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Duane Johns sits down with Nick Schiffer from NS Builders for a live interview from the show floor at the 2022 International Builders Show in Orlando, Florida.

Show highlights include:

  • The weird way creating content in real time helps you avoid money-eating mistakes before they happen (3:14) 
  • How to become a “building celebrity” on Instagram using nothing other than your iPhone (4:37) 
  • The massive “Repurpose” secret for turning one piece of content into 80 in an hour (5:41) 
  • How creating content lets you change your niche with ease (without sacrificing your revenue) (9:26) 
  • Why rugged transparency and honesty prevents your competitors from poaching your talent (even if they offer them a 35% raise) (11:26) 
  • The counterintuitive way rooting for your biggest competitors makes your business more profitable (16:01) 

If you’d like to connect with Nick or NS Builders, you can find their website here https://ns.builders/ and their Instagram page here: https://www.instagram.com/nsbuilders/ 

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

Read Full Transcript

So I sat there and I thought to myself, wow, what an impact, not smiling had

Welcome to builder nuggets hosted by Dwayne Johns and Dave young. Hey, our mission is simple, build freedom. We are a couple of entrepreneurs turned business coaches who have dedicated ourselves to helping our builder remodeler clients create the most rewarding businesses in the industry. My co-host Dwayne has been a successful builder and remodeler for over 30 years. He's seen the highs and the lows. From the beginning though, Dwayne has been on a quest to find a better way to run a contracting business. In 2016, he found that better way. That's how I met Dave, a lifelong entrepreneur and visionary who measures his success by the success of those around him. He reached out one day with a formula on how to transform my business and the rest is history. Since then, we've teamed up to help hundreds of contractors like you build better businesses and better lives. Now we've decided to open up our network and share our secrets so we can start moving the needle with you. It's collaboration over competition. Each week, we bring together industry peers and experts who share their stories so that we can all build freedom together.

(01:07): Man here, man. Here's to kicking off IBS 20, 22 here. I don't. It is busier than I expected here. It is busier than I expected. And I, I think as I told you before, the thing that I really like is the vibe. People seem engaged and excited to be here. Yeah. And, and I, the, I feel like there's so many things leading to that. And obviously the, the, the most obvious being like everyone hasn't done this, it's like they skipped last year and every, but it's interesting, cuz it's definitely quieter. Like a lot of we, we heard that people backed out and you know, whether it's vendors and things like that, but some vendors even, you know, they're still here, but instead of sending 20 people, they only sent in.

(01:41): But, but you're right? Like the vibe is good. People are, are, are up, you know upbeat. They want to be involved. They want to be talking to people and you know, frankly, we come and we do so much media and, and filming and, and whatnot that my time is limited to walk the show, but I don't come for that. I talk to the vendors on a regular basis. I I'm, I come to see you. I come to see every, everyone in person and, and catch up. Yeah, no, I don't even know if I've met you in person before. Have I? Well, no, we haven't met. Yeah. See, I don't even know that we had to do all of this, someone I did a talk yesterday just to get, well, he's a big shot now. So I had to do it all, I had to make a booth. I had to do all this to get him to come.

(02:17): Everyone keeps saying I'm a big shot. Like they're, they're like introducing me yesterday. Like the most well known builder. I'm like, who's giving me these, these titles. But someone messaged me yesterday. I was like, Hey, great talk. I'm glad I finally got to see you in person and know that you're real. And I was like, I've been talking to you for five years and we've never met. I was like, but, but that's and for those that, well, you know, will be watching this. He probably needs no introduction. I mean it's Nick Schiffer, modern craftsman and S builder, motif media, material mill work now. Yeah, no he's got, I think he's got handlers now. Right? You got handlers. Someone just asked me that they were like, don't you have someone that carries your backpack. And I was like, that's a great hire. I should hire someone to carry my backpack. But he is also been past guest on the podcast. And I think what I love most is that, you know what you've done, you you've built, but you've built it through in a sense, controlling your own message, you know, knowing whether it's marketing, getting video out there, whatever it is,

