Not having a singular focus, I think can really kill a company or kill an early stage idea and keep it from getting off the ground.
Welcome To builder nuggets hosted by Duane Johns and Dave young. Hey, our mission is simple, build freedom. We're a couple of entrepreneurs Turned business coaches who have dedicated ourselves to helping our builder remodel. Our clients create the most rewarding businesses in the Industry. My co host Duane has been a successful builder and remodeler for over 30 years. He's seen the highs and the lows from the beginning though. Duane 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 our 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.
(01:14): Our guest today is a serial entrepreneur having founded startups and technology insurance services, and most recently pest control and home services. His current venture remedy pest control is the highest rated pest control company in the Charlotte NC Metro area, and has seen sequential years of triple digit growth. It's my pleasure to welcome Matt Livingston to today's show. Welcome Matt. Hey, Thanks, Wayne. Good to be Here. So Matt is not only a very successful business owner. He's a past client of mine. We completed a large renovation together several years ago. I've gotta know Matt and his family and can say that his success as a husband. And father's just as evident. You've got a wonderful family. So congrats to that. Appreciate that. Just dropped off our first at college, uh, last week. So that was an emotional time, but very Exotic. And I dropped off my last. So it's emotional in a little bit of a different way, but yeah, it's all good. So last time you and I spent some time together, we were on the golf course hacking our way around, um, for an afternoon at an HBA tournament. What have you been doing for fun lately? Hmm, well, I mean, aside getting, getting both kids ready to go back to school, um, I have been working on the golf game. I, I, I can't say that it's improved a lot, but, um, you know, it's mainly business and, um, spending time with the family. That's pretty much it, I read a lot. That's, that's probably the only other thing that I, that I spend time on.
(02:26): I consume a fair amount of books. I've moved into the audible realm. So, I mean, I'm, I just cons I consume a lot because yeah. You know, whether I'm traveling or out, you know, maybe taking a walk in some exercise, whatever, unfortunately I'm not spending as much time on the golf course as usual for me it's hit or miss, I go out and play a whole bunch for a few weeks and then I don't do have a golf trip coming up this weekend though that I'm looking forward to. So looking forward to you and I getting back out there again soon. So Yeah, that'd be fun, You know, for the listeners here. Tell us a little bit about your background, you know, where you from, how you got into this, where you are today. Sure. Yeah. So, um, I grew up in Raleigh and, uh, I moved around a lot as a kid, but I call Raleigh home and, um, went to NC state, graduated from state in 1994. And, um, my first, probably 15 years or so were in technology primarily in sales and sales management, and then started to branch out a little bit from an entrepreneurial perspective was a five guys, uh, franchisee starting in, in 2004. And, um, really sort of, I guess, got bit by the entrepreneurial bug at that point and have done, you know, a handful of, you mentioned them, but a handful of, um, startups, some, some successful, some that have failed, um, started, you know, probably since the early 2000 I carried a book around, I still carry it around now called the, the big book of ideas, like a small spiral notebook. And I just write business ideas as I come across and, and some of those became something and most of them, you know, wound up in the trash can.
(03:58): Yeah. That's, I think that's for sure. I mean, anybody that's gotten the entrepreneurial bug, they that's what it is, these things, these ideas will come to you and it's that, I think it's that wherewithal, I guess, to, to follow through whether it's, whether it is successful or a failure, you know, part of it, a lot of it's the game, you know, of getting there. So obviously that's where some of your entrepreneurial started. Did it go back any earlier? You know, sometimes some folks will talk, will talk to even go back to when they were kids, you know, they're like, they just totally things that they did. They always yeah. Were into that. Yeah. Yeah, totally. I mean, I, as a kid, I took apart every toy. I'm trying to figure out how it worked. Um, you know, look looking back. I, I, I was probably like, I should have been an engineer, I think maybe very much a nerd. And even in high school, I worked at a drug store and would like pull a product off the shelf. And as people were checking out, I would say like, what do you think of this product? Like, do you like it? And you know, I don't know the idea of pitching something, the idea of telling a story. I didn't know what I was doing back then. Right. But, um, that, that slowly became my persona and, and sort of like, you know, building a concept, building a story, getting people to believe in that story, believing in it yourself and, uh, then talking customers and, and employees into that kind of was the last 15 or so years.
