Owned and Operated #68 - How to Leverage Marketing Strategies For Your Home Service Company

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In this episode of Owned and Operated, Jack and John kick off with a positive update on Jack’s flourishing plumbing department—it's doing really well, and they talk about what's been working. They also share insights on using US Census data for precise list curation in targeted marketing. Emphasizing the significance of strategic list formation, they detail how it positively impacts conversion rates. They then introduce an upcoming event at John's new headquarters designed for home service businesses aiming to break the five-million-dollar revenue mark.

Episode Hosts: 🎤
John Wilson: @WilsonCompanies on Twitter
Jack Carr: @TheHVACJack on Twitter

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The Owned and Operated Weekly Insights Newsletter

John Wilson, CEO of Wilson Companies

Jack Carr, CEO of Rapid HVAC

Owned and Operated Episode #68 Transcript

John Wilson: I'm John Wilson. Welcome to Owned and Operated. Twice a week, we talk about home service businesses, and if you're a home service entrepreneur, then this is going to be the show for you. We talk about our own business in residential plumbing, HVAC, and electric, and we also talk about business models that we just find interesting.

Let's get into it.

Today on Owned and Operated, Jack and I talk marketing. We talk how plumbing is doing, which, hint, it's going well. Jack's plumbing department is killing it. And then we talk about an event that Jack and I are hosting up in my new headquarters for home service companies that want to break the five million mark.

This is a great episode. I know that I, for one, really enjoyed hearing how plumbing was going. Plumbing has a special place in my heart. And Jack needed it because he had a rough week. So, thanks for tuning in twice a week with Owned and Operated.

Welcome back to Owned and Operated. Jack and operated owned and operated where you get owned and operated.

Jack Carr: Yes.

John Wilson: I keep pitching Kristen. For the listener, Kristen is the human behind owned and operated. She's great. She's amazing. I keep like pitching Kristen on Hey. I need some owned and operated swag and I'm like, I want, yeah, it's going to be, it's going to be sick, man.

And when we bring on guests, like I want them to get like a shirt or a hat or something and it's going to be like you got owned and operated.

Jack Carr: I love it.

John Wilson: Yeah, it's going to be good. It's going to be good.

Jack Carr: There's a lot of funny wordplay with that. You could really drive a brand with owned and operated.

John Wilson: Yeah, everybody look out. It's going to be free merch. , if you want a free t shirt and you know, anything about home service in any way at all come on the show. Yeah, that's going to be good. You'll get a shirt. but yeah, I need a hat too. Just like you got,

Jack Carr: I want some hats. I'm like a big old ball.

John Wilson: Yeah. I see the glare. It's good.

All right, man. Let's check back in. How's plumbing been going? So you're like a month deep.

Jack Carr: Yeah, I don't think it's a month. I won't say it's three weeks, but it might be just a month.

John Wilson: Okay.

Jack Carr: Somewhere in there. I talked last week about we did 20 K in plumbing, just on some tank lists. we've been continuing selling tanked water heaters. It's slowed down. Like you actually called it. You said, Jack, you have the initial right now. You're going to get the initial flow from your first emails, from the people who need it. But how are you going to keep running?

John Wilson: I re listened to that the other day. And I think exactly what I said. It was like, so what happened to December 1st? Yeah.

Jack Carr: And that's exactly it. We burned through those first calls and they were... Beautiful calls. Now it's been a more of a struggle.

So that first month, that first couple of weeks was really easy since then he still had a full schedule. Which has been awesome. And my goal has been to own and operate his

schedule and keep it full.

And so, how do I put this? It's still good. We are extremely excited about the numbers he's producing.

And we're just trying to build systems around that. I think by the end of one month, we'll be somewhere at a six figures, low six figures. That's crazy, man. Which, and to put for everyone out there, that's, I don't know 5 percent of our business. A little bit more for that month. Especially in the shoulder season, maybe 10 percent in the shoulder season.

Well, 10 percent of our business on the year, but for the shoulder season, it's great. It's about 50 percent of our business.

Yeah, yeah. no, that's awesome. We are really excited about that.