(03:13): You know what I like about what we're doing and what we're building is that we're doing it and sharing it in, in real time. Yeah. So I can take criticism or advice in real time and then improve what we're doing. Whether it's the building, like the, trust me, the amount of video and the amount of content we put out, there's plenty of people commenting, like that's wrong, this is wrong. Or you're an idiot or your jeans are too tight and I'll take most of those, you know, seriously and, and say, how do I improve our process or Hey, for, I used this example earlier, it's like someone might reach out and say, Hey, I've installed that product that way. And it failed. It's like, all right, well why it's like, well, because this, this and this. And it's like, man, I didn't even know that that was a thing.

(03:54): Yeah. And we can improve real time with what we're doing. Yeah. That's and going to the media side, it's like, that's such a big, that's been such a big thing for us as NS builders and how we've grown and how we've set ourself in our market is through the use of video. I, I would like to think, I can't say perfected, but I feel like we've figured it out to the point where it's like, now we can take that and help someone else, you know, Hey, we we'll give you the, the, the video content and we can help put that in, in motion where it's, you know, it's, it's, it's actually giving you the ROI.

(04:26): The thing that I find exciting about it is that it's and really when you look at Instagram, these other platforms, I mean, it it's opened it up. It's what, what a platform for all of us to get the message out there. But you know, the struggle is you look at old guys like me. And I mean, just the fact that I can get on Instagram is that that's a big challenge, but how does, and I'm sure there's tons of other builders out there. It seems like, you know what you're doing and the way that you do it and you present it in such a good way that man it's, that's overwhelming. It's how am I gonna do that? It is overwhelming. Do you need to actually bring in someone to kind of do that to full time? So find somebody, but you shouldn't trying to pull it off on your own. I guess my that's my, no, I don't. I don't think that's, I don't think that's fair. I think you can pull it off on your own. Okay. A guy asked me earlier was like, can I just film with my iPhone? Absolutely. I film, I, I still film video on my iPhone and you know, it's not a matter of like, I've chosen to, to work, like to bring Doug on. And now we own the company together, but I've chosen that path because I, I just wanted a more refined like video. Right. I, I also didn't want my time to be editing video and it wasn't something I was interested in learning. Well, and I guess that's where I was going with it is that you don't, you don't have to feel like you have to do it yourself and then come all consumed with it. Correct. There are ways you can tier this and maybe grow it over time. And right for us, like the model that we have is like a, our anchor piece of content is a long format video such as like a site visit. Yeah. But that site visit, we can repurpose that one video in, you know, 20 to 50 locations by pulling out small clips, photographs, you know, we're typically getting, you know, sometimes 80 photos out of that site visit. Yeah. You know, where it's like, Hey, we did the site visit. And then, you know, Doug's like, Hey, I got 80 photos and they're uploaded, that's 80 pieces of content. You can put anywhere. You can put on LinkedIn, you can put it on Instagram. You can put the short format videos. You can, you can dabble with TikTok. It's like, and you're the comment about overwhelming? I agree. It, it can be, and it is absolutely overwhelming, but I would relate this to product development.

(06:22): Think about where WBS have come right. In the last 10 years, it used to be like, are you using type R or Tyvec now it's, are you using type R Tyvec zip, you know, Sega blue skin. Like, and it just, the list continues using continues. And it's, you know, yes, you can choose to ignore it and just, you know, stick to your way. But in a market that if you're looking to grow, you need to create awareness. And your awareness platform today is social media. Yeah. And eventually someone's like, I I'll never be on TikTok. I'm like, you can't say that. Can't, can't say that. Yeah. If, if that decides to be new platform for us podcasting,

