Owned and Operated #60 - Mom and Pop To Enterprise, Scaling a Call Center As You Grow

In-House vs Remote: Who Wins?
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In this episode of the Owned and Operated HVAC, plumbing, and electrical growth podcast, John and Jack get into how to grow and scale a call center in the home service business space. No matter your size, knowing how to scale and grow your call center service is something that will eventually come up.

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

Looking to scale your home service business? Service Scalers is a digital marketing agency that drives success in PPC and LSA.
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John Wilson, CEO of Wilson Companies

Jack Carr, CEO of Rapid HVAC

Owned and Operated Episode 60 Transcript

  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.

 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. 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.

 So, ready for this? Call center? Yeah.

Honestly, I am too, because we're getting... With this, so we have two acquisitions that were, they're coming down the pike. That'll put us at 5. 5, like we talked about. And so we'll have three CSRs, one from each of the companies. And so we're going to have to figure out what to do with them. Cause I don't want to fire them, obviously, if we can help it, but you know, that'll at 5.

5, you'll probably need three on dispatch and well, we can talk about this in the middle. Three on dispatch. Three on CSR Dispatch Mix. Boom, we're recording. Yeah. Yeah. Just like that. Uh, honestly, I kind of like, uh, I kind of like a cold intro. Welcome back to Own It    Operated. Jack and I are talking call center now.

That's what we're about to end at, or at least touch call center at

it'll be like John and Joraine's. It's one of those things that just never stops. It never stops. And I think, uh, like it, it never stops cause it's always adapting, right? Call center is fascinating. I think it just has a special place in your heart.

Yeah, it, it, no, it totally does. So, so I have this funny thing with these parts of our, my business, right. Where like I hate something. I just hate it. And I like never want to look at it for like literally years at a time. And then we get to like a new section of our business like a new plateau or a new like stage.

And I'm like, Oh my God, this thing is totally awesome. Like why have I never cared about this? And that's call center. So, like that's call center, HR marketing. That's like all the stuff that I'm actively working on. Like marketing was something I avoided for a long time. And I focused on deals because I found that to be an easier way to grow.

And now that we're diving so deep into marketing, I'm like, I don't, I don't know when I'm ever going to look at a deal again, like we're going to be up 30 percent month over month, like at, at our size, that is the revenue change that I'm about to drive in October over September from organic growth is the same size of revenue for a company that I bought in July.

Yeah. Did that switch though? Because you now have the resources to be able to do that. I don't, I don't want to, for sure. Yes. You have the extra for sure to test. I mean, when you're so small, you, you miss on marketing, you take a big leap and you miss and it's, it's, Oh, you, you can't be taking their leap on marketing for a few months.

Right? Yeah, I don't. Yes. Okay. We're talking call center, but, but yeah, so I think that everybody does. Like there is nothing to take a big leap on for marketing, right? Say you never did a PPC or LSA before, right? And you don't know, you're the owner, you don't know anything about it. We're talking about a 2 million a year business.

So you want to get into PPC, you want to get into Facebook ads or Tik Tok ads. What's the first thing you do? You go out and you hire a marketing agency because you don't know it. You're dropping 6k. Maybe that. First month, and then 6K the next month, and then you have good data to see if it's actually working.

I think you said it two episodes ago, LSA takes like six weeks to even kick in. PPC takes six weeks to normalize. LSA is pretty... Right away, but PPC likes you after six weeks. And so you have to spend for six weeks to even get results. Yeah, yeah. So, I mean... I think of that as less of a risk. I can, I can receive that though.

Yeah, I mean, when I'm thinking of as a risk, whenever I see, like, like there's a company in my market, it's doing like 2 million and they are on every billboard around me. And I'm like, literally, what are you doing? But what are you doing? I'm not doing that and I'm 10 times your size because I don't think it's a good use of money And you're on 30 billboards right now.

Yeah, I think cool ray is a great example of that cool gravers Hoffman is in the national market They moved in cool ray buys every billboard all over and I mean they get a foothold there They're here. They're Nashville people know him Yeah, but they had to spend I think like double the amount that Hoffman spent to get far more So they they spent 20 million To get less results.

