Jon Isaacson, a veteran skilled tradesmen/author shares his tips on Success.

Jon Isaacson, a veteran skilled tradesmen/author shares his tips on Success.

Video of this Episode

On the Road?
Listen to AUDIO ONLY
version of the Podcast

Follow the Process Chiller Pro podcast on these platforms.

Listening on your phone or mobile device? These great podcast platforms may require apps to be installed to access the podcast on your mobile devices. 

Get an email alert when new episodes are posted.

Show notes

Hey guys, Martin King here, skill trade Today I have a treat for us I got John Isaacson is on the line. And I’m excited about getting him on the show because he is a published author. And he had a lot of ways just going down a road that, that I want to go eventually. He’s got a new book out. And I just I just love how pithy his how we how he talks about stuff. So this one, here you go, you ready? The title of his book is how to suck less at estimating. Yes, I said that right. John, Hey, man, welcome to the show. And I’m really happy to have you here, man.

Thank you, Martin. I, you know, on the book, someone texted me, they went to Amazon, because they couldn’t quite remember the name. So they started typing in how to suck. And quite an interesting menu of options came up. So one of them was like, How to suck a goat. And I’m thinking, you know, this particular gentleman was like, I’m looking for how to suck less at estimating and all these weird things pop up, I’m thinking, how many people are gonna be disappointed when they’re looking at how to suck a goat and they get this stupid estimating book. Obviously, those two life paths maybe are quite different. So

I was looking at your website, man. And I was just like, hence some of these things he comes up with are just awesome. So the the URL for your website is that dy ojo. So that I know what it means. But I want you to share how did you come up with that? What what does it mean? And how did you come up with that?

So it’s pronounced do Joe? It’s Guatemalan? Okay, that’s my heritage. No, it means the do your own job dojo. Right. And, honestly, I don’t remember exactly when it came, I think I was managing a group of people. And I was particularly frustrated with some of the teamwork aspects in our organization at large. And I can remember having a conversation with my manager at the time. And he said, you know, people just need to trust each other. And things would work a lot better around here. And I said, You’re right, and you’re wrong. Like, you can’t just say, Hey, if you guys would just trust each other, this thing would work better. It’s like, well, if we don’t trust each other, there’s a reason. And I think when it comes down to it both for you, if you’re trying to be and grow your career, or maybe like myself, you’re put into your first management position, and you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, right? What your team needs to understand, what you need to understand, is just do your job. Like, if you, like, if you and I are working together, Martin, and maybe we don’t quite get along. But if you if I know you are doing your job to the best of your ability, and you know the same about me, we can work together, right? We don’t have to like each other. But as we both trust, yeah, Martin Martin is trying to feed his family, he’s trying to do a good job, we can figure it out, right? Trust will eventually build. But if there’s not that initial or teamwork will eventually build, but if there’s not that initial trust, and it’s very hard. So I think that’s at the core of developing your own career, the core of developing a good team, and a strong organization is that, you know, it’s actually pretty simple if everybody just will do their dang job. And a lot of times we get mixed up in, well, this person is not doing this, or this person is not doing this, and we’re not taking care of our own area then just causes problems because we’re, we’re trying to blame other people and not just focus on what we need to be doing. So, yeah.

That’s a really good point, John, that’s really good. Because I think one of the challenges a lot of the professionals have doesn’t matter what skilled trade it is, it’s sort of that decoupling between levels of respect, right. So you have, you’ll have you’ll have a technician or an employee doesn’t matter, really. And you may not have a lot of respect for them as personally, sure that you can cohabitate the fact that you may not have personal respect, but you have a respect for their knowledge, right? Yeah, a lot. A lot of people get really hung up on why can’t work with a person unless I personally respect them. And they, you know, so there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of benefit to decoupling those two, right? Yeah, that’s what you’re getting at.

What what did they say? Like, no, like and trust, right. And I think it’s probably the wrong sequence. Like it’s no trust, like, because like, you know, exactly like you’re saying, I remember I had a conversation with a young man And, and he had a, this was in carpet cleaning. And he had a supervisor or a lead tech that he was paired with for training. And he goes, I can’t stand the guy. He’s mean, he’s rude, you know? And I was like, Well, when you get on site with the client, so is he does he have it down? Does he have a system downloads? Yeah, it’s clients love him? And is he good at what he does, he’s probably the best I’ve ever worked with. Okay, but you don’t like him? Because, you know, you think he’s mean, or he’s rough around the edges. Unfortunately, if any of you listening, I know that’s a lot of your audience are getting into the skilled trades, you’re gonna be paired with some people that are have some sharp edges, right, you know, art and art, the best bedside manner? And so I had said, if you will stick it out for three months or six months with this person, do you think that you’ll have the skill set that you can use the rest of your life? They said, Yeah, probably. And I said, Man, I go, I’ve been where you’re at. And that’s the moral, or the mental calculation I had to do is like, if I just shut up, do it, this person is telling me to do in six months, you know, I’ll never have to work with that person. Again, if I don’t want to, you know, because I’ll have the skills I need. And so, you know, obviously, people in leadership, we’re trying to build a better environment in some of those areas. But, you know, unfortunately, if you’re starting your career out, you know, you have to kind of take the good with the bad and see what people can offer to help you get where you want to go, you know,

right. So John, you’re let’s, let’s dig in a little bit to your background. So why don’t you share with the audience? Like, what, what’s your background is? And how did you kind of end up where you are right now?