(07:00): We just had the barn dominium lady visit us. I was maybe 30 minutes ago, she came by here and she's blowing it up on TikTok. Yeah. You know, I mean, it's, it's, you can't, like you said, you can't discount it and say you would never do it right. And it's, you know, and, and I'm also not saying that you have to be on TikTok. Right. It's like you find what works for you and, you know, you know, know how, how it best communicates your message and your story. Yeah. So as you've been building some of this stuff out, I mean, have you found things that, wow, I'll never do that again on video or, oh, I've never been asked that question. I don't think so. I think honestly, I, you know, I don't always wa I, I used to watch every video in the beginning just to see like how I can improve or to see like how, what Doug made me look like, how awkward was I? Yeah. How, or, yeah. And, and, and there was like, there's definitely times where I finish it. I'm like, all right, that wasn't my best. But for the sake of us, like, we're not, it's not about that. It's not about like, you know, redoing and redoing and redoing a lot of what we shoot is, you know, one, you know, he's gonna hit the, the button and we're gonna record until we're done until we're done. And we, we maybe edit a little bit, but most of it's is just one shot. But for me, I just, I, I, I try to focus on like the comments and like the, the, the constructive feedback where it's like, Hey, I really appreciate that video, but I wish you spent more time walking through how you taped that window or how you did this. And I'm like, I, right. If I need to spend more time, you know, getting into the weeds of certain things or making sure that I'm answering and, and really engaging with our audience. So, yeah. I mean, I don't think there's ever been a situation where I'm like, I wish I didn't do that on video, cuz I think if there was something I did and it was, you know, put me in an awkward spot, like I'll just, I'll take that as an opportunity to learn,

(08:40): Which I think is just more supportive of the fact that just do it, get out there and do it, try it. I mean I look back at us starting this podcast. It was about a year ago and really know what the hell we were doing. Yeah. You know, and you throw some stuff out there and you get, it's the feedback, that's the value, it's the feedback that you get and you can start to tweak, make some adjustments and you get more comfortable with what you're doing. And I'm, I'm sure the same thing is to your point about whether it's capturing video, getting it out there, posting it for me, what I really like is the idea of being able to, you can truly put your message out there. Yeah. I mean that's, and that's what you're trying to do at the end. And you can also, you know, I don't necessarily wanna say cure, but you can, you, you can decide what your message is in order to position yourself for where you want to go. And that I think for me is, has proven to be pretty powerful in the sense that, you know, Hey, we wanted to get out of strictly remodels and getting into new builds. So we started thinking about what our message was through the entire company. Like who are we? Who we're NS builders? It's like, what does that mean? It's like we are home builders. It's like we, we wanted to start communicating that through and through to make sure that we were delivering the message that we, where we wanted to be. And I was having this conversation earlier. It's like, well, I've never built a house. How can I go and sell my first house? I'm like, there's nothing wrong with being honest with a potential and saying, listen, I've been remodeling for 10 years. We're we're thinking about getting into new construction. You know, if you know anyone looking to build a house, you know, feel free to reach out.

(10:03): Everybody built their first house. Right. And this is a conversation I had last year. I, I got invited to price an $8 million modern custom home. And the client called me and said, Hey, I'm just gonna cut to the chase. You've never built anything like this. Why would I hire you? And I'm like, that's a fair question. And no one's ever asked me that, but I love it. And, and why should you hire me? I still have the same resources that the other guy does. Everyone builds their first house at some point. Yeah. And yes, like that you can look at that in a, in a way where it's like, all right, well, I'm taking a risk on, on you for your first one. It's like, fine. Take, use that. Think about that. But know for what I lack in that experience, I'm gonna make up for in the effort that I'm gonna make sure that this thing kill it, nobody's gonna work harder to make this thing.

(10:44): Right. And it's like, because I have that much more to lose and that much more to gain, toGain exactly. Wanna level up, connect with us, to share your stories, ideas, challenges, and successes. The builder nuggets community is built on your experiences. It takes less than a minute to connect with us@buildernuggets.com, Facebook or Instagram want access to the resources that can take you and your team to the next level. One call could change everything. Well, that was the other thing I wanted to touch on is, you know, we talk about it a lot on the, on the podcast and you know, it's, it's the attraction thing, you know what I mean? When you're, when you're being able to put out that message, as you said, that's really aligns with who you are and who you want to be. You're also attracting, you're attracting the right clients. You're attracting the right talent. Right. Cause we all know right now that, you know, finding talent is gonna be huge. And I think that's something that everybody really needs to think about because probably your best in broad, brightest, I think when it comes to the labor pool out there, the best and brightest people are gonna be looking to companies that are giving them a better life.

