One Brilliant Idea To Attract Employees

In this video, Martha gives her number one tip to attract employees.

Jonathan: Got another interview for you. It’s with Martha. It’s one of five. She’s got a lot of great advice, and she’s got a lot of value. Check out what she has to say.

Martha, in your business, just like in my business, it’s a challenge to find employees, and so many companies I talk to, “Oh, there are no good employees left. There’s nobody out there. It’s impossible.” You seem to have had success, and you’ve built a good team. Do you have one, best tip for us on how to attract and find employees?

Martha: Something that is successful for us is to figure out what your applicant target market is wanting. The way that I started with that, actually, is to ask my current employees, “What attracted you to apply? What is your favorite benefit that we offer?” I just asked them things that they like about the company, and then took that and then really developed my ads around that. One of the programs that we offer is we offer paid days off, based on quality, and they earn them. What makes that special in our company is that most places they’re lucky to earn a weeks paid vacation. At my company, if you are a top performer you could actually earn two weeks vacation your first year. I call it “vacation,” it’s PTO, and it’s six hours at a time.

Anyway, I devised my ads around that benefit, and, my heading is, “How many paid days off do you get a year?” I have my bullet points, and I go through … but, then when they come to interview we explain the process, and we explain how they can use those, take those and, anyway, like I say … I just kind of figured out what do our current employees love? What do perspective employees want? And that’s what I market around. The other thing that I would say is I try to market just like I would to perspective clients. The places, the mediums that I use … you won’t use all the same mediums, but, I’d even consider doing the EBBM’s to neighborhoods where current employees live to market that way. I haven’t done it yet. It’s kind of my last-ditch resort. I just try to think of how am I finding clients? And then, getting creative on how I’m going to find applicants.

Jonathan: I think that’s a really, really good point. Most of us complain that we can’t find enough employees, and that’s our bottleneck, but we don’t apply everything we’ve learned in marketing that we’ve used to build our companies, meaning we’ve applied marketing to the problem of getting clients. We haven’t applied marketing to the problem of getting employees.

Martha: Right.

Jonathan: For most of us, when we’re complaining we can’t find enough people we really haven’t done enough, and so I love that idea. That’s fantastic. To recap what I believe I’ve heard is so you, basically, sat down and you said, “What is the thing that my team is telling me they love about my company? What do they most appreciate? What’s the universal thing that I’m hearing that they were attracted to this company, and they stay here for this reason?” You crafted a program around that and then that became your headline, your leading marketing benefit to potential employees that this is how we’re different than everyone else that you might consider working with, or becoming a team member of. Is that stated correctly?

Martha: Right … that is correct, that’s it.

Jonathan: It’s awesome. Even if somebody’s number one benefit, their team isn’t saying that it’s additional PTO, there’s something else in their company, and they need to find that thing?

Martha: Correct.

Jonathan: And craft an official program around it and then market on that point.

Martha: Right.

Jonathan: That’s fantastic.

Martha: That’s what we’ve done.

Jonathan: I like it, that’s actually, super actionable as well. Great. Thank you, Martha, that’s a great tip.

Martha: You’re welcome. Thank you.

How To Prevent Recruiting Bottlenecks In Your Business

In this video, Mike shares how he has successfully been able to prevent recruiting bottlenecks in the toughest times of his business.

Jonathan: Hey, Mike. How’s it going?

Mike: Good, Jonathan. How you doing?

Jonathan: I’m great. Hey, thanks for doing this. I know you’re leading a super crazy busy life these days, with what? You have two kids now?

Mike: Yeah, two kids. One nine weeks and the other one, 18 months.

Jonathan: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Plus you’ve got your two companies, so you’re a busy guy. Thank you for doing this.

I definitely wanted to ask you a couple questions, because from knowing you now for a number of years, you are absolutely getting stuff done. If you would, tell us a little bit about just real quick, who are you? What are you doing so everybody knows you?

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. Started out like many of the people probably listening, freshman year in high school, pushing a lawn mower around the neighborhood to pay for the car insurance, ended up five years at college and evolving into a full-time lawn care and shell removal company in the Northeast. Currently employing twenty-two to twenty-five individuals. In addition, I’ve started a secondary company that focuses on business automation and sales marketing, as well as employer recruiting training.

Jonathan: Perfect, that’s one of the questions that I wanted to ask you. I know that you just recently had an event in your company where all of a sudden you had to absorb a lot of new work. Which meant that you had to go find a bunch of people. Then I also know that you work with a lot of other companies, so you have a lot of ideas that aren’t just things that you figured out running you own company. You’ve figured them out by helping other people. Specifically, tell us all about the event you just had that resuscitated the need to go find a whole bunch of people real quick. With that, give us some clues on how we could solve our recruiting problems because I think that’s what … That’s the big bottleneck that most of us are having.

Mike: Yes, it seems like in my company what we bitched about and talked about is how to find qualified employees who will even show up to an interview, let alone show up to the first day of work and do quality work and be dedicated to your mission and values that you are trying to do. Long story short, one of our subcontractors, their child had some health issues. He had to actually fly back to where they’re from for some treatments. Gentleman in good faith, since we had taken care of him as a subcontractor, handed over a sizable amount of lawn mowing contracts on short notice obviously with the health issues of this child. We basically grew by 17% within a matter of three or four days. Which you’re wondering how that would actually happen not having the wheels fall off. The company had to go out and fill those jobs and grow by 17% overnight pretty much.

The key to that success that we found prior, to allow that acquisition to happen naturally, pretty much flawlessly, and be able to absorb that many accounts is the ability to go out and recruit employees. I like to use the analogy of stacking the bench almost like a sports team. What we constantly do is we interview in our company every Monday, Wednesday, and occasionally Fridays for every position in the company, including my own. The reason why we do that is because we want the ability to not pick the first applicant that comes in the door if we have to fill a gap. Now that we pre-qualify these employees and actually stack the bench per-say, we can rate them in an A, B, and C level with or without a license. If we are looking for a crew leader with a license, we have a database of qualified people that were interviewed the last month or two who would fit that position.

This gives you some leverage in the field with your staff because I know their constantly … You know, their job is online as far as if they are not producing, and if they don’t have you over the barrel per-say and threaten you to quit when you don’t have anybody to replace them. That was a major issue. We started growing our business. The guys knew they had us basically bent over the barrel if they wanted a pay raise or if they weren’t producing. They knew that we couldn’t really do anything to replace them.

In order to grow the business, we really needed to have people that bought into our core values and mission. We wanted to hire to the culture that we built in the company. The best way to do that was to be constantly recruiting for every position. In addition, that would basically keep the guys on the field if you have a major spike in sales, especially Northeast where you may grow fifteen to twenty percent in a matter of a month. You basically have that waiting staff that is ready to go and that is qualified, where you can actually call on them.

I hope that makes sense. We are prophylactic hiring.

Jonathan: It makes perfect sense. Are you running ads all of the time or do you have a couple really successful ways to keep the funnel loaded with potential people to interview?

Mike: Yes, there are two or three things that are very key that we try to use. The first thing that we do, is that if we have a core group of employees in the field or even in the office that we know that we really like their work ethic and what they believe in, we’ll actually do a referral bonus of $250 for anybody that they refer that stays with the company more than six months. That’s allowing us to go out and find people who are like-minded, hopefully with the same work ethic right off the bat.

The secondary thing is that we hit major channels such as Indeed, Craigslist, a couple other online sites where we actually have a two to three step automated interviewing process where they have to jump through multiple hoops before they get to our office. We are pre-qualifying the applicants before they get to the interview. Then once they get to the interview, we run them through an automated training series of videos with questions to actually make sure they’re going to be a good fit for the position, you know, until they actually get to the field. If they are a good fit, we’ve already set them in motion with set processes and procedures of how we do everything. So when they get into the field, we are not just handing them a weed-wacker, telling them hop on a lawn mower, and go do the job. It’s helped with our retention.

At the end of the day, we’re selling our company to the prospective employee, as much as they are selling themselves. In order to go out and get a super star employee, at least my feeling is you really need to sell your company as a great place to work and an environment that they want to be in and actually want to go to. It’s not just a job. It’ll be a career. We want them to buy in to what we are actually trying to achieve.

Jonathan: For somebody that says that this all sounds awesome, I’d love to do that, but I’m so busy that I just don’t have the time to work on recruiting or I don’t have the time to do anything that you mentioned, what would you suggest? How did you get started? Is there a small baby step to start moving in this direction.

