Owned and Operated #109 - The $100M Goal: Why I'm Growing My Home Services Businesses

The Path To $100M.
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John and Jack engage in an in-depth conversation about scaling home service businesses, aiming for the $100 million goal. They discuss the importance of strategic hires, transitioning from generalists to specialists and experts, and the impact of proper staffing on business growth. They also share their experiences with a workshop they hosted, sharing success stories, and the challenges they face, including maintaining revenue during tough quarters, the significance of cultural fits in hiring, and long-term goals for their businesses.

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

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John Wilson, CEO of Wilson Companies

Jack Carr, CEO of Rapid HVAC

Owned and Operated Episode #109 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.

If you like what we talk about on our social media, on Twitter, on this podcast, then you should be signed up for our newsletter. Go to ownedandoperated. com where every Friday we break down our business, we break down insights, things we're learning, things we're working on, and it's good stuff. Check it out, ownedandoperated. com.

Thanks for checking out Owned and Operated. Today Jack and I just have a very meandering conversation where we talk about why our goal is 100 million, how we think we're gonna get there, what the potential constraints are. It's a fun conversation and I think it'll help people.

Welcome back to Owned and operated

Jack Carr: Welcome back to owned and operated.

John Wilson: Welcome

Jack Carr: I'm so excited.

John Wilson: He's excited. He's got a chainsaw behind his head just for episode. Ready to rock in that garage.

Jack Carr: So it's garage sesh because I got kicked out of my office because I have family staying over. So we are recording in my garage. I put on my plaid lumberjack outfit and we're rocking.

John Wilson: Yeah, dude, you're ready to go. I'm in the exact same room. I'm normally in but the camera is turned the opposite way and it's a horrible mistake. So if you're watching this on YouTube, I'm really sorry about my lighting.

We're working to do better.

All right, dude. How's it going?

How's the house integration? How's your deal?

Jack Carr: I mean first off do you want to talk about the workshop?

John Wilson: Oh my God. Yeah, that was amazing. I still have to send a thread. Just because it was so much fun, it was awesome.

Jack Carr: It's really cool. Like today we got tagged It's been about a week and a half maybe since or maybe a week

John Wilson: It's been six days.

Jack Carr: Yeah. It's been six days and we were already getting messages like, Hey, I've already started implementing this and I've already started like, if that's you out there, congrats guys, you guys are killing it.

I'm so excited. And even me, like I've been implementing some of the stuff that we talked about that even I don't have ready to go in that. And it's been just wild.

I had so much fun though.

John Wilson: My one goal was to make friends. And I feel like I did that. I had a lot of fun. It's been a while since I've been to like an SMB Twitter event. One of the funnier things that I forget is people will quote you back to you. So that was funny. Meeting a bunch of new people was fun. We had some old friends there that I've met a few times. That was fun. But no, it was great. Like it was a really good and the group was awesome, especially for the first one. So I feel like we got really spoiled. And then we have some folks coming back for the next one. Like different people of their teams. Yeah, pumped. And if you are listening and you attended I'm super grateful. I'm glad you made the trip. And I'm glad that you took time out of your day and your week and spent it with us. And all the feedback so far has been, it's really been good.

But, you know, time will tell. I want to see, I want to see people's businesses grow.

Jack Carr: Rehashed a few episodes if you've been listening and you saw those other episodes pop up It's really neat to go back and listen. I listened to two of them and people two years ago we were in such different spots than they are now

John Wilson: Yeah.

Cassie was at the workshop and we just did her episode. And like when she bought it was like 700, 000 in sales and like, right now she's like three plus million working to get over five. And that was like two years ago. And then Rich Rich was like 800. But he bought it a longer time ago than Cassie. And like, he's trying to get over 18 right now. I got to have him back on here. It's wild to watch the journey.

Jack Carr: Even thinking back when we started, I was recording out of the the roll up storage container because I didn't have an office. And now six months later, we went from an 800, 000 business to, three plus million and we're going to close on another business. And so like in two in less than a year from a sub 1, 000, 005 million and a break every system that we have in the process.

So super fun.

John Wilson: Sounds like fun. I have to re kick, or like, re listen to some of my original interviews. I have been cautious to do that. But, I have an interview from late 2020, early 21, with Service Titan. And, the big problem that I was trying to solve was, like, breaking 5 million. Which is cool like, that's a big problem.