(05:17): Yeah. I think believing in yourself is huge. You know, that's the one you've gotta get through. You've gotta make sure that it's, it's solid and it's, and it's something you're passionate about if, you know, if you're ever gonna get anybody else to buy into it. That is for sure. When you first got into say your first few businesses, I mean, was it all trial by fire? Did you have mentors, um, along with any kind of, you know, obviously business training, but did you sure or was it a lot of just figure it out on your own? Well, I mean, I think a lot of it in the came in the form of like really good managers. I was very lucky in my corporate world experience. So I worked for a lot of fortune 500 companies before I went to work at, you know, for myself. And the first job that I had was, uh, at GSK, which a big pharmaceutical pro provider, um, out of RTP worked there as a summer intern starting the summer after I graduated from high school for five straight summers. And so I got a ton of corporate experience, got a lot of exposure, had a lot of great managers, um, that led to succession of, of, um, big companies that had big professional managers. And I really felt like that gave me a leg up because I knew I knew how professional organizations worked. And I, I think part of our success outside of corporate Americas is taking that professionalism and putting it into a startup environment where people are not necessarily used to getting that kind of experience.
(06:42): So I, I would say that would be the first and then the second would really be mentors who had no idea that they were my mentors, but the books that I read, you know, so I, I read a lot of Seth good back in the day. Um, all of his books like tribes and, and, um, purple cow, and guys like Michael Gerber who wrote, uh, the ETH revisit built to sell, like all these books, I just consumed those books. And this was really before podcast. Right. So you would just kind of consume these books and, um, you know, gave you more and more advice and, um, sort of helped you develop what you thought. Maybe if you created something, what it would look like, And you probably pulled a few things out and stuck 'em into your book of ideas. I'm sure. Yeah, yeah, exactly, exactly right. Yeah. The emit was, that's still huge for me. Uh, I, and I think in, in our industry speaking specifically to construction builders, remodelers, but I know you can, it goes across industries as well, but that, that technician mindset is boy, that's a real tough one for people to get out of. Yeah. You know, they get into that daily grind and I, and I see, you know, entrepreneurs can be guilty of that as well. You know, they, they dive in and, you know, they're passionate about something, but they never really quite get to that point where they can get outta the way, you know, and, and maybe bring in whether it's management, whether it's other people get getting other people in leadership positions, what have you, what have you seen or what have you done, that's allowed you to yeah. Cause inherently that's what you need for growth. You know, we all only have so much bandwidth. Um, yeah. And if we get,
(08:11): I mean, it's very difficult, right? Making the transition from if, um, well, at least me, like I, I'm a big control freak. Right. And I, and I believe that if, you know, if we're gonna do it, we're gonna do it. Right. And, um, it's really hard to let go of things and actually let somebody execute on your vision without having your finger and all the levers. Um, so that was a lesson that took me a long time to learn. I would say I'm still learning that, but yeah, I think it boils down to hiring the right people and, and understanding that they believe in whatever it is that, um, you know, you've, you've created as much as, as you do. And, you know, part of our early success, particularly at, at the insurance services company was that we, you know, we hired the first core 10 or so people and they just, they totally believed in the vision and they were coming to work every day and giving it they're all, not because of the paycheck, but because they believed in something that was bigger than them. So, you know, I guess that goes back to hiring the right people and, and, you know, our, our philosophy used to be like, listen, we just wanna hire people that should be on the bus. We'll figure out later where they sit. Right. And exactly what they do. We wanna figure out a, are they, are they additive to the culture? You know, if you think of our culture, like as a big pot of soup, and every time you hire someone you're adding an ingredient, does that, does that ingredient make the soup taste better or does it make it taste worse? And, um, you know, the, the big key, and I think the key to, to, to most early startup success is just getting the right team on board. And then everybody just does whatever has to be done to build it.
