people, handyman, home, business, job, company, eggs, sold, routine maintenance, training, grew, customer, work, services, bit, systems, talk, technicians, managing, day
Damon Pistulka, Daniel Felt
Damon Pistulka 00:00
All right, everyone, welcome once again to the faces of business. I’m your host, Damon Pistulka. And I’m excited today because with me today, I’ve got Daniel Feld, Cara home. Daniel, thanks for being here today.
Daniel Felt 00:14
It’s an honor. I’m very excited to chat with you today.
Damon Pistulka 00:17
Yeah, we’re gonna be talking today about scaling a home services business. And Daniel, you’ve been doing this for a while now. I mean, you, you started out, working for home services, business and starting your own. So we always like to start the show up by letting you tell us a bit about your background and kinda the history of how you got into where you’re into what you’re doing today.
Daniel Felt 00:40
Yeah, for sure. I like to start I just kind of in the beginning, I’m one of six kids and my family actually, we were very poor. We were the family. That’s my dad’s paycheck came in on Friday. And we went to town to cash it and picked up groceries after that. So it was a epitome of paycheck to paycheck but my parents sort of breeding Golden Retriever puppies by accident, and actually grew to a very successful six figure business today and they’ve got a waiting list out the wazoo for their dogs.
And so I saw that, you know, growing up in that entrepreneurship environment, gave me confidence, and started almost like accidentally, just like for age and things like that. I grew up in a small town, but people would ask me, like, Hey, will you train my horse for me? You know, I was a farm kid we had, we had all animal, all the things and yeah, for a couple 100 bucks, I’ll do it. And so grew up kind of doing little like side things.
And I would train horses and sell them to other forage kids, like I’d find for meat price. And sounds like 750, you know, we make couple 100 bucks over the summer. But parents build their dream home when I was 16. And we did everything ourselves, basically. So I was there to pour the foundation, I put one the last shingles on, you know, with all those guys and everything in between, and took three times as long as it’s supposed to, but we got the job done, went to school studied Business Marketing, after that I worked for a really cool company, they sell 6 million chicken eggs a day, and got really involved in their systems and processes. My main
job was create SOPs. And if you think it’s easy to get an egg on your table, there’s a lot that goes into it. And from there, I did start working actually, for my brother’s company, he they do window cleaning holiday lights. And I was his general manager, really fun experience working side by side with him. And we went from eight crews to 16 crews in two years. And it was really fast, explosive growth.
He’s an incredible business person, I still look up to him and frequently asked him questions on the right way to do things. So but then the idea came to start a routine maintenance company and I told him about it and you know, working with his higher end, customer base, you know, you’d be talking to a customer and they’d be like, Oh, do you know someone could do this, you know, if someone can do that. What I really found is that people are just not maintain their homes. And homes are becoming more and more complex.
Machines are being built cheaper, there’s more filters that need to be changed on them. And people aren’t doing everything and, and just that entrepreneurship spirit and always wanting to either invent something or start my own company at the age of 26. I wasn’t married yet. I had a few side things going on, I was renting out the base, my house hacking that. And then I was boarding and training dogs on the side. And those two as a side income pretty passive. We’re bringing in about 45k a year. So took a reverse equity line against my house for $32,000. I filed the LLC for Curam. I gave my brother a four month notice. And I started your home in 2016.
Damon Pistulka 03:22
Yeah, that is that is the entrepreneurial American Dream. Being able to you know, start working, working for somebody getting some side hustle going and then turn it into a full time business. So 100% Yeah, that’s good. So let’s back up a little bit. So six, 6 million eggs a day. What are some of the things that I mean, when you’re moving that many eggs? What are some of the things that you wouldn’t think about that you really that are really a pain in the butt for that?
Daniel Felt 03:52
Well, so I was I was on I wasn’t on the production side, I wasn’t on the chicken side, I was on the egg side of processing. So these eggs are coming in on this huge conveyor belt. They’re four feet wide, and then they get separated. And then they go through this wash. And there’s a ton of machines that are involved for quality control, because you know, a bad egg comes by here and there. And it’s all done automated their size, they’re washed, and it’s all awesome.
And then they got to the point where we’ll go into them by sizes, there’s a huge row there’s like for all the different sizes because the older a chicken gets, the larger the egg is when they’re young it starts out with a small egg, and then their size and they’re put into the cartons and they come down and originally we had a ton of people packing these eggs and a majority of them were typically Hispanic women who are stereotypically shorter. So if you were going to go and help to learn this job, you’re bending over significantly farther than they are to pack the bags you know because they have to go in and they were a USDA representative was always there like checking eggs and things like that.
So very high quality meat we’re dealing with food that you know people are gonna be eating. It’s got to be just right so now they have machines that as the eggs are coming down there it a robot comes The polls that and most of the people that now are like watching the machines, make sure the machine is doing the job properly. But boy, if you stop and take a break, the eggs keep coming like the chickens lay the eggs, and you got to pack them. And it’s very amazing just the standard and watching that stuff and what’s going on?
Damon Pistulka 05:17
Well, and it’s amazing when you see agricultural production like that, and understand what it takes to get that dozen eggs to the grocery store.
Daniel Felt 05:29
Right? Yeah, it’s it is amazing. Yeah, from that conveyor belt to get that in the semi on the pallet, you don’t want that’s going off to the grocery store, the distribution center. It is really incredible. The amount of effort. I mean, it’s just crazy. And that they can do it for a buck 50 or whatever. It’s Yeah, amazing.
Damon Pistulka 05:46
Yeah, that is that is a weird little aside. Fact is, is when we were in Mexico last year, we noticed they don’t refrigerate the eggs.
Daniel Felt 05:55
Yeah. So the interesting fact about that I also live on a hobby farm if you just complete sides off, but yeah, yeah. So if if you don’t wash the egg, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. So once you wash it, it has to be refrigerated. There’s a protective layer on that egg that if you don’t and so my wife and I we’ve got, believe it or not about 26 chickens run around outside. And as they lay eggs, if we don’t wash them, they sit right on our countertop until we cook them.
