This Cooking School Has An Amazing Business Model — Can You Copy It?

Aaron Hoos

My wife and I both love to cook and, if I may say so, we’re not too shabby at it. But we can always learn more. So, when we moved to a new city last year, we started looking for a place to boost our cooking skills, and that’s when we stumbled upon a local cooking school with a business model I’d never seen before.

(Disclaimer: maybe it’s not unique. I’ve just never seen it before but I think it’s brilliant, and something a lot of businesses may be able to borrow. And if you own a restaurant, and no one else is doing this in your city, you should seriously consider it!)

It’s called Schoolhaus Culinary Arts and it shares a building with a restaurant and a catering company, which is a smart way to double-up on your space and infrastructure for a related service.

You go to their website and look at their upcoming classes. Every day of the week is a class on something — from a type of food (i.e. bread) to a regional cuisine (i.e. Moroccan) to a specific type of cooking (i.e. cooking with beer). There’s something on offer just every single day.

You sign up for the class, pre-pay, and then show up on your selected day. The room is smaller than I thought it would be but it holds about 16 students, with enough equipment and counterspace for everyone. You tie on an apron, sign a waiver, and then the chef instructor leads you through some basic skills you need to know and tells you the order that you’ll be cooking the food in. Then the class is unleashed to begin. Everyone has their own place — including a knife and cutting board — at a table for 4 people. And you work with that group of 3 other people to prepare the dishes. Some dishes you eat as you finish them, others you save until the end.

Throughout the evening the chef instructors circulate through the room to give you tips and advice; oh, and there’s beer and wine for purchase too. Classes are 3 hours long, and at the end of the night the tables are pushed together and you share the food with everyone else in the class.

It’s a great time!

Janelle and I went to one class about Spanish Tapas, and later went back to Global Street Food. (We would have gone to more but our schedules haven’t allowed it, plus the classes sell out very fast so you have to book early — which is a lesson I’ve learned!) Not every recipe is a winner but you’ll end up with some things you love, other things you don’t, but it’s really the experience that is the highlight — as you make new friends and learn new skills and try recipes you’d never normally try. It’s very social.

Let’s Talk About That Business Model

It’s a great business model. It converts an empty space into a revenue-generating space. At about $75 per person plus drinks, it’s not out of the question to have people drop an average of $100 per person per night, so you’re looking at $1600 for a full class (and these classes sell out). You’ll need to buy the ingredients, supply the recipes and equipment, and pay for a couple of instructors and a clean-up person. But essentially you are guiding a sitting of people through the process of cooking their own meal.

It’s popular, which makes it a consistent money-maker.

Will the same business model work for you? Can you build separate brand in your business where you teach them to do what you do? Some businesses naturally do that already (I see that all the time in the real estate space that I work in) but I think this is a new concept to restaurants.

Maybe you own a restaurant and you’re busy in the evenings… but what about weekends? Can you offer a weekend cooking class? Or maybe you’re in the commercial district and you have a heavy lunch crowd but you close down for suppers… can you add a teaching segment? Or maybe you own a large building that is too big for your current restaurant, can you partition it off and run a culinary arts school on one side? Look at your potential clientele and figure out what works for them — you might do a 3 hour session like the one I’ve been to, or maybe you cut it back to a one-hour session that people can prep and then bring home. The details can be tweaked.

And, this extends beyond restaurants. Grocery stores could do this too. Or what about an accountancy that teaches people bookkeeping or business strategy? What about a daycare that teaches parents parenting skills? What about a garden center that teaches people gardening?

I think the sky’s the limit here. Sure, you’ll have to tweak the model a little for your industry and client-base but it’s very powerful.


Aaron Hoos, writerAaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He’s the author of several books, including The Sales Funnel Bible.

5 Marketing Strategies I Learned From An HVAC Marketing Genius

When I first met Mike Agugliaro, he was running the #1 rated home services company in New Jersey, offering services to homeowners like plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and more. He also ran a small mastermind and coaching service for other home service professionals. He got in touch because he was thinking about writing a book and growing his business.

Working together, with a small “ninja team” of just a couple of other people, I was privileged to be part of the process to create a powerful and growing brand — CEO Warrior — which coaches and trains business owners to grow their business.

Frankly, I almost didn’t take him on as client. I was already maxed out, focused on the real estate space, and looking to expand my presence there. But another client introduced me to Mike and urged me to reconsider.

