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Our mission on Builder Nuggets is to help our listeners Build Freedom. In today’s episode we take that to a whole new level as we talk with an owner who’s managing the operations of a $10 Million a year/plus custom building and remodelling company – during a worldwide pandemic – from sunny Barbados.

Show highlights include:

  • The “3S System” which gives you complete freedom while running your business remotely (2:39) 
  • I am my most productive when I am happy! (5:55)
  • How moving thousands of miles away from your company injects steroids into your productivity levels (8:32) 
  • If it wasn’t for COVID we wouldn't have taken this step (13:58)
  • Why “front-loading” your week makes you more productive and gives you more freedom to spend time with your family (19:39) 
  • How working remote forces you to be more human and vulnerable with your team. Our work is what we do not where we do it(22:14) 
  • The weird way testing your genomes helps build a more profitable business (28:40) 

To get the most out of this podcast, head over to https://buildernuggets.com  and join our active community of like-minded builders and remodelers.

If you’d like to get in touch with Evelyn, check out her Instagram pages here: https://www.instagram.com/alairhomesforesthill/ and here: https://www.instagram.com/alairhomesmarkham/. You can also find her website at https://www.alairhomes.ca/forest-hill-toronto/

Read Full Transcript

Has she poured me a glass of wine and told me that I was crazy.

Welcome to another episode of Builder Nuggets, the show where builders and remodelers discover how to build thriving businesses while working less. I'm Duane Johns and together with Dave Young, we share the elements of success that have helped hundreds of contractors like you build better lives.

(00:22): Our mission on builder nuggets is to help our listeners build freedom. In today's episode, we take that to a whole new level. As we talk with an owner, who's managing the operations of a $10 million a year plus custom building and remodeling company during a worldwide pandemic from sunny Barbados. I think we're going to have some envious.

(00:38): The listeners on this one, Dave. Yeah. You heard that right. For the last six months, she's rented out her Toronto home and moved her entire family to a Villa. That's just minutes from the beach. As you will hear it, wasn't all glamorous, but it sure beats a harsh Canadian winter and COVID lockdown. Welcome Evelyn Ratcliff co-owner of layer homes, forest Hill and Alair homes, Markham in Ontario, Canada trust. When you think things can't really get any more crazy, a volcano erupts in neighboring St. Vincent how's that how's that working out for you?

(01:10): Yeah. Just when you thought things were, were settled and you were starting to get used to your surroundings. The volcano and St. Vincent that has not erupted for 42 or 43 years, decided to show its might and very dark beauty for six or seven days straight. So we were under locked down. We could go outside, but it just wasn't safe enough to do so because of the way that the Ash plume enter the atmosphere, it came over and showered Barbados with Ash for several days straight. We had a couple of days that felt like 24 hours of nightfall, which was a little bit scary, but I think it just makes the whole thing a bit more memorable for the family. When we look back on it many years from now,

(01:51): Has it been six months that you've been now? How long have you been in Barbados? So we haven't been here a full six months yet. We've been here a little bit more than five, and then we leave here next week. And then by the time we like get all of our tests and do all of our quarantines and make it actually across the Canadian border, then it'll be six months. So I don't know how you want me to frame it.

(02:09): That's fine. When, when we think about helping people to build freedom in their businesses, this is probably one of the things that people think about is being away somewhere that this is true freedom that you have right now. So how did you even decide to take this on? Because I think there's a lot of people listening to this going, wow. I would love to be able to run my business remotely. How did you go through, how did you even decide to take this on?

(02:37): That's a really great question. I think it comes back to one of the pillars that we have in our office and it is smart, scalable, and safe, making the smartest decision for the particular problem at hand, understanding whether or not the decision can be scaled for the entire office and if we are mitigating risk. And so last August as I was sitting and looking at the case count that Toronto had experienced so far in the pandemic, we were down to one case in Toronto that day, middle of August. And I was feeling very optimistic. And then like the realist and the planner that I am, I went and started looking at modeling data. And it said that the second way was coming and the numbers were going to start to go up. And a second lockdown was likely, and I was like, well, that's not the good news.

