Diesel Diagnostics Done Right - Tyler Robertson of Diesel Laptops - Eversprint

Diesel Diagnostics Done Right – Tyler Robertson of Diesel Laptops

Tyler Robertson, CEO of Diesel Laptops

Tyler Robertson, the CEO of Diesel Laptops, grew his company’s revenue from $1.3 million in 2014 to $16.4 million in 2017, a 1,188% increase, and to around $30 million in 2018.  

Diesel Laptops provides commercial truck diagnostic software, hardware, and laptop kits.  

In this interview with Eversprint‘s Malcolm Lui, Tyler shares how he and his team accelerated their high value sales by:  

  • Listening to customers and giving them solutions to their problems.  
  • Hiring great people who know their stuff and have an aptitude for learning.  
  • Learning and releasing new products quickly to get instant feedback on what works, and what doesn’t.  

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Malcolm Lui:
Welcome to the High Value Sales Show of Eversprint.com. I'm Malcolm Lui, the Managing Member of Eversprint, and today we're speaking with **Tyler Robertson, the CEO of Diesel Laptops, a provider of commercial truck diagnostic software, hardware, and laptop kits.** Welcome to the show Tyler

Tyler Robertson:
Hey, thank you very much. I am excited to be here.

Malcolm Lui:
Tyler, you grew your company's revenue from $1.3 million in 2014 to $16.4 million in 2017, a 1,188% increase, and in 2018 you hit around $30 million. Before we talk about how you grew your company so fast, can you briefly share what your company does beyond my quick intro, and how your company differs from the competition?

Tyler Robertson:
Absolutely. So what we really do at the core of our business, what got us here is selling diagnostic kits to the commercial truck space. So you've got to imagine every single commercial truck that's driving up and down the road today hasn't really advanced electronics on it. And the federal government's put a lot of emission requirements on these trucks. And what happened is, as things got really complicated, a fix really, really quick. So demon dealers today struggled to properly diagnosed today's modern trucks. And then you got to think of all these trucks that once they leave the dealership and they get in the hands of fleets and repair shops throughout the country. They're just struggling. They don't have access to the right tools. They don't have access to the right support. They don't have access to the right repair information. They don't have anyone they can call when they need help. So that's really reduce a laptop, steps in and provides a diagnostic tool. And we put all those support and training and information around it to make it a great tool for the end user.

Malcolm Lui:
Yeah, it looks like you really nailed it, too. Given how your sales grew so rapidly from one point three million in 2014 and then four years later you're at 30 million.

Tyler Robertson:
Yep.

Malcolm Lui:
What would you what would you say were the three biggest drivers of your growth during that time period?

Tyler Robertson:
Yes. So one of the biggest things we did was listen to our customers. And when I started this, it was really easy because it was just me. So it was me sitting in my garage, in my dining room table doing this thing. So I had the privilege of doing the sales call, putting the laptops together, shipping them out, doing customer support. And when you're doing all those things, you get a track directly to your customers through a lot of different lenses and you start to hear what they didn't like. So as I started here, what people didn't like, it got really easy for me to say, well, heck, I can build that. Let's do that. So, you know, it started with just making some really simple software and then kind of expanding it from there. But that's one of the really things that we did was, hey, listen, listen to what the problems are and let's make a solution and make this product even better. Because if we do that, I have a customer for life and also have a product that nobody else can really compete with since we're the only ones doing it.

Tyler Robertson:
So listening to our customers is number one. Number two was we just really had to hire great people. So my longest tenured employee, my company, he's at the ripe old age of twenty three. He just turned twenty three a couple couple months ago. But super smart kid knows what he's doing and learns just unbelievably quick. And it's been like that throughout our company. I've hired a lot of people that I've worked with in the past and we've brought in some great outside talents as well to really scale this up and go as fast as we can. And the thing that we've really learned to do as well is just learn quick and not be afraid to put products out there, although they're not 100 percent although they're not perfect. Let's put them out there, get the feedback from the end users and then let's reiterate and make it even better and just do it at a constant basis. So we're trying to be a fast moving company with a lot of great people that listens to our customers. And I think those are really the key fundamental things that we've done as a company.

Malcolm Lui:
All right. So the first months listening to your customers, giving solutions to solve their problems on the second one was hiring good people. You give an example of that. Twenty three year old, he's super bright and just sucks it all in. And. And to take action when he learns it loves the third one. The third one sounded like the first one.

Tyler Robertson:
Yeah, it's really just learning quickly. It really is. It's it it is listening to our customers, but it's learning quickly what works and what doesn't in the marketplace. So we've had a ton of products we've released that were just absolute flops. We thought customers wanted it. We handed it to them and they said, no, we don't need this. Why did you bother wasting all your time doing this? And in hindsight, I'm glad we didn't go spend a ton of engineering hours making all these features that we wanted to do. And we got that instant feedback and we're able to pivot. So just being able make a quick decision and not being afraid to make a mistake, I guess, is how you can lump all that together.

Malcolm Lui:
Right now, you talk a little bit about these changes that you make that you released quickly. Are they pretty? You know, you just have a fantastic team, is working 24 hours a day sleep and putting in these new features or, you know, these small little things that are rolling out or big

Tyler Robertson:
Yeah.

