Property managers may not know about or haven’t tried maintenance coordination. But they are quickly discovering its value in making their jobs easier, manageable, and understandable.
Today, I am talking to Andy Shinn of EZ Repair Hotline about implementing an Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), Traction, and process improvement.
[02:40] Maintenance Coordination: Define world-class process to run for property managers to address issues and inconsistency with performance.
[03:49] Growing and gaining Traction to create a structured operating model and take business to the next level.
[04:32] Systems that every business needs: Operating, planning, support, and phone.
[06:00] EOS predicts and creates future through annual planning for quarterly goals broken down into monthly and weekly commitments.
[08:38] Constraints around Crazy: Don’t get distracted; you can’t do everything; force yourself to limit your focus to inspire, not control your team.
[13:18] Fundamental Flaws:Take things that work well for you with Traction and EOS; leave out the other stuff.
[16:28] Accountability Chart: Visionary, integrator, leader, doer, and other roles and responsibilities depend on strengths and weaknesses. Overlap occurs until roles are filled by others.
[22:43] EZ Repair Hotline establishes values: What are we doing now? What are we aspiring toward?
[25:28] Do they share my values? If the answer is “no,” they have to go. They’re team members hurting your business, momentum, and results.
[26:18] Two Different Businesses: Do you want a business that you can have vs. a business that you want and love?
[30:08] Change people’s mindset to move beyond minimum standards by motivating those who want to step up and make things happen.
[37:42] Process Piece: One of the six components of Traction by documenting processes to improve them and help others reach goals.
[40:03] Planning System Solves Internal Problems: One of three things must be missing—accountability, transparency, or clarity on outcomes.
[43:19] Property Managers: A structure helps you avoid working 80 hours a week; figure out how to handle work without having to be available all the time.
Jason: All right, and we are live. Welcome, DoorGrow hackers to the DoorGrow Show. If you are a property management entrepreneur that wants to add doors, make a difference, increase revenue, help others, impact lives, and you are interested in growing your business and life, and you are open to doing things a bit differently, then you are a DoorGrow hacker.
DoorGrow hackers love the opportunities, daily variety, unique challenges, and freedom that property management brings. Many in real estate think you’re crazy for doing it, you think they’re crazy for not, because you realize that property management is the ultimate high-trust gateway to real estate deals, relationships, and residual income.
At DoorGrow, we are on a mission to transform property management businesses and their owners. We want to transform the industry, eliminate the BS, build awareness, change perception, expand the market, and help the best property management entrepreneurs win. I’m your host, property management growth expert, Jason Hull, the founder and CEO of DoorGrow. Now, let’s get into the show.
Today’s guest, I am hanging out with Andy. Andy, welcome to the show. This is Andy Shinn of EZ Repair Hotline. Andy, you’ve been on the show before. Welcome back.
Andy: Great. Thanks for having me back. It’s good to be here.
Jason: […] and you’ve made a lot of changes since then and grown. I would imagine quite a bit. I’ve seen you at several conferences that we’ve both been vendors at. Tell us what’s been going on with EZ Repair Hotline.
Andy: Last time we talked we were pretty much brand new. We were maybe a couple years in, but we really hadn’t had much momentum, and we were just getting started in the industry. We’ve grown a lot over the last couple of years. We’ve learned a lot in terms of process. I hope to talk to you about some of that today and some of what we’re doing. It’s been an exciting couple of years.
I think this is an industry, maintenance coordination, that’s just taking off in the property management space. A lot of property managers don’t even maybe know this is available or some haven’t tried it yet. It’s definitely a wide open industry and we’re excited to work with a lot of property management companies who I think are seeing value with what we do.
Jason: Great. Well, let’s get into it. Where should we start? Today’s topic is implementing EOS, Traction, and process improvement at EZ Repair Hotline. Let’s get into it. Where do we start?
Andy: I guess, maybe just a little bit of history. Over the last year, we have really been working on defining a process and what our product needs to look like. Before that year, we were very customizable. As a property manager, you come in and you’d inform the process as much as we did and I think that was causing us issues, inconsistency in performance.
About a year ago, we said, “We got to define a process that’s best in class, that’s world-class, that we can run for the property manager. They’re not just buying us like a virtual assistant, they’re buying our whole process. They’re getting that whole package of what we do.” That was really important for us over the last year and we’ve made some strides in that direction. Not exactly to the end of where we want to be, but we’re moving in that direction.
Anyway, about January or so, I’d heard about Traction probably on the DoorGrow site. A lot of property managers are implementing Traction. I decided to read it but I did an audio book which I do sometimes. I read about a business book a week. Usually, I read them but for whatever reason I did this on audio. It just didn’t catch with me, so I just went on and I kept doing my thing but then I was hearing more and more about Traction. I decided to go to Barnes & Noble and pick up the physical book and see if that made a difference, and it did. It’s a kind of book you need to sit down, open up with a notepad, and really use it almost like a workbook.
