Welcome to The Business of Restoration by Next Gear Solutions, a podcast exploring technology and best practices in the restoration industry. Today’s episode features Next Gear Solution CEO, Garret Gray and Chris Corder, the President of Coastal Restoration and Gearhart, Oregon. We hope you enjoy listening in as Garret and Chris discuss what life is like inside the restoration industry and how technology is transforming the way contractors are doing business.
Garret: Welcome to our first podcast. I have Chris Corder from Coastal Restoration with me here today. And I think the title of our podcast is going to be “The Business of Restoration.” But it’s a working title because this is our first one and I don’t know what I’m doing here. So, we’re excited to at least start these conversations. So, thank you, Chris, for joining us on our first podcast.
Chris: Thank you, Garret. I’m excited to be here. You know, it was kind of a surprise and I’m interested in how it’s going to go and excited to, you know, talk about the business and what’s to come.
Garret: Yeah, look. For me, this whole podcast is going to center around the just the business of restoration, meaning, you know, how people are running their companies today. And I’m not the most technical out in the field kind of guy. My background has been all about how to run a better business. And I think there’s a lot of really good content around how to better dry homes or different ways of removing mold or, you know, how to run a construction project out in the field better. But I think the focus here is going to be on different business owners and how they’re running their business. So, for those who are listening, Chris’s phone just started vibrating and now we’re slightly distracted, which is totally okay because we can either edit this out or this is gonna be very authentic.
Chris: We’re working here. We’re working. We’re working.
Garret: We’re working. And this is a good example of owning a business, I’m assuming, right? Is an emergency coming through, Chris?
Chris: Oh, yeah. We’re trying to load a DASH job here right now.
Garret: Nice. So, Chris, give me some context. You’re up in Oregon.
Garret: Tell me about your service.
Chris: So, we’re based out of Gearhart, Oregon. It’s a small, I would say, county. We have several small towns, communities, on the Oregon coast. We are really the premier restoration contractor there. We are about an hour and a half out of Portland. So we do get, you know, some of those, you know, urban Metro type companies, you know, some of the franchises and stuff that come out and have contracts and programs and stuff with insurance companies that come out a lot. But we have, you know, built their business there. My family has been in that county for over 100 years.
Garret: Oh, wow.
Chris: So, our name is prevalent there, which helps. And then, you know, we’ve just based things off of our, you know, just our quality work and our good customer service and it’s been good for us. But, yeah, so that’s kind of the area we service. We also cross the river into Southwest Washington. And there’s some coastal communities there. Very touristy. First and second homes, a lot of second homes.
Garret: How long you’ve been in restoration?
Chris: We are just at 10 years.
Garret: Ten years?
Chris: Yeah. I started in 2009. It was kind of a crazy start. I grew up in the drywall business. I went to college, you know, did some college stuff. I’m a huge athletics guy. So, I was in that world in college athletics for a while, came home and started working back with my dad. And just I’ve always been kind of a driver like I wanted to build something, you know. And so, you know, he just wasn’t providing enough for me to keep me satisfied. And so, I started digging into the restoration world a little bit just because of the drywall.
Garret: What made you think of restoration? A lot of people asked me how I got into restoration. And it’s a pretty random story.
Chris: It is crazy.
Garret: What got you into restoration?
Chris: Here’s the funny thing. So, when I was in college at Western Oregon University, I lived on this road. And this green truck would drive by all the time and it was a restoration company. I won’t name any names.
Garret: I can’t imagine who.
Chris: Yeah. And I was like, “What the heck is that,” you know. I didn’t even know what it meant. I didn’t understand it at all. I had no clue. But what happened with restoration was my dad was really…he was forward-thinking in how he did travel. And so, we dried out houses before we drywalled.
Garret: Got it.
Chris: We lived in a wet climate. So, he would make sure the contractors had heat. We put dehumidifiers in. You know, we were using dry heat stuff, obviously, that kind of stuff. And we weren’t checking anything really, right? We were just…
Garret: You know, forward-thinking, we didn’t know everything. So, you were just, yeah.