It is, and I'm not trying to like, discredit that. It's more just holy smokes. Like for perspective, we're wrapping up quarter one this week, and I'm pretty sure we did five million this quarter.

Jack Carr: Speaking of that, how did you come out of quarter one? I know quarter one is generally a difficult quarter for everybody in the home service industry.

John Wilson: Yes, I've only exited quarter one profitable twice in my life, and I'm living the second one right now That is a big one, and something that has never happened to me, is I have never done more revenue in Quarter 1 than I did in Quarter 4, until right now. So that was wild, we're gonna pass Quarter 4's numbers, which is usually like, Quarter 3 is our strongest quarter, Quarter 4 is our next strongest. And something that Brandon and I keep saying to ourselves. Because quarter one's tough like it is, you know, I'm painting a rosy picture because we've performed really well but like it was very challenging one of the most challenging of my career not even one of the most challenging of my career Not close, but we did it which is really cool But, you know, February was like a down month, like it always is.

So January we had a huge, we set a record revenue month.

February was down, always is down, not a big shock. But like we really felt it, but like we broke even still, which is amazing. I normally I lose so much money in February. And like Brandon and I, are just now doing like a post mortem on quarter one. We're not even done, but we're sort of like, okay, what just happened and Like we felt down about February But we did as much revenue in February as we did in September and October like a few months ago I was like really bummed about February Then I look backwards and I'm like, hold on like October and September were huge wins and I did the same number You Like, that's insane. So yeah, really big ride. If you've been listening to the show for six months you've probably heard the ride. We're growing like crazy. We're up 72 percent year over year. It is a lot to manage. Um,

Jack Carr: Percent year over year at 1 million. So congrats. It's still a big deal, but when we talk about that scale, it becomes a beast.

John Wilson: it's a beast, it takes every department firing as close to all cylinders as you can get, which like, you really start to see the big gaps in skill like leadership depth, really all the big challenges really shine when you're growing at that pace organically.

Jack Carr: Yeah, man.

John Wilson: But yeah, it's been a, it's been a crazy quarter, but yeah we, beat quarter four by 2%, which normally it's a 20 percent drop. So beating it by 2 percent is pretty unreal for us.

Jack Carr: And then now we're going into kind of the busy season, the busy quarters.

John Wilson: Yeah. So it's like quarter one, quarter two, quarter three, and then in quarter four. So quarter two is okay for us. April is usually a bit of a fight.

Jack Carr: April's a fight, but may really pops at least historically in our business. So it will be interesting to see, because I mean, that's a huge jump, right? You did so well in Q1 that when Q2 hits and Q3 hits, if that kind of trajectory continues I think you're going to surprise yourself.

John Wilson: Yeah, I mean we think so too. Cause like the gap between January and February was only like 200, 000.

And half of that back in March.

So like March was already like a climb. But, you know, what we've really struggled with in March, much more than the other months, is our three day call board. We've really struggled to keep that thing maxed out. Which, up until March, we had really dialed in. And I'm going back to like, this was the toughest first quarter of my career. We had to fight. You know, a lot of stuff that we've talked about on this show has been new for our business. We've never put it, never tried it before, like the outbounds, the a lot of different lead gen things. And we're still constantly trying and doing all that. And this was the first year for most of this stuff. We're seven or eight months into having a marketing department. And a lot of the stuff that we talk about here every day is brand new capabilities for us. And I really don't know how we would have gotten through this first quarter if we didn't have those things. We would have gotten through it, but it would have been, like, 50, 60 percent revenue drops. Instead of, we're eking out with a revenue gain, which has never happened. But like, March has been a real struggle, so despite doing more revenue than February, we've struggled to keep the board full.

But, we've been better at maximizing the board throughout March, so that's a good thing. But we really struggled to keep the board full in March.

Jack Carr: Yeah. It'll be interesting to see how that continues.

John Wilson: We have a lot of stuff that I don't know that I'm totally ready to talk about, but we have a lot of stuff going into April that we're not expecting that trend to continue. I'm usually right, so I suspect I'll be right.

Jack Carr: I mean, you change your marketing strategy to going into

The, at least from an HVAC side. I mean, so a lot of this is new for me on plumbing, but strangely enough, it kind of corresponds. Plumbing does a little bit more linear, but mean, still, it'll be interesting to see, cause I know a little bit of behind the scenes of what you are implementing and so we'll see if they actually part, you know, if it actually drives value and drives leads and keeps you going.

