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How To Listen And Answer Market Needs

How To Listen And Answer Market Needs

Images of Kristen Chandler and Karla Nelson...Title: HOT TO LISTEN AND ANSWER MARKET NEEDS

Call it a “Pivot,” or “starting over,” but what is really going on is listening to your clients and the market.  Kristen Chandler continuously sees a market need, then starts a new business to answer the call.

Since starting her consultancy practice in 1980, Eileen McDargh has become known as a master facilitator, an award-winning author, and an internationally recognized keynoter/trainer and executive coach. Clients have ranged from global pharmaceuticals to educational institutions, from hospitals to the U.S. Armed Forces. She is the author of seven books, including her latest, “Burnout to Breakthrough: Building Resilience to Refuel, Recharge, and Reclaim What Matters.

Website: https://www.anylabtestnow.com/granbury-76049/

Instagram: itsKristenChandler

Facebook: BizSnob

LinkedIn: Kristen Chandler

Listen to the podcast here:

Read Along as Karla and Kristen discuss Answering Market Needs


Karla Nelson:  And welcome to The People Catalysts Podcast, Kristen Chandler. Thanks so much for being on the show today.

Kristen Chandler:  Thank you so much for having me today.

Karla Nelson:  You know what? I really like your story. I’m super excited for the listeners to hear and also the viewers, because you have a really eclectic business background. I mean, you’ve worked in so many different verticals. Can you share with us just kind of like your entrepreneurial story and where it started, and then we can get a little bit into how, you know, you kind of had a domino effect in a whole bunch of different industries.

Kristen Chandler:  Right. So I think it started for me as a kid. My dad started a trucking business when I was young, and they just had one truck and him and my mom would implement those values. And me and my sister we saw growing up, like, how hard they worked from one track to 40 over time.

And when I was 10 years old, he would bring home work tickets, which were done on a typewriter at that time. And we would get paid 10 cents per invoice that we would type out for him. So I honestly think looking back, that’s really where it began for me as I saw it with my parents from them building something to nothing to something, that it just was part of my DNA growing up.

Karla Nelson:  I love it. And then you probably were typing those things…Did you actually learn how to type on those old typewriters? Because I did. And they actually took a long time. We used to even use when they came out, the word processor seemed like that was a fantastic thing. But, you know, doing grant deeds for the title company on the on the word processor. Did you just like go, oh, my gosh, 10 cents, ten cents, and then like figure out how to type or

Kristen Chandler:  I basically I mean, he kind of showed me a little bit, but I mean, we just it was pretty simple. But at the same time, it was just…I was excited to learn and learn something new. Spend time with my parents, like I felt like I was a part of something. And so I think that that was like the bigger value for me was like they were always working so hard. So that was also a part of I felt like I was putting in something that they were working towards myself.

Karla Nelson:  So it was exciting.  That’s really cool. And I love that because so many people are driven to entrepreneurship for different things. Right. And I love the fact that, you know, culture and being a part of something greater than you and being able to impact something that’s already happening and and then help.  Right? You want to help your parents, especially when they’re working that hard. I think it’s so funny. All of us go into business and entrepreneurship to gain freedom. Right. And then you end up working so hard. So you have to have something that is like driving you to that point. So that’s very cool. And then so you did that. What was your next step? I know you went to Texas Tech, and I just I had to bring up my cup here, just, you know, just because.

Yeah. But so did you move kind of from that and helping your parents to then focusing on your degree?

Kristen Chandler:  You know, I went to Tech, and I was studying business initially, and then I kind of switched to health care because that was kind of an interest of mine as well. And then back to I ended up doing business communications and I ended up going to grad school.  And during that time at Tech, I also went to real estate school and got my license because I was doing virtual tours and different things like that from a real estate perspective. So I had like a little bit of that entrepreneurial bug, even in college, to go and get my real estate license to do something for myself, I just didn’t know what I was actually going to do. And I ended up going to grad school just because when I was applying for a pharmaceutical rep jobs, there was none at that time. That’s kind of when the industry had shifted.

