fbpx

Scaling A Home Service Franchise Into An Eight Figure Business With Caleb Brunz

by | Apr 29, 2024 | Podcast

Franchise Masters | Caleb Brunz | Home Service Franchise

 

The dream of franchise ownership is freedom and financial success. But how do you turn a single home service franchise location into an eight-figure powerhouse? It takes strategic planning, operational excellence, and leveraging the power of the franchise system. In this episode, Caleb Brunz shares his story and journey of scaling his Paul Davis Restoration franchise into a monster business. Caleb opens the kimono on what it took to achieve this scale – including his leadership strategy, people development philosophy, and more. He also gives a glimpse into his future expansion plans via a unique joint venture strategy with the corporate office. Join Caleb to learn from his experience and adopt his best practices to accelerate your growth in your franchise journey.

Listen to the podcast here

 

Scaling A Home Service Franchise Into An Eight Figure Business With Caleb Brunz

I’m catching up with Caleb Brunz who’s running the massive Paul Davis Restoration operation up in the Minneapolis St. Paul area and expanding. We’re connecting the dots to how far back in franchising we go. Our paths have intertwined and gone separate, and we’re back together now. Caleb, welcome to the show. I’m glad to reconnect with you.

It’s an honor to spend some time with you. I appreciate the invitation.

Getting Into Franchising

We met at a TES show back in Fort Lauderdale in 2009 or 2010, then you decided to go the operator, multi-unit, franchisee route. I went the franchise sales route. I wish I would’ve gone your route after what you were telling me. I know it’s a lot of work, blood, sweat, and tears built behind this, but Caleb is running a massive Paul Davis operation and is doing some interesting things to scale it to the next level. I love to look forward to jumping in with this and kicking it around with you. I would love to kick it off with your story and how you got into this whole franchise world way back when, what you did, what was the impetus for you to become a franchisee of Paul Davis, and all that stuff. Do you want to tell us a little bit about your journey?

I’ll try to summarize it pretty quickly. I’ve been in franchising since I was twenty years old. I joined a system called College Pro Painters back in 1996 as a 20-year-old. I got to experience running my own painting franchise. It was such an interesting concept. We were young. We didn’t have money. There was no initial franchise fee. Royalties were 20% up to a certain amount and 15% over. In a way, they cash flowed an initial franchise fee by charging a higher royalty, and then I would shut it down at the end of the year and then do it again another year. I did that for two years. I joined being a franchisor at the age of 22. I was a general manager. My job was to recruit, train, and coach twenty other students to run their own franchises.

I did that for three years, became a vice president, and oversaw the whole central corridor. For about eight years, I became a senior vice president. I’ve spent 14 years from 20 years old to 34, 2 as a franchisee and 12 as a franchisor, then I was having a career crisis. I’m 35. I’m tired of building up a business and shutting it down every single year. I was thinking I was going to eventually run a bigger brand under the umbrella of First Service. The First Service owns College Prop Painters or owned it. They also own the Paul Davis system, the franchise system. They own California Closets, CertaPro Painters, Floor Coverings International, and these multi-brands. I thought I was going to be a career franchisor running a brand and moving my way up the executive track.

I got involved in franchise sales. That’s where I met you. Six months into that, I looked at myself in the mirror and it was like, “I can’t love him and leave him.” You gave the sale. It’s like, “Love him and leave him.” I’m like, “Okay, bye” I missed operating. I saw Paul Davis as an opportunity. I went from being an executive to a start-up with my one employee and my former wife. We started the business in 2010. Three of us are out of the living room. For thirteen years, we’ve been able to scale, reinvest, acquire other offices in our metro area, and grow the business to a couple of hundred employees between two markets. It’s been a heck of a ride.

Was Paul Davis the full-blown restoration when you got into it or was it the emergency service piece of it?

I got in at the emergency service piece. I had four of those and a restoration franchise, and then eventually in 2015, I merged it all together. At that time in 2010 to 2015, I started a commercial construction company. I had a Floor Coverings International franchise, three Paul Davis franchises, and a painting business. I was part-time CEO of Sioux Falls for my brother, and then I also went back and finished my undergrad. Those five years had a lot going on. I bet on Paul Davis. I’m like, “This is the one.” I got to get rid of all these other distractions and bet on Paul Davis.” That’s when it started to take off.

