Ep. 27

Discussing resources, accessibility, and technology for home service providers

with guest Roland Litenburg of Housecall Pro.

Home Service Toolbox Ep. 27

Brian: Well, on today’s podcast we’re going to be joined by Roland Ligtenberg, the cofounder and SVP of growth at HouseCall Pro. Well I am your host Brian Leimone and I’m joined today as well as by my co-host, Olivia. We’re all remote. How are you today?
Olivia: I am good.
Roland: Doing good.
Brian: Good.
Roland: How are you?
Brian: We’re good. It’s a little strange all being remote. You know, normally we’re, we’re actually in office. I’m sure maybe you’re in office as well, but not you know, stuck at home.
Roland: Yeah.
Brian: I’m a little crazy with this coronavirus.
Roland: Yeah, yeah. We’re lucky enough to be able to do work from home and not have to be out and about. So I feel like that’s not true for everybody and we’ve got a lot of our own customers that are essential and non essential home service people that, you know, they, they do, they are out and about. So I’m lucky enough to work from home even though it can feel a little restricting at times for sure.
Brian: Well, you know, so since helping found HouseCall Pro the company has helped revolutionize the small business home services industry through a software enabled marketplace and mobile operating system. Definitely pertinent to today’s conversation related to having to be mobile. And in under four years, 65,000 home service professionals have used the platform on average about seven, seven and a quarter hour today to streamline and modernize their business through automation. So, so basically in a, in a short sentence HouseCall Pro is some sort of software that helps businesses in the home service industry be mobile and use the internet. Is that, is that correct?
Roland: Yeah, so we think of it as an operating system for home service businesses. So it does everything from scheduling, dispatching, doing invoicing, payments, marketing automation, online booking, customer memberships, all kinds of stuff. That typically is monotonous and takes a lot of time to do if you were to do it manually. And so with software we can help automate that. So that way you know, our pros, our customers can get back to what they are best at, which is, you know, turning the wrench or doing their trade and interacting with customers face to face. So we try to bring all the other stuff just to the background and get them as much time back but then also really set them up for the growth. And so we’ve been at it now for five years since we launched and we’ve, you know, we’re helping a lot of pros all across all the trades in home services space.
Roland: And we’re, we’re not just limited to the home services space. We have we have dog walkers, we have phlebotomists, we have Equine Masseuse, we have all kinds of interesting people; pretty much just if you are a mobile service provider, you can use our software. We specialize in the trades. We specialize in HVAC, electrical, and plumbing. But we are about 170 different categories. So it’s fun to see what people come up with and what kind of businesses they’re running, especially in times like these, when a lot of businesses are pivoting. I’m sure we can chat more about that a little bit.
Brian: Wow, that’s incredible. I think today’s conversation is going to be really pertinent because, you know, pre-show, you talked a little, a little bit about the information that you have. Because you know, you’re working with, you know, not just a handful, but you’re working with, you know, multiple tens of thousands of businesses. You can really see what is happening kind of in this season. So let’s just jump right in there. You know as it relates to being in the season that we’re in with coronavirus and obviously in most States homes service providers are essential. But even with being essential, this is impacting their business. How can you, what are some of the things that, and trends that you’ve been seeing from an impact standpoint?
Roland: Sure, sure. So let’s talk about first from a geographic perspective, obviously the country is being hit in different ways at different times, different hotspots and those hotspots are even moving around. So as, as those moving around, we’re obviously seeing an impact to both scheduled and completed jobs. We see that as like a, a leading and a trailing indicator of how our businesses are performing. They’re using our platform. Obviously, there’s all the different industries within the home service trades and they’re operating a little bit differently. So when you take a look at the cleaning from home cleaning to carpet cleaning, those types of industries are hit the hardest because they’re not essential or they’re not considered essential by many of the States. Whereas more mechanical trades like HVAC, plumbing, and electrical, those are, those are necessary and essential and they’re hit less.
Roland: So what we’re seeing is there’s a little bit of difference between those trades and the cleaning trades. And then another way to think about it too is we’re seeing a lot of businesses that are able to render services without going in the home. They’re definitely impacted a little bit, but not quite as much as the services where someone actually has to come inside the home. So if you think about those services like, like landscaping, tree trimming, pool, pool guys those are typically companies that are still able to do what they’re doing on a day to day basis without having to interact. And still be able to maintain that social distance that’s in place in a lot of the different States. So what we see is, you know, HVAC, electrical, plumbing still doing well. Obviously, trending a little bit below home cleaning, you know, power washing, carpet cleaning, those types of things, not doing quite as well.
Roland: They’re definitely heavy, heavily impacted. We see over 50% drop. But for anyone that’s doing outside services as it relates to home services, they’re still doing okay. They’re obviously a little bit impacted there, but not quite as much as those that have to go indoors. So if you’re in one of those trades and you’re kind of feeling that way, just know that you’re, you’re not alone. And we’re seeing that in the trends of the data. And obviously another thing to keep in mind is with all of the things that are happening; it’s not demand that’s going to be going away. It’s all demand that’s becoming pent up. So what I mean by that is people are inside their homes and they’re probably using their things much more than they normally would be. And things are still breaking and there is things that will need to get fixed.
