We're all business owners. We just happen to have a construction business.
Welcome to builder nuggets, hosted by Dwayne Johns and Dave young. Hey, our mission is simple. Build freedom, where a couple of entrepreneurs turn business coaches who have dedicated ourselves to helping our builder. Remodeler clients create the most rewarding businesses in the industry. My cohost 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. And 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): Our guest today is president and founder of a finer touch construction, a Scottsdale based luxury, residential and commercial builder AFT construction is known throughout the industry is an award-winning construction firm and has been nationally published in magazines, such as fine home, building Lux, interiors, and design and professional builder. He is also a fellow podcaster. Many of you may be familiar with his show, the AFT construction podcast, which is focused on bringing value to its listeners. No matter their industry, the topics are focused on marketing, social media, entrepreneurship organization, building science and construction. It's my pleasure to welcome industry icon and Instagram superhero, Brad Livet to today's show. Welcome Brad. Thanks for having me excited to be here guys. Yeah. Yeah. It's always good To have a Superhero on the show, man. I think that's a far stretch, but I appreciate it. Oh, let's make it happen. Let's make it happen. Yeah, we just go, we gotta get you a Cape of some sort. My Kids would love That goes good with flip flops.
(02:01): Those are on the way to two. So We'll tell you about that later. I've been a big fan of your podcast, the AFT construction podcast for years, and you know, if it followed you on the social channels and I was introduced you by Ted brain bridge when we were down at the international builder show in Orlando, um, you know, it's interesting how, how, how big and broad this industry is at the end of the day. It's also pretty small. There's a lot of folks that kind of run in some common circles, but, you know, for any of our listeners out there that might not really know who you are or give us a little bit of your background, your backstory, and you know, how you got started, where you are today. Yeah. Thanks Dwayne. As you mentioned, it's a small world, right? And, and, and you kind of alluded to this in the beginning of social media. It's amazing the, the connection between marketing and social media and how that connected us, but we'll get back to that later. You know, I, I, I own a company here in Scottsdale. We build, um, primarily new construction, commercial, residential, and on the residential side, we focus on the high end luxury. So we have some pretty neat projects. We we've been fortunate to be selected to do the national home of the year, which is a net zero, uh, energy efficient bill is for mark Laliberte, who again is another industry professional and, and Ted Bainbridge, you know, we're working on, on his bill due, uh, for his home. So, you know, Scottsdale is just a unique market that way. And, uh, and then from there, you know, we have homes that have lazy rivers and gun ranges and, you know, all kinds of fun, little elements to 'em. And so it's something that, uh, you know, every day is a different challenge for
(03:21): Sure. Is there a little bit extra pressure when you're building for somebody who's party or network and another influencer? What, what does that feel like to you? Is it, is it more exciting? Is it scary or is it a combination? You know what, Dave, that's, that's a really good question. I, I, I wouldn't say it's intimidating, but it's definitely something you have to really make sure your ducks in row. And, and I can say early on as a company, you know, if, if you had to rewind back when I first started the company back in 2013, so we're coming up on our 10 year anniversary, uh, next March, but, um, there's no way we'd have been prepared, right. But now as the company's progressed and we have some amazing people, super talented we've, we've, you know, systems, organization understanding how that Baton moves between each portion of the company, you know, it's today, it's not as intimidating. And, and I actually seek out to those opportunities, you know, to collaborate with Mark Tate, for example, or Ted who have been in the industry, who know a lot of people in the industry have a lot of understanding of the building process. It just makes it my job much easier. Right now we're dealing with a lot of complication with supply chain and labor, but they're in it. They live it, they breathe it, they understand it. And so now it's just, okay, how do we make this work? You know, budget wise, which is always a big thing. And, and so I find that very rewarding because they, they understand what we're going through and, and that always makes it a level playing field from setting expectations.
(04:40): It, it feels like it makes it more of a true collaboration as well, versus a client who doesn't understand these things. And you're managing maybe fear or trepidation instead of managing knowledge and different expectations. Yeah. And I think one thing in construction, you know, and this is something I learned earlier in my career is a lot of times we don't ask enough questions, right. And maybe we don't wanna seem him, like we have the answers. And I, especially as a general contractor, there's times where we may be directing a trade partner, you know, and, and they may have a different understanding to the process. And we may not understand what they're going through and we're reluctant to ask them why or how right. And what I found with mark, for example, there's some details in his home, this building science house, that's net zero that I've never built before. Right. Or my team hasn't, but just having your guard down saying, Hey, mark, like walk us through this detail. What is this? And he's helped me do that even for my YouTube channel. Right. To just make sure that I'm understanding exactly the process here and, and the purpose of it. And so I find it very educational as well, by willing to just ask the question and then it becomes more of a collaboration. Yeah. It's, it's interesting. We, we speak on the show often about some of these, uh, some of these elements, and we've noticed we have a lot of leaders on the, on the show, obviously that are sharing messages around this and are thriving. And one of the hallmarks of a good leader is the ability to accept leadership as well, and not be afraid to embrace somebody else's expertise and, and make it truly collaborative. So it sounds like you're doing just that.