I knew a few chapters into it that it was going to be that was going to be really exciting for EZ Repair because it creates a really structured operating model which is what we needed. There’s a lot of different books that’ll help you do that but I think Traction for a small–medium-sized business is the perfect way to do it. Certainly is the perfect fit for us. We’re only a couple months into that Traction piece, coming off, like I said, where we started a year ago, but Traction’s taking us to that next level. It’s really exciting.
Jason: Cool. I believe every business needs an operating system. There’s different systems that every business needs. Initially, the entrepreneur is every system when you’re first starting out, but there needs to be a planning system which is what we’re talking about. There needs to be a support system for most business. If you have customers that needs to be supported, there needs to be a support system in place. There needs to be a phone system for most business so there’s phone communication.
I think there’s five or six, maybe seven different systems that every business needs and one of the key systems is a planning system. In most business planning systems I’ve studied, the Traction and EOS stuff, scaling up—I’ve worked with Allen Scharfen who’s a brilliant operations mind—there’s a lot of different planning systems out there.
One common thread that seems to be through all of them is annual planning, having quarterly goals, being broken down into quarterly and then having goals broken down into 30 days, and then maybe even something broken down into weekly commitments that the team are working on. We don’t use EOS. In our business, I use a different system but it’s similar to what you might find in other systems, which I think all good business planning systems incorporate at least those basic elements.
Andy: It does and you mentioned taking the goals, like the quarterly goals. What EOS really tries to do is take your business into 90-day chunks. You’re really running a 90-day cycle of, “What am I going to do with the business in the next 90 days?” You’re setting longer term goals like, “Here’s what’s out here that I need to be able to hit. Here’s my stretch goal, my 5- or 10-year goal of what this company’s really going to be like.”
Then, what it does is it takes it down to just 90-day blocks where you’re setting targets that the enterprise owns but then individuals on the leadership team own. Here’s what I own for the next 90-days, what they call rocks. At the end of that 90 days, you’ve taken your business that next step and now, you plan out your next 90 days.
It really helps businesses put things in a very doable context because it can get overwhelming, as an entrepreneur, when you’ve got a lot of stuff going on, especially in a growing business—this industry is really growing—and to be able to say, “Here’s what’s going to happen in the next 90 days. Here’s what we have to do in the next 90 days. Here’s the goal for the next 90 days.” That’s a very easy way to take the business forward, rather than thinking, “Where are we going to be three years from now,” and trying to plan off of that. That’s fully difficult.
EOS for our business has been fantastic and in just about 90 days in, in taking the business into those 90-day chunks. I have a feeling, for property managers, they’d see the same kind of value. When I was a property manager, I would have seen a lot of value in this. Like you mentioned, there’s other systems, too, but being able to select a system like this is really important for companies to be successful.
Jason: I think most businesses have no planning system. They’re just winging it. The entrepreneur’s winging it. When you do implement a really sub-planning system, then what happens is you become able to predict the future. You’re creating the future in the present and eventually, it’s happening and that’s magic. That’s magic for businesses to be able to predict and create the future.
Most entrepreneurs come up with these big goals, big dreams, and these endless to-do lists. If you look back at all those things—we’ve all been there as entrepreneurs—very few of them ever end up coming to fruition, very few end up getting done. We always bite off more than we can chew. We overestimate our ability to get things done. We get distracted because we take on too many different goals and too many different things.
What I’ve noticed in having a planning system in the business is it forces me to limit the things I focus on. I’ve been doing this for several years, not just 90 days. I’ve been doing this for years and it forces me to limit the pressure that I put on my team as well because a lot of time, as entrepreneurs, we get really pumped up and excited, right?
We go to an event, conference, something. We come back to our team and we’re like, “We’re going to do all this stuff. I just got all these great ideas.” And then we get super excited, we throw out some big goal where we heard some coach or somebody say, “Write a number down that you want to make. Add a zero to it. Add another zero. Go big.” You hear these old phrases like, “It’s better to aim for the stars and miss than a pile of manure and hit.” Entrepreneurs love that. They’re like, “Yes, the stars.”
We get so pumped up and excited, then we walked out of the room and we think, “Man, my team must be pumped up.” What they see is a grenade sitting in the middle of the floor with the pin pulled. That’s their perception. They’re like, “What are we going to do with this? How are we going to that? My life’s already hard. Doesn’t he know how hard I’m already working?” They look at us like we’re kind of crazy.
I think the biggest thing I’ve noticed with planning is that it allows us to get buy in from our team because ultimately, I can’t do it all on my own. I just don’t have that capacity. You don’t as well. You cannot do everything in your business. You cannot answer every phone call at EZ Repair Hotline personally.
