Owned and Operated #87 - Business Breakdown with Pool Care SMB Expert Tim Ryan: Part 1

One Pool To Rule Them All.
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A few weeks back John and Jack did a business breakdown on pool service. Tim Ryan caught us on X, did a review and said “It wasn't too bad for two outsiders looking in. Pool care is strangely complicated.” So we asked him to come on and tell us what exactly we got right and what we got wrong. Tim breaks down all the essentials in this episode including navigating competition, building genuine connections with customers, and picking up smart hiring tips.

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John Wilson: @WilsonCompanies on Twitter
Jack Carr: @TheHVACJack on Twitter

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Owned and Operated Episode #87 Transcript

Hey, this episode is sponsored by Service Scalers. So Service Scalers is actually a brand that I've used personally with our companies for a little bit over a year now. Uh, they've helped us manage our digital advertising. Frankly, they did a lot better than our last agency. Leads went through the roof and cost per click went way down.

Check out Service Scalers if you're a plumbing, HVAC, or electrical home service company. That's what they knock out of the park and they did a great job for me.

Today on Owned and Operated we have Tim Ryan. We had a great episode a couple weeks ago where we broke into the, pool service business. How to grow it, how to start it, how we feel about that. And Tim is an expert on the pool service business. So he came on the show today and walked us back through that which was really interesting. So we're glad he came on and it's a great episode.

Welcome back to Owned and Operated. What's up?

Tim Ryan: I'm back.

John Wilson: You're back. Alright, so today we've got Tim Pool on, and we have my partner in crime here, Jack Carr. We released a how to run and how to build a pool episode, what was it, like a month ago at this point?

Jack Carr: Just the pool model episode, we've seen, what we've looked at. And, we got a lot right, but we also got some stuff wrong and

John Wilson: Let's, yeah, let's not give us too much credit.

Tim Ryan: That's okay

Jack Carr: But Tim did an awesome job on a write up on, hey, what does it actually look like? And so he reached out and we brought him on and we're really excited to talk to

John Wilson: So Tim, could you give us a little bit of background of why anyone should listen to you on pool businesses?

Tim Ryan: Yeah. I've been reading about the pool industry for a really long time. Uh, no.

John Wilson: I watch Youtube videos.

Tim Ryan: Yeah. Yeah. I think a lot of people end up in the pool industry the way I did. I accidentally ended up here. It wasn't something I did intentionally. I was going to college, like right after the military, I didn't even like college. I was bad at college. I don't know. I bet a lot of us are pretty bad at college.

And I was actually working as the cook for Panda Express to make up the difference between B A H. And all I wanted to do was read books, like listen to podcasts and read books all day. And I couldn't do that at that job. And so I was asking people coming through the line.

I was like, what do you do? What do you do? And one guy was like, I'm a pool cleaner. And so like I transitioned jobs ended up not being a pool cleaner, ended up being a pool technician. I was just running around cleaning filters for like six months. And I remember running the numbers in my head of like how many pools they had, how much they were charging. How much it would cost to actually buy pool equipment and being like, Oh shit, I should just do this

Pull the trigger. And uh, four years later and a whole lot of pain and like almost running out of money several times. Like I was able to exit that, a good chunk of change for the first time in my life. I actually started pivoting into software. I took that money, me and my wife into Europe for three months. I woke up and taught myself software for like four hours a day for like a year straight.

John Wilson: How old were you at this point?

Tim Ryan: I sold in 2019. So I'm bad at math. Let's see. I think I was like 23, 24.

John Wilson: Okay. Yeah.

Tim Ryan: 2019. 2023 minus 2019. Yeah. Probably like 25,

John Wilson: Okay. So you guys sold the first one, you traveled Europe, you got interested in a totally different business model. Software.

Tim Ryan: Not totally. Well, I was very unhappy with the software in the space.

