Episode #12: Josef Millis, Millis Construction

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About this episode

Josef is the owner of Millis Construction in Enid, Oklahoma. On this episode we cover our usual topics of pricing, marketing, and the inter-workings of Josef’s construction business. In addition to this, we dive pretty deep into Josef’s rental business which has a lot of synergy with his construction/remodeling expertise. Hosted by Jason Call and Allen Lee.

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Audio Transcription

Hey friends welcome to another episode of the handyman success podcast. We are here basically to share stories of successful handyman with you in hopes to inspire you and motivate you towards greatness. I’m Alan Lee, one of the CO hosts here joined with Jason call. I am with honestly handyman services and handyman journey. And Jason is with handyman marketing pros. And we are joined here today by Joseph Millis, someone who has fantastic been around the handyman industry for quite a while. So we are super excited to dig in and hear a little bit about his business. So let’s get to it. So Joseph, you want to go ahead and kind of introduce yourself and let us know where you where you’re located, how long you’ve been in business, things like that?

Sure. Well, I’m here in Enid, Oklahoma, where obviously you’ll hear it today is blowing like 70 miles an hour outside its main thing it does around here. But I’ve been I started this business in 2010. So I guess this will make 12 years of doing this. And really started it because my parents started buying rent houses here when we moved here to Oklahoma. And they went through so many guys trying to fix these houses that eventually died at the same at the same time as I was getting pressure from my wife to quit train and horses just because she’s gonna we’ve had our first kid and you’re going to die doing this. So why don’t you do something safer. And he was in that was in a spot where he needed help on the houses really bad. So I jumped in and just started working with whoever he had hired at the time. And it went from there really did that probably did that close to 656 years before I ever did a job for anybody else that was of any significance, you know. And then eventually you catch up working on your own houses. So I started doing more and more outside work. And at this point, just this house I’m sitting in now is the only one of our rentals that I’m actually working on right now I’ve spent all day at another house and just here to touch up some sheetrock today. So keep it moving along. But probably 5050, for most of those years has been either working on my houses or theirs. Because as it as it started moving along, when you have days that you don’t have very much to do, I got the bright idea to maybe buy me a fixer upper house and go work on that or later on, when I started adding a few more helpers, I have something for them to do on all the days that I don’t have a job, you know, which unfortunately hasn’t been the case in about two years, and countless that I need to go work on now. But probably two, two and a half years ago, we started kind of accidentally picking up a commercial job or two. And at this point now that’s probably more than half of what I do between restaurants hotel, that kind of thing. And I absolutely love that kind of stuff. So eventually, hopefully I slow down enough to get back and finish some of the houses of mine that I have. But in the middle of all that too. We bought a we bought a ranch about 15 years ago, and I’ve got a boarding stable go in there as well. So I’m in between all of this stuff.

So you’re still doing horse training, then

I’m not training, I’m just boarding facility and people pay to keep their horses there. Okay, so that that’s about what that involves. And then of course, putting hay out fixing fences, fixing water lines, all the construction equipment comes in really handy for that. Yeah. That’s awesome. Yeah, that’s, that’s what we’ve been doing for quite a while here now and kind of the latest real addiction has been the commercial work. I absolutely love it. That’s as long as you have a good owner to work with, you know,

yeah. What do you like about the commercial work, rather than the residential? Or what do you like differently about it?

Well, with the ones I have, I signed a contract with these people to where I have a set rate that they don’t have to worry about, you know, getting a quote from me every single time, they just call and the problem gets taken care of. And I love that there’s I don’t have to deal with, you know, when you have a hotel that has as much work needs done to it as this one that I’m on now I know it’s brand new, it’s literally a year old. That is the equivalent of a whole lot of residential customers all in one spot with one contract, one phone call. And once you’re comfortable and they trust you to do the work, the owner will just have his manager or whatever, send me a picture of what happened today. And hey, can you sort that out? And then I bill on them the first and the 15th and as long as they keep paying I cannot keep doing it.

Awesome. So Joseph, as far as like Millis construction goes, what would you say? Like your percentage between, you know, working on your own properties, rentals, residential and commercial? I kind of what’s your what’s your breakout on on the different like business segments there?

Well, it’s varied every year. So, if you look at just like the last 12 months from now, it’s probably been 50%. Commercial, and probably 2525 On the other half 25% of residential customers, and then 25% Are stuff. Okay, you know, that the commercial stuff kind of took over my life, the last year and a half or so. Which

one do you sell?

Was it? I mean, is it the owners of these commercial properties are kind of connected, your name gets floated around?

Okay, yes, I did a, I did a job rebuilding the kitchen, in a Italian restaurant here in town. And that guy ended up using me for everything when he got done. I mean, I do his personal house, I do. He owns two restaurants now. So it it every call to everything. And then he has two brothers and they have rental property. And then it turned into just in the last few months, they want me to do all the rental property call outs now to this just easier. And then when the new guy bought the hotel that’s across the street from the Italian place, he went through about four handyman and under a month, and couldn’t get anybody that actually could deliver on what they said they could do. And so this he was visiting with the restaurant owner across the street, and ended up meeting me when I came in for lunch one day, he practically drugged me over to the hotel and said you have to meet this guy. This is who you need. And we signed a contract that day for the first year. And we’ve gone we’ve been going ever since. Wow. But

what is if you don’t mind fleshing out a little bit like what is this like contract kind of look like? Is it just like a set rate for like your like your your business? Well, I’m on projects are?