John Wilson: you're gonna full pivot to plumbing, man. This is, This is my prediction, and I honestly, we just lost all these guys.

Now you're just like, let's go. Well, We're going, let's go do some drains.

Jack Carr: Hey, drains are legit. We've done a few drains so far. The guy's great too. I don't know how you pay your plumbers. I don't know if I really wanna talk about this, but I'm going to anyway. 'cause we're completely out in the open.

We just do 20% commission.

John Wilson: we don't do that, but I think that works.

Jack Carr: Yeah. It was a big risk for him and that's why I talked so much about hey I just want to keep a schedule full so I keep a schedule full it's on him Like anything he makes great if he needs to make you know obviously you need to ROI on gas and insurance and everything, but it's really low overhead for us. He either produces or plumbing is a failure and we shut it down and give this van to an HVAC guy

John Wilson: Yeah, I think plumbing can never fail.

Jack Carr: Yeah I've learned that the number one rule with plumbing, even

if it's just sinks or toilets.

John Wilson: Well, I think that's the beautiful thing with plumbing, right? And electric. Tossing that over to Nashville. If pick it up if you like it, don't if you don't.

like you can run a good, one to three man shop in plumbing and electric. And HVAC, you just can't. Like you just need more, you need the service guys, you need the comfort advisor, you need the installer. And obviously you are doing way better at HVAC than we were when we had your team size, like way better.

Like we are just getting HVAC figured out and it's four and a half million of revenue for us. And we're just like, we might have this, you know, uh. but HVAC definitely it gets a lot better with scale, but it was really tough when it was small now It's like okay like in the last six months.

Yeah, I've been pretty public with my distaste for HVAC

Jack Carr: You have actually

John Wilson: Very public about it, but no the last six months like I'm like, okay I get it like 12 grand a day per crew. Really? So yeah, that's, it's sick.

Jack Carr: But I think it's harder to get it.

Like you said, when it comes down to it, plumbing has been very easy if you give him the calls because he is an installer slash salesperson slash tech. So there's no delineation. You don't need three different crews. You don't have to hire an install person who It's different from your tech is different from your sales person.

You can consolidate that with an HVAC, but just it's,

John Wilson: You end up splitting it up later inside plumbing the same way you do HVAC, but that's more of a capacity problem. It's a skillset problem, but like you've got a unicorn, so let it run, man.

Jack Carr: Yeah. So I'm excited. I need to check back in and let you know at that month mark, what we ended up doing.

John Wilson: A hundred grand first out of the gate would be amazing. That's incredible.

Jack Carr: Yeah, for a while, especially in the beginning, the Facebook and tick tock. Yeah. Ads for plumbing were firing. We had a cost per acquisition less than 30 for it.

John Wilson: I, again, I really listened to the episode and I like, I punched you in the air, like in the face. I was like, forget this guy. You were like 21 a week. And I'm like, Oh, this

Jack Carr: it's climbed since then, but it's still pretty good. I still think it's 70 or 80, which is, I would say probably closer to normal range.

John Wilson: Yeah, still though. Big job. We tried to run and are still trying to run with exactly your meta playbook and we got held back by like some verification thing where meta won't let us spend more than, I want to say 500 bucks a month it's something like really low, until we've had an account open for some amount of time.

I don't know what the amount of time is. Yeah. But that has been the struggle there. I think it's generating leads. I don't know if we've closed them or not, but like we're messing around with it.

Jack Carr: Yeah, I think you have to realize at the end of the day, so plumbing was an anomaly compared to HVAC.

HVAC, we were lucky to close 10 percent of the way we were lucky to get 50 percent onto the phone. People are just fickle when it comes to that kind of stuff. They were scrolling, they hit it, it was passive, they typed in their information, and then we never hear from them again. We're trying to figure that out, but I mean, we call instantly, we text instantly, there's a whole setup of automation.

Now what we're trying to figure out is, hey, we have 2, 000 leads of people who at one point were interested in us and... installation of, a high ticket item. Can we reach back out

John Wilson: for plumbing?

Jack Carr: Mostly HVAC.

John Wilson: Oh my God. Yeah, dude. Yeah. Drop that in the machine.