So they spent 20 million to get 10 million in revenue I think in the first three years and Hoffman spent 3 million to get 15 million of revenue in the first three years. So like, yeah, not even close. So, when I think about taking a leap, when I'm thinking about that in a small business, I, if there is something that's potentially a leap, then you already shouldn't be doing it.

Like until you hit 5 million, there's, there's nothing to take a leap on. Like you should only be doing PPC and LSA and like, that's a good point. Well, TikTok Facebook's pretty, pretty good. I'm almost on that trade. You're killing it. Like that, that, it was also better two years ago. I mean, I'm wearing my BA winery shirt.

I ran an entire company off of Facebook marketing. Like that was all we did. And we sold, you know, 80, 000 a month on Facebook marketing ads. It's not the same as it once was, but there's still a spot. He's got to be creative. I think there's a spot. I think there's a spot for everything. I just think like, what size are you?

I think there's probably going to be a spot for billboards for us. Right. So like right now our stack is LSAs, PPC with service scalers, our own email. We do internal SEO now that that was, that was a huge unlock, but that, but that took team that took like people and that, but that was a big unlock. Um, and then internal map pack.

Like GMB. Yeah. We internalize that competency for launching new ones. So, but yeah, all of that takes people that all said, it doesn't take a tremendous amount of people. If you get one decent manager and two VAs, you can move a mountain. So that's actually what we're looking at right now is, is one kind of all overseas manager and two VAs to handle that kind of stuff.

Because I mean, if you're paying, like I said, 6, 000 a month for that kind of stuff, And 3, 000 is in actual ad spend and 3, 000 is in, you can hire someone at 30 an hour or 20 an hour and two VAs at 5 an hour and there's your 30 an hour. I mean, for a hundred hours, you, it just makes all this sense, but finding those people is the key.

Totally. And, and I think how, I think people think about marketing wrong. Like there's like a one, you shouldn't be taking risks. Like you just shouldn't. And LSA and PPC, frankly, is not that much of a risk. And then two. Which, which one are you trying to optimize for? Are you optimizing for proactive or reactive?

And those are two totally different marketing strategies. Yeah. Like, but people, if you're not respectfully to, right. So you're a smaller company with 26 reviews, 30 reviews, your LSA PPC is not going to do as well. So I know people go out there and take risks on mailers. They take risks on billboards.

They do the TV commercials, radio, whatever it may be to try and drive. Once again, reactive, proactive, but I think you're right. I think the first step is to, especially if you're growing organically and you started up the company, low debt, tried drive reviews to get PPC, get LSA, and then just kind of churn that over and over increased spend, increased spend.

And then hopefully that will drive more reviews and then you have the extra spend elsewhere. Yeah. It makes sense. It's the first place people go. I think there's, yeah. Really just be optimizing for digital at first. And then like we're in the unpacking stage. Wait. So you're telling me that those urinal ads, the ones that go right above, you're not, you're not there.

You're not there. I mean, we might be about to be there.

So I promise everyone we're going to get to call center, but like, that was a good intro. Oh, go for it. My biggest project right now is like, we're seeing marketing as like two different projects, all aiming towards the same goal. So like, how do we dominate search? So LSAs, PPC, SEO, and map pack. If there is a search, I want to be on top of all of them, but what happens when there's no search, which is what happens in my market, February through May.

There's no search. I could put a million freaking dollars into LSA and I will never spend it. So you only spend like 50 percent of your budget. So a lot of what we're optimizing around right now is when there is a search, we want every bit of it. And we're gonna take it. When there is no search, how do we build how do we build a maintenance like a Self, uh, propelling proactive marketing program to drive leads.

And I think that that's where branding comes in. I think that's a place for billboards. I think that's a place for television. I think... I think all of that stuff has a place, but like if you're spending eight grand a month or five grand a month on TV and you're under like 20 million, that doesn't feel like a great fit.