(09:44): It's funny. I am going to give a presentation in the next few weeks and it's around some level five leadership and Jim Collins, good degree. And I had originally read that well over 10 years ago, but you know, it kind of went back and revisited a little bit over the last few weeks. And, you know, the hedgehog concept is so powerful of, you've gotta have things so narrowly focused. You know, I think it's very easy for us, especially as business owners, entrepreneurs to complicate things, you know, cuz we have so many ideas, everything. I mean, I'm, I'm guilty of one of my biggest weaknesses I think is I, I constantly am convinced there's a better way to do something, no matter what it is. I just, I feel like there's a better way to do it. There's a better way. So, you know, I'll add this or try this and, and we easily complicate it and the power comes from when we can step back and simplify it, you know? And then I think if you can simplify that vision and get it to everyone else on, on the team, that's working with you, that's where you see the real, you know, the real progress and success. So
(10:41): Yeah. And also realizing when it's, you know, when something is, is good enough, right. I mean, that's a, that's a Seth golden term is, you know, you gotta ship it right. Eventually you gotta ship it. And if you're a perfectionist is very hard to ship. Yeah. And um, you know, realizing when something is good enough and you know, you put it out into the market and the market's gonna tell you how you should change it. Right. And, and what tweaks you should make or if you should throw it in the trash and start again. But eventually you have to get to the point where you deliver whatever it is to the world. And, um, you know, that is difficult as a business owner. That's difficult as an entrepreneur, that's difficult as a perfectionist or a control freak. Right. And I'm sort of like all of those things, mm-hmm Analysis paralysis. Yeah, totally, totally. And that's the other thing like you need doers on your team, you know, and if you have partners, you need partners who are doers. And, um, you know, I was very fortunate and still am fortunate now, you know, I have a couple of partners now that they just, they do it. Yeah. Right. They just do it. They don't, they don't get caught up too much and exactly what the rapper looks like.
(11:45): I'm gonna dive into some of the success that you've had and what's, you know, what's been behind that, but you know, I maybe let's go down the rabbit hole first. Tell us about some, some of the things that didn't work out. So well, maybe some of the things that failed Well. So, you know, probably my first sort of entrepreneurial thing was being a five guys franchisee. And on the surface, you know, when I, when that part of my life or that part of my story comes up, everybody was like, oh, you probably killed it. And, and the short answer is no, I didn't, you know, it, it did not work out well. And, um, one of the big lessons that I learned from that experience was that it's not always great to be a minority partner. And, and when you're a minority partner, the majority partner, uh, calls the shots and makes the decisions. And sometimes those decisions don't favor you. And, you know, you've gotta really trust the guy or the girl that you are in that relationship with because, you know, they control everything. So, um, being A minority partner as a control freak's a tough thing, isn't it?
(12:40): , yes. That's a very tough thing. And the outcome wasn't great. You know, we eventually, we eventually sold, there were a couple minority partners. We eventually sold our share of the business back to the majority partner and, and he's doing great. And I, you know, I don't, uh, begrudge him, but that was a painful lesson to learn. Right. Yeah. Was, was that when you're a minority partner, somebody else is gonna call the shots and they're gonna make a decision on how to spend money. They're gonna make a decision how fast you grow. They're gonna make a decision as to whether or not you distribute funds. And, um, you know, those things will personally impact you. And there's not a lot that you can do so that I, I wouldn't say it was a complete failure, but it certainly was not the success that I had expected. And if you were an outsider looking, you know, in you, you would not, you would not know that. I mean, gosh, I had so many ideas, uh, a website, uh, called at T drop zone where, um, basically users could go onto the website and they could mark the physical location where at and T dropped their cellular connection. And the idea was to basically sell ad space, to competing cell phone providers like Verizon and T-Mobile and that kind of thing. There were plenty of the other startup that I was a part of inside of a technology company. I basically started a division that was not a failure. I mean, they ended up selling the company and they did really well. So that was a great exit. But, um, I had started that at the same time that I started, um, CCG this insurance, uh, services company with a, with another partner.
(14:11): And I guess you could say the, the failure there was trying to do too many things at once and really to be a successful entrepreneur. I think you've gotta have like a singular focus. Like you really can't have any other distractions. And that's very difficult for me. And I think that's difficult for entrepreneurs general who like walk around and like, see things that are broken and are like, God, I, I wish someone would, you know, fix that. Or that would be a great I business idea if somebody would fix that problem, it just seems so obvious. Right. So, you know, not having a singular focus, I think can really kill a company or kill an early stage idea and keep it from getting off the ground. You Know, we had something that we've done over the last several years with the, you know, they're the builders and remodelers that I'm working with. And, and I was originally turned onto this probably eight or 10 years ago. I was part of a Vista entrepreneur group. And I did Colby probably first time, maybe about 10 years ago, Colby assessment mm-hmm and recently did it again about three years ago. And the person that did it really was enlightening just in the way they presented the results. But for me, it's, when you talk about simplifying, it was a light bulb moment for me and, and a lot of folks on my team because, you know, it was, and the way it was presented was, you know, you're the first person to tell me what's right with me. , you know, all our lives, that's the kind of thing we know what's wrong.