(03:24): I was just enjoying. And so at that moment, sitting on my, on my friend's living room couch, I said, what if we weren't here for the lockdown? What if we were somewhere else? And she poured me a glass of wine and told me that I was crazy and that evening ended. And then I came home and I told my husband about it and I was expecting him to respond the same way. And when he didn't, I hopped on the internet and sort of looking at, you know, where can we go? Where the pandemic has. It reached that particular country as much as it's reached Canada. And the next day was my daughter's eighth birthday. We had the family come socially distant little party in the backyard. And again, I said, I think, I think we're going to go to Barbados for the winter for six months.

(04:08): And I was expecting my family to look at me like I had a second head and they all sort of looked at me and thought pensively for a moment. And then no one had any shock everyone's response was, yeah, that's not a bad idea. And that was really all the validation I needed from my inner circle from that moment until the moment that we had our plan in place was 28 days. So in 28 days, we figured out whatever systems we need to put in place at work. We listed and rented out our home in Toronto. We found a home to rent in Barbados. We booked our flight. We booked insurance. We put together our packing plan figured out what we were going to do with the kids for school. It was really exciting to have this little mini project that everybody in the family could work on together.

(04:55): It's one thing to be part of all that excitement. That's getting to go to Barbados and the family and totally get that. But what was the reaction when you're, when you're talking with your business partner or your team, like they're the ones who aren't getting to go to Barbados. They're the ones who are stuck back here. How did that go over?

(05:13): I remember the first time I told Andrew Black my business partner that I was thinking about this. We hadn't booked anything yet. I obviously needed his support and his buy-in before we pulled the trigger on anything this big. And so I called him and I said, I'm thinking about maybe going to Barbados with my family for six months and without skipping a beat, he's like, that's amazing. When are you leaving? And I think that it speaks volumes to the kind of person that he is and how lucky I am to have a business partner like him. But you have to understand that our roles are quite different. He is in the production seat, in the business, making sure that the quality of the product that we are delivering to our clients is unbeatable. Whereas my role is I'm largely a desk jockey. My role is highly administrative I'm in the office.

(05:57): I'm looking at finance administration, marketing, HR. I'm not interacting with the field the way he is. So I am in a position to travel where he may not be, but he understands that I am my most productive self. And each member of our team is their most productive selves when they're happy. And he knows that this is something that I've wanted to be able to do for a long time. So now he's in a position to support me to do it, and he did it without hesitation. And I think that if I were to go back now after six months and say, how was it? He said, I'm really happy. You would have had it, or I'm really happy. You had an opportunity to do this, but that's just the kind of person Andrea is. I was much more concerned to be honest, to tell my team individually than I was to tell Andrew, because I was really concerned about the optics that it may present to my team.

(06:48): I was worried. It'd be like, you know, who is this disconnected sitting in the ivory tower owner, because now I'm going to leave to Barbados as well. All of us get to hang out in Toronto, stuck inside droning on day by day, dealing with all the things that she doesn't have to deal with. I was really worried about how my team would take it because I didn't want them to feel like there was a disparity between management and production. I didn't want them to think that I didn't understand what they were each individually going through, but we speak very candidly on a weekly basis. As part of our team meetings, we encourage that kind of vulnerability and sharing. And my team knows that I was not in a good place during the first pandemic mentally, emotionally. I hit a really, really, I don't want to say rock bottom, but I was in a really dark place.

(07:35): And I knew that I would not be successful version of myself. Had I stayed in Toronto. I don't know that I saw staying in Toronto as an option. I think I really saw this as my only option to be able to continue to survive and thrive during a pandemic. And I think everybody's journey through a global pandemic is unique. There is a lot of people who will throw shade on, Oh, you, you decided to go to Barbados. Well, I'm stuck here in Toronto and I totally get how that may feel for some people, but it was the right and necessary decision for me and for my family.

(08:08): Well, you did the right things. I mean, you know, you have, like you said, you have the systems in place, the processes in place, the people in place, certainly today's technology is there. You can conduct business from remote locations. And at the end of the day, you're doing what was pretty much expected of everyone. And that's the kind of stay at home and keep yourself.

