The ServiceLegend Podcast – Episode #32 – From Remodeling to Floor Coating Success W/ Lee Baker


Well, welcome back, everybody, to another episode of the Service Legend Podcast. I have a real treat for you guys today. Someone that we just got done talking about a bunch of things, someone that I look up to that’s leading the industry and is doing a lot more than you guys probably are even aware of in this space and so excited. Lee Baker, welcome to the podcast.

Thanks, Ryan. Thanks for having me.

Yeah, man, absolutely. Everyone’s super excited about this. I mean, I was talking to Marco, our CMO here, just like 20 minutes ago, and there’s been more shares around the podcast event on Facebook than any other podcast. So you’re a fan favorite by now. So for those of you that don’t know Lee, Lee has been in the construction industry since 1995, which is nuts because I was born in 93. So guys, this guy’s got something to tell here. He’s got experience. He started with residential remodeling and restoration, and he later founded Restoration with Design, which expanded to include floor coatings services under the brand. Your one day floor dotcom. Lee and his wife have five children and enjoy camping and swimming as a family. They’re active in the church community and in their community in general. You go follow them on Instagram, on Facebook, you’ll see everything that they’re up to. And Lee has a passion for his work, hoping to provide the best solutions for his clients. Man, I am stoked for this one and I want to go in so many different directions with you. We probably have to do a second one just on the dealer model that you have as well. But I want to try to focus today on on on you. And I know you like to talk about not just the wins, but the the the bad, the ugly, as well as as a business owner. The struggles that come with running a business, managing a team and things like that. And I know you have a lot of failures and lessons learned along the way, so we’ll dive into all of that. But if you could just give everyone an intro, I like to start with before your one day floor and you probably can dip into the remodeling space. But like before that, even, like what were you up to? Like, like, were you in sales? Like, were you, you know, were you in like more the marketing side, more of a technician side? Just give everyone kind of an intro of kind of how you kind of like scaled up their.

Yeah. So basically, you know, like you said in 95, I graduated and kind of got it right into remodeling and kind of did that have my own business right out of high school as an entrepreneur. So kind of had that itch at a young age, but then started my family needed something more secure for my family to support them, and then it just kind of kept working my way. I work for a company and I’m always somebody that’s always looking for the next challenge. No matter where I worked, I was always just continuously moved up really quick in the businesses. So I worked, you know, got into the remodeling and restoration world. That was probably one of my biggest accomplishments I worked at. Ficker had a really good mentor. There was Mike Bacevich, so he worked alongside of me and you know, it was just awesome to work underneath him. He, he, him and his wife gave me a lot of opportunities there just to they seen the potential in me and it was awesome to be able to work underneath him and just move my way up from I started there as like this. I forget what they call it, like a project coordinator, where I was basically just going to take like projects and and install them. And I was working underneath this project manager who he was supposed to sell them. And after we were all stuck in like with my designer and there was like three of us in this ten by ten room, and I was like, you know, all we did was go in there every day and it was like he couldn’t sell anything.

And I’m like, What are we going to do here? Like, I don’t have a job if you can’t sell anything, right? Like, I just kind of was like, Hey, I’m going to take some of these leads and go run them. And I’m like, So this guy was like a home builder that I was working under, and I was like in the remodeling industry. And so I took some leads home with me. They were on my way home and I went and sold some and I was like, finally I got something to do. And, and so I was like, within like two weeks of that, like they’re like, No, you’re not a project coordinator. You’re like a project manager. You need to be the estimator now and then, you know, that’s where it is like, did that and then like, you know, I was like maybe 2 to 3 years later, they’re like, you know, no, you need to work like right with Mike, like be his side person. And it was just a really good experience that I got to be working there basically, you know, went into operations manager was running like their water department, their contents division, overseeing their contents division. You know, through that period, I started out and like remodeling restoration, built their design build firm. So I’ve done everything from kitchens and bathroom additions, high end remodels from start to finish.

And I’ve always been somebody that always looks at schedules and compresses them like, you give me a challenge and say, Hey, this takes 12 weeks, I’m going to finish it in eight. It’s just kind of my nature that I was always just striving to see what’s next, always looking ahead. And so, you know, I worked worked for them for a while and then worked for another restoration firm that was like in 2008 might come to me and it’s like, Hey, you know, we want to keep you here. You need a job, you know, remodeling. We just had the stock market’s crash. We, we had a backlog of of like eight crews for like seven or eight months. You know, it was like in September when that happened. We were backlogged into, I think probably January. And by October we had no work. And he was like, hey, like, I’ll teach you the way, like just come with me. And and we learn the restoration world. So it was it was really cool to have that opportunity and grow there. So basically from there I worked a restoration. Kind of always had this itch for wanting to be an entrepreneur again and was remarried. And now I had like five kids. I had two of my own and then three my wife Kimberly. And so it was just like, you know, hey, it’s it’s time to like, you know, take care of this family working, you know, as a project manager for a restoration company.

Her and I went to Nashville and we kind of was at this home. There’s like a remodeling show for like deck builders and expos and come across the booth there and there’s like this one day floor system. And I was like, Yeah, let me check this out. And I remember like, I couldn’t sleep that night. It was like, so excited. Like I went back, went back to the booth and I’m like, Hey, like, are you sure you got me down for that training course? Like, I want to know more, like, right now. Like, this was like, so, so legit. Like, I was, like, just so happy. And my wife’s like, sure, you can go back and talk to them again, just, like, bring me back some more free t shirts. You know, I’m going to stay here at the hotel and I just wanted to know more about it. I was so intrigued and I it just like it clicked with me, like from day one and when I was in the working for a ficar, like we had a large contents facility and Mike was like, Hey, we want to be able to eat off this floor. We want this to be like the showroom. Because when people had a fire, we wanted to bring them in, do a tour, show them how well we could take care of their contents, their personal belongings, cleaning them and restoring them.

