Your Next Steps to Scaling Your Home Service Company with Denise Swafford

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About this Episode




🎙️Welcome to the HVAC Financial Freedom Podcast, where we explore exciting and insightful conversations with remarkable individuals who inspire and motivate us. Today, we have the pleasure of welcoming the incredible Denise Swafford, Vice President of Coaching at P1 Service Group talking about how you can scale your home service business.

Tune in now into today’s episode and learn…

0:20 – Introduction

0:36 – Our guest is Denise Swafford

1:45 – Welcome Denise Swafford

2:10 – Background of Denise

4:50 – How did they start Six Sigma?

5:18 – Denise’s first project

5:45 – Denise as a Training Director

7:16 – Challenges in revenue of HVAC company

9:30 – Finding the right people

10:15 – Finding leaders to scale your business

10:50 – How are you going to modify and evaluate your process to scale your business

11:23 – When are you going to decide to sell the business?

13:30 – Coach and mentor as a business owner

14:45 – Everybody needs a coach

15:20 – How yo select the right mentor or coach?

16:42 – Changing or retaining mentors

18:39 – How does it feel when your business is scaling?

19:30 – Metrics in business is important

21:52 – Number will tell a story about your business

21:21 – Sample KPI for a business

21:40 – Proactive KPI and reactive KPI

23:20 – Ratios in the business

24:13 – Benchmark and targets

25:19 – Impact of Six Sigma in the business

26:27 – First project using Six Sigma

27:20 – Causing no money trips

30:04 – Talk to the customers

30:56 – Using Six Sigma every day in the business

32:03 – Day-to-day work as business coach

34:41 – P1’s goal and how they work

35:05 – How to bring, keep, and grow your people in your organization?

38:23 – Taking advantage of the technology for training your people

40:18 – Optimization tool

42:45 – Best to contact Denise Swafford

43:55 – Take away


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Audio Transcript

Welcome to the H VAC Financial Freedom podcast, a show to help you create more revenue, profit and freedom in your life. Now, your host, John Victoria, hey and welcome everyone to the HVAC Financial Freedom Podcast. Uh Just a quick note before we start, I’m a little bit under the weather so I won’t be as high energy as I normally am. But um I think that regardless, we’re gonna have a great conversation with our guest today, Denise Swafford. And so for a quick introduction, um Denise, she joined P One service group to support P One’s partner companies and help them achieve their personal and professional goals, desires and dreams.

She’s a very vast background in the industry and she offers coaching, accountability in all aspects of business, whether that be operations, sales, marketing, call center, dispatch, and finances. And throughout her career, uh 35 years, she’s worked with thousands of home service business owners. Um And so she has the experience of owning, operating training and mentoring companies of all sizes to get to the next level. And she also has the distinct honor of serving as a six Sigma black belt for the first home service company to ever launch the six Sigma methodology which yielded a $12 million return in incremental revenue on her first project.

And so if there’s anyone who can provide advice, um resources, education and help to get you to the next level, that will be Denise. So really excited to have you on Denise and uh welcome, welcome to the podcast. Well, thank you, John. Thank you for having me. I I hope you’re feeling better. You’re still high energy to me. And I am so excited to be here with you today. Awesome, me too. And I know we’re all glad to have you as well. And so just to kick things off.

Um you know, when we first chatted, I was just so impressed by uh the amount of background that you have in the industry. And so for those who uh for those people who are not familiar with you, uh could you just quickly share like just just your story and how you got into the HVHV AC industry? Yeah, I would love to. So I got started in this industry probably a lot, a lot like a lot of people did. I got started by somebody that claimed to love me, right?

It was my dad, my dad uh owned an air conditioning company in a little town in Florida, Fort Walton Beach, Florida up in the Panhandle, close to Destin. A lot of people have heard of that. Um And the only thing I knew in life growing up is I didn’t want anything to do with the air conditioning trades because my dad was a technician my whole life. So he missed the ball performances and the, you know, we can never take a vacation this summer time and all of those kind of struggles.

And so I tried to stay away from this industry. And what happened was I got married, I had a child and my dad by this time had started a business and I didn’t want to go back to work full time. So I thought when I first got started, I’m just gonna answer the phone work part time. That kind of thing. I did that. I, I started in his converted garage of his home. I had my play pin right next to me with my daughter in it, uh which she was an infant.

She’s now grown and has Children of her own. Uh But, you know, I started off just answering the phone, dispatching, some technicians sat back and started watching some things that were going on in my dad’s business that I thought, you know, I don’t know for sure, but I think there’s probably a better way to do business than some of what I, I was seeing him struggle with. And so I rolled up my sleeves, went to work was very fortunate in my career that was able to uh eventually buy into that business with my dad.

So he was my business partner as well as my, as well as my dad worked with my husband as well. So I understand all the family dynamics, had a brother in the business for a period of time. So I understand all of those family dynamics that goes on in a business. But then back in the early 19 nineties, John, our industry started going through consolidation for the very first time, so much like we have groups like P one that’s out there, you know, today as private equity, these were companies that were going public uh with their, with their roll ups.