Damon Pistulka 06:23
Oh, geez. That’s why I was like, why is this happening?
Daniel Felt 06:27
Yeah. So once you wash them, though, then it has to be refrigerated? For sure. That’s and that’s why all the ones from the store. They’ve been washed? Because, you know, people? Yeah, Americans don’t want to find a turn on an egg.
Damon Pistulka 06:39
Very well. Exactly. Exactly. Well, that’s interesting. That’s really cool. So when you’re working for your brother’s company, now, what were they doing there? And this let’s talk about that expansion, because that expansion cat had to kind of be painful at times.
Daniel Felt 06:53
Yeah, for sure. It’s definitely painful. You know, they’re, they’re cleaning windows, installing holiday lights. And, you know, my brother started his company, actually, in 2007, right before the recession, the guy can all work anyone doing anything, it’s I mean, he’s an amazing workhorse. And one thing that he did really, really well was take a client that was signing up for a one time service and turn them into a lifelong customer.
And there’s just so many different things I did from providing high quality service, you know, really pulling on really high quality people’s to represent your company, training them properly. And then you know, what, once that first sunny day hits, every spring, that guy jumps on the phone, and an A through Z, I mean, we’re calling everyone and it’s time to your windows clean time your windows clean and, and it slows down a little bit in July and August.
And believe it or not, they start putting Christmas lights up and in August and today they somehow he installs over 4000 residential jobs, putting up lights, and that’s going to be done basically from September to December 10. And it’s just unbelievable what that guy can do. So he also during that time, invented and patented a Christmas light clip that he now sells to hundreds of other Christmas light companies as well across the nation. So just a very he’s an I’m on this podcast, but he should he probably should be he’s almost more respectable entrepreneur than I am.
Damon Pistulka 08:13
Yeah, that’s, that’s interesting. Especially as, as we’re one of those gridwall D and households in our neighborhood that you know, you’re taxing your electrical system every time well, LEDs have changed that. Yes, sir. That’s it’s a lot nicer now. Because it literally at my house at Christmas time you hit the electricity bill would double and then go back down. But that’s cool. Because it’s it there is in those kinds of things.
I mean, when you’re talking about doing that, for Windows, lights, anything like this, it’s much different than your i doing it on our home on home, because now we’re talking about scheduling around other people’s schedules, making sure that everything you know, materials are there for my people to do the job correctly, as you said, My people are trained, because you think about cleaning the window. And believe it or not, you probably had to train people and the proper way to clean a window.
Daniel Felt 09:09
Yes. 100% Yeah. And it’s, it’s when, when you’re going to clean a window professionally, then and these are very, very particular people. I mean, you and so I think the best thing I ever learned from my brother is we’re going to find our most particular customer. And we’re going to train every single one of our people to that standard, so that most particular customer satisfied, and that’s gonna be our standard across the board.
And that helps so much because when you’re running a service based business, especially if you’re dealing with callbacks, having to go back and fix something and someone’s callbacks and be like, hey, there’s a smudge on the window and the guy would walk up with a towel and fix a smudge and be like, okay, yep, that’s better. Thanks. And, you know, I mean, people if they’re paying for something that has to be perfect, like you’re asking your husband do it on or the wife do on a Saturday morning. I mean, it’s it has to be perfect. SB efficient has to be profitable.
Damon Pistulka 09:58
Yeah, yeah. And that’s, that’s a great Point finding the most picky or critical customer and satisfying them because then everybody’s happy. For sure. 100 Thank you Bill, your processes around that and training around that. You can naturally have a high level of satisfaction in the field.
Daniel Felt 10:17
Yes. So most definitely. So as you guys
Damon Pistulka 10:21
were scaling that you scale that for me, you said from doubled the amount of crews there? What were some of the things that you ran into, because you already had multiple crews? So you had some things in place. But when you doubled, what were some of the things that that popped its ugly head that you didn’t see before?
Daniel Felt 10:38
Yeah, I think, you know, getting people to understand your systems and your processes as quickly as possible is always a challenge. And one thing that we didn’t do there that I now do is really documented and try and get everything written down. Right? So and sometimes it’s as easy as jumping on and recording a video on hey, here’s the best way to do this on your first day of work. Here’s what I expect you to wear.
Here’s what I expect, you show up and you set that up to automatically send out just these little repeatable tasks that I just don’t want to answer the same question twice. But during that time, it was getting vehicles affordably, he would buy a lot of vehicles for like a pickup truck, pretty old for four or five grand and hey, can we get two years on this thing, and then getting the materials in time because all of a sudden, you’ll get your busy season.
And you’ve got like, you know, let’s eight, nine trucks sitting here. Now also, we need 12. And we got to get, you know, all these sets of ladders and all these things. And it’s the overdrive of you’re answering the phones trying to get these guys rocking and rolling and then getting the system in place to duplicate everything as quickly as possible. So that was one of the best things was just how do we duplicate a truck? How do we get these guys trained in and with that, I think the best thing that came about is crew leaders, you have crew leader and then a helper and the helper eventually is ready to be a crew lead and you just got to work with those guys give them the confidence that they’re ready to go when it comes time.
Damon Pistulka 11:57
Yeah, yeah, and listening to you talk now brings back a memory from I was talking with my brother who’s got a electrical contracting and automation business and they work in the oil fields. And he was telling me about, you know, when they started and then they started really growing, they had they started buying the same truck, but the same toolboxes,
the same tools in it and then developing the checklists or tools that went into every truck and processes to make sure that every driver knew that you know they were responsible for them and could do inventory on the trucks and everything else and then then you know then these things that and then when like when you guys are at a certain point and I’ve seen this in roofing companies and it’s electrical cover you probably had almost had to have runners from time to time that would you know something’s ran out or some extraneous situation you got to have somebody there quick because otherwise you’re more time on site.