So I really wasn’t getting anybody bites. So I thought, well, I guess I’ll just go to grad school. I got a teaching assistantship position. And so it just made sense. I finished the first year. I bought a house on my own, a small little fixer upper.

Karla Nelson:  And that was my first house, too.

Kristen Chandler:  Yes. And I never I never got to live in it, because three weeks after I bought that house, my dad called and said, hey, we put some oilfield equipment out in this place up by Fort Worth, Dallas, Fort Worth. They’re starting to ask if we do safety training. I know you’re like teaching at Tech, And I feel like if you can teach at a university, you can teach safety meetings to oil field guys. So if you want to, go start that and see what you can drum up. I was kind of like, “Well, I’m kind of like in the middle of grad school, I just but a house…”

Karla Nelson:  I, I. Hey, there’s an entrepreneurial parent for you. They’re like, “Yeah. Drop out of school and come down and figure out what you can do down here.”

Kristen Chandler:  Yeah. I’m like, where is this? How far away is it, from you guys? Because they were in New Mexico. They weren’t even there where that location was. So that’s what I did. I was working for a real estate company, so I was able to fix that up enough for them to rent my rental, my house out, never lived in it, packed up and moved to Granbury, Texas. No family, no friends to see what I could get started for my parents’ company. And that’s really how it began. From that perspective,

Like we had maybe one customer, was it. And I asked my dad, you know, like, what am I going to do? What do you want me to do? And he said, you know, just wake up every morning at like five a.m..Hit the streets, knock on any door that seems like they need safe oil-field safety. And there you go. So I had no business cards…

Karla Nelson:  Sorry. Oh, my God. I like your dad already, and I haven’t met him.

Kristen Chandler:  Yes, I have a single brochure, no catalogs. But here I am selling safety products with nothing that I can show for anything. But that’s what I did. And he was like, you’re going to get like probably 10 no’s a day, maybe, and you may get one yes the whole week. But just keep doing it from five a.m. till six p.m. I’m like, what do you got to lose? And that’s what I did. And we built a million dollar plus safety company by me not having a single business card or brochure or catalog, just knocking on doors and not stopping.

Karla Nelson:  Yeah. And, you know, it’s so interesting today, it’s so much easier to connect with people right before used to actually have to like walk into a space or try to figure out how to get their phone number. And now, my goodness, with all the social media platforms, everybody wants to be found now, which is not how it was back in the day. So then how did you move from that company? Didn’t you then pivot in 2008 or 2009 from the oil and gas? And what did you see and what made you look out to a problem that needed to be solved?

Because if there’s one thing about your background and entrepreneurial background is that you look for a problem and then you figure out, OK, how do I solve that problem?

Kristen Chandler:  Right. So still working for my parent’s company. I was doing drug testing for their company for like a handful of clients. It wasn’t a primary service. I just did it and figured it out because it was a need and I needed to find a solution for our existing safety customers.  So I we do

Karla Nelson:  Which makes sense, right? Safety, and then doing the drug testing like correlating the two right because they’re working with heavy machinery.

Kristen Chandler:  And we weren’t really marketing it. It was just something I was doing for our bigger customers who were who had a need. But in 2009, the gas market shifted. I mean, like overnight it just dropped. And I remember everyone was like, oh, my gosh, what are we going to do?

Well, the oil and gas companies started really hitting hard on their contractors, like where’s your safety program? Where’s your drug testing program in order to kind of vet them out and cut contractors that way, like if their safety program wasn’t good or they didn’t have a drug and alcohol program, then they didn’t want them, and so then all these customers started coming to us like now we need drug testing, now we need a safety program. And so because of that, the drug testing really picked up but the safety services were still kind of falling off because people are shutting their doors down. So that’s when I realize like this is the thing that seems to be surviving the most. I won’t be able to keep this company afloat on drug testing alone because we only had a handful of customers and they were oil and gas, and that market was just plummeting.

So I’ve got to figure out if I’m going to ride this out with this family business or if I’m going to talk to my parents and go a different way on my own, like I was just torn.  And finally, I met with my parents, kind of told them how I was feeling and that I had found a lab testing business, that if I spun off and did drug testing by itself, that if I did this lab testing with it, I felt like I could create a niche and survive.

