Interview with a Successful Startup Founder

Turning $8k into a $30k/mo Drug and Alcohol Testing Business

Chuck Marting
Chuck Marting
September 1, 2020
Category of startup
Health
Country of startup
United States
Revenue of startups
$25k-$100k/mo
Interview with a Failed Startup Founder

Turning $8k into a $30k/mo Drug and Alcohol Testing Business

Chuck Marting
Chuck Marting
September 1, 2020
Category of startup
Health
Country of startup
United States
Cause of failure of the startup

Chuck Marting found a gap in the market when he realized that employers were losing time and money having an employee and supervisor go to a clinic to do drug testing. He realized no one in their area was doing something like mobile drug testing for employers. Armed with his business idea, he joined a business competition, ended up in second place, and won an $8k prize, which he used to kickstart his business. The rest is history - nowadays, they are making $30,000 a month.

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Hi Chuck! What's your background, and what are you currently working on?

I’m a retired Law Enforcement Officer having specialized in drug-impaired driving and detection as a DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) and DUI Instructor for a total of 20 years. I was also a DARE Instructor teaching the DARE curriculum to elementary school children for 8 years. 

I graduated from Kaplan University Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice Administration. I'm currently serving as a Board of Director for the National Drug & Alcohol Screening Association (NDASA).

When I retired from law enforcement, I wanted to start my own business and use some of the skills I gained as a police officer. The concept of  Colorado Mobile Drug Testing began from my wife Stacy and I sitting at our kitchen table and has now grown to two offices, the first located in Fort Morgan Colorado (which covers Northern Colorado) and the second located in Denver, just 5 miles west of Denver International Airport.

I recently started a podcast for our industry utilizing my teaching skills and expertise in the drug and alcohol impairment field. The podcast is called Clearing The Haze and can be found on almost all of the podcasting platforms.

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

For 18 years of my law enforcement career, I was a DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) and DUI Instructor. As a DRE, part of the protocol was confirming that an individual was impaired and that I was correct in my assessment of the individual. Most of the time they were suspected of driving under the influence of drugs, at the conclusion of the evaluation a drug test is conducted to confirm if the driver has drugs in his/her system that is responsible for the impairment observed during the evaluation.

I became interested in employer drug testing and workplace safety after finding out that companies were losing time and money having an employee and supervisor go to a clinic to do drug testing where they would sit for hours due to other emergencies or situations taking priority over the drug testing. I found no one in our area who was doing onsite mobile drug testing for employers and that was when my wife and I began looking into the opportunity of starting a business that would focus on the employers and the needs they have for a drug-free workplace

How did you build Colorado Mobile Drug Testing?

Colorado Mobile Drug Testing was formed on January 3rd of 2012 in our kitchen table at our home. We knew we had a good idea and we set out to ensure that the service was what our community wanted and needed.

At the time we were creating the company, we saw an ad from a local community college offering a small business plan course open to only 10 companies and a monetary award for the first three places. We submitted our application and we were selected out of 55 businesses. This gave us the opportunity to see not only if our business was viable but also if it was an idea that would be able to get financial backing if that was the route we wanted to go in.

Long story short Colorado Mobile Drug Testing came in second place and was awarded $8,000 which used as seed money to purchase supplies, products, and other company needs.

Now, 8 1/2 years later, we have two brick-and-mortar offices where our clients are able to send their employees to. Even though we also offer on-site mobile services, 80% of our business comes from these two offices.

Neither my wife Stacy or myself have ever owned a business before or knew exactly where to start, so utilizing the Small Business Administration (SBA) was crucial to our success. A lot of times, small businesses or entrepreneurs just starting out don't realize what an incredible resource this is and how they can help your dreams become reality. We would strongly urge anyone thinking to start a business and who are wondering if their idea will work, to contact the SBA, and see how they can help.

It's been very exciting for us to see where we started and where we are now in the continued growth of our company. Being able to help other businesses stay safe and implement a drug and alcohol-free workplace has been very rewarding. Now we're concentrating on opening more offices in other areas.

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Which were your marketing strategies to grow your business?

This is an interesting question because, at the time that we started our business, most marketing was done using postcards and internet ads.