Roland: So what that means is that you want to make sure that you can position your business and keep it afloat so that when the lockdowns and the social distancing, all those get lifted, that you’re ready to come back in. Because the companies that are still standing are going to be getting a majority of those inbound requests because it’s not as if the demand went away. It’s just been pent up. It’s just like water kind of building pressure behind that dam after winter, you know, in spring they got to let it out. So it’s not like it’s going away. It’s definitely there. And you want to make sure you position yourself in the right way so you can capture all that on the rebound side of things.
Brian: Naturally excuse me interesting to think about the different buckets. You know, I hadn’t really spent some time just processing that, you know, there’s obviously different kinds of home service providers in that way. What are some ways that home service providers are pivoting? I mean, because like for example, you know, a contractor can do work inside now, you know, are you seeing some businesses that you know, may be doing inside work kind of pivoting and shifting towards, you know, promoting more of work that would be less they, they [inaudible 7:51] into the home.
Roland: So I think there’s a couple different things that we’re seeing. There’s some businesses that are pivoting slightly and some that are pivoting completely. So we’ll talk about the ones that are maybe pivoting slightly for companies that have the ability to do work inside and outside of the home. A lot of stuff that needs to happen inside the home is now being transferred in what they called virtual estimates or virtual service calls. Where simply by using FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Zoom our software HouseCall Pro, you’re able to actually interact with the customer and yet diagnosis, even sometimes troubleshooting walkthroughs and quotes do it all virtually. Whereas a lot of the work outside the home, they can still do. So you’ll see plumbing companies we have a lot of our pros that are like, Hey, you know what, I’d rather collect 50% of a check because that work that I can do is outside than no check at all.
Roland: So that’s how some of them are adapting if they’re doing inside and outside work and they have the ability to do that. Then there’s some companies like cleaning companies that just can’t, can’t operate. And so some of those companies and carpet cleaning companies that I see, they’re pivoting their business models entirely. And a lot of them are saying now, Hey, for my current customers, I’m just think of me as delivery service. Whatever you need, I’ll go get it and bring it to your home. So we also see companies that have trucks that are open and that have room, they’re turning into junk haul removal. You know, as everyone’s shifting to living in doors and really working from home more often people are noticing that their houses are probably really cluttered and then need to get some stuff out. So a junk call removing all of those are still categorizes essential services so in most States.
Roland: So what that means is, you know, they’re completely pivoting their business to offering something different from like delivery or to like a junk call. And really there they see themselves as, Hey, you know what, we have trucks, we’ve got employees that are not covered by the PPP or IDL. And so I’m going to put them to work and they’re going to do something. And we are going to provide something of value to our current customer base. So when we come out the backside of this, they’re going to remember who was there to help them. So you’ll see different companies doing different techniques to keep themselves busy and in business and still keeping their guys and their trucks out on the road.
Brian: That’s incredible. And we’ve been seeing that as well. You know, some of our clients have actually struggled, you know, with kind of jumping into that virtual that virtual world of, you know, they may use software but they’ve never done a virtual, you know, conversation, you know, in my world. And my guess is in your world, you know, you live with technology. Are you finding that your any of your you know, clients and customers are just, even though they’re used to using software, they’re struggling to jump into like a virtual conversation from a standpoint of quoting or estimating or even diagnostic?
Roland: I think there’s things that are happening now because we’re in this state of coronavirus that will outlast the current situation that we’re in. So what I mean is people are learning to adapt, to use new tools that they’re going to bring forward into this kind of new world that we’re going to have to live in. And one of those things being this virtual estimates and when you think about using it for a B2B application isn’t very different than what you’d normally do from a B2C application, you know, or just C2C. So if you think about, you know, them as just a family unit and they probably have family in different places. They’re using FaceTime, they’re doing the Zoom happy hours, they’re doing all of these things just themselves irrespective of business. So they’re not only becoming accustomed to the tools by using it for their business, but they’re also using it for their own personal lives.
Roland: So it makes it much more, easy for them to transition. Where normally if you just say, Hey, we’re not going to start, you know, doing virtual estimates and why would we because we can just go to their home. They’re starting to learn the reasons why it’s so powerful and so beneficial. You know if you can do seven estimates or eight estimates in any given day and you don’t have to get in the truck and go drive around town everywhere, get stuck in traffic you know, get stuck talking to that homeowner that you can’t really like leave and you feel awkward leaving their home. These are now all tools where you can quickly jump in, jump out, not spend too much time, there’s no time in between. So, you know, business are really learning that Hey, this might actually be an optimal way to do a lot of what I would normally have done. You know, by, by physically driving around and saving a lot of costs. So I feel like, you know, typical customers of ours because they’re using our software are more, early adopter technology forward and so they’re not quite struggling as much as maybe some other more traditional base businesses that are still using pen and paper. So I see that less. But it’s also just because by default, you know, our customers do see the value in software and are investing in their business and spending, you know monthly recurring cost with us to better their own business.
Brian: Yeah. It’s so interesting. I mean to think about the software and people not being able to do that, you know, so I’m, I’m moving and I’m literally calling upon, you know, the people that are in this industry to help me with quotes and everything. And you know, because I’m buying a new home and need to do some renovations immediately. I don’t want to bog down the current homeowner with bringing all these people in. And I’m finding that nine out of every ten people I contact don’t want to, they want me to pick up the phone they want, they want to do an appointment there. And it’s like, guys, like, we don’t have to do this. Like, we can go virtual, you know, give me a range of a price. Like, even if you can’t do dollar for dollar until you get there on person, I can understand that, you know, but you have to be flexible. And I think that you’re right, you know, the companies that choose to be flexible and choose to adapt are going to come out on the other side even stronger. And, even maybe, implementing some of these things that they start doing but those that, are just really struggling. I think it’s going to be another, you know, 2008 or 2001.
