My plumber may be missing out on big profits of 150k a year. Hear how to avoid making the same mistake.
Hello! The other day we had a plumber out at our home and the reason is, we got a new grill and we have a gas line coming out of our home. I know it’s a super easy thing to do, but the line from the grill wouldn’t fit onto the line from the house. I didn’t want to mess with it. One, because I didn’t really have time, and two, because it’s natural gas, so I thought we’d just have the plumber out.
We called the plumber and he came out. Actually it was two guys, and they had a $135 minimum to come do the job, which was fine, and it probably took them 10 or 15 minutes to do the work. They fixed it. All was done and then the guy went out to the truck, actually both of the guy’s went out to the truck, and they were writing up the paperwork. I tried to give him my credit card before he even went to the truck, he’s like, “No, no problem. I’ll go write up the paperwork. I’ll come back in.”
I’m in my house about 10 minutes and I walk out to the truck and he’s legitimately out there writing up the paperwork. He’s got a calculator. He’s adding things up. He’s filling out all of the paperwork by hand. I stand around for a few minutes and then I finally just walk back in the house. Then he follows me in and then I give him the credit card, and he charges the credit card, and then we chit-chat for just a second. Great guy, great company, no complaints.
I estimate at an absolute minimum they spent 15 minutes between the time that they finished the job, filled out the paperwork, came back in, charged my card, etc. You get the idea. Plus there were two. If you could imagine, and these guys bill at $120 an hour. I don’t know if it’s $120 an hour for two or $120 an hour each. I’m not even sure, but if you do the math and we’ve done a number of videos on this, and it’s about non-billable time. That non-productive time. This is why a lot of companies do not make very good money, or they can’t figure out why they’re not making more money, or it’s why they don’t think their business is very good.
Let me give you the example math on this. He wasted 15 minutes at my job. For simplicity I’m just going to call it 15 man minutes. It should really be 15 minutes times two guys but let’s just keep this really simple. He wasted 15 minutes at my house. Let’s say through the course of the day, he wastes 15 minutes three more times, so he wastes a total of 1 hour for the whole day, and this is being really conservative. They bill $120 an hour, so in other words, had they not wasted an hour and they did one extra job, and they billed that one extra job at $120, that would have been $120 in profit to the company because all the other money they earned I’m assuming already covered the expenses, the over head, paying the technicians, etc. Generally when you save wasted time, it almost all goes to the bottom line unless you’re losing money in your company. But, let’s just keep it simple. It almost all goes to the bottom line. That $120 would have been profit.
Now imagine the owner of this company were to make an extra $120 per day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year. I believe that’s $30,000. I believe that’s correct. If my math is wrong, the point still is valid. That’s an extra 30,000 off this one crew of two guys. Now imagine if he has 5 trucks running around and all 5 trucks are wasting 1 hour a day that could be billed at $120 an hour, the owner’s not taking home $150,000 a year in additional pay that he could be taking if he just fixed the problem of 1 hour of wasted time.
This is a perfect example of waste, and this waste happens in every way. How you fuel the trucks. How you maintain the equipment. How they load their trucks in the morning. You can just go down the list and there’s just tons of this waste. How fast they get out of the yard in the morning. I can go on, and on. Are they doing everything on paper and they’re not using mobiles? Maybe they’re not wasting as much time on filling out an invoice. We don’t do that. We bill back at the office. Maybe the waste is happening when they’re writing down start and stop times. Maybe it’s happening when they’re writing notes. Maybe it’s happening when they’re filling out paperwork for chemicals or writing notes that they leave on the door. A lot of this stuff could be automated or simplified in some way.
What I have found is you want to go through every single aspect of your company. Everything that’s happening. Watch your team. What are they doing? You look for the waste and then you work on that. When you fix that, and then you re-bill that time because now you don’t have to go hire a lot of new employees, you can sell that time to the customer, almost all that money is profit that comes back to you.
Hopefully the analogy makes sense and the example makes sense. This is why it’s so incredibly important to be thinking this way and working on these things. I hope you’ll apply it in your business.
In this video, Jonathan shares his personal journey and the true reality of building a great company.
From chatting with some Service Autopilot members, chatting with some individuals that are part of the Service Autopilot Academy and then looking at some of the comments on YouTube, I realized that when I do a video and I describe what I went through or how I got here, it resonates a little bit more versus when I do a video that simply says, “Hey, here’s an idea that I’ve learned that you might want to try to see if it solves a problem in your business.” I don’t know how this will come across, but I thought I’d just, off the cuff, record a video and describe what my business was like in the beginning and take away some of the illusion that it was not so hard or that I just knew what to do.