Malcolm Lui:
Stuff or your.

Tyler Robertson:
Yeah. So we're we're more about, hey, let's. Here's a product, let's make it a, you know, a minimal viable product. Right. Common term you use in the industry a lot. Let's make that and then let's just put it out there, get that initial reaction. Let's make sure we talk to a lot of customers and get feedback on all those things. And then let's just kind of make changes as we go. So, you know, we have this one program called DTC Solutions and this is a great program. And the back story on this program is this. I'm doing this. This whole thing is a side hustle, right. Making these kits and some customers. And the problem is, I have my regular, you know, eight to five job. So I'm having clients call me at work saying, hey, I got your got this thing working, but I got a code. I don't know what to do. And I can't do that while you're working your regular job. That's not fair to my current employer. So I was like, hey, you know what I'm gonna do? I'm going to make one program here that just has every possible fault code for commercial trucks. And it's going to tell people exactly how to fix it so they can stop calling me.

Tyler Robertson:
And and hopefully that'll will be a better solution. So we did that whole thing and then we get it to customers and they're like, oh, well, you know, we're having a hard time finding things. So you need it. We need to reorganize and restructure the database properly than it was. We only had three buttons in the program. We thought it was super easy to use and we come to find out it wasn't. They were in the wrong order. So customers are really confused and they thought it was a horrible program. So we're able to really do it very, very quick and we're not afraid to put updates out very, very frequently. I think today in today's world, especially with like mobile apps, we see updates coming out every couple days for a lot of these things. People aren't afraid of updates or programs as long as they know that there's changes that are coming and that they know we're working on it. They know their feedback is valued. They stick with it and they understand they see it. And then you have a customer for quite a while.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. Just to better understand what your product is. I know that for my car, for example, I know mechanics have this little red box, namely red box and red handheld thing that you just plug in somewhere, my computer into my car's computer. And it gives them a code. It tells them what's wrong with the car, not your product. For the most part or yours is a step

Tyler Robertson:
Yeah,

Malcolm Lui:
Bigger.

Tyler Robertson:
So so commercial, so automotives always been 10 years, maybe some more. Ahead of the commercial truck industry, which the commercial truck industry is also five to 10 years ahead of the off highway industry. Which we also plan. So in the automotive industry, you can go buy a device even for your phone. Right. That you can plug in and pair with your phone. And I'll tell you some codes. Commercial trucks gets a little more complicated in the automotive world. There's some really great standards out there for fault codes and access to information. There's a lot of people that play in that world commercial truck. It's a small percentage of the same market size. So there's not as many players. And it's way more complicated. It's not as easy. Automotive world you have standardized codes, truck world, not so much. People can use whatever folk codes. They look different every truck and make and model. And there's procedural things where when customers have a problem with a truck, they can't just run the tests. They have to do two other tests first. So they need to know which path to go to do those things. It's just a lot more complicated because of that standardization automotives. Like if you say you have a Ford. Ford makes everything on that vehicle. It makes the wheel and adds to the drive train, to the chassis, to everything in the truck. Well, it's not that way. You have multiple companies. You've Peter built truck. It's typically not a Peter built engine or Peter built transmission or Peter built axle or even a peer built air ABM system. It's somebody else, some other manufacturers that they integrate into their truck. So now you have, you know, a dozen different manufacturers on the same vehicle that are all trying to communicate and work properly. And it just it gets really complex when you start integrating in a different way compared to automotive.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. Got it. And is there now your kids? Not a handheld sort of thing. Yes, those are my rates. A true laptop at their plugin.

Tyler Robertson:
Yes. So we sell. So one of the unique things about us. So there's a couple unique things I guess I should explain. Number one, most people when they go buy a diagnostic tool before us, they would have to go buy the pieces. And you need software, you need a computer and you need a data link to go between your computer and the truck. Well, most of these guys run in shops. They don't they're not computer experts. They're great at running their shop. They're great at fixing trucks, but they don't understand the pieces of software to do that. They just know what they need to do. So we were really the first company that gave a customer an out of the box solution that could do all those things where they'd have to monkeying around and stalling and doing all that stuff. So that was kind of a kind of number one. And number two is we really are really the only company that surrounds that tool with all the support and repair and all those other things that people need to do those things. So we're unique in that way. And we also sell our own products that we make. But we sell everybody else's as well. So we're not here just to go push one product line on customers like everybody else does. We're more consultative. So customers will come to us and they'll say, I want to buy X, Y, Z, and we'll say, we'll back up a second. Tell me about your business. What do you do? What do you want to do? What's your budget? All these questions that we ask them and then we go back in and say, OK, based on what you told us, here's what we would recommend and here's the pros and cons on each. So we're in that unique position where we really don't lose sales to other people. We really just are able to take care of our customers and take care of their needs based on what they want. So whether it's a cheap 50 dollar handheld scanner or a ten thousand dollar professional level tool, we're able to have that conversation with the customer.

Malcolm Lui:
All right. Very cool. And your ideal customers there are talking shops and garages. These small operations, and they just have, you know, working at one truck at a time, one day at a time. How are these enormous commercial truck maintenance?

