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ThriveHive Interview With Bottom Line Savings CEO, Josh Fox

Published November 13th, 2018 by Bottomlineadmin

Lou Diamond:  

Welcome everyone to another episode of Thrive LOUD with Lou Diamond, connecting you to the most inspiring and amazing people that are thriving each and every day. Today on Thrive LOUD we bring you the CEO and founder of Bottom Line Concepts, a cost-reduction consulting firm that focuses on saving companies’ money through expense reduction, an increase in profitability, and enhancing evaluation. Thrive LOUD listeners, I bring you Josh Fox. Josh, how are you today?

Josh Fox:                            

Good afternoon. I used to think I had a cool name in Josh Fox, and then I met Lou Diamond and I felt like I moved to the second position.

Lou Diamond:                    

I wouldn't think you're in the second position. I think it's just as cool. But, you know, hey, we can play in the same space. And that's why you're on Thrive LOUD because not only is your business and what you've been doing pretty cool, but your name is pretty, freaking, awesome. So… But thank you for the compliment. Although, one day, I would like to bring—

Josh Fox:                            

It's actually Josh Fox, but there's a Y at the end, but it's silent, so it's Foxy.

Lou Diamond:                    

Yeah, I knew it. When we put the picture of the podcast art on this particular episode, we'll make sure to make you look really glossy and look really excellent on that. How about that?

Josh Fox:                            

Thank you, Mister Diamond.

Lou Diamond:                    

So, here we go. So, this is really cool because I've seen companies that do what you do and a lot of people don't know that they exist. And, on top of that, a lot of people would always ask the question, "How does somebody get into this particular line of business?" So, I think what our Thrive LOUD fans would love to hear, Josh, is a little bit of your journey in your career and how you got to starting Bottom Line Concepts. And then, we could talk a little bit about some of the amazing stuff that you guys do. Is that a good way to kick things off?

Josh Fox:                            

No, it's a great question. I appreciate that. And people ask me all the time, like, "How do you get into the expense reduction business?” or “how do you get into the corporate cost-saving business?". And I don't think, when I graduated University of Michigan, I ever said, "Yeah, that's what I'm going to do." But what ended up happening was: I took my entire life savings, about 12 years ago, I took my bar mitzvah money, and all the money I'd ever made in my life. And I ended up buying this large apartment in New York City. And once I moved into this building, I was the third person to move in, so, the concrete hallways were still there. There were definitely mice still running around the building when I first moved in. And it was this new-construction building. And I had a unique opportunity to run for president of the building. And at 30 years old I had to have been one of the youngest board presidents in New York history.

Josh Fox:                            

And I was thrust into this job which had no pay. It was a volunteer job. But all I wanted to do was protect my investment, you know, buying this apartment.

Lou Diamond:                    

Right.

Josh Fox:                            

And I realized, very quickly, my job was to control the cost of a 220-unit building in New York City, and make sure that things like the electric bill or the gas bill or the supplies that we were buying with the union fees were as low as possible, so people didn't get their common charges increased.

Lou Diamond:                    

Gotcha.

Josh Fox:                            

And I think most people who've ever moved into a new building, you're usually given a number. Like, you have to pay $1,000 a month in common charges to own this apartment. And, all of a sudden, it goes to three times X, because the developer didn't do the numbers correctly.

Lou Diamond:                    

Right.

Josh Fox:                            

But in the eight or so years I was president we never had a common charge increase. And everybody loved it. And everybody was happy. And I said, "You know, if I can do this for a large building, I feel like I can do this for other people's businesses." And I went out and trademarked the name Bottom Line, about 10 years ago. It seemed like such a perfect name when you were going to help companies reduce their costs.

Josh Fox:                            

And away I went. And 2008, if you remember, was, like, the worst year, maybe, in our country's history—financially speaking. The stock market was, I don't even remember, 4,000, 5,000, 6,000 at that point. And every company's strategy to save money was just to fire their employees. And it was a very sad time. Every newspaper article, every TV show you'd watch, it said, "Company 1 fires 10% of their workforce. Company 2 fires 20% of their workforce." And I hate to steal a line from Shark Tank, but I guess I said, "There had to be a better way."

Lou Diamond:                    

Right.

Josh Fox:                            

And there had to be a better way to help companies keep their costs low, without having to get rid of their employees. And away I went.

Lou Diamond:                    

So, let's go through this because I think it's really interesting that I have dealt with... I used to be in, what we'll call, “Big Four” consulting because I think it used to be Big Eight, then Big Six, then Big Four. I forgot what window of time I was there when it was it. And we used to get hired to help look at certain companies and figure out what's wrong. Here's a great question I want to start with, how come large organizations, or small organizations for that matter, can't figure this out on their own? Because that seems to be a common problem and a common thread across everything. Why aren't they focused on a task that you're laser-focused on internally in their organizations?

Josh Fox:                            

Well, you may be surprised by this answer, but when I give it, I think you'll understand. It makes a lot of sense. Back in the day—20, 30, 40 years ago—we had people that were staying at companies for most of their career. They would retire. They would get a gold watch and they'd get a pension plan. In today's, you know, executive groups at these corporations, the average person probably stays three, or four, or five years. So, everybody has good intentions, and they want to do the best job they can. But, all of a sudden, they're recruited away. The company, you know, goes bankrupt. I mean, look at some of the stories. I mean, Toys ‘R’ Us, one of the greatest companies in US history, goes bankrupt. You know, like, what happens to all those people?

Josh Fox:                            

There's just so much changing at the top of these companies where if you're not there a very long period of time, you can't really do the best job when it comes to auditing and reducing expenses. I mean, for example, we do sales tax audits. I mean, it could take us two or three years to really complete the work. And what if the head of tax is there for two years and leaves? Who picks up that kind of a project? So a lot of turnover, I think, makes it difficult for companies to do the best job in this area.

Lou Diamond:                    

So, I think there's something unique, and we'll start to dig in a little bit into this. And one of the reasons that your business has been so successful is actually the way that you charge for your services. Can you share with the Thrive LOUD community exactly what you do and how you get compensated because that alone is an interesting incentive and a good story.

Josh Fox:                            

Yeah. I think life is all about managing risk in whatever you do. And when corporations have to lay out large sums of money upfront, either by the hour or by the project, with no guarantee of results, the end result, a lot of time, is they'll spend millions of dollars in consulting fees. And what they'll end up with is a pretty binder with charts, and graphs, and numbers, and colors. And they don't know what to do with it. There's no action steps. There's no implementation.

Josh Fox:                           

So, the model that we came up with is a percentage of performance. When we recover money for companies and we save them money, we get a percentage of the accomplishment. So, we really become partners with them. We call it a “shared savings partnership” or a “shared savings model,” where we don't ask the companies for anything until, if and when, we are successful in refunding them money from the past or saving them money in the future.

Lou Diamond:                    

Josh, help the listeners understand the breadth of what you actually go about doing to help companies because we have lots of entrepreneurs, lots of leaders that listen to the program, that have been on the program. And they do a whole myriad of things. You go in, and, I guess, I want the listeners to understand, exactly, the process, and how you figure out where that opportunity and where that cost savings lies?

Josh Fox:                            

So, the way we start is, we sign an NDA with our client so they feel very comfortable sharing some data with us. And then we have this worksheet called the profit enhancement worksheet, in which, basically, we ask our clients for who their vendors that they're doing business with are and what they're spending with them every year. And what we've seen is a tremendous theme, over, and over, and over, and over, and over again... It doesn't matter what industry we're working in because we work across dozens and dozens of industries... Is that our clients tend to use the same hundred or so vendors across every client. And you know who they are. They're FedEx. They're UPS. They're ADP. They're Paychex. They're Staples. It's Office Depot. And when you start to see the same vendors over, and over, and over again, and you get everybody's pricing, you start to understand where people need to be.

Josh Fox:                            

And I think that's what gives us a real competitive advantage. Just to go back to your initial question of why can't companies do this themselves; they don't have any data or information like we do. You know, if we know what 1,000 companies are paying Staples, well, we have research and data that the company can't get on their own. They may call Staples and try to negotiate a better office supply deal, and maybe they'll accomplish a 10% reduction. But really, what if it should be 50% at that point? You know, that's where we come in.

Lou Diamond:                    

Right. So, I do love this. By the way, I've always been a big fan of figuring out how to save. And I love how your own personal story of having to manage a building, kind of, led to this. So, give the community a little understanding of when you started out this company on your own and what it's grown to today, the size of the organization. How many people work for you? How many clients do you guys service?

Josh Fox:                            

Yeah. We've got about, I don't know, 1,500 or so clients at this point. And you know, in terms of our new clients, we really don't work with corporations that are doing under $100 million in revenue anymore. That's, kind of, like, our minimum. But there really is no maximum. We have clients that are in that Fortune 100, 500 area. So there's no company too big for us. We just try to stay above that $100 million minimum revenue point.

Lou Diamond:                    

And how many people are working at the organization, at Bottom Line?

Josh Fox:                           

So, we've built a tremendous workforce of salespeople. And we’ve really built a reward model. So we have about 300 salespeople—referral partners, we call them—across the country; where, you know, we don't have any expectations for them. Some of our referral partners will make an introduction every week. And some of our referral partners will make an introduction, you know, once a year. But we compensate them as a piece of our revenue. And we also compensate them for bringing in other referral partners. So, we actually give them a piece of those deals in the second generation.

Josh Fox:                            

So, we're very rewarding and very willing to give away part of our share of the savings with the people that bring us to the clients.

Lou Diamond:                    

Right, and which is great because you're preaching... You're basically preaching what you're telling all your clients and what you're going to do. And you're treating them the same way. Hey. Where we're able to make the opportunity, you're going to help those that are doing that as well. That's a pretty consistent model, and a good way to do it. Are you proud of—

Josh Fox:                          

And then we've created this incredible... I'm sorry to interrupt, but we just, you know, just to finish the whole conversation on this part was, we also create these incredible partnerships. So, for example, CBIZ is a wonderful accounting firm. You know, they refer us to their clients. And we work with Alliance, a great insurance brokerage firm, who refers us to their clients. And we have so many great relationships with service providers that work with corporations, doing something different than what we do. And they bring us in as an add-on, an ancillary opportunity, to make everybody look good; because, if we're saving their client millions of dollars, we all look great to the customer.

Lou Diamond:                    

So, I love to learn about this. You're an entrepreneur. You've got a great head on your shoulders. When you walk into any store, any business, any opportunity, is your brain just churning and looking, "Man, they're spending too much money on that. They could be doing things differently." Is that in your nature everywhere you go?

Josh Fox:                            

Yeah. I've always been a perfectionist, no matter what I do. You know—so, it's just my personality to do that. And, you know, I love the analogy, like, you know, we're always finding pennies in the couch; you know, quarters in the couch. Like, everyone in this country has had that experience, where you haven't looked in the cushions in your couch in years. And all of a sudden, you know, you find $5 worth of money in there. I mean, that's kind of where we are. Like, you know, it really does... The nickels, the dollars, the pennies, when you add them up over time, in terms of what we're finding for corporations, it ends up becoming millions and tens of millions of dollars over time.

Lou Diamond:                    

Some people actually don't realize, and the listeners will probably understand this, I wanted to hear it from your side of the coin here—pun intended—and that is that when you are helping companies save this money, and you're making them look good, have they communicated, not only, "Look, hey. You've financially saved the company. You've helped us really significantly with our bottom line and our profitability," but you could see that they know that they've made that right decision, and they felt like we partnered with the right person? Tell me a little bit, any examples or stories where that sense of gratification for helping an organization become more profitable has meant a lot to you.

Josh Fox:                           

Well, that's what the other part of our business is. Once the money is found, once the money is recovered, what do corporations do with the money? You know, it's not like the owners just put it in their pocket. I mean, we have great stories of companies reinvesting the money, reinvesting the money into their people. You know, like, remember the days where most corporations used to match their employees' 401-K plans? And a lot of companies have stopped that or slowed that down. You know, we have many stories where we have found tremendous money for companies, and they said, "You know what? We ended up taking a bunch of the money and matching our employees' 401-K plans again. So we enhanced our employees' retirement planning by the money that you guys found."

Lou Diamond:                    

That's great.

Josh Fox:                            

Clients have taken the money, and they've expanded their business. Like in the retail business. We've had clients open up dozens more stores, which means more jobs were created by the money that we found.

Lou Diamond:                    

That's awesome. And I think this is great. It's really funny because, like, sometimes we'll have sexy, new technologies on this show, or thought leaders talking to you about the latest and coolest trends. We've had people on crypto-currency. And as simple as this might seem, while even though you might be foxy and sexy, the business that you're doing is sexy to the bottom line. And I think that that's a great thing that most people don't think of. And I hope you get a chance to think of that because this is an important component to what you do. It's not just finding the right opportunity and those coins under the couch. It's helping, in some cases, to change the culture of a lot of the companies you work with.

Josh Fox:                            

Yeah. And you know what? A lot of times we're just doing things that companies and people don't have the time to do. Isn't that the theme of everything today? It seems like everyone's too busy. They don't have enough time. I mean, think about it. Even in your own world, like, your cable bill is probably a few hundred dollars a month. If you were willing to spend two hours tonight on hold, speaking to managers, getting promoted to the next person and the next person, you could get your cable bill down by 20%. You know, we have an amazing team of people that, if they need to be on hold with their vendors of our clients for two hours, waiting to get to the right person to negotiate that bill down, we do the things that our clients don't have the time to do.

Lou Diamond:                    

Yeah. By the way, perfect example because I have a story where I know that worked well. I did that with my own oil heat in my own home where we were, literally, negotiating the best heating package for my particular home. And on the flip side, I did try to call a bunch of my cable companies, saying, "What if I piece this out, if I got rid of the phone, if I got rid of this?" And when you looked at it, we actually were getting a ton of value for what we had, and were paying a really good amount of... Getting the most value for what we could do, at least for what was out there; unless, of course, we completely unplugged. But it's great to know that there's an organization out there that's looking for it, and you're right, that is finding the time to do it.

Lou Diamond:                    

Josh, the question I have for you, which I love to ask all the guests on Thrive LOUD, you've been successful. You're a great entrepreneur. You've got a great business going. And as great as things can be, sometimes we have off days. When you have trouble thriving, what practice, or who do you turn to, to get back on the thriving track?

Josh Fox:                           

 I mean, I'm just a health nut. You know, that's just, like, I always have to be healthy. Like, that's my free time. And about four years ago, I decided to become a vegetarian, just because I love animals, and didn't really want to harm animals so that I could put something on my plate. So, you know, becoming a vegetarian and eating the right way, I feel, has been a huge impact in my life. It's made me a softer, gentler, kinder person. And I've turned to many things, like hot yoga. I do that five days a week. It's an incredible way to relieve the stress that comes along with anything that life brings you. I do acupuncture. I do cupping. I do cycling. Like, it's just incredible.

Josh Fox:                            

And people always ask me, like, "Where do you find the time to do the healthy things in your life outside of the office?" And the answer is very simple. Like, I schedule my healthy and workouts just like a schedule a meeting. Like, if I know I'm going to a hot yoga class at 7:00 tonight, nothing's going to get me away from that; just like, if I have a client scheduled at 3:00, nothing's going to get me away from that. So it's a very scheduled, systematic way, where I'm pretty much doing a healthy workout, you know, six days a week.

Lou Diamond:                    

I like it. But, by the way, I did the Bikram, or the hot yoga, or whatever the heck it was, in The Sweatbox one time in New York City. And the best part about the whole thing is that I sweat normally when I workout, so, this was wonderful because you sweated the minute you went right in. So, I don't know if I could do it regularly, but it is a pretty interesting thing. And some people swear by it, so it's good to hear that you've got different—

Josh Fox:                            

[crosstalk 00:19:33] Yeah. And my life has been about meeting people, and networking, and growing, and meeting, and meeting. And, like, my life is just always about meeting new people. And all these passions that I have, I've always just met such great people.

Lou Diamond:                    

I like it. Josh, share with the community all the places that people can learn more about Bottom Line Concepts, find you, social media links, any of that; even though, as I recently learned, you might not be the biggest technophile. There are certain places that I know that you guys actually communicate. So, why don't you share that with the listeners, and how people can learn more about you?

Josh Fox:                            

Yeah. I mean, I guess I'm just a little bit old-school. I love my BlackBerry. I still use it. And I had an experience recently; I was in an elevator in our building,in New York City. And there were actually four of us using a BlackBerry, all at the same time, which I felt like was like lightning had struck. I mean, what are the chances that four people out of four in an elevator—

Lou Diamond:                    

I actually... Josh, I just want to let you know that that wasn't an elevator. It was a DeLorean. It took you back about, maybe, 15 years. You were in a time machine, and that's what happened. It wasn't a real elevator. Okay. Sorry to interrupt.

Josh Fox:                            

Yeah. I mean, our website is BottomLineSavings.com. We're very proud of our site. We have a list of hundreds of our clients on there, and that's just, even, some of them. Like I said, you're really, whether it's accounting, legal, hospitals, retail, real estate, private equity, financial firms, I mean, we really work across all different industries. So, it's just been great. And I've got to tell you, like, I think I'm the first person to come up with the phrase, "TGIM, thank God it's Monday." I mean, I really love going to work. I love, you know, being with my team. We have a great team of people at Bottom Line. And it's just fun. Like, that's what really allows us to do well, is… it's just fun going to work every day.

Lou Diamond:                    

That's great. And I do like that, by the way. You should get on that. And we'll make sure, we'll announce it here, so that it is Josh Fox's. He owns it. He's got it. He'll trademark it. We'll talk to the right copyright offices. All right. So, I've got two more questions with you before we wrap up the program, which is, I guess, what was one of the most unique things that you helped a company save; something that was so different that you never would have thought, like, would you have believed when you started this company? Is there one particular expense reduction activity that you did, that you never, ever would have thought you ever would have done?

Josh Fox:                            

That's a really tough one. I guess the first thing that comes to my mind is… we were reviewing some insurance policies on behalf of a company. And they had a fleet of trucks. And we noticed, like, a weird nuance in one of their insurance contracts, where they weren't going to be covered, based on certain accidents, by their drivers. And one of my team members picked it up. And, literally, the same night, like, after we got it fixed, there was a huge accident. Thank God the guy was okay, but, like, the fact that the company was covered, I mean, literally, they could have been out of business. I mean, it would have cost them so many millions of dollars if we didn't pick up that little thing in the contract.

Lou Diamond:                    

That's too funny. That's great stuff. Josh Fox, your all-time favorite movie?

Josh Fox:                            

Definitely has got to be, probably, Shawshank Redemption, or, maybe and/or, Usual Suspects.

Lou Diamond:                    

Oh, okay. Gotcha.

Josh Fox:                            

I've probably seen Shawshank maybe a 100 times. It never gets old. Just… What a wonderful, inspiring, awesome, awesome, awesome movie. And The Usual Suspects, like, I just love the twists and turns. I love putting puzzles together. And the ending of Usual Suspects is definitely one of the best endings of all time.

Lou Diamond:                   

Yeah, between Keyser Söze on one example here, and, "Get busy living, or get busy dying," you've covered the gamut of some sweet-spot movies, which are awesome and appreciated by many of the listeners here on the show. So, Josh Fox, this has been awesome, having you on here. Much continued success for Bottom Line, and thank you for coming on Thrive LOUD.

Josh Fox:                            

No, listen. I know your podcast. People speak so highly of you. I'm honored to be here. I'm honored to have spoken to you. And I really appreciate everybody listening today.

Lou Diamond:                    

It's awesome. And to all the Thrive LOUD listeners out there, keep thriving onward and upward. And remember, be brief. Be bright. Be gone.

Speaker 4:                          

You've been listening to Thrive LOUD, with your host, Lou Diamond. Make sure to subscribe on iTunes, Overcast, or wherever you get your podcasts. And follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, at Thrive LOUD. Or find us on the web, at ThriveLOUD.com.


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