And so it was like it just I did that same floor system in there. So I’d worked with it once before and I kind of enjoyed doing it then, but it was just kind of very intriguing to me and that’s kind of what started the whole year one day floor. So it was actually sitting in training class and it was like, you know, I actually sketched out on a notebook paper like our logo and asked, you know, ask the lady there was like, Hey, can you like scan this and email it to this lady so she can draft up our logo. And we’ve had that now as we go into our sixth year. And so we’re just now starting to work on a little bit of a rebrand with Dan, so it’s awesome to go through that experience as well. So yeah, I’ve done, I’ve done everything from swinging the hammer to selling the jobs to, you know, overseeing operations management all the way through. So it’s like I’ve been in war every hat within my business and even starting it from zero kind of just left. My job started this. And, you know, looking back now, you know, we grew to where we doubled last year from 4 to 8, eight crews. And we’re looking to probably hit about ten this year, 10 to 12. We’ll see what what we want to do and what’s in the future for for what I want to do as well.

That’s an absolutely incredible. Real quick, before I go on, if you guys are alive, if you could put in the comments, hashtag live and then if you’re on the replay, put in hashtag replay as well. If you want to let us know where you’re tuning in from the city or the state, that would be awesome as well. And then we might have time for some questions. So if you have any questions for Lee, put them in the comments. If you don’t answer them, answer them here live. We can go back in to the group. I’m sure Lee will go back through and things like that. Just real quick, have you ever taken a Colby test?

Not specifically.

It’s it’s the it’s the Colby test. And we have everyone take it. But like measures like Quickstart in your follow through and different things based on everything that like your experience I imagine you have like a high quickstart like me like a lot of us entrepreneurs. But what’s interesting is I think in most home service industries, especially concrete coatings or painting or remodeling, I think a lot of the business owners get created from being a technician working at the companies want to start their own thing. Very similar story. And now we see I mean, I mean, as you see now to a lot more coming into the spaces, you’ve got more entrepreneurs coming into the space that haven’t owned or haven’t done, like the production work or or as for as many hats as you have, I really think that speaks to what you’re doing now and the success now based on just you knowing every aspect of the business. What I noticed too, about your your story is it seems like you were always dominating what you were doing, like you never settle for being average or just anything like that. Like you always wanted excellence and you saw these all these opportunities along the way and you had that itch to be an entrepreneur.

But you always saw these opportunities and always wanted more, not only for yourself. I heard it a couple of times, but for your family, which is really, really cool. And that’s what we’re all about. You know, the more profit, more freedom, more impact, because without the profit. Without money, you can’t really have a lot of freedom because you’re doing everything yourself and you’re pulling your hair out every day, doing the sale, doing the estimating. But once you kind of establish a team and you get more freedom not to do nothing, but now you can create impact and create upward mobility for the team. I mean, going from 4 to 8 crews, there’s so much opportunity for your team now that you’ve chosen to be excellent. So I really love that about you, that you don’t settle for being being average. I think his name is Michael Gerber talks about average sucks, so average does suck. But if you can speak to that a little bit, like why does being average not cut it for you? Like, why did you want more out of life? And and then the business going from 4 to 8. Cruz Just speak to that a little bit for us.

Yeah I mean me as an individual I’m fairly content like it’s you know, I don’t really have a lot of, you know, extravagant needs and stuff like my for me, like it’s it’s always been like what can my impact be to others? And that was that was pretty much what sparked my interest when we started working with other dealers and teaching them and, and training them, it was like, not so much what’s in it for me, but, you know, it’s like, so it’s been so awesome to be able to see all of these other businesses start based off of just me, you know, coming into a space that it never existed in, you know, pressure, washing, window washing. And it’s like there’s, you know, franchises built, you know, based off of what we’ve been able to do, you know, several. So it’s just it’s awesome to just see, you know, the trickle down effect of like everybody that’s been able to impact. And I think that’s kind of like why it just keeps me pushing for more and to be around other people and seeing them grow. And that’s been the best part of having a team of my own is I get to be able to interact with them daily. I get to be able to see them accomplish their goals and, you know, just kind of see them start in life. A lot of times we hire these younger guys that don’t have really much of of anything that they’ve worked for previously. It’s just a lot of times their first job. So it’s been awesome to see them get their first home, see them get engaged, even we get married and so forth. So it’s been pretty awesome to be able to be a part of that.

Yeah, absolutely. And I was talking to Tommy, I talked to me a lot and he said that he saw you the other day and he always talks about this concept of like initially when we start businesses, especially in home service or whatever you do, you have a dream big enough for you or your family. But once you start scaling, you have to make a decision. As a business owner, am I going to really be professional? Am I going to create systems and build a team? And we can dip into the struggle side because it’s not easy. A lot of times they see what everyone’s doing and it’s like, Oh, like Lee’s doing this and Tommy’s doing this and all these guys are doing this. And you know, they basically just see the highlight reel on Instagram. You know, that’s kind of like the term. But Tommy talks about now the vision is bigger for 1000 people, over 2000 people. And so that’s amazing that you really expanded the horizons not only for you and your family because you’ve already mastered that, but who can I do it for now? And that’s that impact side that I really love about you. But just dip into the beginning in the origin of your one day floor. So you kind of went to that event, You saw it, you liked it, you loved it. You had that quick start. So you created all this stuff right away. And for those of you that don’t know, Lee’s like an automation genius, too. So he, like, he just understands the business really well and how to maximize it. Schedule optimization. But that wasn’t how it started, I imagine. But just maybe take us through like the first year and kind of how you kind of ramped into into the space there.