(11:47): Yeah. You know, cooler culture, like whatever it is. It's I think right now the market is definitely in a, you know, people are slightly taking advantage on the financial side where it's like, they can make more money. And so they're jumping ship a little bit faster because they're significant increases. You know, I talked to someone last week and he, he lost a guy that's been with him for years and years and years. And he went and, and, and got a 70% raise. And he's like, I don't don't even know how to compete with that. Yeah. There. Yeah. And I'm like, yeah, I've been there. I I've never been at 70%, but I've been at 20, 30, 30 5%, like, you know, on a, on a, on a pretty regular basis. Yeah. And, and for me, you know, yes, it's, it's about, so going back to like attracting talent and attracting clients is that it's, that's why it's even more important for us to be transparent and honest in our, yeah. I mean, when I say attracting, I mean attracting the right ones,

(12:37): Right? Yeah. Because if we're like the biggest mistake I made early when I was hiring is that, you know, we were basically promoting who we were on social media. But when I interviewed those people, they thought that they were gonna come in and just do interior finished carpentry. It's like, but we're not an interior finished carpent company. There's gonna be days where we're taking out trash or sweeping the floors. And, and for me, I needed to be more open about that in the early conversations, cuz otherwise this kid's gonna join our team and then he's gonna be like, dude, I like, I don't wanna do this. Isn't what I wanna be doing. And it's like, why didn't you tell me that? I thought I, on social media, it looks like I just do interior finish cuz that's all you take photos of. And it's like, all right, like that's, that's really valuable feedback for me where it's like, I need to be transparent.

(13:19): I need to answer like the objections. Right? Like you think of a sales process and figure out like, right, you have to answer objections before they, they object to what you're proposing, including a job. And some of those objections are the things that they might not want to do. And it's like, listen, yeah, there's gonna be times where you might be sweeping the floor or, or picking up trash, but know that the whole company is that we're we're builders. We all wear many hats. And the best thing is, is that we're gonna work together and support each other. And when it's good and we're doing the cool stuff, it's gonna be really freaking cool. You know, there, there, there's not, it can't be that way every day.

(13:54): Well, Dave on my co-host, I mean he said it a few episodes ago and I, I love the way he coined it. He says, you talk about building, you know, a company or something that people don't wanna leave. So what if you, you know, think about it when you build a team where they don't wanna leave each other right and so again, I it's just a few minutes ago I was talking to, with a kid and it was, we were talking about educating your team and you know, offering the opportunity for, of them to learn where it's like, yeah. You know, maybe you're you send one of your supers to go to a Schluter three day training to, to understand that process. They never will install it, but they're the super, and that they're gonna oversee that install when their tile guys go on site, that information is valuable. And it's like, yeah, but what if he leaves? It's like, that's a different issue. Yeah. We're talking about the issue of train. So he knows how to do his job really, really well, him leaving. Isn't gonna be based on the fact that you just taught him something, him leaving is based on the culture and if he enjoys working for the company. Right. So that, yeah, you, you should never scale back or minimize the investment that you have to educate your team based on the fact that they might leave and take that with them. Yeah. Because it's like, what if they don't leave?

