This week we sit down with the owner of a new local favorite mobile vendor: Jeff Robert's with Yellowhammer Coffee, Mobile's first mobile coffee and espresso bar! He and his wife left their previous careers to dive head-long into this new adventure together, and just celebrated their first year a little over two weeks ago. Jeff is passionate about people, and coffee. Keep an around town, and follow them on social media to find out where they will be! Now let's jump right into our conversation with Jeff Roberts.
Jeff: My name's Jeff Roberts. I'm the founder of Yellowhammer Coffee.
Marcus: Awesome. Welcome to the podcast, Jeff.
Jeff: Thank you.
Marcus: It's been great. We went and had lunch before this so it's been great to sit with you and learn a little bit more about what you have going on and who you are.
To get started, why don't you give us some highlights of who you are and where you came from. Are you from Mobile? Where'd you go to school? That kind of thing.
Jeff: Totally. Quick Cliff Notes ...
Marcus: No. 25 minutes. No quick cliff notes [crosstalk 00:00:35].
Jeff: Went to Covenant School from K5 to 8th grade. It's an amazing school. Went to Cottage Hill for high school, which is also a fantastic school. In between, I knew I wanted to do something different besides just "go to college". I knew that I just needed something different.
So I found this leadership academy in Colorado Springs, of all places. Christian leadership academy but insane. I mean crazy, like very military based. I don't even think they could run this program anymore, just with social media. It was so crazy.
You know how the military has the Hell week? They do just intense training. We had what was called Missions Training. And you've been around ministry a lot. So this was Mission Trip gone wrong. It starts with you getting kidnapped at 3 AM. We were put in isolation, we were eating crazy foods like ... It was sleep deprivation. We'd sleep for 15 minutes and then they [crosstalk 00:01:32]. It was crazy. For a week. It was insane.
We were doing advanced Navy SEAL swim workouts. I would go throw up and then get back in and I was already punished because I couldn't beat my time. It was crazy, but it was one of the best things I've ever done.
Just crazy stuff. We'd do eco-challenges, we did simulated Iron Man. We only trained for like two for it. It was insane. But lots of good leadership stuff.
John Maxwell actually came in which I know you know. John Maxwell came in, taught a class on leadership. Had a lot of other really high-level leaders just teaching us. So it was very cool but a lot of hands on ministry too.
Marcus: It doesn't get much higher than John Maxwell.
Jeff: He's the ultimate, right? I saw your post about 21 Laws and that's kind of where I got introduced to him, was I was 18 doing this program.
Just some super, super intense program that I'm so thankful for. Like I'm so thankful I found it.
A cool little back story is, that's actually where I met my wife, Monique, because she's from Paris, France. Born and raised in Paris, found the same programs, so we actually met at this program in Colorado. People ask us all the time. They're like, "How did you guys met? She's from Paris. This is crazy, you know?" So that's how we met. Did a year of that. Unbelievable. I could talk about that for the rest of the podcast, but for the sake of this, we won't.
Come back. Enrolled at a Community College. Did that for two years. Transferred to South. Did a degree in entrepreneurship, oddly enough. I just couldn't figure it out. I was like, "Man, I don't know what I want to do." Typical, right? "I don't know. Maybe business. I don't know." I knew I didn't want to be a doctor or a lawyer. I knew that much.
Marcus: Process of elimination.
Jeff: But then I could figure out, "Man, should I do marketing? Should I do management? Because I love leadership. But should I do finances too because I kind of love that accounting side, just the aspect of the financial part." Someone told me, they said, "Man, there's a new program called The Entrepreneurship Program," led by a friend of mine now, Calvin Bacon. He was starting it up and I loved it because it was a mix of finance, management, and marketing. It was all tied in. So it was a little bit of a tougher degree but I was like since I have no clue what to do, let me just go for that. So did that and it was a fantastic program. It's still there at South.
So yeah, that's kind of a little bit of ... I condensed a whole bunch of years right there.
Marcus: That's really interesting that you ... It sounds almost like you had the itch for owning a business, running a business, before even going away.
Jeff: Look back, I see it, but I didn't see it in the moment. [crosstalk 00:04:06]. Hindsight's 20/20.
But oddly enough with that degree, it was very easy to get a job because you walk in and say, "Listen, I have a degree that's a little bit higher than your standard business degree. I understand marketing, management, and finance, and I can talk all three languages to all three of your departments. When do I start?" And they're like, "Oh, man."
It was so easy.
Marcus: Going in for the close.
Jeff: Right. That was it. But it was so easy because it was such a unique degree. Entrepreneurship was kind of the hot topic. This was back in 2007, so it was still kind of a hot thing. So it was just very easy to get a job with that degree, oddly enough.
Marcus: Do you think, looking back at that, do you think that there was something in your childhood that increased your likelihood or your aptitude for going into entrepreneurship?
Jeff: Maybe. I actually was raised as a dairy farmer, so I'm born country.
Marcus: This is the interview that keeps giving.
Jeff: You don't even know. This gets crazy and we'll go down the rabbit hole here in a bit when we start talking coffee because it really gets nuts.
So my parents were entrepreneurs basically. They were farmers. It was a third generation far basically that had been passed on. I remember being 10 or Christmas break or Spring break or whatever, 10 or 11 years old, getting up with dad at 2:30 in the morning to go milk cows.
I think work ethic, I think entrepreneurship, having your own business, having freedom, I think all of that maybe have been instilled at a young age. Then my parents ran this little badge business. So they would do engravings for signs and stuff, and those were big 10, 15 years ago for your desk or whatever.
Marcus: And running a farm I would imagine it's a small business.
Jeff: It's is. It's a small business, it's full time, it's all in. It's livestock so you're having to constantly keep up the animals and the health of the animals. There's a lot of moving pieces to it.
Looking back that may have been kind of the spark that just started this whole small business, entrepreneur ... I don't know. It's an interesting question.
Marcus: That is extremely cool to go back and look at ... I have three boys so I'd like to think that, and I think I'm starting to see it, I'd like to think that we're instilling in them the values that are necessary for not only just being a productive part of society, but also maybe running their own businesses at one point in time.
Jeff: Same here. I think about it every day.
Marcus: You own Yellowhammer Coffee. Why don't you describe to the audience what Yellowhammer is?
Jeff: Yellowhammer Coffee it's basically a food truck for coffee. So, it's Starbucks on wheels. That's the best way to describe it. And the idea really came a couple years ago ... And I want to say this really to your listeners, sometimes you have idea, and I have ideas every single day. And you're the same way, Marcus. Every single day. "I could do this. I could do that." Sometimes you have ideas but then sometimes ideas have you, and those are the ones that you have to be careful about because literally, I could not get this off my brain for years.
Mo and I were at the fair of all place and she orders a hot chocolate for like $50 or whatever, right? So we get this, it's just [crosstalk 00:07:24].
Marcus: [crosstalk 00:07:25].
Jeff: It was water and powder. Not even Hershey's, man. I'd have given anything ...
Marcus: Did it at least have the marshmallows?
Jeff: No, nothing! I would've paid $100 for Hershey's. So it was water, powder dumped in, not even stirred, and she takes one sip and she's like, "This is crap," and throws it away.
I remember thinking at that moment, "Golly, man. There's 100,000 people that come through this place. Why isn't Starbucks here? I don't understand it." And I worked at Starbucks in college, by the way. We need to back track that a little bit. So I had an understanding of the system of coffee. I just didn't understand why you couldn't take that system to people, why you always had to go to the system.
Then, of course, I'm watching all these food trucks, a lot of my friends run food trucks, I'm watching all of these guys come out with different food truck, and the one question I have is why hasn't anyone done this with coffee yet? It was kind of an original idea, I guess. Sometimes you see ideas and you're like, "Oh, that's cool. Let me replicate that." I really think for us it was an original idea but then of course when you do research you're like, "Oh, man people are doing this all around the nation." I can't be the first one in the nation even though that would be cool.
That's really where the idea came from. So it was really wanting to take coffee to events. So the idea has you, right? I had the idea but then I just couldn't get rid of it. Then everywhere I went after that, I'm at a concert, downtown, a business that they're just dying because there's a Keurig in there, everywhere I went I just saw an opportunity. And I'm like, "Man, I cannot believe no one has done this yet." So, we had to fix that.
Marcus: Coffee has become pervasive. I'm a bit older than you are, but I remember seeing coffee become something more than just a cup of coffee.
Jeff: Starbucks led that trend.
Marcus: They did. They really led that trend but it's funny now because I can't stand ... No, offense. Nobody from Starbucks is watching.
Marcus: I can't stand drinking Starbucks anymore. I want a good cup of coffee. I'm searching out coffee shops that have a good cup of coffee. There are a number in our area.
Jeff: They're all friends of mine.
Marcus: Soul Caffeine, Refuge, Serda's, Chaleur.
Marcus: I don't know REDBAR.
Jeff: Well, you never go to West mobile.
Jeff: REDBAR's in West Mobile. Fantastic cup of coffee. Gosh, give me the other name ... Hungry [inaudible 00:09:55].
Monique (off microphone): Core Coffee.
Jeff: Core Coffee.
Marcus: Core coffee.
Jeff: Yeah, they're doing a great job over there.
Marcus: Some of us are a bit of coffee snobs. It's the desk behind you. Some of us are a bit of coffee snobs. We have a Chemex in the office, we an espresso machines. We're seeking good coffee. We do have a Keurig if anybody can see that in the background, but it doesn't ever get used.
Jeff: We're throwing it away today.
Jeff: It goes in the dumpster.
Marcus: But it is. It's a much different thing going to a coffee shop and having to get the coffee versus having someone literally bring it to you. That's huge but also, you can't be all places at all times. So how do you balance that? How do you make a business run that requires an audience but you have to go to the audience?
Jeff: We have figured this out. We're almost a year in. We'll turn a year in a month. It's literally been a process of trial and error. We figured out some places we go to, it's amazing so we'll keep going back to those places. Sometimes we'll just set up in an empty parking lot and we'll test it. We've tested those over and over. So sometimes, we know what we can do in parking lot and then we'll have an event contact us and want the same time, and at that point we've gotta figure out what the opportunity cost is. Because we could go to that event and do $50 in coffee, or we could go here and do X amount. It'll be more than $50.
We are constantly trying to pivot and to figure that out. It's a constant battle for us. It's being an entrepreneur, right?
Marcus: Yeah, you've gotta pivot, you've gotta figure those things out.
How did you start this? You told us where the idea came from, but there's more to it. You have to buy a truck and outfit it and machinery ...
Jeff: Going all in. Literally, my wife and I, we resigned from our positions. We both worked full time. We quite basically on the same day, and we three months out from selling our first cup of coffee. So when I say we went all in, like we're insane. People look at us and they're like, "You guys are nuts." We have three kids, we have bills to pay just like everyone else. But we had dream.
And I'm the worst. I will talk about idea forever. I will debate idea with you for hours. I'm the worst. I'm zero execution and I'm all talk.
Marcus: Not in this case. [crosstalk 00:12:31].
Jeff: But I got so tired of it. I literally got so tired of talking about it that I couldn't stand it anymore. I got to the point where if I started this company and it failed I knew I'd be okay, but if I didn't start it, I would always regret it for my entire life. I couldn't stand the pain of regret on my deathbed, not doing this.
Marcus: Therein lies the rub, right? Game over. If you don't that is the plight of somebody who is bent towards entrepreneurship or starting their own business is that, when you have to do it or you can't breathe, then you know you have to go down that path ...
Jeff: Even if it failed, I was okay with that. I want your listeners to understand this because I know you have a lot of entrepreneur listeners, run the worst case scenarios. Just run it, okay? I did it for me.
Worst case scenario: business fails, I go bankrupt, I lose my house, I lose my cars, we're living under a bridge ... do you know how much my kids would love that? Literally, my kids would be like, "Dad, we're camping out for six ... This is amazing hot dogs every night!"
Marcus: Your lovely wife may have a different idea about ...
Jeff: She was all in, she told me at the time. But that's worst case, right? My kids are loving it, man. We're literally in a van down by the river. Mom and dad, we're taking an extended vacation here. Hot dogs every night over the trash can. They would love it.
Marcus: Still, you have age on your side, you are mentally capable of getting another job, and you just pick yourself up and you go from there.
Jeff: I want to encourage everyone, run the worst case scenario because you'll find out it's not as bad as you think it is. Give me the absolute worst, and when you look the absolutely worst in the face and you're like, "Oh my gosh, okay. That's not that horrible and I can bounce back."
Once you've run that scenario, nothing should stop you from just executing. Just pull the trigger. And again, I'm the worst.
Marcus: Because there are some people in this community that I'm sure would love to start, not necessarily a coffee truck but a food truck of some sort. It seems like that's now viewed as kind of a stepping stone into owning an establishment. I could argue that having a food truck is kind of an idea of its own. You don't necessarily have to go to owning a restaurant. You can always stay at the food truck.
So what are some of the ins and outs of actually having a food truck? Because you know how it is when you have an establishment. You have to have kitchen with certain standards and stuff like that. What do you know ...
Jeff: So most people don't know this. If you want to operate a food truck, you have to have that kitchen with those standards. In the food truck business, that's called a commissary. So you have to have a commercial kitchen, someone who agrees with you that says, "This business can run out of my restaurant." You're really tied to each other. It's a little scary to be honest with you, because you have to have this.
Basically what they're saying is, they're sign on that you're going to maintain health stands. If got checked by the Health Department and I'm not maintaining certain stands, my commissary could be affected, and vice versa. If my commissary's doing some things that they shouldn't be doing and they get inspected, I could get shut down even though we're completely separate but we share the same kitchen. So a lot of people don't know that.
My health inspector actually told me when he inspected us, he said, "Listen, I've seen dozens of food trucks sitting empty in garages because people couldn't find a commissary to sign on with." So an advantage of having a brick and mortar ... You're looking at me like this is new information because a lot of people don't know this.
Marcus: It's interesting to me because I'm think business opportunity because I know there are plenty of people that would to run a food truck. So what's the business opportunity of opening a commissary that specifically caters to food trucks?
Jeff: It's already happening. Tanner's Pecan. Look at all these food trucks in Mobile and look at how many on the side of them they say "commissary Tanner's Pecan." There's five or ten of them that we know of that are there. They've really tapped into this market because they've said, "We'll charge this much a month, you can use our commercial kitchen, we'll sign on the liabilities with you, and that's part of their business." It's fantastic. It really is.
There's definitely an opportunity there in that space.
Marcus: Not to derail you from what you were describing. So you have to have a commissary ...
Jeff: You have to have a commissary. Your trailer has to meet certain standards, three compartment sink, this and that. There's a whole list of thing that you've gotta do and I wouldn't bore you with that on the podcast. You need to know the rules but then you've gotta figure out how to get this product to market.
Fortunate for me I have background in digital marketing. This is really important and I want to encourage everyone, this is my philosophy. Document, don't create. Most people are going to try to create something. "Hey, look at this amazing product and how awesome it is. You should drink Yellowhammer Coffee." What I said was, "Screw that. I'm going to be real with people and I'm going to take people along this journey." Not matter if it's the crappiest day. Gosh, man we were out last week, and usually, we're smarter than this. But I checked the radar, the radar looked clear, so we went out that morning and then something came up and it was like a monsoon.
It's the worst because I've got a generator out there that's 13,000 kilowatts. You don't want that thing in the rain. It was getting flooded. Water's pouring in our trailer. The windows are ... it looked like I had jumped out of a swimming pool. I'm hating life. I cannot tell you how much I'm hating life. You can ask, my wife's standing right there she'll tell you. I'll say in a couple words that weren't the nicest.
I was hating it, but I remember in that moment I was like, "You know what? I'm going to do what I said. I'm going to document and not create." Because most people want to hide that stuff. Let me hide the crappy stuff. But in that moment I said, "You know what? The new iPhone 7 plus is waterproof. Screw it." Pulled it out of my pocket, turn on a video. I'm soaked and said, "Hey, everybody, you know what? This is running a mobile food business in Mobile. It rains." I'm soaked and there's a customer right there in a rain suit and she's like, "Yeah, can I just get my coffee and go? Please turn the camera off."
But I wanted to document that because I want to bring people along the journey. If you'll bring people along the journey, you'll be amazed at home many people buy into you. Because you're not this pitch perfect like, "Oh, look at us!" Too many companies are saying, "Buy my crap, buy my crap,' but they're not sharing the story with you. So from day one we said look, "We're going to do this, we may fail but we're going to fail right in front of you. So if this doesn't work, this'll be a great example of what what not to do. I'm going to share all this stuff."
The day my generator broke down, I felt like the biggest failure in life because I had orders coming in, we had nurses coming over from the hospital next door, we were at a business and they were getting ready to come down and get coffee, and I had to say, "Guys, I'm sorry. My generator's broke. I suck."
Marcus: Can't do anything.
Jeff: Yeah. I felt horrible but again I turned the camera one. I was like, "Hey man, I'm so sorry that this happened. I'm going to figure it out." It was one of the worst days that I've had in the business just because I was so embarrassed, but in that embarrassing moment I wanted to share with each other and say, "Hey, look. This is us behind the scenes. This is what it takes." And the response has just been amazing. People have come along on that journey with us.
I think what a lot of business do is just propping up stuff.
Marcus: Being real is always the way to be.
Jeff: It is. It is.
Marcus: And entrepreneurship, no one should ever be misguided in thinking that running a small business, being an entrepreneur, is all unicorns and rainbows. It certainly is rife with its trials and tribulations.
Jeff: No, it's good. And especially running business with your spouse. It's even more fun.
Marcus: I can imagine.
Jeff: It's even more. Mo's laughing over there but we just ... You can't turn off. We've got messages, we've already got messages on my phone. I've seen them coming through. "Where you guys at? Where you guys at? Why isn't the schedule up? Why isn't the schedule up?"
Marcus: They're busy partying with Blue Fish.
Jeff: Yeah, we're partying at Blue Fish.
But that should've been up. We've shouldn't jumped ahead of that. Then we've got our accounting over here, it's nightmare right now that we're trying to sort out and figure out, and then we've got marketing, branding, future plans that we're looking at right now. There's just all of this stuff. Then raising three kids and spending time and then tying it all together. It's definitely not easy, but I think it's rewarding. I think that's why people do it.
That's the big thing, man. Because when we're off, I have so much peace. You know why? Because my boss isn't going to text me on my day off and say, "Why isn't this done? You suck." When I take off, I can breathe. That to me is worth the 18 hours a day that we pull, six, seven days a week.
Marcus: The 18 hours are going towards building something that you are passionate about. I'm fortunate in that I work in an industry where other people can be passionate about that alongside of me, but there are a lot of people that work in industries where it's just like the folks that they have working for them just go in to do their 9 to 5 and it's really just a paycheck for them.
Do you remember the first cup of coffee that you made that first event that you did where you thought, "Okay, there really is something to this?"
Jeff: I took a picture. She doesn't even know it. I took a picture of the first person that ever bought a cup of coffee from us that I didn't know and who wasn't our friends. On our first year anniversary, on July 3rd, I will post that picture and say it's been one year and this lady has no idea but she was our first ... She didn't even know why. I said, "Hey, would you mind standing right here by the trailer and let me take picture?" She was kind of like, "Uh, sure." She literally was the first cup of authentic coffee that want a buddy or a pal trying to support Jeff and the family and praying for the kids. She was our first customer. I remember taking her picture thinking, "This'll be a milestone and I'm going to use this photo and this is a big deal for me."
Marcus: So you were thinking that this is a big deal for me, but was it ...
Jeff: But also in that event, I was ready to sell the business after day one. I'm not joking. It was a crap show. There was like 100 people in the trailer, all my buddies were piling in there, everybody was making coffee different, our systems were a nightmare. I had gray water leaking all over the ground. Now we look back at the volume we did, it was nothing. We could've done that volume just Mo and I, or just another one of my baristas and I. Easy.
For an example, yesterday we were down town Mobile for Explore Mobile, we did twice the volume, no stress. Zero stress and it was just me and one person. Zero stress, easy, nothing to it. Ae literally had 1000 people in there. It was so chaotic and it felt like so much work for such little return, that I was like, "Dude, I'm done." At the end of the night, I was like, "Anybody want to buy a mobile coffee business because I'm done with this. I'm out."
But you've gotta push past it and you've gotta get better and you've gotta get smarter and you've gotta get faster. And you can do it. If anyone else has ever done it in life, you can too. What I'm doing it's not complicated.
Marcus: Not rocket science.
Jeff: It's not. I'm going to post a photo of Elon Musk and Jeff Roberts side by side. I'm going to be like, "Elon Musk: founder of Tesla, founder of Solar City, launching satellites, launching rockets in space, building a city on Mars." I'm going to list all of his stuff. Building tunnels under LA. All this stuff that he's working on. And I'm going to be like, "Jeff Roberts: just trying to make a cup of coffee."
What we're doing, it's not complicated, but then also don't care yourself to people, right? Because I would get super depressed like, "Man how are they ..." But, man, we love what we're doing. Never compare yourself because when you do the comparison game, you've already lost.
Marcus: I was listening to a podcast the other day and they were talking about the old saying that comparison is the thief of joy. So if you are comparing yourself to other folks ... I view it in the same way as when I got to the gym to work out, I don't care what the guy next to me is benching anymore than the guy next to me should care what I'm benching. It's really a competition with myself. I want to see what I'm capable of. In the case of our business, I'm interested in getting the best out of the people that we're working with and providing good value for the client. I'm not necessarily cognizant of what others in our industry are doing, even in our local area because it doesn't make a difference to me.
If you were talking to someone that wanted to get started running their own business, what the one bit of wisdom that you would impart to them.
Jeff: Go for it. You have to just go for it. Stop researching, stop thinking about it, stop pondering about it, stop your business plan, stop everything that's hindering you and just freaking go do it.
I'm so tired of people procrastinating because I did it. I can preach this because this was me. This was me for years. You just have to step out and you have to do it. I don't care if you don't have the money. Money's easy to find. Go find the money. You can get it. I promise you, you can get it. And I say that, I'm not talking like half mil ...
Marcus: I'm actually sighing because I've had that thought recently. People talk to me about starting a business and stuff and I'm like, "Money's the least of your concerns." You have to have money, cash flows specifically in order to keep going, but for most people that start business that's not something they're completely wrapped up with. But it's an excuse that a lot of people use to not do it.
Jeff: It is, it is, and they're going to fall back on it, but I would just say to all your listeners execution is everything. You have to go out and you have to pull the trigger and us just have to do it. I don't care if you can't hit it at the level ... We're not hitting near the level we're going to be hitting in 10 years. This is just basic start up phase but there's a lot more behind this.
I'm here to build a business. I'm not here to run a food truck, and there's the difference. A lot of my friends, they run food truck, and they're amazing at what they do, but that what they want to do. That's their passion. It not my passion. My passion is to build business. I'm going to be taking on even more headaches. The hiring, the firing, all of the stuff that's there but ... So we're not hitting nearly the level we're going to be hitting in five years, ten years, because I really want to build a business.
But you have to start somewhere and for me it was staring out of a mobile unit, serving a cup of coffee. So whatever that means for your listener, whatever that is, just lean in and start doing it. Stop wasting time, stop watching House of Cards ... I'm talking to myself on this one because we talk about that.
Marcus: He has a task that he has to do tonight. Ladies and gentlemen.
Jeff: It's terrible. My website is finished except for three forms and I have not done the three forms and what did we do? We watch House of Cards. We're great.
Marcus: Fort those of you that are life, make sure to pink Jeff ... For those of you that are listening in the future, we've actually done a live broadcast of this on the Facebook page, but for those of you that are watching this live, make sure to ping him tomorrow and ask his where the website is. So you're accountable to all the three people that are watching this right now.
Jeff: Maybe we could we get it up tonight and that way when they go to look, "Oh, the site is up."
Marcus: It's already done.
Jeff: But you've gotta pull the trigger. You've gotta do it. A lot of people say, and I'm like this too because I want to do all the research, and I want to know everything before I start, but you can't. I'm telling you, when I started this business I didn't know what I didn't know. I didn't even know. I didn't know what I didn't know. So at least now I know what I don't know. There's some things that I have a knowledge of and I still know that I need to learn this, but heck at least I know that that's something I've gotta learn.
Roasting is one of them. I didn't have a clue in the beginning. Now I know that roasting's probably going to be in our future in the next couple years, so I know that I'm going to need to learn that. But the fastest way to learn is doing. Sometimes the fastest way to learn is failing. No one wants to talk about that but ... Golly, we have failed so many times and those are some of our biggest lessons. Because when you fail, it hurts. And when you fail, you try not to repeat it.
Marcus: Those are definitely lessons that you learn and remember.
Jeff: They are. You just don't forget them.
Marcus: What are the last two books that you've read? I can tell you like this kind of stuff like I do, so what are the last two books that you've read that you've found helpful?
Jeff: I'm embarrassed to admit this. You ready?
Marcus: What's that?
Jeff: I find that I read almost zero right now. It's a little embarrassing because we're going at such a pace. I'm rarely paying attention to other people's social media and I'm a marketing guy. I used to spend hours reading Seth [inaudible 00:29:52], Vaynerchuk [crosstalk 00:29:53] all these guys. But I've kind of found this out of as you go down this road, as you go down this process, all we do is produce content but we very rarely consume content. It's true.
So it's a little embarrassing on one hand but it's also kind of cool on the other that ... There's ton of stuff that I could probably save myself if I would just it down and read a book. I did buy a book the other day ...
Marcus: It's a good step.
Jeff: [crosstalk 00:30:22]. I haven't bought a book in years.
We bought the Tony Robbins Unshakeable. I saw an interview by him, and we talked about the financial thing earlier. I was like, "You know, I wonder what his take is on it? I'm kind of curious." I read the first four pages and it was amazing and that's it. So I started.
Marcus: Book number one.
Jeff: Book number one. Four pages.
Marcus: Any other resource that you found ...
Jeff: I'm trying to think of a really ... Oh, yeah. This is crucial. I feel like any of your listeners would appreciate following Gary Vaynerchuk.
When the website goes up because I haven't done the-
Jeff: Tomorrow, when it's up. I've haven't done this yet because I'm embarrassed because it's not up, but when it goes up I'm going to send Gary a couple pounds of coffee, a t-shirt, and a thank you note that says, "Thank you because you're probably the reason that I did this business." And I mean that. I follow him and he just kept pushing and kept pushing and kept pushing. He made me so uncomfortable because I wasn't doing this business that I knew I should be doing, that I just couldn't take it anymore.
I feel like I owe him.
Marcus: At least a cup of coffee.
Jeff: At least a couple of pounds of coffee. Thank you.
But his book was really instrumental. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. I know you've read it. All your listeners probably have but if you haven't I would recommend it, because if you want to social media marketing which is what I get a lot of questions for and I speak at events now for social media. It's weird because people see this. I've had a lot of food truck guys be like, "Dude, how do you have X amount of followers and stuff?" And I'm like, "Y'all. It's really simple."
Marcus: It has to be front of mind for the person that's doing it.
Jeff: It does. And it's some of the stuff I talked about earlier but Gary really explains it in there. Just do a bunch of jabs. Don't do right hooks all the time.
Marcus: For those of you that are listening, a jab would be providing value to the listener or to the follower, whereas a right hook is when you're asking something of them. So if you're giving an article, you're giving information, you're giving them whatever, and then, in Gary's case he sells books as well as he's got one of the largest media companies in the country, and so a right hook would be him asking you to buy not just one copy of his book but several copies of his book to give away. That's where the mindset comes in.
