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Joe Voci & His Team at JDV Electric, Located in Lansdown, PA, Succeed by Delivering Exceptional Service & by Diligently Managing the Busines by the Numbers

JDV Electric - ESI MembersThis story is an approximate transcription of a “The Successful Contractor” podcast interview. You can listen to this interview HERE.  “The Successful Contractor” podcast, powered by Success Group International, is a show for residential contractors about residential contractors. It chronicles business journeys, shares insights, and celebrates successes in this wonderful industry of the trades and tradespeople. 

Joe Voci owns and operates JDV Electric in Lansdown, Pennsylvania, which is right outside of Philadelphia. Joe is a reminder of what real success in business is. JDV is a small company—just three trucks—one of which Joes runs. But JDV Electric has managed to grow 40 percent each year, while maintaining a 20-percent net profit or better.
The secret to Joe and JDV Electric’s success is straightforward, like their pricing. Joe and his team invest the time and energy needed to run service calls the right way. They take their time. They diligently inspect the home for safety concerns, build a strong inspection report, create logical options, and then educate homeowners. It’s up to the homeowner to decide how to move forward. And they do to the tune of a companywide average ticket over $1,500 this year.
Sales only paint part of JDV Electric’s portrait of success. Dollars only matter if they manage to hit the bottom line. That’s where Joe has shined with his management of the company. He reviews his KPIs and monthly profit and loss statement adamantly, responding to the information they provide, enabling the company to pivot where necessary on its way to likely hitting its first ever $1 million year.
Joe is deeply proud of his small, but bright and dedicated team, who have been willing to learn and grow along with JDV Electric. And Joe is especially excited to have one of his biggest cheerleaders to be a part of his team full-time these days. “[My dad, Joe Voci, Sr.] has played a huge part in my success,” Joe Jr. said. “I couldn’t have gotten to where I am now without him. Being the owner, sometimes you don’t have anyone to truly hold you accountable. He pushes me to be the best!”

What was the reason for initially joining SGI?

I did a new-construction project, and at the end, we did six brand-new homes and I owed $15,000 on a credit card. It was insane. I can’t go on like this. I saw other companies in my area doing residential service, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. They appeared to be making money. So, I found SGI, and it’s been a blessing ever since.

I actually first heard about SGI around 2009. I got a postcard. I thought it was too good to be true. I went to a Profit Day™ in 2013, and I still didn’t join up. But in 2015, I went knowing I was definitely signing up. Looking back, I should have joined back in 2009.

After joining, you go to Executive Perspective™. What were two or three changes you knew needed to happen immediately once you got home?

We had to get uniforms and the pricing structure in place. I went to EP in September—October 1st we had our price book and started using it. It took me about six months to get a hang of how to price jobs, making sure that we’re profitable.

 

Did you attend Learning Alliance’s Service Essentials early on to learn how to best use the price guide?

I went to Service Essentials™ and went to the Advanced Electrician Class™. I learned a lot just from other members, as well. A lot of members helped me learn how to write options and present it to the customer. It’s a process. Once you learn the right way, it works. I think it took me a good year to really get a handle on running the SGI model—and it was just me and a truck. It wasn’t until 2017 that I started hiring people and training them.

 

Back to pricing, how much did you need to increase your pricing in those early stages?

My first six months after joining, I still wasn’t priced right. Some of that was being afraid. Then I realized, hey, we have to charge what we have to charge to be in business. Ever since, we’ve raised our prices every year. It is what it is.

 

With the price increases, you’ve also elevated the level of service?

Definitely. We’re in uniforms, do the floor-savers, and use the drop cloths. We go the whole nine yards. We look for opportunities to go above and beyond, whether it’s pulling trash cans back up or grabbing a newspaper. Whatever we can do to help. We wrapped our first truck in 2017, and then we purchased two new vehicles last year and had them wrapped. All of that image helps.

 

When did you hire someone to answer the phones?

It came after a little time. That should’ve been the first hire. I was relying on a call center or relying on myself to answer the phone. If it’s just one person getting started, you can’t do everything. And most importantly, getting the phones answered is one of the most important things. That’s setting the professional image for your customers calling.

 

Did you have a service fee when you joined?

We didn’t have a travel fee, but we dabbled around it before SGI. I’d have trouble with it on the phone. Now, we stick to our guys and don’t waive it. It’s tough when we’re slow, but we do whatever we can not to go out for free.