Roland: Flat rate pricing. So what I mean by flat rate pricing is something that’s not just time and labor. You know, our time and materials where you’re just billing, Hey, I’m going to go Home Depot, get these things am there for four hours. I’m going to bill you X. It’s more flat rate pricing on a lot of things that are fairly standard or straightforward. Whether it’s unclogging a toilet or installing a faucet or painting the door, you know, these are all things that you should know how long it’s going to take you and 95% of the cases. And you know, roughly the materials or if the customer supplies, you know, the faucet, what are the costs to install, you know we always train and advocate for, for our pros to go to that flat rate pricing based model because it’s a lot easier for customers to understand from a pricing perspective.
Roland: They don’t feel bait and switched obviously for things that are new construction or are you doing remodels? Yeah. You know, there’s going to be a wider range. But typically the home service pros that use our platform are doing service based work. That’s typically more repair maintenance. Although there is some install, it’s, it’s not quite the same as you know, a general contractor bidding a full house remodel. You know, you’re going to get quotes from 30,000 to 150,000. These things are pretty standard. And the more you can get used to quoting these flat rate prices, remember sometimes you might be wrong. But as long as you’re not wrong, more than a one out of 20 times, you’re going to be making a pricing in the margin on all the other calls that you’re going to make to overcome that. And the benefit is it’s so much easier on you.
Roland: It’s so much easier on the customer and that’s what they’re looking for. So use this as an opportunity to practice those skills and start really thinking about what time it takes to do certain things and make it easy for the customer. It’s all about transparency, all about ease. The customers are already kind of weirded out by people come into their home, you know, try to take that like off their plate. Have them not worry because they’re going to remember that you’re easy to deal with. You are technologically friendly. You just hopped right on FaceTime or you just hopped right on Zoom. And they be like, wow, this is a, this is a cool company to work with. So even if you don’t win the bid, you know, even if you end up not doing something, they’re going to remember how you made them feel and that’s the most important thing coming out the other end.
Brian: Wow.
Olivia: That’s all really helpful. Kind of switching gears a little bit obviously your company is so dynamic and has done a tremendous amount of work for home service providers. Can you kind of shed some light on what compelled you to help them HouseCall Pro and did you ever imagine it becoming what it is today?
Roland: That’s a, that’s a great question. So I think when you originally get in the business of, of starting something, you never really even believe what it could become. You have hopes and aspirations, but you never truly know. And I think a part of the fun part of being an entrepreneur, whether in the home services or technology space is that you have a certain naivety to how hard things may actually be along the way to get to where you are. So when we started HouseCall Pro, we knew that, you know the home services space had largely been untouched by technology and it was a great opportunity because it’s just so highly fragmented. It’s definitely so old school or definitely has been, you know, pen and paper. And so there is just a big opportunity to help a lot of people that have not traditionally gotten the tools like are developed for consumers.
Roland: And so when we started building our app, we built it mobile first and mobile only. So, you know, we had it just for these devices, you know, our iPhones and our Androids. And it was built for the owner operator. And we slowly started to build up from there. And then we built a web port on all these things. But when we saw what it was able to do from a time savings perspective for our customers, it just made it even more fun. Because we’d get the messages from customers saying like, Oh my gosh, you did not know how much time, you know, I save and I now have the time for my, for my family after work. I’m no longer like under a pile of paperwork and have to enter in all these invoices by hand and am not losing track of things anymore like I used to.
Roland: And I’m able to send these on my way text just like Uber to my customer and customers always love it. So, you know, it’s self reinforcing. And along the way we built an amazing community. You know, we have an exclusive group for, for our pros on, on Facebook or I think we have over 8,000 of them now on there. And they’re all sharing their tips and tricks with one another. And it’s very collaborative. And typically in the home services space, you don’t see a lot of home service companies working with one another. Unless there are different industries in an area and they’re kind of referring jobs to one another. But typically you don’t see a lot of plumbers helping other plumbers because it’s just so cut throat. And then in our community it’s so different. So you know, if you use HouseCall Pro, you get to join that group and share tips and tricks and just learn from other people in other areas.
Roland: And even in your same area. We see a lot of collaboration in the same industry, in the same area. So it’s really helped, especially during this coronavirus time we started a brand new group and it’s for all home service companies. Whether or not they’re using our software doesn’t matter. And so you can get there just by going to housecallpro.com/coronavirus. But we dump a ton of resources and time into researching and reading the Cares Act to figure out the best way for home service companies to get those PPP loans funded. Which banks do they go to? How long does it take? The EIDL the free $10,000 they’re given out that you don’t have to repay. So we’ve dump a lot of stuff into there to make sure that, you know, our customers have all the tools they need to stay successful. Stay afloat so that when they come out the other side of everything that’s going on here, they’re going to be the strong ones left standing.
Roland: So that’s some of the motivation behind what we do. But we hope that everyone can, can watch that. We do a nightly webcast there too 5:00 PM every single day. Covering whatever’s latest and new because there’s always stuff changing and there’s tons of opportunity right now. And when you have some time, now is the time to really invest in your business and get things straightened out. Whether it’s your CRM, whether it’s your website, whether it’s your marketing, whether it’s your operations now is really the time where, you know, don’t just sit home and just watch Netflix all day. Do something, you know, do something productive. There’s, there’s plenty of stuff that I’m sure you’ve been wanting to do that now you have some time to get to toward doing it.