You didn’t know me ten years ago when the business got started, and you didn’t see what we went through. Those that have seen the business, see where it’s at now and they’re like “I’d like to have that.” But, it was a long road to get here. I’ll give you an example. When I was in high school, 8th grade I guess, so prior to high school, my mom drove me around to mow lawns. I mowed lawns all the way through high school and into my freshman year of college when I got out of the business. I had a couple of people that worked for me in high school, but I was basically a kid mowing lawns and trimming bushes and pulling weeds. That was really the only thing I did, but I did it really well for a high school kid. I got out of the business when I was in college and I went into some other things.
I wanted to be in software, and I also wanted to start a vending business. My allergies were driving me crazy, so I got out of the business. That was the end of my lawn care career, but it influenced me enough to know that I wanted to be in business for myself. I didn’t have a role model that was in business for themselves, so that had affected me. I knew this was what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know how to get there. Ultimately what happened is I ended up getting my degree. While I was getting my degree, I ended up working at a software company. Early on when I was 21-22 years old, I worked at a software company. I liked the company, but I really wanted to be back in business for myself.
Now I’m married. I got married when I was 22, and it was a little bit more difficult to go out and start that business. I bought a house, and I remember the struggle of trying to figure how I was going to get back out on my own and how I was going to afford to build the business and give up my job and all these other things. It was a real struggle to get there. I went through a bunch of stuff. I finally got back out on my own doing computer consulting with my business partner who is now my business partner in Service Autopilot, and then along the way ended up in a couple different service industries.
Fast forward to 2005, the end of 2004, on a complete fluke I ended up back in the lawn care business. Never did I think that was going to happen. I have to tell you the back story to explain that. In 2004-2005, the business really started going in spring of 2005. I didn’t know anything. Remember, I was this high school kid years earlier that just mowed lawns and had a couple guys working for me, so when I got in the business, I thought I needed to do everything. I started collecting flyers from others and I copied some of their flyers and I tried some postcards. I didn’t know my trees, my grass, my weeds, I knew nothing, but from experience thought, “I better go out there and start selling some work.”
I started walking into buildings and asking for commercial work, and that’s how I got some of my early commercial work. I ended up getting a big contract for $145,000 and ended up getting a bunch of smaller jobs that paid $3500 a year or $8,000 a year. I also had a whole bunch of small properties that I bought from a guy that was in his 60s and was getting out of the business and I bought about $50,000 worth of small commercial jobs that paid anywhere from $35 to $85 a week. That was the beginning of the business. Then I started to do these postcards and door hangers and I was mailing them out and I built a website. I knew how to do that because I knew technology, so I had some leads coming in. Now I’m doing small commercial, big commercial, big residential that’s 2 and 3 acres, half acre stuff, and some small stuff where the gross lot square footage may have been 10,000 square feet.
I was running around doing everything. I was going and seeing all the customers, I was selling, answering the phone, buying the trucks, and doing everything. It was just me. I started having all kinds of problems. I remember that I would work every night until super late. My desk was a complete disaster, and in 2005, it sounds crazy now, I remember in the very beginning I had an answering machine on my desk, and in spring I’d come back and there was like ten messages on this answering machine because nobody was answering the phone. That was the very beginning. I was completely scattered because I was doing everything. I’d have a guy that came in, I remember it clearly, at 1:30 and drops off the crew and everything and says, “I’m done today, I’ll be back tomorrow.”
I could just go down the list. I had guys that would call me on Sunday night drunk to quit and then on Monday they’d show up for work. It just never ended. A truck would break down because I bought all inexpensive cheap stuff because we didn’t have tons of money to throw into this business, or we’d be doing a landscape job and I didn’t know how to actually do a flower bed correctly so we wouldn’t dig out enough dirt and we’d do the job and then 3 weeks later they’ve got weeds and grass growing up in the flower beds and it was a complete mess. I’d have to go back and fix that, or something would go wrong with a flower delivery. I’d be running the errands to get flowers and I’d be going to Home Depot to get a shovel. I’d be going to meet clients for estimates and then getting home at 8:30 at night, starting my day again at 6 and probably doing some paperwork at night. It was just miserable, and I hated the business. I was still doing computer consulting as well.
Now that I think about it, I was doing computer consulting at night until 2 o’clock in the morning. It was insanity, but I was trying to get this business going and I was just working these insane hours. I was miserable, I wasn’t happy, the business was hardly making any money. I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing and I was self conscious because I didn’t know how to figure out what to do. I didn’t know my plants, I didn’t know my flowers, I’d go out and see a client, she’d point out a bush and say, “Hey, what’s this bush?” I’d have to play it off like, “It’s on the tip of my tongue,” and then I’d have to go look it up when I get back to the office and realize oh, it’s a nandina or whatever. Then next time hopefully I’d remember that, and eventually I had to memorize my weeds and my flowers. I could never diagnose diseases either. You get the idea.
It was one thing after another, and then when I had this $140,000 account and I kept it for several years, and we sucked at fertilization and weed control. I couldn’t keep a good tack on fertilization and weed control so it got to the point where I wasn’t doing any of the physical work, I was doing everything else. It got to the point where now I’m getting up every morning at 5:30, getting the spray rig, and I’m out there spraying these properties because we have no spray tech. This went on for several months, and then I’m doing all my other stuff I have going on. What happened is we would get so far behind on stuff that we’d end up with weeds in the $145,000 account, and that account consisted of 8 properties. We’d do some really good work there, but then we’d drop the ball on fertilization and weed control and we’d get behind the 8 ball on it. Ultimately, after a couple years, we lost that account.
I had my own excuse for why I lost the account. My excuse was because the purchasing manager at that place gave the job to somebody that he knew from his church, and I thought, “That’s a scam.” But in hindsight, if I’d been kicking ass on that job, if I had had my ducks in a row and there had been no weeds and that thing would have been perfect, it wouldn’t have opened the door. I had my little excuse for that, but in reality it was my own fault. I was doing every service. I was trying to do everything, and everything was on me. I was slow to hire help.
I learned all these lessons in a matter of a year and a half. I didn’t learn everything I needed to know, but I started learning where I was really making some big mistakes.
I had some prior experience in another service business where we were doing things a little bit smarter, but it was bigger. Now I start this other thing and I’m not making the same smart decisions because I’m trying so hard to manage every cost, but yet I’m blind to the fact that by saving $10 or $15 here per hour on hiring somebody, I’m now doing all this $10 and $15 work, so it made my life miserable, made the company slow to grow. I just dealt with one problem after another. It was miserable. I kept running the numbers like, “I swear there’s something to this business, I know I can make money at this.” But I’m kind of ready to just screw it and throw in the towel.
You may have heard this part before, I think I’ve said this publicly, I basically got to the point where I didn’t care. I was so freaking burned out, I was so tired, I was self conscious in a sense like, “I don’t really know what I’m doing here, I don’t know all the things I need to know.” You get the idea. I think I’ve set it up good enough. The point I’m wanting to make is I basically got to the point where I was done. I was worn out, I was frustrated, I was stressed, I was questioning what I knew. I was really smart, I thought, in certain areas, but now this business is making me question some of my ability or time management. Out of this, I learned so many lessons, and I finally just said, “Screw it, I’m done, I don’t care if the business closes, falls apart, whatever, I don’t care but I’m trying something different.” Thank goodness I did.
I realized that I wasn’t managing my time as good as I needed to, so I really started working on that. But, first I had to make some major changes in the business and I’ll get to that in a moment. I also realized that I really do not know how to market. I can go out and sell an account, I can meet with you face to face and I can win the business, but I don’t know how to get you to come to me. I had no idea how to do it. I had all these great intentions about things I wanted to do with customer service or better ways to organize the business, but I realized that I’m too busy to do any of that stuff and one of my characteristics is I get it 40% done and then I move on to the next thing and that thing never gets implemented or never gets finished. I’m always moving to the next thing because I have 25 million things going on, or the next problem’s always hitting me in the face. I was almost done with this problem, but this one’s now more important, so I move to that.
I started to realize all these things about myself that I had to then work on. I started to really learn marketing, and through marketing I learned things about customer service and all kinds of other things. There was just all these things I had to learn. I already had a nice base set of skills and knowledge, and it was good for the other businesses that I had done such as the consulting and the other service business I was in, but it wasn’t good enough to get me where I wanted to go in this business. At the end of the day, I finally just fired all the clients, all the employees that drove me crazy, scaled the whole business back down to one crew, and it changed my world. It did a couple things.
I realized, “Wow, I can actually make money in this business.” My energy level went way up. “Okay, I can build off of this.” Suddenly I have all this time. I fired all the problem clients, all the problem employees, I became very focused on a small service area instead of running my trucks 35 miles away to commercial properties. I became very focused on a small area and I got very clear on what kind of work we wanted to do.
We didn’t want big residential, that was like doing commercial. I really didn’t want tons of commercial. I wanted more, but just the right jobs and I wanted a lot of really close together residential. I also realized that fertilization and weed control was really hurting us because I didn’t have the time to be an expert, so I got some help on that. I found somebody I could contract some stuff to temporarily, and then I got out of landscape because I didn’t know what I was doing. It was driving me crazy, it was taking me tons of time. I was the delivery boy for that, and I just stopped doing irrigation work and stopped doing aeration.
We just simplified so many things, and it was life changing. My crappy trucks, my decent equipment, my crappy marketing, my lousy phone system, all these things started to improve because I started to have a little bit more money and I started to be able to think clearly and I started spending a lot of money to go to conferences, seminars and I joined a business group that was pretty expensive. I ultimately spent some one on one money to go sit down with the really smart marketing people and just asked questions. I spent a lot of money, and it was money I didn’t have, but that was the catalyst that changed everything. It wasn’t that tomorrow I woke up and everything was rosy and perfect. It was that I continued to make improvements. I upgraded a truck, that got rid of some problems. I got out of fertilization and weed control because I contracted it, that took some more problems off my plate. I quit doing landscape, took some more problems off my plate. I started to learn how to do some marketing. I started getting more leads that I could already close so I knew how to do that so I had more business which gave me more money.
Then I hired another person, and then I said, “You know what? It’s time to have a phone person.” Actually that happened prior to the events I’m talking about, but I just kept making one more little incremental improvement over a number of years, and it took about 4 years from getting started in 05 to mid 2009. By mid 2009, I had a pretty big client account, and that was because my goal was wrong and I was just trying to get lots of clients versus make lots of profit. I was totally flawed in that. My goal was client accounts, my goal was not profit. Totally screwed up, but I learned that lesson. What I’m trying to say is in about a 4 year period, maybe 4 and a half year period, I do have a lot of clients but it’s not a very profitable business. Over that time, I learned so many things. I implemented so many things. I changed so many things. I got so many things off my plate, that every month there was a little more progress.
By about 4 and a half years in, things are getting decent. They’re pretty good. I’ve got a good business…I’ve definitely got a decent business, but not a great business. From about that moment in time on, because my team started getting better, I could get more help. I had an operations manager, that’s when it exploded. It took me 4 and a half years to figure all that stuff out. It took me all that time to quit doing the dumb things and start learning the right things and start slowly implementing the right things. It took me that long to become focused, and every year it got better. It wasn’t horrible all the way through 4 and a half years, but it wasn’t perfect and it kept getting better.
Every year I was doubling. First year I did 125, then 250, then just under 500,000, and then a million, something like that, and then boom. That’s when it took off, and that’s why I feel like and I’ve heard it with other people, that up to that first million, you’re just learning so many lessons. You’re figuring so many things out. You don’t have hardly any help, and now you’re starting to get help and now your help is starting to learn how your business works. They’re starting to get smarter, so by around that million dollar mark, things can explode, and that’s when you can see these dramatic jumps. Getting to the 2 million from a million, that happened in no time. That stuff happened fast because I now knew some things. I quit making the stupid mistakes. I was more organized and I had a team.
If I could show you what it looked like, and I actually did a video showing my original first mower, if you could have witnessed it, it would give you a totally different vision of where we’re at today. You’d probably be shocked, but that’s how it works. That saying of, that person’s a 20 year success, or the overnight success that took 20 years, you might have heard that saying. That’s really how it works. I started recording videos 5 years into the business, right at that place where I was doing over a million dollars, and I had 900 clients, I don’t remember now. About that time is when everything exploded because now I knew what to do and I was doing the right things, and it was all about continuing to execute the right plan over and over again.
I don’t know if that helps at all. I don’t know if that gives you any encouragement without you actually seeing what it was like. I don’t know if I’ve done a good job describing it, but your scenario is not unique. Your struggles, your frustration, your questioning of your ability, your frustration and you’re like, “Why can’t I figure this out, but all these other guys have?” All that stuff is completely normal. It’s what everybody goes through. Nobody wakes up one day, starts a business, and has all the answers. Nobody reads Ink Magazine like, “Oh dude I’ve been reading Ink Magazine for two years, I know how to build a business, this isn’t gonna be that hard.”
No way. Nobody knows what to do. Most of the guys that build a quick fast growing business, it wasn’t their first. It’s their third. They’ve already screwed up so many things. They already figured out so many things, that when they did it the third time or the second time or the fourth time or whatever, they know some stuff now, and maybe they even have a little bit of money that they can go hire some people to help them grow the thing fast. It’s normal.
You’ve gotta go through it. But, once you go through this business, if this is your first, and you build a real team and a real company and you grow it bigger, whatever your next endeavor is in life, it’ll be so much easier. It’ll have a whole new set of problems, a whole new set of things you don’t know. It’ll be so much easier because you’ve had some experiences and you’ve been through some challenges and you’ve been through the struggles and now you have some answers. You know where to look for answers. Most of us when we started, we didn’t know where to look for answers. When you know where to look for answers, you can find solutions, and when you can find solutions, you can solve almost any problem. I hope that is just a little bit of encouragement for you to keep going, keep pushing on, keep fighting through and keep looking for those answers, and keep simplifying your business and keep pushing on. It’s life changing. Good luck.
Are you emailing lawn care customers? Use caution. It could just get you fired.
Text messaging, emailing, or trading Facebook posts with your clients, and even with your team, can really get you into a lot of trouble. It is really cool, convenient technology and you and your clients want to use it, but I’d really caution you based on some experiences I’ve had in the past, solely relying on this technology for convenience.
First, there’s nothing that will replace human interaction and building a relationship through human action. Second, as you know, there’s no way to interpret tone. For example, years ago, I was a partner in a company and we did not let our district managers when they were dealing with our clients who were property managers, we did not let them trade emails.
We didn’t even publish their individual emails. There was basically one email. We didn’t want them giving out their email addresses. We wanted them talking on the phone. If one of our clients messaged in or sent an email and said that they needed to get something taken care of, or that they had a problem, or were unhappy about something, we didn’t want our team emailing back.
We wanted our team to pick up the phone, call that individual and get it straightened out. We wanted our client to hear the tone and we wanted our team member, our district manager, to hear the tone of the client and make sure it truly got resolved.
I was just reminded of this today when I received a text message from one of my vendors and the text message basically made me mad. It made me think I could replace this person. I just didn’t like their tone and the way they were handling something. They were sort of blaming something on me that had nothing to do with me. I never picked up the phone and talked to them, but I did continue the text message and realized that they were completely wrong in their assumption.
I’m not giving you the details but basically they made an assumption, they were frustrated at me. Had I not continued the text, I wouldn’t have realized why they were frustrated. They were just simply wrong and when I corrected them, problem solved.
That kind of stuff, had I just stopped that text message, I would have continued on thinking I’m ready to just get rid of this individual. Think about that with your team. If they’re trading messages with the client, if they’re trading text messages or phone calls or Facebook posts, how is your client perceiving what they’re saying? Is your team member even perceiving what the client’s saying correctly? Are they understanding their tone?
We’re moving into all kinds of really interesting technology and convenience. It does not hurt, in fact it pays to continue to pick up the telephone and use the phone to really build relationships and provide great service.
If you are not doing this, you will struggle to grow your lawn care company.
We’re working on a project right now at ServiceAutopilot. It requires that we call about 10% to 15% of our members, about 300 companies. What we’re finding is that to get them on the phone generally takes a couple calls. That’s a broad generalization, because there’s a whole bunch of clients, members that answer on that first call. However, there’s a lot that we have to leave a voicemail for. We’ve been having this discussion internally and that’s the point of this video.
It is absolutely imperative that you answer your phone and that I answer my phone. Your marketing doesn’t work very well if you don’t answer your phone. Your customer service isn’t very good if you don’t answer your phone. The most common scenario is that when someone is looking for a service provider, they have a list of a couple people that they probably found on the web or they got door hangers off their door. They called the most interesting one first. If they don’t answer, they don’t leave a message generally, and then they call the second one, and then the third one. If that third one answers, and they sound good and give a fair price, they get the business.
The game is speed, and when you don’t answer your phone, you’re losing the game of speed. Clients want things to be easy and fast. When you’re the guy that doesn’t answer, when you’re the company that doesn’t answer, you don’t win the business. Your competitor does. After you spend all that money on marketing and you don’t answer your phone or I don’t answer my phone, then it feels like, “Oh, this marketing thing just doesn’t work. None of this marketing works.” It’s generally because the calls aren’t getting answered.
Sometimes that even means not answering the calls on Saturdays. If you want to win the game in the big selling season which, depending on your business, might be spring, it might make sense to answer the phone on Saturdays. It might make sense to answer the phone into the evening. This is really interesting, because at ServiceAutopilot, of all the cloud-based software systems out there in the industry, we tend to be the one that attracts the bigger or more successful companies.
If you were to analyze our clients, you’ll see that we have a lot of bigger companies. We have a lot of companies, a lot of people, but if anybody is going to cancel ServiceAutopilot, it’s the little bitty company that’s just got a crew or a tech and it’s because they won’t do even a single training with us. They won’t learn the systems, so they just go to another system that’s really simple and super, super basic that can’t do that much because it’s easier to use.
The reason I wanted to say that is I wanted to point out that when I say that many members aren’t answering their phones, one, we have some incredible companies that do. That’s how they built their companies is they’re willing to do the things that the little guys aren’t willing to do. That’s how they got big.
I wanted to point out that even within our client base that tends to be bigger and more successful than the clients that other companies have, we still see many of our members not answering their phone. It’s absolutely imperative, critical that you answer your phone. It’s the difference maker. It’s the thing you cannot ignore.
I wanted to record the video to remind you that if you’re not answering the phone, spend the money on that. It will improve your customer service and it will make all your marketing work better. You’ll sell tons more work. You’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes. Figure out how to answer the phone. It’s a difference maker.
To fix your business problems, Jonathan suggests you look at the things that consume your thoughts and go from there.
Hey! I’m constantly asked questions as you know, and I’m constantly answering questions. One of the questions I like to ask when I’m trying to help someone figure something out is, when you go to bed at night what is the one thing that you are thinking about that’s driving you crazy, that’s keeping you up, it’s stressing you out, that’s making you feel really tense and you just don’t want to go to sleep or you can’t go to sleep? Then, in the morning when you wake up what’s the very first thing that comes to mind? What’s that first thought, what’s that thing you think about and you’re like, Ah, I don’t really want to get out of bed, I don’t want to deal with this, I don’t want do it? Who is that person, what is that thing, what is that problem?
That’s probably the most important thing that you need to fix inside your business. It’s probably the most important thing that you need to change. What happens is, I often feel like I’m asked questions about, how do we fix this, what should we do here, how can I make improvements? Sometimes, not always, but sometimes the individual asking the question is really hoping that I’m going to give them an alternative to what they already know they need to do. Then on top of that, sometimes we all just need to be asked questions so that we have to hear ourselves say out loud what the problem is that we already knew. It’s like, I know, I know I need to do that but for whatever reason we’ve been ignoring it, putting it off, hoping it will go away.
My question to you is, what’s keeping you up at night? What’s the first thing in the morning that you think of? What can you go do to fix that? You don’t need to ask me, what do I need to fix or what should I change or what’s wrong with my business, until you’ve first done that. You know what to do. Go get rid of that employee that’s driving you crazy. Go fix that hole in your business where you’re losing money. Go cut out that expense, go have that conversation with a business partner, go have that conversation with your wife. Deal with whatever that thing is that’s eating your energy and driving you crazy. Get it done and then you can move onto the next problem.
In this video, Jonathan shares how to change your thinking to make better decisions for your business.
Hey! This past weekend I had a conversation with one of my really great friends. He is a long time friend that I’ve known since the first grade and he’s launching his first company in the medical industry and this is a guy that’s done his time. He knows his craft. He’s very talented. Not only that, he’s been very savvy with his money. He’s debt free. He’s saved his money. He’s been frugal. He has all the makings of a very successful business owner and I’m positive that he’s going to do very well so, we’re talking about his business and it’s a very capital intensive business to get started.
Unfortunately, years back before the 2008 downturn, he bought a really fantastic piece of property to build his dream home on. Then the market tanked and they didn’t develop that neighborhood so the value of this land collapsed. It made no sense to sell that land so, he paid it off and held the land in hopes that it would appreciate and come back in value. Today, that land is back, let’s say 50%, meaning it was up here, it lost a tremendous amount of value and now it’s like half way back to where he originally purchased it. We were talking and I mentioned, “Why don’t you go ahead and sell that land, get the money out of it, take that money and put it into your business?”
This is the point I want to make. I think it’s counter-intuitive for many of us to do such a thing. What we want to do is, if we make a bad investment, whether it’s a stock, a commercial property, or maybe we buy our personal residence. Maybe we even invest in an employee. We have training dollars in them. We have time. We have years in this person or this thing and this investment is under-performing and we want that thing to get back to where it originally was. Really a better example that the employee example is some piece of equipment or real estate or stock, as I said.
Let’s go back to the land and let’s just make up a number. Let’s imagine that he bought that for one hundred thousand, it collapsed down to twenty thousand, it’s now back up to fifty. Where could he make the money back the fastest? That is the real question because the way I believe you need to look at investments, the way you need to look at money is, who cares what happened in the past. That was yesterday. It doesn’t matter. Where are we today? What is my next best step moving forward? As of today, forgetting everything that’s happened in the past, based on the mistakes I’ve made, the bad investments. Who cares what I paid for it? Where are we today? Looking forward out into the future based on the economic conditions, the opportunities, my knowledge, my company’s skill set and team. Where could we best invest this money?
I believe he’s going to be very successful in his business. This business is going to set up his family. It’s going to let him do what he wants to do. Everything about that’s fantastic so, I would argue that taking this money out of the land and not waiting X number of additional years for it to get back to that original price and putting that money into his business to help him grow that business is a better use of the money. I’d argue that he’ll make his money back so, in my fictitious example of still being down fifty thousand bucks, I’d argue that he will make that fifty thousand dollars back faster in his business than he will leaving it in the land and hoping that, in the next three or four years, it’ll appreciate back to the original value.
Again, that’s the point. Based on where you are today, forgetting all past mistakes, forgetting what you originally spent on something, with that thing you now own or the money that it’s worth, where could it best be used? Where could you make back your losses? Not sitting in a stock, hoping that someday it will come back so you can sell at that time. Where can you get that or where can you best make your money back? Where can you best use your money? Maybe making the money back isn’t even the best way to talk about it. Where could you best utilize that asset, that money, the team to bring you the greatest return in the future, forgetting the past? That’s really the key here. We want to think about every day as a new day. It’s kind of like a zero sum game. We’re starting over from scratch based on today, looking out into the future. We make our decisions based on where we are today, forgetting everything in the past.
Over and over and over again, I see so many of us thinking about what happened in the past, complaining about what happened in the past, feeling guilty for what happened in the past. That doesn’t matter. It’s from today forward. What’s your very best decision based on where you’re today. It’s all you’ve got to worry about.
Jonathan shares what is important in his life and explains why the sacrifice for your business does not have to be your entire personal life.
This past weekend I got to spend an awesome weekend with a bunch of great, great people that are part of Academy. These are guys and gals that are just doing awesome stuff in their businesses and they’re excited about making their businesses better. I’m just incredibly grateful for getting to hang out with some really awesome people.
There’s a point to this video. We spent a weekend in Vegas. There was no agenda. It was a surprise trip for everybody in Academy. About a third of Academy attended. We have about 100 people in Academy. Actually just a little less than a third attended. Many brought their spouses.
We basically had no agenda. There was no business agenda. We just hung out. We had some great food. I think I got back to my room at 3:30 one night and 5:30 the other night. We were just hanging out talking. Talking about personal stuff, and business stuff, and growing the company, and problems, and everything that you could possibly imagine that goes on inside a business and in personally building a business. It was awesome. Guys played golf and we went on an awesome ATV adventure.
The point of this is, it just reminded me how incredibly important this stuff is. I’m really grateful that I got to hang out with some great people, and I’m really grateful that Academy is filled with awesome people. Hopefully it’s encouraging to you possibly to hear this, and that is that it’s not all about business. The purpose of business is to facilitate a personal life. It’s so easy to get caught up in doing nothing but work. I’ve been completely guilty of that. I’ve done a couple of things right, and probably should give a lot of the credit to my wife in pushing me in the right direction. But, let me tell you what I did right and then let me tell you what I did wrong. Hopefully it’ll give you a couple of ideas and maybe a little bit of encouragement. Again, this was all sparked because of an awesome weekend in Vegas.
What I think I’ve done right, and you have to know that I’ve built more than just Service Autopilot and more than CitiTurf. I’ve been a part of several other companies and I’ve worked ridiculously hard. I’ve been through some pretty serious ups and downs and I’ve been through some really tight money situations. But in all of it, from the day I left the software company I worked for way back, I’ve always, unless I’m traveling, almost always had dinner with my family at around 6:30 every night.
I’ve got two boys and a wife. Now obviously, even before the boys were around, I still had dinner with my wife. But now, and as the boys get older, we have dinner every night as a family. I never, almost never work on a Friday night or a Saturday night. Generally my wife and I go out or we go out as a family. But there were many, many times when we couldn’t afford to go do a lot but we could still do something as a family. I didn’t work on Friday or Saturday nights. Generally I never work on Sundays. Now, I have worked a ton of Sundays after the family goes to bed. That’s been super common. I’ve been trying to eliminate that recently, I’d say in the last year where I don’t even go back to work. When I say go back to work I mean at the house on a Sunday.
If I could encourage you to do anything, I’ve been what I believe to be fairly successful, and I’ve done it without sacrificing time with my family, and that basically means from dinner time until the time my boys go to bed. I’ve not sacrificed that. I’ve not sacrificed Fridays or Saturday nights. And, I’ve not really sacrificed Sundays and I’ve been able to get here.
Now, what have I sacrificed? I’ve missed quite a few kids games. I’ve definitely missed a lot of kids practices. I have taken fewer vacations or long weekends. I’ve worked probably too many Saturdays. I do believe that I needed to do a lot of that because you just simply have to work really hard to get somewhere and get somewhere big. But at the same time, I’ll bet if I had given up more Saturdays and I’ll bet if I’d taken a few extra long weekends that my wife would’ve liked to have taken, I’ll bet if I’d done a few more things like that my businesses would be just as good as they are. There would be zero noticeable difference. I believe that.
If I could encourage you to do anything, don’t sacrifice too much. You have to sacrifice, but don’t give up some of that stuff that’s really important. I have to tell you, I’m thankful that I didn’t, and I’m trying to get better at what I have given up. The reason why I don’t think it’s going to mess with your life in any way is that you’ve got to have time to recharge. So Vegas, and that’s what made me think to record this video, is an opportunity for many to recharge and get re-excited about their business leadership.
The elite trip that we’ve got coming in July for Academy, exactly the same thing. It’s going to be all fun and adventure. The mastermind groups that I’m in, the business adventure stuff that I do, the vacations I do with my family and my wife, all of that stuff, the activities that I do outside of work, they all re-energize me, recharge me, get me excited about work. Again, the purpose of business, and there’s only one purpose of business, and that is to create an awesome, awesome personal life. Business is there to facilitate an adventure, a personal life, a strong family, all of that. The purpose of business is not just to have a bigger business.
I hope some of that will give you some ideas and encouragement. If I could leave you with anything, don’t sacrifice everything to build your business. If you have to, build your business a little bit slower, but don’t give up all that other stuff. I’m so thankful that I haven’t. But again, I’ve already given up quite a bit, and much of it was probably completely unnecessary. Don’t forget to go have adventures and have a lot of fun.
See past employee difficulties to build a stronger, more stable company.
When I started studying marketing, a number of the individuals that I really started learning from early on, I would read their material and go to a seminar or conference and they would talk about marketing and other business topics. Over the years, I’ve heard this theme across many, you could call them internet gurus, marketing gurus, whatever the case may be. The theme is that employees are bad. Employees are terrible. You don’t want employees. Build a business that doesn’t require employees.
For many years it was sort of pounded into my head that employees are bad and terrible and no fun and employee difficulties will be the misery of your life. I think it’s a really dangerous way to think and that’s why I wanted to make this video. Because we often, in our business too, will have problems with different individuals and then we’ll say “Man, I can’t find any good employees! There’s not anybody out there that’s any good. They all cause me trouble”. You can think of all the different excuses that you have.
The reality of it is that when you build a great team with great people, and the only way to do that is to let quite a few people on your team go and to constantly be pruning the team, which is something that is not fun in any way. But, the only way to build a great team where you don’t end up with the attitude that you can’t find good people, nobody does a good job, and you dream of having no employees. The only way to get to the point where you don’t feel that way all the time is to constantly be getting the ones that cause you pain, that cause you trouble, that you’re constantly dealing with, that you’re constantly having to talk about, that you’re constantly having to have another meeting with, is to get them out of the business.
When you build a great team, then it’s great to have employees. They can move you forward personally. It’s great to get to work with exciting people that are moving themselves forward in life, that are growing and advancing their careers. Then it actually is great to have employees. If you read too many books and you listen to too many of the wrong people, and it’s some very, very smart people, it’ll be very easy to succumb to the idea that you want to just build a small business without people to make my life easier. That is absolutely incorrect.
Having the right people on your team and having a lot of the right people is exactly how you make your life easier ad better. When you get to work with great people, you’re just going to be happier and they can also help you build an organization. Not just so that it’s bigger to provide you more money, but so it’s bigger that it’s protected in that you have some layers within the company that if a couple key people leave, it doesn’t all fall apart.
The bigger you can build your business the better because it gives a safety net to your team, to you, and to your family. It gives you some people on the team that can cover each other so everybody can go take some vacations and take a break and get recovered mentally. Think in terms of building bigger. Don’t just focus on going small because it seems like it will be easier if you don’t have a bunch of employees that may be difficult. Because from my experience, that’s not the case. The real case is having the wrong employees and keeping them on your team. That’s what’s bad.