 

How long did it take you to get comfortable conducting safety inspections?

We do a 10-point safety inspection on our callas, and we started that back in 2017. We use that to build options. Really, we use it to educate the customer, that’s the biggest thing. They don’t know what’s in their home. It’s not sales at that point, it’s just letting them know if they have any dangerous issues and how we can solve those problems.

 

Do you always do an inspection on every call?

We’re going to do it unless they stop us. And when I train the guys, that is the same thing. You have to make them believe. If they don’t believe that they’re doing a service to the customer, and making sure it’s about the safety of it, they won’t do them. At the end of the day, that’s what is more important—the safety of the customer in their home and around their electrical system. We educate people on everything, on smoke detectors, for example. It does take time. Our average time in the home before travel, even presenting a price, is around 90 minutes. That’s between building rapport with the customer, doing the 10-point safety check, and then we get into pricing.

 

How do you build your options for customers?

Providing options is definitely an art because you want to make sure that you’re prioritizing things for the customer. We give people an option one, two, and three. Option one is pretty much everything we find on the safety inspection report, plus whatever we were called for there that day—whether it was an install call or something not working. With option two and then three, we’re just taking things away in order of importance. If they don’t have smoke detectors, that’s going to be on option two. We want to do life safety over equipment safety, so we’re going to give them smoke detectors over surge protection.

 

When did you hire your next electrician?

It was 2017. This individual came in, and I said, “You fit the job criteria—you’re hired.” [Laughter] A few months in, he wasn’t working. I had to find his replacement, unfortunately. He wasn’t suited for service. Good electrician, though. I’ve had to learn how to hire better as I’ve developed as an owner.

 

What’s your recruiting and hiring process today?

We run ads on Indeed™. Michele will conduct a phone interview. If they pass her test, that person gets passed to me. I’ll do a phone interview and then bring them in for an official interview in the building. I’ll talk to them right away that we drug test, background check, and need clean driver’s records. I make sure they can do the work. I’ll ask some questions about previous job history. Then, I’ll have some behavioral questions, too. You want to see how they think, if they’re quick, and if they have good judgement. We’ve mostly hired experienced electricians, but we do now have our first apprentice.

 

The experienced electricians you’ve hired, which ones have been the best? Do they fit certain criteria?

Younger guys looking for a change [have been the best for us]. They might be working construction and don’t see a future. Then, it’s training them on how to run service calls because they don’t know. You want people who like the idea of a new challenge every day. Construction can get boring. You want someone who likes meeting new people. They tend to be energetic and happy. They want to serve others.

 

Once you hire someone, what’s your onboarding process?

SGI a couple years ago rolled out that onboarding program at Expo, which really helped. There’s videos and a workbook. We arrange time in the office for me to get a new person onboard as quickly as we can. We’ll watch some videos for two hours in the morning. Then, the rest of the day, that new person is running service calls with me to actually see it in person. That makes them a believer.

 

How long does it take for you to feel comfortable to put a new electrician in his own vehicle?

It’s a per-person basis. If I’m confident in his technical ability and communication ability with the customer, I don’t see why we can’t get him out in a four- to six-week period.

 

We’ve talked hiring and onboarding. What’s the continual training look like at JDV Electric?

We do Tuesdays and Thursdays, and we start training at 7:30, finish up around 8:30. It’ll be a mix of technical training, how to run the service call, how to price jobs. Then just talking with the guys. Hey, what challenges did you have with a certain type of customer? Maybe it’s a landlord tenant call they ran into—how do you deal with this situation? So, we’ll give guidance on that, which gives them confidence. Or if they get to a customer’s house and that customer pulls out an invoice or an estimate from another company, my guys get excited now. I’ve trained them well enough that they’re confident they can just rip apart that estimate, talk about warranties, talk about our value. It’s great. I think that all comes from just having conversations with your guys. They’ll let you know what they need, and you give it to them. Check Out SGI’s Learning Alliance >>

 

Do you talk to your team much about goals?

I have to do a better job of coaching my guys, honestly. But we do set some goals for them. The last couple of months, I’ve been saying, “This is what we need for you to hit,” whether it’s a monthly goal, broken down to the day. They’re all doing very well, though. We have a company average ticket of a little over $1,500 for the year.