Really cool stuff. Anything else crazy going on end of Q1?

John Wilson: One holy smokes.

Most challenging quarter of my career, and it wasn't close. And I think that's a combination of personal and professional. Like I had some personal stuff going on at the beginning of the quarter

Jack Carr: Yeah.

John Wilson: And uh, that didn't help. And I say this to Brandon almost every day as we think about how hard we are pushing every day right now, We can't believe that we used to just take quarter one to the chin. It's astonishing to us. But it's also like, we earned every inch of our 70 percent year over year. We earned every inch of that.

Jack Carr: And I mean, we saw it during the workshop Your team appreciates that too. Like I saw they're all high fiving when they made the sale, they sold a tankless or a water heater. Everyone's giving each other high fives and knuckles and it's truly a cultural thing, like based on how you designed your business, that it all moves in the same direction.

Because I was talking to my team about this today. I said, you know, when you run across these businesses that are legacy that run everybody on hourly that's fine. That's your pay structures hourly. That's a business decision you made, but that plumber, that HVAC, that electrical guy, he doesn't care that the business went from 2 million to 3 million or 3 million to 8 million because he just worked his 40, maybe some OT.

And he goes home, like he doesn't care. But when the business goes from 3 million to 8 million and you make 5 percent performance, like you were directly making that performance pay that drove that. And so you won your guys sit next to you, won your helper, won the CSR, won the dispatcher, won the manager's one.

Like it becomes this really tight knit team. And as we are hiring right now because like I said We are doing integration for plumbing and everything and changing our model and doing all these kind of big moves like that's super at front of mind and we're being really intentional about hey, this guy needs to be cultural fit as well as like a good salesman and a good plumber and a good HVAC guy because that's so important.

It's crazy

John Wilson: Yeah. And like you know, if anybody ever comes and visits our place in a workshop, like we have some of our company goals on the wall like by 2030, we want to be at a hundred million which I think we're going to beat which is fun.

Jack Carr: Ooh humble brag

John Wilson: Yeah, well, like over the next 12 months are my like personal goal is to get to a 2 million advertising spend, which means that we'll wrap up next year, high thirties. So that's another 50 plus percent growth year back to back. I think it'll get tough to do the same thing after that, but I think that's a pretty strong pace, But people really resonate with that. Because they can imagine themselves as like, because their success is combined with the business success.

So when we drive, when we get to our goal of 100 million they will have succeeded personally along the way. Which is a core value of ours. Like we want you to win individually and as a team. And we want you to pursue that.

Jack Carr: How'd you come up with a hundred million?

Like a, one of those numbers, like the 1 million, 10 million, a hundred million?

John Wilson: was just on a show with Will Smith from Acquiring Minds and I think we can make a huge difference in the community. I see how big of a difference we make now at 26. What could I do at four times that size? And two, like, how many people have done it?

I think this is like maybe a weird opinion.

But I've been public about it. I was given the opportunity that I didn't deserve like, I'm a nepo baby. I wasn't given the company, but I bought it. But like, you know, when I was growing up in the trades, like hands on the tools, I was surrounded by other people whose dads were plumbers. Her dad's were HVC guys. And at 25, when I bought it, I had a tough time reconciling the fact that I had this opportunity that other people didn't. And my upbringing wasn't dramatically different. We all had daddies that were plumbers, right? And it wasn't that special. And I'm like, why did I get this?

And they didn't. wanted to earn the seat that I got and So that turned into a bunch of different stuff of like one, how do you share it? And that's how comp structure started like day one of me acquiring is like how do I give people opportunities that like they did earn? But they didn't get a chance for equity, which is mainly like comp structures And then how do we create this like self fulfilling win where like everyone gets to win through the success of the business? In a way that they earned, which I think is cool. And like, I want to have earned, which arguably I already have, but like, I want to have earned the opportunity that I got.

And a hundred million is like, to me that's like, I know that I was the right person to get that opportunity.

And I wasn't handed something silly.

Because that would be a 100 times growth in 14 years. or is that a thousand times? It's a lot. I don't know many people who have done that.

Jack Carr: Math isn't important in plumbing.