And so I got to be part of the very first public roll up. We sold our business back in the early 19 nineties to uh A Rs American Residential Services and uh had the opportunity my dad was looking to kind of retire and step out of the limelight a little bit and that’s why we did it. And I was looking for the next challenge, you know, in my career, by this time, I was running the day to day operations and stuff. So after I sold, had the opportunity to become a regional sales manager in Florida.

So I had 12 locations there about 55 million in revenue. 35 I think uh sales people running around, you know, overseeing call center side of things, the the design consultant side of things, the marketing side of things. That was a lot of fun. Um And then like you said, our company decided to launch six Sigma and Six Sigma is really all about process improvements for those of you that aren’t familiar with it. Six Sigma actually stands for things that run 99.99% defect free. And so we launched this thing in, in a, in a retail service environment.

It’s, it had been done, started originally by Jack Welch and GE and it had been done in a lot of manufacturing environments. But up until that time, never inside of a service company. And so my first project was a project where I was looking at, you know, how do I, how do we improve our no money trips? And so that’s the project that I was able to work on. And we implemented a solution that yielded our company about $853 million in revenue. So that was fun, did that for a while.

And then from there, I got the opportunity to get on the training side of the business. And so I started with a clockwork home services. Jim Abrams was one of my mentors that original mentors in this business. And so he uh had his location in Saint Louis. And I went, I took a position there as their training director of Success Academy and taught front line communication classes. There, built some classes, those types of things found out. I loved the training side of the business. And then from there, Jim started the Franchising business.

The only thing about Success Academy was, it was in Saint Louis and it can pull in snows there. And I’m a Florida girl. When Jim started the Franchising division, it was, it was based in Sarasota. So I was like, yes, I’d love to work out of Sarasota again. So wound up uh moving to Sarasota and was the vice president of franchise operations there and stayed there for quite a long time till they actually exited and sold to the utility company. And then I was one of the first four business coaches at Nextar.

So I did that up until my dad got really sick, took a step back from that. Um, and then had the opportunity. I thought I was kind of done with the industry. It took me a while to find my passion again. And then I got back into things with uh trainings with another organization and then found my way here through my relationships with nextar to P one service group. And, um, I’m back on the private equity day to day operation side and just having so much fun.

Oh, my gosh, that’s, that’s amazing. And, um, and I know that everyone is listening, there’s some part of your story that they can relate to whether it’s the family or whether it’s the consolidations or whether it’s, you know, learning about the marketing and it’s, it’s really the, the breadth of your story. It’s absolutely a phenomenal. And so, um so I guess the, the first question I want to ask you is that you’ve seen businesses at all types of levels and there’s so many types of businesses that um like there’s people who are sub 1 million looking to finally cross that 1 million revenue who listen in.

There’s people at the 3 million is like, I’m trying to get the 5 million, but I can’t find good people like, you know, this, that and the other and then people with the five, how do I get to 10? And so um because of the breadth of your experience, I’m just curious, like, what are some of the problems that you notice at each of the levels of, of revenue when they’re, when a when the HVAC company is trying to scale themselves up? Yeah. You know, that’s a great question and that they are very different challenges as you, you know, as you, as you move up by calling the Dips and Curves of the business, right?

And so from that, you know, that getting to that first million, that’s that you hit a kind of a wall there oftentimes like, how do I get past that level? And you know, in, when you’re in that position? That reminds me a lot of my dad when he first started and it was him and he, he was doing everything himself. So he was the technician that was going out and running the calls. He was the installer that was putting the equipment in. He was the CS R when the phone was ringing and he’s trying to answer it while he’s installing a new unit.

Uh, or he’s up in an attic or, you know, under a house or whatever. Uh, so, you know, he’s doing it all, he come home at night and then he’s trying to be the, the, the accountant and put everything in, you know, into the, into the computer system so that it could generate all the financial metrics and everything that we needed. And so there’s a lot there that’s, that’s on somebody that’s trying to grow to get to that first million dollars. And so I think one of the, the biggest challenges, I think there is knowing when it’s time, when is it time to start to, to identify the things that you’re really good at that you love to do and when’s the time that it’s time to start to offload some of those things and bring somebody in to kind of take ownership of those for you.

Oftentimes that does tend to be things around the phone, which is, you know, one of my passions, obviously, I love so oftentimes, that’s one of the things I think that those companies are getting to that first million, they gotta realize that, you know, maybe, maybe I could grow and scale quicker if I wasn’t trying to answer my own phone while I’m doing all of this kind of stuff. So that’s that level. Then I think when you get to that next level, that 1 to 3 million mark now it’s about finding people and, and I think oftentimes we get caught up in our own head, like, oh, my gosh, what if they don’t do it the way that I do it and you know, how am I gonna find somebody that’s as good at, at this as what I am?

And I know my dad struggled with as well, like even even bringing on myself and my husband into the business, it was still like, you know, well, these are my clients, they know they know the owner by name, the clients do and they’re often times asking for that person and now you’re sending and introducing a new person, you know, into, into that scenario. And so, and then how do you, how do you identify who’s the right person and how do you train them, you know, in your systems and your processes if you even have the systems and processes in place at that size?