We have a KPI board, so they know exactly where they are. We have a goal of a million dollars in revenue for the year. We broke it down into how many days we have left to hit and how much revenue per day we need. Every day, everybody gets to see it. We’re all fighting hard for it.

 

I love the idea of making the company goal visual for everyone. It makes it easier for everyone to get behind it.

I let everybody here know that it’s a team effort. It’s not just me. It starts at the phones when Michele’s answering and booking that call. If she doesn’t set that lead and do a great job there, then we don’t get the opportunity. And then if we do get the opportunity, we have to make sure we go out there and shine and give that customer the best experience possible.

 

What’s your compensation structure like?

Right now, it’s hourly plus commission. Any job over $750 is eligible for commission. They will earn three percent over $750.

 

You mentioned KPIs. Which KPIs do you talk to your team about regularly?

When I’m training with the guys, we’re talking about conversion rates and average tickets. If their conversion ratio is low, why is that? More than likely, they’re struggling building value. We can see that weakness and train on it. We track our numbers. We get a lot of that stuff from SGI, but I have to mention a huge help has been our Profit Platoon™, as well. We get together once a month for something like three years now. It’s been instrumental to my success and our other members’ success, as well.

 

Share with people what your Profit Platoon™ meetings look like?

Once a month we rotate who’s getting the visit. And we have an accountability form that we would fill out that helps us dissect the company, so we can see where we can help. There’s nothing like actually going into a person’s business, seeing it firsthand. That’s when you get the full perspective. It’s huge.

Everybody benefits from it no matter what stage because we have companies that are doing over a million dollars; we have companies that are doing over two million; and some companies that are just doing a couple hundred thousand, but everybody can say something. We’re all trying to learn and grow.

 

How much has the Profit Platoon™ kept you accountable?

It definitely does. I mean, you’re getting help from other members. They’re coming here, and they’re taking time out of their day say, “Hey, these are problem areas that you should work on.” And if you don’t want to take that time and follow their advice, it’s kind of disrespectful in a way, I think, because everybody’s making time to come help you.

 

How has JDV grown since 2017?

The last three years it’s been 40-percent growth year over year. Our first year with SGI, we did $350,000. Then, we hit $600,000. Then, last year, we finished at $818,000. We were on target for another 40-percent growth until COVID threw us off a bit. We adjusted the goal, so it would be attainable. That’s where our one million came from.

 

You’ve achieved that growth while maintaining 20-percent net profitability?

For the most part. Last year, our net profit was at 18.5 percent. This year, we’re at 24 percent, year-to-date. I can’t remember where we were three years ago, but I heard loud and clear that the profitability has to be there for the growth to happen. If not, you’re always going to struggle. You don’t have anything to reinvest back into the business.

 

What’s been your key to maintaining such strong profitability?

The last two years, I’ve really been reviewing my profit-and-loss statement every month, and I have a handle of it. I’m managing my labor and materials costs well. Making sure you’re reviewing that profit-and-loss statement every month is the big thing to making money. You can’t push it off and look every three months, six months, or at the end of the year. You look every month so you can see if you’re off course and where you need to change. Do you have too many people? Are your materials too high? Is my overhead too high? Am I paying for something I shouldn’t?

 

How have you managed to keep your manpower spending where it needs to be?

I’d be lying if I said I knew exactly. [Laughter] We manage its efficiency well. A lot of our service calls are close to our home office, so we’re not spending a lot of time driving around. I think that helps. But yeah, on average, each guy runs two calls a day. In fact, as a company, I think we’re averaging 1.8 calls a day.

 

How much do you rely on financing with those larger average tickets?

We offer it on every call. I think between 8 to 10 percent of our total revenue is financed.

 

You’ve been growing so aggressively. You must have been able to find a bunch of new customers. What are you doing for marketing?

I always make sure to spend around 10 to 11 percent [of total revenue on marketing]. When I started, I didn’t have a large customer base. I had to do the cheapest things possible to find customers. To date, probably a lot of our calls come from Google™ local search ads.

 

Do you have a club membership to help keep your board full?

I started that right after Expo, that October. I still remember—I sold my first club membership, and then the next day, the lady canceled. [Laughter] I was so happy and then so disappointed. But we probably have around 185 members now.