(14:57): Yeah. So they're just gonna be uneducated and not have the opportunity to grow as an individual. And it's like for what benefit that, that gives you no benefit in, in, in that immediate time. And if they did leave, like there's the writing on the wall, that something he year didn't jive. Well, and Steve bark house, one of our, you know, we've had him on a couple times and he, the last episode he had was called the people plan. And it just talks about the way he, he encourages his people and wants to understand what their growth is. And he knew there was a guy that was, was probably gonna, I mean, the guy, when a guy came to work for me, he said, look, I'm, I'm looking to do this for about eight years or so. He says, you know, I've just got fire in the belly. I wanna, I wanna start something on my own. I, I bring folks on. And, and he tells me that he he's probably gonna leave. And he says, but you know what, he's a great guy. And he's learning stuff from me. He says, he walks into his office there, you know, it was the eight year anniversary. And he says, showed up, I'm leaving, you know, I'm going out. But he ended up leaving and becoming probably one of his best competitors in the he's like, who else would I want to compete with in my market. Right. Then a guy that I know is doing stuff to right way, you know, is comparable. So you, just to your point, you can't have that scarcity mindset to think that, you know, why should I not train somebody? And I think that, like, I think that leaving, you know, like basically someone leaving and going to start like your biggest competitor. Yeah. Your immediate reaction might be like, son, I'm a. Like, you know, now it's like making my job harder, but it's like, good, good. Your job should be hard. It should be hard. You should be because you should never be at a point where you're so comfortable that you don't have to try that's. And it's like, and if someone goes out and starts a company that will directly compete with you, they have now put you in a position where it's like, you're gonna be forced to try. You're gonna be forced to innovate. And it's like, yeah, maybe you guys develop a relationship or maintain your relationship. There's builders here that I have relationships with, went out to dinner with 'em last night.

(16:35): We both, at the same time, got an email from an architect, asking us to price the job. Nice the job. And it's like, Hey, do you want that job? I don't know. Like, do you want, do you want it? I'm like, I could actually use it. It looks like a good fit. It's like, all right, look, maybe, maybe I'll back out. Or maybe I'll, you know, let's make let's talk before we submit our, our estimate. So we're, we're go going into it, apples to apples. And the, and that decision for the client and or architect is made based on fair information. And I think that when we collaborate, right, when we collaborate together as builders, and we're going into this understanding that, you know, it should, I guess what I'm getting at is it shouldn't be so competitive that, you know, we're going, trying to undercut each other and then like make it up with, with, with a change order or whatever the case is, we're going into it. We're all submitting something exactly the same. We all understand, like maybe my feet's higher or it's it's lower, but the client now is getting a fair assessment of their job rather than someone trying to pull a fast one in order to look good on paper only than turn around and screw it up later.

(17:35): Well, yeah, you can position yourselves as two amicable professionals in the industry, or you can reduce yourselves to just a commodity two guys that are just bitten for something, right. That doesn't help anybody. It doesn't help. It doesn't help our industry. And this is, you know, something that I've talked about a lot this week is that our industry is in this position is in a race to the bottom where it's like, everyone is forced to do things faster and cheaper. And it's, you know, the sooner that we can start pushing back and preventing our industry to race down at the bottom, the sooner that we all can make, including our trade partners and our vendors can make a decent living. Yeah. Where it's like, I know plenty of builders that have these trade partners. Like one, two man shows that they they're coming in. They're doing tile work. And it's like, you know, they come in, Hey, it's 30 grand a tile. It's like, I need you to be at 20. It's like, yeah, no problem. I'll do it at 20.

(18:25): And it's like, you do that. You do that. You do that. And then it's like, when you don't have work for him and he's now he's relying on that 20 grand. And he, he doesn't have that extra 10 grand as a nest egg that might be in a bank account. And you decide to stop building like, what's that do to him. He's he never was given the fair opportunity to make a good living because it was always faster, cheaper, faster, cheaper, faster, cheaper. And the other side of that is the quality where it's like, all right, well maybe he did it at 20 quality suffered and now 20 grand you're, that's what you're carrying as your allowance on every job. So how do you ever get back to the quality that's supposed to be? There's not the re the, the financial resource to get it back there. Yeah. He, he is limited to the money that you've set in that budget and you can never return back to the quality and you can, and what you've done is you've commoditized. You, you just, you simply can, it commoditize custom construction, whether it's custom building custom remodeling. And when I say that, that doesn't mean you're not gonna be trying to get the best value for your client. If that's not the point, the point is you can't. And what I think is even worse than thinking of when you think, say commodities, you think of things like, you know, lumber sticks and bricks. But I mean, when you start to commoditize the relationships, right, you're not gonna get that back.