Tyler Robertson:
Yeah. Hey. Yep. Great question. So the ones we sell to every single day are those independent shop owners that have a have a repair facility somewhere. And they need they need help, right? They need help diagnosing and helping the tool that he training and repair info. Those are the guys we sell a lot of units to every single day. They're really the foundation of our company and that's really who we target and we market. But it was really weird. About two years ago, we started getting phone calls from big companies. These are publicly traded companies that have, you know, multiple locations, you know, hundreds or a recession, say thousands or tens of thousands of vehicles that they're maintaining. And we come to find out they got the same problem as the little guy. So we were like, alright, we can. Yeah. But our solutions would obviously help you guys. So now we have a lot of very, very big companies that buy products from us. So it's really anyone that's working on commercial trucks and that's really the core of our business. But about a year and a half, two years ago is when we expanded out to the off highway market. And last year we also got into the marine engine diagnostic market as well.

Malcolm Lui:
All right. Fantastic. Now there's a shop, only one of your products of any multiple sets of them.

Tyler Robertson:
Yeah, so a small shop typically, you know, when it's a small shop, you got to think an independent truck repair shop. The guy's got three or four techs. He's probably getting by with one tool. But because of how complex things got and how many check engine lights come on and the warning lights, commander and the average day now you really quickly find out you need more than one tool. So a lot of our customers, they start with that one. They kind of have kind of a test before you buy type thing. Right. They get it and they love it and then they expand out. So a very, very good chunk of our business now is from repeat customers that are buying more tools or customer referrals. So it's almost like our R push marketing that we've had to do all these years is really kind of start take a backseat to all the other good stuff that we're getting on the back end for taking care of our clients.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. And is there the way you sell your products is that if they pay once and they use it forever? Or is it more of a subscription model?

Tyler Robertson:
Yeah. So it really depends. For the most part, our most popular selling tool is not a subscription model. It's a buy at one time. Here's the here's the fee. It'll work forever. But you only get updates, support and warranty for the first year. And after that first year, you have to purchase a renewal package if you want to continue to get those things. So we have been experimenting lately and you know, it's a big cost, right? These guys are buying a tool. It's eight to ten thousand dollars and they're going to come up with that money or do a leasing program or a payment plan with us. So we're now experimenting. We just started this a couple of months ago saying, look, don't don't put up all the money upfront. Just pay us a flat monthly fee and we'll give you a great tool. We'll give you great support, great warranty, great updates. And here's your three year contract. And we now we're starting to see customers that go that way just because now they realize they don't have to worry about any of that stuff. And we're here to take care of them. And it'll be interesting to see it's a new it's a new thing in this industry. I know it's not a new thing out in the world of tech and everything else go now. But Stephanie, new in this industry. So we're figuring out the roadmap and figuring out what customers don't like about it and what they do and go in that direction. But we would love to keep migrating that way.

Malcolm Lui:
Yeah, the subscription economy seems you see the direction and I've seen it applied in the real world businesses that you would never have thought would have a subscription model like a car wash. For example.

Tyler Robertson:
Oh, it's crazy. Subscription models taken over everything I remember back in the day when I first heard Microsoft was going to that for office, I was up in arms. But now I'm kind of I guess I kind of like this. I got it on multiple machines enough to worry about it. We're good to go. So I think it's a good thing for the industry. At the end of the day, we know these guys that run these shops, they don't have time to update their computer. They don't have time to do all these things that we can do for them. We have diesel techs in our call center now. We can actually do remote diagnostics for them through the laptops and through their phone and all that stuff. So I really see this industry shifting towards a subscription model as time moves forward.

Malcolm Lui:
Yeah, I know it's it's really the time saving more than anything else. I think that's the big plus up of subscription models.

Tyler Robertson:
Yep, yep. 100 percent agree with you there.

Malcolm Lui:
So you talk a little bit about your marketing that grew your business. You get a lot of repeat business now, a lot of referrals give a rough percentage of how much of your revenue is coming from those two areas. Repeat sales and referrals.

Tyler Robertson:
No, I don't. I don't look at it, but I can talk to you about some of our ad spending, which, you know, there's some insanity here, but some sanity behind it. So I don't look at those percentages, but what we do look at is getting our name on the marketplace and how many leads our marketing team generates.

Malcolm Lui:
Nick?

Tyler Robertson:
So because we have a higher ticket item or a premier tool we sell is, you know, eight to ten thousand dollars depending what options those guys want. So for us, our cost per leads around 70 dollars for online marketing.

Malcolm Lui:
Okay.

Tyler Robertson:
So, you know, we do that through Facebook and Google landing pages and LinkedIn and all YouTube and all those things to try to drive that traffic. But we've we've come to a couple of realizations lately. One, that we have our own network of mobile apps and websites and desktop apps and back pack in January, we said, man, what if we put up our own ad network on our own platforms that we have out there? How many how many ad views could we get off our own network and can we get away from that? You know that Google GOOG is kind like a drug, right? You're paying all this money, you're getting all these results. And then today you start really questioning Manama. And my why is to be spending seven figures a year in it with Google to generate all these leads. So we set up our own ad network and now we have our own ad network on on apps that are actually used by diesel technicians and shop managers, informants and parts professionals. All these people that we're trying to target. So, you know, back when we launch this thing and I think was like April wish we had zero ad views we launched today. Our network generates around 63 million ad views a year and we're growing by double digit percentages every month. So now all the sudden, my cost for leads off that platform went to virtually nil. And I end up with so much ad space, I can actually go sell ad space to other people that we can kind of partner up with and do things with. So we're aggressively looking for ways to keep chopping that down. You know, 70 bucks per lead is a lot of money, but when you're selling an eight thousand other tool looks pretty cheap.