(08:29): I just chose home to be a little bit more remote, but in many respects it did create a backdrop of productivity. One that I have not seen for myself in many years to be able to work on my business and see it not only continue to survive, but thrive while I'm thousands of miles from home, it really inspired me to work that much harder. And so I think I had in my mind when we first got down here, this illusion, maybe that I spend the mornings working in the afternoons, or at least a couple of hours in the day exploring the Island with my family. But I found that I would get on such a roll and I just, I didn't want to stop. Like, it was just, I'm very productive here. And it's because I'm getting things like vitamin D that I wouldn't naturally be getting in the darkest months of the year in Canada. And as it turns out, and I didn't know this at the time, but I am vitamin D deficient. So I would have been naturally less productive in Canada. So this might be something I have to consider for future years as well, because the better the business has benefited from me being away, which seems counterintuitive. But that's exactly how it's been so far.

(09:33): Was there any aspect of the business that you couldn't do as well that you found? Wow, this is a, you know, maybe aside from actual physical team building stuff that I know that you're highly involved in, but were there, was there any element to your role that you were not able to do remotely or that you felt suffered?

(09:53): What a great question. When I first stopped to think about it, I thought of every aspect of my business could not be done remotely. And then when I sat down and started to analyze it, especially with Andrew's help piece by piece, almost anything can be done remotely except for the physical field work that needs to happen at the sites. So accounting, I can do remotely. And before I used to write checks for all of our trades, and now we have moved to a direct deposit system, which is not only faster and more secure, but doesn't require me to be in Toronto, which was great because I needed to find a solution that would work with me being remote. I was worried about how we would prepare and execute contracts, but again, with Adobe sign or DocuSign or half a dozen other options that are out there, technology has helped that as well.

(10:38): And I think the biggest one for me was around team building and culture. But as we had already learned, because we ended up onboarding team members after the pandemic started in March, there is one team member who started three days before the state of emergency was declared in Ontario. And so he was largely onboarded in an, in a virtual environment. And so we already had a little bit of learning there knowing that it was possible. It wasn't ideal, but we could certainly do it. And then since then we have added five new team members, one of which actually two of which I have never met in person and we've been able to successfully onboard them. And we probably overcompensate a little bit because we know that we have to make up for the fact that we're not there in person. I can't take them for their first day of work lunch. We may not be able to welcome them with open arms the way we once did. And so w we've gotten creative.

(11:36): I want to know what would happen if you flip this whole thing around now, and Andrew came to you, would it work if Andrew came to you and said, Hey, guess what we want to ride out this next wave. We're going, you know, we're going somewhere. Could you guys flip the business or set things up so that Andrew and his family in 30 days could go and work from anywhere in the world? What could you guys make that happen?

(12:03): I think we'd have no choice, but to make it happen. That's what we do as a team is we're there to help each other achieve dreams and goals. Living better starts here is, is our motto. And obviously it's our promise to our clients, but it's also our promise to each other, to our team members, to our trade partners, to our market partners. So I think of Andrew came to me. My response would not only innately be supportive, but it would have to be supportive, but it would require putting in either certain resources or certain processes to make sure that things that he was responsible for or is responsible for and is successful at doesn't suffer if he's not there to manage it directly. So we would probably end up having to put somebody into a, let's say a director of construction role, somebody who could visit the sites as frequently as he does to check in and provide guidance to the other project managers, to ensure that quality is never being compromised. But I think it's possible. I don't think that there is no one else in the world that can do production quality control. I think that Andrew is exceptional at it, but I think there are a lot of people who are exceptional at it. So if it means that Andrew can achieve certain life goals or family goals, and all we need to do is bring in a competent, passionate person. I think that's entirely possible. The world is full of them.

(13:20): COVID may have spurred something here in, in the fact that, you know, we can do this, you know, what a motivator to get you to try and take on something like this, take those circumstances away. And you may not have said, Hey, you know what? I'm just going to take six months or so, and just go do this remote. And I mean, the pandemic has made a lot of us work remote, and whether you're 30 minutes away in the, you know, in the same town or 300 miles or 3000 miles away, the technologies, they there, you're going to probably take the same steps. I mean, I'd be interested to see what, in some senses what's different about it. You know, what, w what does your day look like mean? What kind of things did you have to structure with your team so that you could pull this off?

