight, 1:00 AM in the morning. Getting a really good bookkeeper, CFO to keep those records for you is important.”
Finances and bean counting can often be the bane of scrappy entrepreneur’s existence. As daunting and tedious as these tasks may be, they’re critical aspects of your business which you cannot allow to be overlooked. Do yourself a favor, spare yourself from future headaches and pain, and make sure you’ve got a well qualified accounting and bookkeeping staff. In the grand scheme of things, they end up paying for themselves and then some.
Spend Some Time out of the Office With Your Business Partner
“Usually once or twice a year, Sean and I will try to get out of town for a night, just to go somewhere and not necessarily talk about work to start, but just talk about what’s going on and visions and all of a sudden one thing leads to another and you’re just having a great time and you’re not getting that office environment. You think your 10 great ideas and sooner or later, two or three of them start to come to fruition”
Don’t let office hours be the beginning and end of contact with your business partners. Co-ordinate outings with your partner where you can spend a weekend or an evening out of the office, and out on the town. Even longtime business partners have something to gain from this dynamic, as nothing gets creativity flowing like two professionals in a low stress environment.
A Failed Texas Based Call Center, and the Lessons Learned
“Zack and I acquired a call center in Fort Worth, Texas back in early 2017. If you want to talk about failures, we got the business for what we felt was a very fair and generous multiple, on EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) or revenue, how you want to look at it. But the one thing we didn’t plan on, and didn’t do a good job on, and it comes back to the financial component, is leaving plenty of cash to operate the business.”
Sean and Zack wouldn’t be where they are today without a few speed bumps along the way. In 2017, they ventured into acquiring a Fort Worth based call center which eventually proved more troublesome than anticipated. It didn’t take long after settling on a generous offer to acquire the call center, for Zack and Sean to notice a glaring problem: they did not leave enough cash on the side to keep the newly acquired business afloat!
Final Thoughts: Click-to-Call on Desktop and Voice Search are the Future
“When it comes to Pay Per Call, I think individuals, and I’m sure many workout now, but the individuals that really understand Alexa and Google home, and how to get rankings and listings on voice command, are going to be those that are going to be the most successful probably in the next two or three years. It’s things that we’re going to actively work on, but I really believe that that’s the future of Pay Per Call is, essentially screenless research.”
Take note on this one! Even after their recent acquisition, Sean and Zack can’t help but look towards future trends. Here Sean advocates for an all-too-often overlooked channel in Pay Per Call: desktop and voice searches, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Now is a better time than ever to study up on these channels, because if Sean’s right they will develop into lead generation goldmines sooner rather than later.