Fortunately, we haven’t had to lean on that base. We try to get to every member, every year. A lot of time that’s difficult. We make phone calls, send texts, send emails. We try to tie the club membership back with their lifetime warranty—for example, if we’ve replaced their electrical panel. So, they can’t keep that warranty if we can’t check it every year. That’s how we tie it back.

 

What are your six-month or one-year goals for JDV Electric?

We didn’t hit $1.2 million this year, obviously [with everything going on in the world]. That will be our minimum goal next year. If I can find the technicians, I think $1.5 million is easily obtainable.

 

Do you have immediate plans of getting out of the field?

I like doing the electrical work, but at times, it burns you out. I’m in the process of working on getting out of the truck. I’ve made my attempts before, I’ve gotten out of the truck, and I get pulled back in. I know I need to keep moving forward to make it happen.

 

You have a company that’s growing at a great margin. Do you have any parting advice for contractors on how they can enjoy similar success?

The biggest thing for me is make sure that you have your profit-and-loss statement set-up matching the SGI model. Make sure you’re checking those numbers every month. Make sure you’re priced right, so you can then hit that net profit. If you’re not priced right, you’re never going to hit that net profit. So, check with [ESI coach] Sonya [Fryar] and make sure you’re where you need to be. And just constantly review things. Price shop your vendors, make sure you’re where you need to be. I do that once or twice a year. If something seems off, I know I have to make a phone call. You have to keep those margins. The SGI Coaches Make a Difference! 

 

Andrew Dobbins, Owner of the Tucson, Arizona–Based Business, Projects the Company Will Generate Between $8 to $9 Million by the End of 2020. A Huge Leap from the $5.9 Million Sold in 2019.

This story is an approximate transcription of a “The Successful Contractor” podcast interview with Andrew Dobbins. You can listen to this interview HERE. “The Successful Contractor” podcast, powered by Success Group International, is a show for residential contractors about residential contractors. It chronicles business journeys, shares insights, and celebrates successes in this wonderful industry of the trades and tradespeople.

Following a proud career in the United States Marine Corp, Andrew Dobbins went searching for what the next chapter in his life would bring. He took a position doing jewelry sales in the mall. It transformed his life. Andrew discovered a newfound skill and a calling.
Intelligent Design
“I found that I was good at sales,” he said. “I quickly maxed out at that job in a very short time. I went to a job service center here in Tucson. There was a listing for a salesperson at an air-conditioning company. I interviewed, and that was 16 years ago.”

Today, Andrew—along with his wife Aimee—owns Intelligent Design, a residential-service company that offers HVAC, plumbing, solar, and electrical services. And in 2020, business has been very good. Andrew projects total sales will fall between $8 to $9 million by the end of the year—and it will be generated at a strong, double-digit profitability. It will be a huge leap from 2019, where the company sold $5.9 million.

Although Andrew continues to grow as a business operator, he will proudly tell you, he is still a salesperson at heart. “It’s my core competency,” he explained. “It’s what I rely upon when I need to. The rest, I’m still learning, but we have a great team and we’ve come a long way in a short period of time.”

Andrew founded Intelligent Design in 2011—shortly after selling his 50 percent interest in an HVAC company he started with a partner two years prior. “We got up to two million when I sold,” Andrew explained. “I started over in my garage. I went out and sold [equipment]. I had two install crews, one service tech, and we did $3.85 million in the first 12 months. It was exciting. With low overhead, I was able to put a lot of money in the bank. We were able to buy a property outright within a couple years—then, we started to market and grow.”

“By 2015, we got up to six million dollars, but we became less and less profitable as we continued to grow. I had to figure something out. I wanted to keep growing, but I wanted to be profitable, and we weren’t. I mean I was still doing okay, but I wasn’t hitting those double-digit net profits like I expected. That’s why we joined SGI and started implementing the system,” Andrew continued.

By 2016, Andrew jumped headfirst into a new endeavor—he opened a second location in Phoenix and moved his family to manage it. He entrusted a manager to maintain and grow his Tucson branch. “I thought we were doing great, and then Tucson started going backwards. By the time I noticed, I was half a million in the hole and two weeks from not making payroll. It was chaos,” Andrew shared.