We really rely on our team and if we don’t get their buy-in, if there isn’t adoption into any system, or into any goal, or any outcome that we have, then we end up trying to control people. Controlling as an entrepreneur is not a very comfortable place for us to be, to be controlling our team instead of inspiring them.
Andy: That’s a great point, though, because entrepreneurs have different personalities. It is a different mindset. Most people, they want more structure. You and I are probably really comfortable just working without structure and getting things done.
Jason: I can totally live in chaos. I can totally do it because to me, it’s giving me new ideas, I have to adapt, I’m exploring. That’s fun and exciting for me. I’ve had team members quit because of that, because it makes them feel really uncomfortable and unsafe because most people […] crazy, you have to be smart, maybe a C on the DISC profile. They want stability, they want things to be okay, they want a job where everything stays similar each day. I would probably get really bored in a situation like that. It wraps some constraints around my crazy.
An upside of constraints is that it forces innovation. It allows my team also to innovate because they have an outcome. I don’t care how they get there, as long as they live within our value system, but I don’t care what specific actions they take to do it or to get there and they can create, innovate, and come up with ideas that I never would have thought of.
Andy: That’s exactly right. You’re training structure for your team so they know what to do, what to expect, and what the goals are. Goals that they can imagine because I can imagine a five-year goal but my typical employee is not imagining a five-year goal. They want to know, “What are we doing this year? What are we doing the next three months?” It gives them something very tangible to hold on to. “What do we need to accomplish in these next three months?”
At the same time, the whole operating system relies on employees and leadership at all levels to be able to bring ideas to the table, bring process improvements to the table, and to do things to try and achieve those goals. How are we going to get there? Well, we’re not going to get there by just running the show. We’re going to get there because we’ve set these 90-day targets, what specific activities do we need to do or what do we need to change to get to these targets? It creates structure but at the same time, almost counterintuitively, it does create that innovation from employees thinking about, “How do we hit these targets?” I think it’s very effective.
I think the cool thing, too, about Traction that I like, it creates what they call a visionary role. That allows for somebody like me to still have a place in the operating model. I’m not just trying to fit into this operating model and be more structured. It allows a place for the entrepreneur to be that visionary, to be that person who’s got the ideas, and maybe he’s got the crazy goals but it tells you, “Here’s how you operate within that model as that person.” That’s been a personal help for me as well.
Jason: I’ve been really outspoken online. I don’t know if you’ve seen some of my posts but I’ve been really outspoken online somewhat against Traction and EOS. I do see the value and important pieces of it but I also think there’s a couple of fundamental flaws. Everybody I’ve talked to that does EOS, they don’t do everything. I think that’s the benefit of taking a system is you can take the things that really work well for you and leave out the other stuff.
Ultimately, if we’re really honest, EOS was built as a system to create a really nice business for the people that created EOS. You have to go hire integrators from them, you need the integrator, and the integrator is the magical, golden key to the whole puzzle.
They take on this glorified role that replaces a COO or operations manager. They take on the executive assistant role which is a critical role for an entrepreneur. They squeeze all of that as this layer in between in their accountability chart, which is an org chart, between the visionary, which is the entrepreneur, and the entire team. Which in reality would be probably the most dangerous thing to ever do with your company, ever, to give somebody that much power and control because they don’t even need you anymore. They can just chop that top piece off and the whole org chart works fine without you.
What that means, they can charge whatever they freaking want. They’ll come back to you after a year, after they know and run everything in the business, and everybody’s loyal to them and say, “I want $500,000 a year. I want a percentage of the company.” What are you going to do? Replace them? I think, ultimately, the best way to foundationally build every business is around the entrepreneur because we’re not all the quintessential or perfect visionary.
I’ve noticed in property management, there’s different roles. I’ve noticed there are some property management business owners, some entrepreneurs are more accountants. They’re more accounting-minded, they’re more on the financial side, they’re more doing things by the book. You got some that are more relationship-oriented. They’re more about people, relationships, they love. Some are more sales-oriented. Some may be should keep and retain some of the property manager type of role. Some may be should be the sales or BDM person in the business. That might be the last thing they give up. Some may be the operations person and doing systems and coordinating things.
Ultimately, the great thing about having a business is instead of building it to somebody else’s system, we can build it around ourselves and make ourselves feel like Ironman with our supersuit. We can have the business that makes us feel amazing, supported, and fulfilled that we love doing everyday. Ultimately, that’s the one fundamental, foundational piece that I would change in that system to build around it. I think everything would extend out from that.
Andy: That makes total sense. I’ll tell you how we’re doing for the accountability chart.
Jason: Yeah, I wonder how you’re using it.
Andy: First of all, we’re self-implementing so there’s nobody else in the picture but it’s working out well for us. Maybe this is probably just advantageous to us. It just so happens to be that I’m in this business with Michael, my stepson. He is the perfect integrator. He’s the perfect operations.
Jason: He’s an operations guy.