(13:58): So first a, you are 100%, right? If it wasn't for COVID, we wouldn't have taken this step. I think there was a lot that we learned in the first few months of COVID as our world felt very uncertain and very topsy turvy about what we were actually capable of. I remember that the first few weeks of the pandemic, I did not know what my purpose was. I did not know how I was going to survive it because everything else felt uncertain around me. And so I went into a very dark place, but as things started to normalize after the first six weeks, and, you know, things weren't getting worse, they were still really bad, but they weren't continuing to escalate. And I could finally start to find a new rhythm in the pandemic. Then it was uncomfortable and it was new. And there was still the uncertainty of how long it would last, but it wasn't really all that dire.

(14:47): I was at home. I was with my family, I was safe. I was healthy. I could be in a much worse position, obviously. And I wasn't. And so then it was, what can we learn from this? Which processes can we improve upon now that we have the opportunity to push a more virtual setting? So can we meet with clients more often because we don't have to worry about commuting to meetings. Can we meet with our team members more often? Because we don't have to worry about being stuck in traffic. Can we look at new ways to do the things that we've always done the way we've always done them? Because now we have the opportunity to re-examine it through a whole new lens we would have otherwise never looked through. So I think there was a lot that we learned from it and probably a lot that we can continue to learn from it.

(15:32): It sounds like you challenged your own status quo to some extent where you're like, well, we don't have to do things the same old way anymore. You were forced into finding new ways to do it and realized, wow, I don't, it doesn't have to be that way.

(15:49): No, it doesn't. And I think that certainly for our team, and I think for the network of builders that I, I talk with on a regular basis, this notion of do better or constant never-ending improvement is something that we're always keeping an eye on because it's easy to rest on your laurels, but then someone else will catch up and then you'll be just like everybody else. And it is exciting to, to lead the pack and to want to continue to lead the pack in terms of how can we always be doing it better. So, yes, I think that the pandemic certainly opened our eyes to re-examining every part of our business. And I'm happy that we did.

(16:23): What are some of the things that you tried that didn't work first? Dwayne? I haven't forgotten about your question about what a typical day looks like. I'll come back to that. To online learning for my family did not work. I think everybody had really high hopes that the kids could be entertained and certainly kept busy for the same eight hours a day that I'm used to so that I can get my work done, but that's just not been the case. Online school was a flaming dumpster fire for our family. Like it just, it really did not work for us. And although I could see my kids through and, you know, 99% of my day, I couldn't interact with them because I still had some commitments to my team, to my clients, to my partners, to my market partners and trades. And it is very challenging to being a lovely environment like Barbados, to see the sun to be called by the ocean, to be pulled by my kids and not be able to go and play with them.

(17:19): And so that was challenging for me to set boundaries and to keep them has been challenging for me. It came down to online learning, wasn't working for them. And so they needed more of my time than I could give. And so that's been a really strange balance. And I don't know that we've really hit it just yet, but we're getting closer. About a month ago, we pulled our kids out of school altogether and we're homeschooling them now. And it's so much better than it was for the first, I don't know, six months of this, which was pretty garbage, but now they are picking the subjects they want to learn about and they are pursuing them and they are researching them. And then they are presenting them to us. And so we're not force feeding them content that they're just they're disconnected from. They don't really care about the seven stages of rock and neither do I. So it has been very challenging for us to find the right balance working from home altogether. And I don't think that's unique to working remotely in Barbados. I think that's something that any family who's living through the pandemic is dealing with.

(18:16): Oh yeah. It's definitely happened in our house too. It's probably a good segue. Just to go back to Duane's earlier question as to, how did you structure your day? What did it look like? You know, it sounds like you had challenges with trying to keep your kids engaged while you're doing this. So it's a lot to juggle, but did you, what kind of structure did you, did you put in, what sort of rules did you make for yourself?