Daniel Felt 12:58
Yeah 100% And yeah, cuz guys, you know, forget things that the worst is the guys pirating equipment from each other’s vehicles, that’s probably the absolute worst but yeah, all sudden, you’ve got someone a CSR, who is supposed to be answering the phones and hey, we need a garden hose at this job. So we can pressure washer wherever it is. And you’re and you’re just putting on a little mini fire so that because we don’t want to come back to this job. I’ve got two guys there.
They need to be making money we got whenever you get the day back, we got to make equip them to do the job. And, you know, what do you do yell at the guys for why didn’t you see if you had a hose with your pressure washer when you knew you’re gonna be doing that? And so just continuously encouraging, motivating and training, you know, taking the opportunity to say, hey, in the future, how can we prevent this? I don’t have to drive 30 minutes across Minneapolis to get you that piece of equipment.
Damon Pistulka 13:42
Yeah, yeah. Yep. So when it comes to people, what did you learn there that you didn’t, you didn’t expect that you would learn?
Daniel Felt 13:54
You know, I think the biggest thing was, if you really give people a lot of like, the time and attention, you get to know people, they’re gonna give you their best and, and that takes like, sometimes it’s as simple as just having a, you know, coming in the morning, and you as a general manager, you got to be there be one of the first ones there.
And I never, I didn’t smoke, but you know, just standing out there with those guys, while they’re all having their cigarette and listen to hey, you know, what was the weekend all about? Like, what do you guys do and you’re laughing, you’re sad, there, you’re laughing and they realize that you’re a human too, you know, and, and just taking that time to get to know people.
And I think one thing, the biggest thing is that as you get to know people, if you ask for their best and you and you convince them that they do have it in you and you hold them to that standard, and you then hold everyone to the standard, including yourself, people become the average of the five people that they spend time with. So if you’ve got one outlier in here, either, hey, you’re going to be gone because you don’t fit in with the rest of us. Or you’ve got to step up the game and you and you talk to the guys.
And I think one of my favorite lines is Hey, on your best day, I take a million of you, but on your worst day we’d be out of business. And so we were only as good as you on your worst day, I need your worst to be a lot better. Like I need you. I need your best effort on Monday morning. You can’t come in here feeling crappy from a long weekend, things like that, like drink water, get eight hours of sleep, exercise, you know, all these little things. And sometimes you got to babysit a little like that a little bit like that. Yeah,
Damon Pistulka 15:17
yeah. Well, I think you, you, you explained it well, but leading people takes time and in leading, helps people see what their true potential. And that’s what you’re doing there. That’s, that’s super cool. So then you’re working with him, and you decided to start your own company. So what? What was it that you said, Hey, this is cool, bro. But I want to go out and do my own thing. What was it that gave you that? I want to start something else. And this is what I want to do?
Daniel Felt 15:48
Yeah, the original conversation. And we both say it’s a little different. But the original conversation is actually he had bought into a property management company. And for the very high end, like we’re talking NFL players, NBA players high end the 1% of the 1% they’re completely managing your summer home for you or your cabin, or whatever it is, and you want new speakers put in.
You got it say no more, I’ll get Geek Squad out here, I’ll get three bids, I’ll have it all done by the time you come here. Next, there’s going to be a step by step directions on how to connect your phone, you’re good to go. And the frustration for them is that they only had two customers, which is not sustainable.
They were charging like $1,500 a month and so my recommendation was hey, based on the conversations we’ve had with all these customers of wanting people to take care of their homes. Why don’t you lower your offering to something that your normal like a business owner or C level executive or a dual income home these things that you’re every day wealthier people are hiring service people can afford? And they bought they didn’t laugh me either and they’re like No, that’s not who we are. That’s not what we’re gonna do.
That would never work. And so when people tell me that I can’t do something or it can’t work it’s kind of a little bit of a trigger for me so I like well I’m going to do some research and look all over I couldn’t find another company that did it there was not in Minnesota there was like one other company that was doing handyman and routine maintenance so they visit once a month come into your routine maintenance and like off for like an hour of handyman so came back the next month my Hey guys, I got something for you. These guys are actually offering franchises.
So I know it’s very expensive to do that. And they must be doing well we should we should add this to your current service offer you have all the 1000s of 1000s of high end routine clients on in your list. And they’re like No, it’s a dumb idea it won’t work.
So this starts this research thing I get home and I’m you know I’m staying up till 11 midnight, just researching a way seen. And I actually became a certified home inspector online during that time so I just could learn as much as possible about homes and through all that I decided like hey, it’s time to I had filed like an LLC for my rental was renewed based on my house I had filed an LLC to board and train these dogs I’m like it’s time to file another LLC here.
And I decided secure home and like I mentioned earlier it was just the right time because I was young there wasn’t I had this income coming in of you know being able to as a 26 year old guy you don’t need to be making a ton of money to get by you know worst case scenario you go and buy some Roma pizzas and ramen noodles and you’re doing just fine.
So it was just an opportunity of if not now When am I going to do it? And it really it seemed great. So were we I left on really awesome terms. And I’m still my brother he’s one of my best friends we’re we’ve we refer a lot of course so it was really I think giving that four month notice was good for him even though he didn’t replace me for quite a while but I think it let it set in for a while. Yeah,
Damon Pistulka 18:44
yeah, let you help to help with the transition for quite a while. So you got to be a certified home inspector. So what did you learn with that? Because I think that’s an interesting twist in you coming into the home maintenance business coming at it from the standpoint of inspecting homes you’re going to see what’s been done and what hasn’t done so what did you learn in that in that process? The Home Inspection
Daniel Felt 19:09
Yes, the biggest thing that I learned was like what does what in the house right like what is this machine in because today we maintain like $12 million estates but then we also maintain you know, $150,000 townhome and everything in between.