Sure. Well as listening to the episode you did, where you share a little bit about your story, right? Where you started in the trades, and then you went to school? Right? And then went back in the trades? Yeah. Where did you go to school for something to supplement what you were doing? Are you were you thinking about trying to make a transition, I was actually

going to transition into mechanical engineering. That’s, that’s a mechanical guy. And I thought I was it was I was one of those guys were, you know, it kind of got drilled into me. In school that, you know, if you want to be anything, you’ve got to get a degree. Hey, guys, quick announcement, if you have not stopped into our website, at skilled trade, please do that. On the homepage. Here, you will see that we have the Join the movement email list. If you haven’t signed up, please consider doing that we have some amazing guests lined up for the podcast, I’m going to be getting the stories out of successful technicians and business owners in skilled trades. These are not just HVAC people there’s going to people be from across the skilled trade spectrum. And my hope is that I’m going to be able to draw out of these people, the things that have worked in their careers amazingly well. And the things that if they had a chance to talk to their younger self, what they would tell them not to do. So I want to share all that stuff with you. And if you sign up, you’re going to be the first to know when we drop those new podcast episodes. Also coming soon we have the BST workshop, it’s a five day automated email workshop. However, you’re going to give content to us through that workshop, you’re going to get one on one feedback from our instructors, instructors, and we’re looking to better your career. I’ve been teaching the BST process for many, many years, about two decades one on one, and I’m going to be trying to do that to the masses through this workshop. It’s totally free. All you have to do sign up and as soon as you do that, you’ll get alerts on your email. As soon as these new podcasts come in, as well as the VST workshop. So be check it out. I will put a link to the website on the show notes for this episode today. So check it out. Right Okay. And you know, that’s that’s my age demographic, right. So I like I said, I told you I did everything in reverse. I went into the trades loved it. Yeah, I thought that would be a next logical step would need to do mechanical engineering. Turns out Yeah, I didn’t go that way altogether. I stayed in one way or the other estate in in the trades.

Yeah. Was your was your family previously in the trades? Or? Or how did you get into HVAC? No,

my dad was, but he owned a Schwinn bicycle dealership. No kidding. Yeah. So I grew up in the bike business. And so in I was getting ready to graduate high school. I was in my automotive shop class. And this guy came in from this HVAC actually was an automotive diesel school in, in Arizona, universal tech. And he spent, you know, pretty much the whole period of the class talking about automotive diesel and at the very end, they said, By the way, we also offer this Uh, Heating Air Conditioning refrigeration course. Right? And yeah, so I that’s that I checked into it and next thing you know I was on my way to Arizona

for that’s awesome.

Breech hates me I lost your video feed but

the video is gone. Yeah. I think my internet might be African up, delete.

Oh yeah, we can continue on we can you know? Here we go back very boom, he’s back. Yeah. So I just decided that I was gonna go off to HVAC school and that’s what I did.

Thanks. Very cool. Okay. Yeah I my uncle was a contractor. And so I grew up in around the skilled trades. And like every year, in the summer, I would go, I grew up in Washington. So I was on Eastern Washington come to Western Washington, and we’d clean up construction sites and those kinds of things. So I was kind of new, I’d like to be in the skilled trades, I love construction. And as we grew up and got older, we got more and more responsibilities, we built fences and decks and those kinds of things. And so I think, but when I got out of high school, I went down to California. And I thought I was gonna go into law enforcement, I think we were talking a little bit offline, there was a college or down there college for residents, I can’t remember it was like eight bucks a credit or something like that. So I didn’t 100% know what I wanted to do. But I knew like, man, even if I don’t use this, I’d be a fool not to get it at this rate. Because even in Washington for residents, it was at least triple that, you know, so. So I embarked on that. I had answered an ad, or I guess, I’ve been working in a cabinet shop and loved it. My we got married, my wife got pregnant. So I wanted to work closer to home and not have to commute. And I got one of the worst jobs I’ve ever had. And so I was applying to anything and everything. There’s an ad for carpet cleaning at a local service master. And I applied to that went in for the interview. And they said, you know, with your background in science, because I’m studying law enforcement, or we’re a criminal justice, this, you’d be really good at this new thing we’re doing called mold remediation. And I was like, Yeah, I think you’re right, I think I would be really good at that. Not knowing what the heck it was, you know. And so anyway, so I got started in that. I did pretty well. You know, here’s a little career tip for anybody out there. I could do the paperwork, you know, to where my supervisor could read what we had done for the day so they could properly bill for it. And that got me noticed. Yes, there’s a lot to that, right. Yep. Just shut up, do what they ask you to do. And fill your paperwork out. So somebody can read it. Because as in most industries, like in ours, in particular, work with insurance companies, like the paperwork is how we get paid. They don’t pay in our industry for what we actually do they pay for what we document and I’m sure it’s the same in most European outlets take answer a lot of it’s on apps now. You know, catch an every little detail. That’s that’s how your company gets paid, so that there’s money in the pot for raises and all those kinds of things, you know, so. So yeah, that was, I got noticed, I started getting offered opportunities for management, stuff like that. And I said, No, I’m, I told you, I’m going to school, I’m pursuing law enforcement. And kind of unfortunately, what I think slowed it down, ultimately worked out for the better, was the owner said, you know, we want to continue consider you for management, but we need like, a lifelong commitment, you know, that you’re gonna stay here for the rest of your life was like, Well, yeah, right. Right. And to be honest, like, I’m going to school to potentially do something different. So I don’t want to make a lifelong commitment, you know, and now knowing what I know, now, you know, you know, that’s, that’s not the way things work. And there’s no, like, moral obligation to stay in a company for the rest of your life, you know,