Yeah. Branding is not a great fit when you're small. When you're really small, you shouldn't be focused on branding just because one, there's not really a brand you're, you're not in enough households to create a brand. I mean you should start, don't get me wrong, the same t shirts, you know, look all the nice things, but at the end of the day, in terms of marketing dollars.

Every dollar spent in should be generating revenue back to you, at least at some point. That's my belief. Yeah. I agree. And like, what branding is meant to do is it's like, branding is a cost per lead play. That's all we have to think about this is, is like, Hey, if I, every lead costs you dollars, there's no free leads.

A referral costs you dollars, right? Somebody looking at your Google costs you dollars. It's just like, what did it cost? Right. And. A cost per lead from having a great, big old chunky brand might be like four or five bucks. Yeah. Whereas a cost per lead from like, highly competitive LSA might be 80, like, but there's a place for both because your schedule can only fill up with the proactive branding from like driving effective, you know, recurring communication with your customers and the outside people that aren't your customers yet.

Yeah. And you can only fill your board up with that so much before you need to go outside and buy more expensive leads. But if your aggregated cost per lead is under 30, then you're in a great spot. And if your aggregated cost per lead is above 30, then like, yeah, maybe you should be thinking about branding.

And if you're above 10 million in revenue, like, yeah, it's probably time. Yeah. And all of this is driving. people towards your call center.

I just had to say the line. That's the only one I wanted to say transition. Perfect. If nothing else. And so, uh, I mean, we kind of went over it last episode, we kind of went over at the web episode before, but I think we should dig in. So what is your call center? Yeah. What is your call center? Like how is it?

What's the org chart look like? What's the split? Because I mean, I, I think I'm really interested in how you differentiate the different roles and, and where, how many are you allocating to that? She said 20 people, right? How big is it right now? Yeah, yeah. 2022 people. Yeah. So call center is, is an animal.

So call center. I want to walk through like the stages of call center. Cause I think that me explaining my current call center would not be very valuable to, I think it'd be somewhat valuable, but like, yeah, let's step it back then and go, what, what was your call center five years ago? Yeah. And what do you think you would have done differently?

Yeah. So call center, call center, every company roughly starts the same, which is it's one lady named Martha. It's just how it works. She's probably part time. She's got kids in school. She comes in after she drops them off. She leaves at 2 30 to pick them up. Like, look, I get it. That's everybody's call center.

And yes, we are aware you, the owner are answering calls after hours all day, every day, nine o'clock at night, seven in the morning. Yep. That's, that's early stage call center. That's early stage for sure. And then, yeah, then you hire, um, then you hire like an after hours message center, basically. And usually what people seem to optimize for is cost.

So, like, hey, I got this for 200 bucks a month. So, I feel good about that, right? Like, I think I pay like 8 grand a month for my... That's not like a, that's not like a brag. It's more like, that needs change. Yeah. A lot. You know, the difference between 200 and 8, 000 a month is quite a bit. But, so everybody starts with this one person, usually part time.

They sort of graduate up, eventually you get two people. And, uh, you cross that. I want, I want to say it's, maybe different sizes, but somewhere between three and five million. You start realizing that call center, like, call taking and dispatching are different disciplines. Uh, like, hey, this is a totally different thing.

Like, putting calls on the schedule. And optimizing those schedule are two very different tasks that require two totally different people, right? So the ideal dispatcher is like a data analyst. How do I look at this schedule and extract the most amount of value out of this day? How do I put the right person on the right job to drive the most revenue and hit all of these opportunities?

The call taker. It's just like friendly. Really nice, yes. You know, in the south, very nice. Two very

different competencies. Oh, funny. Yeah, and um, Oh, what was It's true. So, so you get, you get to a point. Where you start hiring more call takers and people have different metrics for this. Honestly, we are still struggling with ours and that's the way we allocate roles inside call center. We're tightening this up right now because it's gotten so big that it's like, Oh my God, this is actually a full time person to respond to email.