Chris: Yeah, exactly. So, and things kind of slowed off a little bit there, you know, in ’07, ’08 and I was trying to raise a family. And so, I was kind of dig scratching up work a little bit. I talked to one of my insurance friends, actually, a family friend and he was needing some help there on the coast. And it was hard to get good contractors, you know. For the first several years of our business, adjusters would say, “There’s just nobody on the coast. There’s nobody on the coast.” We were just out of luck. It’s a crap shot out here. And so, I just took that, and I just kept working with it. Well, so we kind of flagshipped the business, made up the name. I called up the phone company.
Garret: And, again, this is during like the mortgage crisis essentially.
Garret: So reconstruction or new construction is down, people aren’t building homes and you’re now launching…you’re looking for something, you know, different to do because business is down and no adjusters on the coast or no contractors on the coast according to adjusters. So now you think, “I’m gonna get into restoration.”
Chris: Right. Yeah. And, you know, people were down, and people were having a hard time. My neighbors are builders and carpenters and they’re… I’m working, you know, 16 hours a day.
Garret: Waiting for the phone to ring. Yeah.
Chris: And they’re wondering, “What are you doing?” I’m like, “Well, I’m underneath houses sucking out water. I’m tearing out carpet. I’m fixing roofs,” you know.
Garret: All the stuff nobody else wants to do probably.
Chris: Right. Yeah. And part of it was too, you know, with drywalls, I watched how hard my dad had to work just to make ends meet. And not that that was a bad thing, you know. It was just that if I had the opportunity, I wanted to better it. And so, it took a few years to actually to kind of get some traction because it takes a while to get the [insurance] adjusters to know you…
Garret: So how did you get traction? Like what was your first step in building this restoration business? Are you able to leverage your contacts from drywall or did you feel like you had to start from ground one?
Chris: I mean, it’s a small community. And then, you know, when I walked into somebody’s door or, you know, they knew my name and they trusted me. But it’s hard to get people to…I still have a hard time. People that I know don’t know what I do.
Garret: It’s hard to articulate this business, right?
Chris: It is.
Garret: I get that a lot.
Chris: It is. It’s crazy. Just the other day a guy was… You know, he had another company out and sent them home and then I ended up there. And he’s like, “You know, how did I not know you did this?” I’m like, “Well, until you need it, you don’t know, you know, unless somebody shares it with you.”
Garret: It’s not the sexiest industry, right? You’re not… At dinner parties, it’s kind of hard to explain exactly what it is.
Chris: Yeah. So that’s it. It’s just hard. I mean, I tried all kinds of avenues. I’d go to the fire department, you know, because people would call them. And a lot of it honestly, I have to credit to my dad. My dad really has a great name in town and a lot of people know him. He’s very kind and he’s a good guy. And he has a ton of contacts within the industry. So, a lot of people where we’re from would call like somebody they know that’s a carpenter or in the industry. And they would say, “Hey, you know, my fridge leaked or whatever and I need some help. What should I do?” And like the way we got…really the way I got kind of tied into it was a guy from State Farm was having issues with drywall repair.
And so, I said, “Hey, can we do those little jobs for you or whatever? We’ll take care of them and, you know, we’ll do it right.” And he was like, “Yeah, but I got to give out three names or whatever.” Well, it quickly turned into, you know, he wasn’t going to give out three names as much as he should have because we were taking care of it so well. And that was kind of where it stemmed. And pretty much every time you have a water damage, you know, you have drywall involved. And so that’s kind of where we kind of triggered from. And then I would just say, you know, in like in 2010, I did research, you know. And I discovered Restoration Science Academy, you know, where Brandon Burton was, and part of my story is Brandon. And I had my first…
Garret: For those listening who don’t know, Brandon now works at Next Gear and is a big part of, you know, how we think about the science of drying and how we integrate that into our technology. But he’s been in the industry forever. DryEase legend brands for, gosh, I think over 20 years. So that’s interesting.
Chris: Yeah, he’s an icon in the industry.
Garret: He is an icon.
Chris: Yeah. I mean, he’s so technical, so personable, so caring, all the things are what we are. And, anyway, so I went through that class. I’ve told the story a few times, but I stepped outside and I called my dad, I’m like, “Hey, you know, I’m just telling you, we need to halt all operations until I get back because we’re doing things way wrong.”