Oh yeah. I mean, our first year, like it was a struggle I guess sucked like, I mean.

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. It wasn’t easy the first year.

No way. Like, you know, I think the the most excited I ever was about for coding was the two days when I was standing in that booth wanting to do it. You know, from then on, it was just like it was just like this huge roller coaster up and down. It was like, you know, like we did our first job like four times and it just like, you know, we’re out there with this vacuum and it’s like, you know, the filters aren’t working. It’s just like every everything you can think of that can go wrong will go wrong. And it’s just like it’s it’s been, you know, when when we were starting out, like it was just, you know, myself, a couple of guys, you know, they were they were basically managers from McDonald’s. And, you know, that was really what started this business was I was trying to find something for them to do. And my whole my whole thought process was, hey, I can I can sell these floors and I could sell them on the weekends or, you know, and I can I can get a truck, have these guys operate and run these crews. You know, run a crew. And you know that with me just getting remarried, having five kids like that will be the extra additional income that would help support our family, you know, because you get you know, when you’re working for somebody like you just get what you make, you know, And that’s kind of the thing of an entrepreneur is like you always have way to create more funds for yourself.

You know, just go out and do something, work harder, find another the next big thing, work on it. You know, you’re not tied to like, Hey, here’s your paycheck. And so that was really what was inspiring me to do this was to help offset my income, you know, with a new family that was larger, but also to be able to provide back to these two guys and like, see them better their lives and get out of McDonald’s and start feeling better about themselves, you know, in their career. So but yeah, I mean, it was just just like the three of us. And then, you know, we we just progressed we moved out of my garage and had this little like corner, like it was like an auto auto dealer. Like it was just basically this just like a one car garage. And I kind of went into the space with another lady because she needed the parking and I just needed the garage, you know, just to get out of my house so we could have a place to park a few more trailers because we got into like a storage trailer and so forth for customers. And, you know, I was like about six months later, the same lady that we signed the lease with, she was like no subleasing. And she, like, kicked us out basically. And so we just moved everything back into the garage. And then it was like within 30 days.

I mean, I imagine I said, Well, I won’t cut you off, but I imagine if you guys are listening, like, things don’t go perfect in the beginning. No.

No, no.

And going back to the garage, it reminds me of like, you know, someone moving out as a kid, right? And then you move back to your parent’s house, right? It’s like I mean, I imagine that that was that was probably pretty discouraging.

Yeah. Yeah, it is. It was. And it’s just like it’s what makes us who we are. That’s our story. Like, it’s awesome because, you know, here I found like, a lot, you know, like within about 30 days, there’s just this town in our lot in our town is like kind of small and there’s like residential area and just, there’s like a lot that zone, like light industrial. And I’m like, okay, how much is this? It had like this old shack like this, and it was stayed on Google Earth images for like a while after we bought it and where when we were hiring people, like they would say like, you know, they would want to drive by and see what the building was because on Google Earth is still have this old like just shed that was falling over it looks like pretty horrific and but.

Our foot and they drive by and they’re like what?

Yeah. So we we ended up building our building here and just, just thinking through those struggles, like it was like the first six months, like we just, you know, we worked with Home Advisor, we were getting some leads and I was like, you know what? There’s this fair. Like, I’m going to just go set up at this fair. And, you know, we were down to like our last few leads and it’s like, how do we advertise? How do we, you know, we’re trying to put everything together in this business. And we went and ran a fair. And it’s it’s like, it’s like this huge fair in our area. And I think we we sold like 38 jobs out of that fair. And I just sat at that booth. I did not leave that booth. My wife was like bringing me food and I was just like wanting to talk to everybody because like, you know, the things that you do and your back’s up against the wall, like you’re going to, you’re going to tear, you’re going to claw, you’re going to fight through and make it, you know? And that’s just kind of where I was is like, we got to make this work. But, you know, like right before that, two weeks before that, I’m like, I’m done. Like, I remember calling, you know, Larry in like Indianapolis. And then he was like, just getting in, like he was just starting. He come and, like, shadowed with me on two jobs and I call him like the next week, I’m like, I’m done. So you could come by all my stuff. Have you bought anything yet? I was like, And he’s like, I remember sitting on my porch and he’s like, No, I just ordered all my stuff. He’s like, You can’t quit. And it was just like, weird, you know? So it was Larry.

By the way, who’s Who’s Larry?

Larry Gibson. He’s in he’s in Indianapolis. So But well.

Shout out to Larry for telling you to Larry. Larry’s a big piece of this story, man. I just found out. So shout out to Larry for not letting Lee quit, man. That’s awesome.

Yep. Yep. So it was just those things, you know, you you put you know, you put people around you that support. Caught you. And it’s it’s cool when you get down, you’re like, Hey, you got this. And that’s all I really needed at that point, you know? But it’s it’s just a struggle in this industry, you know, a lot lot of times looking up from the outside, you know, people see floor coatings and they see all of our ads on Facebook and we get you know, we were featured in an Upwork video or a flip video, and it’s just like we have people calling us constantly wanting to know how they can get training and stuff. But it’s just, you know, it’s like we’ve kind of switched from just going out and teaching them how to do it to we we actually have now a two day class. It’s a discovery class that we spend two days trying to talk them out of doing it. And then it’s like, you know, if you got the fire, the grit and the determination to make it through that class and you still want to do it, then we’ll look at teaching you. So we’ll get you out in the field and show you how to do it.