And they were like, go for it. I mean, this is your time to shine if you’re ready, you know? I think probably in the back of their minds, they were like, you know, she’s she’s always wanted to do something.  So this is either she’s going to fly or sink.

Karla Nelson:  Well, and honestly in 2009 that just like this last year or 2020 and even moving into twenty twenty one was where can you find a problem in the marketplace and how can you identify it? And so what I love about that is you’re a problem solver.

And even in the midst of one of the worst financial crisis we’ve had, especially oil and gas and real estate and just the financial institutions themselves. You looked around and said, hey, wait a second, these guys need this and pivoted and did it quickly.  And that’s how, you know, entrepreneurs and businesses survive is finding those problems and looking for the problems.

Kristen Chandler:  Right. And so and it was a blessing because back in two thousand nine, general lab testing, like walking in from a retail perspective without going to see your doctor first, that was a whole new thing. So those first few years, I really had to work hard.  Partnering with doctors to make them realize like, I’m not competition. I’m I’m an aide to help you with these results and that sort of thing. It was really about education for the first three or so years of that brand, because it was such a new take control of your own health kind of concept.  And now it’s

Karla Nelson:  now it’s everywhere, especially after 2020, right. I mean, telemedicine is something that they were even, you know, kind of waving the HIPPA laws on where. Back then it was funny because I’ve always utilized, you know, different platforms since we could to do these types of meetings.  And then all of a sudden everybody shifted. I was like, wait a minute, guys, it’s been around for 15 years. Why haven’t you been using it, before we have a pandemic? You know, it was there, but then the adoption of it just went zoom.

But way back in the day, it was very uncommon. It was even hard to have people do it, actually, because remember, you had to download like all the software and there was just a lot more to it now than go into a website and clicking in a meeting ID number.

Kristen Chandler:  Right.  Yeah. And that’s kind of the battle I was facing. But looking back now to where it is now and seeing how it’s evolved so much, it helped my startup brand because employers also started getting more wellness minded as well.  And so TB testing and lab testing and Covid testing, like even though there are two different brands, they work together.

Karla Nelson:  And here we go. You roll it into your next business. Right. So you saw a change of the marketplace, saw an area that needed to be filled. And then you launched what was it called? BYou I think.

Kristen Chandler:  Yes.  And so when I was looking at that brand, I thought, what what can I do to help our lab testing patients that are coming in with like gut health issues and cholesterol issues? They don’t need medical treatment or some severe surgery.  They just need lifestyle modifications or a service to do a monthly or quarterly to like keep their health up to what it needs to be. And that’s when I launched BYou. And I was going traveling around to different wellness companies, going on retreats, really trying to figure out what I could bring in holistically, that I didn’t need a doctor at my location all the time, that these were like true lifestyle situations. It wasn’t like a med spa. It was a holistic spa type situation. And that’s when I launched Watch That. And we started doing vitamin injections, vitamin IVs colon hydrotherapy, oxygen bar.

But detox, like I thought of a concept that would fit man or woman’s everyday lifestyle needs from health, beauty and wellness. Mm hmm. Because the way I looked at it, like we’re always evolving as a person. Some seasons it’s more about wellness, some seasons it’s more about our health, some seasons you just want to look good.

So what could I build brand wise that would check all those boxes in everybody’s different season of their life? So if they came in with a friend, it wouldn’t be. Oh, well, I don’t do vitamin shots or I don’t do IVs like we had something for everybody at any season of their lives.

Karla Nelson:  Very cool. Well, there you go. How do you make sure you increase your market space? Right. It’s still under wellness, but what somebody needs. So they like the one stop shop for wellness. So. And then the interesting thing is, I know then you moved to a franchise, which actually is very different when you look at the there’s a different business for different people. Right. Based off of who they are. And some people probably never want to run a business. And, you know, we always say you got to put the right people in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.