And then when we go to 3 to 5, now it becomes more about I got not only like develop front line people, but now I gotta start thinking about managers that are gonna help me grow and scale my business. And how do I of my leadership, develop those people around me? And so your leadership, I think really starts to shine you know, as you, as you start to get into that, you know, 333 to $5 million mark, you know, it’s all about your leadership and, and how well you are at, at leading and developing other people around you.

So they can, they can manage and inspire those front line people now to deliver that world class service experience. And then again, when you get into that next level above that 5 million, it’s the same kind of thing. It’s the systems and processes that got you that got you there won’t get you to where you wanna go. So it’s really about all right. Now, I need to look at how am I gonna scale this a process that might have worked for you when you were a million dollars or $3 million isn’t going to get you to $10 million you know.

And so looking at those processes, evaluating them and modifying them to make it something that’s scalable that anybody can walk in and go. All right, this is how we do it here at, at, you know, P one service group or whatever your company is. Got it. And, um, and what I’ve noticed for, um, some of our clients is that they end up selling around that 10 to 15 million mark where they try to do some acquisitions is, is that the time that you normally see like or maybe get bought out by a group and then get access maybe there’s greater economies of scale.

When, when does that start to play past the 10 million mark? That’s a great question. I mean, I, I can’t speak to what other private equity groups are looking for. I can speak to our sweet spot. We definitely are looking for people that are in that kind of 10 million and above, you know, range of business. And we’re looking, they usually what the, what the people that are selling are looking for is they want, they re recognize that there may be a, a $10 million business today that’s really got the potential to be doing 103 or 50.

They just need some economies of scale, they need some better buying, they need some systems and processes, they need other mentors that have been there before them and done that and they are already at that next level. And so, you know, I always like to say, you know, I like to be the, I like to be the dumbest person in the room. I want to be surrounded by, by those people that are already at that next level and playing at that next level. And so that’s what we look for.

We look for people that, you know, they still love the game. They want to be here, all of our market area leaders that we have here at P ONE. They’re all still doing this with us every single day. They’re still running their businesses, they’re just doing it on a much higher level now for a, for a AAA larger end game. Wow. I love that. And now I’m just kind of imagining that. So it sounds like in the beginning, it’s more I got to be able to lead myself um than sub 1 million. Then.

It’s like now I got to lead um my direct reports and then after that is like, I need to lead other leaders. That depends after that, it’s, it’s um you know, potentially, um can I humble, potentially humble myself and get access to a broader network of folks and mentors because I can’t by myself, go from 10 to 230 or 214 or whatever, that is maybe as quick as they want to do it, you know, you can help them get there a lot quicker. Yes. And um and maybe that’s, that’s another question I wanna ask you on because you, you’ve been involved um heavily as a coach and a mentor.

And um what is your perspective on having a coach and mentor as part of that growth process? Because uh there’s, there’s two types of people I run into like, there’s, there’s some folks that have stayed at the same level for like over a decade, like nothing has changed and I can’t say why that is, or maybe that’s their goal. But, and then I noticed people who have coaches and mentors and it’s just, I don’t know, rocket ship growth. And so from your perspective as a coach and mentor, like, what’s, what’s your perspective on that role in, in the growth of the company?

Yeah, that’s a great question. You know, I think that there’s some people and, and their goal and they’re comfortable at running, you know, their, their business where they’re at today. Not everybody has the aspirations to wanna, to wanna run a, a mega, you know, mega shop or mega location. But, you know, at whatever level of the business that you’re in and I’ve been very blessed in my life that I’ve been able to have some really great mentors in my life. I think everybody needs a coach. I mean, even if you think of, you know, I was watching some videos last night because I was, I’m teaching a class today actually on call center, but I was watching some videos last night and I was, I was listening to Michael Jordan talk and I was listening to, you know, some, some old video footage of Kobe Bryant and, you know, even those guys playing at the level that they play it, you know, they have a coach, right?

They have a coach, they have somebody that they, that they can go to, that they can, that they can get advice from, that can help them perfect their game, you know, and I think that’s what it’s really all about, you know, I love the, I love knowing that if I picked up the phone today, a lot of my mentors in my life, I still talk to them almost on a daily basis and I can call them and say, hey, I’ve got this going on. You know, I think when you, when you stop needing that mentor, there’s a problem, right?

I still need a mentor in my life. I still need somebody that’s gonna help me get better at what I’m doing and and go to the next level so I can help those around me do the same thing. And for you, like, how does one select the right mentor? Right? Because there’s a right coach because there’s lots of people who want to help. But um can this person take me to where I want to go? How do you, how would you advise someone who’s looking for that?

I think there’s a couple things that I always look for. First of all was my core values and does my mentor, core values align with mine, you know, are they, are they in alignment with their methodology on how they want to grow and scale a business and does that line up with mine? And then I, I looked for, you know, people that had done it been there and done that, you know, that that’s, that’s walked the walk that know what it’s like, you know, when you’re, when you’re, you know, talking to a, a technician that, you know, needs advice on something or you’re, you’re having to figure out how am I gonna make payroll this week?