John Wilson: Yeah. yeah. And it's just a big interesting challenge. Don't you just want to figure it out?

Jack Carr: Respect I mean, that is a huge number. Mm hmm. Like 20 million is a big number. That's my goal like 10 to 20, but 20 being like the number and I see the path. I mean, I think we'll get it in the next five years as well before 2030 We have a three to five year goal for 20 mil but a hundred mil just feels so daunting.

That's not like 20 mil is obviously a reachable, you've reached it. So I know you can imagine reaching it, but from a perspective of like is such a big jump from 20 mil to a hundred mil that I don't think people understand like going from 150 staff to like 600 staff, like that's so big, especially in, I mean, yours is Metro's big, but it's not like your Southern California, like a lot of these Southern California, a hundred mil Austin, Texas, Dallas, Fort Worth area.

Even like Miami and some of those guys, like it's such a big market and it's always so hot that from an HVAC plumbing side, you can build like Las Vegas, a monster. And so it just like, people are listening to this going, well, 20 mil, a hundred mil, like what's the difference.

But it's just so such a big difference.

John Wilson: Yeah. I think, it's a common funny argument that I see on Twitter, of like, what's harder. I think it used to get brought up because of Chris Hoffman. Chris is like wildly impressive and took a business from 10 million to 180 or whatever, and 140 in the core business, which is crazy. And I think people like are jealous or mad or whatever. So they tried to tear them down and. They're like, it's harder to go from zero to ten million than it is from ten to a hundred. And I'm like, give me a human that's done the latter. I want to talk to them about that.

Because everyone that's saying it is people that just never got to ten. And I think they're just mad about it and I just said this on Twitter the other day, but like getting from one to 10 is really difficult. Like it is crazy. It is very challenging, but it's emotionally challenging. Like you have to personally sacrifice. You have to not take any the business. You have to reinvest everything. You have to spend all of your time doing this thing. It's like emotionally challenging and you need grit, but anyone can do it. It is inhuman to get to a hundred million. And you know that, because hardly anyone's done it.

Jack Carr: There's a handful of corporations.

John Wilson: Like, hardly anyone's done it. And how many people do it owning all of it? And that sounds interesting to me. Yeah.

Jack Carr: I mean as a goal just getting to build it that big is such a huge accomplishment. Yeah, I mean there's a handful of 100 million dollar home services companies and most of them have done so backed by private equity, like private equity comes in, they dump a bunch of money and then that's how they get there.

And that's a lot easier, at least in my mind, than somebody, you know, taking their modest and just going back into the business and not getting straight or pulled. I mean, I feel like a lot of times you get these people who get seven, eight, nine, 10 million and their cars start getting nicer and their second house shows up.

I mean, I've told you from the beginning 20 million is probably where I'd stop. I'm John, I'm your, second house in Michigan friend. we'll fly to Denver together. I'll go on the, you know, first class and you can take your private jet, but you will still both get there and, cause that's the difference is it really is a huge jump.

John Wilson: Yeah. And it's like, you know, what do you do with it? Which I don't like, I'm good. I'm still good. It hasn't been about the money for a few years. I really just think I like a big, interesting challenge and this is a big, interesting challenge. And I want to earn, I want to earn it.

I want to do something interesting. I want to build something meaningful. So it's sort of a tangent. But like, yeah think getting to 100 is like. Let's do it. And, you know, we went from one to 26, so like, I'm only talking about a four times at this that sounds a lot less intimidating

Jack Carr: We've already got a quarter of the way

John Wilson: Yeah, dude. We just wrapped up a 26 times. I'm sure we can do a four.

Jack Carr: Dude, that's neat. Well, we'll have to see. I mean, we'll see in six months because I mean this whole freaking world changes so quick. I mean in terms of like looking back a year. I had two employees and now I'm 15, 16. I mean It really does J curve at some point and it starts ramping if you're doing things right.

John Wilson: For future reference, I think it's at 15 to 20 is where it starts to J curve, like harder.

Jack Carr: Yeah. I mean I've just like it's just going fast is all. I mean it's, it feels like going quicker and quicker and quicker cause you start getting momentum behind you.