Brian: Yeah, I definitely you know, spoken to some of our clients and encouraged kind of the same thing, you know now’s the time to work on your business instead, like in your business, you know. So many times, you know, especially in this field, I found that, you know, business owners are up on the roof and sledging a hammer and you know, still doing the plumbing and it’s like now you’ve got to, in order to grow your business, you’ve got to work on your business. And I think now, obviously this is, this season is not blessing to everyone. But I think we that are fortunate to be safe right now, we need to take it as a blessing and turn it into something even better to work on, you know our businesses. You mentioned earlier about pricing you know, the flat rate pricing and transparency. You know, pricing is typically the reason why people call or not. And just because you’re talking about pricing does not mean that you’re a cheapskate, doesn’t mean that you, you know, we’re looking for the lowest bid. But for businesses that are, are embracing this flat rate pricing, do you find that they’re choosing to bring their pricing online onto their websites and other tools and communication so people can get information on the front end before they even pick up the phone or dial in or call or whatever?
Roland: Sure. So people that use our platform, about a third of their jobs come from online booking. So it’s a tool that we offer that they can install on their website that makes it really easy for someone to book them online. No different than you would maybe book a flight on Southwest or reserve a table on open table for, you know, for a night out in the town or for [inaudible 22:37]. So all this or buy something from Amazon for that matter. So we see that pros that are willing to put their prices up front. Definitely for the simpler things tend to get 17% higher dollar amounts for the same services than ones that don’t. So everyone always thinks, Oh, if I put my price out there, my competitors is going to underbid me and all these things. At the end of the day, whatever they did to come to your website already validates the fact that there’s something that drew them there.
Roland: And by you being transparent and upfront with your pricing just helps further that brand and the reason why they came to you to then help them further down that funnel to create that booking. And when they book you, you know, you can still call them and ask for clarification. You know, if there’s obviously outside of the scope, homeowners are very reasonable, you know, they know that if there’s something really crazy and it’s outside the scope that yeah, they’re going to pay more and they’re not going to hold you to it. And then also what happens is the people that are looking to negotiate on prices, you don’t go into a restaurant and you go into a steak house and you go, you know what, this you know, this steak that’s listed for, you know, $75. I actually can you make it a little bit smaller and then could I pay $44 for it because the steak house down the street charges, you know, 41 you mean you don’t go into the restaurant and do that.
Roland: You see the menu, you see the prices, you pick the thing you want or you don’t go to that restaurant or you don’t order that thing, you order something else. And so, you know, by putting that online, it’s really important because it signals that you know, you’re willing to put your price out there. At the same time, you’re only going to get customers that are going to click that thing at that price. So all the tire kickers, you know, you might lose some of the people that are willing to negotiate, but those are not the clients that you want anyways. Because guess who they’re going to refer other low value clients.
Brian: Right.
Roland: And if you get the people that value the price and the booking, that transparency and everything up front, you’re going to get more high quality people. And then at the end of the day with the home service business, the hardest thing is, you know, isn’t necessarily like, Oh, how can I get 10 trucks on the road? You can build an incredible business with just a couple people, a couple of trucks, and just running very profitable jobs or jobs that you want to do that you feel good about doing, not a race to the bottom.
Olivia: Wow, that’s a lot of really great advice. That kind of got me thinking what I mean in this season of change, so many home service providers are probably struggling to maybe think outside the box or be optimistic. What do you think are some strategic or innovative ways home service providers can start reinvesting in their business in order to remain proactive during this time if they’re struggling to come up with new and innovative ideas on their own?
Roland: Yeah, I think there’s no secret for success and its, its hard work. So you know, when you’re sitting at home and you’re not able to get out on the road, call all your customers and don’t necessarily call them to try to get a job. Just call them and start investing in the relationships that show that you care. Because ultimately if you’re just calling to say, Hey, you know, Olivia, I’m just calling to check in. We did some work for you six months ago. Obviously, Hey, how, how are things been? Is everything okay with your family? Is there anything that I can do? Maybe even offer, Hey, I’m in your area. Is there anything I can pick up for you? Nine times out of ten, they’re going to say, Oh no, thank you, but thank you for asking. They’re going to remember that phone call.
Roland: And so what you want to start doing is you really want to start planting those seeds for when things do start to return back to this semi-normal state. And you can only do it by investing. So you know, you don’t have to be particularly innovative. You just have to put in the work and the time to invest in those customers that you already have. A lot of businesses, you know, you’ll have hundreds if not thousands of customers that you can just call and check in on and get nothing out of it. I’ve also seen a lot of home service companies start to really push on their membership plans right now. So inside of HouseCall Pro, you can actually create membership programs or bills automatically. So this is really turning business from like a blockbuster mentality more to that Netflix mentality. And because all this demand is, is becoming pent up, you know, the one thing that a lot of these home service companies are saying, Hey, you know what Olivia obviously I, I’m calling because I know that you probably have some stuff that you’re holding off on right now because of you know, the state lockdown or what have view.
Roland: But coming out of this, there’s going to be a huge demand for all these things. I just want to make sure that your top of the list; we actually have our gold member VIP program here. It’s only nine bucks a month. If you get on that that means that you’re at the top of the list to get stuff done. In the meantime, if you can start writing down the things that you want to get done in your home or here is some ideas that I’ve seen some of my other clients start to ask for. I just want to make sure that as soon as we come out of this, you’re going to be one of the first people that I come to because there’s going to be a lot of people asking for my service.