I want somebody that’s walked those challenges and that knows how to navigate those. How am I gonna find great people to add to my team? I want people that have found rock stars before that’s gonna be able to talk to me about. This is what I did. This is how I found people and this is how I grew and developed people. It’s uh two threads I see there. So it’s uh making sure that the core values fit and then someone who’s actually done the thing that you want to do that someone is all book knowledge, so love that.

Um And, and so, yeah, I guess, and I, I guess the other thing too is um so as, as you’re going through the different levels, so sub 214 million to 282 to 285 to 233, is it always the same mentor that you have or do mentors change over time or how does that process work? You know, I, I remember, you know, getting involved in my dad’s business and, and we were, you know, like I said, we were, we were less than a million dollars when I started in, in this industry.

Um And I was very fortunate that I found Jim Abrams early on in my career um that, that had uh like it was called contractor Success Group back in the, back in the day. And then it became, you know, um it became clockwork comes services. After that, he was able to be a mentor of mine that guided me through the entire time. I’ve had other mentors in my life that, um and I think that’s because Jim’s walked it at all levels. Right. And I’ve had other mentors in my life that they were there for a, for a season in my life.

They were there to help me, you know, get to a certain point, but then to be able to get to the next level, you know, we came to an agreement that all right, I, I don’t know that I’m the right person to get you to that next level of where you’re looking to go. So I think it, there, there can be some of both, you know, some that can walk the journey and some that you, you know, you, you might outgrow eventually or, you know, they might outgrow you or whatever the situation is.

Hm. And that’s completely fair, right. You know, different seasons of life and, um, yeah, it just depends on where you’re currently at and you know, how far someone can take you. Um, yeah, if someone’s walked the full journey, then sure. But if someone’s only walked a small piece, that’s fine. Um, you know, we were a part of each other’s lives for, for that time, so great. Um, and so with that, so he talks about coaching, uh, we talked about the different levels. Um, and when things go?

Right. Like what does, what, what does that look like? Um So and maybe to clarify the question, it’s, I, I guess there’s so many things jumble, there’s a different revenue levels. But um like what is it like for someone who’s not experiencing the success that you talked about? Like, what does, what does that feel like on a day to day basis? Like what, what does it look like when things are like working and things are happening and things are going the way that they’re supposed to go?

And it’s a great trajectory like how does that feel like? And what does that look like? Yeah, I think that it starts with understanding what to measure and how to measure it because what gets measured gets improved. And it’s amazing sometimes if you just start to measure something, you’ll move the needle on it just by just by starting to write the number down every day, you know? I mean, thinking about I’ve got my call center hat on today. So thinking about like, how many times did the phone ring yesterday?

How many times did I book a call? You know, if you don’t do anything but just start writing that number down that will start to move your business in the right direction, you know. So, and then once you get that number, you figure out you can track that, then it’s like, it’s like a, it’s kind of contagious like what can I track next? I thought I could track this right. That I could track that. There’s all kinds of metrics in this business and, and it really is a pretty predictable business model.

I mean, we, we kind of know when weather is gonna hit us, we kind of know as you’ve been in business for a little while, you’ll kind of get your, your revenue, seasonality mix of when revenue typically happens inside of your company for your demographic marketplace. So it becomes pretty predictable, you know. And oftentimes I think we get, we, we tend to kind of overthink things a little bit, you know, and it’s like, it’s, it’s really about, you know, how do I make my phone ring? How am I gonna get a call?

How am I gonna book a call? Who am I gonna dispatch that call to? How’s that service technician gonna run that service delivery play. How are we going to, if we, if we flip a lead over, how are we gonna send a, a salesperson out? What’s the installation process gonna look like? How are we gonna account for the, the call? How are we gonna ensure the client stays with us forever? And then it starts all over again. It’s pretty much a simple repetitive wash, rinse repeat kind of thing, right.

And so I think it’s paying attention every day just to the little things. It’s II I told somebody this today actually, little hinges, swing big doors. And so, you know, just by watching every day, what’s my phone conversion? What’s my field conversion? How many memberships am I selling? What’s my, what’s my technician turnover rate look like? What’s my clothes rate look like on my leads from marketing versus tech? You know, all of those little numbers, they tell a story, you know, and being aware of them and, and kind of coaching to those metrics every day to your team is I think what gets you from one level to the next, what gets you through the dips and curves?

I love that. And yeah, there’s so many numbers um that you can possibly track. I think one potential thing someone might say like, oh, I, I might get overwhelmed with the total, all these numbers, I’m not a numbers guy or a numbers gal um in terms of prioritization. So you mentioned a few key ones like if let’s say we’re at the leadership level, we’re designing a scorecard like what would be 303 to 230 like key Kpis that would help um someone understand the health of their company. Yeah, I mean, there’s so many of them, right?