Andy: Exactly, that’s what he does. I’ve done those things but I’m not as good at that as he is. I’m more of the visionary. We’ve taken ourselves and each of us has taken that role. So, I’m the visionary, he’s the integrator. There’s still a lot of overlap so it’s maybe not as clean as what it would look like at the end of that accountability chart. It’s not like there’s one person reporting to the visionary. That’s the only contact the visionary has as you might look at it visually.
Jason: This isn’t as it perfectly claims.
Andy: No, exactly. We’re growing and in our current size, I’m actually filling a couple of the boxes that would be on the next level down like some of the financial and the CFO type roles. I’m filling that as well. I’m filling a couple of the boxes. That’s how we’re using the accountability charts, to make sure that somebody’s in each of those boxes. Even if that’s Michael or me overlapping.
As part of the process, we also added a couple of folks to our leadership team. We had one operations lead. We brought that up to three to give them very specific responsibilities within the organization. When you look at our accountability chart, you will see that visionary and integrator but it’s not quite what you described. It’s a lot different.
Then next level down, we’ve got our operations leads and then you’ve got me on a couple of the boxes at that next level down, filling those roles until we’re large enough to fill those roles with other folks. That’s how we’re using that chart. I think the risk that you brought out are very real but I think for us, and maybe it is a little unique with me and Michael being in a partnership in the business, those roles actually worked out really well for us.
Jason: Yeah. I think every visionary entrepreneur does need an operationally-minded person. They’re just the yin to the yang. They’re the opposite that we need to wrap some constraints and some managerial prowess towards what we as visionaries would not be good at. We need that person and that role in the business, so it makes a lot of sense.
I think ultimately, another key takeaway for the listeners is that it is important to have an org chart. There’s a lot of people saying, “Do away with org charts,” or they’re saying that no org chart that has to exist and you need to build towards it. I don’t believe there’s an ideal org chart or an ideal situation but I do believe that it is important to have clear levels of responsibility to understand who reports to who.
You can’t serve two masters. You can’t have somebody reporting to two people, everybody will be confused as to who their supervisor is and who they report to, and have a company that runs well. It just doesn’t tend to happen in reality. Even if you don’t create it, it starts to exist organically. People have people they trust as an authority, people that they go to, and to make it actually clear and say, “This is how it is,” makes everyone feel more at ease, makes it a lot more comfortable, and then attaching to that, their roles. What is their job description?
I think that’s where it gets really specific is everytime we add a new team member, our role changes if they are doing anything that impacts us in any way. Most of our initial hires impact us directly. Any executive team members, any assistants, they’re taking something off our plate. Our job description changes, so we need to update that. Their job description changes everytime we bring on somebody else that works with them on that team.
Businesses are a fluid thing. Everytime you hire somebody, and if you’re growing and scaling, these are always happening. That top level team is going to be in flux, initially, until that’s somewhat stable. Then the lower levels are going to have that flux and that change, all those variations, and their job descriptions need to be updated and tight.
Over time, what I’ve noticed also is every single team member, as the company grows in scales, starts to do less, not more if it’s being done well. Because as the company scales and grows, my job description gets narrower. Like my head of fulfillment, his job description gets narrower. He used to be doing all the content, content gathering, client communication, and everything. His job gets narrower and narrower as we slice pieces off and give them to new people so that he has leverage.
That’s how that pyramid grows and scales, is everyone slicing pieces off and doing less and less, but they get better at it and they’re able to focus more on what they really enjoy if you’re doing it right. Then, they’re even better at it and more excited. Over time, they get better and improve. A lot of people think you just pop somebody into a role if you got the processes documented. But I think there’s something to be said about long-term employees and keeping people as long as you possibly can. I don’t think you can beat that in a business.
Andy: Absolutely. I’ll tell you though, as you’re growing, what you just said is exactly why you want to have an operating system in place as you’re growing. It’s because you do have those changing roles. If you don’t have that built, you said something like it’s going to happen anyway, it is. It’s going to happen by itself but it’s not going to happen the way you want it to and that’s true.
If the processes is through the job roles, is through the culture in your organization, all of that stuff is happening. The only question is, are you directing it? We’ve really been trying to direct it over the years and finally, with Traction, we’ve found a way that we’ve said, “This really organizes what we’re trying to do and it’s been very helpful.”
I’ll talk a little bit about our values, if I can, which is one piece of Traction that we had a head start on. We were already working on our values. We had set up an initial set of values a few years ago when we started the company. They were just me and Michael, put them together. They were just about having fun in the workplace. That sort of thing.
I’d say they were lightweight values. They didn’t have a lot of meaning behind them and since we just put them together. The employees that had come on since didn’t have any stake in them, so to speak. Last year, last December, we brought in a team of three employees and we had them work as a committee to put together our values as an organization. We wanted them to focus on two things: (1) What are we doing now? Because we felt like we had a pretty healthy culture, and (2) What are we aspiring towards? What are we aspiring our culture to look like?