Andrew leapt into action, returning to Tucson to get his original location back in the black. “That’s when I found another problem. I was basically gone for a year and a half. The manager I put in charge had been bringing in new people. He had influence and tried to stage a mutiny. I believe he was pushing the numbers down to try and buy the company for pennies on the dollar. Thankfully, some of my loyal people told me what was going on. I fired him and a bunch of other people,” he continued. “I started taking all the sales calls and started selling about $400,000 a month. Then, after about 10 weeks, I started weaning the leads back to the remaining sales guys. We made money that year, but it was hell on wheels to get there.”

Andrew ultimately decided to shutter his Phoenix location and concentrate all his efforts in Tucson. “Before I left for Phoenix, we were doing six-million dollars. That chaotic year, we dropped back down to $3.8 million, which is what we did our first year. So, we had a rebuilding process. Finally, last year, we got back up to six million. And we made really good money over the last two years. Double-digit net profits both last year and the year before.”

Andrew is incredibly excited for the future. He shared the lessons he learned over his journey in starting and growing Intelligent Design. In addition, he reveals much of his sales process that creates such remarkable results. Please, enjoy our conversation. For the full interview, please subscribe to “The Successful Contractor” Podcast, where you can hear the elongated version of the interview.

What are some changes you made in Tucson to recapture your profitability? It sounds like you’ve always been priced right, correct?

With my sales background, I’ve never had problems selling at a higher price than our competitors. So, we are at the top of the market, not the very top, but close, and we sell a lot of accessories. Our average tickets are very high because we do some unique things that other people don’t do. So that was never an issue. It was always, where am I losing money within the company that I shouldn’t be? Yeah, that was basically my issue. And it still is—I’m not perfect there, still. I’m still learning and growing and trying to figure that end of things out.

What two or three things did you address once you returned to turn your profitability around?

Yeah. I had a general manager in place because I was selling. So, eliminating that position and being that guy has helped. No one cares for your business like you will. And they can’t run your business exactly as you would, building the culture as you would. When the culture is not right, and people are grouchy being there, you just can’t be as profitable.

How have you changed your culture?

Once a quarter we have an all-company, all-day training. We usually bring in an outside trainer, and then once a month we do family dinners. When I say family, I mean the kids, wives, everybody comes. After we’re done eating, the kids go play on our one-acre lot, and we hire some babysitters to watch them. Then we do some type of training. I found that three things really negatively affect the staff: you have relationship issues, whether it’s a spouse or girlfriend, boyfriend, whatever it is; substance abuse; and not managing your money properly. You make a ton of money in the summer, you blow it all, and you’re begging for money in the winter. We do specific trainings on those three things to try and make sure that those things in their private lives are not affecting their business lives, and it really builds a good culture and relationships.

Has this investment in culture also reduced turnover?

Absolutely. And it’s not everybody. You always have the stragglers that are only there for the buck and maybe they’re good producers—they don’t want to be a part of the culture. But for the most part, I have guys that are saying, they’re never leaving, this is their last stop, they love it here. Guys that have been in the industry for 20 years and they say, “I’ve never worked at a company like this.” It’s an awesome thing.

In your new role as GM, how have you revamped your sales team so they can replace your production?

Well, I serve as sales manager, and we train all the time. I have the guys call me. If they don’t close the deal, they call me afterward and they walk me through what they said, what the customer said, and I share what I would have done. I’m constantly trying to grow them, recommending books, passing knowledge to them.

So, you never go out in the field anymore?

I still sell. When we get into certain seasons and work needs to be put on the board, guess what? I’m going out in the field. When COVID hit, we had very few leads, and I said, “Sorry guys, I have to take the sales calls.” I sold $2.1 million in three months. It’s what propped up our revenue allowing us to hit the numbers we’re going to hit. Sales is my core competency. I’m really good at it. I have a process I stick to and it works. I have three other sales guys that do well, but not $2.1 million in three months.

How did you avoid your sales team quitting when you took all the leads?

When they looked at the numbers, they understood. One guy is new, but the other two have been here five years. They know if we’re not hitting $400,000 a month, we’re losing money. They make so much money usually throughout the year, they got it.

I’m honest and vulnerable with them about the place of the company—so, they don’t give me too much trouble when I need to jump in. Right now, I’m trying not to take any sales calls because our board is completely full. I have a bottleneck in the company right now, which is not having enough install crews.

Could you share with me roughly your sales system that’s created such success?