So I think I, I call them proactive Kpis and then there’s reactive Kpis. And so the proactive Kpis, it’s really about, you know, we live in a land of conversion. So I wanna know what’s my phone conversion? What’s my field conversion? You know, what’s my average uh sale? Uh how many memberships have I added to my base, you know, or loss with my net gain and my memberships. And you know, what’s my, what’s my technician generated lead performance look like? And so those are really kind of the five on the proactive side.

If I had to just pick five, there’s more we could talk about, but those are kind of my big key revenue drivers. And then I look at the reactive side, which is where you take your PNL then and if you’re monitoring every day and you know what you’re doing in terms of revenue production, the revenue line on your PNL is never a surprise because you’re looking at it every day. So all it does is validate, right? And then once you start to understand and really track and understand your gross margin performance by department, now, you can almost predict to the bottom line of what your company is gonna perform at based upon the revenue that you’re reducing, you know, every single, every single day or every single month, you know, and so I wanna I measure my cogs next.

My cost of goods sold direct labor, labor is critical number that I want to know every day. How much revenue did I bring in yesterday? And how much did it cost me in labor to generate or produce that revenue? So what’s my labor percentage? Um You know, it really should stay pretty fixed percentage depending on, you know, the the revenue that I’m producing and then, you know, we call it the big five, my big five overhead numbers. What are those numbers looking like? And that ultimately leads to a, to a bottom line?

Got it. And are there key ratios that someone should, should keep in mind? So like for cogs, net profit, I think cogs at net profit and top line, are there certain ratios that someone should stay within? It could depend on market? I should think it, I think a lot of it depends on the mix of your business. Like, where is your business coming from? Is it commercial? Is it residential? Is it, you know, is it HB ac plumbing, electrical? What, what’s the core competency there? You’re going to have a little bit of variation, which is why you really need to track your gross margin performance by department or by your line of business there so that you can see, you know, you might look at an overall number and think maybe I’ve got a, a labor problem for instance.

And really when you dig into it, maybe your, your install department is performing abundantly well and you’ve got a service challenge or vice versa. And so that’s why you need those departmentalized the gross margin line so that you can dig in and peel the onion back a little bit. And then my take on, on benchmarks and targets is, yes, there’s some that are out there, you know, general rule of thumb. I’d love to be 2941% or above on my gross margin. But really inside of each one of those, it’s a little bit different in each one of these departments and by your trade.

But really my take on industry standards is they’re great and they’re nice to know and it’s something to shoot for. But man, all I really want to know is where am I at today and what are my opportunities to get better tomorrow and the next day and I measure it’s like the game of golf, right? I don’t know if you play golf or not, but it’s really a game against yourself. You know, how do I be better tomorrow than I am today? Mm That’s, that’s beautiful because, right.

It’s, it’s, you can only control what’s within your control, right? You know, there’s this benchmark but if I have no path to get there at this moment, I just have to focus on what can I do? Like, can I add additional 25862042% here or there? Maybe it’s pricing or whatever? Just that’s what’s in my sphere versus 1%. Movements are huge and in a margin, right? 1% moves here or there add up. Um And I know that you um did a lot with six Sigma. So how did, how did learning six Sigma and implementing?

How did this change? So you talked a lot about the KPIS and numbers and process. How did this change, a lot of what you’ve been doing in the past. So that’s a great question. My six Sigma experience when I first got asked to become a six Sigma black belt, which at the time, I used to say, I, I uh I couldn’t break a board if I had to. Now, I can actually break a board because I was with a, with another organization that break a lot of boards.

So I, I can break a board now. But I used to think, you know, like, OK, this is something I’m probably never gonna use again in my life because it’s a very specific process. And it was a, it was like a six month training pro project that we went through to become certified, become a six Sigma Black belt. But, you know, it was interesting the way that you think about it, the stages are we start by defining, we call it dematic. So we define what the challenge is, our opportunity is in our business.

Then we measure, we go out and we gather some, what’s our baseline. So we measure, we analyze the data to see what we can find in terms of common trends. And then we put in solutions to improve it and then we put in ways to control it and make sure we, we continue to get the momentum out of it and that’s what domain stands for. So my first project that I spoke about that gave the 12 million dollars. It was, it was uh specifically how do I reduce no money trips.

So we went out, we gathered literally from our locations that we had. We gathered hundreds, hundreds and hundreds, almost 10,000 or more service episodes that we looked at across our company and then we started like dividing all of that to figure out, like, all right, you know, is it a type of call that we’re getting that’s causing the no money trips? Is it a particular area of the country that’s causing it? Is it a particular day of the week? What were the commonalities that we found? And we did find something that was statistically significant that was driving our no money trips.

You wanna know what it was? What is it? Ok. So what we found was when we analyzed these tens of thousands of service episodes, we found that statistically significantly higher Friday afternoon after 3 p.m. our top 9413% producing technicians, no money tripped at a higher rate than any other time. Why do you think that is the course of the weekend, weekend? And they were performance pay? And so they had made what they wanted to make and they wanted to start their weekend? Right. And so even though we knew that that was what was going on and we started looking, well, what can we do to improve it?