Well, he does a guaranteed 10 hours a week on his contract, that he has a minimum billing to me of 10 hours a week, whether we use it or not. That’s what it costs for kind of a retainer, if he doesn’t use it, right. He has a weekly retainer for me to 10 hours. But sometimes he might use me 4050 hours, you know, in one week, because something insane happens. Yeah, we’ve had water leaks that have damaged four storeys of it at one time kind of a thing. And that’s happened three or four times now. So when something like that happens, it turns into an emergency and up there all the time. But when he does that, I’ll let him spread that hours, those hours over weeks when he doesn’t have stuff for me. But I’m guaranteed a minimum of 10 hours a week for a year at my set rate.

So what So is that rate, the same rate that you give a residential client that you that you try and work per hour or whatnot, or what’s that look like?

Well, yes, but by him sign in a year, I don’t get to go up for a year. Oh, that’s it really benefited him right now. Because with everything else going up, I went up 25% this year. So with doing that he avoided that until we signed the next contract.

What is your rate that you bill are, you know, kind of

right now? Right now is 125. Okay, now.

And whenever you do, like, I guess residential work, do you build by the hour? Do you look at the project and give them a project estimate,

I build by the day, I have half day and full day, I all I will occasionally have a service call. But it’s really rare anymore on anything except the commercial stuff. The residential artists service call I’m, I think the last few I’ve built to 25 to show up. And that’s usually something like a garbage disposal or something really easy. I still have customers that will call me for that little stuff all the time, even though it’s not as much my focus anymore as it used to make. But normally like my 125 an hour is figured for me as a 10 hour day at $1,250 a day. And that’s eight hours of site work. There’s two hours in there that I can use for paperwork, logistics if I need to be working with getting material before I get there. That’s just eight hours on site two hours for me whether that’s right and estimates it’s a little bit of a way to get some of my time back that gets spent on these jobs that’s unpaid if you don’t do that,

so your your day rate is figured at 10 hours. Correct. Okay, and what is your half day rate figured at five hours? Yep. Okay, I could do math. See, okay,

really, really easy setup you Nobody, I’ve been doing it rally stuff.

Nice. No, I like it. You were I, you know not to I guess get a shameless plug. But Joseph Millis pricing was featured in the handyman pricing handbook. And yeah, were you, you we had talked about, you know, how you do the the, what is it’s a half day and a full day rate. And that was different than me, that was really interesting to hear from you. Because that’s, we’ve never charged that way. But I think that’s a that’s a really good way to charge especially for charging like a half day at five hours and a full day at 10. That makes perfect sense. So,

right, makes writing estimates take no time at all, right? Because you just ask yourself, can I do that in a half day? Or can I do that in a full day? There’s none of this is it going to take three hours, four hours, it’s so easy to be wrong between hours. But if you just have two parameters to go by, you can get this done really quick. So so if someone calls you up, and just for instance, say I just need a fence post replaced, you know, you would say what a half a day, you know, or, you know, like how does that square I’m saying it would fall more into the occasional service call that I do that I’m like, dude, one in five to go pop one in. But I don’t get that call very much. Okay, partly just because of how my website marketing everything is if somebody calls me it’s not already a customer. They’re not typically calling me to do something little. It’s really rare. Okay, and and they won’t even call me really to do one little sheetrock patch in the wall. It’s usually multiple sheets if I get called or the whole room kind of thing. So

what’s your like average dollars per hour? Oh, like average dollars per job? is usually like full day or usually full week. full week. Oh, wow. Okay, so you’re doing a sizable job,

there aren’t very many one to two day jobs. I’ll do them. I’m on one right now, this started out. I did it in two days. And as soon as we got going, she liked what we’re doing. And now she’s expanded it to a full week. So they do happen, but they’re a lot more common than service calls for me. But they’re still a week is normal, and a lot of stuff will take a month.

And that’s a good topic we cover actually, at the front end because it kind of puts into perspective to the listeners, like so you’re you gave us a breakdown of your commercial about 50% and 25, residential 25 on your your rentals. What is kind of your your ideal focus services that you’re dealing the most of because you mentioned a lot of these jobs are more than two days.

Well, there’ll be entire got a house, you know, and put it back. We do a lot of that, especially just a full room. Do redo and inside garages. We do a lot of sheetrock a lot of paint my bookkeeper lady that we finally hired somebody full time to do that kind of stuff. Now, when when she’s caught up, she paints for me nonstop. That is all she gets to do. And she can have as many hours as she wants.

That is a unique team member you have their bookkeeper slash painter when you’re

not doing the books. Yeah, paint well.

She was the general manager of the hotel. And I ended up she was doing all the book work there. She’s really good with paperwork, but she wanted to do more hands on stuff, like things she’d been doing. So she’s very experienced at the book work and really intensive book work stuff, really. And so it was just really easy to do this and say, hey, you know, could be squeezed in a day book work a week. That’d be awesome.

That’s great. And that’s kind of alludes to a question also for kind of just framing the middle of construction. But what does your team look like? There’s you you mentioned have a full time bookkeeper slash painter.

I love that combination.

I gotta stick. But I have. I have a retired Air Force guy that I’ve had now for five years, he’ll probably watch this, Todd.

Hi, Todd. Todd. You rock God.

He is great at woodworking. And that’s actually how I met him was in the woodturning classes that I’ve taken and the club that I’m in here. And so he ended up getting curious, I guess from there about what I was doing and ended up hanging out on a couple of jobs and worked himself right into a job and he had a unique way of starting he told me he wanted to see if he liked working for me so he’d work a week for free. So

he’s not a businessman.

years. Several years now and he’s still here. So that’s definitely He liked his week.

It’s a blessing to have good Good people, you know, and Todd seems like a good filler. So that’s awesome.