I’m glad I did.

Mike and I started writing his first book together, and later I went on to write… well… just about every other piece of marketing that came out of his business. We’ve written several books together, done direct mailing, and deployed more strategies than I can count. I fly out to his office regularly to visit him and attend his events (including one last year where I got to meet 2 authors that I’ve always admired), and I consider him more than a client but a mentor and close friend.

Now, you might be wondering why I took on this client even though he’s not in my industry.

There are a few reasons why I work with Mike…

First, Mike is a formidable presence and when you get on the phone with him or get in a room with him, you’ll be amazed at the insight that flows. He’s not for the faint of heart: his straight-talkin’ New Jersey style, along with his tattoos, make him a fascinating person to work with, and (as he says) he’s not afraid to share a “hurtful truth” instead of a “comforting lie”.

Second, Mike’s home services company (Gold Medal Service) has an incredible turnaround story. Their first ten years of business were a struggle and they almost shut down. Then they turned it around and, for the last 12 years or so, have seen year-over-year growth of more than a million dollars. Last year they made more than $30 million. I gotta tell ya: from a copywriter’s perspective, that turnaround story is a dream come true!

Third, Mike and I, along with two other business experts, meet each week to collaborate and grow his business. The four of us work so well together and our regular meeting is a highlight of every week!

Fourth, I like the exposure to other industries. As much as I love writing for real estate, I also want to stay well connected elsewhere to bring over ideas and strategies from one industry to another.

Fifth, I learn a lot from every client, and I continue to learn a lot from Mike on every project. He’s a genius. With that in mind, here are 5 strategies I’ve learned from him…

Steal These HVAC Marketing Strategies

Mike started in the home services industry but now works with all kinds of businesses in many different industries, so you can use these HVAC marketing ideas in your business even if you don’t work in the home services.

#1. Branding. Mike’s home service brand is very powerful and I’ve helped create his CEO Warrior brand and watched him develop brands for his mastermind clients. He’s able to create compelling brands that achieve these outcomes, which I’ve come to realize are the four key factors that every brand must have:

  1. Your brand needs to capture attention
  2. Your brand needs to very rapidly build trust
  3. Your brand needs to rapidly communicate what you do (what services you provide, who you provide it for, how you provide it, etc.)
  4. Your brand needs to show how you are different than every other competitor in your field

Does your brand do those things? I can tell you that my own brands do not! I have had to go back and revisit my brands to look more closely at them and see what I can do to achieve these four components.

The truth is, most brands do not. They fail to capture attention, they barely say what the person does, they don’t build trust, and they don’t differentiate. OUCH.

#2. Stackable Marketing. Mike has also mastered something he calls “stackable marketing”. I’ve always been a big proponent of the “go small” school of marketing and repeating your marketing to those people. I think too many business owners try to spread too wide of a net and end up doing a crappy job of trying to reach new prospects with their marketing. But Mike takes it to the extreme for amazing results. I think you’ll love this…

He advises that you go super-narrow. Since he’s marketing to homeowners, he suggests marketing to just a neighborhood, street, or even an intersection, and then repeating your marketing to them over and over and over again. Although I’ve always liked the small marketing approach, he is super-microscopic with an emphasis on repetition, and I realize just how powerful that can be.

This works in other industries too, not just in the home services industry. Any marketing effort can be ultra-narrow, focusing on just a few places. Local businesses. A specific industry in a specific area. Even online — you can become ultra narrowly focused and create repeated marketing messages in one place, such as Facebook.

Another aspect of stackable marketing that is so powerful and effective is what you can do with multimedia: Mike doesn’t just do the traditional direct mail letters or postcards; he combines those with email marketing and even “voiceshot” broadcasting calling (make sure this is legal in your area), plus other display marketing. His goal is to be EVERYWHERE for his audience all the time, and the best way to do that is to go very narrow so you can afford it.

For home services and other companies that serve a local market, successful stackable marketing provides an added bonus. Imagine this scenario as an example: one home service company markets to a wide area and gets 4 clients spread throughout the city. They spend a long time on the road going from one client’s home to another. A second home service company markets using the narrowly focused “stackable marketing” and gets 4 clients in one focused area. They spend less time on the road, plus, those clients’ neighbors see the same branded trucks over and over for a bonus repeat exposure.