like a lifetime warranty. Yeah, yeah.

Yeah. So that’s kind of that was my introduction into professionally into the skilled trades and, and started kind of a management path as well. So,

so you did a bunch of different things. So you started out, you know, carpet cleaning, and that kind of morphed into mold remediation, which is you mentioned insurance company. So looking at the book, and I want to jump into this in a few minutes. You’re, the focal point of your career has sort of been around property restoration, things like that. Right. Let’s talk about that a little bit.

So like I said, I have the construction background. I knew about building houses. I knew I wasn’t skilled in it. I knew of it. I had some skill. When I worked in this cabinet shop, we made closet organizers and garage cabinets. So I had some skills there. I answered the ad for carpet clean, but I never went to the carpet cleaning division. I went into mold remediation, which if anybody doesn’t know, that’s the guys that suit up kind of like asbestos abatement, you know, you put the suits on, you got air scrubbers, and you’re ripping walls out and those kinds of things. So, when I was there, that we had a, we had a water division, people that dealt with water damage, and houses and businesses fire damage. With contents, we had the mold, and we had a reconstruction division, we did have a carpet clean division. Well, the water guys, you know, cuz those come in anytime of the day, right? They got a bunch of overtime, you know, so I’m like, one of those guys do it. They’re like, well, they’re on on call, because they answered the water damages. And so you go on call for a week. And it was like, you get 20 bucks. And then it goes 10 bucks every plus you get your overtime rate. And you know, young guy starting a family living in California, I was like, I need that, you know, what is that?

Hey, guys, I have an exciting announcement, we just recently made some updates to our three most popular online courses at process Tiller, if you’re a technician, that’s looking to improve your skills a little bit, maybe get some specialized training to be of more value to your customers and your employer. Or if you are an employer or a contractor that is looking to augment your existing in house training with online training that can be accessible from any device, this is a really great opportunity. Just go to process Tiller to scroll down on the homepage, and you will see the course area, if you go into the course page, you will see that we are currently for limited time, we have a promo code of chiller Pro, that will save you 25% on any one of these courses. So hope you check it out. And I’m looking forward to seeing you in class.

And so I got some water damage training and got on the on call schedule. And you know, for for those of you that aren’t aware, you know, your salary is great, but when you can make overtime, that’s when you’re starting to make some put away money or some fun money. And

you exercise something that i i call keeping your antenna up. Yeah, there’s, I see this a lot in skilled trades where you know, you, you know, you’re you’re doing different things, you’ve been eight, you figured out a way to be proficient, to the point where you’re getting, you know, people’s attention. And one of the things that you’re doing when I call keeping your antennas up is that you’re always looking out there for, for things to make your career more exciting and more benefit more beneficial. Right. So yeah, and what what I, I see and I’m working on this in level ebook I’m working on right now is, is I call what I call the, the opposite of that is called the, the coaster syndrome, right? And what that what that’s about is, you know, people just kind of get stuck in their groove. And you can do this both professionally and personally, where you just, you’re in a group, and then that group becomes a habit. And then that habit gets really difficult to break. So then 10 It goes down. And you may have you may have some amazing opportunities. cross your path that you just like, whatever, you know that you don’t even think.