And for me what I really learned is that hey, when I walk in and here’s this out of the world, you know system and some of these, they have three four utility rooms and what is this thing so basically it allowed me to walk into a home provide an estimate and be the educated knowledgeable knowledgeable person in the room for a majority of people that call sell for an estimate are women and so they don’t want to don’t care what’s in the utility room right there never gonna go in there until unless an alarm goes off or you know, the kids are coughing and some change furnace filter.
So, for me walking in, I knew the difference what’s going on in this town. on what’s going on in the $12 million estate and everything in between, and how can I be the educated professional? And for me, it was, there was no other way to do that. They know that I think was like a six or $7 course. And that allowed me to take my time online in the evenings and go through that course and learn all that stuff. And I didn’t want to be a handyman, even though growing up in a farm, we offer handyman stuff in the beginning, but that wasn’t going to be a scalable thing at that time.
Damon Pistulka 20:26
Yeah, yeah. So we’ll talk about that in a moment. Because you said you said you tried try the handyman doing handyman services. And that was kind of challenging. But one of the things that you’ve done that I think is really interesting does not only have you expanded your business into multiple crews in the area, so you’ve got crews running around doing what they need to do.
But you’ve expanded geographically to, and we’ll talk about in a moment and you franchising now. So what were some of the things that you saw, because you’d work with your brothers companies, you guys expanded crews there. So you kind of had the baseline for doing that. What were some of the things that you learned when you when move geographically, and expanded geographically?
Daniel Felt 21:13
I think I think the biggest thing that I learned is that managing people 1000 miles away is very, very difficult on the phone or on Zoom. There’s a lot of yes, people Yeah, you bet boss, or I got your back, I can do this for you.
And like a day or two goes by, and all of a sudden, it’s like, Hey, I thought you’re gonna go have those, you know, two networking meetings per day, and this and that. And I’m like, Well, you know, the dog got sick, and then this and that. It’s like, Well, man, we only ended up doing like two or three jobs last week in your area. And when I’m here, and I do the same meetings, and I follow this template to have these meetings with these professionals, I’m scheduling one or two jobs after that meeting with their connections are referral so it’s very, very difficult to you know, what’s not in front of you is really hard.
And for me, it’s it I’m not the best at managing people do I get so many moving parts, all this stuff. And so that’s, that’s a weakness on me is managing people that you hire someone you feel like you’re 100% trust them. And people need to be consistently motivated, consistently encouraged, and 1000 miles away, it’s pretty tricky to do that. Even when we got down to we’d have like a morning check in all of us on Zoom. And even that it was still quite challenging.
Damon Pistulka 22:23
Yeah, yeah. That is one of the things that I hear from, from just about every business owner, as you’re trying to scale. It’s, it’s keeping people. So they absolutely understand if they’re, and for lack of better terms in the green or in the red in the green, yellow, red, right? Am I doing what I need to do things going?
Like I want to I gotta improve a little bit or am I just not doing it? Right, and, and the systems that you use, I gotta imagine that you had to develop some, rather than me Damon, just saying, Yeah, that was, well had a couple of great meetings, blah, blah, blah, blah, you’ve probably had to develop systems that said, Okay, your backlog or something like that? Is that did you really have to up your game with those kinds of things as you move geographically?
Daniel Felt 23:14
Yeah, going back to, you know, I love that you brought up like the green, the yellow, the red stuff, because that’s exactly what we were doing. We are in Minneapolis, in Denver, we had a few locations. And what we ended up doing was having these guys fill in an Excel file that you would do your, the amount of work that you did that day, and the amount of time that you clocked in, if you got to networking meetings, we’d count that it was kind of a score, and the Excel file would turn red or green. Either you have a good day, or you had a bad day.
Well, now you’ve got your peers holding you accountable. And that was that helped, you know, we did little things like okay, this isn’t working for a little bit. And then also the guys would stop entering in or whatever. And so we’re turning red or green on if you have a acceptable day or not. And when you get the peer pressure in there similar to working with those guys that Russell Williams, you know, my brother’s company, you get that peer pressure of hey, this is the standard that we’re holding ourselves to.
That worked really, really well better than anything that I could do. But yeah, for people to know, I’m, I’m at an acceptable level here. I did great. so rewarding to go home. And you know, when you’re eating dinner with your family, whatever, like, Yeah, I had a good day at work today. I did everything I was supposed to do was awesome. Rather than like, I think I’m doing good. You know, I think I love the green light red light stuff. As simple as it seems. It’s nice to know you’re doing a good job.
Damon Pistulka 24:23
Yeah. And I think it naturally as you said, it helps everyone do better because you go home feeling good. You know, first of all, what do I have to do? If I have to do 100 Jumping jacks and I get 100 in and I go home, hey, I know I did what I was supposed to do and everything’s cool. And like you said you can go you can enjoy yourself know that you did what you were supposed to do and everything’s happy.
I can’t tell you how many businesses that we talk to that is not done. Those simple measures aren’t in place for the vast majority of the companies or the majority either people in the companies because if you’ve got someone that say, you know, washing washing the windows, right, you’ve got someone that’s running a truck going out washing windows, you know what success for me today mean, getting two jobs done? Cool. If I got two jobs done with no callbacks, that’s, I know that same thing.
When it’s somebody in the room, that’s, that’s measuring the checkbook or some other crazy thing, it doesn’t do the rest of the people that actually have to make the money and make the business work. do them any good. And when they then when they question or don’t know, are they expectations have not been set that people just naturally just wandered? It’s not nearly as effective?
Right? So as you’ve grown your business, because I imagine you didn’t start with measures in place and things like that, but were you able to see improvements in performance over time, as you’ve added more of these measures and started to really understand the inner workings of your business and communicate that better to people?
Daniel Felt 26:07
Yeah, most definitely. I think one of the most rewarding things that we’ve done, one of our largest challenges as people don’t google routine home maintenance, and that’s something that’s like 13 people in this entire 3 million of Minneapolis, two searches a month. Yeah, it’s no one. So with that, you’re trying to find out what people do search for air duct cleaning. So that’s today 50% of our business. So now you’re in this home, right?