I love that because there are so many companies that don’t focus on what happens after the training. You know, it might be just about product or I’ll sign up any dealer who cares type of environment. And I know that you spend a lot of time one on one and the phone calls, but so like in the beginning, it sounds kind of like you were like really good at the sales and the marketing side pretty early on, which is as you probably know, I mean, I see it all the time. We see it in the Facebook groups all the time in this industry, guys starting and then four months later selling their equipment, you know, and it could be a number of things, right? I mean, there’s a plethora of things, whether it’s business acumen or or what have you. But a lot of those guys are technicians or installers that are now trying to do their own thing. They get their equipment, but they they don’t know how to find the right leads. They don’t have the right funds in place for like the first 3 to 6 months for marketing. So they’re not budgeting for it properly. And then even if they get a ton of leads, they don’t know how to convert the leads into appointments or sell them. But it sounds like that’s something that you really figured out early on. Is that kind of how it went down for you?

Yeah. I mean, it’s. Yeah, it was just, you know, when I did the home show or did the fair started getting some leads. I just, I’ve always just built relationships kind of with my customers. You know, when we started out, like, it was just, you know, reviews, reviews, reviews is like, all I wanted the customer to know is like, you know, I had this philosophy, like the review meant more to me than getting the check. And I told customers that. And I would just I would like, beg for reviews. I would do anything. You know, I was just like, you know, please just leave us a review. And and, you know, I think we have well over 150 reviews and stuff now. But, you know, probably, I don’t know, probably around 60 of those were me being in the field, doing the installations and begging for the reviews. And, you know, like, I’m always on my career. I’m like, you know, you’ll never catch up with the number of reviews I have, you know, and just drives them, pushes them. But it’s it’s just, you know, that was kind of part of my sales.

Like if I got my reviews up, you’re building your name, you know, you’ve got social proof, you’re building your reputation. And it’s it’s like, you know, we we take care of the customers. You know, it’s it’s all, you know, everything is marketing. Everything is you know, if you look at a customer complaint, like we turn it into a marketing, you know, if a customer has an issue with a job, like we’re going to go out and we’re going to show them like, you know, we’re going to run towards problems, not away from them and give us a chance to show what kind of company we are. And, you know, and I and I that’s from top down like everybody in our business. You know, when I survey our employees, they’re like, you know, what makes us unique, What makes us different? And they’re just like, you know, we will take care of our customers. So they just see it. But it’s, you know, yeah, a lot of sales and marketing is is fun.

When does that click for you? Because so it sounds like early on that was a little bit slower. But I mean with what you guys do now and so how long have you guys been in business again, your one day before.

Yeah. So it’s five years. We’re on our six year now.

Which is incredible. Guys, if you’re getting into the concrete coding industry, I mean, it is it’s it’s booming still. I don’t care about the R word or what the government is up to or what China is up to with balloons and stuff like that. This probably will get flagged on YouTube now, but it doesn’t matter what’s going on. I mean, Lee’s been in the business for a long for a long time. There are so many people that are so new. I believe that this industry will be as big as HVAC and will have associations over the next 5 to 10 years with guys like you in the front pushing this industry. But when did that click for you? Like the marketing thing, Like was that like 18, 19, 20? Like when was it that it clicked for you and you were like, Wow, Like, if I just spend the right money in marketing and I can convert these leads, like this thing is going to blow up.

Yeah, it was. Yeah. I mean, it was probably more like Jeff, you know, jumped in and he ran some ads for us, like probably, I mean, it was probably about after a year or eight months that we were in business. And I reached out to him, Jeff Gear, and was like, Hey, can you, can you help us with some Facebook? And so I had hired him to run some ads. And I remember my my office manager, she’s like, I don’t know what you’re doing, but like this, like we just keep getting all these messages. I’m like, just keep answering them. You know, they’re going to be coming more. And, you know, he would say, Hey, you know, I put so much money on this. And he’s like, Do you need more? You need less. What do you need? And, you know, it’s like, you know, I would tell them like, hey, a little bit more. I was like, okay, well, let’s back off. But it really started, you know, just to push the pedal a little bit, you know, by getting some consistency and and me like being the automations nut that I was like, I went in and like, went in Mobile Monkey and I had all these automated responses and, and Jeff’s like, I don’t know about that, you know, at that time.

And, but I was actually converting like, messages into appointments and never talking to people. And I was like, That’s pretty neat. You know, I can because I was out in the field working. I was like, I can’t answer all these messages. My guys, every time, they’re like hand grinding. They’re looking up like I’m on my phone, you know, like responding to Facebook messages, setting appointments. And it was, you know, we were we were working. We would run estimates like, you know, while the product was drying. And then I would have to take them with me to like three or four estimates. At the end of the day, like we were just grinding it out, like making making the business work. So but yeah, it’s pretty much at that point, you know, a lot of it, I kind of, you know, like I said, would kind of push the push on the gas a little bit and had more lead flow. And before I knew it, we had just a lot of people following us on Facebook. And it just takes time to really build it. But know we have several different marketing sources now and. You know, Facebook still one of the biggest drivers for us.

Yeah, I love that. I like what you said, too, about the grinding side of like just the hustle side. We do private coaching with our clients now twice a week and I run that and we just talk everything about what we’re talking now. We’re masterminding, we’re figuring things out, we’re helping each other. And there were someone that came on for the first time earlier this week and it’s like just him and he’s just starting out. And it reminds me of this right here, and I’m going to tell him on Tuesday. But like, it’s that grind. I’m going to send this podcast to him, but it’s that grind. It’s like, yeah, you know, I know you’re doing installs, you know, I know that you’re doing the sales as well, dude. But like if you can just get down and dirty for a little bit, I mean, you can end up with eight crews up in the day if that’s what you want. And I love all of this, man. Guys, if you don’t take anything away from this, take this away. The review means more than the check, right? Customer success means more than you have in a fat wallet, right? Like, it’s so important because that fat wallet will come. But if you take care of the customer first, you take care of your team first, and you really serve them like Lee’s doing. I mean, anything is, is is possible. Lee, if you could speak to some of the struggles, the good, bad and the ugly that you experienced, just some of the specific things that you feel like you want to share, that you experience that that others might be experiencing in the industry.