He really is. It’s somebody you don’t have to worry about, you know, showing up on your job and a condition that you can’t have around the customer. Right? Some of the people. Not every helper shows up like you want them to every day, you know, we’ve got it narrowed down to where I’ve got her. I’ve got, I’ve got Judy got Todd, and I’ve got Michael quite a bit as well, which is kind of a lifelong friend of mine that is now working for me. So that’s worked out really well. And that’s pretty well, most of our crew.

That’s awesome. And do you pay those? Do you pay those people w two or 1099?

They’re all 1099 right now. Cool, we probably will eventually work to w two, but they all set up their own little companies, they all have their own insurance. And they’re all actual real subcontractor. Nice. So it’s awesome. I just pay them a little better for doing that. So they’re not, you know, getting what they would get most places probably.

Very cool. Very cool. So what? So overall, like, what would you say are some of the biggest wins that you’ve experienced in both business and personal up to this point?

Biggest wins? Well, I thought the restaurant owner taking me and introducing me to the hotel owner was kind of a huge win. Yeah. It’s really, I don’t know, it’s a little bit impressive to have a customer literally walk you to another customer of that caliber, and say, This is the guy you need. Hire him now. Yes. That’s amazing. So so that was huge in the last year. So yeah,

that’s huge. So so it with that, if someone was wanting to get into more commercial work, and you know, hotels, how would you say like you, they should get started, who should they talk to,

you need to go right in and talk to the actual owners. Okay, and here in our town. The am bucks are really unique in that a lot of the business owners here are members of it. So if you go to some of their meetings, whether you’re a member or not, go in there and meet some people, it’s really neat. And you can possibly even get on a list to speak and hand out your cards or whatever, it happens there quite a bit. I’m not a member here. So I’m not pushing that organization. But Apple, like every business owner here is a member from what I’ve seen, and if if you’re there, you get to just, you know, have breakfast with them, whatever they’re doing that day, and that was a really neat thing to make. But otherwise, just literally go into the front door and ask if you can meet with the owner sometime when he has some free time. And it’ll probably surprise you how many of them, if they’re not, you know, a big chain where they have somebody that covers a whole bunch of stores or something, you know, like $1 General or something, they usually have a crew guy that covers a whole district of stores. But uh, you’re talking about your restaurants locally, even your hotels, a lot of them are owned, you know, individually, or just two or three hotels by one person, and they may desperately need somebody. Because apparently, the talent pool can be a little thin on some of those guys, you don’t want to walk in low and be after a job as the maintenance guy at the hotel. There’s a dramatic difference. Because this hotel pays like $15 an hour to the maintenance guy. Okay.

So what So yeah, what what distinguishes that from you from the maintenance man? Like, why do we even have a maintenance man on staff, if he doesn’t

know. And then he had to sell that to the hotel company, the chain that the hotels from, because he’s required to have a maintenance guy. But the way he pitched it to them on the call that we were home to them was the amount he’d have to pay the guy even at $15 an hour for 40 hours a week. Nobody wants to work less than 40 plus all of his insurances and then having no insurance coverage for the damage that the guy could actually do to the building. And all that kind of stuff made me actually a cheaper option to just have on call at the 10 hour range. And he did plenty of tests. He had multiple guys before so he knew about what he would get in a 40 hour week. And he got a lot more from me in 10 than he was getting because it becomes really hard to find things for these guys to do past a certain point. Yeah, a lot of stuffs over their head to unless he wants to invest in a whole trailer load of tools. There’s going to be stuff pop up constantly that he can’t do. It was a hotel has a little too Little Box, they’ve got a little drill, you know, they’ve got just basically what a homeowner would have to take care of problems. If they have a section of the wall that needs retextured. Or they need a whole room repainted, you know, you’re into very different things, a broken door, whatever, the guy is just going to stand there and look at because his last job was, you know, Taco Bell, or whatever. And this is way above. And even if he can do it, he doesn’t have the tools to do it. And there’s no way you can afford to buy those tools on $15 an hour. So the hotel would have to supply everything, you’re an employee. But

that’s really great. I think anyone that wants to focus on commercial work could just rewind that last couple minutes and pick out these like major value points of from the, you know, the cheaper costs, because of ABCD and E the tools, the insurance of liability, you know, just like forcefully, well, we got 40 hours a week. So I mean, I don’t know good luck out there, because it doesn’t look like a whole lot going on right now. Anyway, there’s lots of really great nuggets in there as far as actively seeking that commercial work. Something else too, that I know we recommend on here a lot that was kind of you know, what you call that bat group that the business owners are part of, it’s not like a chamber of commerce or rotary club,

it’s the am bucks here. And they do the they do the trikes for, you know, people that need those type of things. The EU, you’ll know what it is when you’re thinking about it later. Yeah, they’re known for their trikes that they build and give away to people that really need them. Kind of, I’m thinking of like the Shriners, but that’s not the same thing. No heard of that. And here these people they put like the flags up on Memorial Day across the breakers and everything. It’s a group that does that kind of thing. They could they install, like handicap ramps for people that need them at their house.

A lot of stuff. We have that stuff in California.

very hospitable. Things, there’s great. But yeah, that’s very

me Oh, yeah, hey, we shall move to Oklahoma,

you need to hire Millis construction if you want something like that. But

the real key there, the take away is learning how to sell yourself though. That’s the whole secret to that getting commercial bid that you were talking about. It’s the same with residential and everything. If you know how to sell yourself, you can convince them that you’re worth hiring, for lots of reasons, it doesn’t just have to be the money. You know, you’re running tools where you don’t make a mess, and you know, all kinds of things like that. So just know what you’re bringing to the table that’s better than what they’re getting now before you go in. And you can get it no problem.