That's like an active thing that we're doing right now is we have to hire a full time person respond to email. Whereas previously that's been divvied up. So. You get a couple more call takers. Roughly a call taker can take 50 to 70 calls a day. That's how we think about it. So if you're driving 100 to 140 calls a day, average call time of 5 minutes, they're selling memberships, they're saying the 10 or 11 things that you need them to say on every call then that's probably two call takers.

Or like one rock star that's overworked. Uh, and then gets flipped over to dispatch, and dispatch can roughly manage up to 10 people efficiently. So, you know, that 8 to 10, same, same way we think about managers, we think about that for dispatchers too. So our dispatchers roughly manage 8 to 10 people per person.

And we have 5 dispatchers now. So, So yeah, so call takers fill the board, dispatchers optimize that board. So where we're at now is there are, uh, Well, I, I'll go back slightly. That gets you pretty far. Okay. Yeah, that's a good point. Where, how, how far does that get you, you, you might have to expand a few more, but you get, you know, 20 people, two dispatchers.

I mean, that's a great rule of thumb. Yeah. Like, I mean, what does that drive to? Maybe 10? Easily above 10. Yeah. Easily above 10. So the, and, and now I think that this, this is going to be affected a lot by how strong your call center or ops manager or whoever it is overseeing the call center. We have never had a very strong call center manager and like that's a big deal to not have a very strong call center manager.

Uh, we struggled a lot with that role. We struggled a lot with that role. And do you have, do you have quality people who are, or is the, was the manager listening to calls or the quality people listening to calls? What does that look like? So yeah, I'll dive into the evolution a little bit more. So like, So, like, you can probably get you know, six to eight call takers and, like, three dispatchers and that's still probably one manager we're splitting up into team leads and shift leads now, but that gets, this, this model gets you pretty far.

And then if you have your call center manager doing exactly that, like your call center's manager's job is to float. So if we have call offs, if we have overburdened, whatever, they're going to come in, they're going to do that. They're also going to hold accountable to the metrics that we're trying to drive every day, and they're going to coach.

So they're going to listen to calls a lot of the day, and they're going to actively coach. What we have found, is as the call center has gotten larger and larger, is that it's such a burden, that we've actually just had to add a quality control team. So, we have three people whose full time job it is to listen to every single phone call that happens inside our call center.

And they grade it. They just use a scorecard. Um, you get X, X, X. You have to bring up these twelve things. Some departments have like one extra thing that they have to bring up. If you brought it up, great, here's a one. The thing that we're struggling with is it's very quantitative. Like, did you do it?

Did you not do it? And it's less qualitative of like, yes, you did it and it was good, or you did it and it was bad. So that, that's been a struggle because we're using overseas team members for it. So like the nuance of the English language is a little bit harder to convey of like, Hey, this conversation went really well.

That's why this happened, or this conversation went terribly. And here's how we could have improved it. Yeah. It's 700 calls a day that this quality control team is listening to. And they're just getting teed up like, Hey, here's the 10 bad ones that need to be coached on. So, what we're getting ready to do now is add a full time coach.

And all of this is separate from the manager. So there's going to be a manager that actually manages them. There's going to be the quality control team that queues up stuff for the manager and the coach. And then there's going to be a full time coach whose full time job it is to just sit with people for an hour at a time and coach through their calls.

Yeah. Cause I mean, that's, I, that's where the key is, right? Is getting them to a point where they're, they're meeting all the needs in the way of the business wants. Cause that's the question to go back to now. Downsizing again, your, your team's three, four people, right? There's not really a manager. You're managing them, you're coaching them.

You're, you're all those positions. At that point, do you recommend that, right? We talked about on the last episode or even this episode, branding and going back and doing inside sales to your, To your kind of phone lists that you have. Um, are these people doing that or is that a completely separate team for you?

They used to. They're, they're now, it's now a different team. So that's where we're at. So we're doing it where our own team is going back in and calling or, and, and, you know, putting... We just found it's a totally different discipline. And like, if you're an, you're either an inbound person or an outbound person and like you're either juiced up by commissions or you just want to be nice.