Man, I don’t know. There’s you know, like I said, that in the first six months, it was like really challenge of, you know, we tried to do mix with remodeling. I’m like doing this kitchen remodel. And then we would go out and do like a couple of floors. And I was like, Look, I’m just going to stop, like doing one or the other and I’m going to focus on it. And it was when I focused on like floor coatings only and just like got rid of the remodeling, we could focus on being successful, you know, And we don’t do any we don’t do metallic floors. We do flight floors, like, that’s it. We stock 15 colors. Sure, we’ll do custom colors for people, but we’re only taking them samples and showing them 15. And so it was like, you know, at first when you’re first starting out, you’re going to try everything and you’re going to ruin everything. So like, just just try to be make things simple niche down in your market and you’ll you’ll find success When you focus on one thing, it’s it’s you know, it’s just you know, there’s just several different struggles that we had just trying to get started out like when we was, you know, had to leave there.

And then we found this lot like, man, I had this lot and I needed a building. It’s like, what am I going to do? Our business was only just like three of us, one crew, you know, we wasn’t even two years in business. And so how are you going to get loans and stuff like this? So it’s just like, you know, probably probably wasn’t like the smartest move, but like, paid off like ten fold for me. Like, I maxed out every personal credit card I had drain like any type of resource I could get money from and just put it all into this building and, you know, through these doors of this building, you know, has walked like not just like our technicians, not just our employees, but we’ve been able to like, you know, see people start their own businesses and chase their own dreams of getting into this industry. And it’s like never would have thought, you know, at that at that point when I was building this building, it had three bays and then it had our office. And I’m like, Man, if we get the three crews like I am set for life, like this is my ultimate dream. And, you know, it wasn’t even like two years later, like it was probably about a year and a half to two years, we had this building built.

Like I said, I maxed out all of my personal credit. My credit score was down in the three hundreds, like I couldn’t I couldn’t do anything. And all I all I could do was like I had to fight hard. And again, my back was against the wall. And I just I paid off like all of that within about 3 to 4 months, paid back all, all of our personal debt and was able then to like, refinance this building. And we built a 5000 square foot shop. So it was just like, you know, you take those risk in business and, you know, there’s there’s many people that wouldn’t have done that. They’re like, No, I can’t do that because of this or that. Well, you know, you can sit on your hands or you can do something about it, and it’s just up to you to make that choice of if you’re going to take on that risk. So, you know, I don’t know. They’ve paid off for me. Maybe some day they’re not going to pay off, but I just continue to take the risk.

Yeah, you never gave up, you know, And that’s the biggest thing here. When you own a business, especially a contract business, new industry, a lot of education involved, a lot of marketing involved in the beginning to to buy lead. This is a burning turn lead business. I mean, it’s not like HVAC garage doors where you can you know, you can I mean, if you sell it back, you can sell plumbing. If you sell plumbing, you can sell HVAC, you have these memberships, you have these this ecosystem where you can do repairs and you can kind of do these things through the year. And yes, you can get repeat business from from our customers. It happens all the time, but it’s not nearly as often. So you really you’ve really have to get after it, which you did. Could you share with us a little bit more about like like the things that you guys are doing now to achieve the level of success and maintain what you’re doing now? Because 4 to 8 cruises, I mean, you’re talking at least six or seven technicians, maybe a couple of office staff to support the the doubling. Could you speak to us a little bit how you’re keeping the boat pushing forward, how you’re keeping things moving forward from just from a marketing perspective and a sales perspective, kind of what you guys are up to there?

Yeah, I mean, a lot of it is just structuring your organization where you have the right people in place on the bus. So, you know, I would encourage anybody, if they haven’t really invested the time and traction and looking at the US system. That’s been one of our big pushes. So, you know, you basically start by allowing your technicians to be able to have somebody that they can report to, and then that person reports to production manager and production manager reports the ownership. So you build out these steps of people reporting and you have to make a scorecard like everybody needs to, needs to know like, what are they shooting for? Like what is their part in the game? And it really wasn’t until, like my employees, like, really started to see that vision of, like, where do they fit in? And you get everybody like rowing in the same direction that you really start to see things come together. You know, I’ve made some failures. You know, we all have like there’s there’s been things that’s happened to us, you know, or I haven’t been the best communicator to my team in the past. And it’s like you’ve got to you’ve got to do that no matter what. You know, no matter what’s going on. You’ve got to be able to cast that vision for your team of where you’re going and how they can help you get there. It’s just it’s a struggles that we all face. And it’s like mainly for me it was like the time like, where do you find the time to sit down and have all these meetings and stuff? But you have to do it and you got to get everybody believing in what you’re doing.

Because you know, what I found is, you know, I only have so much time in front of that employee for, what, maybe 15 to 20 minutes at the beginning of the day. And the way our business is structured, like they get in the truck, they take off and they go and we allow them that freedom to be able to go out and like they don’t have like micromanagement. Like we we take these young guys and we just put all of our faith in them and let them go, go and do their thing. And but, you know, the consequences to that is, you know, you don’t have the time to spend in front of them. And so, like, if you get somebody that’s just not having the positive attitude or encouraging them, you know, they’re out there stuck with them all day. And so it’s like they’re feeding into their mind of what they’re believing, and it’s hard for you to counteract and reverse that. So you have to overcommunicate to your team so that they can kind of see where they fit, where they’re going and make sure, you know, because if you’re not like other people, you know, are the ones doing the communication and that can kind of come back and get you. So but yeah it’s it’s growth is is fun but it’s some struggles and you know, it makes it it makes it challenging and rewarding.