Roland: So that’s another kind of idea that you can bring to the table. I see a lot of companies start to do different text initiatives. So reaching out to their current clients just with simple texts, there’s a ton of tools out there that can do that. But starting to get people to opt in, to be notified from your company via text, what are some value adds that you can do? Can you give them a great piece of content? Something I’ve seen work really well in the cleaning industry is, you know, what chemicals can you and should you not mix together. You know, who knew that if you put Clorox and vinegar together, there’s going to be a really bad reaction. You can imagine people are concocting all kinds of stuff, but you know these are cool pieces of content that you can just go and just send out to people.
Roland: You’re not; you’re not selling them anything. You’re doing nothing other than just being a useful member of the community, reaching out, giving some piece of value. And remember, they’re going to come back to you. So use this time to think about, you know, how do you plant more seeds? How do you invest? So you know, when things come to change again, they’re going to come back to you and they’re going to be like, Oh yeah, where’s that text again? You know, I don’t know about you, but you know, I don’t go through and delete any of my texts. They just, they all stock up, you know? So I got my list of text and I just scroll back down to, Oh, there’s that text boom. Yeah, I’ll go there. So you want to be in there. If you’re not in there, they might, they might forget, you know, you’re like, Oh, who’s that guy?
Roland: I don’t remember. Oh, let me go back to Google. And all of a sudden, boom, you know, you lost that opportunity.
Brian: Absolutely, yeah.
Roland: So make sure that, you know, in the case that people are Googling that you’re, that you’re ranked in the right, the right ways. That you’ve kept your, your, your website up to date during these times. Also, you know a tip that I’ve been giving a lot of pros too is obviously Google prefers businesses that are proactive about updating their Google my business profiles. So they have all kinds of great new widgets inside of instead of GMP that you can now toggle saying, Hey, I’m open for business or temporary closed. And if, if you’re being proactive about letting Google know what’s going on with your business, they’re going to be much more likely to surface you higher than the next one that hasn’t even touched their GMP or their profile. So use these times that to keep people in the, in the know both from the technology side of things like Google, but then also your customers too. Hey, I’m still open for business if you need anything here, here I am. And those are just some really basic tips. Not really innovative but I feel like they’re often overlooked.
Brian: I mean, so just GMP and we actually did a webinar in January just about GMP because I mean you know through the years it went to be this really big thing and then all the tools went away basically, and then it started being built back up. And I think most people don’t even realize what they have access to now. Because they haven’t logged into, you know, what used to be Google Plus or Google, whatever, you know you know, 10 years ago and they have forgotten about that. So, and I think, you’ve mentioned the pent up business and you know multiple times I was at Lowe’s over the weekend, not because I need to do something that I shouldn’t be doing in this season. But because I need to, I actually ordered boxes and things to move because that’s what we’re doing.
Brian: And I ordered it and shipped it there so I could pick it up with curb side and the curb side, there was like no one answering the phone. I walked in and I found out why because Lowe’s was literally busier than any other Saturday I’ve ever been on. And that’s a whole nother subject right now because I don’t think people should be doing that. But I think that speaks to people are home, people are wanting to do things to their home. And I think that once we get back to some sort of normalcy, whatever that becomes, I think you were exactly right that, that people are going to be ready to spend. Obviously those that have been laid off or for a [inaudible 31:27] that’s going to have to come back around for a little while, but spending going to happen and people are going to need these services just like you said.
Roland: Yup.
Brian: So you know, you’ve run multiple kinds of businesses. What is something that you know now that you wish you knew five, ten, three months ago, you know, wasn’t something that you’ve learned along the way that you wish you had learned before you learnt it the hard way?
Roland: Wow. I’d say the biggest thing is, you know, you won’t get what you don’t ask. So never be afraid to ask, because the worst thing that can happen is that someone tells you no. Or maybe a company tells, you know, and that just gets you to the next yes. So it feel like, you know, in the beginning you’re, you might say, Oh, I’m this small company, you know, I don’t know if I can ask this or I don’t even know if they’ll give me a deal. I don’t know if I can negotiate this piece in the contract. The worst cases you ask them to go, you don’t know, can’t do that. The best case you actually get what you asked for. And so I feel like many years ago, you know, when you’re younger, you think, Oh, you know the people older than me are the companies that have been around for longer.
Roland: They know exactly what they’re doing. The truth of the matter is, is, you know, becoming an adult you know, any maturing business now that I’ve had multiple nobody really knows what they’re doing. A lot of people are just pretending and, and, and that’s okay. And a lot of people are learning as they go. And so, you know, when you’re younger you’re like, Oh my God, they have it all together. You know, they know exactly what they’re doing. I can’t ask for these things or I can’t do this. It’s, they’re all self limiting beliefs. And so if you just realize a lot of people are just trying their best as well, it’s no different than what you’re doing. And it’s, and it’s easier to get things done when you, when you know that you don’t feel like you’re constrained by anything.