Those three went out and talked to all of our existing employees. Over the course of several months, ended up putting together our values which fit in perfectly, timing-wise, with Traction because we had that in place at the same time we’re implementing Traction. That’s so important for any company to do. Even if you’re a small company, put together those values because now we’re able to look at how we deal with customers, how we interact with employees, how we do our job, how we set up processes. We can look at all of those and the context of our values. Is this consistent with what we’re trying to be as an organization, with the culture we’re trying to put together? So, that’s been really helpful. That’s a part of Traction we were sure to working on. You can do it without doing Traction, but it’s a big part of what Traction brings to the table as well. So, very important.
Jason: Touching on values, I think it’s important to have values in the business because without those, you can’t even have team members that believe what you believe, which I think is the most foundational thing in building a team. If you don’t have believers, then you have people that are just there to get paid. If they’re just there to get paid, they’re going to be B players. They’re not going to care about quality the way that you do. They’re not going to care about the results. They just care about getting the paycheck. I think it’s a very dangerous thing to not really ensure that you have values set and that your team members are aware of what those are.
I think it’s very easy once you get clarity on your own values as a company. This is one of the exercises I take clients through when we take them on, is to get clear on their values. But if you don’t have clarity in your values, then it’s impossible to have a company that displays them. It just won’t happen. Once you get that clarity, it’s very easy to look at every single team member and just ask a very simple question, “Do they share my values?”
It becomes really obvious, it’s a yes or no, you know. If you know these team members at all, you know. Do they value integrity? Do they value being on time or whatever it may be that you care about as an entrepreneur? And if the answer is a no, they have to go because they’re hurting your business, they’re hurting your momentum, and they’re hurting your results in the business.
I know when I got clear of some of my values as an organization, what my purpose was as a human being and my purpose for my businesses, over a very short period of time, I think I fired half of my team. I just let them go. I let go of contractors. I brought in new people and the entire temperature of the company leveled up because I think what we do as entrepreneurs is we often trade the business we really deep down want for the business we can have.
We have this business. We take on the properties we can, anything we can. We go out to far areas and manage properties too far where we can. We take on team members that can fill a role instead of what we really want. We’re doing the business that can be used instead of the business that we should or the business that we deserve. That’s a huge difference. Having a business that you can have versus a business that you really love are two completely different businesses.
Most businesses, especially when they get into the 200–400 door category, a lot of them at that stage had built a team, a system, and everything around them, I’ve noticed that is still with the old mindset that they had as a solopreneur and it’s painful. This is probably the most painful stage I’ve seen for entrepreneurs in the property management industry, is that 200–400 door category. Fifty–sixty door category can be quite painful, too, but they’re usually solopreneurs at that point, so the pain isn’t as widespread.
Andy: That’s right. The thing about this too, Jason, whether you’re talking about Traction, E Myth, Clockwork, or other books that’ll talk to you about, how do you pull yourself out of the business all the time? Because when you’re an entrepreneur and you’re growing, if you don’t have a structure for how that growth is going to happen and what’s your business model needs to look like, you’re going to drive yourself crazy. You’re going to be working 90 hours a week and you’re going to be on-call 24/7. You’re going to be answering the phones all the time.
That’s just part of what a lot of entrepreneurs do as they grow. If you get a system like Traction, I think that helps you pull yourself away, be the real leader of the company and not the doer of everything within the company. I think Traction’s a good way to do that. For me, I’ve been able to create this role that I think is comfortable for me, that’s not overwhelming, that it’s something that I can do, it’s the kinds of things I like to do, and at the same time, Michael’s got something he likes to do in our operations leads. They’re in roles, they’re very comfortable, and they like to do that. I think you take that all the way down your organization and if you structure that, you give everybody a piece that they’re good at, that they can do, they have the ability to do, and that they want to do, that’s going to make them very effective. That’s a lot about what Traction and other operating systems are really about.
The other thing, though, I wanted to touch on something you said a little bit about we can set minimum standards for people who work for us. A lot of people get into that mindset of, “Oh, well you’ve got to hit this minimum. If you’re not hitting it, you’re in trouble. You got to hit this minimum.” No matter what happens is people hit that minimum. But what you don’t understand is that you’re losing an extraordinary amount of discretionary effort that you could have had from that employee if they were on board with your values, if they understood the goals. They were buying to those goals, and they wanted to reach them. Now, their performance isn’t the minimum. Their performance is up here. They’re not even worried about managing the minimum because everybody’s onboard with their culture, everybody’s onboard with their goals. Nobody’s around here. It’s just a matter of how much discretionary effort they’re providing.
I worked in call centers for a large organization before I became a property manager, before I started EZ Repair. Call centers are the worst at this because it’s about setting up these metrics around handle times or compliance.
Jason: […] tickets, check time between how long it takes to write notes, everything.