(18:41): The best laid plans of mice and men? Is that how the expression? Yeah, so none of the, the plans that we had originally are the ones that we follow these days, but our original schedule was very structured. We would wake up at a specific time. We would all have breakfast together. The kids would go and do online school for two or three hours. I would get two or three hours of uninterrupted work. We would all break, we'd have lunch together. Then the kids would go and explore a couple of days out of the week with dad and alternating days with mom. And then we'd all have dinner together and then we'd play all evening. And then the kids would go to bed that, that didn't happen even for the first week. Like the, the plan fell apart almost immediately. And so, you know, people wake up when they wake up and sometimes we have breakfast together and sometimes we don't and sometimes the kids are into what they're learning and usually they're not, and they want a little piece of our time.

(19:30): So we find a few minutes here and there, and my husband is working full-time as well. So it has definitely been a juggling act to make sure that everybody has time for everything, but as the weeks and months went on, I realized that if I could, front-load my week, it became easier. So my Mondays are my longest day. They're probably a 10 hour day. It's the strategic part of my week. We have our leadership meetings with each of our offices on Monday. We plan for the week. We understand where our time is required through the week and that way we can meet each of those commitments. And then I have to learn to say no to a lot of things and push things off to subsequent weeks. And that's something I'm still working on. That is, that's not always easy for me. Tuesdays a regular Workday, if you will, about eight hours or so Wednesday starts to slow down.

(20:19): I'm at around six and then Thursday and Friday is a half day for me, so that I'm still able to collect the memories that this experience can offer me. And then the weekends are sort of like a chill zone. There's no structure to them. We come and go as we please. And it depends on what we want to check out and what we're in the mood for. So I find that front-loading, my week has helped always start with strategy. And then Thursday and Fridays are really for ad hoc meetings to be able to chat with market partners with other people across the network with other builders and that sort of thing.

(20:51): Okay. So school can't be the only dumpster fire. What else went sideways on you while you were down there? If I, if I think about the challenges that food faced as a business, I don't know that the, the approach that we took in solving for those problems is different because I'm here.

(21:06): It doesn't seem like any of the, any of the problems that you, you said you had to deal with really were because you're in Barbados, they were problems that you would have dealt with no matter where you were. A lot of them pandemic related and just, you know, all of our lifestyles changed because of it. Perhaps this remote working is, is a huge benefit coming out of all this. It may, it may be the better way for us to think about work going forward.

(21:31): I think you're absolutely right. Dwayne. I don't think our business suffered maybe because we were so worried that it would, that we try to cover all of our basis. You know, victory does favor that prepared. So we thought, you know, what could we possibly anticipate? What could we prepare ourselves for? But it's really in the way that we go about solving problems and that doesn't change because if, if you apply that whole smart, scalable, and safe approach to your decision-making, then it doesn't matter where you are when you make those decisions, like is our work is, is not where we work. It's what we do or to say it in a way, our work is what we do, not where we do it. And so does it really matter that I'm in Barbados in my role, in my function? No, it doesn't. I can run payroll from Barbados. I can approve accounts payables from Barbados. I can even onboard employees from Barbados. And in many ways it forces you to be a bit more human and a bit more vulnerable and a bit more relatable because you, you do have to compensate for the fact that you're not there in person. So I think that Barbados remote work or Toronto remote work, I'm not seeing a big difference.

(22:43): A quick reminder that the best way to get the most out of this podcast is to engage with the builder nuggets community, visit our website@buildernuggets.com and follow along on Facebook and Instagram.

(22:56): It sounds like you invested extra communication. Like what you were saying is you were aware of the fact that there could be things that were looked at differently. So you made a commitment to communicate more. That's what I'm hearing between the lines. And it sounds like that extra communication along with systems and processes that you guys had already invested in, like, we haven't really touched on that, but your business is running on rails to the degree that it can, a lot of it is systematized and all set up. So it really comes down to your ability to communicate, to understand, to know what's going on with that person that's coming into the business. And I think that might be one of the secrets here is that this has thrown us into, Hey, I need to over-communicate or provide extra communication. We're seeing it all over with that. You haven't spoken to for a long time, you're using this opportunity to give extra, is that a fair statement or am I, am I leading the witness, Dwayne?

