Owner Stories: Neal Caminsky, Red Dream Studios in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec
Neal Caminsky has been a friend of 10|20 Marketing for as long as we’ve been around. We work on common clients and often refer each other’s services to contacts. Due to this time collaborating, the one thing that is most evident about Neal is his attention to detail and quick turnaround time on client requests with the highest quality output. His responsiveness consistently blows us away.
Our interview with Neal is below. Please be sure to read our Local Business Owner Spotlight series and support local businesses in any way you can during these days of COVID-19.
Interview with Neal Caminsky of Red Dream Studios
10|20 Marketing: I remember reading somewhere that you’ve built hundreds of websites for your clients. Tell me about your first one!
Neal Caminsky: I’ve personally built well over 200 websites – so many that I’ve stopped keeping track. I’m very proud that in my almost 20 years of business, I’ve been able to cater to over 375 entrepreneurs, small, and medium-sized businesses. The first one I remember building was Aquatica Digital, an underwater camera housing company in Saint-Laurent. I was pretty green in creating websites for clients at the time, however I was introduced to the company owner who wanted to get his products online – and he had a very large inventory to showcase.
The process took several months, from design to execution, and it became more of learning process for me rather than anything, especially since the website was built dynamically using a now obsolete scripting language called ASP. But the end result was a success, and Aquatica and I are still actively working together, and are hopefully planning to execute a new revamp (their 4th redesign) of their website sometime in late 2020 or early 2021.
10|20 Marketing: So we’ve been working together on projects for a little while now and I see how efficient and responsive you are.
Neal Caminsky: The most important aspect of my business are by far my clients, and I put as much effort as possible to provide the utmost in customer care. I like to think of every one of my clients as partners, rather than paychecks. The more I can cater to your needs, as quickly as possible, the more likely I believe you will want to keep working with me. Agencies like mine are quite prevalent, so it’s important for me to make sure that I don’t give you a reason to look elsewhere. Over the years I’ve been able to accumulate well over 40 glowing testimonials and accolades from my clients, which is something I’m extremely proud of, as is the fact that many of my clients have been working with me for over 10 years.
10|20 Marketing: So given all the testimonials you get, is that how you generally win new business – through word of mouth? Or do your leads come from other sources?
Neal Caminsky: I would say that two-thirds of my projects are a direct results of person-to-person referrals, whereas the other third is through online searches, newsletter marketing, or social media postings. I don’t think it’s a big secret that the most likely way to win favour with a new client is by a strong testimonial from “someone you know.” In my line of work, influence marketing is highly coveted, which is why I aim to please every single one of my clients as much as possible, so that they can become a small army of virtual salespeople for my business.
10|20 Marketing: Ok, so let’s shift gears here for a bit. Servicing clients in the ultra-responsive way that you do must mean you carry a certain amount of stress. What do you do to relieve your stress? How do you manage it?
Neal Caminsky: Truth be told, I’m actually more stressed when there’s less to do during my day – although if there are multiple projects on a deadline, those situations can get a little hairy. I’ve developed excellent time management skills over the years which helps to alleviate a lot of the pressure (although my reluctance to say “no” to a client is often counter-productive!). I dislike seeing emails in my inbox, so to alleviate any anxieties, I often tackle the quicker-to-do requests first, just to get them out of the way. Other tasks are then broken down into smaller and more manageable chunks, making them easier to digest. It’s less of a shock to the system that way. If I have a single project that I know will take up an entire day or two to complete, my clients are generally understanding if I have to push them out of the queue for a very short period, especially if their needs aren’t deadline-specific.
What I try my best to do is maintain an appropriate work-life balance. I rarely work past 5:30pm, and do my best to not answer emails after 7:00pm, unless there’s some crisis management to attend to. The time outside of work hours is reserved exclusively for family time and over the years, most of my clients have become accustomed to those minor constraints – especially since I’m quite efficient during regular work hours.
10|20 Marketing: That’s a really good answer, one I envy! So what do you do for fun then? Do you play sports? Like movies? Long walks along the beach?
Neal Caminsky: My favorite pastime in the winter is playing ball hockey with a group of guys that have been playing together for well over 10 years now. It’s a great release, but as time passes, it unfortunately reminds me that my body isn’t what it used to be In the summers, I’ve been playing first base in the Dollard Mixed Softball League which is run as a friendly, non-competitive league (other than bragging rights). I’m hoping that this year won’t be cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions.
As you might imagine given the field I’m in, I’m very much a geek, so I really enjoy watching movies, particularly science fiction (Live Long and Prosper). Speaking of the beach, I’m very fortunate that my wife’s family owns a cottage up in Saint-Donat that has its own small beach and boat dock, so occasionally spending the weekends there has been a huge factor in recharging my batteries over the years.
10|20 Marketing: Ok, so last question. What kind of advice do you have for people who are starting out on their entrepreneurial path?
Neal Caminsky: Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone and carries a lot of risk. It can drain you physically, emotionally, and financially. It requires a great deal of discipline, work ethics, and 24/7 dedication, and to some extent, some luck. It’s a well known fact that most businesses will fail within the first 2 years of operation – in my case, I was lucky that I was able to grow my client base slowly as a side project while still employed full time. I wasn’t yet married at the time so I had no issues putting in an extra hour or so of work every evening working for the few clients that I had when I first started. It was only when I realized that my “side” job was going to generate more revenue than my full time job that I decided to give it a go and leave the corporate world. At that point, I began to live, eat, and sleep about Red Dream Studios to help make it grow and be sustainable. I was also lucky in that I had already worked with over 60 clients at the time and so they had become a small but might virtual salesforce for me.
One important aspect of being an entrepreneur is being able to adapt to change, which for example, as the technology used to build online experiences in the online marketing industry changes rapidly. Maybe 10 years ago, I was building Flash-based websites, but once Apple decided to not support that technology, it became obsolete. And as mobile browsing became more commonplace than desktop experiences, responsive platforms like WordPress proliferated. I’ve been described as a left-brain-right-brain person, so that “lucky” aspect of my character helped me to adapt to change, learn, and inject my own creativity into all the projects that I’ve been lucky to produce over my almost 20 years of my company!
10|20 Marketing: Thanks for playing, Neal! This has been great.
Neal Caminsky: Thank you!
This interview is part of our Local Business Owner Spotlight series. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.