There’s a guy I work with and he he focused on commercial and the one like one of the main points he says to make sure that people can see is yes, we do. Net 30 and 45. You know, most of these commercial that whoever’s running it, usually it’s a corporate office somewhere and they’ll call up and you know, regular handyman maintenance company. They’re like, I’m not getting paid 30 days after I do the job. Okay,

so that is something people really need to know before they chase commercial. Yeah, right. You need to have a war chest. If you can’t survive two months without a check is probably not your thing.

Yeah, and you got to check your awesome when they

get here, but it’s gonna be a minute.

There’s certainly a checkbox to have in place like the being able to do that I think most require, I think it’s a d&b like a DUNS and Bradstreet, kind of like number that basically it’s a background check kind of credit verification on the business. And there’s some other kind of special insurance depending on your state and your locality, that bonding bond, some need to be bonded. Yeah, it really, I think, for commercial because a lot of these companies are out of state, but they’ve got a chain. Like you mentioned Dollar General, I think guys would be surprised that you know, Dollar General has a home office and when you know one of their locations needs maintenance, they don’t have anyone on contract there, they’re searching and they’re trying to find somebody. So ticking those boxes, though, for the commercial work. It’s a different set of boxes to tick. But, you know, that’s a good point, though. Joseph, like having the war chest and you know, you got to be okay with not getting paid for a month, two months, but when you can, when you can do that and when you sell yourself in the right way. You know, I know a lot of people out there that really enjoy the commercial side.

It’s just so so much more relaxing to me to not have you know, to talk to five different people in a week for the work you’re doing

and waiting for your signs the clipboards he came.

Yep, yep.

But I have one check coming to worry about and that’s it, you know from deals Some Yep.

Yeah. What do you use for? Do you use any type of invoicing or estimating software to write up use joist,

I’ve always used joist, and at this point, they’re processing all my payments too, because I thought I would really hate the Pay Pal integration that they did. But honestly, it’s better than what they were doing before. Because before people would pay and it would process through whoever they were using it, it would take me you know, two to three days before it hit my bank account. Wow. But it hits PayPal, the second they pay the invoice. So if you have a Pay Pal card or anything, it you’ve already got access to it right then, which is really nice. And Pay Pal is good about getting it in your bank account, like the next day as a rule. So I love it.

Yeah, I think Joyce is a good option, like I always read because I know Joyce has a free option. And then also, if you’re kind of like a high ticket low volume, you could certainly you know, make it work, I think Joyce could there’s not as much integration as other options. But if you’re doing kind of lower volume higher ticket, it’s you can maintain it pretty simply. Because I know, you know, for handyman business are doing, you know, anywhere from three to 10 jobs a day, it’s quite a bit to keep up with

that would be a lot. Yes. But for me, it’s you know, one to two a week, probably as a rule. So and then the the commercial stuff, they just have a running ticket on there, I just have an invoice going, I run it out for however many weeks they want on that invoice, and then we close it, send it off to him and we start the next one. And that’s just, that’s just the way it is.

So for those commercial jobs that you got going on right now, like do you have your workers out there right now? Or how does that look like? Or do you go personally out to them?

It depends. As a rule I’ll show up if it’s just the service calls on those unless it’s really minor. But the only times the helpers are really there is if we’re doing something major for him like we’ve had a pipe bust and flood a room or toilet over flooded and flooded a whole room which has happened and you know, gone down through the ceiling to the next room underneath kind of a deal that you didn’t know at that point, I call all hands on deck and we’re there as long as it takes to get it done. But that’s that’s even really another aspect of the commercial is those are insurance claims that I’m describing they happen and that’s been over and over here. So over the last year I’ve gotten a tremendous amount of experience working with commercial insurance claims and getting paid from those which is a whole nother a whole nother animal but the pay on that is even better than this. So

awesome. So just I know one one kind of topic I’d love to steer into because I see a talked a lot about on the Facebook the handyman journey is people looking at supplementing their handyman business through like rental income and so I know that’s something that you know you’re you do so I guess if you don’t mind shedding a light on like how you got going as far as you know getting rental properties and how that has worked with alongside your your construction business. Is that cool if we steer it that way? I know it sounds great. I know a lot of people ask about it and Josias basically live in what they dream of doing live in

the dream pool a lot of time there one day, but yeah, I think at 25 is when I bought my first house to be a rental and I just bought nothing but fixer uppers because the whole idea was we need to have something for people to do whenever we don’t have a phone ringing you know, it’s just, it’s nice to have you can say well, nobody called today or that job just ended and we’ve got two days before the next one starts Why don’t you go hang sheetrock on that house over there for the next couple of days. And so we did that until we really got ridiculously busy the last year and a half with the commercial stuff but before that’s what we used it as was just a way to float through any days that you had free for any reason really. And that has taken so much pressure off of the real drive to need to be hustling every single day. When you have money coming in every month that you don’t work for directly. It’s fantastic and that’s been everything from running the boarding stable to we’ve got probably 16 Horses boarded on our boarding stable right now too and that’s all rental income to it gets run through taxes the same way how much I don’t do anything with that.

Yeah, how much does it cost to board a horse

150 A month is what I heard and that’s that’s for full self care. They have to take care of it all they say to them and everything to your walker and everything. I just make sure the facilities they’re maintained. So it’s exactly like a rent house to the IRS. And that’s really important. Because if you go out there and start cleaning that stall or cleaning that pan, now you’re working for the money, and it’s self employment. So really fine line right there that you don’t do the work, but you can keep the property up, right, just like on your panels, so it makes perfect sense that right, and years ago, before the old boom, busted here, I had over 30 Horses boarded all the time. And we’re slowly building back up, we’re up to 16 Now again, but between that and then buying, I bought a house every year, from 25 to 30, I believe. And then it was a couple of years before I bought one more, and I’ve built up to six there, but my parents have got about 40 that we take care of to wow and then my brother’s got a few here also as well as another lady that I manage a few for two that I got to be friends with and she didn’t want anybody else doing it. So fell into that.