(23:55): No, I think that's really accurate. I just don't know. The Barbados is the impetus COVID was the impetus for me. COVID taught me that we need to communicate more. COVID taught me that we need to be more human with one another Barbados amplified it, maybe, but it was really the pandemic that taught us that not the move from Toronto to Barbados.

(24:13): Yeah. It's velvet taught it to you, but Barbados showed that you could do it from anywhere. Yeah. And I think, you know, one of the things we talk about even in our office is just the way it's made, made us look at meetings in general and the need to come together. I think there's still the personal need. I mean, you know, having the group setting, having people come together, but you know, how often, how frequent, I think, and I think a lot of other businesses are looking at this. I mean, you've seen it across the commercial world as far as do you have to have the traditional, everybody show up in an office on a regular basis every day nine to five, you know, at that that's being totally reconsidered. And especially in, in some of the roles we're at with some of the levels of project management, I think it gives just another level of autonomy, as long as you've got the accountability behind it and the communications, but that autonomy to go out and kind of, you're living a little bit more of your own life, I think, through this, is that correct?

(25:04): Absolutely. And I don't know that I would have been able to do it if we didn't have the right team assembled, because we have a team of people who are responsible and accountable and that's nothing to speak to their, their passion and dedication to their craft. But the fact that they are accountable and responsible, it means that I don't have to worry about them. I don't have to babysit them. I'm not hiring them to tell them what to do. I'm hiring them because they already know what to do. And they can, they can sit in the right seat on the bus and, and help drive it. If required. It gives me the freedom because I've invested in a team that can be autonomy to their own roles. I think that's part of it. If we had a young or inexperienced team, if we had people who were constantly relying on Andrew or myself to direct them, to tell them what to do, I don't think this would have been possible if we didn't have the way you described it, Dave, about, you know, our businesses running on rails. If we didn't have that infrastructure already in place, this wouldn't be possible. If we didn't have those systems and processes already in place, this wouldn't be possible. So it's not like I was running a business that wasn't doing well or was on shaky ground and then decided to go to Barbados. I don't know that I would have made this decision if I didn't feel like the business could support it, because that would have created a whole level of stress that I can't even, I can't even quantify what that would have felt like.

(26:26): Let's take the pandemic out of the mix for a moment let's fast forward. Once this is all behind us. What would some of this remote working or building from question Mark look like in the future? I mean, do you think it's something you'd try to build in as a strategy, something you'd like to do every year and would you do it in one week, two weeks? Burt's three months spurts one-year long spreads. What, what just looking forward. How do you think that?

(26:49): So first of all, yes, I would absolutely do this again. It has been a wonderful learning experience. Being able to pull best practices from the way this culture operates and how different it is from the culture that I'm used to, I think will allow us to be better humans and how we interact with each other, with our team and our clients. So I would definitely do this again. Maybe not for six months at a time, six months was challenging for me because like a lot of people, I am a creature of habit. And so I did start to get homesick at about the three or four month Mark. I think that one or two months may not be enough for me to really explore a space the way we've had the opportunity to explore it here. I feel like a quasi local, like I really know my way around and we don't have a car here. We live in a, in a pretty populated town. So we take public transit everywhere and I feel very comfortable getting on public transit and navigating around the Island with my family. And I think that if you're only in a place for, let's say a month or two, you're still largely a tourist where we've gotten a chance to really experience the Island from a local's perspective.

(27:54): Super cool. So I've heard a rumor that, you know, while you're down here running, you know, you're part of the business from a beautiful tropical location. You've been, you've just told us that you've been onboarding new staff members, but we've also heard a rumor that you're getting ready to open a third location. Tell us what's next for you? How, how do you do all of this stuff, Evelyn?

(28:18): I don't do it alone. That's for sure. The rumors are true. So we had the plan for our second office in place before I came down to Barbados, but we officially opened our second office on my first day down here, which was pretty exciting and obviously a very, very big test because if it didn't work well, then I'm sure that would be the story a month or two ago. Now I had my genomes tested to understand how my genes work which genes I have and how they work. And one of the things that I learned about my genes is that I'm actually dopamine deficient. Although I can use up all the dopamines that I make, I don't make as much as the average person. And it helps explain how my risk reward process works. I tend to go after things that are hard because the dopamine kick that I get when I succeeded them as bigger.