Garret: I mean, that’s great, though. Like I can’t tell you, you know, how many people, you know, that we meet that there can be so much profit and just kind of slinging equipment around that it…for some figuring out how to do it right, we’re getting the right training, isn’t as important. And they’re hoping it’s not going to catch up with them. So, I think that’s good to hear.
Chris: Yeah, it’s crazy. Obviously, there’s a lot of people that do things, you know, wrong in the industry, which makes it harder for us to do things right.
Garret: Yeah, I think that’s exactly right.
Chris: Yeah. So, I tell my team all the time, like, “Hey, be transparent. You have to understand that anytime if somebody asks you for the information that you need to provide it to him,” because there’s all kinds of opportunity, you know, for me to go to a sub and say, “Hey, can you make that bid, you know, $8,500 instead of $4,500?” And we pocket the extra $4,000. It happens all the time. There’s no way in heck that’s going to happen with our company. And it’s one of the things that scares me about growth, you know, is that, you know, the more pieces you have to the puzzle, the easier it is for something to go astray.
Garret: That’s a great segue. So, you’ve been doing this for 10 years. Is that right?
Garret: I guess I got the timing. Okay. So, 10 years. Tell me about your growth story. You know, how many people do you have now? You know, how are you thinking about scaling? And what are your concerns or fears?
Chris: Lots of fears. Yeah. No, that’s a good question because I have hiring time today. I gotta talk to somebody that’s on coming on board. It’s been kind of crazy. And I’m not a big company type of a person. But at the same time, I’m trying to be business smart. And so, I’m, you know, working into that a little bit. We started off with myself, just me. And it kind of grew a little bit. To make a long story short, I went to my wife helping me do the books and the billing and things like that because she was tired of seeing me out late, you know. And she’s been very helpful. And she’s our bookkeeper today, to just the need. What do we need? And we needed an estimator. And we needed an office manager. We needed a project manager. We needed a mitigation manager. So, all that stuff is because of the good work we’ve done, you know, and earned trust with, you know, the people we’ve worked for and worked with. It’s grown crazy for me.
Gosh, we’ve hired…You know, I have like a list that I keep of who we have and what their start dates are and all that kind of stuff. And so, it was like one, one, three, four, four, you know, and here we are like 12, right? And I’m probably going to hire this woman today probably to start doing our in-house painting. So now we have in-house painting, in-house drywall, you know, four carpenters, two project managers. And the mitigation side, we have a full crew, which my sister is actually trained. She’s very young and doing an amazing job, came to connect with us and, you know, her brain just took off. She’s doing awesome. So, we have her and then two technicians. And then we kind of just bounce back and forth and then the office staff, of course. So, we have an estimator, a project coordinator. And I’m just like, “How is this happening?”
Garret: Now you’ve touched on something that’s an interesting kind of debate that we have in this industry. You do a lot of your trades in-house. It sounds like you do painting in-house. Now, you’ve come from the drywall world so I’m assuming you drywall in-house.
Garret: How did you decide what you can do in-house versus subbing out?
Chris: Yeah, it’s tough. And that’s part of the debate today with hiring the new painter. And the drywall thing was tough. My dad still does a lot of our drywall, but he can only do so much. You know, he’s very picky. It’s just him and my brother. So they can’t do everything. But it kind of boils down to, if you have the work and the right person walks in the door, then you make it happen. You know what I mean? And I’ve always kind of…and anytime I’ve put out an ad to hire somebody, it never works. I use a sandwich board in front of my office. I just set it out there. And it’s just like a good luck charm.
Garret: You must get a lot of traffic by your office.
Chris: Yeah. I mean, just people driving by and, you know, it’s a small town, so word starts buzzing, you know, like, “Geez, Chris is hiring again.” Even sometimes if the crew’s kind of acting up, I’ll just set it out there just for fun.
Garret: This is a, “Get your act together,” thing?
Chris: What are you thinking? Like, “What’s Chris thinking like?”
Garret: Okay. Yeah. If your employees are listening to this podcast, now you’ve just let your secret go.
Chris: Yeah. I know, right? They will. They get excited. But, you know, it’s a little bit of luck. But the people that we have all been transformed from something else. Our project coordinator actually was a waitress, like an event coordinator in the food industry. And I worked for her as a kid.