Andy: When you took your break, you’re supposed to take a 7-14 but you took a 7-17, so you’re only 98% compliant. All this stuff, all you’re doing is managing somebody that hit a minimum standard. That’s what you’re going to get.
When I came into some centers, we were able to change their whole mindset, saying, “Yeah. We’ve got to measure on the outside of those things, but what we really need to do is to motivate our team towards a common goal.” We were able to improve service levels immediately at a very large contact center, immediately. That contact center, people thought it was understaffed, that we weren’t answering the phone quick enough, going and almost immediately just by setting targets, getting away from this minimum standards, changing people’s mindset, and getting people to step up. People will give you discretionary effort if they’re buying the way you’re doing it. They’re onboard with it.
As a small business owner, I think a lot of us missed that. We do get into the, “Okay, we’ve got to hit these standards,” or, “It’s busy. We’re not getting everything done. We’ve got to up our standard to how many X number of widgets we’re going to make or whatever our performance metrics is,” and that’s fine. You have to have goals and standards.
What we really need to do is to motivate people who want to step up, add a little work, and be a part of your company because they buy into your company. They decided to get up on Monday and go to work because they like what they’re doing. They like what they’re trying to accomplish. That’s a big part of this.
Traction help us do this. I think there’s a lot of other ways you can implement those types of things. Traction gives you a way to show each employee on a 90-day basis, something that is very relatable to everybody, “Here’s what we’re trying to accomplish over 90 days. Can you help us do that?” To a person, our teams told me in small meetings with everybody on our teams, “Yeah, we can do that. We will do that. We’ll step up if we have to. We’ll do that and we’ll make that happen.”
I think you’d be surprised how people will respond to you when you can bring them a real visual, structured, account of what we’re trying to do with the company, and get it out of the framework that we’re talking about earlier where it’s in my head, that I know what I want my company to do, and I got this pie in the sky.
Jason: Which […] everyday.
Andy: Exactly. It didn’t help anybody because it does seem a little scattered, it does change sometimes, and nobody can really related to these ideas I’ve got in my head about where business is going. Traction brings it to a level where everybody in the organization can understand the buy-in and get excited about it.
They can also put the pieces together. They can see in our five year goal, “Okay. This is what we need to do in this next 90 day chunk. If we do this and we keep doing our 90 day chunk, we’re going to hit that five year target.” Even though it seems like it’s way out there, we’re going to hit that, and we’re going to hit it 90 days at a time.
If I were looking at Traction and say, “What’s the biggest single thing we’ve got out of this?” there’s a lot of things in there. It’s the ability to chunk that business in 90 days, and have a very good and very solid structure.
Jason: Yeah, and really any business planning system, that is one of the most basic things. I’ve done Wake Up Warrior, there’s a 90 day year which is a system out there that’s scaling up, the Rockefeller Habits, that system. There’s EOS, Traction. All of these things.
My […], internally we call DoorGrow OS. It’s our Operating System. I’ve taken what I feel like is the best of all the systems out there. It may, in the future—I don’t want to be the vaporware guy—be the system that we share with property managers. I do have an intention to help create the ultimate system out there, but I think what you’re saying is very valid.
I don’t know if you know this, you and I have a little bit of a similar background. I don’t have the scale that you had at AAA, but I was the head. I did all the hiring, I was the lead supervisor and head of a call center for the largest private broadband internet service provider in California. Then, I left there as a big fish in a small pond to work at Verizon in their Business and Tech Support Center for DSL and was the low guy on the totem pole, but I got paid a lot more when I went there.
I’ve been in the call center environment. I’ve been the supervisor doing the hiring. I’ve taken the supervisor calls as well. I’ve done all the low level work. The funny thing I noticed is when you have a system and you geared it towards those metrics, people figure out how to game the system. I figured out how to manipulate the system because it was all about speed in getting things done faster. I used a piece of software that could do macros that would prepopulate tickets. I noticed we’re only getting about three types of tickets. We had to fill up this horrible piece of software in Verizon that was detailing everything that we did, what we said, and how to be done.
They really made four types of problems so I created this macroscript thing. It would just prepopulate the tickets. I have my tickets done and I was back on a call right away. I got really good at closing out tickets legitimately, so that we were helping people.
I then started sharing with other people that were struggling. If you’re not making your metrics, you get nervous. They’re afraid that you’re going to get axed. Here’s the funny thing. Supervisors don’t like […] people messing with the system or doing things differently, especially if it wasn’t their idea. I had supervisors that wanted to challenge that or felt threatened by the fact that I optimized and make things better.
As entrepreneurs, this is what we do. We’re always looking for ways to support our team or looking for ways to improve speed, improve accuracy, help them be better. If we give our team members that ability to feel entrepreneurial which is where instead of micromanaging them, we give them our values, we give them our outcomes. We give them outcomes to work towards and we let them see what they could do.