Our blood is connected through disaster restoration. At the time, when we met, I was with the Vana Clean figuring out that. Would you say Paul Davis is the number three player in the market with ServPro and ServiceMaster?

BELFOR is up there too. We got BELFOR, ServPro, and Paul Davis. I believe we passed ServiceMaster as a brand. We are the largest average. Our franchise units are much bigger scale. I think our average franchise is around $5 million. The top 20 of us are all over $10 million. The biggest one runs a $60 million operation. There are some big enterprises out there under Paul Davis. I believe we’re the only one that’s truly a full service. The Loss Leader will do content mitigation and the full reconstruction. Some of those brands offer mitigation, have side businesses, and doing the reconstruction. It gets a little messy. From a brand perspective, we’re the only full-service brand out there.

Not to disparage Vana Clean, but they are good business. We focused on mold remediation versus trying to compete in the disaster restoration space, which can be pretty competitive but we were catching your leftovers at the local level. That’s what I like to tell people. Do you agree with the statement that it is one of the, if not the most competitive spaces in the home service world? On paper, it’s one of these businesses that looks amazing. Insurance companies pay the bill, disasters are always going to happen, and the margins are good, but there’s a lot of competition out there chasing the margins and the money.

There’s a lot of competition and there are a lot of nuances. This is one of the most complicated industries I’ve ever been a part of. I’ve been in home services my entire career. The grass is always greener. People think this is a great space to get into until they get into it. What I like about it is the barrier to entry to a reputable full-service restoration company is pretty high. You’ve got to learn a lot of the technical parts of the delivery system and operations, and then you have to learn the entire billing process with insurance. None of it is easy. We fight for every single dollar.

2024 is a great example. All across the board, the entire industry is down 25% to 30%. We don’t rely on the weather. We do our best to control our destiny. In 2023, the whole system grew to 20%. Everybody is like, “We can keep growing.” I’m like, “Let’s put this in context. We had a great year but we had a great year because of weather events.” If we can run a sustainable business on the day-to-day and let the weather be the gravy on top, that’s the only way to sustainably build these businesses. Otherwise, you go out of business if you’re relying on the weather.

The overhead gets too high. You get a little bullish and you start buying equipment, getting a bigger warehouse, and hiring a bunch of people.

People don’t understand that the margins are great if you manage the margins, but it takes a lot of work to make sure you’re not leaving money on the table when you’re negotiating with an adjuster and the insurance agency agencies. You also carry a lot of overhead. What people don’t understand is through those times you’re not busy, you’re still carrying labor because you don’t want to all of a sudden lay everybody off, and then all of a sudden work picks back up, and now you’re stuck without the ability to produce the work.

Franchise Masters | Caleb Brunz | Home Service Franchise

Home Service Franchise: The margins are great if you manage them, but it takes a lot of work to ensure you’re not leaving money on the table.

Paul Davis Restoration

You had a great background now that we’re talking this through because you did the painting and flooring, and you’re familiar with home services. Paul Davis does more than that, but having that background, part of what you do is painting, flooring, and stuff like that. There’s the contents piece which is separate, but you’re familiar with a lot of those elements. What do you think it was like with Paul Davis? You got in early back in 2010. You have a new territory which is hard to get these days. There are very few larger markets available for development. It’s one of these matured systems that the only way to get in is through a resale at the end of the day. What do you think it was that Paul Davis did that led to the success that the systems had?

I always talk about getting your ROI on your royalty. When I joined being a franchisor, I joined a system. There was not a lot from a business model perspective that we were getting. In the first five years, I did everything on my own. I built every system, every job description, cashflow spreadsheets, financial planning tools, and all these things that I knew could exist being a franchisor but didn’t have. I was unpleasantly surprised when I started operating. I’m like, “Where’s my tools?” We’re not there yet.

They had some tools with the Paul Davis Restoration franchise. What happened was the leadership that was in the first service let Paul Davis go for 20 years roughly after they acquired it in 1998. They let it do its own thing for a long time. Eventually, they finally made a leadership change in 2015, bringing in the old ServPro leadership who are still in leadership. They’re much more enterprise-model sound franchisors.