Malcolm Lui:
Yeah. This. This is as people who say I'm interested. No. That's unnecessary. Your cost of acquiring a new customer, though, right?

Tyler Robertson:
Yeah, I mean, we don't look at our overall cost because we sell everything from 10 dollar cables to like ten thousand dollar laptop kits, you know, on an app. We really focus hardcore on those laptop kids. That's what drives the majority of the revenue. And those there are long term customer base. I can say we do take those people that buy that 20 dollar cable and you'll be amazed. Everyone that buys anything from us gets a call from a salesperson. So they just call me. Thank him for the order and a tell me about your business. And usually in that conversation, we find out that they actually have a need for some of the higher end products we offer. And quite often that guy that bought that cheap cable ends up becoming a client of ours down the road on the higher end tools. Once he realizes what's out there and what we can do to help his business.

Malcolm Lui:
Right.

Tyler Robertson:
So we we really focus on lead generation forever. We can get through the Google stuff, through Facebook, through our own products that we're selling on our platforms anywhere we can get it.

Malcolm Lui:
Now, you're the first CEO that I've interviewed where their business has their own ad network. You talk a bit more about that. Is it showing only on your own devices the ads or are they showing elsewhere?

Tyler Robertson:
Yeah. So for right now, we just spun it up on all of our own devices and we have I mean, today we have really three mobile apps. We have four or five Web sites and we have five or six different desktop applications. So we had no idea we weren't we weren't doing anything. We've kind of put those out there and we're like, oh, these are for lead generation. Not really in like, oh, guy signs up. I'll give me a call and talk to him about it, whatever. And it's been great for us. But then we were like, man. You know, there are so many people hitting these apps every single day. You know, maybe we should put some ads on here. And once we did that, the lightbulb kind of went off to say, you know what? Maybe we could go really expand some of our partnerships with some of our customers. So, for example, we have a very big client who has two problems. They've been talking to us about one with any diagnostic tools to they need to go recruit a bunch of technicians. So we said, I'll tell you what, if you guys buy products from us, why don't we run ads across our ad network and it's directed rate to technicians for people to apply for your company, for diesel technician jobs. So we've been using it both as an opportunity to really work with our potential customers and current customers, a way to get new business. And now, because of all the new apps and things we have coming out through the end of the year and into next year, we actually hired a full time advertising salesperson. So now we're actually going to our partners that we work with saying, hey, we actually have excess ad space here. You know, would you be interested in buying something so far? It's been over resounding. Yes, because it's really direct marketing towards the people in our industry, which can be very tough to do at times.

Malcolm Lui:
Right now. How does your ad network compare to the ones out there that can sign up online at this time and it's all algorithmic and they decide which platforms to show the ads and so on. Are you able to do that or be part of those sort of networks?

Tyler Robertson:
So we've actually it's funny, we've actually had a couple other marketing companies, big ones that that really cater to people in the heavy truck and construction world. Ask us if they can buy ad space to use for their clients. So, you know, we're not. We built the whole ad platform ourself. We didn't use some out of the box template or do it ever. So we built our own because we really wanted to do whatever we could with it. So one of the big things that we're doing now is we have this app that allows you to look across reference truck parts. Right. So if you go to your local Peter Gold dealer and they say, hey, I need I need a windshield washer tank reservoir, here's the part. No, you can go in our app and put the part number in and see if somebody makes it cheaper or an alternative one. Right. Sometimes. Oh, am I don't have the parts in stock. So there's there's multiple uses for it. And what we can do then is because we know someone's searching for a windshield washer reservoir, we're able to show an ad to a company that makes windshield washer reservoirs or comfort sells, a tool that you would use for that application or a company that sells that particular product. So we kind of built it with the thought of the HD industry in mind, but now we haven't gone out and tried to expand it out to the general public. We really think this will stay a closed private thing that we use and really dictate who gets what on their and what we charge and how we do things. And how would you structure deals?

Malcolm Lui:
Very cool. And is your app platform a big chunk of your 30 million dollar baby?

Tyler Robertson:
No. I mean, we just spun it up in January and we really that's when we first really kind of beta launched it. Then it was like early. Q Q1 is when we first with the first platform on it. So it really has taken us probably five months to even get our ads on our own network.

Malcolm Lui:
Maybe.

Tyler Robertson:
And then, you know, we don't know nothing about ads, right? We're were some diagnostic tools, so we're trying to figure out. I think we have for the most part now, you know, how often should ads be viewed? When do they get stagnant or stale? All those kind of marketing, one to one things and now know now the goal is really in 2020 is when we slowly start to see some major source of ad revenue coming off that network, because it really getting take a sales team calling people and saying, hey, we got this platform, it's directed towards your target markets. Here's our price. Here's how we do things. So we're expecting that 2020 to be one of the things that really starts taking off.