And how do we address this now that we kind of know it. So they were kind of, I don’t know, for lack of a better word, blowing off those calls at that at that point in time. Right. So we came up with a, a really simple solution that we put in place and that’s what really moved the needle for us. And the solution was simply this any time they went to close out a call with dispatch and there was no money associated with it. They had to pick up the phone and call their manager in front of the customer and say, hey, I’m here with John.

This is a situation John’s having, you know, this is what I’ve the options that I’ve given him. Is there anything we can do to earn their business today? The manager would then say, well pass the phone to John, let me talk to John. So John will get on the phone then and along with the manager and say, you know, I’ve got Denise out there, she’s there, you know what’s holding us back from doing business today? And oftentimes it was something really simple. It was like, oh, I didn’t know you offered financing or, you know, maybe it was like, well, I don’t have enough time today and sometimes it might be the price and, but then our managers could look at their capacity and go all right, you know, how badly do we need to do something with this call today?

They could make an educated decision then on what they wanted to do is this a call we wanna take today? Is this a call that we wanna, maybe we do do a little bit of a concession with the customer, but we get something in exchange, let me put it, put you on my standby list and we have a day that we can that we’re gonna be in your, we’ll come and take care of this bridge, but that’s what drove the results and that’s how we picked up $12 million in incremental revenue.

It’s just those simple things. So even though we knew that the, that the problem was really coming from, the majority of the problem was coming from the top 25%. My best producing guys, you know, a solution rolled out and applied to everybody and every trade that we did. Wow, that’s, that’s amazing. It just like, yeah, you realign the incentives right at the end of the league like I’m, I’m done individually, I’m good. But then you, it’s, it was a behavioral thing, right? I had to pick up the phone.

I have to talk to my manager and my manager might feel more fresh and you know, can solve the objections and yeah, that’s beautiful. Oh my gosh. Um Was there any other like very interesting data that because that’s, that’s so fascinating that you found that out. Was there any other small things that you found out as you’re digging through the data? Yeah. Well, I mean, I think we found out, we found out one, when we first started looking at it, we thought that it was, we were only going to look at the plumbing side of the business.

And then when we kind of stumbled upon what we found, we started looking at the age vac side and, and found the same thing. And so it was like, ok, you know, a simple solution, you know, when we had a list of things we had, we had thought about trying and, you know, and we tested a couple of different things, but the thing that stuck was just, they had to simply talk to somebody, you know, and, and I think that speaks to our business sometimes we think about, you know, how do we, how do we, you know, we overthink things sometimes and, and the answer is so obvious in front of us, just talk to the customer. Yes.

And like you said, little little hinges, swing big doors, just so simple. It just to pick up a phone. Oh my gosh, that’s, that’s incredible. It was a good project, that’s for sure. And for the Six Sigma stuff. Do you do that with um clients today still or is that? Yeah, I was gonna tell you that, like I thought I was never going to use it. I use it every day. It has completely changed the way that I, that I look at a challenge that comes up in a business, I wanna make fact based decisions now instead of gut based decisions, which is how I kind of started off in this industry was.

I kind of went by my gut and just did. What kind of felt? Right. And lucky for me, it worked out more times than it didn’t. I hit my head against the wall a few times, but with six Sigma, it really had me step back and think about, all right, what kind of information is available? What can I get that? I can, I can pull some information, you know, and look at it and make a good business decision instead of just kind of flying by the seat of my pants, you know, and so I, I completely have changed, changed the way I look at it.

I might not run it through all the, the analytical data today that I did, but I still do. I still do some. All right, we’re gonna define, what are we talking about here? We’re gonna get some initial measurements and we’re gonna cope with a way that we can, you know, I improve upon this and measure it going forward. That’s awesome. Wow. Just the gift that keeps on giving 679. Love that. And, um, so I guess I’d love to transition to your work with P one service group, you know.

Um, so tell us about like the day to day and how you work with companies and, um, yeah, just curious, like, what does that look like for you? Yeah. So a lot of what I still love to do as a, as a business coach that I’ve been doing for many years. I still get to do it here at the, at the P one level, but now I’m more back. What’s fun for me is as a coach, you know, I could, I could guide people, but really at the end of the day, it was like, ok, they take the best, leave the rest right here.

We’re kind of lock, locking arms on this stuff. And so I work with our market area leaders in and their leadership team. So I might work with the, with the president of the location. And then in addition, I might work with their leadership team, their call center managers, their sales managers, their operations managers, their accounting team. And we really kind of dig deep into the business. So a lot of his numbers driven. So we’ll look at all. Right. What, where are we, what’s working? Well, what’s not, you know, the other thing I’m really finding now is like, who’s doing something really well and how do we bring that to our other, you know, locations, uh and put that in place.

We get those economies of scale, which is what we’re all kind of looking, looking for. And now it’s more the I’m in the weeds more, you know, I’ve, I’ve had the opportunity to be at one of our locations here for about the past 30 days and, and really dig deep and get it, get to know their team here. And it’s just been, it’s been a lot of fun being back in the, where the call center is answering phone, where the techs are being dispatched, where the techs are having their meetings and, you know, being out in the field and seeing what’s happening.