(06:11): eah. To that point. I mean, as you think about that, David's, um, without going all the definition of leadership is that yeah. I mean, there's a big aspect of that, of, of really understanding, right. Seeking a listen of great leaders of good listeners. But additionally, as you think about just organizationally, you know, you're setting up your business when you find, and this is something that took me some time when you find someone that can, and, and I actually had Zach debt more on my podcast and he had mentioned this. He said, if someone could perform your responsibility at 60%, it should be delegated. And you're thinking, well, 60%, I mean, that's like, you know, it's not a hundred percent by, Yeah. That's not good enough. No, it, for us that tend to maybe be micromanagers. It's hard to do that. But as you understand that, Hey, I have good people that maybe at this time, they're 60%, but they can grow into a hundred percent or better than I was. And so understanding that and putting people in the right roles to be successful, you know, asking those questions and then understanding the feedback from your field and your team and your operation, you know, just, it continues to refine that process.
(07:12): You know, all of us start off probably doing some, whether it's maybe not glamorous stuff, you know, and there's certainly a lot of mistakes. And, you know, we learn along the way. And sometimes that's when the, the most learning comes in a, in the most condensed period of time, you know, is when you make those mistakes and have to kind of figure things out and change. I've found that too with, with teams, you know, when you're building out teams and you've got really good people, as you said, even, even if they maybe they only have 60%, you know, 65% of that skillset to do it, you watch the, you watch the good people make a mistake. They're gonna quickly seek out a better solution. Maybe, maybe even than you had the first time. You know, so I mean, out of, out of those errors and mistakes usually comes some great successes and, and things to move forward. So it's, uh, that's a point to hammer home for sure. The, the question to ask at that point, you know, with your 60% example is if you're getting out of the way that frees you up to spend your time in a different way, how are you gonna use that time to make better investments in them? How are you gonna make sure that they have the tools, the skills, the training, and the support from you, it shifts from you doing it to you, supporting them to do it. Uh, and then it becomes scalable. And that may be the, maybe that's what, uh, he was talking about with the 60%. That's sort of the baseline that you need to make that next investment and then give them the autonomy, help them with the mastery. And you know, now you've got a committed individual, who's got some freedom to put their own stamp on the project and grow. So if you have people that are constantly growing your business is constantly growing.
(08:39): Yeah. And, and those are good points. Uh, Dave, and, and to build on that, Dave, I mean, just your comment about stepping back a little bit, focusing on the business. This is something that took me some time to understand as a business owner, you know, and, and, and it's kind of a catch 22 when you're thinking of a business that you're growing. You know, a lot of people that they're, they're running the whole operation, right. Especially in construction, and then you make your first hire and then maybe you're second hire. And, and, and there becomes a point, you know, where you have to really decide, you know, the kind of the goal of the company. And really for us, it's like, I don't wanna be the biggest town, but I'm not gonna be the smallest guy either. You know, I understand kind of a, a happy medium there, but, but still to really play in this field, like I have to out the operation site. And, and we grew as a company with these complex projects and clients and, and timelines that I had an amazing precon team, you know, was doing my pre-construction. And then I have an amazing field team out in the field, but I was still lacking something. And, you know, by, by being able to step away and look at the business, and this is something that on out soon on my social media channels is I just promoted one of my, uh, top people in the field to be my director of operations. And the reason I did that is, you know, this was a balance where my field operation, although they were good, they're, you know, they're struggling like everybody with schedules and labor. And a lot of times we're using maybe a cabinet company, that's doing three or four of our projects. And so there's some crossover where the supers are fighting for the same cabinet company.
(10:07): And I really didn't have anyone that had the time to oversee that operation. Whereas now my director can go through and he can strategize with my clients. He can strategize with, uh, my, my trade partners with my, my superintendents. And he can build this a master schedule with them, with our trade partners to make this much more organized. And it was funny going back to our conversation about mark Laliberte. I sat down with him and said, Hey, this is what I plan on doing, because this is something we're lacking. And he's like, it's genius. Like, it's just an amazing element to have just another set of eyes out there. And again, it goes back to having someone that, you know, being able to pull away and focus on the business. You can refine kind of your methods as a business owner. And I mean, collaboration is, is huge. It's a foundation of why Dave and I even started this podcast in the first place. You know, when you and I had spoke several weeks ago, it's, it's really apparent your belief in, in collaboration and how it leads to, you know, being such a huge part of success in any business, frankly, what was it that led you to become such a collaborator? I mean, when was that point that you started to say, Hey, you know what, it's, this is not necessarily like a trade secret thing that I've just gotta collect and, you know, put in my vault it's, it's EV it's more beneficial if I get this stuff out there and share it. I mean, when was that moment?
(11:18): You know, it's a really good question. D I don't know if there's so much like a tipping point like this, like ideology, like click moment, but what I will say is having in your career, right. And I look at certain instances of mentors I've had in my career. And one common theme with all of them is that, uh, they weren't afraid to collaborate and there's this confidence, right? People have either the mentality of abundance or mentality of scarcity. And what I've found is that very successful people have the mentality of abundance. And, and really what that means is they're confident in, uh, either their personality or they're confident in their networking or in their process. And so they're not worried about the competition because they're always looking to the next, next thing, right. They're always trying to create that next thing and kind of pivot the business.