Malcolm Lui:
Right now that you do all this in-house or do you have to go out and find someone who can help you with this?

Tyler Robertson:
Yeah. No. I mean, we do. We do everything in-house to a degree. So we have a bunch of software engineers and most of them are in-house. But we do have a small army of outsourced engineers that we use for different things. So we have one particular guy. We have an in-house person to do mobile apps. We also have an outsourced person as well. Same kind of back and HP layer available WordPress stuff. We have a couple remote guys that do that and these are people, you know, it's fun to be content and nice. They should be diesel laptop employees. I think some of them are working for us. Come up on three years now and they work full time for us. But they it's always hard to find good, high quality, outsourced ten ninety nine contractors. But we've managed to nab a few through the years.

Malcolm Lui:
All right. So not kind of good things back to your second driver hire hiring great people to do things. The secret to finding quality people on an outsource basis.

Tyler Robertson:
Yeah, on an outsource basis, it's a lot different than insource, so insource, especially through the first year or two. I hired a ton of people I knew and worked with before. So, you know, I've heard plenty of outside people, too. But here's the thing. When you hire someone from the outside until they've been there for a month or two, you really don't know who they are or how they act or how good they are. So it takes a while to figure that out and is really the same with a lot of these outsourced workers we have. I mean, I can tell you, since I started this, we've spent way more than a million dollars on outsourced employees from overseas or Canada or us or wherever. Not just with the software engineer, but with our technical editing and data entry stuff we do as well. So it took us a while to really figure out what what's good and what's not. Now that we're kind of a baseline, we kind of know have an expectation of how long certain things should take to do. So it's a lot easier for us to evaluate employees like we're just going through it now. We need a new layer of LP, HP, WordPress experts, another one. So we have a test environment set up and we'll give the small project and we'll just see how long it takes them to do it and if they know what they're doing. You can usually tell pretty quick by the questions they're asking or the vocabulary they're using if they have native speaking English or how well their English is and those types of things. So just really through experience more than anything else at this point, then setting up some small test projects for employees to do is what we currently are doing.

Malcolm Lui:
Right now, you're in source sources outsource the decision. You know what? What are the parameters? You decide if you wanna hire someone permanently versus

Tyler Robertson:
Well,

Malcolm Lui:
Outsourcing.

Tyler Robertson:
Yeah, I mean, hey, I would hire everybody stateside in-house if I could. The problem is we can't. It's not a matter of wage. These outsource people are cost to me probably just as much or even more than what it cost to hire a U.S. based employee. The problem we have is we're in Columbia, South Carolina. So not a hotbed of I.T. professionals and developers. We we have some great ones here. Don't get me wrong. But they are so hard to find. You know, if aliens listen to this and they're there, their child is unsure or they know somebody. It's unsure what career path to go, man, go take some some coding classes and boot camps, because it is it is so hard to find high quality people out there and they can literally write their own check wherever they want to go at this point, at least here in the southeast of us.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. Got it. So going back to how you grew your business so fast. How much of your growth is coming from new customers?

Tyler Robertson:
Yeah. At this point, I would say our new customer growth is probably still, still around that 65 percent rate somewhere in that neighborhood. So what's happened now is like these I alluded to a little bit earlier. So these smaller mom and pop companies, the smaller organizations, they they are quick to make decisions, right. They don't go through eight layers of management to buy something, these bigger companies. I mean, we just engage with one two years ago and just now they put their first order in. So they're just taking a long time to come to fruition. But these guys are repeat orders, right. So they're not talking about buying one unit. They're talking about buying hundreds or even thousands. So just that stuff now is starting to come along. So I think that met that percentage drift keeps drifting down as time keeps marching on for us.

Malcolm Lui:
Ok, so 65 percent, roughly 65 percent, your business now is coming from new customers

Tyler Robertson:
I

Malcolm Lui:
And.

Tyler Robertson:
Would I would say so, yes.

Malcolm Lui:
Ok. And how did they find you? How did or how did you find out? Where is it all inbound? Is it outbound?

Tyler Robertson:
Yeah. So we don't do any outbound cold calling. We probably should, but we really don't. So between the the leads that we get through our online marketing and there's there's hundreds of them every month. We also have a long sales cycle. So typically, if a customer doesn't buy in the first couple of days, it's the average sales cycle ends up being like 30 days. So it's a lot of follow up phone calls and emails and web demos to customers showing them the platform. So it takes a while to do those things. We do a ton of trade shows. We'll do 40 to 45 trade shows this year across all industries, across the entire U.S. Web marketing team that does the trade shows referrals. We've done a ton of business partnership arrangements with other companies. So, for example, we have a company out there called Diesel Forward. They sell fuel injectors. That's their primary core business as injectors and turbos. So the problem they had is they came to us and say, hey, we make a we make an injector for John Deere engines, but you need the John Deere software to program it. And John Deere refuses to sell it to us or our customers or our dealers or our distributors. They say we can't have it and we happen to have a solution for it. So we made a great deal with these guys. They they're out there promoting our tool when they go sell their injectors. And we're obviously doing what we can to support them through our ad network and making sure we reference them whenever we possibly can in our marketing material. And we probably have a dozen companies like that that we work with. So we're all about networking, finding opportunities and just looking for ways to keep growing our business and keep getting our name out there.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. So for for these partnerships, are you proactively seeking them out or are they coming to.