Chris: Yeah. And when her name came up, she was looking for something different to do that was kind of a little slower pace from the restaurant world, you know? I was like, “Vicki, yeah, we can transform her in anything because of who she is,” you know. So that’s kind of how we went. We’ve looked for the personality, the characteristics, transformed them.
Garret: So, have you found success with that? Like you’re not hiring people with experience in our industry. You’re pulling people from other industries that have like core values and characteristics that you find are successful and then you’re shaping them. One of the things talking to contractors as I travel all around, finding good people is a really difficult thing. And I find that, you know, some people are trying to find people who have experience and so there’s a lot of, you know, trading employees around the space that we see. What’s your philosophy on that? Have you found luck in both or…?
Chris: Yeah. You know, the experience thing is hard because they come with all of these bad habits.
Chris: And it’s just knowing everybody, and everybody is finding that out. And so I would say if you’re trainable and you’re a good person and you have good attributes and stuff like that, the thing with like customers is they will let little quality things or finished type items slip a little bit if they’re taken care of nicely because we can always fix little things here and there, but in this industry it’s about good service, and today, people have higher expectations than ever. You’ve got to be able to communicate. You know, you gotta tell them when you’re gonna be there, when you’re going to leave, what you did. You know, everything is very transparent. So that’s kind of how we function.
Of course, like the greatest thing that ever happened would be if somebody walked in with great experience and be, you know, a good person and have all that good stuff. But, you know, for that to happen is pretty rare. Like for instance, our drywall, our in-house drywall guy, he was doing drywall actually in California, moved up to where we’re at, and he was doing some other types of jobs and stuff like that and just kind of got tired of it and wanted back in. And he wasn’t perfect, you know, in the drywall repair type stuff. So, we thought, “We’ll see if he’s trainable.” I have a little bit of, I don’t know, a grudge against that drywall stuff because of my dad was so good at it. So, I was just like, “I don’t know. Like I don’t know if I can handle it.” And it took me a little while to have somebody else in there doing it.
But the cool thing with that situation is our project manager actually worked in drywall for his whole career before I transformed him. Yeah. And so, he came from drywall. So, he was able to kind of guide them along. And they’ve done really well and it’s working out great. So, we kind of do…it just depends on the job. We kind of split. So, you know, like your question about subs versus in-house, in-house obviously is probably more profitable.
Garret: You think so?
Chris: I think so if it’s well managed. You know, the hard part with subs is it’s hard to control them. I mean, for instance, if you don’t mind, I’ll kind of veer off here a little bit. Insurance companies right now are just so rebuttal about having supervisor hours or having a project manager or whatnot. Well, I mean, if you try to round up some subs to do a job, I mean, you pretty much got to take them to coffee, get them some donuts, feed them, you know, give them some swag. Hopefully, they’ll show up on time and get your…because they’re just so busy and the demand is so high. So, trying to coordinate them and get them onto the job on time and then get them to do what you need them to do is difficult.
So, the nice thing about in-house is you have a little more control, you know. Like, “Hey, I want you to do this today and that tomorrow and then back here today or the next day.” It’s a little better because our industry is crazy. Like how about calling the sub and say, “Hey, can you run over to this job and just put primer on it please so we can get the washer and dryer back in?” I don’t know. And they’re like, “No, we can’t,” right?
Garret: Yeah. No, I think that’s the question, right? And maybe it’s a scale thing. There are business models out there that I’ve seen where, you know, they do $5, $10 million with the office supply people and super-profitable and they keep their subs so busy that when they do say jump, you know, they jump. And then I think I’ve seen operations where there’s a mix and they struggle to control subs and just like you said. So, they started opting for in-house resources. I think that has, you know, problems too because sometimes in-house resources, they’re more on the clock.
And so, you know, if they don’t get to something today, they’re going to come back tomorrow. And you don’t really have the option of fixing your costs like you tend to do with subs. So, it’s an interesting debate. It’s funny. Generally, I also hear in my area, “I can’t sub because of X, Y, and Z.” Everyone thinks their area is a bit unique. And some areas are unique. Do you feel like yours is area driven or do you feel like it’s maybe where you’re at in scale today that you think that it’s hard to get subs to respond as you need to?