#3. Value Contacts. As a marketer and copywriter, I spend a lot of time thinking about how I can convince clients to take action and buy. Nothing wrong with that. But Mike is a master of building trust and creating repeat business, and one of his secret sauce recipes is with high value contacts. What I mean is: he’ll contact his prospects and clients with a high-value, non-sales message.

Let’s say there’s a hurricane expected to blow through town. Mike will call his clients through a voiceshot and let them know about the impending storm, providing valuable non-selling tips that will help them.

Are there products that he could sell to these people? Yes. He sells generators and surge protectors and such. And some of his value-based marketing includes a soft offer for these services. But whether he offers something or not, he always leads with value.

This sets his home service company apart in a big way and embeds his company in the hearts of homeowners who come to see him as a protector of their interests. Sales can often seem to be an adversarial relationship but by leading with value Mike becomes an ally instead.

How can you apply this same strategy to your business? If you serve homeowners or businesses in a local area, then you can tell them about inclement weather. That’s a great start. No matter who you work for, there is important information that your audience needs to know — whether it’s a new law, a shifting trend, a big piece of news that affects them. Make sure you become the high-value go-to expert for your audience and you’ll embed yourself in their heart as an ally.

#4. Client Levels. This is another strategy I’ve heard of before, and even used in my business, but saw Mike take it to a whole new level.

Not all clients should be treated the same. Quite frankly, some clients need to be treated differently. One of the simplest ways to do this, that most businesses can apply to their sales funnels right away, is the ability to segment clients by the amount of money they spend in a year. The more money a client spends, the more time and effort you invest in serving them and creating a memorable experience for them.

Of course money might not be the only metric you use but it’s probably the easiest and fastest to apply. You may want to instead use something like profitability or ease-of-service so you tend to work with the clients who are the most enjoyable and rewarding to work with.

Start by segmenting your clients into different groups based on how much they spend with you (or by whatever metric you choose to use). Use ranges. For example, a client who spends $0 to $4,999 a year, a client who spends $5,000 to $9,999, a client who spends $10,000 to $24,999, etc. (The actual tiers depend on what you’re selling.)

Next, identify your base level of service, of products, of follow-up, etc. and assign that to your lowest tier of clients. Now figure out how you can bump that level of service, the quality or type of product, the type of follow-up, etc. and start assigning the higher levels of service to those higher tiers of clients.

One example that Mike uses is his thank-you gift. He provides each client with a thank-you gift. Lower tiered clients get a card, as the tiers increase there are other things such as cookies and donations made to charitable organizations.

#5. Framework For Service. This was a game-changer for me. A very big deal. Mike’s Framework For Service is his process that he uses to make sure every client is served to the highest level always. It works like this: Mike has written out in a step-by-step, minute-by-minute format how clients receive service from his service experts.

For example, the service expert will receive the work order and double-checks that they have the address and phone number. Then they’ll go to their truck and call the client and to confirm they’re on their way and to ask if the client wants them to pick up coffee on the way. They’ll arrive at the client’s house and immediately get out of the vehicle. If there’s a newspaper or a garbage can by the curb, they’ll bring it into the backyard. And so on.

It’s laid out step-by-step, minute-by-minute, just like a checklist. This is just what McDonald’s does too: they have a checklist or framework for every aspect of the client’s experience and it ensures that all clients get consistent service, and, that all clients get the highest level of service. It also helps the business owner to review the service that they’re delivering to clients and to see where there are opportunities to serve even more.

I started doing this in my business too, even though I primarily work online. As someone who thinks and writes about sales funnels all the time, this resonates with me deeply because it adds a layer of service to the entire process, ensuring that your sales funnel is not just about sales but about serving your clients to ultimately increase sales, generate repeat business, and receive more referrals.

To get started with powerful marketing strategy, just list out the steps in your business that you would take when a client contacts you, or your client would take to hire you and receive your service. Then detail what your team should do at each step, including scripts for them to say. Turn it into a checklist and test it out, refining as you go and revisiting it regularly to bump up your level of service.


Smart business people look beyond the confines of their own industry to find tips, secrets, and strategies from other industries that they can adapt and adopt into their own. And with my client Mike, I’ve done just that, taking his home service marketing ideas and using them in my own business. And you can too. These 5 strategies are very powerful and I’m actively working on them in my own business. How can you apply them in yours?