And so the challenge is, how do you get your technicians to tell a homeowner that, hey, I noticed your bathroom and super dirty, I can clean it for you today for 30 bucks, by the way, we do 31 Other things if you want, right? And we tried all these things, and you know, it’d be like, hey, I’ll give you 15% Commission, I’ll give you 25%, right. And finally, what ended up is, I had a guy come in, and he’s like, I want to make more money. I’m like, me, too.
We’re on the same page. And, and he’s like, you know, when I tell you what I and I printed out my p&l for him, and I said, here’s what we got going on, right? top line, everything in between bottom line, the more that comes in, the more come out, I’m I I’m building this business I always building to sell maybe it’ll be when I’m 100. Maybe it’ll be, you know, in a few weeks. Who knows. But yeah, you know, while he’s building this thing to sell, and so I don’t take a lot out of it. If you want more, well, the only thing I need from you is just to get some more in the top. And that can trickle down to your payroll, which is right here. And he we he agreed he’s like it’s just not worth it for me yet.
Like 25% commission I Oh, what’s your number? He is as well, if I got half of what I have sold, I would upsell way more. And this one oh my god, like seasoned guys, he had been for quite a while. And I’m like, I tell you what, I’ll do it for a month. And we’ll see how it goes. And if it goes well for you all, I’ll roll out for everyone. And he this guy who had never sold this thing started upselling. And he would text me every day, I’ve sold this, I’ve sold that up. So then, and he’s making a couple extra 100 bucks a week on his paycheck. So then we roll it out to everyone, but then it faded out.
Like I say it’s all time if every idea that you’ve ever had was implemented and stuck forever, we’d be like a billion dollar company. But you know, here we are, right? Because and so the best thing that we did is we have an internal Facebook page for all of our employees. It’s just a private group of all of us. And in order to get paid your fibrillin percent commission, you have to write it on that to Facebook page. So guys are getting notifications throughout the day that Joe up sold this, you know, Jim have sold that right. And so now it’s bringing back this peer pressure thing.
And these guys keep on getting reminded that well, you know, hey, you know, Antonio is getting he saw $600 This week, that guy’s getting 300 extra dollars. Like that’s not so you’re getting a seven and a half dollar raise this week, if you work 40 hours, because you have sold stuff. And that’s sort of getting us more routine maintenance, and which is a huge win-win all the way around. I realistically lose money on the 50%. Commission. Thanks. You’re I’m still paying them hourly plus giving them commission. But I’m like, it doesn’t matter because it’s they’re making more money. And that’s been a huge win for us.
Damon Pistulka 29:02
Yeah, well, and it’s cool too, because you’ve figured out a way to properly get people to without a to do what helps the company and helps themselves. And you add it without probably realizing and adding the gamification which people talk so much about this stuff and gamification and how it works. Because while I myself Daymond might not upsell a lot. When everybody’s combined, that thing dings a lot. And we get see a lot of upsells so it makes it seem like everybody’s doing it all the time.
Daniel Felt 29:38
Yeah, right. Yeah, this is happening every hour throughout the day. And I’m the only one not doing it. I need to start doing I got to fit in with everyone. Yeah, it’s worked out really well for us.
Damon Pistulka 29:48
Oh, that’s cool. That’s cool. So when you are trying to recruit and retain the ball First of all recruiting talent. What do you think is your biggest challenge when you’re trying to recruit talent?
Daniel Felt 30:09
I think the amount of time it takes to weed through the amount of just like mundane people that like select 30 jobs and hit Apply. And you gotta, you gotta try to get them in. And it takes all stuff. So creating systems and processes around that to make it so that whatever an end to what we’ve done, that’s one of the largest challenge, right? Like, are you even a human being? Are you a robot? So one thing that we’ve done is you just make it so that there’s a few more actions to steps needed from the individual to, for them to prove that, hey, I actually want a job.
And so at times, that works really well, because you have ton of people applying for jobs. And at other times, it doesn’t work so well when unemployment is too low. But just doing a simple, something simple as replying all to all these people, it takes a few seconds. And you know, they’re not all CC but BCC or whatever and say, Hey, I’m really interested to have you come in for an interview. Before that, would you be willing to fill out this personality test for me, it takes about five minutes. And it does, it’s like it’s very simple like DISC assessment.
And they send that in. And realistically, for our technicians, we do need all we need all kinds of kinds, you know, we need the introverted guy, we need the Super chatty guy because the introverted guy is off work in the utility room getting the job done, the extroverted guy is talking to the home homeowner, so we need all types, and they fill it in and that’s submitted. Okay, now we know you’re, you’re actually generally interested. Now, step two is, you know, Can I schedule a phone interview? And I’ll have like an assistant do that or something like that?
And, you know, now, can we get you on the phone? And you, you know that 3pm actually means 3pm? And that’s just basically a very fast screen question. You know, three to five minutes. Okay, we’ll get you come in. And because of that, the amount of people that come in for an interview, our higher rate is, it’s so high, I don’t know exactly what it but it’s got to be 75 80% of people get hired that come in, because we’ve screened them out just through these very simple, a few minutes of things, getting that done. And the only time that really hasn’t worked with us is October of 2021.
We were trying to hire a few people and no one just no one was applying for anything. It didn’t matter what you know, the unemployment was so low and it was really challenging. But this spring, we each spring and fall, we get extra busy, we kind of our company grows like if you’re walking up stairs, you know, on a Eiffel Tower. So you go up a few steps, and you level out go a few steps. And those steps seem to happen in the spring and fall. So we hired six extra guys, and it took me like four days. It was it just it’s so fast. And it barely took me anytime by critical systems and processes.
Damon Pistulka 32:34
Yeah, yeah. Now, what kind of, if you don’t mind sharing if you don’t want to? That’s cool. I mean, is your turnover high? Or is it not? Not real high? Or is it?