(12:00): And I had, there was a guest I had, or I, I should say a client of mine, and he's one of the top like cosmetic dentists. And what I learned from him, like he travels all over the country. He trains other dentists about cosmetic dentistry. He shows them a different arm of the company where they could be more profitable. And he became this huge thought leader in the industry. And he was always big on this, uh, mentality of abundance. And so what I learned from that is that, Hey, I could take a similar ideology in the construction world. You know, I've been fortunate to work with some amazing clients, some amazing mentors, you know, I have some amazing people that have some great ideas. And so why not show them why not put that out there because really by educating the public, yeah. There may be competitors that watch this stuff, but I don't worry about that because we have our brand, we have our company and we have our ideology. And so I know that our, our clients watch this stuff, they learn they're educated. And then we became, you know, the, the contractor of choice for them. So I just see a lot of opportunity and it's just going back to collaboration. It's opened up now, I network with builders all over the country that have helped refine my process. So even things maybe where I was lacking, they've helped integrate, you know, changes or information that we've applied that have made us a better contractor.
(13:13): Well, I may need a hook up with that dentist. , , You've had a few different mentors, uh, over the course of your career. Tell us about a few of them and how you made that connection and what it's resulted in Really good question. Dave, I'll, I'll speak of one that, uh, probably one of my most closest business mentors, in fact, back in 2011. So just a quick background for point of reference. I, I grew up in the industry as electrician grew up in San Diego. I did construction management at BYU. I moved to Phoenix, oh five. And I worked for, uh, two different building companies. You know, one was a production building for my first year outta college, but I always wanted to custom home. So I went into the custom home world in 2006, and then in 2011 had a change in my career and a client of mine, Dave Clark, who was, um, he was a client at the time when I was working for him as a GC. When I went out on my own, he mentored me. So he's like, Hey, Brad, I wanna partner with you.
(14:11): You know, I, I kind of have, he was a big entrepreneur. And so he was going down these channels of, um, working with the military and he is working in the food industry. So not really related to construction, but he pulled me aside. He's like, Brad, you should start a construction company. And I was like, I don't know. You know, I kind of know the challenge of started a construction company. I've done that. And he is like, no, I really believe in you. Like, you need to do it site. If it wasn't for him, I would not have started AFT. Right. And here we are now, but his mentorship, just, just watching him look around corners, you know, understand the balance sheet, understand how to position your company financially, to be successful on whether the storm, how to put brick and mortar behind you, right. How to, to again, collaborate with people inside and outside of your industry. And just how to have these very high level conversations with executives and how to keep things very above board. Never make things personal when, when, when you get into any disputes. Right. And so he just had this candor and manner about 'em that just, I got to see, I mean, he helped me, he backed me financially to start AFT. And so that's where, you know, he's probably my biggest business mentor because I was able to see him in so many different fields and just how he conducted himself. So you still a partner in the business now?
(15:26): So he, he was, unfortunately, he passed away just a, about a month ago. So I spoke at his funeral back in June and, um, his son works for me. So his son's one of my superintendents and he's a rockstar, so, Oh, that's great. We love hearing about the rock stars. One of the things that Dwayne and I ask when we're doing business assessment. So it's one of the things we do where we, uh, one of the ways we help builders is to dig into their business and we have about 23 different things that we dig into. One of the, one of the interesting questions we always ask is who's in your mastermind now. And we've found that many builders don't have a mastermind that they're working with. There are masterminds out there. There's groups like remodelers advantage or builder twenties, uh, to some extent, this is done through a home builder's association. They seem to be looser masterminds who's in your mastermind. And how did you develop it?
(16:17): Uh, good question. So I think there's a, a few ways I can take this. I would say generally speaking, there's a, there's a builder here in Scottsdale rod column, call him homes. Who's, uh, you know, he's at a point in his career, he's built his business and he's, he's, um, gonna be retiring soon, but he's built this amazing company. He's one of those few guys that put his arm around me and was just like, Hey, Brad, here's what you need to do. He never saw me as a competitor. He saw me just as somebody else, again, that mentality of abundance. Right? And so he said, Hey, Brad, in and builder 20. So you referenced this, you know, Dave is, is first, early on four years ago. A big part of my growth was my filter 20. Uh, fortunately I was invited to be part of the original, the very first builder toy group that was ever organized back in 1994 through NHB.
(17:01): And it was huge because this group, you know, a lot of the builders who in their sixties, and they're like, Hey, Brad, you coming to help us with marketing and social media and will help you with the business operation. And so that was just huge, right? To just understand how to build properly, how to do what they do in cost plus lump sum, and just understand the in and outs right. Of, of setting structure. Essentially. Now I've been working on creating my own naite group. And so we started, uh, Nashville was our first, um, contractor coalition summit. And we're hop our next one in, in Huntington beach in November. And really this is with a builder, uh, Nick with NS builders, outta Boston, and then Morgan and Jamie, Adam, Minnesota, who specialize in the remodel world. And so it's kind of three of us on different, you know, west coast, east coast, Midwest, you know, different product types. And then understanding, you know, this conference, we, we instruct other contractors and put 'em into our mastermind, walking through. This is how you set up a company. This is how you build, this is how you do your scheduling. This is your process. This is hiring, right? Like everything we need to know as a business owner on that three day summit. And so then the beneficiary of the mastermind, and now trying to pay that back, you know, on the flip side.