So yeah I’ve experienced both on both both businesses scaling the teams and that’s part of the most challenging thing that we’re all going to experience. Tommy talks a lot about. It’s all about training the culture and that’s a big business. But even on a small business, even if it’s just you and two other guys and you have one crew like Lee started out with, or you have five crews or eight crews like Lee having the right people in the right seats and that vision being casted where we have our vision, mission, core values and our cultures dialed in like you have it dialed in, really, anything’s possible. I was at an event this last weekend with Andy Elliott and he talks about don’t build a team, build an army, because if you look at the army, you know, well, it’s kind of different now, but everyone’s massively trained. Everyone’s rowing the same direction. We’re, you know, if we’re in war, you have my back, you have my six. It’s like this whole like it’s just this, this, this culture, this bond. Everyone’s headed in the same direction, but in business, everyone’s going do, do, do, do. It’s coming. It’s going everywhere, you know? And it can be crazy and it’s not. And it’s funny that you mentioned communication. I think most of us business owners and entrepreneurs that are running these home service businesses, the owners are normally like are normally not the best communicators. We’re normally the best managers of people. And so it’s really challenging. If you could speak to us a little bit about the culture side, like what do you guys do to develop that world class culture? Daily, weekly, quarterly basis, like company outings, you guys have a Slack channels like how do you guys really develop and also kind of maintain that culture with so many people?

Oh, yeah. It’s a little bit of all the above. Like we have a Slack channel that we do report in just different things. So like, you know, our sales, if they sell stuff like it goes into the Slack channel for people to be able to say, Hey, great job. So you know, you get kind of some of those daily accolades and then from there you get, you know, basically it’s just the team, you know, the guys really supporting each other and trying to build a community of teamwork is probably the biggest thing that I look for is just making sure, like if if one of my guys like, drop a little bit, there’s other guys around, like pick them up, you know, keep them motivated. We just we constantly hear back from different members of our team like, Hey, if this person wasn’t there, you know, the job was bad. I felt like quitting. And, you know, he just kept pushing me on, you know? And those are the kinds of stories and the things you want to hear back from your team that there’s in the field, like they have each other’s back. If if I don’t have to call my team too much, if like, if the job isn’t going to get done or they need additional help, like they they’ll call out and reach out to each other like, Hey, can you think you can stop by and help us get this top code? Like, you know, it just took a lot longer for a vendor to dry or whatever it is.

They don’t even have to really explain it. They just say, Come help me. And most of the time, like, guys would come, like, I can’t even think of a time in in the five years that I’ve had to make anything mandatory. It’s just the type of team we have. We just we just ask, you know, Hey, we got this job, can somebody help us do it? And we always, no matter if we have four crews or if we have eight crews or whatever, like the job gets done. And it’s just you know, and it’s always different guys to you know, you have some guys that are always, you know, you can count on to step up and work extra, but then you know, it’s the other guys too, will chip in from time to time and offer that support as well. So, you know, kind of building that teamwork, we’ve done some awesome things with our team. You know, I don’t even know like specifically the amount that we budget for it. We just do it. So we, I took all of our team to a world of concrete last year. So I think there was about 16, 16 or 18 of us and we all flew to Vegas.

That’s a big one too, because I talked to a lot of these business owners in our industry and they they’re like, Hey, like, do you think I should go to this this, this conference? I’m like, Yeah, you should go to the conference and bring your team, you know? Yeah, I remember seeing you guys. It was like, I was like, he’s like a fricking coming through here with, with the orange and black.

Yeah, we, yeah, we went last year to the world of concrete, you know, we’ve just, we’ve done some neat things we, you know, this week we’re going snow tubing actually today with our team, but we go to the Blue Jackets games. We just try to go do something different, something to that. We you know, when somebody works for us and they’re leaving and they’ve been here for some time and and leaving, you know, obviously on a good note, not just like, hey, I’m quitting and walked out or whatever, but we’ve had some really good going away. Like we celebrate that. You know, it’s a success to see some of these guys move on and have better careers. And, you know, we we like go all out like we you know, I know Justin, when he left, we took like the whole team to Blue Jackets game and then went to, like, depots for for dinner and stuff and like, it was cool and it and still like, you know, our guys talk about that, you know how men meant to them to see that and how they enjoyed being a part of it. So it’s just, you know, we try to always do things. I don’t know.

We went to Adam Sandler and seen him in concert, you know, so just things that I think like they would be wanting to participate. We just you know, we’ll get we’ll we go to scene 75. It’s like an entertainment center here. So we go there and get video cards for everybody and get, you know, have a buffet, whatever they’re doing for food and stuff like that. So we invite you. Usually we try to do every six months do something like for the employees with their families so we can get to know their families. But then we also do something like for the crew one on one, you know, like to do stuff. I get to take a couple of them out to dinner. You know, I’ll just, you know, out of the blue, I just like, hey, like, I’ll call them and say, Hey, let’s go to dinner and like, where you want to go. And I’ll just take them out just to get to know them more. Um, so, you know, it’s it’s you get out of it, what you put into it. And, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s important that your team knows that you’re there to support them 100%.

