Shivaraju strikes the right balance of family life and professional goals with his Money Mailer franchise
Peelu Shivaraju is the proud papa of two little ones, and there’s no question about his priorities: Family always comes first. It’s his family that motivates him professionally; they are the reason he drives so hard toward his career goals. He and his new bride, Kate, had just found out they were expecting their first child right after he purchased his Money Mailer franchise in 2014. But instead of being stressed out about managing a new business as well as caring for a new baby, Shivaraju found that the one really helped him with the other. This is his story.
What were you doing before becoming a Money Mailer franchisee?
I was in medical sales. My bread and butter was oxygen and CPAP machines. I was doing that for seven years before Money Mailer came across my path.
How did you learn about Money Mailer?
Being an entrepreneur was always the goal. I was thinking of owning something in the medical equipment industry, but that had been in a steady state of decline for the longest time. That wasn’t going to be a viable option, so I started looking at franchising. A broker happened to approach me, and the first day we met, this was the third option he presented. I jumped on it.
He said it’s like the Mercedes of all direct mail franchises. I’ve always been a big believer in direct mail.
What do you find appealing about direct mail?
In today’s world, everything is a ding, glare or blare. I’m not a fan of digital advertising. I barely have time to watch TV, much less watch commercials. With direct mail, the choice is yours. That makes it that much more powerful.
What do you like about owning the business?
Being my own boss is very important to me, and I love the flexibility it offers me. When I first bought Money Mailer, my wife, Kate, and I had just gotten married, and right after I bought the business we got pregnant with Leela. After she was born, I took three or four months off; I barely worked. My daughter meant everything to me. Same with my son, Ray. I took a few months off when he was born. Being a father is what comes first to me. Money Mailer allows me to be there for them.
This business takes a lot of your time; I don’t want to sugarcoat it. Be prepared to invest time. I worked 12- to 14-hour days for the first year. At the same time, if you feel like you’re getting burned out, as long as you know how to manage your time you can take a day off or take a morning off and play golf. I do it all the time. I golf nine holes almost every day. You get to make your own schedule because you are your own boss.
How do you get your customers?
I prospect; most of my days are spent prospecting. I break down my territories into zones. I work different zones on different days. It boils down to a numbers game. You try to get so many touches, set this many appointments a day and make this many sales per week. After that it’s wash, rinse, repeat. Really, it’s about building relationships. It takes time to do that, and it takes getting out there and talking to people.
I’m not much of a phone guy. It has its place, but I’m actually out in the street. I do 45 touches a day. It will take me 15 touches to get an appointment.
What kinds of businesses do you target?
Anything an affluent homeowner needs is a potential client. Another franchisee put it a lot better than me, and I’ve always taken it to heart. He says it boils down to three things: is the content of the envelope worth opening, are the offers worth redeeming and is the art worth looking at? And that’s kind of where I rest my hat. I try to control that as much as I can. I try to have at least 40% of my envelope be food. I look for good local content, and I want the very hyper-local businesses. When people drive around and they see these businesses every day, I want those businesses to be there in the envelope.
It lends more to our credibility. It builds trust with clients and their consumers. I have a responsibility to my client. It’s my job to bring them as much business as I can. And secondly, I have a responsibility to the consumer to put the best product out there. I don’t accept tobacco ads. I put a picture of my family in my own envelope every month, and anything I’m uncomfortable with my kids doing, I just don’t include. To each their own. I’m just making my choices for me and my kids.
What makes you think Money Mailer is going to be around for another 10 or 20 years?
The future of Money Mailer and the future of direct mail is great. It boils down to one thing — touch. That tangible sensation of touch. Money Mailer is not going anywhere. It is still, and will be, one of the most effective means of marketing out there, bar none. It should be a part of anyone’s portfolio.
In today’s world, the daily digital dump, it’s insane. Everyone just gets tired of it. This is almost like cathartic, you hold something like paper in your hand, you’re kind of leafing through it, “Eh, I want this pizza, I’m gonna eat this pizza. I don’t need a roof, I don’t need windows, and oh, you know I need some work done on my basement, I think I’ll call these guys.” It’s simple. It’s just meeting people’s needs. You keep filling your envelope with the things people need, and direct mail is not going away.
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