Tyler Robertson:
It's it's both. I mean, just today I found a guy up in Canada that sells a bunch of truck parts on a Web site, salvage truck parts. So I message him today and said, Hey, man, I saw your post. You know, you're selling truck parts. People trying to cross stuff. I have a platform that we can cross-reference parts easily. Why don't we see if there's a way to work together? So it kind of goes both ways. I can tell you it for me, one of the best ways to meet these partnership deals has either been the old fashioned trade shows just bumping into people or them come into our booth or risk onto their booth or linked in. Linked in for us is really a goldmine of opportunity, is really a underutilized platform, at least in the business to business heavy duty trucking space. So it can happen to both ways.

Malcolm Lui:
All right, so you finding them to be useful. And I have had it be useful at times and other times not so useful. And I have to say some of the messages that come to me via link and you know, I assess I know I Larry asked myself, what are these guys doing here? They say this stuff that has zero relevance to me.

Tyler Robertson:
Yeah, there's a lot there's a lot of spammy stuff going on there, and I just linked into a big crackdown on some of those bots that are automating stuff last week. So I think they're trying to crack down on all that stuff. But, you know, I can tell you in my space, there's not a lot of people talking about commercial trucks and diagnostics and all these things. And I make a conscious effort to post on there a couple of times a week. And my strategy is never go, never go in just talking about products and sales and in this type of thing. I try to go on there and tell a story or a background or announce a new product. But I never once go on there and they call me if you need to buy something. And I can tell you this every single week I have multiple people messaging me interested in our product. So for us, we, you know, four years ago in my garage and dining room table. Right. So we knew we had to be. We had to be everywhere and be as loud and obnoxious as possible out there and social media to get as much attention as possible. And we've just really continued to do that as we go forward. And today, I can tell you, linked in. It costs us nothing to do. And I received plenty of sales leads every week and I've made plenty of partnership arrangements off that platform. Absolute great tool to have any business executive should be on there and engaged and doing what they can to keep expanding their network.

Malcolm Lui:
Bibi Netanyahu, are the people on Lincoln finding you?

Tyler Robertson:
So some of my you know, I've been posting pretty regularly on LinkedIn for a couple of years, but it's just it's really been this year it really got really weird. I had a couple my posts just not once a viral but, you know, 60, 70 thousand views, that type of thing. And this is the first year I've been literally stopped in the streets. I've been stopped in restaurants. A guy a guy in a plane where they literally recognized me off of LinkedIn and just want to say hi and introduce themselves and kind of share their story. So I think for me, it's been a little bit easier since I've been on there so long. I've been talking about, you know, the trials and tribulations of what's going on in our business. So it's been easier, but it's pretty cool to see people Lincolns like the silent platform. There's a lot of people looking, but not a lot of people hitting that like button or hitting the comment button.

Malcolm Lui:
You need.

Tyler Robertson:
But you just you got to keep posting and keep being out there and it'll grow.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. I go on Lincoln on occasion, on occasion and I look at the feed and others say most of the stuff in my feet. Aren't that relevant to me. So I hardly look at it. And I'm just gonna surprise that you're getting such engagement on the link inside like these people who are connected to you and hence they see it. Or are they just seeing your post because other people had shared it? And that's

Tyler Robertson:
Yes.

Malcolm Lui:
How Keith.

Tyler Robertson:
I mean, I make the active effort every week to go on there and try to connect with more people. So, you know, three months ago, because I knew we had this big parts thing coming out, I was actively going on there looking for parts managers and parks directors. And I would just send him a message saying, hey, you know, I am the CEO and founder d the laptops. I work at a truck dealership. I was a parts manager. Just want to connect with you here. I think that's a really cool tools coming up in the future that I think you might be interested in and a lot of them connect with. Yeah. And then they just start senior posts. Then of course you get their networks in your posts and it just kind of grows from there. But it's not a it's definitely a marathon. It is not a sprint. So if someone really wants to grow their profile on their own and really expand their network. I mean, it is going to take you months and months and months or you might guess it look back on now, it probably took a two years for me to really, really gain some traction and make sure I have visibility when I post stuff on their.

Malcolm Lui:
Heavier try to work out what your cost per lead is coming from of the FCO ish Esso content marketing SEO work that you're doing.

Tyler Robertson:
No. The only thing we ever look at is we do look at our our cost per lead on our paid platform, so we'll say, okay. How much did you know Google remarketing and how many views and how much? What's our cost per lead there? How many leads do we get? So we'll look by category Facebook and all those guys. But we have so much other content. We have a blog page that does very well and we try to push relevant content on there. And you know, the whole goal with what we're all about content. I keep telling my marketing team content, content, content. I don't care what it is. Just keep putting it out there. Keep staying in front of people. As soon as people start telling us that we're annoying and we're everywhere. You know, you've done enough. Right. So keep going until you hit that point. So we're just we don't measure it that way. Just that cost per lead on the page stuff that we're done.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. I mean, people like that. I think they track the FCO. You know, oftentimes is marketed in that it can generate leads for you at very low cost or no cost. Although you set you to think up quite a bit of time and resources to get that critical mass right for it to work.