That’s just, that’s fun to me to be able to do that. I love that. And it sounds like there’s some because there’s different companies in different markets, you get to benefit from this almost like a shared intelligence. Exactly. And, and all of our members, they’re all part of Nets Star. So they already have some great networking and resources available to them. But this gives us our own little like, you know, our subset of, of, of people that we get to kind of share those best practices with and, and test some things out in different environments and see, you know, how it works and if it’s received, well, how do we take that then to the other locations too?

So we’re having a lot of fun. Oh, I, I could imagine so much fun. All the numbers and, and really at the end of the day, you’re helping owners like realize their dreams, right? Everyone started their business with a purpose. They want to take care of their family, build, generational wealth maybe. And, um, but sometimes we haven’t done that. Our family hasn’t done that. How do we get there? And you’re helping people accomplish their dreams every single night? And really, that’s, that’s the core of who P ONE is.

And I think that’s what excited me most about this organization is P ONE stands for people first. And, and it really is about the people. And if we, if we develop the people, we pour into our people, you know, they take care of the front line people, they take care, you know, the numbers kind of take care of themselves when you’re pouring into your people and, and it’s about putting people first. And that’s what I think makes us a little bit different and unique about what we do every day.

Love that. Um And just on that topic on people. Um one of the common things that I’ve, I’ve seen, it’s, it’s like I have trouble attracting top talent to my company, whether that’s technicians or whether that’s leader, uh leadership team members. Um Any advice that you’d give, you know, with people being the forefront, how do you, how do you bring those people into organization? How do you keep those people in the organization and how do you grow them as the organization grows as well? Yeah. So it’s ok if I don’t sugar coat it, right?

I just just just said it. Yeah. What I found is that we don’t have recruiting problems in our businesses. We have retention challenges in our business. If we think about the people that come and go, we’ve had some great people inside of our business. And I know I’ve been guilty of this myself. I brought in some very, very great people into my own company and then didn’t set them up for success to begin with. So I didn’t properly on board them. I didn’t set up their compensation structure, you know, the right way.

Um You know, I didn’t hold feedback meetings with them so that they knew where they stood. I didn’t create a culture where it was so amazing that people never wanted to leave, you know, and so I’ve lived those, those challenges in my own life, you know, before. And so I think first and foremost, it’s about creating your own culture where people never want to leave and, and, and keep the ones that you have. That being said, I know we still gotta bring some people into organizations as we grow and as we scale and I think it goes to, you gotta always, always, always be recruiting, you gotta read recruiting everywhere you go, you see somebody that you get great service from, you know, hand them a, a recruiting card, hand them a card that, you know, tells them how to get in touch with. You.

Takes them to your landing page, have a QR code on it or something where they can go and learn more about your organization, maybe see a video of your employees or you as the owner talking about uh you know, your company and how it serves the community and how you take care of the families and that kind of stuff. That’s the stuff that I think, you know, people want to see, they join, people, join, you know, organizations, they leave leaders, right? So we have retention challenges. We need to be able to look ourselves in the mirror and say, all right, maybe I’m part of the problem here, right?

And fix your abilities first. But it’s always looking. And I think that the more you can develop your own people, you know, and grow your own to some extent, man, you get to, you get to mold them how you want them, you know. And so I have a friend of mine runs a very large uh successful company and he told me he hasn’t hired an experienced technician in 14 years that he’s went out and recruited. Now, there’s been some that have come to him that he’s hired, but none that he’s gone out and proactively went looking for in 14 years.

He runs a, he has a, a training program. He puts him through his training program and he’s constantly, constantly grooming and growing people and developing them. Wow, that’s, that’s amazing. Um So take away is to be proactive, like if you’re at the restaurant, you’re at a drive through, you got great service. Hey, here’s a card, you know, check us out, um, and having a training program. Uh, I think for those who don’t have one that could be very intimidating to build, but it sounds like it paid such dividends for your friend. Right. Yeah. Wow.

No, no proactive recruiting needed. And, and the, the thing is done with technology today and the things that we have at our fingertips, you know, training, even technical training is, you know, it’s still something that is, it takes time to do. But you have some great technical training resources that’s out there in the marketplace today, that you can even do them online, you know, or you can send people away to different uh technical training schools. And so I would do that a lot with people. I would take them, they were mechanically inclined.

Great communicators was going to be a great culture, fit my company. I’d send them off to a technical training school, they’d come back, you know, they, they weren’t going to be my most technical guy, but that’s where your dispatching for profits comes into play. You don’t want to put them on your most challenging things, you want to put them and set them up for success and groom them along the way and give them very clear guidelines of what the career path looks like. I think that’s another important thing is you gotta have a career path, your people need to understand when they join your company today, where can they go to, you know, what’s the next level look like for them and specifically, what do they have to do to get there?