Mike: I think that even if you don’t have the time and you’re … You know, for a lack of better words, still on the truck as a technician that’s still running the business. We’ve all been there, so I know me standing on a pedestal saying that I haven’t been there and my managers are going to get back on the truck to fill some gaps. I think that the only way that you can be successful, at least get your life back from constantly plugging the gaps and being in a tight spot. That’s the one thing I hear from hundreds of contractors throughout the year, “We just can’t grow our business because we can’t find quality applicants. There’s just nobody that’ll show up for an interview.”

Part of the problem is that you need to block out a few hours a week. It’s just as important as getting the work done in the field as it’s important to building it out. You need to start working on building a staff that can support you, get you out of the field if that’s your goal. Even if your goal is to stay on the truck, which is perfectly fine depending on the size of business what you want to get out of it, you still in my belief you really need to spend two to three hours a week, or even an hour, working those hours first thing in the morning or over the weekends and interviewing those candidates. Whether it is phone interviews …

As soon as you stop being proactive about that, that’s when you’re going to get yourself in trouble. Even if you are a two man operation and you need a technician with you running in the truck, you are in a major pickle if that person leaves or gets hurt. You have no back up. It’s just you then. You have to proactively be recruiting no matter what size you are, in my opinion.

Jonathan: Oh man, I 100% agree. In all the different businesses that I’ve now been part of building and I think back, I didn’t have this revelation until really the last few years. Now, kind of putting all of the puzzle pieces together and looking back at all of the businesses, every one of them universally … And I’ve been in cleaning and lawn care and software, healthcare, been in these different industries. Every one of them universally has the exact same problem, it’s people. It’s the bottleneck of every company. It’s the slowdown. Once you figure out the basic core marketing, it’s the number one problem that everybody has. Yet, none of us are spending the majority of our time and effort on it.

I’m so convinced that it’s the hindrance to most growth that I believe the number one job of the CEO is to, and you eluded to this, but the number one job of the CEO is to be recruiting, to be building the team, making sure you have the right people on the team. You know the old saying, “You have the right people in the right seats on the bus.” … Basically doing the right job, and that you are getting rid of the wrong people so they don’t destroy your culture. And that they are following the vision that you have the people … Again, all of the stuff you sort of said. I believe to my core that it is the most important thing. Your most important charge. It starts when you are little bitty, and it never ends as you grow the company to whatever size.

Mike: Just as you are starting out, growing, and scaling, one of the things that I find very helpful is we’ve got an organizational chart of all of the positions and all the responsibilities. You may be wearing the hat of maybe several positions at this point, but it starts with a goal of three to five years. I predict considerably like three years out. Build what that work chart is going to look like, so you are not immediately trying to hire for the positions that you had, but you are starting to build a leadership team or a management team around what that future team looks like.

As you are going out recruiting and constantly interviewing these people two to three times a week, if there is an individual that stands out say, “Hey, maybe this guy will be a perfect fit for that position I have two years down the line.” You may be able to work it in your budget that’s just the ideal candidate because if you are not actively looking and knowing what you need down the line to be successful, it’s too late when you need to do it immediately.

Jonathan: Great advice. I’m wondering if this is your approach or if you have a better or different way? Basically what we’ve done is exactly what you’ve said in terms of thinking about “Okay, here are the positions.” In other words, here are the different hats that need to be worn throughout the organization in terms of what the company will look like if we hit our goal and our vision in three years. Imagine that you have that. That’s what I think you are saying. Are you then putting names to this right now. Saying, “Okay, Mike’s wearing this hat, this hat, this hat. I’m filling all of these positions.” Are you going that far with it and identifying who’s in each of the roles now? Then thinking too, Mike, meaning you, “I’m in this role, this role, and this role, and I need to get Mike out of all of these roles so Mike is just doing this one thing.” Do you think about it that way or is it nothing more than just identifying what you might need in terms of positions out in the future so that your mind is zeroed in and focused on that?

Mike: No, Johnathon, you actually nailed it. I mean internally what’s going on in our company is … In the lawn care company right now as it is, is that I have no desire to be involved in the day to day operations within three to five years. Right now in the present company, there are some functions that I’m doing and wearing multiple hats, as well as my manager, so we built out our organizational chart for today, but my managers may be doing sales and marketing and he may be doing quality control and he may be the direct report for one of the two admins.

At scale as we grow three to five years, they are going to be separate individual roles with a specific measurable targets. For instance, our quality control person would be literally … Their whole matrix and what we are going to base them on is literally customer retention, and quality control and making sure the crews are working off what the processes consist of. Right now, obviously, we are not up to scale where we can have a dedicated quality control. So that manager is quality control, part-time sales person, part-time trainer as far as the guys in the field. Each one of those positions is dialed out and that person is listed at each spot. We know right now who is being held responsible to each one of those goals that at scale as we grow we know that’ll be a separate position.

Jonathan: Thanks for that. That’s fantastic advice.

How To Motivate Employees To Perform Quality Work

In this video, Martha shares her success in how to motivate employees to perform high quality work consistently.

Jonathan: I’ve got another interview for you. It’s with Martha. It’s one of five. Don’t discount her. She’s in the residential cleaning space. She has multiple locations. What an incredibly difficult business. Could you imagine sending your team into your clients’ homes everyday, and everything they did was nitpicked, and every time they lost something, you were accused of stealing it? Or, they were accused of stealing it? She’s got a lot of great advice and she’s got a lot of value. Check out what she has to say.

Had an opportunity to get to know you over the last several years, and one thing that I’ve absolutely observed, and I feel like others in the industry that I know that are friends with you all sing the same song, and that is that you’re an expert on building a system around quality within your company. For a number of reasons, I think you’re an expert at this. With that being said, can you give us some tips and tricks, and I know you’ve worked on this for years, can you tell us what you’ve learned about achieving a high level of quality in a company, and in a service coming in, and how do you actually, how do get that to manifest itself? How do you create a company with really high quality?

Martha: Sure. I was just thinking of really why I have created such a program around quality, and I guess what I would say is that you know me, I’m pretty laid back.

Jonathan: You are.

Martha: I’m not actually a very detailed person. However, I don’t like getting quality complaints. I don’t like the staff having them, nor losing clients. I really wanted to develop a system that could maintain itself, and that didn’t require me, you know, having a thumb on people all the time. What I’ve done is set up a program that allows me to track numbers. I do like data, and I do like to make decisions based on hard, cold facts. We base our quality around customer satisfaction, so it involves, you have to start with a survey. You’ve got to ask the client how satisfied they are, and we send out a survey after every job.

Now, I’m in the maid service world, so most of our clients are every other week. It’s part of a process. When a prospective client calls us, and we’re selling our service, one of our selling points is actually our quality program. We tell them that up front. We’ll tell them how we’re different. We’ll tell them about how you’ll receive a survey after every cleaning. We tell them that we have performance based programs, and because of these programs, our employees have buy in, and want to do a good job. Like, they’re not going to want to get a three out of four, because many of their benefits don’t happen until a four.

We also try to educate the prospective client that everything’s a learning lesson, and that we have very few punitive processes, so not to be afraid to tell us what they really think, because we can’t fix it if we don’t know. Anyway, we have that process. Now, if we have somebody that doesn’t want a survey every time, we have a mechanism that we don’t send it. That’s very few of our clients, actually. I think it’s because of education. We tell them up front that’s what we’re doing.

We send a survey, we get the survey back, and then we have ways that we can track things. I use a software now that can do that for me, but for many years, I took those survey results, and the office staff plugged them into an Excel spreadsheet. It took a lot of manual tracking, but it was worth it to me, because I wanted that data. We would average it out every month. We would watch our trends. We definitely watched it as a company, per employee, per team, everything. We watched that. We have something called a client watch list. We have employee rankings where they’re actually ranked according to their quality scores or their customer satisfaction scores. Then, of course, we’ve got a process for complaints. We call it the service recovery program, which I actually got from a colleague.

If we get a complaint, we have a process to where we have the employee sign off on a written form, and we send an apology note, and then we actually do an inspection at the home the next visit. If it’s a major complaint, then we go a little bit further. We may even send some type of a gift certificate, or something with the apology note. Then, we’re going to inspect that cleaning the next two visits. That’s how we do that. Then, of course, we use it on the opposite side to track high performance. Like I say, we have bonus programs based around high performers, and they’ll get, it may be paid days off, it may be cash, whatever. We have those programs in place.

Jonathan: You mentioned … Oh, go ahead. I’ll let you keep going.

Martha: No, no. Go ahead.