(18:13): Yeah. That, that's great. It's amazing how many people don't know where to start. And again, it's the scarcity abundance, uh, conflict that many have in their head and, and sometimes being afraid to share what you don't know. And Dwayne and I have talked about this before in the show, too, when you, when you share what you're uncertain about, or you share what you don't know, it's amazing how many people who do know will rally to help you or provide you with support. And then over time, you figure out ways to add value back to them. And that's how, that's how the collective mastermind just gets stronger and stronger. Dwayne said this early on the conversation we was talking about social media collaboration is that I've, you know, I even have a lot of builders that'll reach out and will say, Hey, Brad, can I ask you a question? Right. And so, and, and I'm happy to, you know, drive into an appointment, have a quick 20 minute call with them. And what I've found is that a lot of times you just have to ask the question, right? And so, you know, Instagram has made this construction world really small, and we could connect with a lot of like minded individuals, just for those little questions that, you know, I don't know how builders did it 20 years ago, without those, those tools.
(19:14): Yeah. It's hard to do it over facts or writing a, writing a letter. And there's tons of ways, too. Even if you wanna start small, you know, reach out to your, to the NHB, to, to NA or modelers groups, there's there's mentorship programs, they might not be well known. You know what I mean? You might have to dig a little bit to find them, but, um, I'm, I'm even, I talked to somebody two days ago through, uh, you know, one of those programs and it's just, it was a young, young builder and the upper Midwest, you know, and he was just having some struggles, you know? And like you said, just to hop on the phone and, and share a little bit of knowledge and that's, that's what it's about. And I know folks like you and, and Nick, Nick's been on the podcast several times with us, you know, it's, it's, it's, we understand the importance of, of making the industry better as a whole, you know, and that's how all of us, I think, gained our, our experience and our knowledge is through, through those, those few people that are willing to share. And I think creating that kind of culture and collaborating together, and it's up to us. I mean, as we're building our teams out and encouraging, I encourage everybody on my team to share and collaborate with others. You know what I mean? That's, that's really, what's gonna push the industry forward. There's no doubt. You know, we did an episode a while back titled that's a relationship and not a transaction, and I can't help, but think that, you know, relationships have gotta be a huge part of your success.
(20:34): 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook or Instagram, Want access to the resources that can take you and your team to the next level. One call could change everything for you. What does that look like when you have a relationship, whether it's with a trade or, or a market partner, maybe something out there that some of the listeners could, could take away as a nugget And, and it could be any, yeah. Any collaborator really, but it all starts with making a connection, I think. And you found unique ways to make those connections, turn them into relationships, but to Dwayne's point share with us what those relationships have meant.
(21:18): Uh, sure. I think this is a topic I could probably speak on for a couple hours. So we better be careful here. Yeah. and, and I think it's, it's every avenue, I think a lot of us and this isn't, you know, understand the context. This is not a self serving. This is not a selfish thing. It's just understand, like, as you meet people, right? Like what value can I bring to anybody I meet? Right? And, and then that reciprocity will build itself over time and always look at value, right? Value of relationship and conversation. And what I found is, um, I, I look at a few of just in, in any aspect of life, like, I love basketball. I love golf. Like I play a lot of basketball. And so through the basketball leagues, and I've built friendships with amazing people, and these are the same people now hiring me to build their house.
Right. So you never know how those relationships kick off and then how they come to fruition. And it's just, you're always planning seeds, right? You're always plant seeds. And that's why I speak about the power of LinkedIn all the time. Like LinkedIn to me, is something where you can post every day. You can be out there. I've, I've had many peers of my neighbors, friends network that are like, Brad. I knew you're in construction, but now senior post every day and senior face come off of my feet. Now I know what you really do. Right. When I build my house, I'm gonna call you. But, but then you could also, I, I don't wanna say leverage, but there's, for me, I found with social media is such a big part of this as I'm, you know, posting and collaborating with brands, right? Kohler and subs, Wolf, and P and builder trend.
(22:37): And, you know, these are products I use in all of my builds. And what I found is whether I attend the build shows or at networking events, that they're a part of. I always meet them who read your social media. I get to know them, right. Build a relationship where it's a lot more of a personal relationship way outside of just posting and tagging. If you know, where I could call them and talk to 'em. And so now it's collaboration between brands right now, it's collaboration where, Hey, without calling out any vendor, so may see some product supply chain. And now I have a relationship with the parent, right? The, the, the people, and I could call 'em and text 'em and say, Hey guys, I'm in a bind. I need some help here, you know, and, and, and they'll deliver, right. And I don't wanna say who they are, cause I don't want it to seem like they're favoring me over someone else. But the reality is this relationship industry. And even the social media, I have one recommendation. I have to anybody as they get into collaboration where companies will, you know, collaborate or sponsor, or, um, maybe give free product. I think as for us, as the user, we should always give more than our contracts. So if we're contracted for a certain amount of media content that we produce, what's produced more, right. Always give, give more and that'll just build that relationship moving forward.