Tyler Robertson:
Oh, yeah. I mean, for for organic FCO, that was like day one when I when I started this company. I was like, I need to do something or two things. That was actually the goal every week to help my CEO. And sometimes it was on page stuff, just optimizing things. Sometimes it was making a new blog posts with relevant keywords, sometimes reaching out to other companies and other organizations saying, hey, can I get a link back to my Web site? So we did all kinds of things, especially in those early years, to build up this huge organic. So today when you go Google, pretty much anything in our space of keywords. I mean, we're we're taught we're first page for virtually everything and we're usually top three. I mean, we rank some of our product listings, rank ahead of Amazon and eBay listings and some of these bigger established companies that have been out there for a while. So, again, I think that's kind of goes hand in hand with just, you know, be allowed to buy noches and everywhere on social media, pushing content out constantly and giving value to our customers and making sure people see our name everywhere they go.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. Yeah. In my business, I thought about what you but you just have shared it as to what you've done. And I look at my alternatives as well. And to do all that, it it's a huge time commitment. If you don't have a team to do for you.

Tyler Robertson:
Oh, you know. Yeah. I mean, I look back at it now, there's some blog pages I was just showing this one of our new marketing people because she did a blog page. It wasn't quite right. It was good. It wasn't quite right. So I said, hey, here's some tips. And I'm you know, I'm like, how long did it take you to do this? She's like, oh, I made this in about an hour. Like, OK, you need to be spending much more time on these things. And I understand. And she kind of looked at me like it seems like a lot time for blog, but you can see that look in her eye. And I'm like, look, here's the thing. And I showed her a blog page I did like two years ago. I'm like, I spent 15 hours putting that page together and all the content and pictures and video and everything. But let's go look at how much traction that's got us. And it was it was something like a quarter million views have been landed on that page. Right. Over the last two years. Some like it costs 15 hours to do that. But I got a quarter million eyeballs and then some of those people fill out a form someone to our Web site. But that's why we spend the time creating high quality content. It's a huge time suck today, but it pays for itself and dividends for years to come.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. Exactly. So for this upcoming year, I know you're you're looking on here work on building out your ad network a bit more. You mentioned before you had a few other apps coming down the pipe. Can you share with us?

Tyler Robertson:
Yeah, well, our company is really going through a whole shift here in general, so I always tell the employees what got us here won't get us there. So what got me here was selling truck diagnostic tools and we scaled up a great company. I mean, we're moving into a 40 thousand square foot building in a couple of weeks. We had over a hundred employees, all that stuff. But that doesn't get me to 50 or 100 million in revenue. So we made that decision earlier this year. Like we need to invest in a couple things. One was get that ad network going up and going to let's continue to push out more apps and more and more more Web sites and all these things just to feed that network and keep expanding our brand. Let's kind of go hand in hand. Number two, we said there's a real lack of technician knowledge and training in our industry. So we actually have hands on technician courses that we do here in South Carolina. And we made a deal with another company this year to expand that out across the U.S. So we'll actually be doing diesel laptops. Diesel technician training classes across the US. We already started in Columbus, Ohio, and we'll be in a couple of states ban in the year and I expect to be in about 20 states by this time next year. So training, we think is a big revenue opportunity for us as well. And then the other one we really want to expand out is the whole parts world.

Tyler Robertson:
So no heavy truck parts for it like it's been a whole year. So we're talking about heavy truck parts world. But at the end of the day, we have a really cool app that cross references those aftermarket OEM numbers. But we're delivering an industry first, which is going to be the ability for people to look up their own parts without having to call the dealership group. So we think that's going to be a very huge play. The industry's been asking for it for decades and were the first ones to put it out there in the marketplace and then the other ones repair information. So I kind of did all this repair information so I can sell more tools. And now it's so good. Like, man, we should just sell this thing by itself. So we're put together whole platform and package where people they may have a tool from somebody else or in the market to buy one, but they can still buy our repair information and get access to our diesel techs in our tech support call center. So we're we're excited. The kind of thing I'm more than one leg and keep branching this thing out. And plus, we expand it out to Highway Marine in the last twelve, 18 months as well. So we have a we a lot a lot of things in the pipeline, so to speak.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. Definitely. Now, how many people do you have in house, in an outhouse, innocent, outsource to do

Tyler Robertson:
Yeah.

Malcolm Lui:
All the work lined?

Tyler Robertson:
Yeah. So today, if you look at all our full time and part time employees that we have, our part time employees are more in our technical editing team. And it's a lot of, you know, stay at home moms and school teachers and people who just want to kind of a 20 to 30 hour a week paycheck. If you add up all those, it's somewhere in the 130 number. If you added up all of our outsourced people everywhere that we have doing stuff, that's probably another 75 to one hundred somewhere and that somewhere in that ballpark.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. Even with the 200 people available for you to do the work, it sounds like they got their hands full with all the things you got going on.