Jonathan: Okay, well you mentioned the watch list a minute ago, and I wanted to ask you a little bit more about that. Is the watch list an example of clients that might not have given a top review to the employee, and therefore you, and correct me if I’m wrong, but then they end up on this list where the company’s hyper aware of who might be at risk, and they’re getting a little extra attention? How does that work? For example, if they show up on a list, what’s the procedure?

Martha: Okay, so our watch list, and again, this is just part of the software, it’s programmed to watch for a score drop. You have some clients that’ll never give you a four. They just don’t believe in it. They’re going to always give you a three, and that doesn’t mean anything bad for them. What we watch is for trends. If they gave us a four before, but now we’re getting a three, that means something. I like that because they didn’t complain, so they didn’t really fall on your radar. However, you had a score drop, so they’ll show up on our client watch list. On the client watch list, of course there’s failing scores, and then we actually have a tab that we watch that is for no responses.

No responses aren’t good either. We do … Our goal is to keep our response rate above sixty-five percent. Now, that’s really pretty unheard of in most companies. I will say that when we started surveying, gosh, four to five years ago, we started in the high twenties. We have worked it. I mean, like I say, it’s just ingrained in our clients, it’s ingrained in our employees, and then in our office staff. If we’re not getting a response, then we give them three days to respond, and if they aren’t responding, we’re actually making phone calls. If we don’t ever get a response from somebody, we’re out doing a quality inspection, because we’re afraid there is a reason they’re not telling us what they think.

Jonathan: That’s pretty interesting. Sixty-five percent sounds really high to me. I’m guessing that if I heard you correctly in the very beginning, you’re setting the tone at the very beginning of the relationship, sort of during the courting phase, before they’ve even become a client. You’re setting the tone that, “This is how we’re different than everyone else, because we have this process by which we measure our team, and we hold them accountable. They really are bought in and want to perform.” One, you’re selling yourself in that way, but then you’re also, and correct me if I’m wrong, you’re also setting the tone that as a client of Dusting Divas, here’s the expectation we have, and maybe you use different wording, but we then ask you to talk to us, and the way you talk to us is by filling out these surveys. Is that a true assessment of what’s happening? That at the beginning of that process, you’re telling them about the survey, and telling them that you need them to do this as … Okay, that makes a lot of sense.

Martha: We basically tell them, and you know, we try to be informal and casual, but when we’re talking to them, we will kind of joke and say, “If you don’t answer our survey, you’ll probably be getting a call from us or an email.” We also explain to them up front that it’s an email survey, it’s a one click survey. All they have to do is click excellent, good. There’s a little explanation for each rating, but that’s all they have to do. Now, they have the opportunity to give us more feedback than that. They have the opportunity to give comments, and if they’re positive comments, we actually have a way that we can just, with a click of a button, take it from the survey comment, and push it to our website as a testimonial.

Jonathan: That’s pretty cool. That’s cool.

Martha: I love that because, right, it’s like I’m hitting our page. I’m updating our webpage everyday. The testimonials are from yesterday, so that’s awesome. I like that.

Jonathan: I like the simplicity of your survey. I’ve seen it, and it’s pretty, which is actually, the design is really good, but on top of that, I like the just ridiculous simplicity. You can actually get someone to do that, because it’s so simple and so easy to do.

Martha: Right. Exactly.

Jonathan: I also like that you do the follow up call if they don’t do it, because several things come to mind. One, you’re actually living what you said you would do at the very beginning when they were still a prospect. You’re actually following through. If you told them or joked with them that, “Hey, if you don’t do it, we’re going to call you,” then you actually do it. I think that sets a really good tone for the company. Then also, if they get a call or two from you, every time they see that survey, they’re going to think, “Okay, I’ve got to do this, otherwise they’re going to call me.” You train behavior. I love that.

Martha: Exactly. We do. We do train them. We joke about that. We’re like, “Oh, they’re new. We got to train them.”

Jonathan: Yup. I love that. That’s good. I guess, maybe before I move on to asking you another question, can you kind of give me a … I know this is really successful because of everything I’ve heard about it, and others I’ve talked to that are using your process that you’ve now created, and a lot of other people are now using it. Can you give me an example of what maybe your world looked like prior to this, and then now what it looks like? What was the difference that you’ve experienced inside your business that sold you on continuing to invest in this?

Martha: When we started, like I say, we had a response rate in the upper twenties, low thirties. Just that alone, I felt like, “I really don’t know what the majority of my clients think of our service.” Our scores were also … My minimum score at that time was a three point three out of four. I had people not making that. I did. I had people not making that. Now, years later, really … My published minimum score is a three point five out of four. However, bonuses don’t start till three point six five. I have very few people who don’t get bonuses in my company. It’s the same scoring, it’s the same survey as I had when I started.

We still lose people. We still have people who no matter what don’t respond. It’s certainly fewer. I’ll tell, if somebody says they’re quitting us due to money, the first thing I go look at is were they returning their survey? What were they scoring us? Because I’m not going to believe them unless I see that they were giving us glowing, you know, not even just a four, but comments, and so forth. I have data to go by, and I know where employees stand. I know which clients to worry about.

Jonathan: I like it. I would imagine that this creates a little bit of a social pressure internally. If you bring a new individual onto the team, they’ve never experienced this in anybody else’s company, so this is going to be a new concept to them. If they see everyone else on the team trying to get the best score possible and take phenomenal care of the client, I’ve got to imagine it creates social pressure where they then too want to … They don’t want to be left out. They don’t want to be the person with the low score. Does that take place inside the company? Is that social pressure a real thing?

Martha: It really does.

Jonathan: Okay.

Martha: It does.

Jonathan: That’s pretty awesome.

Martha: Like I say, each employee has their own user sign in process. Each employee, I don’t make them look up their scores. However, I can ask somebody in any given day what their quality score is, and they know. I’m telling you, Bill, if they got any type of a negative comment or score from somebody, they’re in the office going, “Why did Mrs. Smith give me a two,” and, “You need to contact her, because I don’t know why I got a two.” I mean, they’re on it. I ask them … We had our company picnic the other day, and I said, “So do you guys like to be able to look up your scores? Do you like that you have control of that now?” Because we always shared it with them, but there’s a delay, and it was time intensive.

Hands down, even just a look in their eyes, they just popped and said, “Yes.” Because they don’t feel like we’re hiding things from them anymore. I love it because they’re accountable. Now, I’m sitting here talking about a program that I developed, so I want to say that it can be done. I absolutely did build it by using Excel spreadsheets. You can do it, it’s the same thing. It’s just the employees don’t have the access that they have now. It was certainly more time intensive. You can do everything I’m talking about.

Jonathan: By automating it and simplifying it with technology, you’re, at the end of the day, saving a lot of money over using a spreadsheet because you’re saving time and payroll. You’re letting the people that might have had to do all the data in Excel, now they can go do more important, bigger things around the company, that make the company money instead of data entry. It’s just a no brainer in my mind.

Martha: Exactly.

Jonathan: That’s awesome.

Determining If Your Market Supports A Big Business

In this video, Jonathan will simplify determining if your market supports your big business goals.

Hey! In this video I’m going to describe exactly how to determine if your market is big enough to support your business to the size that you want to build it. As an example, you might look at the business I have or the market I serve, which is the DFW Metroplex, the Dallas–Fort Worth area, and say, “Man, that’s a giant market, that’s why he’s able to build a bigger business,” and there would be some truth to that. But, at the same time, we only serve a little bitty piece of that area, and we don’t go outside of our service market.

Just because I’m in a big market doesn’t mean that equals a big business. I could be in a big market and have a really tiny business, which most do. Or, I could be in a smaller market and have a giant business that’s way bigger than everybody else. A few companies accomplish that. It’s not totally about the market. However, it is about the market to some degree.

I’m going to be a little longer with this video because I’m going to give you detailed instructions on how to figure out, or at least point you in the right direction, to figure out if your market can get you where you want to go. Then I’m going to tell you what to do if your market is not big enough. There are three things that you can do to help solve that problem.

The number one thing that you need to do is you need to start by figuring out how big your market is. I’m just going to use a residential example for this video, and if it doesn’t completely apply to you, you can use the framework that I’m describing to solve the problem for yourself. At least this video will give you some ideas.

First, you need to figure out how big your market is. As an example, and I’ll tell you in a minute how to do that, but as an example, let’s say your market is 100,000 homes. That’s not really your market, and when I say your market, I’m going to go with your service area. You might have a bigger market, but for whatever reason, there’s no scenario where you would ever serve that entire market, you’re just serving a service area within it. That is your market, as you’ve defined it at this moment in time.