They started tweaking the training systems, launching programs, and making sure they were selling to owners who had $500,000 to $1 million to invest and who had the chops to build enterprises versus owner-operators. That was probably the most significant difference. They started launching some brand new markets with some enterprise-minded people who scaled very quickly because they had the capital behind them to invest in the people. If you want to grow this business, it’s about growing teams. It’s all people.

If you want to grow this business, it's about growing teams. It's all people. Click To Tweet

This is a true CEO-level position to build a successful Paul Davis operation. They don’t want you starting in the truck. They want you to hire people from day one, project manager-level folks, and invest as you grow. They’re different than most service businesses and most service franchises out there.

When I started the Paul Davis emergency services model, as you had an introduction to that, they were selling that as a one-person launch out of your garage, get a truck, and go. I immediately said, “I need at least two people to start this.” I started right away with people and scaled from there.

Paul Davis has done a good job with the national accounts, which are hard to get in this world.

They’ve been doing a better job in the last five years. We’ve had a couple of carriers that have been around since I started. That was another thing. Buyers like me, I didn’t hear this but many heard even though the franchisor never promised that they would get work from national accounts. People heard that and then when they didn’t, they became frustrated. We’ve been shifting the focus over the last five years to become much more of a sales organization.

We’re still struggling with that but you’re right, there are still offices that aren’t sales-minded. They’re not growing as much and they’re heavily reliant on some of these national accounts. When we started the business we said, “We’re not going to rely on anything. We’re going to self-sustain this. We’re going to build it. We’re going to build our own accounts. We’re going to go after commercial work.” That’s starting to shift as well. That’s where we’re starting to see productivity per unit go up tremendously over the last five years.

As you’ve gone through your journey from getting into it under the emergency services brand, sister brand, or whatever you want to call it, and now scaling like a true enterprise where you’re now we can probably get a little bit into it in terms of developing new markets through a unique strategy. Was there anything that you found you needed to change within yourself to be able to build what you’ve built? Any defining moments that you point back to where you’re like, “That was a pivotal point in our history getting to where we went to.”

I had these termed out. I had launched the first five years. Burning the bridge, consolidating, and betting on Paul Davis after the first five years was the biggest reset that I had to focus on and go, “Am I all in, stop dabbling with multiple systems and multiple units and go all in?” Within 1 year or 2, we doubled the business at that point and there was an intentional focus on, “I’m going to build a leadership team.” I went a little too fast, had too many leaders on the leadership team, and had too much overhead. I scaled that back, and then in 2010, five years after we had doubled, we had to make another big change.

I had stepped away. I had a general manager operating in Minneapolis. It wasn’t doing well and I had to jump back in, relieve them of their position, go through an ownership buyout, and then relaunch again in 2020 when COVID hit. In the last three years, we’ve doubled again and that’s been because of having a leadership team that’s taking the reins and having this conversation with our COO who I’m good friends with Mike Hopkins. Earlier right before this, we had a call because we’re looking at an expansion territory.

I’m going through a bit of an identity crisis because I’m now truly CEO. I’m redefining my job description. My leadership team is making all the day-to-day decisions. I’m like, “What’s weird? Is it because I’ve given up control and I don’t know what’s going on in everything or am I needed still? What’s my value?” People want to build something to this point, and then you get here and it’s like, “Now what?” My “Now what” is becoming like I’m the one out looking at new market expansion, truly being the visionary of the organization. It’s a bit of an identity crisis.

In the last two years, it has been a pivotal point where I have let go of even the budgeting and having the team present the goal a year in advance for the next year, the tight budgets, what they want to do, building the people out, and what that all looks like. Now I’m sitting back and I get to play board member, like equity. I’m feeling what it’s like to be moving from business owner to more of an investor visionary CEO. It has been another crazy ride over the last couple of years. but you asked for pivotal points. Now we’re ready to scale even further. It’s not just my energy. It’s a group of five of us that are doing it together, which is super fun.