Daniel Felt 32:45
You know, it’s one or the other. So I’ve got guys that have been with me for it seems like since day one, and they’re absolutely awesome. And they’ve I mean, they’re, they’ve been around forever. And then I have the exact extreme opposite where guys come in, and they’re like, there’s some or they’re here for the summer, or they’re just job hoppers, and they’re here for like, three, four months. So I would say we’re above company or above like, industry average of like service technicians. You know, I don’t know exactly what my average is.
But I know we’re above average, because of our routine maintenance clients, we have over 600 in Minneapolis, and we’re servicing them every three months. We do provide consistent work. And it’s not like, hey, it rained now awesome. We all have to go out and work on the sunshine, it’s not so seasonal, that my guys can get very consistent 40 hour weeks. And that has a lot of guys on longer.
Damon Pistulka 33:31
Yeah, yeah. Because I know that when you talk about the things that you’re doing, and you talk about hiring and hiring easily, that that shows something about your company, and we talk about retention that shows something about your company. So I’m going to ask how much have you had to push yourself as you’ve grown this company to continue being a better leader?
Daniel Felt 34:00
i It’s a continuous nonstop I mean, this year my one and only goal is I’m gonna consume 52 books between reading and audiobook. And I mean, these aren’t like, this isn’t a nonfiction, whatever. I mean, these are business books, this is built to sell this is start with why I mean 10x All these books, a lot of my real lessons from you know, I listened to maybe three years ago when I was completely different business person.
But it’s a nonstop constant push because as soon as I get complacent or something, I mean everything mud flows down or you know, you know the freight. So everything flows downhill, right? And so if I get complacent and I’m like, Hey, I’m super happy. Let’s just collect the profits on this year this quarter. Well, guess what, then then the general manager gets complacent and then his managers and the technicians and everyone else was like, What’s the point?
Why would I follow up with this person again, when the schedule is full enough? We’re booked out a few days. So yeah, I pushed myself. Someone asked why. But yeah, I mean, I’m signed up to complete another Ironman Triathlon next time. We’re I’m, I’m rocking and rolling it’s, it’s a continuous Yeah, push the limits what how much can you do in a day, but I the one thing that I never waver from is I don’t miss dinner with my family. That’s one thing that I that I don’t fall away from. And because it’s you know, Faith family, right, that’s got to be for you start work for sure.
Damon Pistulka 35:20
Well, the foundation has to be there, right? 100% Yeah, as a foundation to be there because you won’t, I mean, you can be a hollow person, if one part of your life is working and the others aren’t. So, for sure, that’s, that’s good. But it’s great to hear that you’re doing that because I know that a lot of people think that once they’ve become a business owner, that one No, I am. And it’s not really it’s like, it’s like a friend of mine. Thien, Isaac says, if we don’t think we’re always becoming and becoming better becoming says we’re probably dying. Yes.
Because they’re not doing it. And it’s cool to hear you say that, hey, I’m reading 52 books this year, I’m doing these kinds of things and, and keeping in especially to exercise because it is. So let’s just talk about that a little bit. How much do you think the fact that because I’m assuming if you’re not, you’re not just getting up off the couch or doing a triathlon? So you’re, you’re staying in some other shape? How much do you think that in conjunction with the leadership work and the other things you’re doing, keeping your body in shape is helping you?
Daniel Felt 36:33
I would say it’s a huge. It’s, it’s extremely crucial, because now I think just so I’ve had, I believe I’ve had one sick day in six years, where I wasn’t able to go into work, right. And doing these little things of getting to sleep. Drinking water is a complicated houseplant, right, and, and eating, eating healthy, which my wife has a huge part to deal with. But yeah, getting to the gym, my alarm goes off at 458 Every morning, and I’m getting up,
I’m going and I have people that meet me there. If I don’t make it there, I get harassed all day long via text. But I’m, I’m this and I’m that I’m a huge wimp. And I don’t want to deal with that. So I go. And yeah, it’s extremely crucial. I think I think the best part about it is you get up early, you get it done. And that’s the hardest part of your day. Now you can deal with maybe a tough conversation with an employer, you know, hopefully not every day.
But if a customer is upset, it’s like, you know, what, I already kind of dealt with a crappy part of my day of getting up out of bed early or doing this and, and this now is just easier. So I think it’s so important to have a fresh start. And if you wake up at, you know, if you say if you if you’re working from home, and your alarm goes off at 755, and you roll out and you start clock, you know, working away at 8am. It’s like, where’s the meantime, you know, where’s the time to look out the window and be appreciative of the sunset? You know, things like that? I think it’s get yourself right, and now you can give your best to the company, whatever time of day. That is.
Damon Pistulka 37:50
Yeah, yeah, that’s awesome. Well, I’m glad we got to cover that a little bit. Because you’re right, you know, it does, you can get that I get that. And you get your blood pumping, too in the morning, rather than, like you said, wake up and go, you know, sit in front of a computer or go to work, you really get your blood pumping, and you get to end your talk when people and you’re letting your body and your mind wake up.
It’s so much more productive days after that, for sure. It was only recently in the last few years, I realized how important that is and how much it really helps. You know, I grew up in managing companies when I grew up, I mean, you, you knew you probably are going to have a heart attack, you probably are going to go through, you know, unfortunately, you’re probably going to be married more than once. You’re all these kinds of things.
And just because you’re going to work hard, you’re not going to eat right, you’re gonna do it. And the wonderful thing I see, and from talking to you and talking to other younger entrepreneurs, that you’re taking the time that keep developing your skills, keep yourself healthy, spend time with your family, because that is the whole you is what really gets you through a successful journey. And it’s cool to hear that. That’s cool to hear that. Yeah. Awesome. So how many Iron Man’s have you done?