Chris: The crazy thing about us is there’s not a lot of companies where we’re at that do the volume that we are doing, to be honest. We’re not doing huge projects left and right, you know, like stacked up.
Garret: You’re kind of a volume shop. You’re doing lots of smaller jobs as opposed to, you know, some commercial or some larger volume or large-dollar jobs.
Garret: Got it.
Chris: Yeah, I mean, we have a lot of different jobs on the books, you know, so our range is from, you know, the $2,000 job to the…I mean, we did a million-dollar job.
Garret: Okay, that’s a good-sized job.
Chris: Yeah. But those are few and far between. So, there’s a lot of them that make it up. So, you know, I would say most of the subs are on one of our jobs like every week. So sometimes they get kind of stacked up and then, you know, they’re like solely working for us. So, I’m like, “We have enough for our own if we can figure it out.” But I think a good balance is good is what I’m thinking. It’s kind of like the program versus the non-program. You know, you got to kind of have that split. I mean, I think sub versus in-house, it’s good to have somebody in-house, but maybe you don’t need a whole crew, you know.
For instance, like when we were finishing up the largest job we’ve done, which was just under a million-dollar job, a fire repair, we were pushing to get done and get them back in-house at a certain date. And our in-house drywall guy was there, you know, just fixing every little thing that needed to be fixed as we’re going out the door. And that was a pretty big win for me. I was there watching it happen. And it was pretty cool like to be at that point where we’re able to do that without calling, you know, my sub, my dad, like, “Hey, can you run over here?” And he’s like, “Well, actually, I’m sorry. I’m in the middle of a bunch of other stuff.”
Garret: Right. And it’s your dad. So, what are you gonna do?
Garret: And it’s your dad. So, what are you gonna do?
Chris: Yeah. Yeah. The funny thing is if he listens to this, I get put on the backburner a lot.
Garret: No, I can imagine that, right? Like, “It’s just my son calling.”
Chris: My family will fight me.
Garret: Yeah. Right. Like, yeah, I can see that a lot. That’s great. So, as you’ve been growing over the last several years, like what are some of the biggest challenges that you’ve faced?
Chris: Biggest challenges? You know, I’ve kind of lived by the work hard and the harder you work the luckier you get kind of thing. And I feel like we’ve worked really hard, but we’ve also been very fortunate. You know, things have rolled pretty nicely with us. I would say probably challenge-wise for me has just been managing the business part of it, you know, because…and maybe it’s probably a lot of it has to do with just me and who I am and how I’m built. But I found that I’m good at just doing, you know.
And so the planning, right, and then the forecasting and the business part of it, the money, the finances, the, you know, thinking ahead and budgeting and knowing like, “Do we need another guy,” or, “What happens if the water damage doesn’t come in this week?” You know, we’ve been pretty lucky over our whole kind of our run or build of the business is to where just about the time I get nervous, something happens. And it’s tough because even in regular construction, you know, it’s that same feeling. It’s like, “I better go bid that job,” or, “I better take that job because…”
Garret: “Who knows if there’s another one I’ll find it.” Yeah.
Chris: Right. Yeah. And that’s just like it’s just hard because, you know, people that are…especially guys that have their wives or their families are like, “Why are you so busy all the time?” “Well, I gotta get this job done. Well, if I just take that job.” “Well, I wasn’t sure…” “Well, I thought we needed it.” So, it’s like when the phone rings and it’s a two-story, huge water loss in a multimillion-dollar home and you’re already slammed. It’s like…
Garret: Oh, yeah, you’re not turning that one down. Yeah, that’s not happening.
Chris: So, it’s just that kind of stuff.
Garret: Or you’re at, you know, Christmas dinner and the same call comes in, right? Yeah. There’s no downtime.
Chris: It is. And I would say that’s probably the other tough thing is just, you know, the employees and what you’re asking of them, you know, because you’re asking a lot because they have people…
Garret: They’re gonna be on call, right? A lot of them are gonna be on call. Things happen it seems like at the worst time for us, right? Like I always tell people, “If you’re slow, like schedule us to come out and do like some consulting or something because like luck will have it that we’ll get there the night before you have a huge fire and you have to cancel or something.” It’s just how it works.
Chris: Oh, I know.
Garret: Yeah. I’m surprised you didn’t get a big fire like yesterday before you had to fly down here.