I’ve been really amazed when we’ve gone into planning sessions with my team. I say, “Here’s the things that I want, what […] you have to help us get there.” My graphic designer has a completely different view and perspective from her angle of the business than I have from my top down. My head of fulfillment and the content person has a completely different view and perspective from that side than I do from the top down. Their ideas are great. I’m always amazed. We have all these brainstormed ideas. I’m like, “Yes. I didn’t even think of that.”
I think we also as entrepreneurs, we become the emperor with no clothes if we don’t have a planning system because they’re all just saying, “Yes,” and they’re just getting their paychecks, they’re just doing what they’re told. They’re not innovating, they’re not feeling alive, and they’re not really enjoying being part of that organization. You’re the boss that everyone is complaining about. On the weekend, they just leave for the weekend.
What you said earlier about discretionary time, I want team members that even on the weekends, they’re thinking about how they could be better. They’re thinking about the job. They’re excited about what they’re doing. They’re studying and learning new stuff because they’re excited about what they get to do in the business and they feel passionate about being able to be part of something bigger. They like that feeling and camaraderie of being on a team, and having a culture. It’s a very different thing.
Andy: I’ll tell you a quick story along those lines. We’re doing a lot of the process piece. One of the six components of Traction, one of those is process. We’ve been spending a lot of time on that. I mentioned a year ago, we want to really formalize our process where it’s consistent the same way every time for every company. You can customize things like that.
Your […] criteria can be customized, but you couldn’t customize when we follow up with the tenant after repair. We’re not going to do the same for everybody. There’s things in our process where we don’t do the same. When we started Traction, we’re also used to email then The Checklist Manifesto was a great book, as well. We talked about how we are going to document our processes in a way that our team has all the support that they need for the process.
We did that. We put some really cool documentation for our seven key processes all in checklist style but visual checklist. You don’t have to fill anything up. Any team member, even new team members can immediately walk into a process and these steps to do for that, for example.
When we roll that out, almost immediately, one of the team members who does most of the work on one of our frontend processes—part of the dispatch processes—that was able to come in and say, “Look, I’ve been doing this process. It’s working fine. If we did this, we’ve been quicker. We can get to these work-overs dispatch even quicker.” We made these small changes.
Because we had a checklist listed down, he can even see what’s the next stage in the process and what are they doing. He was able to put that altogether and say, “Here’s the fix. Here’s something that we can improve.” We implemented it the same day. It definitely drives people to be more engaged in the operations. They’re not just there to do your ABC work that you asked them to do. They’re vying into the goals they were trying to accomplish. They’re vying into the process you’re rolling out. They’re trying to be a part of that.
We’ve seen a lot of that. A lot of folks at the very frontline and in this particular case. This is an employee that has only been enlisted for a couple of months. People feeling really comfortable to be able to help us towards these goals. Now that they understand what we’re trying to do and that really put an understandable 90-day blocks. Here’s what we’re trying to do and everybody’s going to be more likely to be onboard, jump up, and say, “Hey, let’s do this differently because that’s going to improve our operation.”
Jason: Yeah. If you look at any problem internally in a business, there’s one of three things that must be missing. Either there isn’t a clear outcome, which a planning system help solve, there isn’t accountability, it wasn’t clear who was supposed to be doing it or who was responsible for the outcome, and there isn’t transparency. Nobody can see who’s doing what or see that people are or are not getting things done. Nobody has clarity on where the business is at financially or how it’s working.
I think having a planning system, having regular meetings, it creates this culture that allows accountability, allows transparency, allows responsibility, allows to be a clear drive towards outcomes.
Most businesses have no clear outcome. They’re not working towards a clear outcome. They’re just managing day to day fires and they’re just shooting in the dark. That’s how most small businesses operate. It financially looks that way in their business, too. There is a consistency in the financial side as well. Also, it’s a financial system which is a part of planning. I’ll just throw that out there which I’m a big fan of Profit First.
Andy: First of all, big plug to Profit First. Big plug to Profit First. It changed my business two years ago. Absolutely a big fan of Profit First and in Clockwork thesis. He’s written several great books for profit entrepreneurs.
For me, you were talking about how most small business owners don’t do these things. I was in that same boat. Even though I come from a very structured environment from AAA, when I was a property manager, that’s all I […] property management company. I joked but it’s not really a joke. I didn’t make any money in my property management company until I sold it. That was the company I ran.
When we started EZ Repair, we sort of forgot to do this a little differently. We started getting into the systems and reading different books about structuring, about how to have an operating model, how to profitability. It wasn’t really until, like I said, two years ago, we were at Profit First. That just transformed our finances completely. It’s was amazing. And then here, I feel like Traction for us is going to be the next turning point, but a couple of years from now, I’ll be talking about how we found Traction a couple of years ago.