Daniel Felt 39:12
I’ve only done one full Ironman. I think like 28 triathlons and couple of marathons but so this is going to be number two. Yeah, I was a little bit younger that but now it’s time to get back into it. And so I’m really excited. And I was actually with a co worker that I that we were talking and it’s like, hey, we got to do something here let’s push ourselves outside of the comfort zone.
And so I saw I might sign up and I sent him a screenshot and it’s your turn and he sent me a screenshot few minutes later. So yeah, super excited to do number two, I’m not going to try to beat a world record this last time I was a little bit younger and quite a bit more free time on my hands. I went all out and so this one’s going to be more of a I’m going to be very content crossing the finish line and 1213 hours so very excited to do number two
Damon Pistulka 40:00
That’s awesome. That’s awesome. And the camaraderie and the other things that you learned about yourself differently within that training is is invaluable as well.
Daniel Felt 40:09
Yeah, you meet some really awesome people. I was on a side story, but I was on a bike ride when I was training for my last one. It was 100 mile ride locally here in Minnesota, and I was biking next to a guy he was like, seemed, you seem 5560. And he was kicking my butt. And this is like every mile like 340 And this guy, he’s pulling us like he’s the front because on bikes, you can really get in that channel really nice. So finally, I think it might like 85 or 90 Enough people have dropped off and I’m too stubborn.
I’m, I’m working my tail off and I and ended up I’m chatting with them a little bit. And about a week later, I’m sitting next to a buddy at school and I’m telling ya, you know, I was on a bike ride and I’m like, You guys won’t believe this guy. He was twice from my age, just kicked my butt. And he was was his name Greg. And I’m like, Yeah, his name was Greg goes. Yeah, that’s my dad’s friend. He was telling me that he knew a guy from Bethel that was Greg LeMond. And I’m like, oh, even with Greg LeMond for this 100 mile bike ride. I had no idea. And he’s still out there. He’s still kicking butt.
He’s legit. And yeah, that was a really cool thing. He I don’t know if he still has it. But he has a few houses here in Minnesota. And yeah, you get surrounded by people that are doing pretty cool things. And, and I’m like, Man, I wish I would ask a few more questions. You know, we’re just having great conversation, the entire bike ride. But should I ask like, What’s your last name? Because I just say, What’s your name? Oh, Greg, like, okay, whatever, you know? Yeah. Yeah. You mean pretty cool people out there? Yeah, that’s my claim to fame. If I, my, my celebrity that I that I’ve spent some time with.
Damon Pistulka 41:40
That’s awesome. That’s awesome. So as you look forward to the future, now, we were talking about this before you’re in the Minneapolis area, you’re in Denver area. And and you had some in some of your own offices, you’re open, but then you you decided to pivot and said, you know, and really think that franchising is going to work better for us? What, what do you think that franchising will allow you to do that, that you’re really excited about?
Daniel Felt 42:10
Yeah. So, you know, I think what’s really important for entrepreneurs to do is to take some time to self reflect, right? And like you said, Dan, we’d started a few locations and managing these guys from 1000 miles away, it’s not my strong suit, we were not super great at it. And so ultimately, there’s 195 Plus locations in the United States that have a million plus people in their metropolitan areas. And I think that Carolyn would do really well on all of them. And so you’ve set this goal to be an amen. And so how do you get there and around the same time as we’re trying to figure that out that those challenges, we are getting people calling us from regions all over us?
And hey, I love your routine maintenance subscription that you have going on? Can you Can I come spend a week with you, I’ll pay you like five grand, it’s like, I don’t really only want a sidekick for a week, or you know, you’re trying to figure this out. It’s like, well, maybe I’ll start there, well then eventually started happening very routinely. And so we decided that having someone who’s invested in this and they want us to see it succeed as much as you do would be the best route. And so we actually I asked my, my brother had a franchise his business, he never sold one.
But I called him I said, Can I use your FTD I’m gonna change all the words, I’m gonna call a lawyer. And they said, you know, if you want to draft one will prove it. So I was able to get that very affordable. We already have a 600 page operations manual. I mean, everything is in that thing. And so we decided to start franchising. It’s a game of patience, because it’s a very long sales process. But we’re, we’ve got a gentleman who’s working on the financing right now. And we should be in the west side of Florida here in no time. So I think that the franchise will be the best route. And if not, we’ll reevaluate and, and go from there.
Damon Pistulka 43:46
Well, I think it to like you said it, it builds around your strengths and your strengths are, you know, providing good systems and the way to run your business. And then you let others manage it in the other locations. And do it that way? Because I do I do really like the way that you’ve taken and narrowed this and we talked about this a little bit before we got on because there’s a lot of people that when they talk about home services, they go what what do you need done?
Daniel Felt 44:15
Right? Yep. Talk a
Damon Pistulka 44:17
little bit about your discovery path from going into a well, what do you need done to where you’re at today? Or you have a defined set of services that
Daniel Felt 44:25
you do? Yeah, in the beginning, when it was me and my pickup truck out of the garage, I would do anything for anyone that would pay me a buck, right? Like 50 bucks. Great. Love it right now I can No I can eat tonight. And then you get employees, and you realize that they can’t do some same things. And you and you, in order to scale, you need to be able to say yes, my 18 technicians can do this, and I can send any one of them. So how do you get these things training? So I think two important phrases is that you can’t be everything to everyone and realistically you don’t want to be and secondly is that craftsmanship is not scalable, and it’s very cheap.
So we started doing handyman and we got rid of it. And the best thing that we ever did is we created a list of things that were factual it like it’s black and white. Did you change the furnace filter? Yes or no? Did you drain the water heater sentiment? Yes or no? All these things have did you put five bags of softener salt in or not? Right? It’s very, very factual. And this customer, check the box. And then you need to check the box for the quarter that you were there, you take a photo of it on a nice little client form that we have for you.