So you guys got a town? Yeah,

the whole town of Enid

thing the thing about that is if you get sick and you can’t work, you know we’re not retired yet. So somebody’s putting money in my bank account every month whether I go to work or not. And that that is an amazing feeling. And even with just the houses and you know the stable What 16 horses is how much 20 something 100 A month maybe? And then I’m not going to fix houses probably anywhere from six to 800 apiece depending on the one nothing like your California prices. But you know what we do what we can Yeah, so probably got 4042 and rent rent coming in plus the second plus the stables you got six 7000 coming in, whether you go to work or not. And that’s been that’s just very slowly buying them all with cash, buy those junk houses and pay cash for how much did not take out loans. What’s up?

How much do those junk houses cost that you buy?

Well, by them the way I buy them, I get pretty good. Usually in the 10 to 15,000 range. Wow.

So they’re real, real beat up.

Well, generally takes about 20,000 to fix one. Okay, is what I’ve generally put into it not labor, but you know, what I spend on it is about 20,000 The term one over

and I assume you do for sale by owner like you you don’t deal with realtors or anything you just talk to the

well primarily foreclosures. Okay. And and tax properties. Okay, you know,

so if you had so I know there’s lots of handyman owners out there that they’re looking at getting into you know, getting their first rental getting their first fixer upper and starting to build that that passive income that that you’ve achieved with your six houses. What What kind of advice would you have for that person that’s that’s looking to get into that any like tips or things to start looking at, you know, any advice on selecting properties, just really anything that you know, might be helpful wells kind of folks.

The way I started from my very first one. I knew that if I tried to buy a house at this, at this bank auction here, and it was in Enid City Limits here, there’s no way I could get that thing bought with the amount of money I had saved up. So I went looking for houses that weren’t in town. I went for the little bitty towns that are out around us here. And I’ve been on one that from the picture they had in the ad just look like a tree pile. You couldn’t even tell there was a house there. There was so many trees. And nobody even spent the time to drive out there and see if there was because it was 25 minutes from town. Wow. And I almost didn’t either until the night before the auction. I went well there’s that one house that I didn’t go look at. I probably should. And I drove out there. And it was nicer than some of them that were in town. Wow. Just they had taken a picture of it in the middle of summer and the trees were completely covering it up and this is it. If I ever had a chance to pull it off. I’m gonna buy this house and I went there and the taxes on it. And everything brought the starting bid to something like 36 $3,700 Something like that. Wow, Guy bid a guy bid $3,900 and I bid back 4000 And I bought it Wow. For four days. The first one was for four grand.

Yes here was that

2000 Shoot, it be around 10 years ago, eight to 10 years ago. Wow. And 20 I went in there. And I spent $3,000 on that house. That’s all I had to do. I painted the inside. And carpet was even good. Just cleaned all the carpet, cleaned the whole house up painted the inside. I think I put a vanity in a toilet in the bathroom. And that might have been it, mowed the yard, cut a bunch of trees down, cleaned it up, spent 3000 Total on it and rented it for 550 a month. And it’s been rented for I guess, eight years at 550 a month.

That’s so far. Yeah, that’s

the deals are out there. But you have to be willing to look where other people are just a little bit. Yeah. And yeah, that house is probably I mean, fixed like it is now it may be 65, probably 60 5000s. what it’s worth. Yeah, but I bought one as recently as four years ago was the last one and I paid 13,000 for that one. But it is literally on Main Street in a town seven miles from the one I’m in now. And I think it’s taxed at about 119,000.


So the cow, the deals are there. And it may say and I have six houses, if you can tell by the prizes. It’s seriously not a brag, it’s just you got to be there at the right moment and get that thing bought and have the cash to do it. And it doesn’t take very much cash obviously.

Yeah, I think the biggest thing is like, you know, figure out a plan, and then save up that cash for it and have it like set up because, you know, people these days, like, like all save money. And then if something comes up, I’ll buy it. But there’s always some emergency that happens, right? Like your car breaks down, or, oh, I need to buy this new tool. But if you actually set this money aside, say this is for a rental property that I’m going to spend 20 grand on, you know, like, yep, have that money set aside? Like I think that’s a that’s an important aspect is planning. And like having that foresight, you know, so that you have the money when the opportunity comes knocking, you know,

yeah, look into your sheriff sales and foreclosures once they go. Once a bank goes through foreclosure, the sheriff auctions the house off. And it’s really good. A lot of times, we’ve bought a lot of houses that way, that’s how mom and dad got a ton of theirs. And anywhere. We’re talking buying houses that you could immediately sell for over 100,000 and get them for 20 to $30,000. You know, yeah. And need minimal stuff like have Lowe’s, throw some carpet in there and throw it on the market. If you want to kind of stuff. It can be done.

Yep, amazing. You

just absolutely. You gotta be you gotta have a little bit of money available. You can’t have to go to the bank to get it though.

You know, I feel like, I feel like we’re on the bigger pockets, podcast, right? rental houses. This is awesome. This is great. Well, let’s kind of bring it back to the handyman world here. What what kind of things do you do for marketing? And I know that you do predominantly construct, you know, commercial stuff. So I don’t know how much marketing you do, or how much marketing have you done in the past that has kind of got you to where you are right now?