Earlier, you talked about starting out and messing up all types of jobs. Right? And kind of going back four times, things like that. Yeah. And so obviously, I think we both know that the solve for that is hiring, training and onboarding people properly, you know, and then reoccurring training. I think you’ve done an amazing job. Obviously, you’re you’re training other people and other companies to build $1,000,000 business. By the way, if anybody wants to know anything about the training side, how do they reach out to you about that?

They can just reach out to us. They can message me on Facebook or, you know, reach out to our staff. You know, your one day flor dot com, you know, you can go to our website that’s that’s kind of like our service business and then you could just give us a call or just request information. We can send it out to you when we have our two day discovery classes and then when we have the two day onsite trainings. So we’ll get you information if you’re interested in that.

Yeah, if you’re struggling at all and you want a more structured way of building $1,000,000 business, reach out to Lee. They’re doing some amazing things over there and I’m saving a lot of that juice over there for another podcast I want to do talking specifically about the training side. But in terms of the training, training technicians, because nobody wants to go back four times, speak to us a little bit about the training side, how important training technicians, you know, hiring good people and making them great is is over there for you guys.

Yeah, I mean, a lot of it is just finding people that align with your values. First of all, if you can find people that are aligned with your values and making sure that they’re coachable, that they can learn and that they do accept that responsibility of learning is part of learning their job. We bringing them in for a test day, so we’ll actually have them come in and ride along with the crews. So I think it’s that’s been really neat to do just because we we do attract people that already have pretty decent jobs that want to come work here. And it’s it’s always been my thing is like I want to have you ever accepted a job and you never really knew what it was like. We’ve all been there, like we walked in and we’re like, Oh, this isn’t what I thought it was going to be. And I just never really wanted to put anybody that’s going to come to work for me in that situation of like, Hey, I just quit a decent job and now I’m going to come work here and I don’t know what to expect. So we actually tell them like, hey, you know, request a day off, or sometimes they really have a certain work shifts and stuff like that so that they’ll find a day to come in and work with us. And so we just take them right along and it gives our team a good, good snapshot of what what type of character this is that’s coming in to work for us and will they fit in. And we have some that come back and that’s fine. Like, I would rather know that we’re investing in them and training them and stuff.

So versus two weeks after you hire them, you spend all this time energy and they’re like, I had so many people at Cardinal, not at the marketing company. It’s like it’s just like they’re there for a week and then they just they don’t say anything. They’re just gone forever. And that was a little bit earlier on. But it it’s wild in home Service. What what can happen?

Yeah, it does. But, you know, our training process is, you know, they we are actually crafting out some things a little bit differently. But, you know, it’s so amazing. Like if if you know, obviously most people know of Tommy Melo, but it’s like if you really think of like the training process and like, how does he on board technicians and how how does he make people great? It’s like it’s like taking that time to really spend with those people on the front end makes them more valuable and know the value that they have to the company in that you really spent the time to allow them to be able to do their job properly. And I think in our industry, like who when you’re smaller company, like who can really afford to like have their person not producing money for even, you know, ten days or five days, you know, to go through like training and not be able to like, okay, now you’ve got to produce profit, you know, like we basically take guys within a day or two and we get them to ride along. So they’re immediately participating. But what if we slowed down and stopped and said, Wait, you have to understand our mission and our values.

You have to understand how you talk to our customers. We use words, you know, different words that you might not be used to. And this this is why we talk to our customers this way. It’s just mind blowing to think about, you know, he takes, you know, guys and trains them for 30 days and it’s like, man, if I brought in a guy for 30 days and he wasn’t turning a profit, like, I don’t know how long I would keep him, you know, But it’s like, but like, look at the value and the asset that he’s creating for the longevity of that employee. It’s just so awesome to think about. So it’s it’s really neat to. It’s made us even rethink our system of just even being a smaller company of how we can do that. And, you know, basically we’re we’re developing our system now where it’s training the trainer and it’s it’s basically a binder full of everything that needs to happen on like from day one, day to day three, day four. And actually, you know, the the trainer has his binder and he’s actually evaluating the employee, letting them know where they stand and what they need to work on that he discovered with them that day and vice versa.

The trainee is also grading the trainer on how well did they deliver the materials. Did I comprehend it? Was this a good training for me? So and then if that trainee now goes with a different crew, the next day he carries his binder with them. So when they go to hand grind or do something else, he can look in the binder and say, Hey, he rated you a three out of five. Did he explain to you the reasons why? Here’s some notes that he said. So I know I want to work with you today on hand, grinding, and we’ve got to get you up to speed. And here’s what I want you to work on. And I want you to do this area. I want you to look I want to look at it with you. Make sure you’re doing it. I just want to be here to build your confidence. And so it’s just it’s awesome to think of the things that you can do even within your strengths of like you can’t, you know, you’ve got to have them producing money, but still, you can make your training system always better. So it’s neat to think of that.

Yeah, I love that you spend more time on the front end training because it’s so true. Even even with salespeople, it’s like I want to bring them in and get them out there making money for me. And we forget about their mindset, their belief systems. We’ve got to shed the vision mission, core values, like where are we going? Why are we going there? This is who we are. And like in the beginning and that person stays for six months. And you can if you spend more time on the front end, you’re going to increase the lifetime value of your employees long term and you’re also going to get way more. I don’t want to say juice out of your team, but you’re going to get way more effectiveness, let’s say that, or productivity out of your team. Because if you take care of the people that are taking care of you, I mean, guys, it’s it’s just I mean, it’s in the pudding right here. And I love that about what you’ve done. And I’m telling you, if you talk to any of these team members, they will take a bullet for your one day for, you know, I mean, they live and breathe it. I had a couple of chances, very, very brief conversations in Vegas. Very, very brief. And and it’s and it’s true, as we’re coming towards the end here, just I want to touch on a couple more things as we head into the new year. There’s a lot of people in the industry that might be in inferior as you go. And as we’re going into the new year with everything going on. What’s working best for you guys in terms of the marketing side? Like what do you see working best, whether it’s platforms or just any insight on on what you feel is working best for the industry there?