John Wilson: And then you place like the right people that adds more. Yeah, most of the biggest moves in the business have just been like placing the right person into the right seat. And I think some people like don't want to hear that because they want to be like super process driven and they want to be like McDonald's were like any for once interchangeable. But Ray Kroc built McDonald's like he wasn't interchangeable and don't even remember the other guy's name, but like he came up with a corporate lease back thing and like those aren't interchangeable roles. So like in that 15 to 20 like when you're still building process and you're not fully dialed. And you are putting in the key places, and you're, putting in the systems that like,, we talked about this a lot at the workshop, but decisions that we made at 2 and 3 million dollars are still a big part of our life now being on Service Titan was a decision at 2 million dollars, and how we handle fleet was made at 3 million dollars there was a few others that I talked about there, but like, That happened, like, we were 13 times smaller. And like, those decisions were key.

Jack Carr: In terms of difficulty though, do you think at some point the difficulty doesn't continue in the same way. So yeah, the beginning is emotionally draining. very hard. But at some point right, so you have to break all your systems like 10, 15 times throughout this process.

But like you said, you start setting these systems in place. So at 70 million, I'm just arbitrary number. Do you think that there is an arbitrary number where after you hire c suite you hire president whatever vps And then you put the right people in the right places that it becomes an easier game To get to that hundred like the last 30 million doesn't feel as hard because you have the whole system built And then now it's just maybe.

John Wilson: I mean, I think at each level, you have like, what's the one big challenge? And maybe it's at each year.

Mm hmm The one big challenge? Or what's the two big challenges? And we talk a lot about how I'm really intimidated by 50 million. Because I can see what breaks, at 50 million, and those are intimidating challenges to me. But like, something that we haven't talked a lot about is what happens in between now and 50. And , for some reason I'm not as intimidated by it, and I don't know why, but like, we're gonna run out of a labor pool.

Yeah that's like a real challenge that we have to solve. in the next 18 months. And that's gonna happen before we hit 50.

And that's like school. You know, we have to do the thing that all these giant companies do. We have to build a school.

Jack Carr: Or some kind of training pipeline.

John Wilson: So we're projecting 35 hires. Like headcount increase this year. And we have enough to do that in market. We think. Next year, let's say it's 50. And that gap of 15 we think is gonna be the challenge. So we're trying to figure out , how to do it. So all that to say I think at every step there's a big challenge. Cause I think running out of labor would be a huge issue.

You know, I used to think that I was like looking farther out and trying to solve those problems, and now I have to look even farther out and try to solve those problems. So, You know, the thing I'm intimidated by 50 million is like C suite and VPs. you hire them or you up train them. So I have to look at my current team and be like, which of you can turn into VPs? Which of you can run your own internal 25 million company? And right now you're running a four, or a eight, or a twelve. That's a big adjustment.

Jack Carr: Yeah, definitely. I haven't thought about it at all. I envy you on that one. Cause that was a hard conversation to have. I mean, we're having department managers. So that's where we're at right now, but department managers are awesome. I love them.

John Wilson: Yeah, they are. You know, I've talked a lot on here about our movement from a three tier to a four tier org chart, and like, how that affects my role, but that affects us. So like our trade managers, which are like our operations managers of each trade, have gone from being frontline managers, like service and install, to in the last six months just in the last six months, all three of them have stepped up a level where they're no longer directly managing techs. So now they're working through managers. And that's a really big adjustment for their careers. And they're figuring it out themselves. And like, each of them is two of them are managing eight figure businesses inside our business. And they're basically presidents of these lines.

We're trying to like train them to run it the same way we would if it was a siloed individual business, like all it's own.

And, like that's a challenge, one I didn't see that coming the way I should've. And two, we didn't like arm them to do it well, so we're trying to catch up, but like how do you think about training? Are you giving them enough information? Do they have net profit for their line? Do they know their marketing spend? Do they know all the different things that they can dial in on? And like, how do we support them? We're not dialed in on it. But I hope to this year.

Jack Carr: This episode is sponsored by Service Scalers. They're a brand I've used personally, and after almost giving up on PPC altogether, I gave it one last shot with them. They were able to not only reduce my cost per click, but also drive consistent and high quality leads. If you're a home service company, they specialize in PPC and digital media just for you.

I would highly recommend giving them a call today.

This is a great conversation so I said we bought the plumbing company and our plumbing man and division manager or whatever you're gonna call him, plumbing manager, he has seven plumbers under him which will eventually have to split out, but he sat there today and he goes, Jack, I don't know how to manage people, right?