And like, I, this is the same as like when we're, yeah, I mean it is, it's the same conversation that like we were talking about hiring ops managers and I was like, Hey, do your eyes light up when I talked to you about this role? Well, cause one, I mean, most the nice people. They're not, their eyes are not lighting up when they're having to outbound.

Because they're agreeable, right? They're an agreeable personality. They want to be nice and to be friendly and accommodating. They don't want to sell versus someone who wants to sell. It's maybe a little bit more on the sales side, less agreeable. They're kind of pushing something along. No, that makes sense.

And that's why it's so hard early on, I think, is because there's so many different kind of specialties. To find a generalist who can do all of those things. It is a difficult role, but I mean, kind of key, um, it is totally, I, I think one of our biggest, like, if I look at our call center over the years, it has been a jury prop, like probably the biggest journey in our entire business has been inside the development of call center.

And we are not there, like, I don't know when we're going to get there, but I know we're not there now. Right. And, uh, like we're constantly improving, like where we are now is like infinitely better. Then where we were just three, four months ago, like totally different place, which is amazing. Uh, and part of that's like our own business, Hey, we're in one building now instead of dispersed and whatever.

But it, it's had a lot of movement. And one of the hardest things about call center is just the turnover and like in a call center, the turnover, the average turnover is 90 days. Like that is the turnover in call centers. And that's tough that hurts. Yeah, that hurts. And I, I think what ends up happening in all these businesses that are smaller is if you don't have, which we're just getting there, like we're just getting to the point where I'm like, yeah, we got this where, Hey, I know I can bring on a call taker every week.

No problem. I can bring on multiple if I want to. Uh, and then I know our training process is dialed in so that they can be picking up the phone correctly. In three days, like we got this, but like most small businesses don't. So they end up leaving people who are not very good in that role for like 10 years with like zero accountability and owners wise, totally, totally.

And like, it's not hard to understand why, like it's a really hard job and turnovers 90 days. And yeah, that's, it's a tough, it's a tough thing to fill. We're, what we've ended up doing that's really helped and we're, we're only just getting here like call centers and active big project because like our customers complained a lot because of the quality that we were providing in our call center and they were right.

Like our call center was rough. So now it's like, it's a big, it's a big point of focus. Our average call time went from four minutes to seven seconds in the past couple of months. Like that's a ridiculous difference. Four minutes to seven seconds. Our call, our average call time during peak calls was four minutes.

That was our average wait time to get picked. Oh, wait time. Wait, wait. I thought you meant like that. They're on the phone with the person. I'm going seven seconds. Does it sound like nearly long enough, John? Hey, okay. Toilet. Got it. We have your file. Yeah. So like Mondays at nine, our average wait time would be four minutes.

Our average wait time now Mondays at nine is. Under seven seconds is not bad. Yeah. Um, seven seconds is ridiculous. By the way, I called Gettl Hoffman. I called every big company in the U S and they're all 45 seconds to a minute. So I'm like, I'm eight times faster than you guys. Yeah, no, that's awesome. And so what, what do you view as the next big driver for your call center?

So you, you bring in some people, you're getting the manager. Is there any big initiatives you're working on that are, you think are going to really change the game? Any secret sauce you can share with us? So we added, um, well, one leaning in to the fact that turnover is 90 days. You cannot change. You cannot change that.

And I cannot change that. And I'm saying this message to myself. Because I have consistently tried to change that. Is it like, the pay? What, I mean, what is causing that high turnover rate? I, I, that is like nationwide average. Okay. Yeah, I'm just, I'm trying to think like on exit interviews you could probably lean in and try to figure out why specifically is that, you know, the driver.

Sure. I mean, it's not an amazing compensated position. Even with the incentives. On top of that, it's measured like tightly. And if we don't hit it, then like, we're going to have issues. So you're held accountable. So like, yeah, there's, there's a lot of different things going on here. So, you know, you might have some people that last for years and you might have some people that last for a week and that's, that just is how it is.