Roland: So, you know, think outside the box and, and dream big and try the worst that happens, it doesn’t work out. And that’s okay because you’re still a little further ahead. And you know what, when, when you fail, you learn and as long as you’re learning, when you fail, then you’re coming out ahead. Whether, whether or not you actually get what you wanted. So it’s one of those things that you got to make sure that you’re always trying to do things that make you a little uncomfortable. Because, if you’re feeling too comfortable, that means, you’re not really trying hard enough. And it’s a good feeling to have when you’re like, I don’t, let’s try this. You know, or like, Oh, this can totally blow up in my face. But you know that’s really truly the only way to learn and kind of keep going forward, and the people that are willing to take those risks and realize that sooner get much further ahead. Because they’re learning at a much more rapid pace than everyone is kind of doing what’s comfortable. So hopefully that’s.
[cross talk 34:17]
Brian: Fall forward.
Roland: Yes.
Brian: Don’t fall backwards fall forward you know. Even if it’s blows up, it’s a step.
Roland: Yeah, it’s a good question.
Olivia: Kind of going off that ability to learn and adapt. What one of the biggest pieces of advice you could offer to someone who you know, is considering after this season of change is over opening their own business? Or they’ve always toyed with the idea, but they’d never really gone for it, you know, what do you have to say to those folks who are toying with the idea in their mind?
Roland: Yeah, stop toying with it. Just do it. I feel like I have always like Yoda sitting in, in the back of my head, you know, that’s like, you know, try not just like, do.
Brian: Yoda or baby Yoda?
Roland: Baby Yoda too.
Olivia: Gosh don’t get Brian started on baby Yoda.
Roland: He’s kind of floating over here. He doesn’t talk very much, but he does. He doesn’t try when he needs to get stuff done, he does like, you know, zap, make stuff happen. So I feel like you know, the biggest thing is just, just go do it, just go stop toying about the idea. There’s no reason to overthink it. Just try it. Now you’ve got the time. And it’s better to execute then just to always think about, Oh, maybe I should do this, maybe I should do this, but about this. What about this? Just do it. I feel like that’s the thing that holds most people back. They think they can’t do something. Even stuff like this podcast. You know, I feel like a lot of people are like, Oh, I want to do a podcast. I want to do interviews, but I don’t have the mike, but I don’t have this, or I don’t have the guests.
Roland: There’s a million reasons why not to, but it’s actually not that hard when you get going. The hardest thing is just, you know, remain consistent and keep going when you don’t see initial results doesn’t mean it’s not going to work. It just means it was your first time or your second time, or your fifth time. You know, it takes a while to build things up. So just keep going. Ultimately you’re going to create something of value and people are going to listen and they’re going to come, they’re going to tune in and then you’re like, Oh, that was cool. Or they had a great guest on. They’ll start coming back and it all begins to compound. But if you don’t even try, nothing is going to compound zero, still zero, zero will always be zero. So just start with something and that’s where you know Zero to One. That’s a good book should read them.
Brian: Yeah. I mean, yeah I think the compounding is interesting. You know what I mean? So this is kind of year two in podcast and we started about a year ago. And it was a complete different name Growth made Simple. And you know, when we really decided to really niche down to home service industry, you know, we realized, you know, we need to make a change. And our podcast was once or twice a month before. And, you know, so we, we learned, we made some mistakes and probably no one will ever go listen to those podcasts, thankfully. But you know, since February we have, you know, gone every week we’ve rebranded, we’ve focused and, you know, did we make mistakes? Of course, you know, and now the coronavirus, we have to learn how to, you know, do all this remotely and changing software and everything. But you know you got to try something. So I think that’s a great encouragement. So you know, for those that are watching or listening to this that are not using software in their business, they’re still pen and paper, or maybe they’re either using, you know, Excel and, you know, they’re using
Roland: Google Calendar
Brian: Yes. On a basis and they, they think about, or they’ve heard about software opportunities, but you know, maybe the cost, the idea of a cost. Because I would you know, we, we sell software with what we do, you know, and it’s not cheap and people don’t necessarily understand the value of it. You know, automation, people don’t understand like how much automation can add value back into your business. So what are some, some things that you could say to people that are listening to help overcome those fears of what using software and their business could be beneficial?
Roland: Yeah, I would say the biggest thing to help relate in terms of, if you’re thinking about it from a cost perspective, is just think about the value of your time. So figure out what you’d bill for any one hour, what does that value worth? And then start thinking about what are the things the software is doing for you and how much time it would have taken you to do it. So that’s a really easy way to get just a rough barometer of, you know, time savings. But I feel like that is kind of a short sided way to look at it. Because it’s also creating so much more value beyond that because you’re able to deliver so much, more, you’re so much more leveraged than you normally would be. So there is a multiplier on that, which is obviously why software can cost what it does because of the value that it brings.
Roland: So if you think about any kind of investment, you know anything where you can find leverage. Whether it’s, you know, educational content, some courses software tools. You know I feel like people spend a lot of money on their tools but it helps you do the work faster. You know, it helps you do the work better and it lets you accomplish more with less. So put those kind of in the same bucket. And then from a, from a marketing perspective, you know, everything has to have some sort of ROI. So when you think about software, think about, well, why is it price so high or what kind of ROI can it give me? Can it prove to me that it has gotten jobs that normally I wouldn’t have gotten jobs? Bid for us is, you know, customers just put online booking on their site and more than pays for the cost of the entire software multiple times over. Because now they’re, they’re actually getting these jobs that would have normally just, went to another competitor because it would just have a standard form fill on a website. Which is, you know, so, you know, early two thousands, you know, if someone fills out a form, and I don’t know when they’re going to call me, I just filled out a form.