(15:31): We know we need to work on. Yeah. But it's not often that we really focus on that one thing we're really good at. And that's really where we should pour the energy and in some sort of way, get rid of the other stuff, you know, find the people that are good at that, you know? And so that's something that's been transformational for us. And like I said, the folks that I work with is really getting that focus on, you know, what, maybe you are a visionary, maybe you are, maybe you are somebody that does belong in the weeds. That's what you love to do. Yeah. That's what you're good at. Yeah. Well then you need to find somebody that's got the vision. So I think it is, it's really important for folks to think about that and get their head around. We call it our high, your highest and best use, whatever that might be. But there is, there's something out there that you're really good at. You love doing passionate about, and man, that's, you should be spending 80% or more of your time there. Totally. And, and you need, you need to check your ego enough to realize that if that thing isn't running the company, right. Or if that thing isn't the CEO seat or the president's seat, that that's okay. Yeah. And, and I think that's the other thing your, your pride sort of holds on to a lot of stuff that you should let be letting go of. And you, you don't like to do that stuff anyway. Right. You just like the idea of being responsible for that stuff, but you don't actually like doing it. So it SAPs your energy and then you don't, you don't have energy or you don't spend enough time on the stuff that you love that actually gets you out of bed. That makes it feel like you're not working at all. Right. Yeah. So I totally agree the highest and best use. And sometimes, you know, it is technical. Sometimes it's just the salesperson, right. Or just marketing. Yeah. And I think that's okay. Right. It takes you a while to be mature enough to, to realize that, you know, you're not gonna be good at everything. And sometimes what you're good at and the intersection of like what you're good at and what you like might not be exactly what you thought it would be.
(17:16): Yeah. And it's, you know, it goes the other way too. It's understanding your, your team, you know, because if you start delegating or handing off tasks to people that really are not cut out for that, you, you set 'em up for failure, you know, it's not that's right. And so you do, you have to understand each other without a doubt. So tell us going down the road of, you know, so that some of the successes that you've had, what, what would you say, I guess, give us some examples of the success in, in a few of these businesses and maybe a few of the key things you think that led to the success, The biggest success from just a, you know, a financial perspective, what was, um, this insurance services company that, uh, a business partner and I created back in early 2011, fortunately he was in a position that he could actually do this full time, because almost immediately when we sort of announced that we were in this business, which BA, which basically the investigation of, um, certain kinds of property claims on behalf of insurance carriers, it just exploded overnight. I mean, we had an email list and we had a website and we just sent out this blast email that said, Hey, we're in this business. And literally the first day we started getting claims. So, I mean, it, it, it got traction very early. And, you know, we were in a very fortunate position because I, I don't think that we would've ever made it, um, in that my business partner was able to sort of leave his full-time job and do that full-time.
(18:36): And I was just not in a position to do that because I had, you know, young kids and I had a lot of responsibilities. And the first couple of years I was doing that at night and doing my other startup during the day. And, um, you know, it was really tough and I, and I could not have done it without that business partner. Certainly we would not have survived, but also without having a wife who was like completely on board, right. Because during that period of time, which was about two years before I made the full-time transition, you know, I didn't even take the trash out. She did everything. And I just worked all day long and took a little break to have dinner and see the kids before they went to bed and then went back to work. And I just did that, you know, for, for two straight years. But that business really grew quickly. I think, you know, going back to the idea of taking something and a service industry that wasn't very professional and had a lot of people who sort of grew up in the industry, which I think is very much like your industry, right. There are a lot of, you know, people who start out building decks and then they become framers and then they sort of work their way up. And then before, you know, it they're building custom homes. That's the way that it was in the insurance industry. And so having an outsider's perspective, having this, uh, you know, this professionalism that was sort of ingrained into what we did every day really helped us to stand out. And, um, so we made an early spa splash. We grew very, very quickly. We sold the company in six years, uh, a little bit less than six years to a private equity group.