So, and, and when you're hiring at scale and when your call center goes about 20, it's not like, um,

I don't know. It's a, it's a good question, but No, I, I get it. I'm just pushing on it. Just trying to figure out specifics on, on what kind of is the driver behind it. But I mean, it makes sense. Like you said, there's some issues with absences. We've had problems with like attendance is not an issue in our field.

Uh, but attendance in call center is wild. It is a wild journey and when I talk to other people with reasonably sized call centers, they're like, Oh yeah, yep, that's for sure thing for sure. So most companies that I know that have decent sized call centers, like they have to offer attendance bonuses and that's the only way you can actually get bonuses is just showing up.

So I know this is going to be a question I get at some point or somewhere down the pike is why not outsource the entire call center? Not like outsourced in the sense of outsourced to like a company, but outsourced in the Philippines, getting, hiring, um, you know, Latin America, something like that. Yeah.

So, is it the nuances? We have outsourced. So we have tried every version of, you know, I just crossed my seventh year of owning this business. So we've tried every version of call center. So we had a full outsourced. We had a partial outsourced. Outsourced is complicated and it's a lot more complicated than people make it seem.

It's not as easy as like delegate and elevate. So what the issues that we had with outsourcing or like offshore team members, and honestly, even out of office team members, because like we, so right now our call center, most of them are in house. We do have out of office team members. So we have people that are remote in the U S and we have people that are remote in other parts of the world.

And the problems that we have are the same. Like, I don't care if you're in Manila or if you're in Texas. Like, I have the same issue with training, with accountability, with you knowing what's going on inside the company, with you being a part of the culture that we're trying to drive. It doesn't matter where you are in the world.

If you're not in my office, I have that problem. Yeah. And at the end of the day, this is such a vital part of the business. I know it feels like it's one of those areas that you could really easily do. But right. If you don't, we, I had this conversation with our, our call, my call team, which is one this morning is it's such an important part, especially as we're opening up plumbing to making sure that they're asking the right questions and that they're offering the offerings that you need to have.

And if they're not, if they're, you know, missing the, the intricacies of the call center and the questions and it's just not going to work. It's, you're going to lose out on potential business, which I mean kind of is the key of the call center. Yeah. Yeah. I think the way, so the way I think about call center and like where people sit is a, a few different things.

Like one training slows down if we're not in the same building. And if I have 90 days with that person on average, every day counts. Yeah. So if training is slowing down by a week, that is a lot. That is like 7 percent of the lifetime employment of that person in my company. Not to mention there's a cost associated with training and a cost associated with hiring, right?

You have to find them, hire them. Some paying someone to do so. So it's that week is costly when it's 22 people rotating every 90 days. I mean, it's like a, you know, in high speed manufacturing, you save a cent in one spot, it saves the whole company, you know, 100 million, same kind of idea. Yeah. So by, you know, we took our training for CSRs used to be two full weeks.

And then we leaned into, hey, we need to be in office. And hey, we need to train right here. And hey, if I see something, I'm just going to coach you on it real quick. And And that worked. And I think a full remote, you know, a lot of the things I see for full remote is like, hey, you know, we're seasoned professionals.

We're this, this, and this. And yeah, like if that was, if that's what I was dealing with then that would be great. But usually we're dealing with entry level workforce that is low skilled or... They need trained in this type of task. Uh, so we're not dealing with 20 year career professionals that are totally fine on their own without any accountability.

We're dealing with people that need a lot of accountability and they need a lot of followup, fast ramp to make them successful in their jobs. And that is just easier to do in person. Yeah, fully agreed. It took us so we actually do have an overseas. After hours scheduler, that's what we call her after our scheduler.

All she does is take phone calls, schedule out, used to be just text message only does an amazing job, but it took us a solid, I think it was a month, month and a half to get her to understand the intricacies of, of, you know, the, The English language and kind of what they meant here and what they were actually asking for HVAC specific items and plumbing specific, you know, there's a lot to their end, especially someone who's not from the industry.