Roland: I can’t remember the last time I ever filled out a form. You know, and so like, why, so when it comes to evaluating you know, what you spend out on things like this, the basics is figure out what your time is worth and how much time it would have spent you to do it. But then also think about, there’s a reason why you pay the locksmith $120 to open up your lock and it only takes them five minutes. You know, you’re not, you’re not paying for his five minutes, you’re paying for the 10 years of bumping locks to get your thing unlocked. And so the same way that you charge for your services, you should consider whether you’re working with agencies, with software, you know, what kind of leverage does it give you? You’re not just paying for that small piece of time.
Roland: You’re paying for lots and lots of years of experience and know how, no different than what you should be charging your customers too for your experience. I feel like a lot of companies get stuck in the rut where it’s like, well, you know what you know Bob down the street does it for 12 bucks an hour. So I can’t charge more than $12 an hour. Well guess what? If you buy a water fed pole, and a power wash machinery, you’re able to do that same job in, in, in 10 minutes. So it doesn’t mean that you should charge ten, one 10th, you know, of what Bob charges. No, you invested in tools. You can do it faster and more efficient. So just think about what are the things that you can invest in that will compound and leverage your time and your expertise so that you can offer a service that level that’s much higher than what your competitors. Normally you’d have to pay an office admin full time to send out on my way text notifications. To do, to create these estimates or to create these invoices online, send them, collect payments, you know all these things. Like it just doesn’t make sense. And you’d be paying 40,000, $50,000 a year for that office person full time, but you don’t need them. So put it in the context of what, what else do you pay to get all this stuff done? So those are just some high level things to think about when you’re evaluating software just in general, but also just expertise in general also.
Brian: I think that’s great. And I think the reality is you know so many times I find that our clients only want to do things the way that their mind works. Like for example, like online booking, like we do, we offer that you know, for our, our clients as well. And people were like; well I would never do that. Well, you may not, but everyone else in the world will and, and you know will. Well, I, you know, I don’t text you; you got to pick up the phone and call. Well, no one else in the world does that anymore. And so I think that you’ve got to not let businesses can’t let their own, like the way they like to do things dictate how they do things, you know. And it’s like, you know, how many times have I heard, I’m sure you’ve heard this like, well, you know, I tried to do online booking and it just didn’t work. Well it, there may have been some other things wrong with your website or the traffic that you were getting. I mean, it just doesn’t mean it’s like, you know, people are like, well, Facebook advertising doesn’t work. Well obviously it does because people are doing it. It just, maybe it wasn’t working for you. And so just you got, you got to think outside the box, got to think outside of your own, own self. Sometimes you really your own self is your worst own enemy.
Roland: I think it always is. You know, people, people let it become that. Because of self limiting beliefs they’re not willing to, to be uncomfortable. So being uncomfortable is good. Spending more on something and seeing if it can work its okay. It’s okay to try. Because if it does work double down and then triple down and quadruple down, a lot of people feel like, you know, Oh, this is like the max. It could be, you know, there’s no max. If you figure something out, I promise you, Facebook will find a way to spend it. Google will find a way to spend it just make sure your unit economics are solid and you’ve built the right funnels and you’re collecting information and you’d get the leads and you’re following up on the leads. A lot of people are like, Oh, you know what?
Roland: This isn’t working. I’d say like, did you call them? It’s like, yeah, I called them like later that day. And it’s like, okay, so obviously someone’s going to beat you to the punch. And yeah, of course that seemed good ROI. So I feel like you know, don’t, don’t be afraid try new things. It’s okay to make mistakes. Life is going to go on, but if you’re not making a bet, you will fall behind. And if you feel like your way is the only way you’re also going to fail. Because ultimately it’s what the customer wants, what the customer is going to pay for. And you might be able to create a great one-man business forever. And until you know, your, your joints give out or you can start thinking about, you know, how do I train someone underneath me that run service calls alongside me. And then how do I get all the rest of the business things in place so that way, you know, I, I could spend more time that way at home working on the business, not in it, just like you guys said.
Roland: So you know, don’t be afraid to try new things I promise you it works. You know, we’ve seen our online booking for our customers grow in an insane rate. And it’s becoming the norm. You know, the, on my way text with a picture notification of the technician that’s on the way. That’s kind of the norm now. You know, if you’re not starting to do these things, you’re really starting to fall behind. And I kind of feel like a broken record when, you know, everyone was like, ah, I don’t, why would I do this web thing this worldwide web? Like I’m just going to stick with, I’m just going to stick with yellow pages. I’m going to submit, you know, my name is AAA plumbing you know, I got it in the bag. That’s how you get to the front page of the yellow pages AAA plumbing.
Roland: So don’t, don’t, don’t keep that mindset because those businesses, you know, ultimately will, will slow down, taper down and, and go to zero. Whereas the other ones that are willing to adapt and try new things remember I would say, look at the way that as a consumer that you would do things. Are you buying things on Amazon? Yeah. You know, are there pictures and prices that are up front on their yep. People are like, well, it’s so easy to price those things. Services are so hard to price. And I go, imagine how difficult is the price for airlines? You’ve got different size planes you’ve got labor unions with like people that can only take these certain hours. You’ve got everything around the terminals. You have to negotiate, then you’ve got maintenance of the planes, then you’ve got like delays and weather and still they’re still able to offer a flight at a, at a fixed price at a time. So imagine all the variables that go into that. How can they do that? And how can you not do that for your business? It’s what consumers are expecting. And. if you can give that to them you’re going to win. And if you don’t, you’ll still be able to make a business, but it just won’t be able to be what it can be. And that’s what we want to make sure that we can drive home here with everyone that’s watching this, is, don’t be afraid to try [inaudible 47:25].