Right? Yeah. Yeah, yeah, I think that’s, you know, a friend of mine that wrote a book called, it’s called unqualified success. And it’s kind of mentally getting over that hurdle of thinking like, well, I don’t know how to do that. It’s like, I think a lot of people similar to what you’re talking about, that we interview, for our podcasts that there’s a common thread where I don’t think it’s like ego or pride, where they’re saying, you know, I can do anything, they’re just, there’s a kind of a confidence, like, I’m sure I could figure that out. Right. Like, you know, I don’t know anything about HVAC, I’m sure if I worked with you, I could figure it out. Right? It isn’t rocket science, you know, it takes time and dedication. In the same. If you came over into our industry, the things that have made you good at what you do, would translate, you know, because you would figure it out, right. And early on the driver for me was, you know, I got mouths to feed, you know, any, any opportunity? Yep. Yep. Any opportunity to make a couple extra dollars, you know, is huge and cost of living is just skyrocketing. Right? So, you know, the, that’s the beautiful thing about skilled trades. Like, if you wanted to work 24 hours a day, you could, you know, that’s not sustainable, long term, but when you’re young, and if you can be smart enough to put a little bit of that away, you know, you’ll you’ll set yourself up really well, you know, but yeah, I like that. Keeping your antennas up.

Yeah. Hey, so I want to pivot over into estimating. So I I went through your book, I did not get a chance to read the entire thing cover to cover. But there’s some really, really great takeaways in there. So, John John wrote a book recently on on estimating. And I just want to tell you from my personal experience, for those of you technicians out there that are seriously considering starting a business doesn’t matter if it’s a plumber, electrician doesn’t matter skilled trade business, you want to get into it, you’ve been doing it for a few years. I’m here to tell you that unless you know if to coin John’s term, if you suck at estimating, you’re probably not going to be in business very long, because that is probably a training gap that you cannot you cannot succeed without, without filling with knowledge is the area of estimating if unless you know what your what your costs are, what your overhead is. So I want you to speak to that. John, how did you decide to write this book? What were the needs that you were trying to fulfill with this thing?

Well, kind of like you’re talking about, I’ve always wanted to write a book. And then I felt like there’s a period like, you know, what, what do I know what I really have to offer? And that same friend Rachel Stewart that wrote unqualified success, I was on a call with her. And I said, I want to write a book. I just don’t know yet what I bring to the table that’s unique or different. And she said, she goes, there are no new ideas. There’s nothing unique, right? It’s just it’s the same thing. What’s unique, you know, in the books that you’re gonna write, right, Martin is your perspective, your experience. And I really gravitate towards that. I really hate books full of platitudes that just regurgitate the same thing. And it’s like, you know, real popular right now is Gary Vee, right? Well, that’s great. Gary Vee says whatever Gary Vee says, But if all you do is regurgitate what Gary Vee says, I should just go listen to Gary Vee, like, interesting to me is okay, well, what did Gary Vee say that you think is interesting? And how did you apply that? That that made something successful? That’s interesting, right. So anyways, I wrote this article, I think it was back in 2018, it was called the 10 commandments of exactly estimating success. So in our industry, there’s an estimating software, almost every industry has some kind of estimating software. Right? Right. In our industry, it’s called exact domain. And if the one that, for all intents and purposes makes a common language between us and the insurance companies, it helps to, it’s supposed to help in that regard. And so, you know, it’s got its nuances. And it’s got its pros and cons. And so that article, I submitted it to one of our trade magazines, and it was, I don’t remember top three for the year. And it kind of clicked as like, Okay, this, this is resonating with people or hitting a note or providing some value. So I wrote that was my first book. But this last one, I’m actually working on similar to what you’re working on, is a course, through an outlet called restoration Technical Institute. And so I had to decide was I going to just make the course around the original book, rewrite the book, edit it. And so this last book was kind of going through that process of rethinking, seeing if I would tweak some things. And then trying to be a little bit more practical. That first book was more kind of mindset and habits. This one still has a lot of mindset and habits, but tries to dive a little deeper into some of the actual principles that will help. And I think it does, like you’re saying, it’s very specific to our industry, but there’s a lot of things in there that translate to any industry.

Yeah. Yeah, you know, one of the things I took away from your book is, okay, so everybody has their own computer program to put the data into, right. That’s all fine and good. But anything to do with computer software, whatever your output product is for final job. It’s the old garbage in garbage out principle, right? Yes. So if you’re putting in garbage, you’re gonna get garbage out. Yep. And I was looking on page 19. Here. You say, in either scenario, an estimator, you as an estimator, you must focus on those items that are within your control, for example, did I thoroughly capture the condition for the worksite, right, that’s huge. That’s huge. Because every every worksite is different. And that’s not necessarily how to use a piece of software. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s learning how to how to learn how to get your, your view of what’s happening.

We call it telling the story of the loss Yeah, I’m sure that translates to even what you do tell the story of what you’re trying to do.