You need to figure out how big that is, so you could look and find out that that’s 100,000 homes. The reality is that even the 100,000 homes within your service market is not your real market. There’s a sub market inside that market that is really your ideal market. First, you have to figure that out.

Here’s how I believe you do it. If you have clients now, you start to get a feel for what the value of the home is that your better clients live in. For example, maybe in your market there are homes that range in value anywhere from $50,000 to $1,000,000. Within that market, you’re going to have served all different types of clients, and you will have come to some conclusion that my best clients live in these areas, these neighborhoods. If you look, you can do some searching to find out property values, and if you look at the value of those homes, you will eventually arrive at a conclusion such as, the better clients, the clients that I want to build my business around, live in homes of $200,000 to $700,000.

There’s some number, because on the low end the client doesn’t hire services like you, or one out of every 40 on a street hires a service like you. Then on the high end, that client is way more demanding and picky and they may just not be the client you want for a variety of reasons, or you might want to build your entire business around that client. Again, another example would be, you look at your market, and the home values range from 50,000 to 1,000,000, and your business is best suited to serve clients that have home values over and above 700,000. There are different business models.

Given your business model, given the kind of client that resonates with you, what is the typical value of the home that they live in?

Back to my example, there’s 100,000 homes in your area. You conclude your ideal clients live in homes of $250,000 to $700,000. Through some searching and research you conclude that that means there’s about 30,000 homes that could be your ideal client. That’s your market.

Even though you might drive past some other homes, they may not be your market, because you don’t necessarily advertise to those areas. Or, if you ultimately win business in those neighborhoods, you don’t stay in those neighborhoods because you can’t build any density because you never get more than one or two accounts in those neighborhoods.

Step one is to figure out the value, and there’s different ways to go about this. I’m just giving you one scenario. Step one is two figure out the average value of a home that is owned by an ideal client. Then you do some googling. You can look at census data. For example, you can determine, within your county or within your city, how many homes reside within that area.

As you break the data down even further, such as how many homes of this value reside within a certain service area, that data is going to be a bit more difficult to find on Google. It might be out there, every area of the country is different. You may have to go spend a little bit of money with a company, like an InfoUSA, or a brokerage house of some kind, to do some of that data research for you.

However, one thing you’ll find is that some of the mailing lists where you can buy data, you can go do Google searches, and you can put in, “I want to buy a list of data for homes that are between this range,” and the result will come back and say, “There are 22,000 homes on this list. Would you like to buy all 22,000?” Where I’m going with this is there are some tools online where you can buy mailing lists, and the tool itself will let you put in a filter to describe the data you want to buy, and it will come back and say, “Here’s what the count is, would you like to buy it? Or would you like to segment that list even further?” My point is, using the tool to buy the list, you could go as far as researching, getting your answer, and not even buy the data. There are some creative ways you can go about figuring out how many homes are of that value inside your market.

That’s step one. You figure out your ideal client, the value of the home.

Step two, you do some googling and you look at the census data, figure out how many homes are in the area.

Step three is you try some more googling to figure out if you can find a listing of how many homes are in that neighborhood based on that valuation. If not, then you can go to brokers to buy a list, you can go to marketing firms that, again, want to sell you a list or do direct mail for you. You’ll find that, in your market, if you do a little digging, there are people that know that data because they’re in the business of doing marketing and they have to know that data, and they’re selling their services to you. That data, if you can’t find it on Google, can be found in your marketplace. You might have to spend a little bit of money, but it won’t be a lot.

Now you have a real picture of how many homes are in your market. Let’s say it’s 50,000. Now you have to make a guess, can you sell 1% of the market? 4% of the market? 10% of the market? If you could sell 10% of the market and you have 40,000 homes in your market, then your top end opportunity is you could have 4,000 clients at any one time.

There’s so many different directions I could go with this, I’m just going to keep it simple. Your mind might be running about, “Well, what if I lose clients and what if once I lose them, do they count against the 10%?” I don’t know where your mind might be going with this, but just keep it simple and stick with me to understand this concept, and that is if you think the 10,000 is the top end, then your … Excuse me, 10% is the top end, therefore 4,000 clients is your top end. If you think it’s 1%, the best you can achieve is 1% of the market, then that means your best case with my 40,000 home example is 400 homes. At least you start to get a feel.

In my opinion, with really high quality, really high customer service, you’re going to be … you can absolutely penetrate, without question, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5% of the market over the years. For sure. I believe that without question. But, you’re going to need to be unique. You’re going to need really good service. You’re going to need really good quality, and you can’t be the most expensive, but you can be towards the top of the market in pricing. You might be the most expensive on certain services, but you can’t be dramatically more expensive than everybody else in your marketplace and deeply penetrate into the market, meaning that you own a very significant portion of the market.

We’re just going to assume that you could definitely capture 2-5% of the market relatively easily by just being really good, and of course learning how to do marketing. Now, you might be able to try and penetrate 10+% of the market. That’s going to be a little more difficult. One, if you’re in a big market, you just have to build a really big company. The more you want to penetrate deeper into the market, the more money you have to spend. I’m going to come back to that in a moment, but the more you have to spend.

For example, what you might find is that over the first number of years of doing a lot of marketing, whether it be web marketing, print marketing, that your average sale is $100, $150 per sale. Maybe that’s what you’ve figured out that it costs, on average, through marketing, to bring in a new client. That allowed you to penetrate to some percentage. Every market’s different, but let’s say that gets you to a 3% penetration inside your market. It’s impossible for me to say, “You could do 5% no problem, or 3%, or 10%.” Every market’s a little different. There’s a little bit of  guessing here, and you’ll figure it out over the years and refine it.

Let’s say that you could penetrate 3% of your market and you could do that at about $150 cost per sale. Now, what you might find is to go deeper inside the market, to bring in more clients, to own more of the market, however you want to say that, it’s going to become more expensive, because the majority of the market has already heard your message. If you want to attract the portion of the market that has not paid attention and not bought, based on all the marketing you’ve already done to them, you’ve got to continue to step up your marketing game. Maybe your incentives need to become greater. Maybe you need to give them more. Maybe they need to get more touches, meaning you need to market to them more and more, and they need to see you more frequently; you need to show up more often. That’s going to increase your conversion cost.

Now, maybe, to get the next percentage of gain in the marketplace, you’re going to need to have a cost per sale of $300 a client. Again, numbers are not accurate, they’re examples, but you can see how this would work. There’s going to be a cost per sale in the beginning, and then to get to that next layer, your cost per sale is going to go up. And then, to get deeper in the market your cost per sale is going to go up again.

There will come a point to go really deep in the market where you have to say, “Okay, is it worth spending more money to go deeper in this market to get more market share, or am I better off taking my pile of cash and expanding my service market or opening up a branch office in another service market, and skimming the easy sales off that market?” These are considerations, and all of these considerations are … Well, you think about them in terms that determine, “Okay, what’s my potential? How big could my company get, given my market size?”

Now, let’s say that in your market your determine that you only have 10,000 homes. That’s your best case. You have 10,000 potential buyers. Even within the 10,000 homes, something I didn’t say, let’s go back to my example. You have concluded who the 10,000 ideal homes are, telling you how big your market is based on home value. Well, then there’s another number within that number, and that number is the percentage of buyers at that home value.

Let me explain that slightly better. Just because you’ve determined that somebody that lives in a $250,000 to $750,000 house is potentially a good client. That doesn’t mean that 100% of that market buys lawn care, or pest control, or fertilization and weed control. No, within that market, there might be 40% of that market being actual buyers, meaning 60% does it themselves. That’s another number to consider. You can’t necessarily know that in the beginning, but that’s true in every market.

Back to my example, there’s 10,000 homes, and that’s one of the reasons why when I say your market penetration or your percentage of market share, that’s probably a better way to say it, market share is going to be 1, 2, 3, 5, 10%. That’s why it’s not going to be 60%, because there’s a very significant portion of that market that isn’t, even though they’re in an ideal sized home, ideal dollar value home, they are not an ideal client in that they are not a buyer of what you have to sell.

Let’s rewind and let’s just go back to the 10,000 to keep this simple. I was illustrating that … The reason I said the 5,000 was just to give an example of, even if your universe is 10,000, your potential is 10,000, you’ll never capture all of that. It’s impossible because within that group there’s a percentage that are not even buyers. Going back to the 10,000. If you were to gain 3% market share, your theory is that’s what you can get or earn, then you’re looking at 300 clients as your top end of your market.