Chris: Well, Friday night we did.
Garret: Did you?
Chris: Yeah, we probably, yeah. Yeah. No. And fortunately, I have a great crew and they’re taking care of it.
Garret: And you shut your phone off too.
Chris: I did. Yeah, it’s off. And when you said that about my phone, I was thinking that I do have a very good crew. And I know I’ve put a lot of work into them to build who they are, but they are who they are too. They’re good people. We just recently put together our core values and a mission statement, which have been, you know, just on my mind for a long time. We just kind of finalized that the other day. And they’re all a part of that.
Garret: Did you include them in the process?
Chris: Oh, yeah.
Garret: Oh, great. Yeah, I’ll tell you, you know, not including your team in the process of creating your mission statement and core values is a mistake a lot of leaders make. You’re just kind of handing down your core values and mission. If it’s not collaborative, it’s a harder sell.
Chris: Yeah, I agree. Yeah. I mean, you definitely need to have, you know, the strongest input. But who, you know, we are is who they are. And you want that to be fluid. I’ve tried like heck throughout the process to tell them like, “Hey, when you go out there, they’re looking for me. You know, they want to see me. So, you have to kind of be thinking that. Like what would I do or how would I want it taken care of? Obviously, use your own little tweaks to it to make it yours but, you know, try to kind of keep that in mind,” because even today, people are like, “Where is Chris,” or, “I want to talk to Chris,” or people in my office say that my phone is magic.
Garret: And actually, we struggle with that, too. Like we were a really small company and now we’re over 200 people. And, you know, for some people, they sell my cell phone and…I mean, you can have my cell phone but like I get texts if somebody isn’t going the way someone wants it to go or they want a certain feature. You talked earlier about, you know, you’re a doer and part of the struggle for growing is not just doing and kind of doing the work it takes to set up others for success. I’m trying to learn that lesson now too. What advice do you have for people who are trying to go through that transition?
Chris: I would just say, kind of, take it in. Take in what you have and, you know, what you’ve built, you know. And try to be the visionary because I’m noticing a lot of people look up to me. And so, I just try to lead by example. I try to find ways to, you know, kind of keep involved with the stuff that I like to do, you know, whether it be going out on a call or, you know, you kind of have to gauge like what your availability is and what you can do. And you’re actually pretty flexible once you get to a certain point, you know, and I kind of like that. But it’s hard to get…for me, it’s sometimes I’m a little bit of a slow reactor because I’m somewhat cautious. But, you know, like today, this whole doing a podcast with you today is a really cool opportunity for me. And it’s almost like, you know, another little milestone showing our company and who we are and stuff like that. But to be able to pull away and do it…
Garret: Yeah, it’s a big deal.
Chris: Yeah, it’s awesome. But, you know, Mary Catherine calls and says, “Hey, can you do this?” And I’m looking at my calendar, I’m like, “You know, I don’t have anything crazy on Monday.” And this is what I need to be doing is doing stuff like this and making our company more known and taking advantage of those types of things. So, I would just try to say as hard as it is to do is to like to enjoy the stage that you’re at because it’s constantly going to change, you know. The first day when all you’re doing is, you know, digging and grinding and then billing and calling and all by yourself. And then, you know, as the years go by, the next thing you’re hiring and then pretty soon you’re managing and now you’re visioning, you know, where you’re going to go. And I guess just kind of, you know, try to be in the moment and enjoy it for what it’s worth.
And I know a lot of business owners, especially in construction and restoration, started with their hands for the most part. And so, it’s hard to make that transition to the business side of it. And I guess that one other thing I would say is I think you need to look at possibly finding a good consultant that understands the business because not that you necessarily need to build this ginormous business. But you need to be smart about it. And you need to have somebody that can kind of see it from another perspective and almost be… I do a lot of coaching with kids. So, I’m always instructing them. I was gonna say yelling. I talk loud a lot in the current sport of softball, so there’s a lot of yelling.