It, it, it's a lot of training and there's a lot of accountability and followup, but it is nice because it's their day while it's our night. So that was a big win for her. So, you know, we have, we have 20 remote employees. Mhm. All over the place. So we're not unfamiliar with it. We have a pretty reasonably sized team elsewhere in the world.

It it is large enough that we are now considering a physical location inside Manila because we believe that that's just going to be the easiest thing for us. Is to hire and recruit and give them an actual office. So like, this is a real I'm smiling ear to ear for anyone who can't see. That'd be so cool.

And then John John gets to travel down there every Once a year, twice a year to go visit them. That'd be so cool. We take our remote team members very seriously. They're a part of our team. Our remote team members tend to turn over a lot less. Which is great, but I, you know, I'm still pushing for an office for all the reasons I listed, but like, there are some roles that just do a great job.

So like, CX1, which, you know, we have CX1, CX2, CX3 inside our call center. So you end up dividing call takers as you, as you get larger. And like remote off, like out of office team members do a great job at CX1. That's amazing. Or anything like quality control for our phone calls, they do a great job.

A bunch of marketing tasks that do a great job, but no, so we take it very seriously and we're actively building on that. We're probably going to have 50 by the end of next year in Manila. And yeah, we are, we're planning on doing a physical location. That seems like the easiest and best way to do it.

Oh, that'll be, that'll be a great podcast to, to hear how that goes down because I'm sure there's John, John launches a Manila. Oh, okay. So question for you. So we're moving into. All right. We, we are in that stage. You were about four or five years ago where we're buying two companies pretty much at the same time.

We're going to go from last year. We did 850 this year. We're going to do 1. 7. So maybe a little bit more. So a hundred percent growth. So we've, we've been able to handle that, but now we're going to buy two companies that should put us somewhere in the range of five to 5. 5. And because there's two additional companies, there's two additional Martha's that were taken on.

So we have our Martha, we have two more Marthas what does that look like for you at that point? What would you recommend moving one into dispatch, moving one or two into call taking potentially and then maybe one with admin work on the side. Well, I mean, what would you do in that situation?

Because I mean, ideally missing is like, are they serving the same locations? Are they changing brands? We are all merging into one brand. Yes. Into one location, one location, one. Well, for a short term, one of them will be about an hour out 50 miles out, but the other one, the bigger one of the two that we are merging with into their facility, actually, because they're, they're a little bigger than us.

Yeah. Okay. So the way five and a half million, how many team members? Give me some numbies. How many people in service?

It'll be about 30, 35 team members. Not in service total. Yeah, so is that like 10, 12 in service? Yeah, about 10 in service. Okay. So that's one dispatcher. Mm hmm. Um, and then, yeah, the rest would be call takers. And then, I think is everyone on service, Titan? No, so we're, we're, one of them is we're going to do a conversion on the other one.

Yeah. It's going to be fun. Yeah. And I, and I, I say this acknowledging the fact that your future employees will likely hear this podcast. So hello, hello, Jack's future employees. What I have tended to struggle with is the transition. And I think that there's like, and I think this is probably a me problem.

I have a very like, it's my array or the highway mentality. And and I find that most people, like, technicians are very used to driving to work. So I have technicians that drive an hour to our office all day long. Office team members are not used to driving an hour. So that becomes a real thing.

All that to say, whenever we take over teams, the administrative staff tends to not go with us. We offer it to them. They tend to not go with us because they don't, a lot of times, they don't want to feel like a cog in the wheel, which I can totally respect, but they're used to being like the hub of all activity inside that business, and then they just went to one of four people, so there's like a self value thing.

Like you said, or like we talked about too, a lot of times, they're the, the wives of the owners, and... Maybe not in the actual sense, but they're, they're very close. They're very close to them because the owner's in the office, they're in the office. They're communicating daily and now that owner leaves and, and they're sitting without that person that they've been with for the last 20 years.