(20:05): And, um, you know, it was an amazing ride. It was an amazing exit. It was, you know, you couldn't have drawn it up better now. It was really, really hard. And we worked very hard and we got really lucky. I mean, I think as an entrepreneur, if you have a successful exit, one of the most dangerous things is you can sort of apply revisionist history to how things played out, you know? And so you sort of retell the story and the way that you want the story to play out. And this may not necessarily be true. So I try to be true to that. Like we got, we were very fortunate and we were in the right place at the right time, but we also had a great idea and, and we execute it. And the bug's still there though. Right. I mean, after you, you have the successful exit and maybe, maybe not the next morning, but right. Would that, well that, yeah, again, going back to the shiny object syndrome, I mean, you know, you're, you're constantly, at least me, I'm wired to find other stuff. So even during that period of time, you would run across another business idea, like, Hey, should we do this? You know? And, um, I had started remedy, which is what I'm doing now. I had started, uh, remedy pest control in, um, may of 2019, really just as an investor and had invested in, um, my business partner as a, as a sort of like the operating partner. And I did not leave CCG until 2020. So I left January, 2020, and then I came to work at Rey pest control full time then. So yes, I definitely had the bug to start that again. And it, you know, sort of like a drug, you tried to get back to that original high, what it feels like to start from absolutely nothing from creating a, a website and a logo and, you know, a description of your service and, and a buyer persona and building all of those things and going from the very bottom with zero customers to where we are today.
(21:51): That's the fun Part. That's the fun part. Yeah. 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. What, what really drives you to do this? You know, I mean, is it, is it just simply the, the idea of creating, you know, being visionary, having an idea, creating it, putting it in, is that Yeah. Yeah. I, I, I think it's that, I mean, I, I think I've always been really passionate about the customer experience. So with this one in particular, I mean, we were very interested in home services. We felt like there was a lot of room there. The bar is pretty low, honestly. I mean, if you asked if you pulled your listeners and you would, and you asked them, like, who do you think of when you think of like an excellent customer experience, probably the number one answer is gonna be Chick-fil-A. And if you think about the re we've got a fast food company, right? Yeah. Why does, why does customer experience, why does every other drive through fail? You know, I mean, look at, look at what they can do with the drive through alone. Right.
(23:07): Right. And, you know, it boils down to like hiring the right people, having a process and then getting the small stuff. Right. You know, if you, if you take your bag from the, the, um, window and you say, thank you, what do they say? They say my pleasure. Right? It's that little stuff like that little bit of difference. Yes. The food's good. It's not great. You know, it's good. But, um, that's, that's the bar for the customer experience. So I've always been passionate about that and, and trying to figure out a way to create something, you know, maybe in a mature market, maybe in a market that doesn't exist and really focus on delighting the customer at every single interaction. And, you know, that's what we've, that's what we've tried to create at, at remedy. Yeah. There are a lot of touch points right. With your customers and you can, even, you, you can either surprise them to the upside. Right. I didn't expect that. Right. This sort of goes back to the emo, um, mm-hmm, can surprise 'em to the upside and they didn't expect it, or you can surprise 'em to the downside right. And disappoint them. And so trying to map all of that out on a continuum and just say, okay, every time we interact with a customer at this point, this is what we're gonna do, or this is what we're gonna say. And, um, you know, that's just fun. It's fun to build that. Yeah. And it's amazing that it really doesn't take much effort to do that, you know, because like you said, it's, it's little things all along the way. It's not a monumental thing. Yeah.
(24:27): And it's being intentional, intentional. I think it's being intentional, You know, something else that was pretty, pretty big for me from a mind shift, um, years ago had, you know, someone had, had approached me and even talking about our industry in particular, uh, construction. And he says, you know, that's, it's gonna be a monumental shift. He says, in industries like yours, when, you know, when the builder remodeler, tradesman craftsman, when they, when they realize that they're, they're a business owner first and not a, not a craftsman, you know? And I, and I think other industries suffer that as well, you know, is where people are. Mm-hmm, , they're very good at what they do, you know? Yeah. Plumber, technician, whatever that is. That's what they're really passionate about. And I think that tends to be the thing that they pour the most energy and effort into. And then the business becomes secondary, but boy, is it a monumental shift?