But I’m always instructing them. And I always think like…and my employees and stuff, I’m always kind of coaching them as well. And I think of it as a sport, my business like a sport. But nobody is ever coaching me, you know. Nobody is ever saying, “Hey, Chris, you need to be kind of working on that,” or, “Hey, Chris, you know.” So that somebody that fits your business like a consultant, and I can’t name any names or give somebody the right person to call. But somewhere along the lines, if you run into somebody at a show or some kind of event, that you feel like could fit you, that could help you and see from a different perspective, I think might be a good thing.
Garret: That’s good advice for I think any business owner. Like it is one of the loneliest places to have to manage a business because if things are tough, you’re not going to show that to your employees. Your job is to kind of keep a positive outlook and project strength for your team. You can’t really talk to your clients about your struggles. And so, what I found is building Next Gear, you gotta be careful talking to your spouse because you don’t want to worry them. And if you’re worried about how you’re going to pay payroll or, you know, this check didn’t come in and what are the implications of that?
Yeah, I think it’s a lonely place for most entrepreneurs of all industries, but especially in I think restoration because it’s a 24/7 business. And so, you can’t even plan downtime where you can be reflective or get someone to talk to you about things because you’re on the go all the time.
Chris: Yeah. When you need somebody that kind of relates to the industry, you know, that can understand and help you out a little bit. And, you know, maybe it’s just like that, “Hey, you really don’t need to worry about that. Like it’ll be fine.” Those kinds of things could be helpful, you know, especially if you trust them and, you know, you built a good relationship. So that’s something that I’m starting to kind of think about and utilize is, you know, because things get kind of big and kind of scary and it isn’t always going to be perfect, you know. So, things can go wrong. And when they do, what are you going to do? And, you know, having somebody on your side would be awesome.
Garret: Well, especially when you are a doer, right? Like you know you can do it a certain way. And if you want to scale, the only way to scale is to get other people to do what you used to do. And the likelihood that they’re going to do it as well as you is low, especially in the beginning. And so being able to have the confidence to kind of let people make mistakes and just coach them, that’s a whole another skill than doing it yourself. And, you know, it’s something for me as I’ve, you know, built Next Gear from the ground up, it’s been a learning process for me to figure out how to let people go off and, you know, make the same mistakes I probably made, you know, 10 years ago, but now I feel like, you know, I’ve learned a lot. And I don’t want those same mistakes to be repeated.
You can’t always make decisions for your employees. You’re not always going to be there. And that’s not a scalable approach. So, I think it’s one of those biggest struggles I’ve identified with restoration contractors, in particular, is, like you said, they all come from…not all, but a lot of them come from being hands-on. They know how to do it. They do it really, really well and getting others to execute as well as you can execute is hard. And being able to sit back and let people make those same mistakes and learn is even harder.
Chris: Well, especially because, you know, when you make the mistake, it doesn’t cost you anything.
Garret: Or even if it does, at least you made the mistake.
Chris: Yeah or like you can absorb it somehow, you know, if it’s not too big of a deal. But when employees are making mistakes and things like that…I was just talking to a guy we hired the other day and I was like, you know, honestly, he really wanted to work for us. And I was saying, you know, it honestly comes down to value, you know. If you can find yourself to be valuable within the company, then it will probably work. But the minute it starts looking like it’s not valuable to the company, that’s just business. There’s nothing I can do about it.
Garret: That’s right.
Chris: So, if you’re making multiple mistakes or, you know, there’s not enough for you to do or you’re not finding a way to stay busy and grow and learn, then it’s not gonna work out, you know.
Garret: Let’s true for all of us, right? You’re either adding value or you’re not. And I think in this day and age, it’s sort of hard for some people to get that, right? And managing millennials and this kind of new workforce of kind of making sure people understand like this is all about value creation. We’re all creating value for our customers. And, you know, when that equation doesn’t work, we’ve got to correct it and figure out how to, you know, deliver value in a way that makes sense for everybody.
Chris: Yeah. Yeah.
Thank you for tuning in to this episode of The Business of Restoration by Next Gear Solutions, a podcast exploring technology and best practices in the restoration industry. Be sure to rate us and subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider. We’ll see you next time for Part Two of Chris and Garret’s conversation.
Also, if you want to enter for a chance to win trip a trip for two to New Orleans to attend Next Gear’s CONNECT2020 Conference and 2 tickets to the NCAA National Football Championship, be sure to sign up for a free business consultation. From all of us here at Next Gear, make it a great week!