Jeff: For us, just to put it in our terms, for us today it'll be we'll jab with this. "Hey, hanging out with Marcus today." That's a jab. "Hey, behind the scenes with this." Here's a jab. Here's this, here's that, here's a picture. "Hey, here's one of our baristas and some information." So we're just jab, jab, jab. Then occasionally, I throw out the right hook. "Hey, guys we just released raspberry lemon freeze and a strawberry lemon freeze. They're amazing. You should come buy them." Bam. There's my right hook because I just asked you for something that I normally don't ask, but I've caught the attention by gentle jabs, and I've brought people along the story by jabbing.
So most people get it wrong. Buy my crap, buy my crap, come to this, come to that. You ask too many times and people are unfollowing you, blocking you because they can't take the spamming. It boils down, it's kind of spamming. Bring people along, learn to jab, learn to add value.
For us, that's all we do is we add value. People think we're a coffee company but we're not. We're a people company. We just happen to serve coffee. That's so crucial.
When I say I want to build a company, I'm not even building a company on coffee. I'm building a company on culture. This is my whole layout. If we can look back at this podcast in five years then you can ask me about this, but I have a goal in mind is that I want to write a book on company culture and the value of company culture, and how to create healthy company culture, because I've been in come very toxic and unhealthy environments. So I have this goal of this book in helping other people, but to get to that goal I needed to start business and then build the business with healthy culture.
And so Yellowhammer Coffee-
Marcus: That's a heck of a way to keep yourself accountable.
Jeff: No, really. Let's say it live on this that way we can look back in five years and say, "What the crap? Are you still running around with that trailer? Dang it, man." And my website's still not up!
Marcus: That's funny.
Jeff: But that's really my long term play. I've gotta figure out how to build a healthy culture and I'm so passionate about it, man. I'm tell you I'm so passionate about healthy culture because I think if it's healthy you can even make stupid decisions and you're still going to make it because your culture is healthy. Whereas if you have a toxic culture, you can be doing the right things, but you're still going to crash and burn. The toxicity, it's just not sustainable.
So that's my long term goal. I really want to get into helping companies create healthy culture. The way to get here I think is starting a business and figuring this out, and of course, watching other businesses, interviewing other business, figuring this out. So that's kind of my long term play if I can be blunt on the Mobile Podcast.
Marcus: The Mobile Alabama Business Podcast.
Where can people find you?
Jeff: Our schedule is, we post it on social media, usually on Sunday or Monday. We're a little late today. You can follow us @yelhamcoffee on any social media platform, and you can find our schedule. We'll post it weekly. There's also an easier way. I've been toying around with the texting idea, so kind of mass texting. At this point I've got almost 800 people on our text list, which is amazing for us. It's crazy. Just instantly get a text. So once a week I can text you our schedule and you'll have a link to the schedule.
The way to get on that if you're listening is you can text Hammer to the number 97000. So get your phone out, text the number 97000 and then in the message part just writ word Hammer. Send that and you'll get an auto response back from us saying, "Hey, welcome to Yellowhammer's schedule." And if you ever want to get off that list, I always give people an out because I never want to-
Marcus: Just reply STOP.
Jeff: Just reply STOP and it'll kick you off.
I don't over text. Unless it's something crazy and a rainstorm's out and we have to cancel something, I'll send a quick text, because people plan to be there and I want people to know. Other than that, it's once a week. It's really simple. So yeah, that's how you find the schedule.
To wrap up, I want to thank you again for coming on the podcast. Any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share.
Jeff: I'm so passionate about people doing what they want to do. I really am. If there's a way I can help, reach out to me. I'm serious. Any of your listeners, I'm easily reachable. Send us a message on Facebook, on Instagram. Say, "I heard Marcus's podcast and I really want to chat." I'd love to sit down with anyone because I get hit up all the time by people wanting to start mobile food businesses, and I get him up a lot for just people needing help with social media. I just want to help people and I want people to do what they feel like they're supposed to be doing. Because I know the feeling of not.
I know the doubt. If I can help encourage anyone. Man, I know the doubt that you fight with. I know the doubt that we fight with. I know the journey and just the process, and if anyone's there listening and they're struggling, they need to talk, they need coffee ... I'm not trying to sell my product here.
Marcus: It's okay, that's why we're here.
Jeff: I had a meeting the other day and I said, "Man, you guys want to meet at Starbucks?" They were like, "You do that?" I'm like, "yeah, you know."
If I can help anyone in any way, we're available. I want to give value to people. I just do. We believe so much in giving value to people. Just a side note, we're massive fans of all the local coffee shops in town. John's doing a great job at Serda's and Carpe and I mentioned REDBAR and Chaleur. We're just such big fans of all local coffee.