Yeah, anyway, there’s a bunch of great stuff on that in that area. And then the other the other area that stood out to me is, you know, we’re all using cameras now, right? We’re all using cameras to capture, you know, images on the job site, but there’s a there’s a right and wrong way to do that. So, you know, you get into some, some details as to how to properly capture a focal point of what it is that you got to document right. And your particular case, I guess it’s really tough dealing with insurance companies, because you’re gonna have some claims adjusters that really know what they’re doing representing the insurance company, and you’re gonna have some that don’t know a darn thing. Yeah,

similar to architects, engineers, and, you know, facilities managers and everybody else, right. There’s, there’s a handful of people that are a joy to work with, and a handful of people that are just like you, you have a job.

Yeah, yeah, I, we could talk for hours about that. Alright, so back to your book. So who’s the audience for this? I, who’s your best audience for your new book?

Um, well, I tried to write it, I tried to weave in. I think I said four main points. But like, the person that is an aspiring professional that’s trying to grow their career, I think there’s plenty of material in there. Like in our field, it would be the technician that says, you know, is thinking, Should I stick with this? Is there even an opportunity? You know, you’re doing all the grunt work and the gross work, right? Is there an opportunity to stick here and actually make a career for myself? So I’d love for those people like that, that are in the industry in any of the skilled trades to read it and think like, okay, you know, I can, I, you don’t have to be the smartest, the fastest, you know, the richest, like, you can figure this out, you know, you just, you’re gonna need to master what you’re doing now, and then try to step up with it. Right. The other, I think there’s a huge gap in like people like myself, you have some proficiency in the field. And so someone recognizes that and puts you in a leadership role, and then expects that immediately those skills that made you successful in the field will make you successful as a manager. And they’re completely different, right? Because when I’m in the field, I’m only responsible for myself, and maybe my immediate team. But once you become a management role, your success and responsibility now is to make everybody else better. And that’s a completely different skill set. 100% can be learned, but it’s very, very different. And especially learning, you know, this person doesn’t learn the same way I did, you know, everybody’s got a different learning style, everybody’s different, you know. So I think there’s, I tried to think about those type of people that are put into a management role and maybe didn’t get a lot of training or support. And not necessarily because the organization’s organization is bad, just everybody’s busy, right? So we think we’re training people and setting them up for success. And a lot of times there’s gaps there. And then the third would be like the business owner that wants I think most business owners, if they read this, there’s a lot that they’re like, I’ve been saying that for years, you know, exactly, but just sometimes a different voice saying that can get it across, you know, maybe hit a little bit differently. And so I think it’s a book that any restoration owner, any skilled trades owner can handle who either an aspiring professional that wants to grow their career and say, Hey, there’s there’s some tips in here that are the roadmap to success. And then also, obviously, estimators any estimators it would help them and then people, you know, in management roles, I think it would help them as well. So but it’s probably the core would be anybody looking to better themselves and grow professionally. You know, there’s gonna be something in there that I think he’ll take away. It’s designed around like six key tools that you should be able to take away and implement immediately.

Yeah, you’re bringing Yeah, you’re breaking those into modules. You

call them? Yep. Yeah,

yeah, that’s good. You know, you brought up one thing I think you touch on in here is actually you get into a lot of depth actually had a collecting information from the job site. We talked about that a few minutes ago. The trick is, is that a lot of times skilled trades people, let’s say, let’s pick a plumber, all right, you got a an older house. And for some reason, you know, the old copper pipes are just done or they’ve got old steel pipes or whatever, and that the house is going to need a major repipe and I’m just creating off the top of my head. All right. So usually the first responder to that is the technician showing up there. Yeah. And he’s dealing with, you know, a water pipe breaking into the house. house or whatever, and then you dig into a little bit further and finds out that, wow, this pipe is Toast and it really Yeah, we need to do some major work anyway.

So where am I going to tie in? Right? Yeah, all that stuff,

right? So a lot of shops will rely on data coming in from the field to come up with a budget. I say that in air quotes, because a lot of companies nowadays are they’re not really giving hard quotes are gonna give you kind of a budget on what it’s going to take. Anyway. So it’s the documentation by that first responder is really, really critical. And one of the things that I struggled with as a business owner for years, is to try to motivate these guys to really pay attention on the detail they’re providing on their paperwork. Right. So let’s talk to that. Do you have any ideas for business owners out there on how they can maybe motivate their their first responder technicians to do a better job at documenting?