How did you get into then, your franchise from that? Because you literally would go in and figure out what needed to be done, build out the team. Right. And then you get to more of a franchise, which is more of like a later adopter, just like implementation.

So what was the challenge or problem or, you know, something market that needed to be filled or solved when you launched a franchise?

Kristen Chandler:  You know, with Any Lab, it was still a very new franchise. When I came on board, I was an early adopter. They didn’t have the technology and training platforms like it was almost in a lot of ways figuring out how to start my own business, because it was such a new brand, it sounds like.

Karla Nelson:  So essentially, they didn’t get to the point where you had to implement all of these things with the franchise. They were just giving you the branding piece and then going, good luck.

Kristen Chandler:  Right. And they were working hard to build their corporate team and that sort of thing as well. So now, 10 years later, I’ve resigned my FTD and here we go again. It’s a totally different deal. They have call centers.  They have all the things that I really could have used early on.

Karla Nelson:  You’re like, “that could’ve saved me many hours right there.”

Kristen Chandler:  But it was good because I had to figure it out myself. So it really helped me with my other brands having to dive in and figure it out. I didn’t have some crutch. I had to figure it out no matter what, and so I can appreciate how the brand has evolved now because we didn’t have that before.

And it’s it’s made me stronger even later on to have these resources that they’ve worked. So it just goes to show like. Any brand, whether it’s a franchise or a startup like growth, happens over time, nothing you can snap your fingers and have it fully automated right away.  And I’ve seen that with with that franchise. But when I opened Subway, that was the real change, because that’s a global brand. I mean,

Karla Nelson:  and then you have to follow all the rules, do all the things exactly to what they state, which is a very late adopter franchise. Right. Right. Early adopting, franchising to one to then subway being a very you know, this is what you do.

This is the logo you use. This is the mat you use. This is that. How did that change for you? As far as all those businesses you had that were super entrepreneurial. And now it’s more like you just got to follow the rules.

Kristen Chandler:  Right. I mean, it’s been a struggle because I see things that especially in the market that I’m in, I’m in a small rural market. So the rules that apply to all of us don’t always necessarily apply to a smaller market.  But it doesn’t matter when you’re in it with a brand that size. I mean, they have to treat everybody the same. They don’t have these caveats, whereas Any Lab has micro micro stores and they’re more conscientious about markets under a hundred thousand.

They don’t expect to have the same type of roles as a Dallas market or whatever. And so. It has made me appreciate Any Lab for for considering that as well, but also I see his point. You want brand uniformity.  You want anybody to walk into a subway, whether it’s in a rural town or a big city, to have the same experience. So it’s kind of

Karla Nelson:  I know it’s like a Catch 22, Right? So why did you think your town needed a subway too like? Because I’m just going off your like M.O. with all your businesses where you said, hey, there’s probably a gap right in the market and then you wanted to kind of solve that gap.  What was it that you saw in your own backyard that you thought, oh, my goodness, we need this here?

Kristen Chandler:  So this community is all about just the schools. Everybody moves out here for the schools that way they don’t really have to go to the private school route. If you live inside Midland, if you live out here, it’s outside of Midland ISD.  So it’s kind of like it feels like a private school, but it’s not it’s more of a community based type of deal. So it’s just all these houses out here, all these kids going to school, a couple of churches, and that’s it.  We’re about 20 minutes from anywhere to eat. So when we moved out here,

Karla Nelson:  Are you serious? And that’s saying something. I went to a lot of rural towns and grew up in a rural town, but that’s pretty far.

Kristen Chandler:  So it was like really frustrating that first week of moving in, because I’m like, well, we need something to eat. We need to go to the store. There’s nothing there’s gas stations that close at 9:00. We don’t have a grocery store like you would.  We’d have to drive 20 minutes just for a simple anything. And so I’m like, I can’t believe nobody’s put anything out here. You know, there’s me. The problem solver like this is so annoying.

Karla Nelson:  Well, instead of sitting there and dealing with you, like I’ll just open a restaurant.