I'm actually thinking about doing this, Marcus. We have a rewards program where you show up and in 12 visits you get a free drink or whatever. That's great. I'm thinking about doing a disloyalty card. On this card I'm going to have the logos of all the other local coffee shops because Starbucks doesn't count. So basically they'll go to these shops and they'll try a coffee from each place, get a punch or a signature or whatever, and then they'll come back to me, show me that they've gone to all of the others places and I'll give you a free drink.
Marcus: That's cool.
Jeff: That's how passionate I am even about helping those guys and helping other ... I don't need to help John, he's killing it. But I want people to be aware of the other local coffee shops, because I really believe that if they do well, we'll do well.
Marcus: It's an ecosystem.
Jeff: It is.
Marcus: Obviously you feed off of each other. There is something about being in that field with somebody else, they understand the plight that you're in. I'm glad to hear that there's camaraderie because so often time people think of everything as a competition, and it really doesn't need to be. There's plenty of business to go around.
Jeff: There is. There's plenty of business to go around and we can encourage each other and we can learn from each other
I had an event that was right outside of John's, at Serda's, it was right across the street from his door. It was a private event. I didn't want him to think that I was out there selling coffee to his ... So I literally walked, he didn't really know me, I walked in and said, "hey, is John here?" He happened to be there and I just told him what I was doing. I said, "Man, I'm across the street. It's a private event. I just wanted to let you know." That meant so much to him. He literally goes, "Dude, thank you. Thank you for walking in here. Man, can I see your trailer?" I was like, "Dude, come on!" So he walked in, we toured the whole thing, looked through the espresso machine.
But it was such a neat thing of I respect your business so much I'm not going to sit here and try to poach your coffee business. Just right outside your door.
Marcus: That's good. Show respect.
Jeff: So it was cool. It was a neat moment just to have.
But I'm huge fans of just all the coffee guys in town. And of course Fair Hope Roasting over in your neck of the woods, Fair Hope, Refuse, all those guys. They're doing amazing things.
Marcus: Well, high five.
Marcus: Glad to have gotten a chance to sit down with you. I appreciate you coming on to share your journey as a business owner and entrepreneur. It's been awesome.
Jeff: Thank you so much. It's been such an honor just to ... And I told you when we talked on the phone, "Man, I hope your ratings don't go down." Because you have all these amazing people on here and then the coffee guys comes in here.
Marcus: I think everybody will get a lot out of this, but all means. Go back and listen to this after it's launched. I think you'll get a lot of it too. Sometimes just hearing your own self speak it's like, "Wow, I had no idea that ... "
Jeff: I didn't realize I mumble that much.
Seriously though, one last thought back to the dairy farmer thing. This is kind of weird. There's a company called Dutch brothers, Dutch Bros. Mainly on the west coast. Amazing coffee company, amazing culture, amazing guys. It's weird the parallels. They were dairy farmers, couple of generation dairy farmers. The farm went out of business. Same scenario in my case, the farm went out of business. They started in a trailer, we started in a trailer. Now they do these double drive through coffee units that are just amazing. It's young kids, loud music, tattoos, driving through. The vibe and the culture is amazing.
It's interesting. I look at that and I'm like, "Man, that's really neat." It's just the parallels are kind of weird. It's kind of weird. I actually tried to talk my brother into doing this with me that way we could be like Bro Bros coffee or something, but he didn't care about coffee.
So we're looking at that model, but someone I think who's done it really well locally is Foosackly's. Even Starbucks, right? So Starbucks, you go there, you'll get a latte and one time it'll taste great. You'll get the exact same drink next time and it's made completely wrong. Even their system they struggle with consistency. Man, I'm tell you, Foosackly's ... Every time I've been there, every time, it's the exact same thing that I had the last time I was there. I've never had one exception. His systems are amazing.
But it's not just that. It's not just fast and great systems, his culture ... I will sit there for 30 minutes and I'll study them. I'll watch what they do when it's slow. They're happy. They're motivated. They're always working. They're finding something to do. They're always just, "Hey, can I get that? Can I get your refill?" So his culture is really amazing too. I don't know him personally, but I've studied what he's done and I think it's unbelievable.
I tell people even in our company. I say, "hey, I want to be the Foosackly's of coffee." I don't mean that in the fast and whatever, but I mean that as far as consistency and culture. I think he's done a really great job.
Marcus: Shout out to, I don't know who the owner of Foosackly's is but maybe we need to get him on the podcast to talk about some of that stuff. If any of you out there know who that is, have him give me an email. We'd love to have him on.
Jeff: Yes, because he's done an amazing job and that's someone I really would love to connect with and just say, "Help me. Help me figure this out because you have obviously figure this out." This is my open plea on your podcast. Can someone tag him in this?