(19:31): No. And it's, you know, it's so shortsighted and it's for the immediate gain where it's like, if you looked at everything as a long term investment, it's like, what's the best scenario for, I'm just gonna use this tile guys as an example, what's the best scenario for this tile guy? Well, the best scenario is that he gets paid for, you know, for his value, not the, as he works, if he does it faster, great, like he gets paid for it, the value he brings and for the quality he puts out. And it's like, we want to talk with, you know, we, we talk with all our partners and like, we, I want the best out of you. I want the best work out of you. Yeah. So how do I, what do you need from me? I'll have that conversation right up front. It's like, well, I price this job as a half day's worth of work.

(20:12): And if I had all day, I could do a better job. Like you have all day. Yeah. You have all that. Like, and, and I know he's doing that because he's been pushed and pushed and pushed by everyone else for the last 10 years and do it cheaper, do it faster where it's like, I wanna bring you back to why you got in this industry. You didn't get into this industry because you wanted to be pressured to do it cheaper. And you got in this industry because you like Lance tile because you like, and you wanted to make a fair living at it. Yeah. So you're here IBS. Maybe real quick, just tell everybody what you got going on. I mean, you've got NS builders, you've got the modern craftsmen. You've got the media company. What's a little bit of everything. NS builders is really, you know, in the last two years, this whole pandemic looked at everything internally and like how we can improve our systems really focus on architecturally distinct homes really, really want to be working with people that are looking to build their forever home. Yeah. You know, with an immense amount of detail in attention to detail and, you know, an overall cons concern for like what they're building and, and how it impacts, you know, the greater good. Yeah. We separated the cabinet tree portion of NS builders. And that is material mill. Big reason that is, that is that I brought Kenon as a partner on material. And we wanted an opportunity where material wasn't, the cabinets just wasn't producing for NS builders, but had the opportunity to be a scale eligible business. So we could build a more profitable business around that rather than have it just be a something that NS builders benefited from. Right. We can open that up to builders around the us. So we're shipping us all around the us. We just ship a piece of furniture out to Arizona, right. So we do a cabinetry mill and then the media plus

(21:45): It was probably time to be its own entity and its own totally core values and direction and all that. Exactly. And same thing with the media company is that we wanted to, I want Doug started his own company years ago and brought him on full time. And I was like, I want, I want you to have a, a bigger piece in this and I want you to, I want, I wanna do this together. And I want to give you an opportunity to build this into a bigger business that we can, you know, mutually, you know, be watered for it. Yeah. And of course the modern craftsmen, I mean, that's, that is just, you know, a beast in its own. We, we, every week recording two, three hours getting that up online. So, oh, I know we we're, we're probably booked out for the next six, seven months with great guests. And you know, something we talked about for this year is starting to expand out. So out of just the building industry. Right. And let's talk about craftsmanship in general. Let's talk about what craftsmanship means in, in food and in, in tattoos, which Tyler, you know? Yeah. Tyler's tattoo guy. So I'm like, let's get some guys on and talk about that. Yeah. And we've had some, you know, previous guest Jonathan Ward from icon four by four, he was an amazing human being to talk to. And it's like, those are the com. We want to have people that are risking everything to put the, the very best product out there. Right?

(22:56): Yeah. No doubt. Well, ick, it's, it's a great having you here sharing with us. And as we've said before, and the quote, norm collaboration over competition, I whole platform is on collaboration is what's all about folks like you that are making the industry better. So keep doing what you're doing, man. I appreciate it. Dwayne, take care.

Hey, thanks for listening, Dwayne and I love hearing from you. Your stories are inspiring and your challenges can be overcome. Got a cool tip idea for a show problem that you haven't been able to solve, or maybe just struggling to figure out what you need next and where to get it. We can help hit us up@buildernuggets.com and start building freedom.

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