3%, I think, generally, sounds a little low to me. You can do better. But let’s say it’s 3%, that’s only 300 clients. Now, you’ve determined that my best case is only 300 clients in my market, so what do you do? Well, there’s three things you can do. One is, you can expand your market. It might be that you arbitrarily shrunk your market to create route density inside your business. You could first focus on owning as much of the confined market as you can, and once you’ve saturated that market, you then expand, but you wait to expand until you’ve saturated it.

The way you know that you’ve started to saturate the market is because you’re actually spending marketing dollars and your cost per conversion is increasing. It used to $100 per sale, now it’s up to $175. In other words, what worked easily in the past isn’t working so well. You’re starting to achieve a level of saturation where you could keep going, without question, but it’s getting more expensive. That is a time when it might make sense to expand the market a little bit bigger.

That’s one, you expand the market. That broadens the size of the market, obviously, which means you could sell more clients back into that market. You have a bigger potential market share, to grow your business. Maybe you go from a market universe or market opportunity of 300 clients to now 600.

Another option, number two, would be that you, instead of expanding client count, you expand revenue per client. Let’s say your market possibilities are 300 clients, an average client spends 3,000 a year with you, you can do the math to figure out, I think that’s about a $900,000 a year business. You want to get to $2,000,000, that means you need to turn that $3,000 a year client into a $6,000 a year client, on average.

How do you achieve that? This is an alternative to expanding the market. You expand your service offering. In the past, you were mowing, fertilization, weed control, services of that sort. Now you get into pest control and other service types. That broadens your service offering, which allows you to sell more back into the clients to grow the client value, which, at the end of the day, allows you to achieve the bigger revenue company that you want.

That’s number two. Number three is you look at your little market of 300, and you’re early in your business, and you say, “You know what, this just isn’t good enough for me.” You literally pack up the business and you move elsewhere. That’s not the answer anybody wants to here, but that is the reality for some individuals in certain markets. I do a lot of traveling, and on vacations we’ll travel to places that are not necessarily heavily populated. In the mountains, or maybe we go to Arkansas to hike and do things like that.

You’ll end up in some of these areas, and if I happen to have been born in those areas, my universe or my potential market would have been very small. The homes are way spread out, there’s not nearly as many homes, it’s rural areas. I can’t build a great business in that market. There is no magic, you can’t just magically build it. If you’re a savvy business person, you look at that and you say, “I want to build a big business, this market cannot support it, and I am going to relocate my business to an area that could.”

If I was in some rural area of Arkansas, I’d relocate to Little Rock, or something of the sort. If I’m in a rural area of wherever, California, I’m going to locate to a bigger city. You get the idea. Moving is your third option, and if your business just won’t support it … Maybe even your area has lots of homes, but it’s a low income area, and 5% of people, 10% of people in that market buy the services you have to sell. That’s not a great market. You’re going to have to market to a whole lot of homes to find the 10 that are buyers.

It’s better to be in a market that you’re marketing to a group where 50% or 60% of the market is a buyer, because you have to market to far fewer homes to find those buyers inside the market. These are the things you want to consider, to figure out if your market will support you, and then those are the three things you do to position yourself so that there’s a big enough market that you can get enough market share to build the business of your dreams. The business that will give you and your family what you want. It’s really as simple as that. Takes a little bit of thinking, but it’s not that difficult.

How To Reward Employees For Performing High Quality Work

In this interview with Jonathan, Martha shares her best tips on how to reward employees for performing their top quality work.

Jonathan: Got another interview for you. It’s with Martha. It’s one of five. Don’t discount her. She’s in the residential cleaning space. She has multiple locations. What an incredibly difficult business. Could you imagine sending your team in to your client’s homes every day and every thing they did was nit picked and every time they lost something you were accused of stealing it or they were accused of stealing it. She’s got a lot of great advice and she’s got a lot of value. Check out what she has to say.

Tell me about your reward program for employees that are achieving a very high level of quality.

Martha: Okay.

Jonathan: You’ve got an entire fifth … Not only do you have the system built for quality tracking, but you also have a system to reward the employee based on the result. Is that correct?

Martha: Exactly.

Jonathan: Okay, so, tell me how that works.

Martha: I may be too much of a carrot on a stick person. I like incentive based rewards. For me, I knew I needed my employees to care about the quality. I needed a way that they felt like they got something out of it. I mean, we’ve all had top performers and then mediocre performers. In my old system they were rewarded the same way. I mean they basically got … They didn’t really get the same pay because we did do performance evals. They would get the same benefits and so forth.

The way that I do it now is in our company we award our paid days off based on quality scores. We’re a maid service. We don’t do 20 jobs a day like in the lawn care world. A team of 2 is doing 3 to 4 jobs a day. A team of 1 is doing 2. I’m giving you those numbers so you can have some type of comparison. Sixty excellent ratings equals a paid day off in our company. In my old system, after they’d been with me a year they got a week. Then after three years, two weeks, and so forth. What I didn’t like is having somebody who was pretty average, they weren’t fireable, but they weren’t awesome. I just hated to pay them a weeks vacation and then there’s this other person who is a top performer and is getting the same.

Again, I had a friend actually that I got this idea from. It was successful in their company so I started this process where they earned their paid days off. That has been a huge motivator. There’s nothing that my employees want more. They may say more pay, always are going to say higher pay, but with the age groups that we have, paid days off are huge for them. The other thing I like about it is, since they’re earning a day at a time they take a day at a time, too. They don’t take a week off at a time unless they’re saving for a special vacation or a maternity leave or something like that. Anyway, that works really well for us.

Jonathan: That’s a good point.

Martha: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I love that. I mean rarely do they take more than one or two days at a time so it’s easier on the company.

Jonathan: Yeah, when I think of the idea of someone mid-season wanting to take a week off, that’s scary.

Martha: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jonathan: Because we need them. That’s really smart.

Martha: Right. That’s the main benefit around quality that is, I mean gosh, that’s my selling point for employment ads and everything. We have others that are popular as well. We do a …

Jonathan: Don’t you do that spinning wheel? Or you have something where they can win a prize if I remember correctly.

Martha: Right. Right. Again, we are mainly girls so you would have to modify this to what works for the men. Although I have men that work for us, but it’s like a Price is Right wheel. I think I ordered it off Amazon or Ebay. You can write in the prizes. I have things like oil changes and movie tickets, restaurant gift card, I have a $100 off a utility bill or rent. There’s all kinds of things that range from $10 to $100.

Then they earn spins. Again, we’re on a scale of 4. If their total monthly average was a 3.65 or better they earn 1 spins. If their monthly average was a 3.75 or better they actually get 2 spins. That’s hard to do. We don’t have … It’s maybe 5% of the company that is getting the second spin. Although that number is actually increasing. You know, it’s just viral that they … I can say I love it because it really is almost self maintaining. You just build in the system and, you know, you get the clients to buy in, you get the employees to buy in, and it just makes it easier on me as the owner and of course the office staff that deals with those calls.

Jonathan: Between this reward program where, clearly, the team benefits and the tracking, which at the end of the day it’s all really about the reward program or it’s about getting the quality up. The team member benefits through the reward program, because they can benefit in this way and they like what you’re doing and they’re bought in, have you seen … Has this process had any impact on retaining your team members? I don’t know if you’re able to measure …

Martha: Absolutely.

Jonathan: Okay. Okay. What have you experienced?

Martha: It really has. Again, I’ve had a little bit of a change in management so, you know, it’s hard to know which one caused the change. What I see is that if we have somebody who just can’t make it in our quality system they’re going to get weeded out within the first couple of months. Their scores are going to be in probation very quickly. It absolutely is telling. They can either make it or they don’t. Then the ones that make it, they love it, because you’re actually rewarding them for high quality work. They’re not being evaluated the same. They get feedback every day and that is another thing that really helps them …

Jonathan: That’s a pretty big deal.

Martha: Exactly. It’s been an indirect … It wasn’t on my bullet points of benefits, but we know that it’s very important to get feedback frequently. Not just the negative, but the positive. What I love about this system that I have now, they’re looking at their phone or on the computer at these scores that roll in and they have comments attached. Like I was saying, just pushed ten of them today and it says, “So and so is wonderful. I would love for him to come and clean our home,” or, “This team makes my day great.” It’s real affirmation of the work that they do. It’s something that I would never be able to give them that kind of feedback that frequently. Now they just get it. I love it.

Jonathan: I never thought of that. That’s actually a really big deal. That’s pretty cool.

Martha: It really is.

