Francis Santa was born on May 4th, 1959 in New York and grew up in Rye, New York. He graduated from Rye High School, then went on to attend General Motors Business School and graduated in 1983. He then attended the University of Hartford, where he graduated in 2005. He has also completed his legal assistant/paralegal certificate from Blackstone Career Institute and received his certificate in July of 2018. Francis was in the car business for more than 10 years; during that time he owned and operated a General Motors franchise (Pontiac) in Norwalk, Connecticut. Francis Santa is currently the Founder of Business Image Lift, an online reputation management company whose mission is centered around helping both companies and individuals who have been victims of negative online content. Business Image Lift was founded in 2016, and recently celebrated its fifth year in business. Francis Santa is very proud of his business and of the work that he and his team do every day. He takes great care with each and every one of his clients and takes the time to really get to know each client and their unique issues. As a result, he has been able to help hundreds of people regain control of their lives.
Francis has been happily married for over 30 years and has 3 children and has recently welcomed two grandchildren into his family. He is also an animal lover who adores his dog and is active in many animal welfare groups. He is also very active in the Jewish Community and is involved in many community service projects. Two things that Francis Santa still enjoys since childhood are cars and music, and in his free time his hobbies include running, watching tv and movies, and spending time with his family. He enjoys his family time the most, and considers himself incredibly lucky for all of the love and support they have given him.
How did you get started in this business?
Business Image Lift originally started as a concept back in 2011. Having had my own struggles with internet content, I wanted to find a way to take down harmful postings for others. After years of different ideas and research into how to realize those ideas, I finally created a new way to remove negative content using the legal system that had not yet been implemented before. In 2016, Business Image Lift was launched and the rest is history.
How do you make money?
I make money through my business, of course. Clients hire us for any number of reasons, and depending on their unique situation we assess what services would be the most helpful for each of them. However, we are in the business of helping people, so we keep our prices as low as possible to ensure that the work will be done effectively, but that we are also available to anyone who may need our help. I count on keeping the business going through happy customers who want to refer the people they know back to us, not through price gouging our current clients.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
It did not take me too long to become really profitable, but it did not happen overnight either. The first year or so was fairly slow, but the clients that I did have were very happy and were referring many of their friends and family to me. Through those referrals, I started to gain more and more business. Sometimes, it feels like one day I looked up and we had hundreds of clients all of the sudden. Others, I remember every call, email, and contract that it took to get from our first client to where we are today.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
There was never a time where I doubted myself or my work. However, there have been plenty of times where I have had to set my pride aside and realize that I couldn’t reach my goal the way I had originally intended. Sometimes you have to step back and look at the bigger picture to see what’s missing. Being able to take that step back and accept that you weren’t headed in the right direction is key to then being able to start down the right path.
How did you get your first customer?
My first customer was a doctor who I signed up through a phone call. I had seen them on the news and had seen all of the horrible press about them, but when I did my own research I found that many details seemed exaggerated or spurious. So I called the doctor and explained what my business was and got their side of the story. Similar to what I had been through, this doctor was unfairly being run through the muk. They agreed to sign on with me after the call and, thankfully, I was able to help them with their issues.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
One effective strategy is researching current events and reaching out to those involved to see if they would be interested in working with us. Not only does it keep us informed on the potential clients, but it also helps us to gauge how helpful we can be to them. We do not make sales calls, we simply reach out and let them know that we are here if they need us. More often than not, they are very happy to hear from us and start the process.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
In my business, one of the hardest decisions that I always have to make are usually a matter of ethics. Occasionally, a potential client will come to me for help and, upon further investigation, I find out that they may have lied or that they may be a repeat offender or a similar circumstance. While I hate turning people away, I also cannot help someone who is still a risk to their community. It’s always tough to say we can’t help someone, but it is much better than accidentally assisting someone in continuing to commit a crime.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
What makes us so successful is that we care so much about our clients. When you take a real interest in them as people instead of as a name in an article, it inspires a relationship based on trust. This is what keeps us happy as well as our clients. When our clients trust us to get the job done, they can sleep better and so can we.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I have had too many incredible moments to name just one as the most satisfying, but what comes to mind now is when we moved from our last office to the one that we are currently in. We had to move so that we could have more space, and it was one of the moments where it hit me that I had built a successful business. We had more work, more people, and more to keep track of than ever before. Walking into our new office space and seeing that it was set up for so many people, it really felt like I had officially made it.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
Right now, there is no plan set in stone for the business. Because of the nature of what we do, we are discovering new tools and coming up with new ideas every day. That being said, we do know that we will continue to hold true to our values and continue helping people and businesses reclaim control of their reputations and of their lives. Our hope, and what excites me the most, is to see how all of these new techniques and ideas come together to help us and our clients.
What business books have inspired you?
One of my favorites is “Awaken the Giant Within” by Tony Robbins. Reading that book gave me a new perspective on how my actions affect the world around me. I have taken many of his tips and applied them in my own life, and I can really see the difference. It is one book that I would highly recommend for anyone starting a business.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
If anything, I would say “keep going and trust the process.” There have been plenty of hills and valleys on the road to building my business into what it is today, and there have been many times when I was tempted to just give up or make changes that I didn’t believe were right. However, I kept pushing and stayed true to myself and to my values. In the end, I have built this incredible business on my own from the ground up and can look back on those trials with gratitude for how they pushed me toward where I am today.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
Yes, I am willing to be a mentor. The best way to contact me is through LinkedIn