I'm used to just being a plumber and really good plumber and selling, going and selling jobs and doing this. I said, you know, the goal is to train them into that position that people below you to be able to handle those individual items. And so it's, funny because it sounds like that just continues, right?

So you train them to not be a plumber, but to be a, people manager and to understand that we're going after KPIs and we're going after all these kind of specific goals and to set those goals for them. And then it sounds like the next step, you just do that for the managers, manager, managing managers, so far and so, forth as you continue to grow.

So really interesting that it's applicable through all sizes as levels.

Obviously the difficulty I think steps up a little bit. And the skill

John Wilson: I don't know.

I think the most of the difficulty is in seeing the issue or like, understanding it for what it is. And I guess I said most, but like, the back half of that is like, do you have the right people?

Because if you do, then you shouldn't have to be pushing. They should be seeking out personal development themselves. Because they can see themselves being leaders of a hundred people. They're also eyeballing that two years in the future.

And they're trying to make sure that, just like I was trying to prepare myself and be worthy of the opportunity that I was given, they're doing the same. Where, hey, I'm gonna lead a hundred people in my vertical in two years, and I have to be worthy of that. And so far, they've all done a great job of seeking out personal development to get there.

Jack Carr: Yeah. It's definitely a higher achiever trait. I think that you find within some people is they will do whatever it takes to learn what they need to know to be able to get to the next level. Neat.


John Wilson: That turned into a rant on how to get to a hundred million, or like how, maybe like the failings in between, like


Jack Carr: more interesting. Like from my perspective, it's more right. I'm drawing linear paths to the problems that you're having. We're having on a, I mean, much smaller, it sounds like you recycle your problems over and over again, but just into larger situations that are higher stakes much higher

John Wilson: Yeah. Yes, but one, thing that I'm finding very fun about this size is that when you get a high stake problem, you do have budget to solve it. And that is a very new thing for me.

That is very new.

We're like, hey, I need this expert. And like, most of my life, it's I need this expert. And then I just sort of like wistfully stare off and imagine what that life could look like. And now, if we need an expert, it's like, for the first time we can pay like market or above. For like real expert roles which is just like a totally new experience for us. So like we're interviewing some candidates now that for positions that I've never in my life imagined having

Jack Carr: Generalists to specialists.

John Wilson: to experts.

Jack Carr: Yeah. To And, and, I don't even want to talk about this, John. This is so it's bullshit. hire, a TikTok Guru, marketing guru to solve my tick tock marketing problem. And I can hire this guy and this guy. And I'm over here like Jack still wears half of these

John Wilson: Something that's been like, it's cliche, but there's a book about this and I'm saying this and I don't think I'm saying this from like my size pedestal

Jack Carr: Okay. great way to start this

by the way.

John Wilson: like a portion of it is, but

Jack Carr: I, us.

John Wilson: Yeah, so the book is called who not how. Have you read it?

Jack Carr: No.

John Wilson: It's interesting and like honestly the title sums it up like it's not much more complicated than that. But the basic idea is Like most of my life i've spent figuring out how to do something Instead of figuring out who is the right human to do this thing And that's been something I've been working on a lot over the past four or five months

I can figure out how to do something but the problem is i'm pulled in so many different directions Like me knowing how to do something is irrelevant Like i'm not going to be able to build real scalable process because I don't have the time to devote to it So like it doesn't matter if I know how to run an accounting team if I have to Like actually run the business and not the accounting team Or like marketing, or like any core function of the business. So something that we've been really focusing on, and that's why moving from this generalist to specialist to expert has been a big thing for us recently, is because I'm really trying to dial in on like, okay, I want to do this thing. So I want to do field canvassing, or I want to do home shows, or I want to do, I don't know.

What's another thing?

Jack Carr: Door knocking.

John Wilson: Yeah, well that's field canvassing, but like, I'm trying to think of a non marketing one.

Vendor relationships. Like I'm really like worked up about vendor relationships right now because I wanna be a good partner, like I wanna be uh, we rely on our vendors and we're a big source of their growth.

So when I think about these positions, it, I used to just like, okay, let's go create a process. Go, let's go do this thing and what has helped J Curve us even faster is me skipping the learning phase. So, Home Shows is a great example. We're thinking about home shows, we're thinking about in person marketing, and, like, how to make that happen.