(29:12): And that helps me sort of offset my dopamine. So that's sort of just a little side story. I just wanted you guys to understand that because I think that's one of the reasons I chose to come to Barbados is because to be able to say that I was able to launch a second office from Barbados is a little more impressive than saying I launched a second office. And the success that comes with that additional risk was pretty exciting for me. So coming back to where I was before. So our second office officially launched on my first here in Barbados and in the weeks and months that followed as we were able to apply all of the best practices that we had spent many years learning and honing in our first office on our second office and seeing that those best practices were working and our hypothesis were correct, and that we could create a second office and have it successful out the gate without some of the, the issues that typically play a startup around cash on hand or cashflow or pipeline.

(30:09): Well, now that we knew that was possible, what was stopping us from doing it again? So although we had started the conversations before I came down to Barbados on a possible third office, we started to really talk about it. Once we started to see the results of the second office operating well. So the third office is in the works and we're hoping to open it sometime this summer. And we already sort of have our eyes on what a fourth office could look like and where I would operate and how it would be different from our first three and who knows where we go from there. But I certainly don't want to slow down. It's been a really exciting ride. And the fact that we've been able to do it from across the world, from each other, leads me to believe that we can continue doing it under just about any circumstances. I mean, why not?

(30:58): Well, this is pretty cool. You're building freedom. And this is what we talk about so much when you're building it, not just for yourself, but for the other members of your team so that they could do do things like this too. So awesome to have you on the show. I want to follow up and get you back on in a few months to see what challenges you face. And maybe we'll talk about what it takes to open additional locations. Cause that's probably paralyzes some, some people with fear, the thought of scaling, what they have or going into other markets. And then there's a whole group of our listeners that will be empowered by that and want to hear what's worked for you and how you've done it. So thanks for sharing your story with us. We didn't get into the sewage backup on your first week or whenever that was, but we can like you come down here, something has to go wrong. Give us a situation. Yeah.

(31:51): So we came down November 1st and November. We're getting used to being in Barbados and our new space and the speed of, of everything here. And it's a little bit different. And then December happened, December was blindsided, main ways that I probably could never really explain. But in the month of December, we were left temporarily destitute because of the way the bank systems work here and how they don't actually communicate with our counterparts in Canada. We had a sewage backup in our family home while we had a renter in the family home, which costs upwards of $20,000 worth of damage that we had to manage entirely remotely. And two of our clients were the targets and thankfully not the victims of wire fraud, which had it gone badly would have defrauded them collectively more than half a million dollars. All of that happened in December while starting up the second office, running the main office, onboarding new employees and all the other stuff that I do on a regular day plus doing it remotely. That was a challenge. And I would have been flat on my if I didn't have a very large village of people helping me, whether it was my property manager in Toronto, whether it was my business partner in Toronto, whether it was my team members, my bank manager in Toronto, my husband and my kids here, my mom who flew down and has been with us since the beginning of December. I mean, it, it definitely takes a village and I'm very grateful for my

(33:23): Well we're. We're grateful for you sharing all that with us. It's super fun for anybody who wants to get ahold of you or learn more about you. What's the best way for us to have them connect with you on Instagram, you can find us at a layer homes, forest Hill and Alair homes, Markham on the web@alayerhomes.ca. And then you just have to sort of pick your, your province and, and city to find us. And then if you're interested in following, you know, my personal travels, it's every day pics on Instagram.

(33:55): All right. Very cool. Yep. Thanks Evelyn. It's a great story. I love the fact that you challenge yourself, your family, your team, and it, and it worked out for the best. And you know, I think you, you definitely have inspired a lot of us to rethink the concept of working remotely. It doesn't have to be something that's forced upon us. It might be something we revisit and think, Hey, this might be the way to do it. So thanks again for taking the time. I think we're going to have to do a builder nuggets event somewhere in the Caribbean. You've inspired us now. Dwayne, let's get on that.

(34:24): I think we should. That would be great. I'd be very happy to help plan something like that. Okay. Thanks, Abby.

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