And so I was like, I could build this better. It's the same way. I was like, I could build a better pool company. Came back. Realized it's going to cost a lot of money to build software. Ended up building another pool company. This time we did it twice as fast. So we did in two years, sold it for even more money, took all that money, bankrolled it into the software. So that's our second flip. And then I ended up building another company, but it was just a really tiny one, like 60 pools. So worth like a hundred K and I built that just to like clean pools with like my wife while the software was getting built and helped their cashflow. And then at the beginning of 2023, we saw we were going to run out of money. If we didn't build by the end of the year. So we forecasted like, we're going to run out of money in December, according to these numbers, which means we'll probably run out in November. So we were like, we got two choices. We could either raise money for the software. We could either go out and try and find investors, or we could just build another pool company. And we did what we know how to do.

Uh, and then in 2023, we got to 65K in monthly recurring revenue in five months. So that's, what's like paying all the bills of the software right now.

Yeah. Built four pool companies. So that's, my expertise.

John Wilson: That, yeah, that's amazing. This reminds me a little bit, I did an episode, I want to say it was like two years ago, but it was pest control. And this one guy, he wasn't the guy on the show, the guest brought him up. And this guy would build pest control companies, and he was on like his, third or fourth one, I don't know.

And all he would do was he would build it, he would sell it to an institutional buyer, and then he would go build the next one and he had done it, yeah, three or four times. Did you ever think about I guess you kept trying to get out of it, so you probably did not think about it.

Of just like, hey, let's just, for 20 years, let's just like, in every community, let's just do this. Like, professionalize it, sell it to a big buyer, professionalize it, sell it to a big buyer.

Jack Carr: Or even just going franchise, right? You have the model down. We had a franchise guy on here for what is it, Rolling suds the other day. realistically, the ability to franchise it out, it sounds like you have the playbook to be able to build it four times and flip it.

Tim Ryan: So I have had the thought that I wish I would never would have sold the first company. If I would have just like kept building that company within the same amount of time, I would have probably had way more money and done way less because I would have been able to install, like field managers and like all these things instead of like starting from scratch is exhausting. But no I want to be in the software space. I think that sounds more entertaining and like fun to me.

And also I like 80 percent margins compared to 10, 20 percent margins.

John Wilson: Yeah.

Tim Ryan: So no geographical, no geographical boundaries.

You know what I mean? Like I can sell a software


Jack Carr: Work from anywhere?

Tim Ryan: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I'm dealing with you know, not manual labor employees, programmers, that's totally different. Like,

John Wilson: Yeah.

Tim Ryan: I wanted to be in the software space. No, I don't think I would want to do that, to be honest with you. Yeah. I do get told all the time though. Like, why are you worried about this software?

Why are you spending so much money on it?

John Wilson: I think the software makes total sense. I just always remember that one dude and I think he had a buyer so it's maybe a different problem, but he would build these pest control companies up to like a million dollars, and then the pest control industry is an interesting industry because there are public, and if not public, very large private pest control businesses, which is unusual for a service engine, maybe

Tim Ryan: Like Terminix

John Wilson: Yeah, like terminix

Tim Ryan: Yeah, they're roll up target for sure.

John Wilson: Yeah, so like you just have an end buyer that's very, not easy, but like, you know who you're gonna sell it to. So that probably makes it a little bit different.

Tim Ryan: I guess I could do that, but I don't want to do that because that's exhausting. That's a very tiring life.

John Wilson: Yeah, that does sound tough. What's the toughest part about the start up stage inside pool? Because that was something we really talked about a lot in our episode, that obviously I really have no idea.

Tim Ryan: Getting started, you mean,

John Wilson: Yeah.

Tim Ryan: So guys will do it two different ways. Some guys will they'll save up money and they will just save up enough to live off for a year and then they'll go out and they'll try and start their company. And that they're a hundred percent focused on building a pool company.

And their goal is to probably get to like 40 accounts, which pays their bills and their lifestyle, and it's just them in a truck. We call them one Polaris, right? Once you're there, you're started. The way I did it the first time was I actually worked full time at a moving company and I told him I only want Fridays off and that's the day I built my pool route on and then once I filled up Friday. I said, I only want Thursdays off like Friday and Thursday. And so I filled up Thursday and then once I filled up Wednesday, I had three days off. I just quit that company and that was a full cleaner. I guess the hardest part is either you have to work seven days a week to do it, to build up your route, or you got to go all in and just hope that you can build a route within whatever your runway is.

John Wilson: Yeah. One of the ways we talked about getting new customers was like aggressive canvassing. Is that kind of how you think about that, or?

Tim Ryan: I don't think you mind canvassing by like putting door hangers on the doors or like knocking

John Wilson: That was what we talked about in the episode, yeah.

Tim Ryan: The problem with that is to get a pool care customer. You got to time it to where like, when they're looking for a pool care, like another pool cleaner, people are weirdly loyal to their pool cleaners. Like they know their name, they go into their backyard. They're like, hi, John, like, how are your kids?

With them for five years and they're not very price sensitive, which means if you come in at like, if I come in at like 40 cheaper than the pool cleaner, they've known for 10 years. Like, it's like trying to steal you from your hairstylist. At this point, you're not.

So what you're doing is you're trying to time the market where either somebody's just moved into a house with a pool and they messed up their own pool care and they're looking for somebody, their pool care, their pool cleaner left the market for some reason. Like he either died or he moved on. Um, sometimes the spouse has died, especially an elderly couple.

So you got to like time it when like they're ready for pool care, they're receptive to it. You can't steal, which I think canvassing is better when you're trying to like steal.

John Wilson: Yeah, that makes sense. The way I'm hearing this, like the way my business works, you don't have hot water, you don't have heat, you don't have cooling. There's a moment of demand. And a lot of our job in marketing is to attempt to be the person they think of well, before that moment of demand happens.

So If you can't do it with canvassing, Like, what are the tools? I guess house is selling, that makes sense. There's a bunch of services that provide like, Hey, this house just sold, let's reach out to them. I don't know, I'm trying to think what else you would do.b

Tim Ryan: Yeah, you could do. that. You could actually got most of my first class as a mover. Being a moving company.

So we'd into, they'd move into a house with a pool and I would be like, yo, I'll clean your pool. And they're like,

Yeah. that sounds great. Cause they don't know what's going on. Sometimes it's their first pool.

And so like, I got a ton of first clients just like, being a mover.

John Wilson: That's good. If you don't do that, like, even just commissioning moving companies or something like that to be like, hey, 50 bucks or something if you get me a referral that I close on.

Okay. So like, is it relational? Like you think realtors the same way or

Tim Ryan: Yeah, you could probably do realtors. , you could probably skin the cat a bunch of different ways. I figured out a very specific way to do it, which I'm, I can't talk about it on here. Cause like that's okay. It's almost like a trade secret, how fast we grow.

I don't know very many pool companies that can grow as fast as we can, but I think most guys just like. I know a guy that started a pool company right now, and he just made friends with the right person for, like, apartment complexes. She has some position in apartment complex and she just sends him business. And like, that's how it another friend who owns a storefront in San Antonio, , like a good place to own a rich affluent neighborhood.

And so people come in there with water samples or to buy their kids pool noodles. And that's how you get some. So like everyone like figures out their shtick on how to get customers.


And I know a lot of ETA, like a lot of like guys that bought pool companies and they just, they didn't worry about it.

John Wilson: How big is like a normal pool company? I have no sense of scale. Most I would imagine small,

Tim Ryan: Under 300

John Wilson: Under 300 a year.

Tim Ryan: Yeah. Under 300 accounts. Not three. Uh, I would say, uh, Oh, I can do the math. Do you want like annual revenue or do you just want how many accounts?

John Wilson: Annual Revenue, because I don't really know what an account's value is.

Tim Ryan: So they're probably doing just under a mil is like. Anywhere between like 500 and a mill.

Jack Carr: And how many trucks is that?

Tim Ryan: Probably five. Six trucks. Five guys. Five, six guys.


John Wilson: And then, how do you compensate guys?

Tim Ryan: We actually do it a little weird compared to everybody else. Most people do the whole fleet. W2, uh, we do all 10 90 nines and we make 'em use their own vehicles. That's how we do it.

John Wilson: I can see that making sense. Okay. One of the landscaping reminds me of this, maybe pest control, but pool definitely, and you said it yourself. Like, a risk, a somewhat tangible risk, is that your employees will just go do it. Whereas that's not really as much of a risk in my industry.

Just because compensation is so stupid now.

Tim Ryan: That happens a lot. The startup costs on this are so simple, and I think it's an industry that's easy to wrap your brain around. It's like the competition in um, house cleaning, it's not that hard to go get a bucket and some paper towels and some rags, it's an unintimidating business to start.

John Wilson: Like how many people a year have you like percentage wise, have done that in your business?

Tim Ryan: I've only had 2 people in the last 10 years do that to us. We also build and flip fast, you know what I'm saying? But if I trying to build, if I was like, actually cultivating repair technicians and like, investing my time into and teaching them actually how to be good, like, I bet that would happen a lot more often.

John Wilson: Yeah for us. I think twice in my entire career and we've had hundreds of employees.

Tim Ryan: Were you happy about it or were you mad?

John Wilson: I don't think I was anything.

Tim Ryan: You're like, good luck.

John Wilson: Yeah, The industry is so different, like, Chris Hoffman did a tweet on this the other day, but like, in our industry, the small companies is dying. And it's not complicated to tell why. Like, people don't open their own shops anymore. There's basically no reason to. Like, you can go work at a company, somebody can come work at my company tomorrow, and they can make well into the six figures off the rip. So the risk and reward is totally backwards. Like a decade ago, if you wanted to make a hundred grand, you had to go launch a business. Now, like if you want to go make a hundred grand, you just go get a job, like literally anywhere.

Tim Ryan: Pool cleaners are like that they're making 15 bucks an hour. So, that makes sense.

John Wilson: It's just a different thing.

And lead flow is crazy. Cause now, the industry is so large at the top that how can small companies compete for the best customers?

Tim Ryan: Or even like margin on buying power. I bet you guys get shit like way cheaper.

John Wilson: Half, yeah, literally half

Tim Ryan: How do you compete with that?

John Wilson: The answer is you don't, like these companies are just dying off. So no one's starting them, because like literally why would you? If you could make six figures and more working for somebody and you don't have to worry about leads because they'll just serve you up leads.

You don't have to buy a truck. You don't have to deal with customers. You just go do it You get great benefits. Like there's just no reason anymore.

Jack Carr: The last few are all fighting over crumbs of whatever's left over and the risk, I mean, you know, why would you go work and wear, 15 hats when you can just go work and do what you're best at and still make the same amount.

Tim Ryan: Interesting. And y'all's isn't personal at all either.

John Wilson: What do you mean?

Tim Ryan: There's no like emotions attached. No one's like is emotionally attached to their AC repair guy. Like

John Wilson: Uh, no. I would say that they are.

Jack Carr: We have the same issue you, you do,

John Wilson: Oh yeah.

If we're coming into your home and we're gonna be around your kids we're gonna be around your spouse, You're gonna care a lot about who that person is.

Tim Ryan: Yeah, that's true, but it's not like you don't see them in the backyard every week. You know what I mean?

John Wilson: No, you don't.

You have a very different relationship. And one that makes total sense. I didn't even think about it until you said it. But what'll happen is people get very attached to their tech. Like, hey, I want X to come out. He's serviced my equipment for 16 years. So we get that a lot.

Tim Ryan: Even though you're only coming out like once, twice a year,

Jack Carr: Yeah.

John Wilson: Yeah.

Tim Ryan: That's weird. I wouldn't care.

Jack Carr: Well, I think there's, there's a level of trust too. Right?

Tim Ryan: They're going to they're going to forget your dog's names. There's no way.

John Wilson: Yeah with pools, it is different. Like, yeah, I haven't really thought about that relationship. Like you have a key to their backyard.

Tim Ryan: It is a huge moat against competition.

Yeah. And there's a bunch of dudes running around at like 60 pools and like those pools are locked in. You're not getting them until he does like it's there. There.

John Wilson: So how do you increase moat? Like, do you have to do anything? Should you give like cookies every July 4th or something like,

Tim Ryan: I think it happens naturally when you're smaller. When the customer can still call your cell phone and get ahold of you.

I think it's when you start, you start losing your moat. That professional, like that emotional moat when, um, when you start, when you put an office manager in place and now there's like another layer between the customer and you, you know, and then the moat at that point has to probably flip to professionalism

Just providing like excellent on time service, good customer service. You can't raise prices off the charts. Like then you start getting into like. Yeah. Your emotional moat starts to go away once you start to grow past like that.

John Wilson: That's interesting. I remember when we transitioned the business from my dad to myself. It was exactly what you just described. I haven't really thought about it like that. But we got a lot of comments in the first couple years of like, hey, your customer service has gone down. And in my mind, I'm like, our customer service has like massively improved.

It's just that you can't call the owner anymore. And like, that's the difference. It's not that anything improved or like went bad. It's like, you just can't call the owner.

Tim Ryan: I had a weird one. So when I did the third company, it was me cleaning 60 pools. I had that deep emotional connection, like Tim, like, Hey, like everyone knew me.

And then when it was time, there was a change happened where I needed to like hire somebody to take over. Cause the software was taking more of my attention and I did it.

And I hired a guy that I knew for like three years. He was actually at my previous company. I trusted him and I hired him. I said, Hey, when you come in here, just so you know, I've been half assing all these pools. Cause it's like the least important thing in my day to get these pools done. Like I'm not brushing, I'm not taking care of pressure gauges, like none of that stuff. I'm in and out in like 10, 15 minutes, which means like I am not doing a great job. All my customers are super happy cause they like me.

Comes in and with all the pride that he has, he starts replacing pressure gauges, taking his time, sending text messages. And I cannot tell you out of those 60 customers, probably 20 of them are like, he's just doing something you don't do. He's just like, he's just not as good as you. And I'm like, you just like me better.

That's all it is. Like there is no, like he is doing a hundred times job that I was doing. And you just like my personality. You like that. I make you laugh.

That's all it is.

John Wilson: So how big do these things get? Because this is a moat, but it's also a barrier to scale. That's what I'm hearing. Which now makes sense. I've never thought of the relational aspect. But I know when we've stayed at houses that have had pools for a couple weeks, some dude will just walk in the backyard and I'm like

yeah, I get the intimacy. Like, I think I get that. Yeah. Or like, you can just walk in. Who are you, dude?

Tim Ryan: I've walked in on some things.

John Wilson: Nice. Nice. Be back in two. Yeah. That's funny.

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But how big do these companies get? So you said the average one was like a million or a little under a million. What's the big ones.

Tim Ryan: Well, I think the experiment is being ran right now. There, I think like PE is just like got wind probably the last like five years. So like, you know, they HVAC and plumbing, that's all been done. Pest control, that's all been done. I know they just now, I think COVID is what caused it.

John Wilson: Yeah. more pools. Yeah. More pools.

Tim Ryan: Yeah. There's a big spike in the industry. And so now these roll ups are popping up all over the place. So there's a couple of them rolling right now. We'll see how big they get.

I think maybe pull troopers is the biggest one.

Tim Ryan: They started in Florida. I think they were first. So there's a couple of them rolling right now. So we'll see.

John Wilson: That's fascinating. Is it contracted like pest control?

Tim Ryan: Contracts are dying. It used to be

John Wilson: Okay. Why?

Tim Ryan: Because guys like me figured out that like if one guy rolls in your backyard with a year contract and I roll in with basically what Netflix is, week to week, month to month, you're going to pick me like no one's signing a year contract

John Wilson: What's churn rate then?

Tim Ryan: Churn okay. So I know churn for me. I know I picked up 400 customers this year and about 100 turned out.

So. 25%, but also I could have lower that. It was just, that was just too fast to grow. Churn typically is not that fast or that not that high

John Wilson: Okay, so like 20 percent maybe.

Tim Ryan: I don't know. It depends if you're just a one guy in a truck, then your churn rates probably like almost nothing, yeah.

The roll ups are having trouble with churn. I know that.

John Wilson: I would imagine, yeah. For all the reasons we just

The emotional moat, the professionalization, that makes sense.

Tim Ryan: Yeah. Cause what they're doing is almost cold water. Like they're coming in and like. They're raising prices. You can no longer talk to the owner. Like all these things are gone. You don't know who this kid is in your backyard. I know a lot of them, like, they're hiring super cheap labor.

So like, you don't know who's in your backyard. You're

John Wilson: Yeah

Jack Carr: How do they get past that? Like If you were running the roll up, what's the next step to beat that?

Tim Ryan: Dude, I don't know. I would have to think about it. I would definitely have to think about that.

Jack Carr: The answer is building the relationship. Cause it sounds like this whole thing kind of hinges on relationship more so than price, more so than anything else.

John Wilson: I don't know, how could you,

Yeah, the turnover that you will inevitably have.

Tim Ryan: HVAC is, it's like you can go to like a community college and you can get a certification HVAC, so it has like this legitimacy to it. People come to HVAC and make it a career. People just stumble into this industry and people look at pool care the way they look at their lawn care, their maid service.

They're like, Oh, they're just cleaning pools. And not like that at all. It's actually super technical and hard. So like, I can't charge the customer enough to what it's worth to pay a pool cleaner, actually what his skill level is, right? Because the customer doesn't see it that way. And so I'm working with, 15 an hour workers trying to teach him a skill, probably as complicated as HVAC sometimes, because there's equipment pads, there's chemistry, there's plumbing, there's circulate.

Like on my Twitter profile, literally says pool care, strange and complicated. And so they're not even able to pay their guys enough to get super good talent to have somebody roll into the backyard. Who's also good at customer service. It's just like,

it's a super gritty problem.

John Wilson: Yeah. we talked about this about my story of the bowling alley? Technician?

Tim Ryan: I don't know.

John Wilson: Yeah, okay. This reminds me a little bit of that where it's basically not an institutionalized trade yet. Hopefully will be sounds like it probably will be like schools and stuff will pop up to support it. But like, we had this bowling alley deal we looked at one time and there was a maintenance guy that like the place would shut down if this guy didn't exist Like he knows how the all the mechanics of this, Bowling alley works, which I have no idea and it's very complicated and I was like I want to buy this bowling alley and then the literal reason that we didn't is because if this guy hates me like that bowling alley shut down like because there's no way to replace that knowledge and he's probably like sixteen dollars an hour like what you're probably describing with pools there's no like education program to support Pools or like in this case a very niche trade of bowling alley maintenance,

Tim Ryan: That guy probably ended up there accidentally. He was probably passing out shoes. And then like filled in a role one day, they're like, Oh, this kid's pretty clever. like, 10 years later, he's bowling alley, like technician.

John Wilson: Yeah, and like my town has three bowling alleys three. So there are three people in my 4. 5 million population, community, that have this skill set. Like, what are you supposed to do with that? So right now there's no like, it's on the job training for pools. There's no talent pool.

Okay. Are you ever getting people that, like, Yeah, I've been in the pool industry for a couple years, or is everybody new?

Tim Ryan: You get that, but we've actually, we don't hire those guys. We think they're bad luck

John Wilson: Okay, so everyone's new for you.

Tim Ryan: For us. Yeah.

John Wilson: Yeah. What's the onboarding timeline look like?

Tim Ryan: We got it down significantly. We have decided in order to find one good employee, we need to hire five good employees is like what we say.

John Wilson: Yeah.

Tim Ryan: And essentially what that is I'll hire somebody I think is good. They check all the boxes, but they're probably not going to work out like just for whatever reason, And so we hire extremely quickly and fire extremely quickly. Like I asked four questions in interview and I'll hire you the next day if you pass

John Wilson: And then, what questions?

Tim Ryan: What vehicle you drive.

John Wilson: Oh yeah, cause they have to

Jack Carr: Oh, they're all 10.

Tim Ryan: Yeah. But also there's this weird thing about, guys that drive pickups are more technical than guys that don't

And harder workers.

Jack Carr: No, no Nissans? Any bad luck?

Tim Ryan: Yeah, if you're driving to like a Volkswagen bug, like you probably are like, haven't crawled under a house before with a wrench. You know what I mean?

Guys in pickups are, they're grittier. They're dirtier. You know what I mean?

John Wilson: They move America, man. Yeah.

Tim Ryan: It is a thing. I ask other basic questions. Oh, I ask what's the last thing you fixed yourself.

John Wilson: Oh, interesting. That's a good one.

Tim Ryan: I ask what channel locks are. You have to describe to me what channel locks are and then that's pretty much it, man.

And then sometimes there's like a little bit followup banter.

John Wilson: How do you do background check?

Tim Ryan: Checker. We use a checker..

John Wilson: Okay. Alright. So what we found, we've had some interesting experiences, so we background check everybody, and like, we basically don't hire, what is it? If it's non violent, we'll consider it.

Tim Ryan: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

John Wilson: Yeah. But even then it's like, it's got to be like 15 years old There's a list of qualifications. Anyways, so we background check everybody and there was somebody coming in once that had nothing on their background squeaky clean and we're like great fine four or five months into it a customer reaches out to us and they're like, hey, I checked your guys background and like he has this crazy background And she was right.

Tim Ryan: But it was weird yeah.

John Wilson: But it was also like somebody will just Google your employees, which I guess makes sense.

Tim Ryan: How good was that guy?

John Wilson: He wasn't that good.

Tim Ryan: He wasn't that good.

I've given of people chances. It'll be two. Those guys turned out to be studs because it's either they're a piece of shit and always be a piece of shit. Or they're at this stage in their life where they're, I am turning my life around.

And those guys that are turning their lives around, they are some of the best employees.

John Wilson: I have one guy exactly like that. He's like 45 now. And he had something at like 19 and it's exactly that, and he's great, and he's loyal, and he's just a good guy, but he was in prison for two years half his life ago. And it, yeah, holds him back from jobs anywhere else. He ended up coming with us in an acquisition.

Tim Ryan: Yeah, he'll stay with you forever. It's too scary.

John Wilson: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, for And he's a great guy, but yeah he bought a company once and we didn't know, we didn't do background checks on acquisitions at this time. We do now for this reason but the majority of the company had felonies and we didn't know that before we closed like the majority, like over 51 percent it was crazy. We like close, we start putting people through the HR paperwork.

Tim Ryan: Do you guys have the thing? So we have to have a real license to do repairs here. And if you have like felony or something, it's way harder get that real license. Do y'all have that?

John Wilson: Yeah, it's tough. I don't know what happens if if you do have a felony because there are people with licenses that have felonies but I think it takes a lot more steps versus just like going the process.

Tim Ryan: it's a lot of hoops.

It's like application.

Jack Carr: At the end of the day, right, it's one of those things too, because if you start using the Google was a Google authenticated or whatever for LSA, that you're supposed to run everybody through a background check with google. The downside and the sad side is even if they're good people, good employees if they got a felony, that stuff pops up and then it hinders you from actually scaling your business, unfortunately.

Tim Ryan: Yeah. I actually have a soft spot in my heart for like people like that.

Jack Carr: Yeah, We do too. We have a story similar to yours, John, where we have someone who had a felony a long time ago and they're Stellar employee. So we're lucky enough to have them. And so we have a soft spot as well.

John Wilson: So that one guy is the only one that has ever worked out for me. And the other eight were terrible errors.

So we really were a lot more cautious now that soft spot became hard a couple of years ago.

Jack Carr: I was going to say, when you scale, I can imagine.

Tim Ryan: Dude, that soft spot is such a bad thing when you're trying to run a business.

John Wilson: Yeah. It went away pretty quick. You want to be the guy that like one of my wise is I want to build something interesting and I want to be a positive force of good in people's lives around me.

And those are like the reasons that I like get up and like do this. So I think it's natural that you want to be that you want to be a force of good you want to like hey you're trying to turn your life around like I want to support you in that and I want to be a part of your redemption story, I think that's a very human experience

Tim Ryan: it's very binary for me. If you are helping the tribe, I love you. If you're hindering or hurting the tribe, I hate you.

And like, my emotions will shut off almost instantly if I think you're like detrimental to like the cause.

John Wilson: That's probably a good thing

Tim Ryan: Yeah, but I had to acquire that. You get that through pain.

You get that long drawn out pain and regret from not doing something sooner.

John Wilson: I agree.

Thanks for checking out the first half of our episode with Tim Ryan, where we start to break down the pool business. We finish up our awesome conversation in the next episode on Thursday. Thanks for tuning in.

Thanks for tuning in to Owned and Operated, the podcast for home service entrepreneurs. If you enjoyed today's episode, please hit the like button and subscribe to the podcast. If you have any questions or topics you'd like us to cover, feel free to reach out. You can find me on Twitter at at Wilson companies.

I'll see you next time.

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