198 – How to buy an under performing business (for $10k!) and turn it in to a multi-million dollar empire.

198 – How to buy an under performing business (for $10k!) and turn it in to a multi-million dollar empire.

Martin Halphen was extremely unhappy as a lawyer, busting his gut for a suburban Melbourne firm with little reward. But instead of letting that incompatibility with his work destroy him, he decided to make a change, bought a two man fruit delivery business for ten grand and over time turned it into The Fruit Box,  that now delivers 700,000 pieces of fruit to offices around Australia each week, with a turnover of 40 million bucks!

As you’ll discover in this week’s podcast, it was Martin’s ability to know his own strengths and play to them that has really made The Fruit Box a success. He saw the opportunities that the internet would bring during the late 1990s, but it was his knowledge of logistics, delivery, and creating a robust back end that has given The Fruit Box the competitive advantage to become such a ‘fruitful’ venture (sorry, I just had to do it!)

We also get into ideas of customer psychology, brand extension, and patience in small business – so listen up to Episode 198 of Australia’s biggest marketing podcast!


In this session of Small Business Big Marketing, you’ll discover:

  • How Martin Halphen played to his strengths to create a multi-million dollar fruit delivery business.
  • Why the back end of any online business is just as important as the front end.
  • Why it is important to have patience as a business owner – you can’t create a multi-million dollar business overnight.
  • How the internet can give business owners the power to test new concepts and ideas again and again.
  • Why it is so important to understand the physchology of your consumer, and to shape your messaging around those psychologies.
  • Why selling fruit and milk isn’t really about selling fruit and milk at all – it’s about selling a service.
  • How Martin has created a fruit delivery business that now delivers 700,000 pieces of fruit each week across Australia.
  • Why being unhappy in your job is not worth it, and you need to find something in your work life that boosts your self esteem.
  • Why it is so important to have as much control over your supply chain as you possibly can.

Episode Timeline

  • 4.00 Thanks to Telstra for actually responding to my customer inquiry emails!
  • 8.45 I answer some listener emails and let you know where you can find the best copywriters.
  • 12.00 Sort out your online footprint beyond your website with help from Netregistry.
  • 13.30 Introducing this week’s guest, Martin Halphen, owner of fruit delivery business, The Fruit Box. First of all, he tells us all about his incompatability with his first job as a lawyer.
  • 16.00 Martin was inspired by the internet boom, but realised his real strengths were in logistics and distribution.
  • 20.00  Martin bought a small fruit delivery business and saw opportunity for expansion – the infrastructure became the business.
  • 24.30 The power of flyers – Martin printed out 1500 flyers and secured 30 clients at the beginning of his business.
  • 28.30 Martin talks ambition and wanting to create something cash flow positive – he never expected to own a business with $40 million turnover.
  • 30.00 Martin’s patience in growing The Fruit Box. It was no overnight success.
  • 36.00 I talk staff retention with Martin. What are the things that really make employees feel happy and secure?
  • 39.00 Martin talks me through one Fruit Box Journey – a seamless journey that means all customers have to do is sign an invoice once a month.
  • 40.30 We talk supply chain and the importance of controlling as much of that chain as you possibly can.
  • 43.30 The key to nailing your online footprint – test and then test some more.
  • 45.00 Martin talks brand extenstions and the challenges of making customers aware of his new ventures.
  • 51.00 My top three takeaways of Marketing GOLD from my fireside chat with Martin.

Resources and Links Mentioned in this Episode


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Over to you!

Let us know YOUR key takeaways from this episode by leaving a comment below. I personally read and respond to every comment!

6 thoughts on “198 – How to buy an under performing business (for $10k!) and turn it in to a multi-million dollar empire.”

  1. Simon Clarke

    Only realised halfway through that our milk delivery was done by the Milk Box! I thought there would have been more competition than there actually is. Well done Martin

  2. LOL Simon! We often think that every single category is highly competitive, then every now and then, a business comes along like Milk Box to fill a need that just isn’t being filled by others. Maybe they need to up their branding given you didn’t know it was them who was delivering your milk?

  3. Simon Clarke

    seems that way doesn’t it! I think possibly a more streamlined branding, as I assumed corporate box and milk box were two different companies..

  4. Emma Clisby

    First time podcast I listened to in my car (long 1hr commute each way to work) so the time frame fits in well. I have a very long story behind what I do and what my business is but I just wanted to say thanks for some great insights especially since it touched home a bit in why I started my business – in that I’m unhappy with what I’m doing in my day job. Further to this I was wondering able if you have interviewed the guy behind blackmilk clothing yet? I’m a bit of a fan of his product but what I find most interesting is marketing roll out for new clothing lines or themes. I feel like he has got it down pat but id really be interested in hearing from the horses mouth his journey. 🙂 cheers from Emma #MargaritasandMasterpieces

  5. Hey Emma … welcome to the tribe. Black Milk interview? Hell yeah! – //smallbusinessbigmarketing.com/marketing-podcast-blackmilk-cameron-parker/

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