Well, I, I’ve just always kept a basic website all the time. Because it just, it’s kind of, for me, it more adds credibility. And another thing to have on my card, so people can go look at it after they see my business card or whatever, because I’m gonna leave that with a commercial property or whatever, while I’m there, they can look it up. And as long as it looks professional, and usable, it’s worked for me, because I’m not really after trying to drive tons of calls per day, I really don’t need that I’m booked. For a while I did advertise regularly, but it was mainly Facebook ads, I’d make a post of a job I’d done I did a little ad on it. And I’d run that and I’d get plenty from that. Because most of what I’m advertising to one good call is going to tie me up for one to four weeks, you know, and you don’t need very many of those. And if you go into the call and know how to sell yourself like I’ve been talking about, you land most of those because once they call you there’s a reason they’re calling you and you’ve marketed yourself right that way then they go ahead and use you typically as long as you can follow through and and all that so I don’t think I ever spent more than a couple 100 bucks a month even on Facebook though, is just getting a few really good handyman leads and doing standout work for him every time so that they tell somebody and at this point, I’m almost suspicious if I get a call that isn’t a referral. I’ll ask him right on the phone. Where did you find out about me from oh man neighbor over here told me about, okay, well, then we can do business. Yeah, if we’re hunting and found the website, I already know that there’s a chance that it’s just, you know, tire kicking going. Alright. But referrals are almost 100% conversion. When somebody tells somebody how good you did where they saw it and asked to did that, you pretty well get the job. So you’re already prepared for what you charge too, because people don’t have any problem share

it. Right. Yeah.

Yeah, for sure. I usually question after, Hey, who do you recommend? What do they charge? How high? So just you mentioned a few times, you know, being knowing like how to sell yourself. If you could kind of shed a little light on like some some tips or things that you do when you show up to meet a new client that hasn’t worked with you yet? Like, what do you kind of bring to the table as far as your sales process on having like a super high conversion close rate?

Well, let me think how to put this Well, it depends really on what the specific job is that I’m going into, if it’s, if it’s a job where I had where there’s going to be around here, one of the standout things I can offer is complete dust control, for instance, for their house, if, if they’re having sheetrock done, and maybe they’ve had somebody do sheet rock before, and they already know that it annihilated the whole house for a week while they did it, I can come in and say that we’re not going to be doing that we’re running all HEPA filtration, we have our SIP walls that go up, you won’t even hardly know we’re here except for noise. And it’s only during the time when you’re at work, work around people’s schedules. And we try to leave an absolutely pristine job site every day, when we leave, like they can come in there and use the area if at all possible where that area is just completely sealed off and doesn’t affect the rest of them. I like to sell them on how clean of a job we do, and how efficiently we can get it all done too. So a lot of subs, we do almost everything that’s needed ourselves, because I’m a general contractor here. So I already have my plumbing subs that I use, I have my electricians that I use. And those guys will be right in there usually within a day for me when I call them because the thing with them and creating that relationship is paying them immediately. everybody really loves to get paid. So if you take care of that without any fuss as soon as they’re done, and don’t make them, wait till the customer pays you or something, have that savings account for your business, that you can just take care of those guys and run your business properly, you know, then those guys show up as soon as you call because the guy they’re working for down the street and pay him like that last time. And they already know we can go pick it up over here from him right now. He’s always good for it. So that’s how I built that up. And then being able to tell the homeowner, you don’t need to try to find a plumber to take care of that. I’ll have my guy in here tomorrow, it’ll be taken care of, and then we will put everything back together for you. Whatever it is, we’re kind of a one call, we’ll do it all for you, you know, you don’t have to worry about all that stuff. And my guys already trust them. And I’m always there when my sub zone or one of my guys will be we don’t ever let you know a sub be in there without you know, so the customer never needs to worry that there’s going to be unknown people in their property. So I like to really I cover all that really when I meet them about what kind of experience they’re going to get. I sell more of the experience of the job than than the actual thing we’re getting done we can show them all you can show people the pictures in the world but they’re really worried about how it’s going to affect their daily life. And this obviously is not your little service call it kind of a job you’re selling people on dealing with you for a week to maybe a month at a time so you want them to be really comfortable with you all the way through it helps to kind of convey that personality to where you don’t mind visiting and not not coming off pushy at all right which is a hard thing I know when you don’t have a lot of work scheduled may be but once you do, and you can sit there just it’s no problem. You know what day do you want to start all that they’ll tell write the check. It’s really beautiful how it works. If you really just sell the experience a little bit on the bigger jobs. That’s what I tried to do.

Man that’s huge. So what are your your future goals? Like where do you want to be in a year three years, five years? Like what is what does that kind of look like in your mind?

More rentals. Okay, and honestly making more videos to when you get to that but in between doing just more and more passive stuff. By this year. That’s been one of my things is I try to dedicate a lot least eight to 10 hours a week now a full day or two half days, whatever, to my side project of YouTube. So that’s what I do. And then having my helpers on the site, while I’m taking the day off, things are still getting done, you know. So, for me, it’s working more and more towards that working on my own houses more and slowly phasing out of really anything except a commercial, I’m kind of hooked on the commercial stuff right now really have fun with it. So there’s almost no interference with me on the commercial stuff. So to me, it’s very similar to working on my own properties at this point, you know, that they text me and nobody is there watching me like your homeowners do. I mean, they might meet me, when I walk in the front door, hey, here’s the little list of things we came up with that you need to hit for us. And then you just go do it. And that that’s huge to me, you know, I’m not laying under somebody’s sink with somebody sitting on a stool next to me wondering if I can help out. So that’s fun sometimes, but as a rule every day to just turn your music on and go to work is fantastic.