You know, is it based upon your recalls? Is it based upon, you know, your efficiency rating? Is it based upon your average ticket, your memberships and conversion rate and those kind of things and lay that out in a visual way that they can say, OK, here’s where I am. This is where I wanna be and then they know what they have to do to get there in between. I love that. So it’s not just, hey, we have this company vision but it’s helping your, your individual team members to see what’s the vision in their specific role?

Like where, where can they go? What are the targets they need to hit? Um What could that mean for what they take home? And then they can figure, oh, I can do all these things with X vacation this that and the other got it. That’s, that’s amazing. So broader vision, but also have it on the individual level. Yep. Absolutely. OK. So love that. And um so with that, I uh I know that she, we talked about an optimization tool that um that I thought you might want to get books that connected with that.

But could you talk more about what that is the purpose of it and how it helps companies? So we have a tool uh here at P one that we use called an optimization tool. And I’d love to share it with any of your listeners that wants to, that wants to take a look at, at their business, you know, from a little bit of a what if scenario. So what this tool does is I we’re able to put in some, some key performance indicators. So we look at, you know, your call volume, you look at your phone conversion, those revenue drivers.

I talked about, you know, your average ticket, um your conversion rate in the field. How many leads you turn? And what this tool does is then it says, all right, based upon your current numbers, this is what your financial performance was for the month and then it’s got a column that says, what if? And so we put in there, what if I’m able to take my phone conversion from 82% to 85%? So just 33 points better? What if I’m able to do that? What if I’m able to increase my average ticket by 10 bucks?

What if I’m able to increase my, you know, conversion rate by three points? And so we put these little metrics in here and just show, you know, just by moving the little revenue drivers, right? Your le revenue levers, you know, if we just move those just a little tiny, small bit, what would your business look like going forward. And so it’s pretty eye opening because oftentimes what I see is on the low end, even a well oiled machine can usually get probably another 30% improvement in their revenue just by one or two numbers.

I’ve seen some companies man just by moving some key numbers in their business and staying focused on those, you know, they’re able to grow their business double what it is today. So it’s, it’s pretty eye opening when you walk through that with your team. And they see man, you know, with no additional call volume, by the way, just do it more with the calls we already have. So I’d love to offer that to any of your, any of your listeners. If they want to reach out, you know, I’ll give you my contact information on how you get up with me.

You can just send me an email and I will be happy to send you what I need to put it together and then I’ll put the tool together, send it over to you. I’d also be willing to, you know, if you want me to take a quick look at any finance statements, I’ll just take a quick peek and I’ll give you two or three things that I see that you might want to focus on. Maybe it’s cleaning up your chart of accounts, maybe it’s departmentalizing, you know, maybe I see a number that’s jumping off the page.

So I’ll be, I’ll be more than happy to do that, you know, as a thank you for having me on your show today and, and just for your listeners as well. It’s amazing what’s, uh, what’s, what’s your email and, uh, the best phone number if you’d like as well? Absolutely. So, my email is D Swafford and that’s DS Wafford at P one service group dot com. D Swafford at P one, the number one, not the spelled out one, the number one P one service group dot com.

And my cell phone number, I’m happy to give that to you as well. It’s 941 5862042. Be happy to answer any questions. So such a generous offer. I mean, that’s, that’s incredible, just like quick look and really like you said, those small hinges, right? It’s just that one or two tweaks could you know mean, yeah, doubling your profits. Um I mean act actually very similar situation. We did a uh optimization exercise. We doubled our profits with, with no additional lead. I was like, oh my God, like this is this is nuts.

Um So yeah, it’s very generous and please everyone take, take advantage of this offer, reach out, check out the optimization tool and um yeah, get some feedback on how to take it to the next level. And so uh with that, I think we’re closing in the end the episode. So I wanted to uh one takeaway like what would you say is the one takeaway that people should take from listening to this episode? Wow. I think the one takeaway for me is just, you know, how important it’s, it’s the devil’s in the details, right?

And so sometimes we get, we get caught up on, on other bigger things where really it’s about, like I said earlier, how do I, how do I get better booking a call? How do I get better at running a call? It’s those little things that we do, you know that that really kind of get us to that next level devils in the details. Yeah. Pay attention everyone. Awesome. Well, Denise, thank you so much for being on the podcast. This is really fun and I think you shed a lot of light on the vision for folks like wherever, whatever level they’re at.

Like, what is that next level? Look like? What are some of the problems that they’ll face? And uh I think the great thing about knowing what problems are ahead is that you’re not surprised by them and uh knowing that uh you know, there’s the value in mentorship and guidance and a coach to really take things to the next level. So, um thanks so much. Um Any parting words before we jump off for the day. Thank you again for having me. It’s been so much fun. I’ve enjoyed it.

Thanks Denise, appreciate it. And thank you all who are listening in. So that’s about it. Uh Thanks everyone for your time. Um Definitely reach out to Denise and we will catch you on the next H VAC Financial Freedom episode. All right. Take care everyone. Bye bye. Thank you for joining us for the H VAC Financial Freedom Podcast. Follow us on Stream Yard Apple podcast, Spotify, Amazon music and check out our main website www dot H vac financial freedom dot com to find out how you can also achieve financial freedom.

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