Yeah, it’s encouraging. It’s encouraging, I guess, and discouraging to hear you say that, because I know any restoration owners or managers would say Amen, right. That’s like, geez, we’ve gone over this, I think, even have that scenario in the book. We talk about this all the time, you know, and I think, I think, number one, managers owners, we do have to take a hard look and say, Are you holding people to a higher standard than you’re holding yourself to? Because in our industry, say that, that plumbing tech goes out there, right? So the call comes in, hey, we got low water pressure, right? Okay. So what does that technician get? He gets a piece of paper, maybe a Texas as good as sounds to have low water pressure, right? And then you’re mad when they come back and say, yeah, the pipes are bad. Right? They gave you the same amount of information that you gave them. Right. So your habits as a company, is you don’t give a shit about detailed documentation when it goes to them. But they better have detailed documentation when they come back. That’s backwards. So where that starts, is when that call comes in. And it doesn’t matter if it’s the owner, the estimator, the technician, whoever answers the call, should have some some form of a script that says, Okay, can you tell me a little bit more about that? When did you notice this? You know, are your are your toilets? Flushing? You know, is there, you know, crud in the water? You know, so like, on our side, it would be Oh, you have a water damage? You know, do you know where it started? Yeah, was the laundry sink? You know, has the plumber been out and shut the water off? No, there’s still water gushing out of the wall. Okay, get off the phone, call a plumber, and then call us back, you know, and if you need a plumber, these are the three we recommend or whatever. So I think you have to take a hard look and say, Are you expecting something because your habits, say more than, you know, what you do says more than what you say, right? So your your your people are going to emulate. So if you can say, man we give you. You have copious amounts of details, you know, as much as humanly possible when you get there. Isn’t that nice? Yes. Okay. All right, we need the same from you. The other side of that is I think cross training is really important. Like your office person should go out in the field, right? Your estimators should crawl under houses at least once a year. And remember what that’s like, in your technicians. It’s easier way easier said than done, you know, to take a technician out of the field and put them in the office, but when they do they see like, Man, you guys aren’t just sitting in air conditioning or eating Cheetos, you know, like, your day is pop, pop, pop, pop pop. So yeah, I think that’s another way to people don’t always understand that what I do affects other people. And when it’s put that way, then it creates a different perspective. Yeah, I know, there’s a lot of incentive programs and things like that. Ultimately, I think those are cumbersome and hard to follow. It’s a lot of management mount. Yep. Yeah. What one company I know, does kind of like a quarterly and they usually take like one focus. And so they’re saying, hey, we need maybe we need Google reviews this month. So whoever gets the most Google reviews gets this cool prize, right? And it’s not a $25 gift card to Starbucks. It’s like a trigger barbecue or something, right? If you’re going to do kind of have some kind of incentive, make it short term and make it like really impactful. But, but ultimately, I think a lot of it just comes down to clarity, consistency, and then accountability. We always focus on wanting accountability. But we don’t always ensure that it’s clear and that everybody’s falling it because like, if the estimators don’t have to follow it, it’s not a policy, right. It’s just you guys have to do it. And so I think a lot of times it’s it’s inconsistency or a lack of clarity There’s ultimately at the root of some of those lack of performance issues.

Yeah, that’s great. Yeah, I used to, I used to run about twice a year, I would run a course I think I called it service technician accounting or something like that. Okay, we I started the course out with just a quick question. How much? How much profit does the company make? On? Yeah. Right. So at the time, I can’t remember now, you know, I’m just picking a number from there. But I think we were charging, you know, 80 bucks an hour for our commercial clients that had contracts and my top technicians were making 2526 bucks an hour. SHAN was really interesting, because my newbies didn’t they hadn’t taken this class before. I would ask them, Well, how much? How much does the company make? And profit? Yeah, I’d say 70% of them actually thought that the difference between what I charged the customer and what I pay them was all profit.

Oh, okay. Yep. Yep, yep.

So then what was really fun about that was that I get into the numbers, I get into the overhead, and I get it, you know, without getting too off the rails just just basically kind of covered what they needed to know. And then I would, then I would pivot over into paperwork. Because what once they understood what the overhead was, then I was able to have that conversation with them about Okay, so let’s create a scenario here, our plumber again, and that technician does a crappy job at just like you said, the information coming back from the field was no better than we got when the when the service call came in. So what am I going to do? So I have to send an estimator over there, or I have to send another technician out there with more experience or whatever, pay him and the server, by the way, is not going to pay again, to have another tech so I’m paying for that. So that so then I you know I worked the snare all the way down. So basically what ends up happening on that first visit, we lost money. Yeah, you know, and once again, you have to keep it simple. You can’t get overcomplicated. I get approached from time to time from people looking for process chillers. And as the cliche goes, I know some guys and those guys are Andy and Paul over at G and D chillers. If you’re an end user and OEM or reseller and you’re looking for a quality chiller to be designed and built, Andy and Paul are the go to guys for the chiller pros out there. Jean de has been designing and building chillers for over 25 years. And besides knowing what they’re doing, they’re honest and they go over and above to treat their customers right. So if you find yourself in need of a process chiller call GND at 800-555-0973 Make sure to ask for Andy or Paul and use the promo code chiller Pro, so they know that you’re one of our listeners, I love one of their tag lines to it says that they’re big enough to produce and small enough to care and that’s the for sure G and D. Again called G and D chillers asked for andyour Paul, use promo code chiller pro 800-555-0973 or check them out online at G D Forward slash chiller Pro. What was interesting was I made a connection between me not making a profit and the ability to pay my service technicians. You have the ability to give my technicians arrays arrays. Yep, yep, yeah. Bands. Yeah, yeah, moving. It’s all that stuff. And once they were able to make that, you know, some of them were just hopeless. I mean, they didn’t care. But I’d say no, I was able to get through to maybe 30% of them. And just by giving them a little education about the finances of a contracting company. I started seeing improvements. And anyway, so I just, I probably went off on a tangent there.