So, my presentation thing is on an iPad Pro™. I have PDF files and then I put them into a photo file. That way, I can just select my photo file and swipe through—I want it to be simple. In that same photo file, I have pictures of anything that can create a connection with the customer. I have pictures of me in the Marine Corps; I have pictures of my dogs, my kids, and family; and I have pictures of all the team members with the company. I’m trying to build a connection.

Then, I do something called FORM—Family Occupation Recreational Message. I’m asking questions to figure out things about the house, but also building a connection with them. I teach them about SEER and tonnage and the long-term costs associated with it. I have documents to back up what I’m telling them about a heat load. I have a folder that has documents from the U.S. Department of Energy and EnergyStar™ consumer reports to show them, “Hey, here’s why we’re going to do what we’re about to do.” Then, once I show them those things, I go and measure for the heat load. We run a blower door to see if they need Aeroseal™. And I show them everything that was wrong with their existing system. And if they have other estimates, I’m asking lots of questions. If the other guys didn’t do what I’m doing, customers quickly realize that we’re on a different level.

Once we sit back down, we know whether the ductwork is leaking, we have the heat load, and we start digging into the different products and pricing. There’s a lot more to it than I can explain right now. We have a two- to three-hour sales process.

Once you sit back down, do you offer them one specific system based on what you think they need, or do you give them three or four options?
I like to talk about solutions. I identify a problem, and then I talk about the solution. If their ducts leak, we’re talking about duct cleaning and sealing—that’s going to be one of my main recommendations. If you have a 15-percent loss, you can cut the efficiency of the system in half in this market. If you have a 30-percent loss, you’re talking about taking a 20 SEER down to a 10. Sealing leaky ducts is so important. That goes into a lot of jobs, and it’s one of the main reasons our average tickets are higher.

We also are talking about purification. You have three different issues: dirt, pollen, and allergens. You have VOCs and viruses. We talk through all of that, and what they mean. Then, I ask, “Would you like to see prices on these?” So, every line item, I’m asking for permission: “Do you want to see this, and then going down the line.” When we’re done, I also draw out the system—usually a split system. I show all the motor options and the benefits of each. Then, I ask, “Which one do you want to start with?” Everybody says variable on the compressor. “Okay, you want to start with the variable. You want to start with the clean and seal of the ductwork, and you want the purification. Everything they say they want, I have in there. We use ServiceTitan™ to build the quote, and I’ll have just one option with everything.

Everything has a line-item price. So, they’re seeing the prices. But most people don’t add it all up in their heads. Before I get to the bottom, I show them the total price. I say, “You can have everything you said you wanted here for only…” And I give them a monthly payment.

Everybody usually asks, “What’s the total?” I know that’s the next question. To which, I’ll say, “Oh, I guess you’re writing a check for this?” They’ll say, “No, I’m going to finance it.” I’ll say, “Well, is $320 affordable for you?” I don’t automatically answer their question on the total. They’ll ask, “How long are the payments for?” I’ll respond, “Well, are you going to make the minimum payments for the entire term, or do you plan on paying it off early?”

Now, of course, I’m going to tell them the total. Let’s say their financing is 6.99 percent for 120 months, and the total is $19,500. If they push back, that’s when I go down to the next level. I’m taking things away once they turn me down on everything they want. I ask them, “Okay, well, what were you hoping the price would have been, and what do you want to take away?” Then, I’ll go all the way down to a condenser and coil replacement until they’re ready to buy. We just keep working our way down until they’re comfortable. In my opinion, the idea of showing all of their options on one page leads to people to settle in the middle. Starting from the top, and taking away, people typically end up buying a higher-end product, especially with financing.

You mentioned a moment ago that you need more installers. How are you addressing that issue?

Right now, I have three leads that are good. One is also a very good trainer. We’ve pulled him back to a salary role and are putting two helpers with him to try and raise the level of the helpers—then, we’re going to rotate them through the other helpers and get them up to snuff as helpers, trying to move them to a lead. Once we have those guys pushed forward, we’re going to take green guys and start to rotate them through training with this guy to get them up to helper status. They won’t reach lead status for a while, but at least we’ll have them as helpers. And by the next year they should be leads. I have to get five to six install crews in order to really achieve what we want to do in the coming years.

Is your service department driving the bulk of your sales leads?