I think it’s an evolution of a small business. You learn different things as you go. But for any small business owner, even if you’re just starting up, whether it’s Traction or another system, you need to have an operating system in place. This would’ve been so much easier for us a couple of years ago if we did implement it, but that’s okay. We’re implementing it now and it’s never too early. I don’t care how small you are. Maybe you don’t have employees yet but you plan on growing. Get it in place.
Jason: Yeah. For those listening, what do you want them to take away from this?
Andy: Hopefully, some learnings from me. What I just said from my own property management experience when I was a property manager. Hopefully, you can make some money before you decide to sell your […] business. Hopefully, you can make money along the way. There’s a lot of property managers who are. The ones who are have that structure. They have that operating system. They have that financial plan in place.
What I’m advocating for is to do that as a property manager. Implement, whether it’s Traction or another operating system. Implement it. Definitely read Profit First. It will change your life, absolutely. Do that going forward. Even if you’re small, even if you don’t think you’re there yet, even if you think, “Well, I’m just a one person show,” or whatever, one or two person show, it doesn’t matter. The structure is going to help you so much and it’s going to keep you from working those 80 hours a week.
I know there are PMs out there working 80 hours weeks because that was what I was doing when I was a PM. You don’t need to. Even if you’re not ready to hire right now, these operating systems are going to help you structure in a way that you won’t be working 80 hour weeks anymore. They’ll figure out how to handle the work without actually having to just be available all the time.
Hopefully, you’ll determine too that there’s some self-showing work that you can do, maybe some maintenance work coordination, work duty. You can do some other things. You can outsource, but you’re definitely even without doing any of that, just by structuring your work and system like Traction, you’re going to find your job becomes easier or manageable, and you’re going to understand exactly what you need to be doing in the business everyday.
Jason: One thing I want everybody to take away from this, too, is that this is rare in businesses in the US or everywhere, really. This is rare that a business will implement a planning system, implement profit first, have these pieces in place. I think every listener should feel a lot safer with using a company if they hear that they have these pieces in place.
Andy, props to you for getting these pieces in place over EZ Repair Hotline. I’m sure those listening will feel a lot safer with using these services if they haven’t considered these before. It creates more consistency in the outcomes of the business. It creates more reliability. Really, that’s what people are vying from all of us—safety and uncertainty. That’s what they want. They want results. It’s far easier to deliver results when you have a predictable system to create that magic and to create a future.
Andy, I appreciate you coming on the show. How can they check you out?
Andy: Thanks for having me. Our website is probably the best way to start to take a look at us. It’s ezrepairhotlinellc.com. They can see all our products and the easy way to set up a meeting with me or just to send us a note in the contact form. I’d love to have people follow up with us.
Jason: Perfect. I appreciate you, Andy, coming on the show. Hopefully, you have an awesome rest of your day.
Andy: Thanks, Jason. That was great. I appreciate it.
Jason: You can check them out. It is ezrepairhotlinellc.com, so check them out.
If you are a property management entrepreneur, you’re feeling stressed out, you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not getting the results that you want, you don’t feel like you have consistency, you feel like things are crazy, you feel like you’re on a financial rollercoaster, you may just need to start with getting clarity on yourself. This is where I start clients out when we start working with them, when we start coaching and consulting property management business. We start them with figuring themselves out first.
Andy is the center of the solar system. I’m the center of my business. If you change and help them get clarity on what they love doing, on what they should be doing, or where their time is being drained, or where their energy is being drained, we align the business around the entrepreneur.
Every business will be very different from each other. Every business will be unique. It will support you, you will feel alive, and you will feel the momentum which is what we crave as entrepreneurs. The rest of the world wants to be happy or sad. They’re focused on that. We want momentum. We want to feel alive. If we don’t have that, we feel unconstrained, we feel overwhelmed, we feel frustrated, we feel stressed, we feel stuck. That’s hell for us as entrepreneurs. If you’re stuck in a little bit of hell, maybe reach out, and we’ll see if we can get you unstuck.
I’m Jason Hull, from DoorGrow. Check us out at doorgrow.com. Make sure you join our Facebook community, our Facebook group. You can get to that by going to doorgrowclub.com.
If you feel like your property management website is a little bit outdated, it’s older than 2-3 years, maybe it’s 5 years old or older, it might be time to test that website, see how much money is really leaking and costing you. You can go to doorgrow.com/quiz and take our website quiz. Most websites that go through it get an F grade in terms of conversion which means you are losing deals and money right now. It’s probably costing you tens of thousands or maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars, annually, in lost deals and lost business. So, check that out.
Again, I’m Jason Hull with the DoorGrow Show. I appreciate you guys tuning in. Be sure to check us out on iTunes or on YouTube. Like and subscribe. Where it’s possible, leave us a testimonial or review. We’ll really appreciate that. That is it. I am out.
Bye, everyone. To our mutual growth. Until next time.