We recently sat down with one of our newest owners, Doug Dieter of Izit Knockerball in Wake Forest, North Carolina to talk about his journey…
I have been in professional sales since graduating college in 1988. For the past 19 years, I managed a territory in both the medical publishing and data analytics space. One of those being a large international company and the other being a small privately held company. In all cases, I have worked virtually from my home for most of my career.
I am a passionate person who wears it on his sleeve. I like to think of myself as authentic and I care about people. I enjoy being in charge and making ideas that I have a vision for come true. I love sports, youth sports in particular. When not being delivered with participation trophies, sports offers a wonderful opportunity to push someone beyond where they thought they could ever go. Coaching, providing entertainment, pushing for the best, win, lose or draw drives me. My family inspires me. I have four kids/young adults now and they are amazing individuals that have given me a lifetime of memories and continually grow in their own direction. The bonds that I, still to this day, share with my fraternity brothers inspire me. Life long friends that are truly a blessing at all times. Free Will inspires me to grow, because I see it as a gift from God and His patience with me is unfathomable. I work on acceptance daily and I don’t think that I will ever run out of days to learn more. Seeing others succeed and knowing that I played a role in that persons foundation is an awesome feeling. I appreciate brutal honesty and meeting genuine people. I feel like everything that I have ever really truly enjoyed and been passionate about comes together with this business.
I have 40 knockerballs, a medium size field and a 12 foot dart board. I have also invested in yard games, such as jenga, added footballs to toss on the opposite side of the dart board, carry 1,000 watts of blue tooth and amped speakers that light up on stands. I would like to add human foosball, archery, soccer pool and basically, I am pretty open to anything that is big and creates fun. I also own a 6x12x9 enclosed trailer that I have had professionally wrapped.
High Schools, Middle Schools, Elementary Schools
Corporate / Corporate Team Building
Other: Family parties that would include birthdays as an option, but I get a lot of joy out of assisting a family with any type of party that they want to have.
My trailer is a rolling billboard. I promote heavily on my Facebook page, began a VIP club through texting opt in’s using key words. I talk a lot :-). Seriously, cold calling has never been so fun. Knockerball is something virtually new and it is guaranteed fun. I stop by places of interest and meet a GM or whoever is in charge and ask if they have ever considered doing something like I offer at their location. I carry a thin binder with me to show them my COI, waiver, safety stats, etc. I am offering them something that, in most cases, they have not done before and the fun aspect is hard to ignore. I joined the local chamber of commerce, participated in a ribbon cutting and support other members, by stopping by their business and taking a picture of their staff with a knockerball. They post, I post and it just keeps going. I recently sent a family a 16×20 family photo around the knockerballs at their backyard party. They posted that to everyone that attended and those attendees also sent it out. 1 photo went to over 800 people from a 40 person party. I attend networking get togethers, football jamborees and have signed up to be in the Christmas parade, where knockerballs in santa hats will walk the route beside my trailer. I do little in private – if I am cleaning the knockerballs, I will do it in the neighborhood or next to a soccer park. It’s like having a puppy – everyone wants to touch them and ask what they are. I have been the halftime entertainment at the cities professional soccer club and look to grow that relationship. I build on existing relationships, who love what I am doing and tell me who I need to meet, then introduce me. In short, I make friends, draw smiles and create fun for anyone that wants to participate. Tonight I met a 3rd grader named Rocco, who was riding his bike past my driveway, while I was power washing the equipment. He asked me what they were and why I had so many? I gave him my card to give to his parents, let him try a ball on and he immediately ran right at me. Awesome!
My first event didn’t occur until July 4th, so I am unable to share a complete business plan here in my roughly first 50 days, but here is what I can share. I plan to make more money post age 53 than I did getting to 53. I plan to work hard, build my brand and the company brand in a professional and fun manner. I plan to have a lot of fun, desire a true family business that I can get my kids started in and grow the entreprenuer spirit. I enjoy being known as knockerball man or the knockerball guy. I grew up on Zig Ziglar. My favorite quote is, “you can have everything in life that you want, if you just help enough other people get what they want.” My knockerball take on that is that I can have as much fun as I want, if I just help enough other people have fun. My goal is to take my business over 100K in revenue within the first year, build the brand and develop a scalable process, repeat, repeat, repeat. Note: I am developing a formal business plan, based on the desires that I shared here. It all begins with your “why.”
1) It’s going to be hard work. It’s a lot of fun but that doesn’t make it easy. 2)Events will not just show up when the equipment arrives – you’ve got to promote, build relationships, provide a phenomenal service and give people the party that you would like to have 3) Be patient and commit to doing whatever it takes.
1) Unless you are well versed and have the time, don’t attempt to organize your business by yourself. I made one mistake with the EIN and it has cost me 3 months of aggravation with the IRS and what should be extremely simple. Just call Legal Zoom – done correctly in an hour. 2) Don’t try to be something that you are not. i.e. professional photography, website design, creating signage, etc. 3) Approaching pricing – sell it too cheap, because you had a fear someone wouldn’t buy will cause a lot of work for diminished pay.
The day that my initial 16 knockerballs arrived. I took pictures of the DHL delivery. As instructed, I took them to a field to inflate them and had my daughter and her friend with me. They were the first two in the ball for me. They tapped, giggled, then backed up, took a deep breath and ran at each other, went flying and laughed hysterically. I have it on video and when I heard that laugh, I knew that I found something awesome and very likely, what I was supposed to be when I grew up. The picture that I took of them that day now takes up the entire back of my trailer.
If you truly want to build a business, it is going to take hard work, dedication, commitment and no matter what you expected, it’s going to take more initially. Like they say, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. It’s not easy but it sure is fun. I started with 16 balls in May – you know, get started. Some thought I was crazy. Less than 2 months later, prior to my first event, I became the owner of a field, dart board, trailer and lots of other things like generators, speakers, pressure washers, a hitch on my SUV. Now they know I am crazy, but in spite of that, my very best friends told me, “86% of all new businesses fail in the first year, but we haven’t seen you so excited about something in years and we think you’d be pretty good at it. It seems like you.” My 18 year old gave me a Father’s Day card and in it wrote – “Thanks for pushing me to be the best version of myself everyday. Of all your crazy ideas, I think knockerball could be the one. Keep reaching for the stars and make something out of nothing. Love you Dad.” One of the earlier questions was what makes me tick – well……this, this makes me tick! My advice – find out what makes you tick and run with it.
If you’re looking for a change of pace like Doug and want to bring laughter and smiles to people’s faces every day, start your own Knockerball business!