Jonathan: My last question around this is related to … I have no idea what the answer is going to be to this, but let’s say you have somebody on the team that is under performing and you know it in advance. Because they’re getting poor scores. They know about the poor scores and maybe you’ve put them on probation. Someone that’s under performing consistently and they see it. Are they more likely to leave the company on their own? Is there any change there or … For example, if … I’m going to make something up. Let’s say you had to fire 4 people a year because they just couldn’t make the cut. Since implementing something like this, is it now a scenario where 2 people just quit on their own? You don’t even have to fire them now and it only leaves you with a couple people you have to deal with? Is there any change in that area or is it about the same?

Martha: It is … They probably do self exit more than they used to. Everything is really driven around the data. It’s very transparent. I mean, it’s so transparent in my company. You know if you’re headed down the wrong path. They know when they can get a bonus and they know when they’re going in probation. So, yes. The writing is on the wall. I do occasionally get that employee that says, “Well, you assigned me to the bad jobs.”  We have that conversation. I definitely have my answer for that. It does. It really weeds people out. They know what’s expected of them. There is no guessing. They have their peers that they can see how they’re doing.

In the system that we have, you can actually set it up to where you can give an employee what we call “view all” so they can see everybody in the company. They can’t view quiet information and things like that, but they can see everybody’s performance. Depends on how you set it up. I’m on a view all. I believe in some peer pressure. Amazingly, my teams get along. I mean it’s just the way it is. The other nice thing is I have had to do an unemployment claim since I’ve set up this system. I’ve had to do a few. You just print off those reports and that’s all.

Jonathan: Oh, gee. That’s really interesting.

Martha: From the client and it’s just hard, cold facts. I’ve even been …

Jonathan: That’s pretty interesting.

Martha: Right, with the person from unemployment and they just kind of laugh and go, “Okay. We got what we need.”

Jonathan: Wow. I never thought of that. That’s pretty cool. Okay.

Creative Approach To The Employee Probation Process

Jonathan interviews Martha Woodward to find out how she has found success with her employee probation process.

Jonathan: Got another interview for you, it’s with Martha. It’s one of five. She’s got a lot of great advice and she’s got a lot of value. Check out what she has to say.

Do you have a process around putting an employee on probation? Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Martha: We do. Now, it’s confusing to everybody but me so I’ll see if I can explain it.

Jonathan: Okay. All right.

Martha: Okay, so I call it, there’s two 30 day timers. When complaint number one rolls in, start your first 30 day timer. Basically what I want to know is, is this just very isolated or are we starting a pattern? That first 30 day timer starts and the first complaint is just a verbal warning. If they get another complaint within that first 30 days, that’s still not a huge thing. Could be just oversight or whatever and that’s a written warning. When it becomes more serious is if they hit three within a 30 day period, then that kicks them into probation. That third complaint starts a new timer, a new 30 day timer. That’s a probation timer.

On that one, certain things happen during those 30 days. They’re in probation and in the cleaning world, we pay on job pay. They are allowed to leave the house early, normally, as long as everything’s completed. They get paid by the job. If they go into probation, that privilege is taken away. I actually use Service Autopilot GPS to actually watch and make sure they’re staying in those houses the length of time they’re supposed to, because if … We’ve actually had someone drive away from the house that was in probation. We call them up and we say, “You get back to that house, you are not done, you are in probation.”

They can’t leave the house early. They cannot earn their points toward paid days off. They’re not eligible for that bonus wheel. There’s a multitude of things that happen during probation. If they get, this is where it gets confusing, if they get the next complaint, which you could call it the fourth but we’re in a new timer, so I call it the second. It’s the second complaint in probation, then they’re actually going to be suspended for a day. Then if they get that third complaint in probation, they are terminated.

All along the way this is documented. That’s what’s crucial. We have a master form. It has all five of these complaints listed there. Each time they get a complaint, you write out what it is and so forth and they sign off and it has what the next consequence is, if it happens again. We try to approach it from a, “Listen, everybody’s human. We understand.” We try to be very forgiving as long as it’s not a pattern. That’s what the process is for, if it’s a pattern then you’re in trouble and you know, you’re still treated with dignity of course, but they know.

That’s why they do self exit because they can see the writing on the wall. We’ve got it documented, there’s not doubt about that. It’s just a process. It makes it easy for my office staff because I jokingly say, “I know, I mean I really like you but golly, we’ve got this same policy and I am so sorry but this is the policy.” It’s not me firing you, it’s the policy.

Jonathan: The policy. I was thinking that same thing as you were talking, it also changes the conversation from, in some cases, being subjective. “I feel that you’re not doing very good work.” “I feel this.” “I think that.” “I’ve heard this from some people.” It’s now super clear. It’s all, the guy or the gal that’s paying the bills around the company, meaning the client, is the one saying, “We’ve got an issue.” There’s a lot of clarity to that process. I like it.

Martha: Right. Right. You know me, I’m fairly unemotional but my office staff is not and this is a hard process for them. They can’t be as cut and dry except they can with this policy. It makes it way easier. Like I said, I think we do a good job of educating our staff all along the way, so they know from that first complaint. They know, “OK, here’s the process. We want to keep you out of this process. We’re here to help you.” Then on those people that, honestly, are not the right fit, I have a process to get rid of them.

Jonathan: I think it’s fantastic. Excellent. Very good advice. Thank you very much, Martha.

Martha: You are so welcome.

4 Numbers Are All You Need For Successful Team Building In Your Company

In this video, Jonathan gives you his number one resource for successful team building.

Back in 2007, I heard about something called Kolbe, with a ‘K’, and I noticed that a number of people that I really respected, that were running larger companies, really bought into this concept of this thing called Kolbe. They were using it within their company, so I became interested, and I took what’s called the Kolbe assessment, and I got a score. That score is a four digit number, and it tells you quite a bit.

For example, it helps me understand who to hire, who I need around me, and how to build teams. I want to tell you a little bit about Kolbe in case it’s valuable to you. But first, I want to tell you why I’m even giving you this video. We are hosting our Service Autopilot Conference and we’re going to be putting on a free webinar for those attending our conference.

Then, for our Service Autopilot members, the idea is that we’re doing a Kolbe session taught by a friend of mine by the name of Jason Kupp. He’s certified in Kolbe, I’m not, so I’m not teaching this. He’s going to be putting on a free webinar. I’m going to be on the webinar with him, and I’m going to be asking him some questions. Basically, he’s putting on this free webinar and what the point of this is, we need those that are attending our conference in November that want to come to his bonus session where he goes deep into Kolbe, we need them to attend this webinar first. It’s free.

They need to learn quite a bit about Kolbe so that when they attend the bonus session at our conference they understand what Kolbe is, and all the basics because he’s going to be covering more advanced material. I thought I’d go ahead and offer the same to you. There’s nothing to sell here, it’s free. If you’re interested in learning about Kolbe you can hop on the webinar that we’re going to be hosting this next Monday, and Jason Kupp again is going to be putting it on, and you can hop on that webinar and you can learn about Kolbe.

Back to what Kolbe is and why we’re doing this. Again in 2007, I took the Kolbe assessment, I got my four numbers. I looked at my four numbers and they … I’m not going to give you all the details on it, but they basically tell you how you’re wired. They tell you what your instincts are. It’s not a personality test. And from that, you can conclude all kinds of different things. The problem was I looked at the result and I didn’t really understand what it was telling me. In fact, my fourth number was a one, it’s on a one-to-ten scale and that number has to do with Implementer. That’s the title, it’s Implementer. I got a one. I’m like, “That doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m an implementer. I get stuff done, I make things happen. Why did I get a one on a one-to-ten scale?” I read the details about Kolbe and it still just didn’t totally resonate with me.

Fast forward, I had wanted to implement Kolbe throughout my company and I met Jason Kupp. I hired Jason Kupp to come in, have our entire company take the assessment, and then train our whole company. Since that moment in time, and that was a while back, we have, I have taken Kolbe a second time, by the way, my score is practically the same as the first time. That’s something you learn about. I’ve had my wife take it. I’ve had both my boys take it, and we’ve had everybody in our company take it. We have most of the people that we are about to hire take it, even before we hire them. And here is some of the information that it gives me. It tells me who I need to surround myself with.

I’ll just tell you little bit about what I know from that. For example, I’m really good at researching things. I’m really good at figuring things out. I’m really figuring out what to do. I’m good at figuring out opportunity and strategy. I’m really good at getting things started. I can make things happen and I can get them going. I’m good at solving problems, that goes back to figuring things out, but what I’m not great at is once I figure out a problem, I’m not great at putting that problem into a process, and then executing that process every single day. Day in and day out, and slightly tweaking and improving it. I’ve learned that I need operational people around me. I can really make the thing go but if it was left to just me, and I didn’t surround myself with the right people, my businesses would probably never get very big, unless I got lucky. I have to have the right people around me, the right people on my team. The right people to take the ball from me and continue carrying it, and implementing, and executing the process every day.