Brian: Yeah. I mean you know, going back to, you know, me buying a house, like it, it’s I had someone come out to the place on Friday to give me a quote and I still have not heard from him. And since then I’ve reached out to three other people and they’ve been able to give me a quote, not even being there. And it’s like, you know, everyone uses prime. It’s like, you know, prime I don’t know if you have ordered anything on prime recently. But, you know, non essential stuff is actually slowing down. And it’s like, wait, I can’t get something in the day now.
Roland: It feels weird.
Brian: It does feel weird. My wife ordered like, it wasn’t medicine. It was like vitamins and she’s like, well, that’s kind of essential. And it’s like, you know, not really, you know, toilet paper right now is essential. So but I mean, Amazon is impacting our business and Amazon’s going to impact because people are expecting things yesterday, yesterday. I mean, even two days before, even before they even think about it. So as we wrap up, I wanted to show let’s, I want to, I think we can share a screen from here. I want to share the website that you’re referencing. Let’s see if it if it will work. Because you, you’ve produced something, you know, pretty, pretty amazing here with this HouseCall Pro.com/ coronavirus. So for those are just, you know, kind of tuning in or catching this later and forgot about what you had mentioned. Talk to me a little bit about what you’re offering here. Just for anyone, not even just people that are you know customers with you guys.
Roland: Yeah. So if you’re in the home services period, you should be in this group. You should be watching the nightly webcasts. There’s so much value in each one of these things. So if you enjoyed the things that I had to say today you know, we have got guests on here, we’ve got customers on here, we’ve got ourselves. We’re doing a bunch of research on all these things. So if you go and you click on like the free resources button there in the middle access now we’ve got all kinds of blog posts, we’ve got templates. We’ve got here’s the employee situations. HR, you know, can you ask someone if they have coronavirus, you know can you not you know.
Brian: Never thought of that.
Roland: Yes from the money perspective.
Brian: Olivia do you have the coronavirus?
Roland: Yes, yes you can, you can ask her are you, are you showing any symptoms, shortness of breath you know, these things you can ask that. But, but yeah, so we go over all those things here and, and then live on the nightly cast you can actually ask us Q and A. So you can ask the experts that are on there and you can register for that. That’s 5:00 PM Pacific Standard. And they’re all recorded too. So if you can’t make it, because you’re having dinner or you’ve got the kids to deal with you can always watch it later. It’s all there and it’s literally daily relevant statistics on what’s going on, what’s working, what’s not. So…
Brian: Do you need to subscribe to the Facebook group to see the webcast or is that something completely different?
Roland: The webcast is on Zoom, but we also stream it live on Facebook. So if you prefer to watch live on Facebook, you can do that there. If you want to engage in the, in the chat and the Q and A and the polls then obviously you’ll be registering for the Zoom. But either way works, you know if you don’t feel comfortable using Zoom, whatever reason, and just, just watch the Facebook live. We’ve got people in there too that are monitoring the chat and engaging as well so.
Brian: Zoom has gotten a little attention on, on the news right now. So we check on Zoom a call with one of our clients yesterday and they’re like freaking out. Like, are we supposed to, you know, should we be using those? I’m like, it’s fine. Just.
Roland: No one’s going to bomb that meeting yeah go ahead.
Brian: When you hear you let me know, because, don’t do that guys if you’re listening you know.
Roland: Yes exactly. It’s webinars, so we’re, we’re, we’re good. We’re safe.
Brian: Gotcha. Well as we wrap up, you know, is there anything just kind of lasting thoughts, you know, that you want to lead people, whether it’s related to corona or just HouseCall Pro or just, you know, something that’s relevant that you want to share?
Roland: Yeah, I would just say in general you know, whether using a software or you’re not, if you’re using pen and paper or you’re using some other you know, competitor software it never hurts to take a look, jump on a demo, see what it’s like. You know, we always say it’s, its good to tour a home that stage so you can actually envision how you’d use it on a day to day basis. So if you’re interested in software to help you run your business, go check out a demo HouseCall Pro. Regardless whether you want software or not, you should definitely subscribe. And join the HouseCall Pro coronavirus discussion group. That’s our Facebook group. It’s free there’s no costs. You should check all those night casts. And then we’ve got tons of templates. If you’re looking for a social media marketing templates, we’ve got them all pre-created for you. It’s built in Canva so you can drag and drop your logo on it. Just take that and send it to your customers. So there’s actionable things in there you can be doing with all the time now that you’re probably spending at home. So just go check out that URL kind of here below. And let me know if you guys have any questions.
Olivia: Awesome. Well thank you so much for joining us. This has been such a great podcast and we’ve really appreciated having you on the show.
Roland: Pleasure, pleasure being here with you guys.
Olivia: Awesome. Well, next week’s episode we are going to be interviewing Spencer Padgett, who is the director in Builder-In- Residence of CoConstruct. Which is another great software for builders and construction workers. So we’re going to keep on diving into the relationship between technology and the home service industry. If you really like our podcast, please go like us on Facebook. And we now have a website live as well, the home service toolbox.com. So you can view all of our previous episodes and check out all of our other awesome guests. Please like and subscribe. You can find us on Apple podcasts and until then we’ll see you next week.
Brian: Bye guys. Thank you.
Roland: Bye guys.