(25:14): And it's something I've admired about you is the fact that you've, you've got the business. And when, when we say put business first, it doesn't mean, you know, even by doing that, you don't have to lose anything. You don't have to lose quality. You don't have to lose customer service. None of that has to be lost. It's just, it's a mind shift. Um, because all of this stuff carries across industries. It doesn't matter what business you're in. Yep. These principles are the same. So I, I guess I would ask you, you know, what, what have you seen through that even though you've bounced around and you've been into some different types of businesses, give us a few of the things there that you say, or without doubt, just steadfast the same across all of them. Sure. Yeah. I mean, so, so one of them would be, if you're gonna, you know, say it more than once, you should probably create a script. You know, if you're gonna, if you're gonna do it more than once, you should probably create a process. We used to say, okay, like we, we're not, we don't want to create McDonald's, that's not what we're, that's not what we're out to create. That's sort of like lowest, common denominator thinking, right? The process is more important than the person, uh, for, for us, the process was very important, but the people were also important too. Like we were more about producing a Broadway show. Yes. There is a script. Yes, there is an orchestra, but like all of these people come together and they produce the show and it's an experience. But the experience, if you go to see a New York, uh, Broadway show, and I go see that same show, 12 months later, we're probably gonna see, see the same show.
(26:36): It will be different actors. Right. But we're gonna get that same experience. And so those were two things that we were, were really big on. Just like, if we're gonna say it more than once we create a script, if we're gonna do it more than once, we're gonna create a process. And that way, by the time that you get to the end of that transaction, whatever that transaction is. And sometimes it's really short, like in my business, it's very short in your business. It can be very long, right. It could be 18 months. It could be 24 months. You might, you might only, you know, have that customer buy from you twice in their lifetime or your lifetime. But by the time they get to the end of that customer experience, they're like, man, that was, that was awesome. I want to use those guys again. So that's what we were really passionate about was just creating that consistent customer experience. And every now and then we would surprise them at some place that they didn't expect that they were gonna get something really cool. We gave them something really cool. Right. It's that is the, my pleasure when you hand the bag out of the drive through window.
(27:31): Yeah, for sure. So, you know, you've successfully sold a few businesses and there, I know there's listeners out there that maybe have, or certainly considering it's, it's a difficult task in our industry to, I think there's a, again, I think a lot of folks in, in the construction industry might think that at, at some point someone's gonna come along and stroke in that check. But at the end of the day, you've got a lot of businesses that are small businesses and, and so tied to the owner, you know? Yeah. Ed's building company or, you know, John's remodeling company, right. That an investor of buyer may not be really that excited about that. Cuz he probably knows that, well, hell everything's everything about this company is probably between Bob's ears, you know? And it, to your point of, you've gotta have the systems you gotta have the process is something more than just yourself, maybe a few things, maybe just a few things for the listeners out there around if you're considering selling your business pitfalls, you know, pluses, minuses, pros, cons, things like that.
(28:24): Sure. Yeah, sure. I mean, I, the, the first thing that I would say is like, you know, make sure that your, your financials are in order, right. Um, you, you've got to, you've basically gotta tell a story again, going back to this storytelling, right. You're gonna have to tell a story and, and your financial statements are gonna be a part of that story. So does that mean that you need to start auditing your financials? Probably not. Right, but they, but they need to be, you know, they need to be easy for a buyer or someone who's gonna represent you as a seller, um, to, to look at and to understand. And they, and they need to tell them that, like, you know, you've got a track record of, of making money and you've got a track record of, of moving that money to the bottom line. The other that I would say is, you know, consider hiring a professional to help you sell your business. And that could be a business broker. And I would, you know, I, I wouldn't just pick any business broker or the first business broker that calls you, I would, I would interview them. Or if it's, you know, a large enough company, I would talk to a, uh, an investment bank, but hire someone who has deep knowledge about your industry and interview those people and, and ask them what they think that your business is worth so that you have some kind of valuation range that, that you're comfortable with. And I, and I think that is a great first step because a lot of companies, when they have that conversation and they realize what that valuation ranges, it may change, you know, whether or not they wanna solve a company, going back to your point about sort of documentation and building business processes and that sort of thing.
(29:57): That is the key. If you want actually move on after you've sold the company. Some, some people don't. Right. Yeah. Some people just wanna take some chips off the table and that's okay. But if your intention is to actually leave, then it can't revolve around you. In fact, nothing can revolve around you or go through you. Everything has to be sort of independent of, of you and, um, scalable too. Right. So I, I would, I would say make sure that you've got some professionals that you at least talk to, you have some idea of what you would sell the company for, you make sure, sure. That you've got that you're not in the way that you're, you're not the bottleneck in anything. And then, you know, hope, hopefully you, you run a process and you're probably more likely if you're gonna sell to a, a strategic buyer, like someone who's actually in your industry, you probably are more likely to be able to drop the mic and, and go do something else or just ride off into the sunset. You're probably less likely to be able to do that if you sell to like a financial buyer, right. Like a private equity company, because they're not just buying the business, they're buying the business and the management company. Right. They're, they're buying the people who are, cuz they don't have those people sitting on the bench. So those are, you know, sort of important things to think about and um, have, have a list, right. Have a list of, of people that you think may be potential acquirers of your business.
