Orion Home Improvements
When Jeremiah Davies left the Marine Corps in 2004, his career path wasn’t exactly clear. After bouncing around commission sales jobs in the Washington, D.C. area, Jeremiah found a job with a roofing company in Virginia. “Once I put on the tool belt and went out there, I found I was a natural in the home improvement industry,” he said. Jeremiah really enjoyed his work, but then the subprime mortgage crisis hit in 2007. It was a scary time, and he did not like the uncertainty that came with working for someone else. Jeremiah was inspired to take control of his career and established his own company: Orion Home Improvements. “I wanted security, but I also wanted to create jobs and opportunities,” said Jeremiah.
In addition to traditional and direct mail marketing, Jeremiah knew that getting online was an important part of reaching potential customers. Soon, Jeremiah and his team began using Google tools, including Google Ads, Google Analytics, and G Suite. “One of the things that I learned very early on is that you have to test and measure in advertising,” said Jeremiah. “By using Google Analytics along with Google Ads, we were able to see what was working and really beef up our organic search results.” In 2018, Orion Home Improvements spent 30% of its marketing budget on Google Ads and saw a 400% return on investment. “When you’re looking at good, accurate data, you’re able to make well-informed decisions on how you’re going to spend your advertising budget,” said Jeremiah.
With Orion Home Improvements, Jeremiah now has the security he was looking for back during the recession. But even more importantly, he’s able to provide it for others: Orion Home Improvements employs 12 people and gives back to the community by donating new roofs to families in need and by supporting local police organizations, among other efforts. Having recently achieved his initial business goal of operating a $3 million company. Jeremiah hopes to hit $8 million within the next five years. Jeremiah attributes his success to his partnership with Google and his stringent “test and learn” mentality. “There is absolutely no way that we would be able to generate $1.5 to $2 million worth of revenue from repeat referral clients if they hadn’t first found us on the Google platforms,” he said. Speaking about what the future holds for Orion Home Improvements, Jeremiah explained, “Google helps us set the bar high on the business end, and I try to do the same on the culture/reputation side. I want to be the kind of place people love to work at, competitors wished they worked at, and people love to do business with.”
Honest Soul Yoga
Suzie Mills bravely served her country in the U.S. Air Force for eight years. While deployed to Afghanistan, she decided she wanted to offer veterans and civilians alike a more holistic way to keep their bodies and spirits in healthy shape. Back home in Northern Virginia, she founded Honest Soul Yoga in 2013 to give yoga newcomers a judgement-free place to explore the practice. “Our focus is on welcoming people. We want to create a community, especially for military families,” Suzie says. With this special mission in mind, she has grown Honest Soul Yoga into one of the most popular yoga studios in the area.
Honest Soul Yoga relies on the web to get the word out to local would-be yogis. “I know from personal experience that yoga can be intimidating,” Suzie says, “so I try to have a strong online presence that shows people exactly what they can expect from us.” That means keeping the studio’s Google My Business listing up-to-date with the latest business hours, photos, Q&As, and customer reviews. “For us, it comes down to being searchable, sharing reviews that reflect who we really are, and providing clear directions to our location—those are what bring people through the front door,” she explains. To compete with larger studios, Honest Soul Yoga turns to Google Analytics to better understand their customers and fine-tune their marketing. “It allows us to curate the Honest Soul experience for them. They know we’re the right fit before they ever step into the studio.” Internally, they use G Suite tools, such as Gmail, Docs, and Drive, to collaborate from anywhere and stay on top of business.
Today, nothing is too great a stretch for Honest Soul Yoga. Seventy percent of customers continue to find them online, and their entire marketing budget is now committed to digital. They have tripled the size of their studio to 3,600 square feet and expanded to include a 500-square-foot retail space. They employ 30 people, over half of whom are veterans and military spouses, and plan to open a second studio in 2018. For Suzie, however, the real victory is being able to create a strong community for the veterans and their families who comprise over half of her clients. “We’ve been offering yoga twice a week at Fort Belvoir for military families for two years,” she says. “We’re proud to give back to the military community in any way.”
Two Marines Moving
Nick Baucom served his country honorably for six years as a U.S. Marine. When he came home, he wanted a way to keep his fellow veterans gainfully employed and away from the challenges of adjusting to civilian life. He founded Two Marines Moving in 2008 to give Virginia businesses and residents a moving option they could trust, one that reflected the reputation and integrity of the Marines. “The moving industry is known for some unscrupulous actors, but you can always trust a Marine,” Nick says. From just one man with a rental truck, Two Marines Moving now employs over a hundred veterans from the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, and Air Force.
At the peak of their growth, Two Marines Moving was regarded by national publications as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America, doubling their revenue every year for three years. “When people think about a ‘fastest-growing company,’ they usually don’t envision a traditional business like ours. But we were consistently growing at 100 percent year-over-year,” says Nick. “Google was an integral part of that growth.” Nick started using AdWords, Google's advertising program, only a couple weeks after launching his business. “It’s where the reach is. It’s where the customers are,” he explains. With a 200 percent return on investment, AdWords continues to drive business for the company. It also helps them target and recruit veterans, which is one of their primary objectives. “What separates us is who we hire. Our company is 97 percent veterans, and we want to continue offering them opportunities,” Nick says. Google Analytics equips them with the insights to intelligently manage their marketing budget, 80 percent of which is digital. And G Suite tools Gmail, Docs, and Drive provide the team with “a super efficient way to collaborate and get things done.”
Today, Two Marines Moving provides quality, trustworthy moving services to customers up and down the East Coast. They’ve opened a second location in Miami and are continuing to grow at an annual rate of 50 percent. Inspired by this growth, Nick aims to further expand his operations and create job opportunities for 500 veterans in the next five years. “Veterans will always have a home here. We will always find work for them to do at Two Marines Moving,” he vows.
Bill Ritchie and his wife, Andrea Barthello, founded ThinkFun in 1985 to translate the ideas of mathematicians, engineers, and inventors into enjoyable games for kids around the world. Bill’s inspiration was his own childhood. “From the time I was a little kid, the whole idea of recreational mathematics and playing with logic games and toys was something I thought everybody did,” Bill says. Today, ThinkFun produces challenging games, toys, puzzles, and brain teasers. “We do less online gaming than physical, in-your-hands games for deeper experiences through play.”
After a quarter century in business, scrambling for market share with the toy giants, ThinkFun saw the incredible digital possibilities of “reaching niche audiences, telling a deeper story, and having people communicate with each other about this cool company,” Bill says. “We realized that we needed to make some fundamental changes in the way we created our products and went to market,” says Mike Ritchie, Director of Marketing. ThinkFun launched a completely new website in 2015 and waded deeply into digital marketing and social media. They turned to AdWords, Google's advertising program, to help them target those niche markets. Bill describes their experience with AdWords as “gasoline on the fire,” and it is now integral to their marketing strategy. Google Analytics gives them insights into what visitors to their website find most relevant, allowing them to make data-driven decisions about what is resonating with customers.
ThinkFun has garnered hundreds of awards and accolades for their games and puzzles, including Code Master, Rush Hour, and Gravity Maze. The Internet and Google tools have given them the opportunity to create their own strong brand online, so they are no longer solely dependent on just selling to big retailers. In fact, they now have passionate fans among parents and children in over 50 countries. Bill expects exciting times ahead. “There's still a lot of value placed on physical games for kids. But we need to make sure that we're adapting to the digital side, so we can be wherever we need to be going forward,” he says. “Google will help us to realize that future.”