(23:48): Yeah. The, the relationship, uh, when you have it, it overrides the, uh, commodity mindset. Somebody else may just be a commodity and gets treated like one. And they, maybe they act like one, but by acting like a true partner and collaborating and developing that, cultivating that relationship, you have more opportunity for problem solving and, and access and all those sorts of things because you're, you're proactive and you're benefiting each other more and you want to continue to, to leverage that it do. Do you ever find, I think you were touching on this or alluding to it a little bit, that because of your social media presence, because of the way that you've put yourself out there and how much you've shared already about yourself and about your business and about challenges or opportunities that people feel like they have a relationship with you before they even meet you. Uh, that's the goal, right? I think that's what anyone listening should hopefully understand is that I, you know, I always tell them like, I, there may be nerves or maybe you may be self-conscious. So like, put that camera up in front of you, but just do it, build that personality, build that persona. And what I've found is that now when I'm meeting with clients or, or prospects, you know, and I look at YouTube like, and this is really good advice, even for me to always continue to hear for myself, is that look on my YouTube channel. I think I only have like 3,500 or 4,000 subscribers. So, and I've been doing YouTube for a long time and I've put a ton of video out there. Um, so the follower content is not huge, right? It's I don't make any money off YouTube just to be transparent here.
(25:16): But the value is much bigger than that. What I find now is clients, when the research in certain topics, right, maybe ICF or, you know, certain, you know, what does it take to build a custom home? These are topics I've spoken about. And then even prospective clients that are looking about hiring AFT that go on my YouTube channel, watch like 20 videos that I just went through this a couple weeks ago, clients were from California and they said, Hey Brad, before we met, we feel like, we know, cuz we just watched 20 for YouTube videos. And so what ends up happening is there's this comfort. Right? And, and I've found that now it's just, okay, does budget work? Does schedule line? If so, let's take the next step. And so it really cuts out that betting process because you know, they feel like they do know me or they feel like they know our brand.
(26:01): Yeah. There's, there's a huge power in that attraction. Right. That's really what what's happening. A lot of times we talk with builders that are trying to figure out who the right avatar is and who they should go after. And whether it's, you know, most of the time they focus on who's my ideal client. And then we work with them to say, well, you, you need to be figuring out your ideal teammates, your ideal market partners, staff, EV everything, your ideal suppliers. And when you come full circle around that, you realize I need to be the who for them. I need to be the one I need to be the avatar that they're all looking for. And it's very apparent that that's what, that's a strategy that you've implemented. And now you get to be the buyer so to speak and that people are coming to you. They know you, they already want you you've built that you built that attraction magnet and the right people are self-identifying. And that's really a, an amazing marketing strategy when you get there. But sounds like it's the heck of a lot of work for you too.
(26:57): Yeah. It's a lot of work. I mean, there's a lot of time, but, but you have to understand too that the demographics different too. So for me, like I'm, you know, I, the demographic, as you mentioned, ideal client, well, some may be on Instagram. Some may be on LinkedIn, some may be on YouTube and so you have to hit all those channels. So there's a lot of work, but you can cross use the content. You can cross collaborate between those platforms. And I think it's important too, that we don't compare. I mean, you know, when I look at like, what Matt's do and Matt writes like, or Nick Schiff or who he mentioned are like Kyle step and horse with our buildings. I mean, our, our products, our brands, like what we're, I don't wanna say selling, but like, what we're doing is completely different and our markets are different. And so just understand, like, just be yourself. Like, I I'm me, I'm Brad. I'm not gonna be anybody else. I'm not gonna compare myself to them. I have my brand, I have my, you know, my goals and what I wanna do for our firm. And, and, and I have to just stay true to that.
(27:50): Yeah. And that's the magnet that's usually important right there, because it will resonate with the, with the people that you are wanting to do business with or interact with. And that's, that's a freedom. The, the freedom of relationship that you no longer are, you know, trying to take every client, you know, you have the ability to pick and choose. And that's amazing because your clients are the ones that, you know, your, your team can make happy. And there's, there's nothing more frustrating to a, a project manager than to get assigned a, a client that's nearly impossible to work with because you made a business decision to take this job. And we joke around that no project ever gave a review. It's always the people . And so having the luxury and ha having invested the time to create those relationships in advance really puts you in good stead.
(28:36): And you said it earlier, Brad, about, you know, asking someone more of your trades, um, someone that's kind of an expert at what they do and it's, and I've found anyway, it seems like those folks that really are experts at what they do. They're, they're also passionate about what they do. They want to talk about what they do. And I've talked to a lot of builders or modelers about this, that, you know, that relationship that you build with them over time. There's an opportunity that I think some folks miss out on. And that's the fact that, that they're gonna be huge advocates for you. You know, they're gonna help you close and land a project, you know, to bring those people in. Um, when you're talking with clients, you know, in some of those early stages of a project, bring, bring in the expertise of some of those other key trades, you know, and I'm, how much do you rely on that? And how much do you kind of position those folks as, as the experts on your extended team?
(29:26): So, one thing I speak about all the time, Dwayne, it's funny, you tee this up is, uh, silent salesman, right? And, and again, going back to mentor, this was a term I heard probably 11 years ago and I'm like, salesman, what is that? And they said, anyone that sells your brand, it's not on your payroll. Right. And for any company be successful, you have to have this base of silent sales people, right. Silent sales men, if you will. And when you think about brands that are successful, you know, uh, like luxury brands, you know, like apple or Louis Baton, or, you know, you go in, there's an experience, right. You go in and it's like the packaging and you know, the customer service and, you know, so we, all of us market, you know, whether we're wearing air Jordans or whatever, right. And so a huge thing is how do you build your brand for people take 'em on that emotional journey where now they feel connected, right? And this goes back to personality that goes back to maybe preaching site cleanliness on your job sites, or, you know, the thought leadership net, zero sustainability and educate the public. And so you're, these people are like one day, I'm not ready, but I'm build with, have maybe ready now. So I'm refer referrals of for years to our platforms. And again, they're selling our brand. They don't work for me. They're not on my payroll, but they're selling us and you have to create and cultivate that culture of people that do that. And that allows you really to grow as a business.
(30:54): Do you feel that that's, um, created that fandom so to speak has been created because even though you may not necess have had necessarily have had an interaction with them, but that, because social media is allowing you to deliver an experience to them, like you've given them something they're, they've developed confidence. Um, and it could be that you have had an interaction and it just wasn't the right time, but you delivered a, a stellar experience, but it, it seems like you're also delivering an amazing experience to people who aren't your clients yet may never be. But they're the ones who are saying, learning about you and have an affinity for the brand and a trust in the brand and feel confident putting their own status on the line by recommending you, because there are people who love to do that, share what they think, share an opinion about who would be good when they hear you're contemplating a project.
(31:45): Yeah. When you speak about experience, I'll, I'll give one example. So early on, when I started social media, that kind of helped catapult us very early on, uh, going back to that tagline, the emotional journey, right? So we had a house on a construction and it was at frame stage. So the house was framed and I did a video and some photos, I have one of those big, um, it's like a roller magnet. So it's like, you can roll it around. And the framers had just finished. And so I had one of my assistant supers, he's walking around the entire house, picking up all the nails, right? So it nails and screws. So he's taking his magnet through the dirt and pick these up. And then I show the photo of all the ones, like a little bucket full of all the nails and screws that had been picked up all through the dirt, like all around the house.
(32:28): And that thing went viral. And the reason being is so many people said, you know what? I moved into my house, you know, production house, my kids stepped on a nail or I was doing my landscape and I kept, kept digging 'em up. Or if you care about this, that no one will receive. And it shows you actually care about the quality of construction in the field. And so personally that experience just hit home with so many people that have gone through the building experience. And what I realized is that as a builder, right, there's these little things that we do that may seem mundane, but in a lot, for most of us, it's going over the top or doing extra step. And by just showcasing that, Hey, here's something we do that we're looking out for. And it just, that experience really resonated with people. And then they became like a silent sales person. Right. Cause they're like, if you're doing that, like you're building my home. No doubt. Yeah. Well, that's good. You're a Michelin out as sponsors, but, um, it's true. , it's the little things that people have experienced that, you know, I I've had nails and my tires or, or my wife has had that, and it's no fun to be broken down and, you know, people, people get that stuff it's personal. So yeah, that's,
(33:34): It's real. Yeah. It's relatable. It's very relatable. People can get to it. So I'm gonna spin it a little bit back into the, the business side of things. You know, one of the things that Dave and I, one, one of the reasons we even started the podcast and tried to get the message out there is, you know, we're, we're very passionate about helping folks and, and getting folks like you to share with other folks ways to create what we call a rewarding business stats are, are there for anybody to see there's, it's, it's, it's all too common for folks to put in 25, 30 years of their career, you know, and, and, and, you know, make a good living, be good builder model or whatever. But at the end, there's not a whole lot, you know, maybe not much that they could either pass on or, or give, or certainly nobody to walk up and, you know, stroke that check form and rewarding can be different for everybody.
(34:16): But no matter what that is, you know, there's, there's key things that people have to be working on and put into their business over time so that it can get to that point where it's rewarding, you know, whether that's something that runs without them gives the owner more free time, you know, is giving, uh, the other folks in the business, you know, more opportunities, things like that. But I mean, to you, I mean, what does that kind of look like? What does, what does a rewarding business look like to you and what do you have planned for going forward?
(34:41): Now? That's a really good question. And this is something I think, when you think about like the definition of success, right. Well, what does that mean? I think for everybody it's different. And I think the most, the most important part as a business owner, or I should say the soul searching part is what, what is it that motivates you as a business owner? Is it like wealth? Is it creating like money, right? Or is it having a nice house like cars? Is it travel? Is it, uh, being the biggest company in town? Is it, you know, volume and, and understanding how this plays on the personal side, I can speak to me personally, what I've realized is that for me, it's time, right? Like my value proposition is time and I love building the business, you know? And I think one thing we, we fail to realize in construction is that we're all business owners.
(35:30): We just happen to have a construction business. So we really have to understand we're a business owner. And now how do we set that up for me? It's like, I'm at a point in my life where I'm fairly young. I love to travel. And so to set up my operation where I can have the backlog, I can have the personnel, I can have the detail, right. That if I go away with my family on vacation, cuz I love spending time with my family. Then the business is not gonna suffer. And so that's, what's rewarding to me is to build a business where I can step away and it's still self-sufficient and everyone understands their role and they're pushing forward and they're, they know exactly what they need to do to be successful. And for me, that's, that's the, that's the value, right? That's I, I cuz now I have time I can go golf with my clients. I can go sell jobs. I can, you know, do all the things I love to do. Uh, but I have the time to do it. But Dave and I talk about a lot. It's really the word that comes to us as options. You know, if you can get to the point where your business is, is thriving, not just, you know, running without you, but I mean thriving without you, without it being required. You're so into the weeds, you know, every day it just frees up the options as you should, you then have options for, well, you know what I like what I'm doing, I wanna do more of it or I'm gonna expand or you know what? I only wanna work 12 hours a week or whatever, having the options that's really rewarding.