(31:19): Yeah. And, and something that I tell folks now, and I'm, I'm fortunate that, like I said, that I've got to the point where I've got a little bit of time to even work with some of the younger folks. I mentor a couple of younger folks that have entered the industry and you know, from the beginning plan, the end, you know, right. Plan the exit from the very beginning, it's something that I've found over and over again that most business owners, they just don't do that. Frankly. A lot of 'em don't even think about it, you know, but I mean, I think that, and if you have the intention from the very beginning, you know, of how you could possibly exit this business and it doesn't mean you ever have to, but I, I think ideally I had someone that, that, that told me that, you know, if you could sell your business within six months, that's the ideal place to be. You know, again, even if your attention is to not sell, if you've gotten your business in the condition, in the shape where you could successfully sell it within six months, you're running a great business. So Yeah, I, I, I would recommend, so on that topic, I would recommend a book called built to sell, which is, um, you know, really a great book about the, the thought of, as you said, sort of begin with the end in mind, without running your business as if you are going to sell it. I mean, there's a difference between those two, right? Right. The difference between being ready to sell and running your business as if you're going to sell it is if you're gonna run your business, like you're gonna sell it. You're probably gonna cut some corners so that you can maximize your near term profitability. Mm-hmm . But in the process, you're probably going to lose customers or you're gonna piss your customers off, or you're not gonna provide this world class service that people are gonna want to pay for. Right. So you, you could profit,
(32:51): You got one, you got one out the door. Yeah, Yeah, exactly, exactly. So, so, um, you know, be, be ready to sell, but don't run your company. Like you're about to sell it because you will cut corners and, and um, you know, you'll, you'll make mistakes and you'll make the company less valuable in the process. Yeah. So you consume a lot of books. I know that. Do you have something we, we are big on here as talking about masterminds, you know, that people should find whether it's a peer group or an industry group or something like that. Who do you, you know, who do you consider in your mastermind? Who do you spend time with on a say like on a peer, peer level? So most of my friends are business owners. They're all O they're all over the map. So, you know, I've got a good friend who runs a textile company. I got a good friend. Who's a, uh, owns a couple of car dealerships. I have another good friend. Who's a commercial real estate developer, actually a few that are in that camp. Um, you know, just, we don't always talk about business, but at least you understand, you know, if, if you've got somebody that, uh, or, or if you've got something that you need to bounce off of somebody, you can turn to this group. Right. Um, I'm a big believer. I've been preaching to my kids since, you know, they, they, um, or since they were born, like, you're the average of the five people that you hang out with the most, right? Yeah. If you look around and your, your friend group, doesn't, doesn't represent where you want to be, or where you, you want to be headed, right. That there, you probably need to pull some other people inside that group, because that's gonna dictate more than anything else. Right. That's, that's gonna dictate where you're gonna wind up in five or 10 or 15 years.
(34:21): Yeah, for sure. We're, like I said, we're big proponents of, of whatever that looks like, you know, there's, and, and in our industry, there's things like, you know, the home builders, associations, builder, 20 groups, entrepreneur groups, as I said, I was a part of Vista. Any of these Yep. YPO. Yeah. Those are all great. They're so powerful. And, and the cool thing is it's not, you know, it's not just what you're going to get out of it. When you go there, you're gonna bring some really great stuff to the table. You know, that we're, we're huge at collaboration, you know, with this podcast, that's really what it's about. It's just, there's so many people that have done it have succeeded, have failed and, you know, pull yourself out of that grind of trying to figure it all out on your own, you know? Yeah. That can be exhausting. Um, it can be never ending. And it's just what leads to burnout, I think, in, in most people. So yeah, there are people out there that are willing to share, you know, all you gotta do is kind of yeah. Put yourself out there and, uh, don't be afraid to share.