So I mean, I, I can see that. My hope is that they stay. But if not, you know, we'll hopefully have a better track record than 90 days because I don't know if I can eat that. But, we'll get some more in. Like you were like, Hey man, how do you do it? And I'm like, you literally have to accept it. And you just, you just didn't accept it.

So the sooner you come to accept that, the better your life will be. Cause like I provide a great people for place for people to work. Great benefits. Great. We overpay compared to our market. So like we're, we have a huge home service call center. It's not inside our industries, but it's like down the street from us.

Like a hundred people, right? 200 people. And we get their people all day long because they, they just churn and burn in like 60 to 90 days and they pay 5 less an hour than we do for that role. And like, even then average turnover is still 90 days. Yeah. You just, I don't know. Accept it. Don't fight it, but that's average.

We also have people who've been here for years, 10 years. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So, I mean, it would be interesting. I'm going to be happy to speak about it. Cause we're, we're probably 50, 50, 60 days out from close on those. And so it's going to be wild because I've never, I've never done two at once. So we'll do two at once and one's 50 miles away.

So definitely nervous, but yeah, already started hiring for the roles and we're. We're, uh, we're getting a recruiter on board. Someone, someone recommended that to me. So yeah, if it wasn't me, uh, it was you. Okay. I was like, yeah, you should for sure do that. So, but, um, I, like my quick take on what I would do is I don't think I would do anything.

I would let people come in and do, unless you're moving them day one, but even if you're moving them day one, like right now in our call center, we're, we're merging two of our businesses actively. And despite having 20 whatever people and all this depth and all this whatever, I still have one of our businesses fully go to this phone that only these two people answer.

Because I think that that's the best brand experience for those customers for the moment. Yeah, it's going to eventually change the other night. I would not hurry to change it. No, I'm not. And realistically, we're going to close in January, right? So we're going into it in kind of the slower months for HVAC.

They're all HVAC driven businesses. So we have a few months to get it all together. And if we do lose one or two headcount, we can supplement pretty easily and pretty quickly. So, yeah, anyway, that's awesome. Deep dive into, to, um. Call center is a journey and like, I'm, I'm looking forward we're, we're in the stage in our business where we're tackling all the giant problems that I've struggled to tackle for five years.

We're tackling warehouse, we're tackling marketing and like taming that beast. We're getting call center under control, we think. So I'm, I'm really excited, but call center is, it is a journey and it's like an, it's an ever changing journey. And it moves, I find, way faster than any section of your business as far as how complicated it gets.

Like, your field is pretty static. You bring on this many people, you do this thing, you do this other thing. In call center, like, you can go from three to eight people overnight, literally. And, and then like all the needs change, the software stack changes, your turnovers 90 days, you're constantly training quality controls.

Crazy. Cause in, in the field, your guys are seeing four calls a day. Your call takers are seeing 800. Yeah. Like it's, it's a. It's a wild amount of movement, a wild amount of activity. People are unpredictable too, and not your call center, but the people calling in are. Totally. We get much less call volume, and there are some wild calls that we get that are a lot of fun.

A hundred percent. A hundred percent. So yeah, call center, call center is a real beast. And I don't, I don't know that it ever gets tamed or easier. Well, I'm curious to hear what people think about this episode and, and... What they have done or they haven't done or how their experience is. Cause I think this is one of those episodes that can go in so many different directions with, with people.

It's had, it's not locked down. Like you, like you're saying for calls, your tech goes out there. They have to hit this metric, this metric, this metric. It's kind of one of those ebbing and flowing processes that is specific to people's businesses. So we're interested DME, the HVAC Jack and at Wilson companies.

If you're not already following. Cool. Thanks for tuning in for another episode of owned and operated. So twice a week we're dropping apps on home service companies that we either run or that we're interested in. So next time we actually have to talk about some that we're interested in. I think you said you had a pool one.

I have a pool company. Yeah, dude. Heck yeah. You know, yeah, we'll talk about next week. We're going to go start if I start, I won't stop. So we'll talk about next week. Thanks y'all for listening. Appreciate it. Hit the subscribe.

 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.

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