When starting, I took a business plan course in which I was asked to create a web page. I tried to save money and decided to do it myself. I used to think I had done a fairly good job until I read the book Building a Storybrand from Don Miller’s, which talks about clarifying your messages. This book was a wake-up call! We knew that if we were able to implement the strategies taught, it would significantly change our business.

What we did then was to look for people who have been trained under the Storybrand model and that resonated well with our company. We found a guy and we decided to hire him to get our website done. It took quite a lot to be created, but in the first month of launching it, inquiries into our services increased by 500%.

Another marketing strategy we used was learning how to implement copyrighting in our business. We went through Ray Edwards’ Copywriting Academy where we learned how to create our own email copy campaigns.

Nowadays, we work on SEO and email marketing.

What are your goals for the future?

Employers need help in identifying individuals in their workplace that may be suspected of being under the influence of drugs and yet the employer has never been trained in what to look for, so this has been a goal and area of focus for us to help provide clarity and in recognizing the signs and symptoms of drug impairment.

One of the areas that we want to focus on is the training aspect of our business. On May 22, for example, we carried out a one-day virtual summit. Right now, with COVID-19, a lot of summits, seminars, and training have been canceled. What's unique about a virtual summit is that the whole business team can participate in it and have lifetime access to the topics.

What were the biggest challenges you faced and the obstacles you overcame?

The biggest challenge has been in taking personal time away from the business.

The success of the business is something that's constantly on my mind, trying to figure out how can I make it better and how can I serve the clients. It’s like my baby.

For me, this has meant a struggle to take time for me personally and away from the business. I've gotten better at doing this since joining a mastermind coaching group with other entrepreneurs. This has been the greatest tool and investment that I've made for myself!

Which are your greatest disadvantages? What were your worst mistakes?

The only disadvantage that I can think of is that our status in this industry is only within Colorado, which can make it difficult to get as clients companies that aren’t only located here or those companies who like our services but would also need it in other places of the country.

The only mistake that I can think of is that I haven’t allowed anyone to join us as a partner. A good mutual friend of mine got involved for some time. The problem is friendships and business are totally different things and in our situation, it didn't work and a friendship I had for many years changed forever because of our business.

Stacy and I decided because of this experience that we wouldn't take on a partner or anyone else wanting to buy into our business, not understanding or seeing the vision that we have had from the beginning. It's really hard to give someone a stake in your business when they’ve only seen what it is now and not having been there when you made the struggle, when you didn't have a paycheck and when you had to pour everything into the business.

If you had the chance to do things differently, what would you do?

As a new business and entrepreneur, I’m sure there are plenty of things that could have been done better, but I wouldn't change a thing. It's because of these challenges and experiences that Colorado Mobile Drug Testing has become a success.

My best advice though would be to get the assistance and guidance for free from the SBA. Truly life-changing and service that hardly anyone utilizes.

What are some sources for learning you would recommend for entrepreneurs who are just starting?

Already mentioned the SBA, but what has really inspired and helped me has been one book and many podcasts.

The book was The Success Principles from Jack Canfield and it completely changed my life and my business. Because of this, I’ve bought 20 copies and have been giving them as gifts to employees and other people.

This book has changed my perspective and life in so many ways, from learning the power of asking, taking responsibility for my actions in business, to learning that ultimately what others think about me is none of my business. Sometimes as new business owners and leaders we don’t have a real blueprint on how to grow a business or how to be a leader, but authors and books like this sure make it an easier road to travel and understand!

Podcasts have also been a huge source of learning and growing especially with as much traveling as I do on a daily basis. The first podcast that I ever listened to that impacted me was “The School of Greatness” by Lewis Howes. I hope I can bring him on to my podcast someday to thank him for his podcast as well as the inspiration and guidance I received.

Two other podcasts I really enjoy are:

  • Ray Edwards Show: Ray is a copywriting and marketing master who helped me realize how important the words we share are and how they can really make a difference in our business.
  • Ed Mylett Show: This man is incredible and truly inspirational. I have 7 or 8 of his podcasts saved that I listen to over and over again because they are just that good and inspirational.

Where can we go to learn more?

You can check our website here and our weekly podcast “Clearing The Haze” on any podcasting platform.

We’re also in Linkedin and Facebook. Or just email me at chuck.coloradomdtesting@gmail.com 

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