I mean, everything is a little bit off right now. It was really bad towards the end of the year. And we’ve we’ve actually found towards the beginning of the year, things are things are a little bit better. We know right now, like our average booking just to get out on a job is like it’s like a 9630. So we know like it’s almost $100 just for that opportunity to go out and meet with them in person. So it’s important that you’re tracking your numbers and knowing like what is your booking conversion rates. Just kind of always looking at those numbers and seeing what is it costing you? And I think it’s important that you share that information with your team. Like, you know, for so long we would have maybe a subpar, you know, salesperson, and they just don’t understand the value of what those leads are. And we actually created a way to let them know, like daily, like as we give them like four leads, five leads, we actually show them like, hey, the leads that you’re running today cost the company $483.75, whatever it is. So they know, like before they even get in their car and they leave, like they have that conscious of like the company’s already spent like $500. Like I’ve got my opportunity to go out here and win this for the company and it’s I don’t want to blow it, but I think, you know, we got to constantly be communicating to our team so they see what are we investing in them. And when we ask them to put out the yard signs or we ask them to ask the customer for a neighbor or a referral or something and show them like how those referrals like really help offset a lot of that cost that you spend in marketing. And you know, you want to create a system where if you give them, you know, ten leads, where are they winning you to, you know, or something like that. So you just got to find ways to, to work with your sales team to maximize those efforts and capitalize on those opportunities that you have.

I love that. And that really goes and it ties back to communicating properly to the team in general and and getting their buy in overall, whether it’s culture or or or communication. So I love that. Got some fun questions now. So what is the best advice you’ve ever received? The best advice.

Woo! I don’t know if it was advice, but one of the neatest things that’s always stuck with me is Mike Dolce said in one of our B-bbee meetings is like he’s like, you know, I don’t have friends that aren’t entrepreneurs. We just don’t have the same mindset, like he doesn’t hang out with with people that don’t have the same mindset as him. So that’s, that’s stuck with me. And it’s it’s kind of like true. You know, I you know, I have some really close friends that will never be entrepreneurs, but, you know, I truly like, you know, like you’re going to see people that that have post or share say anything about me. If you relate it all back, it’s they own the business. And that’s those are my friends. So, you know, always surround yourself with people that you know, can that’s smarter than you too you know, is a big thing.

Yeah. And I never be the smartest person in the room, right. I don’t know who said that, but I love that. I can relate with that. What is the worst advice you’ve ever received?

Uh oh. I don’t know. The worst advice. I don’t I don’t know if there’s. And I’d have to say that I mean, I don’t know, because I don’t I don’t know. I don’t usually, even if it’s bad advice and I took it and I ran with it, I probably learned from it. So it was probably something that’s not good. You know, nothing really sticks out to me.

That’s the optimist You need to In my previous notes, you’re always you’re always looking for the opportunity and stuff. I can tell from what you were mentioning. So even if it’s a bad a bad recommendation, you’re going to learn how to flip that.

So yeah, I can’t think of anything like really bad advice. So I mean, I’m probably the one that just gave bad advice, like go maxed out all your personal cards and to be successful.

Hey, don’t do that. You only maxed out your credit cards if you know how to market and sell your services pretty good. But yeah, okay. Final question here. Just to close this out, Lee, what are some of the greatest insights that you can leave with the audience here live? But also we get most of our listeners downloading the pod on Apple and Spotify, and then we have a bunch of replays that come through because we store these in the group just for anybody listening live. And that will listen to this later on. What are some of the greatest insights that you can give specific to building the concrete coding company and just make it successful, whatever that means for for somebody?

Is like, I think probably the biggest thing that we’ve learned in part of why we developed our training program was like, you know, this isn’t this isn’t something like you just go and you and you go to a facility and you learn how to put it on a piece of plywood and like you’re going to go start your business. Like there’s so much to learn about it. And and like, it’s it’s really like seek the advice of like somebody that’s been there before you and it’ll save yourself a lot. Like, our biggest thing is like when we do our trainings, like we’re really we’re trying to find like really tough, difficult jobs that we take them and do the hands on application. And the biggest thing, like I tell them, like my my thing is I want you to leave with confidence if I can if I can put you on a hard job and you have the confidence that you can make it through it, when you get to the one and you go back and you do the easy ones, like it’s just going to help you. So it’s just I try to like, avoid that six months of like the roller coaster ride I went on and just really try to just pound in all those negative things that can happen to you. And, you know, just if you if you get into this industry and you’re starting out like, no, like before you go out and you sell jobs for a profit, like you’ve got to do like four to 5 to 6 jobs that are for friends and families, Like get your get get the jobs that you’re going to mess up. You know, your family is going to be more forgiving. Your wife is you know that you did your garage three times. It gives her like three different color options, you know, So it’s you know, just think of think of like, you know, just just kind of be smart about it and really do your do your due diligence to research it and make sure it’s right for you. You know, So that’s that’s probably the biggest thing I could say.

I love it, man. Well, thank you so much, Lee, for being here. Your time, your energy. I know you’re going to go have some fun with the team, guys. We’ll be back next Friday again at 11 a.m. Mountain Standard Time. What is that, 1:00 PM Eastern Time and 10:00 AM Pacific Time. So tune in and guys, leave some comments. Leave some love for for Lee if you got any value from this again Lee appreciate you man And we’ll see you guys next week.

Awesome. Thanks. Enjoyed it.




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