(36:49): And I agree. I think that's a key word. Right? Do, when you say options, let me just understand that there are options. If I wanna spend 14 hours on office tomorrow, you know, I could do that. If I wanna take off at 2:00 PM to 10, one of my kids' events the next day I can do that. And so that flexibility, I mean, is, is tremendously valuable. You talked about time or you, you focused in on time there. My business coach is a, a guy by the name of Dan Sullivan and he talks about, um, the freedom of time, the freedom of purpose, the freedom of relationship, the freedom of money, all of those things. You know, when you have all of those together, you can create a really exceptional business. But one of the, one of the outside looking in things that I think affects our industry is, and any, um, or really any business is that there's the perception that the owner is the one who's getting all of the benefit or the majority of the benefits. So when Dwayne and I are coaching on this, we use the word rewarding on purpose you, in order to have a rewarding business, it has to have the right systems and processes. It has to reduce risk.
(37:57): It has to create opportunity. It has to create value. Do you focus ever on what rewarding means with, uh, and maybe, maybe not, cuz it's the first time we've had this conversation about this, but we look at, if you have a, if you're creating a rewarding business, it has to be rewarding for everyone. So how is it rewarding for the trades? How do you apply that rewarding mindset to the, to your trade partners? How do you make an interaction with your company rewarding to a, an architect who's choosing to stake their status and reputation, uh, on a collaboration with you. And then most importantly, how do you make it really rewarding, a really rewarding opportunity, a growth opportunity, an exciting opportunity for your team because in order for you to have that, you first have to make it rewarding for them. Otherwise you're going to get pulled back into the churn and won't be able to, to do that. So a lot of the focus when we're coaching is how do you make it rewarding for them? What investments do you make in your, in your team? So that it's rewarding for them that then passes that reward upward to you or along to you.
(39:05): Good question. And so, um, I, I think there's a, a, a few different avenues here is when you're thinking about, let's just talk about trade partners specifically. Like one thing we've integrated is the pool plan, right? PLL the pool plan. And so we bring in our trades at the very beginning, our trade partners and we build the schedule with them and it's, we don't have time for this podcast to go through the full depth of like this intense schedule, operation I, a YouTube video about it. Right? Sure. We could probably do six more here. I could tell already, you know, you got tons of nuggets there. So, but, but Yeah, but, but the reality is by doing this, I bring them in and really we set the expectation, Hey, the reason you're here so that you're more profitable as a subcontracting company, the less trip charges you make to my job, the more organized we are and prepared that when I actually say I'm ready and you send your people, like we're gonna be ready for you because how many times is the trade partners and GC beat on 'em and they're not ready, they're unorganized as site's messy, whatever. And so if we can be organized, that's rewarding for them because now they can be profitable. They can trust us. When we say we're ready, let's go, okay. That's low hanging fruit right there for our trade partners for, for our team. It it's like children. Right? All of our children are motivated differently. I have six kids.
(40:14): So trust me, I know they all yeah. Have different ways to speak to 'em. My employees are no different. I mean, the real reality is employees need two things. They need one. They have to believe in the product they're selling. Right. They have to believe in the brand, believe in the product. And then number two, they have to understand their role. So like if they understand what they're supposed to accomplish to be successful, clear expectations of their job, and then they believe in what they're doing, that's already the recipe for success. And then you mix in, you know, the company culture and money and bonuses and incentives and maybe company outings for golf or whatever, you know? And so we do a lot of interactions as a company. We have, you know, group text change. We have company outings. We, I took my whole group to get Pedics, you know, which was super fun. Have all my guys and gals in there and the girls most done em before the guys had it. So it was just a fun team building, right. To go on, Do that, that we got that. We gotta see those photos have gotta be gold. Right. How did that go over? Let's let's pause there for a second. What was the mindset going into guys, pulling those, pulling those feet outta the work boots and sitting and sitting down there. There had to be, there had to be some fun and awkward and just hilarious moments.
(41:27): So most of the guys had never done it. They absolutely loved it. Like they were super nervous going in, but once they did it and they even ended up getting a manicure by the end. So they did a petty and a Manny, right? Yeah. And I had one guy, I had one guy that wouldn't do it. He just wouldn't, but we'll get him next time. But it was, uh, we took videos. It was a lot of fun and it was definitely a lot of laughs and uh, we had a great time. Yeah. It sounds like you're making it very rewarding, uh, for them when, when Dwayne and I dig into it a little bit more, you mentioned a couple of things there you need, uh, a couple more elements are you need the tool system and structure in order for them to do their job and have that infrastructure training, uh, a mapped out process that everybody, uh, believes in, in the EDU and the, uh, education around it. And, um, then they also need the autonomy to be able to execute and know that they're making a difference. Um, so that they're not micromanaged. And those tools really help with that, where there's defined expectations and all, everything that you need to do a good job, because we find that Dan pink talks about this in his, in, in his book called drive it's autonomy, mastery and, and purpose. When they get, start to get better at something, they like it that much more, they become more fulfilled by it.