Awesome. And something too, I’d like to, you know, I commend you just for being like, there’s a lot of patients and it took time to because, you know, you’ve got the rentals gone, the stable, and it allows you to really focus on, you know, like a side business, to focus on, you know, being more selective over your clientele at the commercial properties. It took time and patience and hard work and to kind of now, kind of enjoy that and focus on what you really love. I think that’s the takeaway for me is is is patience. Because you know, Joseph, you bought your first you know, rental, you said about 10 years ago, and it just takes patience and planning consistency. And, you know, now if you don’t have anything on the schedule, it’s not really, you know, the the alarm bells aren’t ringing.

No, no, really at all. I’m pushing very hard to take more days off. Yeah. So that, for me, that would be my biggest goal this year is honestly fish more, I want to go patient at least a day or two a week. And I don’t mean the weekend. I mean, a day or two during the week, nobody’s there, everybody else is at work, and I can go enjoy doing it. You know, for me, that’s huge.

I love that. And I think it’s huge, because like that is such a big thing that we have the ability to do as business owners is we can create a business that’s sustainable, and something that even brings in passive income and allows us to, you know, chase our other dreams or start up another venture or go fishing or spend time with our family. Like, it’s huge. But I think the other avenue of that, that I think people need to see is before all that requires a whole lot of patience, like what Jason talked about a second ago, like it took you many, many years to get to this point, you know, and a

light to dark. Yeah, seven days away.

Yeah. If we have patience, we can get to that. But I think we need I think the takeaways for is like, it’s very cool how this podcast is shaping up because I think we can see if what we want to do, right, we have the goal. And then we need to set a plan. And then we need to have patience. You know, I think that’s that’s the that’s the way that we hit our goals is we need to set a plan, have patience, do the work that needs to be done. If it requires, you know, like you said, working from sunup to sundown, that’s what we need to do. And then eventually we will hopefully hit our goals. So I think that’s, that’s a really cool synopsis. Yeah,

yeah, I mean, something that I’ve probably mentioned several times in the podcast is most people go into business for freedom, freedom of finance, and freedom of time. And if most people don’t get any, either of those, but the ones that do get one, it’s finance, they start making good money, but they have no freedom of time. And so to be conscious of that and to be, you know, I want to go fishing one or two weekdays. You know, I really respect and appreciate that. And there was actually a post in the journey group a few weeks ago that this guy like someone canceled their job for the day and so he loaded up his fishing boat and you said, yeah, when I was that guy on the morning commute with his boat getting towed that everyone else is glaring at him, you know, on the road, like, Oh, this guy’s gonna go fishing on a Wednesday.

That’s beautiful. I had I had one call out the other day, and it was right in the direction of the lake. So I couldn’t help but I put the kayak in the back of the truck loaded up. I did their job on the nice and that’s huge. Oh, hey, that you that’s my goal this year. Cool.

Yeah, thanks for sharing that Joseph. So we got a couple of minutes to wrap up here. I’d love to talk a little bit about your your YouTube channel. It’s certainly related to handyman and the trades largely around tool reviews. So if you don’t mind kind of just talking a bit about this. This side project of yours that you’ve just kind of recently started last year to?

Well, I get to about half blame Alan for it. Because honestly, honestly,


in the beginning, this is several years ago, you had you were doing a lot of tools to them. If you remember that. Yeah. While I was watching, going, oh, man, that that almost looks fun. Talk about tools. Yeah. And I made a video because there were a bunch of people that had bought this, this tool that you use with your festival stuff and make holes in a tabletop to make a workbench. And I thought, you know, nobody’s showing how to actually do it. Yeah, so I made like, a 22 minute in depth how to do this whole thing all on my phone, you know, on my work trailer. I remember that video. Yes, I stuck it on YouTube. And I didn’t make another video for at least six months. I didn’t even know anybody had watched it. And I got a call one day from the owner of the company that made that tool, the from Finland or something like that. They called me. And he asked me if I minded if he put my video on their website. Wow, I was like, Oh, well, maybe I should go back and see if anybody’s watching this thing. So I logged back over there. And I had like, 25,000 views on that video amazing. And 200 And something subscribers? Well, it’s time to do. It, that was all it took was just a little bit of inspiration that somebody’s gonna watch it. And I started making a couple videos a month and I did stuff, showing people how to paint doors and hang doors and all kinds of things, just whatever I was doing back then. But, but a year ago, I started doing it really seriously, I built a little studio out. And that only cost like 400 bucks. It was totally worth it. But it looks really good. And from there, it’s just been right on up until maybe six months ago, I reached out to my first set of tool companies maybe a year ago really when I first did the studio, reached out sent emails to a bunch of companies because the only stuff I was getting emails from was stuff I didn’t want to talk about on the channel. And I sent emails to legit companies and two of them responded companies I never would have thought would have. And it was just well what do you want? We’ve been watching your channel for the last year. You know

what, just tell us what you want.

One one of them literally sent me their PDF catalog and said just send us a list. And wow. That’s that’s how that relationship started. And then Vic to Jima asked me to be their brand ambassador. So I started doing that. And then, oh, two months a month or two ago, not long at all Lowe’s, emailed me out of the blue, and asked if I wanted to join them as an ambassador. So like, Well, yeah. So we started doing that. And so far, that has been the most incredible thing that I’ve probably been a part of. They don’t tell you when they’re sending you stuff. You come home and you have a huge pile of boxes on the porch.

That’s an amazing product. Awesome. Yeah. Awesome. It’s just it’s just

been from literally having fun talking about tools and there’s a few business videos on there. But anymore, it’s almost all tool content. And it was all mainly because of you.