And you send the client form. And it’s repeatable. I can send any technician to any one of our 600 clients homes, and they know exactly what they’re doing. Well, in the meantime, it was so now that sounds really smart. That sounds really nice. But in the meantime, people aren’t googling routine. Oh, minute, so we get this idea what people are everyone’s googling handyman, we should add that. So in, this is my failed story. We started in February of 2021. And we like hey, I’m just gonna hire one handyman.
And I’m just gonna send out a casual newsletter to our 1200 contacts on there, or 12,000 Excuse me, and we were like, instantly booked out a month. It was like, like, Okay, this guy’s too busy. Not well, he’s like, Well, my neighbors a handyman, too. And, and he’d come work for us. Well, that turned into like, 11 handyman out there working. But the money problems, we weren’t making money on it, like we ended up we did from it was from January, February to November 2021.
We did $424,000 with a handyman work like it was fast, explosive growth. The problem is that our payroll and material cost was 408,000. So everything in between, that’s not including gas vehicles, the tools you can imagine the amount of money that like fell out of this place, and right off the bottom and, and so it was extremely challenging. Ultimately, at the end of it, we decide, hey, you know, that’s when we really get into this green light red light thing, or you do have a profitable day to do everything. And it was extremely challenging.
And we were getting customers that were upset, like, we barely have upset customers. So now you’re dealing with people like a you know, he we have a hole that in our sheet rock and it doesn’t look absolutely perfect. It’s like, oh, no, I gotta find my like, my sheet rod guy and get him there. And you’re like, juggling all this stuff. And it’s, it’s not profitable. I think a lot of there’s a reason why there’s a ton of one man handyman companies because they can, he answers the phone, he goes out and bid and then he goes out and fixes it.
Well, we’d have a client care coordinator, we were really good at answering phones and emails, that was great. So people love that. Then we go have a sales manager go out, he’d do the bid. And we got to the point where he would actually he video what we’re going to do so you know, he’d say, right here, we’re gonna fix this hole in this drywall and we’re going to cut this out. And we have Susie’s approval to do that for $350. Susie, is that correct? Yep.
We get there, like a week later. And she’s like, Oh, no, no, no, that’s not we were going to take all this out and that room and it’s like, a Suzy. That’s a $4,000 project, right? And now you’ve gotten the guys like, a lot of times get talked into be like, No, we’re gonna do that for 350 bucks. And it was so challenging. There was it was really hard to manage. These guys were like cowboys, but the other day of several of them found different jobs actually helped a few of them start their own company, and they’re off doing great. And it was it was good to just be done with that.
Damon Pistulka 48:06
What’s your, I think you really hit on it. Craftsmanship is not scalable. And it’s very hard in that in that very diverse service model to do a very high quality job consistently and what you’ve done by taking your services and saying these are the most needed routine services in a home and going Okay, which one of these do you want? Or do you want them all and just go, boom, then you go, Hey, like you said, it’s, I replaced the first filter. Yes, there’s the new one here. It’s the old one, right? That’s simple kind of stuff.
And it’s the stuff that we need to have done because as you said, there’s so many systems and in a home anymore when you look at it, I mean just go back 20 years it’s just so different. So different everything 100 The air handling systems to the different air purifiers that people use the water purifiers the and like you said where you’re at the water softeners that she needed to keep going and
Daniel Felt 49:15
yeah, so it’s very complex and David you hit around the head to have hoses are becoming more complex and a lot of people that we take their homes for them, they didn’t grow up in the home, they grew up in a daycare and then they were in school and so they didn’t even grow up like watching someone maintain this stuff. But then all of a sudden, like you know, to your point like all these things that are they’re becoming code to have this you know, air exchanger or all these things in place and people are like I don’t even know what that is like we’ll walk through and show you your hey,
here’s everything we can maintain for you based on our checklist what items do you want and we’ll go through they’re like, Yeah, I don’t know what that is. So he’s probably to maintain that and I don’t know what that is sushi maintain that and that’s what people love about it is just will maintain this really nice list, but also back your point even the best part about having that list of the 32 services is that she robbed repairs, not less.
So homeowners say, hey, while you’re here, can you do this for me, and the guys would be like, you know, unfortunately, these are the services that I can professionally offer for you that we’re insured for. And we try to do one thing extra for every single customer. And sometimes it’s shoveling snow off the sidewalk or sweep the utility room or whatever, you know, change or change a life or whatever it is. But, but it’s really nice to have that and unless of here’s everything that I know, all my technicians are trained and we can professionally offer that service.
Damon Pistulka 50:29
Yeah, yeah. That’s awesome. Well, I tell you what, Daniel, it’s been awesome talking to you. And I tell the way that you’ve taken a home services, business, and structured it to be scalable, structured to be around critical services that people have in their home that critical maintenance routine maintenance things, and then made it easy for them to keep doing it and then made it easy for your people to do a good job doing I think is really something.
Daniel Felt 50:55
Thank you. I really appreciate it. It’s been a fun, fun journey so far.
Damon Pistulka 50:59
Yeah. Well, I just want to thank you for being here today. If someone wants to get a hold of you and talk to you about Kyra home, if they’re in the Minneapolis or Denver area, and they need home maintenance services. What’s the best place to find you?
Daniel Felt 51:14
Yeah, find us online Kira. home.com. It’s que ura we post a ton of really valuable educational content on social media. If you want to get in touch with me personally, I manage my own LinkedIn profile, and you can search Daniel felt on there, and you can find me and we love connecting with people across the country.
Damon Pistulka 51:30
Awesome. Awesome. So if people want to talk to you about a franchise, I’m assuming the same thing connect with Daniel on LinkedIn. Yep. That’d be great for the website. Okay, good. Well, thanks so much for being here. Daniel. It’s really been awesome talking about how scaling a home services business because I think you’ve taken a really good long term approach to doing this. Thank you. I really appreciate it. You bet.
Well, thanks, everyone for listening today. And since it’s Thursday, we’ll be back again next week with another guests on the faces of business. Thanks so much for being here. And we’ll be back later.