Tyler Robertson:
You know, as we've gotten bigger, it feels like we're going slower, so we're actively we're actively engaged now in lean process training. And, you know, I have a lot of I've a lot of managers that are probably at this point. You know what? I hired them for 18 months ago. They were totally qualified for probably today, not qualified so much. They probably to get the job if they were applying for it today. But they're great people that have the capacity to learn. So is this a matter of us putting that that training and give them the tools so they can succeed in their job? Just really cool. Watching a lot of the employees around here really grow up and turn into turn into true leaders.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. So I don't do that. At 18, you hit around 30 million. Are you able to share. Comfortable sharing, able to share what you're on track to achieving 2019?

Tyler Robertson:
Yeah. Yeah. You know, it's where a lot of people are all, you know, wishy washy about shared revenue numbers and everything. But it's a stat that we we talk about a lot over here in our employees now. So, you know, I think on a low end, I you know, my budget, you know, on the low end, 40 million. But realistically, I think we'll crack that 50 million number this year, as is everything kind of on the place.

Malcolm Lui:
Nice. And when you think you hit the Zurich plan on hitting the 100 million mark that you talked about.

Tyler Robertson:
Yeah, I mean, for us, if, you know, if you just look at our revenue track the way it's going, you know, it's completely doable in two years. I think the thing standing in the way of us sitting at numbers ourselves and the ability to scale up and train and make sure we still take care of our customers the way they need to be taken care of. So I think we can get there and we can keep moving fast. We were in a great position. We have no debt. We don't have shareholders we have to answer to. It is just a matter of our imaginations and how fast we want to build things at this point.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. Easy getting to 100 million. You can do it with your existing product line for the most part, or do you think you're out to add new new product lines to get their.

Tyler Robertson:
Yeah, I think all the things we talked about earlier just add fuel to that fire. We really look at. Yeah, I don't think I need to add more product lines. I think what we're doing in the off highway, off highway diagnostic worlds, bigger than the truck world and the marine world, we're the only ones playing in it today and we're doing really minimal advertising marketing in those areas. But yet they're they're growing very, very fast. So that kind of looks like I did with truck four years ago. So I think if we just kind of get a lot more focus on what we have going on that I think we're going to be I think we can be set pretty good. Things are things are looking pretty, right.

Malcolm Lui:
Nice. And my off highway. You're talking about farming type machinery and destruction machinery and those sort of things.

Tyler Robertson:
Yep, absolutely. So think of every piece of earth moving equipment you've ever seen. Think about any piece of farm equipment you've seen. You've got a football game on Friday night and you're at the stadium there. They probably get some generators with some big lights on it. Go to the airport. You'll see they got field trucks, they got ladder trucks. They cut. It's just amazing when you start looking at what's out there. How many diesel engines are out in the world? Not in a commercial truck. And that world is way more complicated. And we're really the only ones playing in it right now. We're the only company has repair information in that world. So we're about eight steps ahead of anybody trying to get into it. We're trying to get about 20 steps ahead of everybody.

Malcolm Lui:
Very cool. Three last questions for you. If you had a billboard along the freeway, it's only going to be seen for six seconds. What would be your billboard message?

Tyler Robertson:
And so for a first of all, I hate billboards. I'm not a big fan of radio, billboards, magazines, all that stuff. But I understand what you're saying. So I would just say, you know, we provide solutions to repair shops that are involved in the heavy truck off highway in marine markets. That's that's really what we do at the end of the day is provide solutions through diagnostic tools, repair information, live diesel tax. All those things.

Malcolm Lui:
All right. That's a lot to fit on one billboard.

Tyler Robertson:
It is. It is. So anytime we do any have a banner ad I used to my people forget more than four words up there like you change it up. So I understand what you're saying about the six seconds.

Malcolm Lui:
Yeah. So what are the four words you would like to see on a banner at.

Tyler Robertson:
And if you've said it. Talk about our company uses diesel laptops up there, I could imagine something. Their logo and say repairs, diagnostic repair solutions, something, something along those lines. It's hard to get if the word heavy trucker commercial in there or something of that nature. But that's really what it is. It's solutions to repair shops.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. And massive questions for you. Who are your ideal customers and what's the best way for them to contact your team?

Tyler Robertson:
Yeah, absolutely. It's really anybody that is wanting to any type of diagnostics to a commercial truck or an off highway vehicle or in the marine market. We sell everything from those small, inexpensive code readers that cost the, you know, 50 bucks all the way up to those ten thousand dollar plus tools. And the best way to get a hold of us is just go to our website, go to DC laptops dot com or we have a toll free number 8 8 8 9 8 3 1 9 7 5.

Malcolm Lui:
All right, fantastic. Tyler, it's been awesome having you on my show today. I really enjoyed hearing how you grew your company so fast.

Tyler Robertson:
Hey, great having a conversation with you two and I look forward to next time.

Malcolm Lui:
We've been speaking with Tyler Robertson, the CEO of Diesel Laptops, about his company's rapid growth. For interviews with other fast growing, high value sales companies, or to learn how we can accelerate your firm's high value sales through automation, visit Eversprint.com.

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