My guess is there’s something like that just for you. Maybe you’re really great at executing the processes of your company but you’re not so great at something else. There’s nothing wrong with that. You have this … you have the skill and this ability that’s unique to you, that you were essentially gifted with. And I have different sets of skills and together if you put the right people together with the right set of skills, pretty amazing things can happen inside your company. To me what Kolbe does is it tells me who I need on my team and who I need around me. If I have other team members running an area of the business or a division, who do they need around them? What people should work together? It tells me so much. It tells me … I don’t want to give it all away … it will tell you so much.

I totally buy into it, and again case in point, my whole family’s taken it. Everybody that works on our team has taken it. Many of the people, before I even hire them, I have them take it. We’ve spent three days in the last two years bringing Jason Kupp into our company to train our whole company. I totally buy into this. I think it’s a big deal, so I’d like to share that with you. Again, there’s no catch here. I mean, I’m just putting it out there since I’m doing it anyway. If you’d like to attend it, you can attend it for free and you can learn about something that I learned about back in 2007, but I didn’t totally understand it because nobody really explained it to me. Therefore, for a number of years it never was implemented in my business, and I never got any benefit from it. Until finally I had someone like Jason teach it to me and teach it to our company, and once I understood it I was able to utilize it to our benefit. It really is a valuable, valuable tool that I recommend all companies implement.

I hope you’ll attend the webinar. Apply to registration link down below. It will probably be, let’s say an hour and 15 minutes, and you’ll learn the details and the basics of Kolbe. Thanks.

Chance To Win: I Will Fly To You And Get Your Biggest Company Struggles Solved

Jonathan wants to help one lucky business owner get their biggest company struggles solved.

We’re running a contest. You have an opportunity to win. Here’s the deal. If you win I will fly to your company at my expense. I’ll spend an entire day with you and your team. We’ll work on anything you want to work on. For example, if you want to reinvent your business model, if you want to figure out what’s going on, what’s wrong inside the business, if you want to look for ways to really up the profit margin, if you’ve got operational issues you want some answers on, whatever it is, I’ll come and I’ll work with you on that.

We’ll put in a full work day. We’ll do some work. In fact you’ll have to answer some questions in advance so that I can prepare. I’ll want to know what you want to accomplish. We’ll spend that full day together and we’re going to accomplish a lot.

That evening I’ll take you and your spouse, or you and your leadership team, up to 4 people, out to an amazing dinner. We’ll find a place in your city that’s top notch, that’s got phenomenal reviews, and we’ll all go and we’ll have a fantastic time. All of it’s covered on my dime. Airfare, travel, the food, you will pay for nothing.

Here’s the deal. The way you can win is if you register to attend our Service Autopilot Conference before September 15th. Normally I wouldn’t even make this public on a channel like this where you’re probably not one of our Service Autopilot members. However, I thought it might make sense in this case because there’s a number of ways that attending the conference would benefit you. Not only would it benefit you obviously if you win the contest, but also benefit you to come.

Here are a couple examples. We run dual tracks at our conferences. That means you can spend the entire 2 days going down a track of learning all about Service Autopilot and how to use it. We’re covering all kinds of advanced stuff this time, around automations and forms and a whole lot of stuff.

You can run down the business track where you learn about leadership and managing your finances and really digging into making more money and dominating your market. In fact, this year the topic of the conference is leadership, leading your market and then leading within your company. Building a company that can dominate and, in my mind, become one of the top 3 players in your market.

If you’re not a Service Autopilot member you could come and get tremendous value out of it. I’d also like to put this idea in your mind. If you’re not a Service Autopilot member and you’re like, “I don’t know if these guys are really the real deal. I don’t know if these guys are really something I should be using or maybe I’m too small and there’s some really cheap free solutions out there. I could just use one of those solutions.” I’d really recommend you consider flying to Dallas, hang out with hundreds and hundreds of our members and see if we’re the real deal.

From having done this conference now several years, I know exactly how people feel about us. You’ll figure out if we’re just talk or if we’re the real deal. You’ll understand why we have thousands and thousands of companies and 15 plus thousand users of our system. Before you spend a dollar, if you’re on the fence with Service Autopilot, come to the conference and see what we’re about, and then you can make a buying decision.

While you’re here I’d recommend that you stick around and experience Dallas. There’s a lot to do in Dallas. There’s a lot of great food. There’s a lot of things to see. We’ve built an experience page right onto our conference page so you can find all the great stuff to do in Dallas. Come to Dallas, have a blast, have fun, bring a business partner, bring a spouse, turn it into some fun and at the same time figure out how to make yourself a whole lot of money by attending the conference and learning from our really smart speakers. On top of that, hopefully you’ll win the contest.

The way you find out about it is, right below this video I have a link, serviceautopilot.com/, and it’s the conference page. Click that link. It’ll take you to the conference page. You’ll see the agenda. You’ll learn about our conference. You’ll find out who’s speaking. You’ll get all the details. You’ve got to click the link below this video.

I hope to see you at the conference.

How To Use Metrics To Increase Sales

Jonathan and Ryan explain why the use of metrics to increase sales is key to your business success.

Jonathan: Hey Ryan. In this last video, we were just talking about metrics. You guys are a big operation. You make a lot of profit. You do very well. We were talking about metrics, and we were talking about creating actionable steps for your sales team to go out there and generate a lot of revenue. I feel like maybe we were talking at too high of a level, so can you boil that back down for us? To start, what the heck is a metric?

Ryan: Right. This is one of the challenges, even when you’re starting a new territory or you’re starting a new area, or in our case, when our new franchises are starting. One of the things that’s a big challenge is understanding what the expectation is. A metric for us is just a measure that you can use to generate data so you know what to do.

Jonathan: Okay, so this metric would be so the leadership of the company can measure the salesperson or whomever. And, then I’m going to also guess that it’s also so the salesperson can measure himself?

Ryan: Yes.

Jonathan: Okay.

Ryan: Even in a smaller organization, where it may be just 1 or 2 guys, what is that guy doing to measure himself against his competition, or to make sure he’s continuing to grow? Luckily, in the green industry, and especially in lawn care and landscaping, there’s a lot of this data already out there. What is the average sale? How many yards do you need to cut in a week to make a profit? This data is already out there. Tree and shrub care, in our case, we have to provide all that information to our franchise owners as they’re getting started, so they know what their expectations are 6, 8, 12 months down the road.

Jonathan: You’re teaching the franchise owner, here are the core metrics that you need to be looking at.

Ryan: Yes.

Jonathan: Then you’re telling them how to track the data. For example, I’m brand new in business. I don’t know anything. You tell me I should be looking at these, I’ll make up, 10 metrics. These are the 10 metrics that are the gauges, like a speedometer in your car, that will tell you if you’re running the company correctly, if you’re moving in the direction you want to move. As that person, I now have heard these 10 metrics hypothetically. How do I take it to the next step and actually track that data? Actually, let’s make this a little more real. What’s 1 metric?

Ryan: The first metric is your leads. So, you need to know where your leads are coming from and how many are being produced, which will help you to understand your cost per lead.

Jonathan: Okay.

Ryan: Right. For a new company, you need to know that you want a low cost per lead that’s going to generate income.

Jonathan: Okay.

Ryan: That’s the first metric.

Jonathan: I’m a franchisee. I now have bought into the idea that I really need to be paying attention to leads.

Ryan: Yes.

Jonathan: Am I looking at them on an annual basis? Am I looking at them by month, by week, account?

Ryan: Yeah. Starting out as a new company, you’re going to look at them every week, because you’re so intense and you already know what’s happening. You want to review that on a weekly basis. As you continue to grow through that first quarter, maybe back that out to the month and then to the quarter. As you continue to grow, I would at least every quarter be measuring and looking at what’s going on from the sales standpoint.

Jonathan: Okay, so I believe that I need to watch leads. I now have an idea of how frequently I need to watch them, but how do I actually capture my leads? That’s the next challenge. And my belief is most people are not tracking this data. How do I track the data? Where do I get the data from?

Ryan: From your clients. Every time you go out to meet with somebody, you ask them. How did you hear about us?

Jonathan: Okay, so that’s tracking a lead source.

Ryan: That’s tracking a lead source. You’re going to put that into Service Autopilot and make sure that you are tracking that lead source. You have to be diligent. It takes forethought. It takes effort. Without taking that effort, you’re not going to know what marketing is doing what and where you need to focus your efforts.