Kristen Chandler:  Exactly, so some months later, somebody decided to build its first shopping center out here. And my husband was like, well, I wonder what they’re going to put in that. Like you, we should put something in there. And I thought by we.  You mean me because I want to do all of it. That’s great. Well, you know, it’s like, yeah, like maybe a food or something. And I was like, no.

Karla Nelson:  You’re like, “then I can go to my own store and I don’t have to drive 20 minutes.”

Kristen Chandler:  Exactly. But I was kind of like, no, I’m not getting into food. No. Then, of course, that night I start Googling like what brands would be a good fit for somebody that’s like getting into it with no food experience, low investment, a brand everyone already knows.

Karla Nelson:  And you have all the schools because Subway is so popular with the school. Kids go. I mean, that’s when I used the subway all the time was it was right down the way from my high school.  And I could go in, I could get something. It wasn’t terrible for me. And, you know, it was fast, but it wasn’t fast food. So, you know, it was really popular. I know when I was in high school.  So makes and not only that, busy moms, right? Right. You know, you can live with giving your kid a sandwich. You can live with it. Right? It’s like it’s not terrible, doesn’t have terrible oils and all that other stuff in it.

And so that’s so interesting. So as we sign off here, I just. Kristen, I have one last question for you. Is that what is the advice that you would give others about looking for those, you know, gaps in the market and looking for just solving a problem?  Because in order to be successful, really, you have to have something to offer somebody that in regardless if it’s a problem, like for us, it’s moving companies forward in growth and, you know, training their teams to adopt new ideas.

And that’s a big challenge. So how what are some of the, you know, tips or, you know, how you do that or how you do your research to find those gaps in the marketplace and really just pay attention so that they can figure out if they are in a current entrepreneurial situation, they can expand or just to get started, because so many people and I see this in corporate America all the time, they want to go and they want to help people, but they don’t necessarily have the, or hone the skills of just seeing a problem that needs to be solved.

Kristen Chandler:  Right. I think if you’re not an entrepreneur already, you just kind of have to look through yourself and your friends. Like you need to listen to what they’re struggling with. If you are around a group of people and they’re always like, I wish we had this or I wish this town had that, like if there’s a resonating wish and a market and it’s not being fulfilled or it could be being fulfilled better, like that’s your opportunity and you have somewhat of a vested interest. Or see a vision in it. There you go. Like it’s a it’s a sign to me that somebody needs to do something.

And if you’re an existing entrepreneur, you have to listen to your customers. They will tell you what they wish you had more of. And it’s not always realistic. I mean, I have people that are like, oh, I wish you guys did Botox and you know, all this other stuff.  That’s really not our brand. We can refer you and be that helpful source, but. We built our brand based mostly on what our customers have said they wanted, and so I think you just have to listen to that and the market and that’ll be your direction.

And it’s like it gives you that security because you’re not just like jumping off and with some crazy idea, like, you know, there is an interest because you’re hearing it.

Karla Nelson:  And I love that, too, because that’s kind of a two pronged approach of saying, I hear you as a client being able to respond back to it, solve the problem through a referral, but then also understanding your brand, too, is critical, and then also attracting new customers through your current customers just by using one simple word.  Listen and ask. So many times I think business owners and entrepreneurs fall in love with their product or their service so much that they think that they know all the answers. And really the best way to do it and honestly, the political aspect does this the best always have an open ended question, like if you asked, you know, you wish you had and then there were four things say and then do other. And sometimes so many people write in the same exact thing that then you can go, oh, wow, this is what our constituents really want.

So I love that. I love your story. I love your grit, girl. It’s really fun to hear it. And I know that you also do some consulting. So how can our viewers and our listeners get a hold of you?

You can get a hold of me, I have Instagram, it’s it’s Kristen Chandler. I’m on Facebook. It’s biz snob. And I’m on clubhouse as well. Awesome. Well, that’s where we met on ClubHouse. So which is a very entrepreneurial platform. I met so many wonderful and incredible people like you. We will make sure that we include that in the show notes Kristen. So thank you so much for sharing your story, sharing your insights and being here with us today on The People Catalysts Podcast.

Thank you so much for having me. It was a great time.


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