And it would not be very hard to sink into like, a execution mind. We're like, okay, let's do this, and you're gonna go do this, and you're gonna figure this out.

Instead, it's like, how do I just pay somebody a lot of money, who knows exactly how to do this like way better in a way that it would take us years to figure out and they can shorten our learning curve by literally years and make this productive day one because like their salary will pay for itself not even in, save time, but like in real leads like it'll yeah pay for itself

Jack Carr: I mean, do you think that's always the case, though? or is always realistically the case? Holmes shows, , is there someone that's going to get you so many orders of magnitude farther than sending somebody that's already in house and saving money.

What is the order of magnitude that's going to change, right? 10 leads, 15 leads, 20 leads that you close 50 percent on what is that real difference versus sending, you know one of your, an assistant of some sort or a assistant marketing person here or there, social media person, right?

The social media person pulls off goes to that, is a generally a friendly person, good at sales, sells 10 leads, what are you expecting in terms of order of magnitude that this specialist for the home shows is going to actually generate?

John Wilson: Like multiples


John Wilson: If, yeah, if not more, yeah. and we're seeing this in every position that we've moved up a rank. So you go from generalist to specialist, then you go from specialist to expert.

Jack Carr: Mhm.

John Wilson: And I think expert to world class is maybe what's after that. And the order of magnitude is ridiculous.

But I guess the way I think about this is, everyone says that they want to put the right person in the right seat. Everybody says it, and like, show me your org chart. Did you actually put the right person in the right seat? And like, what you just described is not putting the right person in the right seat.

But I bet you would say like, Hey, we're going to put the right people in the right seat. So like your actions aren't meeting your words in this case, could be budget, could be like any reason. That's not like me throwing stones. It's just like, that's not words living up to actions. And we thought about this, cause we started like net, like that's our tendency. Oh, let's figure out how to execute. Let's figure out how to go do this thing that John wants to do. And I just sort of watched one of our L10s, as I was watching the team start to pull together how to execute on this

John Wilson: You know, one of the marketing coordinators was like, okay, I'm going to do this part of it.

And then somebody else said, okay, I'm going to, here's how I'm going to contribute. And as I'm watching this, all I'm seeing is like distraction from people's core competencies that they are already in the right seats on to learn something that they're have no idea

That will take us months to suss out And has an unproven thing and then what i'm seeing is like Because it's not going to go well Because we don't know what we're doing We're going to lose on two fronts.

We're going to lose where we were You Like, what we were already doing good at, and then we're going to lose at the thing we're experimenting on. Which is going to make us like, that's a double whammy. Yeah, we put a kibosh to it and started recruiting.

Jack Carr: Yeah. I mean, in theory, when I'm there in practice for you, it sounds like it's a excellent strategy. What I'm trying to understand in my mind is when is that feasible? I mean, it's feasible day one. And so like, I'm trying to play devil's advocate here and I'm having a hard time because for example, our third hire was a comfort advisor. it was me, two techs and a comfort advisor. And everyone's don't hire a comfort advisor yet. But that comfort advisor was so good at selling that it was able, and that's what she was the best at, like getting in a house and selling an HVAC unit.

And that was able to drive significant. Like business like I wouldn't be where I am today without her hundred percent not even close and So like in my mind, I know that's it's a truth I'm just trying to wrap my head around like How do you from an implementation process on like every front it seems overwhelming at our size, but maybe the idea isn't it's not to do it on every front. It is to do It Partial and then as you grow you really pick the strategic ones and then

John Wilson: Yeah you know, what we talked about, in the know workshop is like, I mean, there is a way to execute this badly.

You know, like a way that I could execute this badly right now is I could say, my IT is difficult.

So we have 500 devices and IT is complicated. So I'm going to go hire a hundred thousand base, no bonus IT person to keep my IT moving in the direction that I need. I think that would be a mistake on a lot of fronts don't know, maybe I'll disagree with myself in six months, but like, most of the time I get a lot freer if it's a revenue driver.

Jack Carr: Or, has to be a revenue driving position or like a leads driving position

John Wilson: Or is it going to unlock a constraint that does the same thing? a ridiculous baller recruiter would provide a similar benefit.