(35:14): Right. And the basic business principles really have not changed right. In a hundred years. No, you read, you read these really old books, like how to win friends and influence people by Dale conne, that book is a hundred years old, right? Yeah. But it is still a hundred percent relevant. Yeah. The richest man in Babylon, you know, think and grow rich, like all of those old books like that, that stuff is timeless Is timeless. And I challenge Mentors who could, yeah. I challenge people all the time when they come to me and they'll be well in my industry or, well, you can't do that in my market. That's just, just not true. Yeah. right. Right. Usually what they're saying is like, I don't wanna put in the work. Right. For sure. We ask every, every guest that's on here, we always ask 'em, you know, what are you excited about? What's coming down the pike over the next six months to a year. I mean, what's the next dream business. What's the next shiny object for you? Yeah, I know. That's a great question. I mean, we're, we are, we're at a really critical point in, in our, um, sort of business life cycle where we've, uh, we we've got a lot of customers and our reviews are unbelievable. Like we have, we have great technicians. The, the biggest thing now is like, how do we continue to scale and grow organically as, as we have always done? Or do we begin to turn to, um, growing via acquisition? And, you know, if we do grow via acquisition, how, how large do we go? Uh, do we stay in the Charlotte market? Do we grow outside of Charlotte? I mean, Charlotte's a very big market for, for pest control. And they're, you know, I, I forget what the number is, but, you know, let's say it's a thousand people are moving here every week. Like those people, the only people sometimes the only people that they know are, are their real estate agents.
(36:49): Right. So, um, staying in front of that flow of customers that are entering our market, we could be very content with, but I think long term, probably the way that we're gonna grow would be via acquisition. So I, I, I would think in the next six months or the next 12 months, that's what we're really will be focused on is like, are there some strategic partnerships via acquisition or, or, or otherwise that we could form that would, that would help us accelerate our growth, um, you know, and, and be able to layer in some of the process stuff that I've talked about, some of the branding stuff, um, in, into that customer base and, um, you know, can continue to grow that way. So what do you see in the market? Just what, what kind of things do you see as challenges for, for you guys going forward? Well, like everybody, I mean, labor is still a problem for us. You know, I, I think it's, it's actually easier for us than it was two years ago because no one knew who we were. So it's very difficult to recruit people within the industry if they've never heard of you. And, um, so that part's actually gotten easier. Um, we've, we've focused a lot on trying to figure out how we raise our prices without losing our customer base, because our costs have definitely gone up. So the cost of the chemicals that we use, um, obviously the cost of fuel and labor, those three components of cogs have gone up considerably. And so how do we, how do we weave those, that those true costs? You know, this is not just a money grab situation because everybody's talking about inflation. Like how do we, um, capture some of that and maintain our margins going forward that, you know, those are, those are probably our biggest challenges is, you know, how do we recruit and retain people? And, and, you know, how do we sort of adjust our pricing to reflect what our true cost is?
(38:35): Yeah. The labor thing in itself is, is just everybody in every industry is gonna have to start thinking about the investment they make in the next generation. You know, it's no longer is it gonna be a numbers game where you can hope that just enough people are enough. People are gonna walk into your, you know, your business and eventually you'll find the right one. You, you, we have to, we have to cultivate these, these folks, you know? Yeah. Um, and show them out there that there is a path through a lot of these service industries, um, that can be some very viable career paths, you know? So yeah. It's gonna be a challenge for all of us. The biggest challenge for us and recruiting people, you know, in my industry or in your industry or your listeners industries is that two generations of people have been told, like, you gotta go to college, you gotta go to college. And, um, so as, as a result, all of these blue collar industries are aging, like crazy. And the people who have the skills and the people who have the knowledge are getting ready to retire. And there really has not been a feeder system, no, for, uh, people to go directly into the trades at, at a high school. You know, if, if you're a, if you be, you can probably become a master welder in six months and, and be making a hundred thousand dollars a year. Right. And, no one sells that story in high school. So I think that's what we gotta, we have to bring the honorable the idea of an honorable profession as a blue collar profession. Right. Sort of back to everybody's mindset. Right. Yeah. And, and we have enough art history majors to be quite Frank, you know, there aren't enough jobs for, for, so it's, it's okay. If you don't go to college, you could build a great career to your point, right? Yeah. You can have a career in the service industry and we just have to do this on us. Right. Is you gotta do a better job of reaching out to those people. And, um,
(40:16): It's to your point earlier story telling the story. Exactly. Yeah. And we haven't done a very good job of that over the last 20 years, so no doubt. Yeah. That's Right. Well, Matt, thanks for, for coming on, man. I enjoyed the conversation. It's always, always good to talk with you and, uh, good luck with everything you've got moving forward.
Likewise, I appreciate it. Thanks for having me out.
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