(42:40): They'll do, uh, more of it. Purpose is a big piece of it. And you talked about it with company culture and knowing where we're going. Do you have a, do you have a mission statement? Do you, do you have something that you share with your group that this is, this is the, uh, this is the journey that we're all on together. This is what we're trying to achieve. Have you ever sat down and, and mapped out a mission that your company knows? Or is it something that you're working on still? Like how, what does, what does, what role does mission play in your business right now? Yeah, it's, it's a big aspect. And so I think part of that is we do have a mission statement and so we have our production meeting. So we go through, you know, the wins and losses. Let's just call 'em as a company, right. As we do the autopsies of our jobs. Right. And, and not just that, but you know, where our company's going and like our growth. And, and then as we expand the other markets, which will happen, you know, and, and so they're excited because they know our, our gameplay behind the scenes of things I'm working on as a company, a brand, you know, to take us to the next venture. And so the, the company mission plan, as well as the current goals and aspirations that we're doing, they're fully aware and they're part of that. And so they know the growth and what we're pursuing and the clients and the projects.
(43:49): And, and I think it's really important involve them in that because it's really easy to, um, uh, you know, and I'll go back to this, you know, as you know, when we're building a home in a superintendents out there for 18 months on a project, it's easy to become snow blind, it's easy to become disengaged. Right. And so we have team walks, we come out and do training. So we, we do our AFT team walk as we get into the finished stage and have my whole company there for team building. It's a tag punch the house for quality and to find anything that maybe the super had missed, just be in the weeds for so long. And so it's just all these little things that, that create that camaraderie together. That's, that's a nugget I haven't heard before. Dwayne, have you heard, have you heard of the whole team going, you know, you, you got a long project, somebody who snow blinded as, uh, as he mentioned, you know, you, you you're worn down, you can't see the forest for the trees, sometimes just bringing the whole team in to celebrate the work that you've done. And how do we make this thing close out, like on a pedestal.
(44:50): So I talked a little bit about with, I think it was John Jardine about that, and just, you know, the poll plan that you talked about, Brad, I've had other folks that have done some, uh, you know, some scrum method, project management, and a lot of that revolves around that. It revolves around getting, it's almost like that second set of eyes, third set of eyes on a job site. It's, you know, sometimes you need that perspective on the job as a whole, not just the job site, but on the team, the team atmosphere what's going on internally, you know, how are we, how are we doing with our systems, our processes, getting someone from the, uh, you know, that maybe isn't involved in that project to step in and take a look it's, it's super helpful. And I think it just raises the, that also just embodies and, and strengthens the team aspect of everything, The value. I mean, when I talk about the team rock, and so, especially at the finish stage, we're about six to eight weeks to completion and the house has been painted and cleaned. You know, now we're just detailing. I bring my accounting department, my legal department, my project coordinators, my entire office staff. So it's the whole company, all of us are out there. Are the Clients there. Do you ever have the clients there with, for these?
(45:52): No, no, not at these cause cause the goal is that we, for four hours, we're gonna have the whole company there. So it just gets them outta office, but also lets them see where we're at. And then now when we do our client walkthrough, hopefully we have no items. Cuz we've already caught everything on the list ourselves, But what a great way for the people who don't normally get to see the mission in action, to feel something and understand now that they can relate where they're adding value, if it's that accountant and they can see, this is what got built. This is what I supported in the, in the build that was done safely. That's that's pretty amazing. That's a pretty cool leadership move. We're gonna, we're gonna need to bake. That's fun. Bake that one into, yeah, for sure. Brad, man. It's been great having you on, um, you just love what you're doing and of course, with, uh, with Nick and Morgan and contract coalition summit, you know, we big supporters of you guys and wanna promote that. So, I mean, go ahead and tell us, I know you had one earlier this year. Go ahead and tell us about what you've got coming up. Um, so if anybody out there that's listening might have an interest.
(46:50): Yeah, I appreciate that. Dwayne. So as far as the coalition summit, it's, uh, it's funny because we, uh, we had a first one in Nashville now, Huntington beach, and then we're gonna have two a year. And the, the best part is we knew it would be good, just because look, I've been doing this. I've been professionally building now for 17 years. And I'm like, if I would've known what I know today, when I started for day one, like I actually would've made money as a contractor when I first started my company. Cause you know, most of us know you don't for a long, long time trying to figure it out, but just understanding the systems and procedure and the best feedback we got is we, we sold out the first one in may in Nashville. And uh, every bill there, they said in our first 45 minutes, we made our money back. And they're like, is the amazing, in fact, some of 'em I guess the Testament of the, the event is that a few of them are, uh, I think five of 'em are actually coming back to Huntington for route two already, which is kinda cool. Yeah.
(47:39): How many, uh, how many builders attended that? How many, uh, Guests did you? We had 30, we had, we had 30 builders and it's a three day summit. So it's contracted coalition, summit.com. And then additionally, even though we have some amazing projects are, are pretty consistent. Our social media is just AFT construction, AFT underscore construction. Uh, you can find me on LinkedIn at Brad Levitt, but AFT construction.com and then Instagram, YouTube, you know, Facebook, everything else where AFT construction. So I don't think you're gonna have a tough time finding Brad, if you just search some stuff online, you've done a great job of getting the message out there and, you know, promoting your, your team and the things that you do. So thanks again, man, for taking some time. It's been great. And uh, hopefully we'll talk again soon. I may actually be out in Scottsdale in, uh, later this year in October. So I might let you might just look you up. Okay. Hit me up. We'll get out.
Hey, thanks for listening, Dwayne and I love hearing from 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 email@example.com and start building freedom.