Jack Carr: Speaking of that, if you are a ridiculous baller recruiter in the Nashville region or wanting to move Nashville, give me a call or send me a DM cause that's our next hire is, except you will probably be a generalist in HR and recruiting for just a little bit,

Yeah. just a little bit.

John Wilson: But like, that's going to unlock capacity. That's going to lead to revenue. Someone's going to go hire you technicians and they're going to go do whatever. Another one that's not as obvious, but absolutely leads to revenues, call center manager, and like when to bring on that call center manager, call center leader. If you bring on the wrong person, they're not going to understand very well how to drive revenue through call center and like what their tie is. So like keeping the board full, what actions take.

And that's a big deal, because like, the right one moves the business, and the wrong one does nothing, or moves backwards. So some of these hires, gotten, we've over invested in, at a time when like, when I first looked at that role, I was like, that's gonna be a tough nut to crack. But, repeatedly, like, where now I don't question it as much over the past just like 9 to 12 months. This has been a big lesson for me That like if I think I need someone then I want to hire the best someone almost regardless of cost almost Because I know that like they will pay for themselves in 30 days

The roi is ridiculous whereas every time I tried to cheat not good.

Jack Carr: Yeah. I mean, I think we see this too, right? We see this with agency sometimes and we see this with different people try to just pick up an agency to do all their marketing and it just net like Scorpion thrive, all these, and sorry, Scorpion thrive if you're listening, but you know, they try to be these generalists and they put, you know, generalists in these positions that are essentially just button clickers.

They turn it on, turn it off and then they're not really doing the strategy that it takes. SEO is a great example too. It's like hiring a full time SEO person that's really like driving SEO moves the bus. And I think we talked about in the workshop versus, you know, you go hire an agency. which is not the right person in the right spot and they're doing two articles a month. Like you're not driving SEO value at two articles a month. I'm sorry. You know, I love SEO guys, but it's just it's not there when somebody in the Philippines and even those people overseas might not be the right person, but they're still able to generate 10 articles or 15 articles a month at half the cost.

And so I do think that there is some truth to that. And it definitely isn't or half isn't from your pedestal, your size pedestal.

John Wilson: Yeah some of them are, and I'll receive that. Like, how I think about my head of accounting is probably not something that we're all on the same page about. But, like, how we think about someone who's gonna drive leads, I don't care what size business you are. Like, if someone's driving 20 to 40 leads a week we could all use 20 to 40 leads a week.

So, like,

yeah, somebody who can sell,

Jack Carr: if you have someone that can sell units or sell HVAC or sell, you know, a water heater. Send them to all the water heater They're taking, they're getting every single water heater call imaginable. And I mean, it makes sense.

I mean, it really does. So

John Wilson: Yeah, phrase I kept using at the workshop, and I'll use it here, is scaling a business is just turning specialists, or generalists to over and over and over. And I think we just continue to see that, and then now, inserting experts, the deeper we get. Thank you. But who not how recommend it could help you break the cycle because I think it's very tempting to immediately try to figure out the tactical instead of taking a step back and being like this is a deep skill set where if we do this we can move the needle and if we do this wrong it's a waste of time and energy do we have the right human on the bus to run with this.

Jack Carr: I think that's so good, man. Cause I think especially high achievers are used to, and business owners specifically are generally high achieving individuals and, That is a hard skill where we just want to figure it out and do it ourselves because that's what we've always done. At least speaking for me personally.

But it's, a good point. I think that's the same growth that we talked about for, you know, our plumbers going into management roles and our managers going into managing manager roles. It's, it really is the same, topic.

This was interesting today. We kind of went, you know, wall to wall on this one, but good conversation.

I loved it.

John Wilson: Yeah. I'm fascinated to see what Kristen titles it.

Jack Carr: Good luck, Kristen. Good luck. Jack's chainsaw background.

John Wilson: Uh, well, thanks for tuning in to Own and Operated. Thanks for listening to our ramblings today as we talked about a meandering chat on how to get big. If you like what you heard well give us five star review. Helps us out, helps other people discover us helps make us popular on one section of the internet. And go to own and operated.com. Sign up for the newsletter where we talk about more stuff and check out the workshop too. That was a lot of fun and people really got a ton from it. So that was really cool. And we're gonna do a few of these a year, like we're thinking two or three. So next one is June 4th to the sixth, and it was awesome.

Jack Carr: Sweet. Yeah. Really fun.

John Wilson: Cool.

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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