(Disclaimer: Mike is a client but I did not receive any financial compensation for this post. Rather, I wanted to share with you some powerful lessons that I’ve learned from working with Mike.)


Aaron Hoos, writerAaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He’s the author of several books, including The Sales Funnel Bible.

Here’s The Simple Way To Create A Competitive Advantage For A Promotion, New Job, Or To Start A Business

Aaron Hoos

Last year I was speaking to a group of people about how to get a competitive advantage. It was a mixed audience of professionals and college students, so I wanted to give them some practical ways that they could create a competitive advantage for themselves.

I ended up telling them this, off the cuff, near the end of the presentation and it was well-received and several people asked me to write it out and send it to them. So I did.

I’m including a version of that same information here. And the truth is, I give this same information to A LOT of people (not just those in that one presentation), and I use it for myself. It always pays off. I encourage you to use it.

This applies to anyone who has a job and wants a promotion, for anyone who wants to get a new job, and for anyone who wants to start a business or grow their business.

The Simple Way To Get A Competitive Advantage

Hey everyone,

For those who are graduating, entering a new educational program, or who aspire to a better job in a few years from now, here is a very effective strategy to give you a competitive advantage no matter what you want to do…

1. Start a blog. You can get them for free from blogging platforms like or (there are others places but those are the best two.) You can also pay for a blogging platform but it’s not necessary for what I’m suggesting.

2. Blog regularly about the job you WANT to have. For example, write about something you learned that could apply to the future job; ask a question and seek out the answer; share some reading you’ve done and research you’ve encountered; etc. If you’re bold, shoot the occasional video, post it on YouTube, and embed it into your blog. If you’re REALLY bold, find the experts in your field and interview them. There’s a lot more you could, too, but let’s keep it simple.

3. Keep at it! :) Keep at it for a couple of years. Plan for 5 years but you may start seeing some benefits from this even sooner. You don’t have to do a ton of work; 20-30 minutes a week is probably enough. (Of course you can do more but you also don’t want to burn out.) There will be times when you won’t want to blog but this strategy really only works when you persist. During this time, amazing things will happen: you’ll accelerate past your peers in your knowledge, you’ll build a small following of people who read your work and respect what you have to say, and you’ll grow a large body of work that may or may not apply to the job you’re doing now… but will most importantly, it will make you an expert for the job you want to have.

Note: you might wonder how you could possibly blog about a topic that you’re not already an expert in, or why others would even read that. But think of it this way: you don’t have to be an expert to start; you’re blogging about your journey of knowledge acquisition… and that’s exactly what other people want to read!

4. Publish. A few months before you start applying for your ideal job, gather together your best blog posts and turn those blog posts into chapters of a book. Then go to and publish your book. It doesn’t cost anything. The book will be sold on Amazon (and elsewhere).

5a. Apply for that promotion or job! Now start applying for that job. You will go into your job interview with an unparalleled depth of knowledge about your field, you’ll also have a following of people who view you as an expert, you’ll maybe have interviewed some industry experts too, and you’re the author of a book ABOUT the very topic of the job you’re applying for. Compared to the other applicants, you will be a rock star.

5b. Start that business. You’ll have a body of work already established, proof that you know what you’re talking about. You’ll be a subject matter expert simply by the fact that you’ve spent that long talking about it and exploring what others are saying. You’ll probably have an audience by this point. And, of course, you’ll have your first product — a book.

BONUS: Leverage. Although this is a long-term view and (at times) you will forget why you’re doing it or you will have trouble sticking with it, remember that this gives you many options. You can go into your interview as an expert and demand a potentially higher wage, in some situations you can pick up work on the side before you even get this new position, you’ll have a network of blog followers who you can reach out to when you want to get a job because they may know of an open position, you’ll make a bit of money off of your book, or you may even choose to branch out on your own and start your business in some situations. In short: this will give you a ton of options.

I actually gave similar advice on my blog a couple of times: Want To Start A Business Someday But Not Ready To Quit Your Job? Here’s What To Do, and, Here’s What You Should Do If You Want To Start A Business But Are Stuck In A Job.

So, think about what you want to be doing in 5 years from now, and start the easy, fun task of becoming a thought-leader today! Good luck!

5 Years??? Why So Long?

So, most people who hear this love the idea. It makes sense. It’s painless. It costs nothing but time. There’s a ton of upside and very little downside except for lost time.