I would say it’s 50/50. We have seven service techs and two plumbers. And then we’re doing solar right now—so I have a couple guys doing that. But we don’t have a huge service department—we just have very high average tickets. I never wanted to have the most leads—I wanted to have enough leads at high tickets and high-closing ratio. So ideally, my sales guys, if they have a full day, it’s two calls. We’re spending, usually three hours, sometimes it’s four, but we’re walking out of there with big tickets.

You mentioned your plumbing department. Do you have a club membership that ties both divisions together for customers?

Yes, we do. We call it our Diamond Club™ membership with three visits—heating, cooling, plumbing. If they want an electrical inspection, we do that at no additional charge, but it’s not automatic. But our guys mention it when in the home. We can do that because we have all three licenses.

Does your call center or techs sell the club mostly?

Most of the time it’s the technicians. I just hired an inside sales guy. He’s starting to call-back where the memberships have lapsed and try and resell them. So that’s brand new. I was talking with Josh at Rescue Air about the inside sales role. I’m still working on that.

What else will your new inside salesperson do besides selling clubs?

He’s going to do follow-up calls on every service call. His job is to make sure customers are happy, get a review if he can, get stuff sold if it’s not sold. When he’s done with all of that, he’s calling old customers that maybe their membership has lapsed.

How often do you meet with your sales team to train?

Once a week we all get together, but I talk with them individually all the time. They’ll be in the middle of a call and hop up into the attic and say, “Hey, here’s what’s going on. What do I do here?” So, it’s regular communication with them. One of the cool things about them seeing the numbers is they gain a new level of respect [for me as a salesperson]. They started to call me more because they know that I know what I’m doing.

What does your training look like for your service departments?

I lead the service meetings as well. I have a service manager that will lead any technical meeting. If it’s a meeting having to do with the process and sale skills, I do that. And so, in wintertime, we do three meetings a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. And in summer—because we’re so slammed— we’re just doing one a week.

How do you keep your service team motivated—do they have incentives?

Yes, with selling accessories. We have a lot of accessories available to these guys because we have electrical and solar. If they flip a lead over to our electrical department, they get a spiff for that. If they flip it into a sales call, we’re giving them three and a half percent of the gross total of the sale. So, they have a heavy incentive on flips.

When did you add plumbing?

We added plumbing five years ago. It’s a very small department. We have two guys and they’re really good at what they do. I need to bring in green guys to train with them, so we can grow that department. But our plumbing division is definitely smaller compared to AC and solar.

What does your call center look like?

We have one manager in the room, and she does a lot of stuff. She will flip the tickets in ServiceTitan™ for the sales side and do the scheduling of the installs. And she manages that room. We have one dispatcher and we have two additional gals answering phones and scheduling. And then we have the gentleman who is doing the inside sales role. So, there’s five people in one area and they’re doing all that.

What’s marketing look like for Intelligent Design?

Before, I was all internet. It was 100 percent, “Where are my reviews and how do I market those?” Between pulseM™, Angie’s List™, and Google™ and all of that, we have 10,000 online reviews. That’s where the bulk of our leads were coming from. Then, we talked with Ray Seggern from The Brand Guys™. They built a program and we invested in radio this year with it. It’s been huge. We’re bombarding the radio—we’re on 11 stations now. And in March, we’ll be putting together a TV campaign. I wish I had begun working with The Brand Guys™ earlier. All partners with the SGI Partner Network of trusted vendors.

What are your immediate goals for Intelligent Design?

My goal, of course, is to really hit that eight to nine million this year. I’ve had that goal for five years and just went backward and then forward. Then, I’d like to expand all departments, train everyone up, and in two years hit $15 million.

What will it take to hit that $15 million mark?

I have to make sure the sales guys can sell close to my level, so I don’t have to do that. Then I can work on topline stuff. Being able to train service techs and installers. That’s the bottleneck—can we get the guys, right? I can market all I want. It doesn’t matter if I can’t get to people. So, get the right sales guys, the right service techs, the right installers, and then backing it up with marketing. That’s what we’re doing.

Any general advice for other members after looking back at your journey?

Become excellent before trying to expand too fast. Saturate a market before jumping into another one. I started too early with Phoenix. I wish I would have put that same marketing into Tucson and gained a deeper market penetration. I did that all before I had foundational excellence. It cost me a lot of money, that mistake. But it was a learning experience. We grow from everything, but that’s a big one. Also, culture! Create a culture where people want to be there and never want to leave. If you’re training guys from the ground up, they have more loyalty than job jumpers.