Channel name is just your business Millis construction. Am i l i s construction?

Yep, I had no clue which way that was gonna go in the beginning and at this point, I can’t change it. So that’s yeah.

So if you’re watching this video, go check out Millis construction on YouTube. This guy’s fantastic really he’s the pearl snap king of Oklahoma. Okay,

I get I get a lot of comments about

you man. You make a pearl snap look good, bro. Like usually, usually I remember when I got my first Pearl snap and I’m like this pearl snap makes me look good. But you make Pearl snap look good. You know I mean like this. Right? You know, this goes

back to what I first started training horses at 18 I started wearing this stuff so I’ve been wearing this long enough now it feels weird to wear.

You should make a video on your channel of the history of the pearl snap and like where it came from for you when you got your first one how you felt, you know when your dad gave you your first Pearl snap brand from Lowe’s but I know you know. Maybe you’ll get maybe you’ll get endorsed by a pearl snap manufacturer

Wrangler. We got to get ready to go.

I love it. So wrapping up here, would you have any advice or tips for fellow handyman out there? Maybe guys just starting out? Maybe guys that had been in for a few years? What kind of advice would you have for those guys?

Well, don’t don’t be afraid to take on something that may that you already, let’s say, well, let’s reword that. Like, I’ve been doing this residential stuff for a long time, that first commercial call was way out of my comfort zone. It was still things I knew how to do, but it was doing them in an environment I’d never been in before. And I was really nervous about it. But after going for it and doing it, now, I have just accidentally fallen into something that I enjoy way more than a lot of the other stuff. So don’t be afraid to try something new at least once and see what happens. If you already know how to do it, don’t jump out there and just do you know, work that you don’t know how to do, but you know how to do it, it’s in a new environment, challenge yourself a little bit to jump out there. Same thing that happened with my YouTube stuff, you can go see some stumbling around videos,

we all got them, dude.

It takes a while, stretch yourself a little bit. And then this year’s real takeaway is you can pull those 16 hour days as long as you want. But find some time to do something that you want to do, I honestly push this business to the point between I mean, obviously, we’re doing construction all day, then our hobby is making videos about the tools I’m using on construction, I have no life here. That’s not related to the same thing. Do you need to find a hobby that’s not related. For me that’s going to be fishing kayak and that kind of stuff, and force yourself to take some time off. And really protect a day or two, if you have a family. If you don’t have a family yet, then just go for it as hard as you can. That’s what I did. But then when you get married, you’ve got to spend some time with them too. So yeah, don’t don’t ignore that stuff, it’s just as important and set a goal for what you’re going to do to quit, you need to have that in mind from day one. And that was me, it’s going to be read houses, nobody setting up retirement for us people like this. So for me, it’s going to be rentals. And eventually, if I don’t want to mess with them, if I have enough, I can just have a property manager and let them call people to deal with it. But have an exit plan, whether it’s stocks or whatever you want to do, do it and start immediately with whatever you can start putting into them. If you want to save for rentals, put something aside for every single week from your check, just like you hold your taxes out, hold out something for investing every week, because in 10 years, it’ll it’ll be over before you know it, it does not feel like I’ve been doing this for 12 years. 12 years later, I could have spent all of that on nothing else and had I’m just living and vacations and whatever, I would have no houses. And then whenever I do catch a time off, I have no income, I have no plan for how to end this. Don’t let Social Security be your like your real plan. And for me, it’s just if you do rentals, you’re already good at fixing the stuff. So you can save a pile of money over your career as a handyman construction worker, save a ton of money by just fixing your own stuff. And then using your plumbing and electrical subs to fix all that stuff. It’s great. It’s the perfect thing for what we do. And just just have a plan from the beginning how you’re going to quit, because I would have done even more than I’ve done. But fortunately, a lot of things have really worked out up to this point. And I can take time off. My just things can happen in your life that you don’t see coming to like but maybe a year a little over a year ago, my wife suddenly had two strokes and a month. And I ended up being home for a tremendous amount of time because I have three kids. What are you going to do? You can’t you can’t go to work. So you have to have people that you can have go keep your things moving along. But you’re down for a while. You need some money coming in from somewhere else and you may need it a lot sooner than you think in your business. So don’t think you’re gonna do it in five years. You’re gonna do it in 10 when this takes off, do it now. Do it now.

Yep. Love at something that Profit First a huge business book that I share with folks and it’s super popular but something that they say is just start right now. And you know it’s a muscle that you’re Working on even if you just stick away a little bit of money, like 510 bucks a week, just start there because you’re gonna build up that muscle and you’re gonna get used to working it out and you’re gonna get better at, you know, saving up and kind of moving towards that bigger picture that’s outside of your day to day. Your construction business.

Right, definitely. Huge, huge man words of wisdom. Thank you so much, Joseph, it’s been an honor having you here on the podcast. wanted to say to our viewers here, definitely go check out Millis construction on YouTube. And then also, I wanted to highlight our handyman success mastermind group on Facebook, it’s a little bit different than the handyman journey mastermind group. Whereas in the handyman success mastermind group, we talk about business and marketing, we’re going to make sure that we get Joseph into that group. Because if you have any questions at all, from this podcast, go to that group, you can tag Joseph personally, and talk to him just to kind of a great resource of kind of creating a good community about business around business and marketing. wanted to say thank you guys so much for listening to this podcast. Thank you so much, Joseph, for being on. I know that you are helping to bring hope to so many people. So we really appreciate you, Joseph.

I hope so. Thank you for having me.

Yep. Thank you so much. So you guys have a fantastic day and we’ll catch you on the next handyman success podcast.