But some people will read this and think: “Yikes! Five years is a long time. I want a competitive advantage right now.” Okay, fair enough. I get that. Well, I blog a lot about competitiveness and competitive advantage so just click here and read some of those blog posts.

But my opinion is: Things often take longer than we want them to. A lot of people in jobs may hope to advance by promotion to a better position in 2-3 years but in reality it takes them 3-4, for example. So 5 years might seem like a long time for you to benefit but it will go by in a flash and I think it’s fairly accurate in terms of how long things really take in life.

Fortunately, this plan is laid out in approximately 5 years but I think it can happen sooner — much sooner. I think you’ll start seeing traction in 1-2 years. Even in your immediate job you’ll start seeing things happen as you rise above your coworkers with your expertise. That will likely accelerate your schedule of growth.

Here’s The Sticking Point…

The hardest part will be sticking with it for that long. Five years is a long time. And there will be weeks when you don’t feel like writing. But trust me, your 5-years-from-now self will thank you for it. It will be challenging but you’ll be glad you did.

Here’s How To Take It To The Next Level

Maybe you’re not sure what you want to do in five years. Well, here’s a plan: Pick 2-5 topics and create a blog about each one. Is it more work? Yes. A lot more. But you’ll get the following benefits:


Five years seems like a long way off. But it will be here in a shot. So roll up your sleeves and get to work on developing your competitive advantage so that, when the future arrives, you’ll be perfectly positioned to benefit.


Aaron Hoos, writerAaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He’s the author of several books, including The Sales Funnel Bible.

Here’s The Right Way To Do Extended Warranties

Aaron Hoos

Extended warranties.

They suck, right?

I should know, I sold ’em too. (Well, I sold a type of them when I was doing leases.)

Look, we all what the deal is: extended warranties are high dollar gambles that most often sit as piles of cash in a giant vault and the Scrooge McDucks that sell extended warranties just swim around in the money.

Last time I bought a laptop, I knew exactly what I wanted before going into the store. I went in, got a clerk to get me the laptop, and then braced myself for the silliness that would follow.

It was a dance: The clerk gave all the lines and I tried not to roll my eyes while I heard things like, “My customers are always glad to have it,” and “You just never know,” and my personal favorite: “more and more computers are breaking down these days.” Then I say no. Then they ostensibly go talk to their manager and come back with a slightly lower quote because they like me. Then I say no again and they wish me well and send me to the cashier.

Same thing happens when I rent a car. And when I buy one. And when I buy any major electronic equipment or appliance.

Sure, the money is good for the companies selling them but let’s face it, extended warranties are silly:

  • They are rarely needed
  • If a circumstance arises where they are needed, they are often forgotten

… they’re basically cash. And customers know it. So you either end up with a customer who begrudgingly pays, or you end up with a customer who chooses not to pay but is still annoyed anyway because they have to put up with the BS of the extended warranty sale pitch.

Every knows it’s just a bump in the price of whatever product you’re selling.

And if ever there was an opportunity for a company to innovate on the financial side of their products, extended warranties is the opportunity.

So, when I was bought a new freezer recently, I was pleasantly surprised…

I chose the freezer and braced myself for the inevitable extended warranty pitch.

I got ready to say “no” until the salesperson added: “If you don’t use it, you get 100% of it back.

That changed everything.

… If I don’t use the extended warranty, I get 100% of it back.

It works like this: I pay now for the extended warranty coverage. The freezer is covered for 3 years from all the various things that the extended warranty covers. And at the end of 3 years, if I didn’t use it, I get the money back. (Mind you, I get them money back as a store credit.)

This is a small change but it’s huge. I think it’s smart. And I think more and more companies should adopt it as a strategy to sell their extended warranties.

  • It’s still pure cash that piles up in your Scrooge McDuck vault so you can swim in it.
  • A few people will use the warranty, most won’t.
  • Those that don’t use the warranty feel like the store owes them money and will make a purchase at that store in three years.

So, this small change in extended warranties is a simple play to increase your income now but also lock in customers who will likely come back and purchase more. Because, chances are, if they have $50 or $100 or $500 that they think is owed to them by the store, they’ll purchase far more than that amount in a future purchase.

I’ve written before about how most guarantees are weak and I wished companies would give their guarantees some teeth. And this is a powerful extended warranty strategy that more companies should adopt.


Aaron Hoos, writerAaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He’s the author of several books, including The Sales Funnel Bible.