Jonathan: Okay, so staying with this 1 metric just so we can illustrate the point, because you guys have been so successful with this. I’m tracking leads. With the lead count, what decisions downstream will I be able to make with it? If I know leads, what does that actually even affect in my business where I can justify the effort to track it?

Ryan: I’ll tell you one of the things that we’ve done, and it’s saved us a ton of money in our marketing efforts, is to be able to cut out print marketing almost completely because we were able to track those leads and find that it really produced nothing for us long-term. That’s 1 thing in our company that we’ve been able to reduce a huge expense from, and then shift the marketing dollars over to things that do work.

Jonathan: You’re saying that what you’ve found is, if the lead came through print, they were not converting into a sale, to a client.

Ryan: That’s correct.

Jonathan: Okay, so you found that it was better to focus on the online marketing activities.

Ryan: Right.

Jonathan: Or not just online, but other activities.

Ryan: Other activities, right. We could also see how many leads we were getting by the month based on the source.

Jonathan: Are you looking at leads by ZIP code or carrier route or any other? Are you breaking it down any further, or have you found that just literally looking at the number of leads is enough?

Ryan: I think in our particular case, just looking at the leads on a regular basis, monthly is when we typically look at them to see what marketing pieces are doing what. But yeah, just by the source right now. We haven’t broken them all the way down to particular areas.

Jonathan: Okay. All right. What’s another metric that we’d be focusing on, just to further illustrate the point here?

Ryan: In order to build a sales plan, you have to know what your average sale is.

Jonathan: Okay, dollar value.

Ryan: Dollar value.

Jonathan: Okay.

Ryan: If it’s some people, it may be $100. Some people, it may be $1,000. Without knowing that, you don’t know how many leads you need to generate to figure out how to get to the end of your sales goal. Also, it can help you by knowing your dollar value per sale. It could help you figure out where you want to focus your efforts. You can increase your sales by simply increasing your dollar value per sale on those services that provide higher value.

Jonathan: Right. Going back to our other video then, I’m going to extrapolate that. You were talking about how we’re going to set a goal of, we need to do this many estimates, we need to make this many sales calls. Also, knowing this data, the dollar value of the lead by source, knowing the number of leads, I assume then that also identifies for your team how much marketing you need to do. Whatever type of marketing that is, you need to put out this volume of marketing, because it’ll generate this volume of leads that will turn into this number of calls, this number of estimates. Are we thinking about that correctly?

Ryan: Yes.

Jonathan: Okay. Is there anything else that we should mention that would just help clarify understanding your metrics or creating metrics or tracking this data for the very first time? Imagine it from the viewpoint of I’m a little bitty company just getting started. This is all foreign to me. Are there any other points that you’d want to mention that would help them?

Ryan: Again, it takes diligence. It takes time. In the beginning, it can be frustrating, because you have so many hats to wear. It’s worth the time and effort that it takes.

Jonathan: Even if I’m doing 100 grand or less, should I do it, or is that only for big companies?

Ryan: No, absolutely do it. If I was doing 50,000, I would want to do it, because I want to know where that money is coming from.

Jonathan: Yeah, I have to agree, because I feel like the little guys that get big are the little guys that did the same stuff the big guys were doing. The big guys weren’t doing all the same things as all the little guys, and magically got big. You got to think like the big company.

Ryan: That’s right.

Jonathan: I appreciate it.

Ryan: No problem.

Jonathan: That’s great information. Thank you.

Ryan: Thank you.

How To Install Flowers Correctly

This video explains why learning how to install flowers correctly could make or break your business.

I’d like to give you some ideas on how to install flowers correctly. I’d normally stick to business and marketing advice and people advice and scaling the company and things like that. I leave the tricks of the trade and equipment topics to other people. However, in this case, I thought I’d talk about flowers a little bit. I think I can make a couple business points in talking about this example…how to make your business better and how to make your life a little bit easier.

In the early days, I installed flowers and I as a total newbie to the lawn care business. I’d been in it as a high school kid, you’ve probably heard me say that before, but I got out. Years later, I got back in the business. So I’m now in the business and everybody’s asking for flowers. So I’m buying flowers from the contractors, maybe I’m going to Home Depot or Lowe’s and I’m picking up some flowers. More often than not, I’m buying flowers from a legitimate flower source. We’re installing all types of varieties. We’re letting the client tell us, “Hey, I want these flowers or that flower.” We’re picking it up. We’re sourcing the color and we’re taking it out and we’re installing it.

Well, in those early days, I’d install pretty much anything you wanted me to install. I would also, basically, dig a hole and plant your flowers. Then, I’d wonder, “Why are we having so many problems with flowers? Why do we get callbacks? Why don’t they get big? Why don’t they look great?” We’re telling the client how to water them and we’re installing them.

You know, slowly, as we became smarter, just like everything else in business, we realized, wow, if you install the flowers at the right time of the year, then they can grow so much bigger. If you install the flowers and you fertilize them right away and then you don’t allow the client or you don’t fertilize them too soon, but you then follow up with the second fertilization, wow, what a difference it can make. Also, if you leave it up to your client in how to water the flowers and you don’t give very specific instructions, it can lead to all kinds of callbacks because the flowers die because they’re over-watered or potentially under-watered.

Also amazing, if you actually prep the soil, so you remove the dead flowers, you prep the soil, you fertilize and then you plant and you water, you make sure they’re watered before you leave (assuming it’s not the heat of- you know, assuming you’re not in the middle of summer, it’s not super hot and you’re going to burn the flowers by watering them in the heat of day), you control more variables. As a result, you have more success.

We found all these little tricks. Then, if you refined it further and you said, “You know what? I have clients that are asking for 20 different varieties of flowers. The different varieties that they’re asking for cause me all kinds of problems. They’re more finicky. To really thrive, they need to be planted at different times. Or if I plant this particular variety of flower and the winter color had a fungus and I don’t catch that and therefore replace all the soil before I put in the summer color, I’m going to lose the summer color.” You can imagine all the problems. We figured all those things out over time.

So, here’s my suggestion. This is the case with everything. If you’re going to do flowers in the beginning, read some books and figure out how to do it right. If you do what everybody else does and you just buy the flowers from a vendor and then you put them in the ground and you water them or you hope the client’s going to water them correctly, you’re never going to have great flowers. What’s going to happen is, your client is not going to be thrilled with you. They might love you for everything else, but you let them down in flowers because you just didn’t take all the steps you should have taken. You didn’t educate them. Therefore, the flowers didn’t turn out very good. That gives them a bad feeling about you and you end up getting fired for everything.

If you’re going to be in the flower business and your business isn’t very big yet, my suggestion is charge what you need to charge to do it right: to prep the soil, to fertilize, to install the flowers and get paid for it. Don’t try to offer a great price and simply, on demand, put in whatever flower the client wants. It’s a recipe for failure.

I also would recommend that you figure out the varieties that work. In my market, there are very specific varieties: Begonias, Vinca, Pansies, there are several others that I know are going to do well. They’re going to do well in every lawn, generally, every lawn if done right. As long as I’m aware of whether I’m planting the flower in shade or sun, those basic principles, they’re going to do well.

Once I get outside of certain varieties, I up my risk factor. So if I was as smart as I am now, which is only so smart, and I was getting back into the business, knowing what I now know, I would probably only install about 6 to 8 varieties of flowers. That would be it. I would only do it my way and I would charge the right price.

If it wasn’t a fit for the client, they wanted a different flower or they didn’t want to pay to have the flowers fertilized, they weren’t going to take my irrigation instructions or maybe even let me set their timer for them, I wouldn’t do the job. Because what it would end up doing, I learned over time, is it cost me my reputation. They don’t refer me. They’re not as happy with me. They might even eventually fire me for all the other services because of the flowers.

If you’re going to do it, if you’re going to be in that part of the business, be in that part of the business correctly. This carries forward to everything. If you’re going to be in tree trimming, figure out the 80-20 of tree trimming. What are the core principles you need to know? If you’re going to install mulch, figure out how to do it right. Figure out how to not do it one job at a time. Figure out how to stage your jobs and bunch them because that’s where the profit is.

Figure out the basics of whatever that service is that you’re going to enter into. Understand the key factors that, in a sense, move the lever to achieve success and prevent failure and frustration and all the other things that come from not understanding what you’re doing or doing it correctly or not being a pro at it. Figure those things out and then simplify it. Like I said, 8 varieties of flowers. That’s all we do.

As the company matures, you get smarter, you have a bigger team, and of course you can do more. But in the beginning, keep it simple, be really good at it. It will just make everything else in your life so much easier.