Advice On Starting Franchising

You’ve reached the mountaintop. Congratulations. You’ve been a franchise broker for a little bit. You’ve been in this franchise world. You’ve been in the belly of the beast. There are amazing parts to it. There are some not-amazing parts to it. People hear what they want to hear, maybe getting into a business they shouldn’t be in and not be willing to grit through it that first year or so, which is tough. You’ve gone through your journey. It hasn’t been a straight linear climb up the mountaintop. You had a lot of experience in franchising and entrepreneurship

 For somebody who is thinking about either getting into franchising or maybe they’re a younger operator in the system that they’re in, looking back on what you went through to get to where you are, do you have any advice for people who want to get to where you want to get to that can help you maybe avoid some of the mistakes or learn from what you’ve gone through?

Everything I’ve been through to get any term that outsiders would say success, because it’s defined differently from a lot of people, there’s been a lot of failure. When you’re learning to let go of control, my advice is you’ve got to be okay to fail. You’ve got to be okay to continually take the same risk you did when you first launched. You have to get comfortable being uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable. You have to work on that muscle of getting out of your comfort zone. To scale in most of these businesses, unless you’re selling, you have a car wash, or an automated system that requires very little human capital, most of these businesses are scaled by building teams. What a lot of franchisees do is they hire somebody and it fails. They get gun-shy to continually look to hire more people.

The only way they’re going to be able to scale is to replace themselves, and then get people to replace themselves and to be able to grow a team. When you do that, it is a significant investment of time and money. That whole double-down concept, if you want to scale, you’ve got to almost take that same risk that you did when you started the business and be able to reinvest in the capital required to build those teams out. People are people. It takes six months, sometimes a year, to get people up and running in their position to where they’re excelling. That’s what my advice would be. You have to embrace the failure and you have to be still willing to take the risks on people and get out of their way. That’s the only way to scale in my opinion. It is a people-heavy business.

You wheel it forward in a way. It’s going to be messy. There’s nothing clean about it. What I heard you say is that as you go through different growth, like inflection points in the business, you get the business to a first level. If you max out at the current operating model or staff or whatever it may be, if you want to get to the next level, you have to make investments in people but you’re probably going to go backward for a little bit to figure it out, disrupt the organization until it normalizes, and then you’ve got that next level of foundation set and then you can grow, and then you do it again at the next level of growth. That’s the formula of what it’s like to grow a business.

You’re going to invest in those people. As an example, I built up the leadership team over the last few years, getting very clear on that. In 2023, we right-sized. We did the volume required to pay that overhead and make the profitability numbers that should be sustainable. The first year that I bet on that model, the profitability was lower until we were able to get those sales produced.

You go through these seasons in franchising where maybe you see a lot of success or sometimes, you don’t see a lot of success. When I see people not having a lot of success, that’s the punch in the gut that I remember. I wonder how many of the people not having the success that they want to have when they first got into a franchise, no matter what brand it is, is a result of not being properly capitalized for that first year. Do you think that is something that people tend to underestimate a lot?

I do but I can also go the other way where I’ve seen operators in our model come in capitalized and are terrible leaders. All they’ll do is burn through capital. I’ve always said that you can take a crappy system and brand, and have a good operator, and that good operator will make it work. You can have the best system and process in the world and have a crappy operator, and it won’t. Those are the two extremes, then I look at the capital piece of that too, and it’s the same thing. You need a lot of people and you need a lot of capital, but you can do a lot with a lot of people with low capital if you’re willing to bootstrap and grid it out. We were undercapitalized when we started.

I was 35 years old and rolled one of my last bonuses from College Pro into the franchise system. Unfortunately, I had to use credit cards and pay those off. It was like, “This is a lot.” The scale we’ve done over thirteen years, in some ways, we’ve never caught up to that until the last three years when we’re starting to realize that all those years of reinvestment start to suck some money away. It’s a yes-and because if you have a lot of capital and you’re not good with people, you’re going to burn through that capital. You need both.

Good Operator

If you could boil it down in terms of what you’ve seen make a good operator. Let’s talk home service, but I would imagine this probably translates to a lot of different businesses. Are there certain traits, attributes, or things that you have noticed maybe in yourself or peers, being a franchise broker, and previous experience that stands out to you as 2 to 3 things that you’ve seen the common characteristics of the good operators have?