I think that’s huge. Because, again, that’s, we talked about, I think it’s like a leadership download, right? Like, you started the company, right? Like, Hey, guys, I started this company, it was just me, I was everything, right? And so it’s important for people to know, this is why I started the company. This is why we do the things that we do. And I think a lot of times I think that goes to the clarity is just reminding people, the clarity is the whole team hearing from you as the owner, you know, the one that started the company. The consistency is as you start to let add layers of management, making sure they’re communicating and managing the way that you envision that to happen. Because it can get away from you right when you start a company and you have these laters if you’re not, hands on and checking in, you don’t know if the managers are implementing the way that you want it or just doing what they learned from whatever company they came from. But I think I think exposing them to that is really key. Would you agree with this, I think I call it the DOJ chart. And what I try, technicians need to understand everybody in the company needs to understand we need two things to be a successful company. And the two things are, we need happy customers. And we need profitable jobs, we need both of those things, neither to the exclusion. So like, what you’re talking about, is helping them understand what it takes to be profitable. But I think ultimately, what the technician can control, and what they should focus on is I want you when you’re in the field to focus on making that customer happy. Because if you make them happy, and say we lag in profits for a little bit, we can figure that part out, you know, we can track it, we can figure it out. But if you focus on profits, and we don’t have happy customers, it’s harder to fix it in the reverse, you know, and so I think exactly what you’re saying it’s important for them to have kind of a broad understanding, you’re not pocketing $60, on the ad, you know, is is really important for them to understand. But not every technician knows or cares, you know, like all of the details, but it is important from the note, a broader perspective. Yeah, Martin’s not just, every time I go out, just, you know, it doesn’t go directly in his wallet.

Yeah, it’s, it’s, you know, what are they going to learn it, they’re not going to learn that in tech school, you know, and they definitely didn’t learn that in high school or whatever. Yeah, so I want to talk about, I want to talk about, drill into your book your little bit, you get into a section at the very end called budgeting. Okay. And I thought that was intriguing. Because, you know, after all the science and all the software and everything, sometimes you get into being able to what I got out of it was, you know, looking at a job and being able to come up with, you know, cost per square foot, or, you know, your, I guess you could call them kind of shortcuts, but I would call them in form shortcuts. And one of the things I found is, budget or shortcuts, if you will, as far as cost per square foot, or, you know, when it comes to HVAC, you know, cost per linear foot of flex duct eight inch, you know, there’s all these kinds of tables out there that you can get and, you know, especially flat rate or I don’t know, if you work with a lot of contractors, but there’s a lot of flat Raiders out there where, you know, the, the tech, the owner, the estimator will say, okay, 1500 square foot house, the flat rate is so many dollars per square foot to put in an HVAC system, for example.

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So those

can be very helpful. But yeah, I want to what do you think about budgeting? In other words, coming up with shortcuts like that? What’s your opinion about that stuff?

Well, I think, first of all, you mentioned, like, say, somebody is thinking about starting their own business, right? Yes, yeah. We see so many people, I’m making $25 an hour, I’m gonna start my own business. And guess what, I’m gonna pay myself 30 bucks an hour, right? And then you’re like, wow, wow, you’re making five bucks more an hour? That’s awesome. That’s great. How much? Are you charging the customer? 30 bucks an hour, you know, it’s like, oh, man, you know, you’re, you’re now making a lot less than you ever made. You know, and especially when it comes time to pay your taxes, you’re gonna have a real, so awakening, rude awakening, it’s important. whatever system you use, the core of all your costing is what are your hard costs, right? Like, in your heart costs are saying, HVAC, you know, I’ve got 300 linear feet of ducting, it’s going to cost what x at whatever the market rate is for just the materials, I got the hangers, the screws, you know, the tape and all that. And then, you know, that’s going to take two guys eight hours, right? So that’s, that’s your hard costs. Now your overhead costs are that van, the fuel, the office, all those kinds of things are a percentage of that. And then your profit is what you’re trying to put away at the end of the year. So you can invest in things and go, and I think people need to understand even in the trades, even estimators that have been doing it for years, that overhead is necessary. It’s not like a fluff number. Like, you know, Martin made this up so that he could, you know, have it like those are real costs. And if you don’t pay the electric bill, you know, you don’t have a company, you don’t pay your licensing and you don’t pay your taxes. And so, so I think especially at the estimator level, you have Do you have an understanding of what the overhead is, and, but a lot of that comes down to, like you said, with that square footage, pricing or the flat rate, you just need to understand the, I’m assuming in the flat rate scenario, we have that like in carpet cleaning and stuff like that, you know, those companies are playing a volume game, right? So what’s most important to them is get a job, get it done, and get another job, you know, that’s, that’s what they’re gonna want you to focus on. Budgeting may not be as important because it’s, it’s just a number, right? You just crap the number in and go.