Jack Carr: That's what we're trying to do.

I'm going back and seeing how we can export that because even if we don't get them from, they had some other company install them. or whatever, we can still come back and hit them with, Hey, we'd love to still learn your business, blah, blah, blah, and see if we'd still turn that around and,

you know, have some cheap, we've already paid for it.

So why not?

John Wilson: A hundred percent. I think you and I talked about this last week, how we're starting to think about lists differently. Um, Then we have, I'm sure there's other people thinking about this way. I don't think I'm like creative or anything, but we're just starting to think of like total accumulated list.

As that being a guiding metric for what we can drop into the machine.

Jack Carr: So hear me out on this one. This is all I've been thinking about. Besides my

terrible week last week.

John Wilson: It sounds like plumbing is going great.

Jack Carr: So yeah, he didn't leave.

So that's the big thing.

John Wilson: Yeah. I'm just trying to toss you when

Jack Carr: I appreciate the silver lining.

Okay. So you're thinking about starting some kind of community to build the list or starting a newspaper to build the list. What if,

John Wilson: Oh, by the way, we are doing that.

Jack Carr: Okay.

John Wilson: was that last week we talked about that?

Jack Carr: Two weeks ago.

John Wilson: Dude, yeah, we did it. Like it's sick. We got the groundwork set up and then our marketing team, we just brought on two more people. So we're bringing on like a full time photo videographer is so beautiful. It's so good, dude. It's so good.

But so yeah, full time video photo, helping us scale GMB like design. There's a bunch of stuff inside that role, but we're going to be blowing up our video. So like the meta constraint is a real problem. But we're pumped, like new videos, new photos all over everything, all the time.

That's going to be sick. So we built the groundwork and then the two new people coming in, their role is basically to take it from where we have it, where we've now retargeted who we want. We have two distinct go to markets that we're going to be giving a shot.

We designed the brand, we designed like how we're making it look, because it's not going to look like our brand. And we figured out what we think is going to be pretty attractive. going to be really interesting. We did that like Friday, like I think you and I talked about it Wednesday and like we were done on Friday and like just waiting for basically a person to start to run with it.

We're aiming for a hundred thousand contacts inside that business in a year.

Jack Carr: Oh my gosh, that'll be so neat. Yeah, that's exciting. So what I was chewing on though the other day, To take a step back was rather than building something that then you go out and collect List of emails, right?

Yeah, there's people in your community that already have those lists of homeowners that you want real estate agents or what got me thinking of it as I saw this history, I Read how businesses started You know, business nerd. And so I was looking at how all States started on the back of Sears, right?

And now Sears, the company is gone. practically doesn't exist for all intents and purposes, but all state is this multi billion dollar giant. And it started as the Sears tire, like a conglomerate of Sears in their catalog as a tire company and then it turned into insurance and then it was in all of their stores.

And so it was built on the back of another company. And so I wonder for smaller guys out there, right? Who in your community, can you offer your services? Say, Hey, you know, win, offer all your pizza. Anyone who buys a pizza from your company, give them a free maintenance, whatever it is.

But then part of that's getting access to their list because you don't really care about pay you give out, a couple of hundred free maintenances, you get some emails there, but if you can get them to somehow work with their list to your list, then I think that'd be a big win.

John Wilson: I think you have to. Like list curation and maybe I'm overthinking this. So if someone out there listens to this and you think I'm overthinking it, let me know. But I think that list curation is I almost don't want other people to do it for me because I think you can just go buy a list.

Like I can go buy a list for 9 cents a contact, right? No email that I get off of meta. Is going to be as cheap as that 9 cent email, but like how much data am I getting? Am I getting the SMS and are they opting in? That's important. And then like the way we're thinking about other lists is how do we compare home age to home value, to household income, to population on that street.

And all of that is us census data. Like this, isn't me reinventing the wheel. Like you can go on us census and you can get that information.. Yeah. And I think that hour of effort is worth more than someone else's curated list. Because what I think is a good list is 15 year old homes. I would love 15 year old homes water heater's about to die.

Furnace is about to die. Roof's about to die. They're about to go into the most maintenance heavy five years of their life in a 15 year old home. And I want to be the guy. So, like, how do I do that? A hundred percent. Yeah. Or like do you own those neighborhoods? So that's what we're thinking about for cold lists is like really big emphasis on home value home age and then density to our location Yeah, and I don't know that i'll get that list from anybody else and us census will give it to me for I think basically free

Jack Carr: Boom, that's a nugget for everyone right there.

John Wilson: Yeah, I didn't know that until a couple hours ago But like it was free. It wasn't that complicated and then we threw it against that chatGPT to get home values.

Jack Carr: Yeah, cuz I mean what we've been doing It's just our drive when we have people in those neighborhoods We look at the age of the home We look at you know the stuff and that's how I've been curating that and we haven't done anything with it So that I mean we thought about doing mailers, but still it's such a low hit percentage on, and then when you're shrinking

John Wilson: I think the hit percentage gets bigger, right?

Because I think everyone's Hey, yeah, hit percentage is 1 percent on direct mail. And my response is how good's your list? Because if you're doing every door direct mail, I bet. But if you're sending homes yeah. Or newer homes are like, are you sending them to old homes? But the old homes are worth 10, 000.

So how good is that list? How much density do you already have in that location is your brand known? Are the homes in need of maintenance? Are you targeting homes built in the seventies with the federal Pacific panels that are illegal? Cause they're about to burst on fire. Is that who you're targeting for panel replacements with panel promotions?

I bet your hits rate is going to be higher than i'm going to blanket this zip code with a tune up

Jack Carr: Yeah, I think you can

geofence that though with like google ads or facebook ads i'm pretty sure that

John Wilson: no, you can't yeah, you can retarget it. Yeah,

Jack Carr: so I think that's the way you just Spam them.

And then once they see that versus mailer, I just, I'm not a big mailer fan.

It's never worked for me.

John Wilson: So we're doing both. I think the real ticket is like, how do you do all

of it? Like, why would one be enough? So we're working on density right now. So there's a couple of communities that we really want to be more involved in.

They're close. They have the attributes that we like. They have the home age we like household income can afford us. So what we want is more work there. So maybe they're only like a 5 percent of revenue or 2 percent of revenue zip code for us. And we'd like it to be much, much more. We're hitting them from every angle.

So like, how do the ISRs reach out to them? How do we think about that? How do we retarget the heck out of everybody in there? How do we follow them around on meta? And how do we drop mailers on them, depending on the age of their home? I don't think it's one or the other. But like, this is an active experiment.

We're like, we're going to watch over. We think revenue should change weekly and raise weekly. Okay, we opened up a new Google My Business in this town that we don't do much work in. Then we started sending mailers. Then we started retargeting. Then we started dropping YouTube ads. Then we started calling.

Yeah, can this become a 300, 000 a month zip code for us? So what we're trying to do now, we'll see what happens.

Jack Carr: Yeah. No, that's neat. I wish we could do that.

John Wilson: Rich did it when he was your size.

Jack Carr: I'm trying to think. I'm calculating out, cause mailers aren't that much. You could probably do mailers. We could probably continue with advertising. I was thinking about YouTube. That's pretty good. I haven't really chewed on that too much.

John Wilson: We're adding like a full time video guy.

So for us, like anything video is suddenly like, how do we own it better than anybody else?

Jack Carr: When we're in those neighborhoods, we make sure, have you heard of box nines, door hangers? The idea with the box nine is, and I'm asking you personally, do you know your neighbor three doors down to the left?

John Wilson: No, but I just moved. Oh, hold on.

Jack Carr: Do you know your neighbor next door? No. So the idea is you pick the house you're in, right? You do a good job. Who are they most likely to talk to the two neighbors to the right and the left and then the three neighbors across the street. So one, two, three, four, five, six, I don't know what I call it.

Box nine, box six, maybe.

John Wilson: Maybe the three behind you.

Jack Carr: Yeah, and so the idea is that you know the neighbors closest to you so when you're putting door hangers You door hangers left right and the three across the street Yeah for the highest hit rate and the highest kind of hey referral rate of good neighbors. We just started that I'm real excited to see how that goes

John Wilson: I think that's sick. But Rich did this when he was like a million something and it was the same thing. He just started testing it and it wasn't that complicated. He was like, okay, I want more in this zip code, so I'm going to focus on this zip code. And it's easy to track on ServiceTitan's like map thing. Yeah. Did revenue go up?

Was the green darker? Yeah, and he was, it wasn't big. And like when we're doing mailers, we're not dropping like 10 grand a month of mailers. It's 1, 500 bucks, 2, 000. These are tight and it's because the list is tight. So this is back to like list formation We're curating tight lists that we feel like will convert higher than average. If I was just blanketing a zip code, I would both spend more and convert less, but we're saying, okay, we want this age home, this house value. This household income, these other characteristics that we retarget.

Jack Carr: No, that makes sense.

It when you're looking at it from a 32, 000 foot level, we're from, not a 32, 000th of a level, a close level, more marketing, there's more spend. But really you're reducing everything, right? You're only targeting, a couple neighborhoods in that zip code.

So it's, instead of spending 2, 000.

John Wilson: Our spend has gotten leaner over the years. I saw that, you said, 3. 5 percent or something? Yeah, 3. 5%. Yeah, so from a dollar's perspective, I spend at my current size. 10, 000 a month more on marketing than I did when I was half my current size 10, 000 that's what we're talking about here because we've gotten like more specific.

Yeah more honed in on our lists

Yeah, spend has not gone out of control, but we keep a tight eye on it and we try to be efficient

Jack Carr: Yeah, that's the key right Zara line and make it trip on top of it But yeah, I know we talked about last week growth. Very important.

Really terrible.

John Wilson: That was a really good segue.

Jack and I, one of the missions of the show here is to help companies grow and we think it's fun and we're all here in the same boat pushing towards the same end. So one of the things we're excited about is we're going to be hosting an event. At my location in Stowe, Ohio, if you want to make your way up in March, so it's March 19th through the 21st, I think it's actually like basically two days of actual programming just come in the 19th for Basically dinner, happy hour, that type of thing.

But it's going to be on my physical site. We're gonna be spending two days together. What we're going to be talking about is how to break the 5 million mark 5 million is a big deal. 5 million is where a lot of stuff opens up. We've been talking about that number for.

I don't know, a couple of weeks now we're like, yeah, okay. You get a recruiter around that size. You bring on this team member at that size. Maybe your service managers, you get access to more. You start branding at that size. So 5 million is a big transformative number for home service companies.

So we're going to be talking for those two days about how to break 5 million and get yourself up into the big boys.

Yeah, we're pumped. Who do you think should be attending Jack? Who do you think would be a perfect attendant?

Jack Carr: I mean for me if you have a lot of the same questions that I've had in the past couple weeks Like you wanted to ask John these exact same things you're screaming Jack.

Why aren't you asking him? This is for you, you're a sub 5 million company, 1 million plus probability to four and you're looking for the extra bump on, Hey, what systems do I need to put into place? And how do I get to that 5 million mark? So that I'm out of this owner's hell zone and I get into a little bit more of a fun and easy, I wouldn't say easier to manage different problems, but maybe more fun.

John Wilson: Yeah so what we're gonna be talking about, it's gonna be two days of programming and obviously, it's gonna be at my place of business so that is cool from my perspective, because one of the most transformative things that has happened for me is site visits, and I actually had someone that I met from Twitter.

He was just up at our location yesterday or the day before, hung out with us for a couple hours. He was at that 4 million mark. Very transformative moment for him. And he had gone and seen us and he went and saw a company twice my size in Pennsylvania. And he just got a ton out of both of those. And I remember being at that size and going and seeing larger shops and being like, holy smokes.

And what I shared with him yesterday, it's kind of

funny. Like some of the problems that I'm working on now. Like call center has been like a real journey. And some of the problems that I'm working on now, I'm referring back to notes from site visits that I did in 2021. uh, It can really change your business.

I've always tried to give back. And like tons of people over the past couple of years that met me on Twitter have stopped by because I remember how impactful it was for me to see larger companies.

Okay, but what we're going to be talking about, we're going to be talking about infrastructure.

What does physical location have to look like? Which of the tools you need? What does software look like? In order for you to hit that five million mark. We're going to be talking about pricing. How do you price? How do you figure that out? How do you sell? What does the selling process look like?

We're going to be taking some of the recruitment stuff that we've been talking about in the last few episodes. We're going to be diving deeper. Giving some job descriptions, giving some pathways to recruit. So recruitment's a big one. Can't grow without people. We're talking about call center.

How to structure your call center. Oh, dude, we're going to spend so much time on that one. No, I know. It's a big surprise. It's a big surprise to everybody.

Jack Carr: We're not even talking about drains at any point in time either.

John Wilson: Most of it's going to be about drains. But yeah. So when you flip over... Somewhere in that three to five maybe even later you have to change how your call center works. It's no longer just Oh yeah, everybody call takes and dispatches. It's like now there's siloed roles and how to think about that. We're going to talk a lot about org chart how you build teams, how you hire managers.

We're going to be talking about fleet, how to scale your fleet. Do you buy, do you lease benefits, pros, cons. And we're going to be spending a lot of time, as Jack and I have here on the, show, we're going to be spending a ton of time on marketing tactics for both digital and traditional. So obviously we're employing all types of stuff in our marketing that is very non traditional, as well as just, paying the Google tax.

So we're going to be diving pretty deep into all that. So that's the programming for two days. It's going to be pretty sick.

Jack Carr: Yeah, I'm really excited. I think this is going to be transformative for us as well. This is huge. So where can people go and find more information on this or sign up?

John Wilson: I believe we can put links in the bio. Kristen will put a link in the bio. But you can also go check it out at ownedandoperated. com. There's a little button at the top for workshops. Click on it. It's right there. Should be fun. We're hoping to do a few of these a year. Obviously it's at my physical locations.

So like space, like it's not like hold co conf where we can have like 130 people. Yeah. It's like a tight group. So we're going to do a few of these a year, and we were going to do a couple at this size of the breaking 5 million. We were going to do a few of breaking 10 million.

Obviously different group, really different challenges. And then if there's enough people, maybe a breaking 15. I think this is fun. I know that I'm going to get a ton out of it. And I'm, I don't know, I'm just excited to, help people and excited for it to be a good time.

Jack Carr: Yeah. And so what size are we looking at for this? Where are we expecting it to be? Just cause I want people to understand.

John Wilson: Yeah, we're probably going to cap it like a little over 30 people. So that's about the size that would comfortably fit inside our training room. And everyone would get the most value.

Jack Carr: 30 is the size that really, if you have questions, if you have specifics, you can sit there, we can workshop, we can dive really deep into some of these topics that we dive deep on every week and versus, there's, I think there's a space for this right now. Versus there's a lot of big events in like SMB and all this kind of stuff.

Those are great and all, but there's no real opportunity to sit down and ask.

John Wilson: We're going to be deep diving with my team in my building, like into the nooks and crannies of how things work. And yeah, I definitely don't think you could do that with a larger group.

Jack Carr: Yeah, and that's where a lot of the important meat comes out as well, right?

Generalistically, you could read a Twitter post and say, hey, this is how you do something But to really get into the depths of why and how to implement what are the problems and how we overcome those That's what we're gonna focus on to really get us All of you to the five million and above mark.

John Wilson: Heck yeah.

No, it's going to be a lot of fun.

Jack Carr: And it'll be fun. Maybe we'll have some merch by then too.

John Wilson: Yeah. I got to hand out some like shirts. You got owned. You got operated.

Jack Carr: I don't know. That has to go back to the drawing board.

John Wilson: Yeah. We'll workshop that one. All right.

Thanks for tuning in. If you want to hear more about the workshop owned and operated. com. Go to workshops, there's going to be some information uh, you can read the programming, you can read the schedule there's good stuff on there. And if you have any suggestions for future episodes you can reach us on Twitter.

I'm at Wilson Companies. And I'm at the HVAC Jack.

Thanks for tuning in come back next week.

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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