Grit is one of my favorite terms in the world, but being gritty, being able to push, and having the will to wheel it through adversity is essential. Not to summarize everything into leadership, but I would also say that someone has to genuinely care about other people’s success if they’re going to be a good operator. You have to care about the people in your business. You have to care about what their career path is. You have to care about wanting to grow the business to provide opportunities for those people.

Someone has to genuinely care about other people's success if they're going to be a good operator. Click To Tweet

I’ve often heard owners and small business franchises, not franchising. It’s funny because I’ll hear them complain, “Business would be great if it wasn’t for people. People suck.” You should get out of the leadership game. If you think people suck and you don’t like it, then you’re hurting everybody, including yourself. Quit. Don’t do this gig. You got to have that if you’re going to run an effective business.

That’s what the essence of franchising is. The franchise companies give up that local people management piece of it because legally, they’re not allowed to get involved with the whole co-employment thing. The second piece is that the essence of franchising is they give up the bottom line profits to the potential of the business model that they’ve figured out, developed, and proven. You got to operate it, you got to manage the people, and you got to manage the customers. You got to bring in the sales and do the marketing piece of it.

That’s the essence of it. All this fancy stuff as franchising gets more sophisticated, these CRMs and technology, tech stacks, and centralized call centers, but at the end of the day, you could have the most sophisticated tech stack in the world, but you still have to have a team of people. You still have to operate this business. Do you see any of this passive franchise investing stuff that’s getting floated around at all in the world?

I haven’t. What you’re saying is that there are franchise models that are leveraging technology to even minimize their own overhead or delivery systems to the franchisees.

Even stepping in and saying, “Franchisee, you fund it. We’ll manage it for you corporately.”

I haven’t seen that. There we’re starting to see some internal joint ventures with our franchisor and corporate-owned stores. That’s a little bit of that, but what you’re talking about is interesting. It’s almost a reverse model.

It’s like, “Why franchise? If your model’s that good, why do you need to franchise?”

You’re outsourcing capital raise for localized markets instead of a whole.

Expansion Strategy

Your expansion strategy, if you’re comfortable talking a little bit about it, you’re doing a GP and LP model where you’re going to have a vested operator in the markets that you want to expand into that have an ownership stake or some equity in the business.

That was my vision from the start when I had the smaller Paul Davis emergency services, but I had it in the metro and I had three of them and different partners were running them with different equity stakes. We weren’t ready. I didn’t at least have the capacity to lead those general managers. Many of them, I helped bootstrap. They didn’t come in with a lot of capital and it didn’t make sense to do that anymore. From a bigger-picture perspective, we have the Duluth territory I bought in 2018. it’s now been six years and we’ve scaled that in the last three years. We’ve centralized a lot of accounting, estimating, answering the phones, compliance, training, recruiting, facilities management, security systems, technology, and operational support all out of our greater MSP larger business because we have the capacity to do that.

It allows the operator, for example, in Northland, and I don’t have an equity partner there. I just have a general manager. That model can work with the right general manager. The idea is to take off all the heavy lifting from the back office and have that market solely focused on getting the sales and then building the team to produce the sales. Our shared services model is what we’re calling it.

We’re not the only office in the United States doing that. Some of the joint ventures are doing that. Some of the joint ownership groups are doing the same thing. It’s cool to see because multiple offices are building some of this out. We’re pretty proud of the stuff that we’ve built. It’s fun to share best practices with some of these other offices that are doing the same expansion strategy.

Is Paul Davis facilitating that best practice sharing amongst, the operators that are truly trying to scale and open up or develop markets that are underdeveloped?

We’ve got some called our flight group, which is a peer-to-peer group. We meet three times a year. The markets that I’m involved with are Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, and then some out in the Syracuse area. We get together. We share business plans and best practices, and then we have what we call our lighthouse offices. It’s the top twenty and we meet separately. The franchiser has done a great job of segmenting out different levels of business. They’ve got a launch program, mid-size program, and lighthouse program, all different ranges so it is not support.

Where somebody has 20 offices with all sorts of scales, you get more specialized franchisor leadership support that helps connect businesses that are at the same level. My royalties are getting crazy. Here’s some advice on franchising. We love paying the royalties when we’re first starting, then over time, it starts to lose the value as you scale because you’re paying a lot more, and oftentimes you’re giving a lot to the system.

Franchise Masters | Caleb Brunz | Home Service Franchise

Home Service Franchise: We love paying the royalties when we’re first starting, then over time it starts to lose the value as you scale because you’re paying a lot more and oftentimes, you’re giving a lot to the system.

 

I’ve always had to assign what is the value of my royalty. If I don’t do that, I can become disenfranchised as they say. For me, the biggest value in the royalty from the beginning has always been our network and the shared best practices. I’m spending seven figures in royalties now. That’s a tough one to swallow. I’m on the boards. I’m involved. We get to help lead the organization. We have a say, they’re listening to input, and they’re listening to our input because we know how to operate these.

That collaboration with the franchisor is unique. You don’t often get that. Many systems are top-down, “You do it this way, it’s in the franchise agreement, shut up or be quiet, and do it the way we taught you to do it.” Our franchisor has been good at saying, “Help us come up with the solutions and the answers, and then we bring that out to the network.” That’s made a big difference as well.

One of the little things that good leadership teams and franchise companies do is they do realize that at some point, “Our franchisees know more about this business than we do.” We need to tap into and listen to them, and figure out a way, a system, or framework to work together on continuing to grow the system, which it seems like Paul Davis is continuing to expand and finding new ways to break through ceilings that hadn’t been broken through before and all kinds of stuff. If the leadership team doesn’t recognize that, it can stall and if not, make the whole company go backward.

They painfully figured that out in 2016 to 2018. They acquired ten franchises and corporately ran them for the first time and went, “This is hard.” They’re still coming out of that and realize, “If we’re going to do a general manager-led model and we corporately own the whole thing, we got to figure out how we have equity with the person on the ground.”

The strategy has shifted from that to this joint venture model, which is saying, “We’re going to partner with you. We’re going to be the majority owner, but we’re going to leave you alone. You’re going to drive this ship. You’re going to own 49%. You’ve got skin in the game.” We’ve learned that we’re going to pick our spots, but for the most part, we bought it because it’s doing well and we want to continue doing well so why would we change it? That’s the newer model moving forward, which is pretty exciting.

What do you think about that model?

It’s a good model as long as they deliver on the promise of staying out of the way and truly partnering with those joint ventures versus taking away. The biggest is the ability to pay people what the market pays them. It’s no different than any ownership group that comes in sometimes and says, “We’re going to shave 10% or 20% of the people right away. That’s how we’re going to make our money,” or PE group that comes in and starts to reinvest, but then there are a lot of changes in people. I think the model will work as long as they continue to keep that partnership mentality and not try to fix what’s not broken.

It goes back to people. You have to embrace the people and find the right people. When you find the right people, keep them. Keeping them means paying them what they’re worth and treating them right, giving them a path to grow and getting out of their way a little bit too sometimes.

You need a path and if a business isn’t growing, it’s dying. If you’re not growing top line, every single person on your team is going to see you’re not growing and they’re going to hit a ceiling. The biggest reason that we do grow is because we want to provide more opportunities. You can’t do that if you stay the same size.

Franchise Masters | Caleb Brunz | Home Service Franchise

Home Service Franchise: The biggest reason that we do grow is because we want to provide more opportunities. You can’t do that if you stay the same size.

 

Have you figured out or used any kind of system or framework to run your business or get it to the point like EOS or something like that?

I was lucky enough that the College Pro system we built started in ‘72. Think about developing people. You have college students learning how to sell paint jobs, hire people, and manage cashflow all for the first time in their life. It was a heavy leadership development program that allowed for that stay in first service. It’s a mix of and very similar to EOS. When I saw EOS, I was like, “At College Pro, we had all this stuff and I took it for granted.” I thought every business operated this way, setting goals and taking big goals and bringing them down. Its parts and setting weekly goals and having good meetings. I think that’s the way the world works. I see people running businesses that don’t do anything and they’re crushing it.

Imagine if that business did something like this. Long story short, EOS came out and I’m like, “Good for them. They packaged something we had and monetized it.” We’ve had a lot of offices develop or take on EOS and implement it into their businesses around Paul Davis. I had my background in the leadership development program. I brought in some EOS stuff. I use a few Lencioni leadership principles along with what I call the performance management cycle that we use at Paul Davis, which has a lot of the EOS components.

I’m a little different in that way. For those who have never had any sort of system of setting goals and three-year plans and strategies and setting a vision, casting it, having mission statements and purpose statements, it’s essential. If you don’t have that intuitively or you can’t bring that yourself, that EOS is a great answer for that.

You nailed it. All EOS is repackaging a lot of the common fundamentals that companies have used and called it something else, whatever it may be.

They dumb it down for smaller business owners who have seen it for the first time.

Leadership Development Program

One more question. Are there any things that you use in your leadership development program specifically to develop leaders within your organization? Are there any things you do or any techniques and stuff like that that you’ve embraced?

We’ve got a program. I’m a certified examiner. There are these coaching events that we do that use these models. One example is called effective meeting, coaching somebody on how to run a good meeting, conflict resolution, coaching somebody on how to sit down and have a crucial conversation that alleviates emotion. Building a project schedule for office move. That’s its own model. Priority management. Being able to manage your own time, where you choose, and choose to spend your time. There’s a whole model on that. There’s a coaching model. There’s a one-to-one meeting. We call it goal setting and review models on how to run those meetings.

There are about 10 or 12 of these competency models that I’ve taught the class, then I do the coaching with it. They get certified, which means how do you know they know? It’s a brag-wall thing. I’m certified in these skills. That’s one component, but then you’ve got all the other people, and for all the other people, we’ve built something called an individual development program. You’ve got your leadership development program, and then you’ve got your individual one.

We sit down with every single employee once a year, whether you’re a technician or a senior leader. We do this IDP, this individual development plan. We build a path and maybe the path is, “I want to make $3 more an hour.” “Here’s what you have to do to do that. You have to take on some more responsibility. You got to coach and train some younger technicians. You got to become the master year craft and get certified in water and get certified in fire, and then we’ll get you that raise.” That’s been the model. Especially in our industry, it can be a high-turnover industry.

In 2023, we had about 80% retention, which is good in our industry. We’re proud of that. Probably 30% of our people had a title change last year and promotion. It’s been fun to do that. I go back to what I said earlier about if you don’t love people, don’t be in the leadership game. I genuinely have a passion for people’s development. That’s the essence and core of the energy of our growth and who I am as a leader. That’s translated into a cool culture of growth-minded individuals, not just revenue, but as people.

If you don't love people, don't be in the leadership game. Click To Tweet

You figure out a way to systemize or leverage systems that help to make it more transferable to other people in your organization as well, versus having a framework to operate off of. Other people might come more naturally to you. They can learn how to become a mini Caleb.

You’re replicating yourself. I’ve got a leadership team now and three of them are going to move to this examiner program status where I don’t need to be the bottleneck anymore. I’m replicating myself in that way.

Congratulations on your success. Any final thoughts for anybody who’s thinking about getting into franchising or a current franchisee who’s looking to trying to figure out a way to scale their operation?

If you’re looking into franchising, make sure to do your due diligence. Talk to as many current operators as you can, go visit their office, look under the hood, and know what you’re getting into. Understand that the franchisor is going to do their best, but that their job is not to get you over the finish line. It’s ultimately going to be up to you with grit and your ability to develop people to get you there. I would say the same for people scaling. If you want to scale, make sure you’ve got the capital to invest in people, the time and the patience to get out of people’s way and let them fail so that they can then get stronger and take on those responsibilities that you were currently doing. If you do that, you’ll scale to whatever size you want to.

There’s a lot of wisdom and nuggets. Thank you for coming here.

You’re welcome. It was good to catch up. I appreciate it.

 

Important Links

 

The First Step is a Conversation.

If you have that burning desire to build your own successful business so you can live a life you can only have working for yourself, let’s talk.

The First Step is a Conversation

The first step is a pretty simple one: We have a conversation.

After we speak, we’ll be able to figure out if there is a good fit to work together.