Either you gotta, you have to be careful about it, you know, so I think books like yours that you’ve got, cover the fundamentals? And well, I guess my argument is, you don’t want to start budgeting or as guesstimating, if you will, based on flat numbers, until you’ve got a fundamental understanding of Yes. Right. So, don’t think you’re smarter than the, the numbers and, you know, don’t just take, you know, don’t don’t take somebody’s guidance on what a lot of budget numbers can be, until you prove it out yourself, you know, that particular cost per whatever, you know, whatever the unit, you actually actually works under your overhead structure. Yeah, you know, the cost per square foot, that that you’re bidding that you’ve heard from, you know, one of your buddies at a mixed group or something like that down the road, that may be based on his overhead. And he may not be paying himself. And just like you were just saying, So if if you, you got to make sure you know, your numbers. And I think that’s why books like you’ve got here, I think are so powerful, because if it forces you to think about a lot of the details,

well, you should you should be building a budget as you’re estimating, right? Like, you know, okay, I think that I’m assuming every every estimate has assumption. So I’m assuming this is two guys eight hours at what our rates are, I’m assuming it’s this amount of materials. And then the overhead and the profit should be, you know, coming from the company. On the reverse of that, though, I can remember when I started my company, I had this deck, and I bid it out. And I had an old guy helping me that also had a business and was really good at decks. And I said, Man, I didn’t charge enough for this job. And he goes, what, what are you talking about? And I was like, well, we’re over ours, were over materials don’t know that. I need to ask them for more money. And he grabs me by the shirt and pulls him behind the shed. And he goes, it’s not their fault that you’re a bad estimator. He’s like, get the job. You can imagine that he probably it was a lot more colorful than that. But

that’s where it came. So how not to suck. Yeah, yeah.

But that was an important lesson. It’s not if you if you mess up, you need to honor what you said. And, and be better next time. You know, so

yeah. Before we wrap up, I want to talk about some of your other publications. I’m got your website open here. Oh, yeah. And yeah, so let’s talk about some of your other stuff here. You’ve got a whole bunch of things. What are let’s talk about some of your other documents, either books you have out there. So you have this is your second. This is your second estimating book, right? Yes. It’s sort of Rev. Two. Are, ya know,

that I think that’d be accurate. Yeah, the first the first book was be intentional estimating, mindset and habits for success. Okay. Design if you want to get an estimating, or if you’re teaching people estimating, you know, a manager of estimators. That was kind of what that’s designed for. I wrote one be intentional culture, this actually with several other authors. And the idea was there other small things enhance or undermine your culture? So I asked people to share, you know, one small thing that helped them actually improve their culture, and then maybe a lesson that were like, I tried that and really failed to share personal stories. And then the last one was, so you want to be a project manager. And that’s, again, designed for people that want to get into project management or people managing project managers goes into in our industry, project management and estimating kind of, there’s a lot of overlap. Yeah. So yeah, there’s things in there that are probably more estimating the project management and vice versa.

Well, you could have a spot on perfect Uh, estimate system, right? And then have poor project management. Yeah, there you go, there goes your profit, right?

Yep, yep. Or vice versa, you know, project managers that are aces, but keep getting handed, you know, Bs scopes, you know? So

yeah, that’s good. That’s good. So Hey, John, how can I? So people can buy your books directly from the website? How, how do they need to? Do you do? Do you do webinars? Or do you do workshops and things like that?

So probably the best way to get the books is on Amazon. Okay, they’re ready. If somebody wanted to buy a bulk order for like their whole office, that’s probably where it would make sense to reach out we can do a bit of a discount or sign copies those kinds of things. I am working on with this book in particular a course that will be available through restoration Technical Institute. And then I do a podcast. We usually release ours on Thursdays the do do podcast.

So that is it. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I very much look forward to continuing to connect with you. Please don’t hesitate to send me messages on LinkedIn. I’m on there all the time. Or you can reach out to me on my email. I’m at M King at process Tiller And until next week, when I give you the next installment I wish you a great week, and I will connect up with you again soon. Take care.

Episode(s) That Support This Topic.

Skilled Trades Interviews | with Jim O’Mally | An Insiders Perspectives on Skilled Trades

Today I get to sit down with Jim O’Mally, who has a unique perspective on the subject of Skilled Trades, particularly within the public school system.

Jim has used his experience and grit to teach skilled trades to our youth in public and charter schools, the state prison system, and everything in between.

This long-form interview with Jim covers several skilled trades’ topics and perspectives that you will rarely in the media.

You can access this podcast episode in audio-only or video using either of the links below: –

Link to Jim O’Mally’s BLOG: