Episode 22: Sam Gane, Stelmeric Home Services

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About this episode

Sam Gane, owner of Stelmeric Home Services, joins us on today’s episode. Sam has gone part-time to full-time in a short amount of time! He shares his journey in starting his handyman business, and we have our usual conversations around how Sam does pricing, marketing, estimating, and more.

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Audio Transcription

All right. Hello friends welcome to another episode of the handyman success podcast. Super excited for another episode here. My name is Jason call on our painting and marketing pros. And I’m here with my co host, Alan Lee with the handyman journey and honestly, handyman services in the Sacramento area. Today we are joined by Sam out of British Columbia, Canada. And so super excited to have you on Sam. Before we kind of get things going just to recap, with all our listeners here, the purpose of the handyman success podcast is to really shine a spotlight on another home improvement business owner, their life and their business to teach you practical business tips. And also to instill like hope and inspiration that, you know, you can create a better business for yourself, you can get on your own and get after it. By starting your own business, it’s 100% realistic, and you can 100% do it. And so hopefully, this is just another interview that just shows you and gives you more perspective into that. So with that being said, Sam, if you don’t mind, kind of given us a lay of the land, a little background about where you are, who you are, where you are, and your business name and kind of just a brief overview of your handyman business.

Thanks, Jason. So thank you for the introduction. The i My company is called sell America home services I operate out of Sydney, British Columbia, which is pretty well as far west as you can get. Least snow you can possibly get in Canada, the population area that I work is 25,000 or so people. And I started work part time in 2021 ended up doing that for about a year until I got to the point where I just couldn’t handle kind of having a full time job and construction as well as a handyman thing. And then I made the full time dive April 15 of 2022. Almost going on a year now.

Awesome, man. So you had so before you left your your job, you had a full time job within the construction industry.

I did. So the funny thing is is the construction company, I worked for a development company in Victoria and I originally started out as a laborer with them. And I worked with them for six years and the time frame that I went from a laborer to a site supervisor for the residential division into a site superintendent for the finishing phase of commercial builts. All In the meantime, while I was also doing my carpentry apprenticeship, okay,

that’s awesome. So you are well when this when this episode airs, you will be in this for a year. So that’s fantastic. So what what made you want to leave that that construction job that full time construction job to go pursue something on your own,

I was losing all my hair. It’s yeah, I really, really love construct construction is one of my my biggest passions in life. The one challenge especially when you get into commercial development is it just ends up being such a, it’s very high stress, you have schedules that you have to hit otherwise you have potential, potentially very large kind of fines that your company is being hit with for missing the deadlines for clients to be moving in, you have really tight budgets that you’re working with. And there’s so many unknowns, when you’re working with 65 different units that are all kind of going up in a very short timeframe, I was finding that. Another big change when I was working in the custom residential construction, you tend to be pretty, it’s a pretty niche industry where you you really get to know the people that you’re working with the subcontractors, and you view them more as people. Whereas when you get into the commercial side, it’s more so you know, the project manager for the commercial company that’s coming in for the plumbers or electrical, and then you relay all the information to them, and then they schedule their guys accordingly. There’s not really it’s very impersonal for everyone that’s actually boots on the ground.

Okay, awesome. So can you can you walk me through like that first year going part time? Like, do you mind sharing, like how much money you made that first year going part time and how much you’re hoping to make this year? Going full time?

Sure. So sorry, is that the the the first year that I was full time and then going into this?

Let’s start with part time. So 2021 to 2022. How much did you make that year in part time, basically.

So going doing part time I was doing everything hourly, I didn’t have any markup on my tech materials or anything. I knew very little about the business side of things. And I was only I was charging out at $50 an hour. I think in that one year I made about $10,000

Okay, okay, awesome. And how’s your Looking like full time?

Sure. So sorry, I’ll just quickly did backtrack a very small amount the so for last year when I went full time in April two to December for last year of 2022. I did 76,000 in revenue. Wow. Okay. And this year for 2023. I’m currently on track to be hitting between about 290 and 330,000.

Wow, fantastic. Fantastic. And what would you say is, has been the biggest thing that has led you to like, how are you on track to make that, like, what’s the biggest shift that you’ve done to make that happen?

I’d say Google My Business and like Google reviews has been huge. It I’ve, I get responses all the time from prospective clients that the one of the biggest reasons why they contacted me was the shining reviews that I have left for my clients. Yeah, I would say having a website as well, that the two biggest compliments that I have is having a professional looking website that has everything very well laid out. And the the review process, and I know Jason is not aware of this, but I’ve drawn a lot of my inspiration from my website from other ones where he’s created. So

I appreciate that man anyway, that somehow what we do helps people regardless of waiting, vague, like that’s what matters. So that makes obviously pretty smile on my face.

So are you by yourself, Sam? Or do you have people working with you?

Sure. So right now, I’m an owner operator, I do have plans on scaling. In this summer, I’m planning on taking on my first hire, which is going to be a helper. Okay, and kind of continually, continually growing until I can’t anymore, so I don’t really have any kind of limit that I see on the, the potential that I have to grow this business.

Yeah, that’s awesome. I say this all the time. I’m a huge advocate of like, patience when it comes to scaling and building like having your systems your profitability in place. So when you bring someone on, like, they know, the job, they know the systems, they know the core values, you’ve got the profit where you’re not necessarily going back to ramen noodles, you know, at home. So and, and I would say, to look at that like to 90 to like low threes, that is like ultra, like high for an owner operator. So I commend you for like your pricing and, and like I’m turning those estimates in a book jobs because I know, you know, in most case, depending on the market, like 150, you know, maybe like, you know, nice city and like Southern California, you know, bigger, like more populated areas like 250, like an owner operator is a pretty high like Soloman revenue number, so you’re definitely doing a great job on like, your numbers, if that’s kind of in in the horizons as a as a good goal to achieve this year. So awesome job with that. Let’s see, any let’s I know I could eat, we could easily jump into pricing like, you know, so quick, right, but I just want to make sure we got so one thing, Sam that I found like, like, I’m so grateful to have you on this episode is like you started in April 2021. I believe that our was our podcast already running Allen, or it was just about to, but yeah, you’re a very newer, like, you know, jumped into the handyman journey like Facebook group and like asking questions about starting the business. And now here you are, like really doing it. So I guess, you know, maybe the question would be like, you know, what are some of the bigger pieces that you’ve you’ve picked up and learn to, you know, now be really realistically looking your first full year full time at doing those kind of numbers? Like, what are some of the bigger points that you’ve had, that you’ve picked up and that you’ve implemented to be where you are right now?

Yeah, that’s a good question. So a lot of the things that I’ve really implemented to help me grow for one thing, when I when I first started out, everything was longhand. I just had spreadsheets, I didn’t really have much software that I was using. That was brutally inefficient. It took so much time to try and cool workout and stuff. You’re spending for like a $300 job and you’re spending an hour writing up an estimate for it. And it’s not even a guarantee that you’re getting and it’s just brutal. But when I changed over to QuickBooks, it was just like, it was a bit of a pain process to get familiar with the software. But once I’ve got set up into there, for a general handyman work, I can usually send an estimate estimated out in about five to 15 minutes now. So that’s, yeah, it’s obviously the more estimates that you’re able to have out, the more work you can potentially be having lined up. Another thing that has been really helpful is really focusing on my SEO on my website. The the SEO is just being massive like right now. If you search up Handyman in Sydney, my company is number two on Google right now still have plans to hit number one?

Yeah, it takes time. And I know you’re in a, you’re in an awesome market, you know, right there. I mean, just the location. There’s lots of ideal clients. So it’s especially good place to be located since Google Maps largely as you’re going to be served in within your local region of where you’re actually located. Right. So it’s good to be surrounded by a great clientele. They’re

definitely and Yeah, another thing that’s been very beneficial is sorry, my brain just went blank. They’re all good man. Yeah, another thing has been very beneficial in kind of really scaling up, there’s podcasts that I listened to, probably about two years ago, I can’t remember the exact one that it was, but the person that was on and being interviewed, one thing that he had said, that’s always stuck with me is you always give $2 of service for every dollar paid. And I’ve found that it’s been, especially the reviews and the relationships that I’ve developed with my my clients just in having that has been insurmountable. And just the the level of appreciation that people have. And it just, there’s something about, I feel like there’s a big difference between just going in and doing a great job in a project. And then there’s the next level where you go, and you do a great job. But you also have an awesome experience for that client. Like the the things that people tend to remember aren’t necessarily the renovation itself. But the experience that they went through, if it was really stressful, if it was pulling nails, and if the person kept having all of these hidden fees tacked on, they’re going to be remembering that a lot longer than the actual renovation.

Yep, that’s spot on that spot on, I love that give $2 worth of service for every dollar paid. I think that’s huge. Because I think it really shines a light on, like, kind of give more than you take in a sense, but also be something that’s not out there right now. Like I hear a lot of guys, they complain about, oh, people don’t want to pay me because, you know, other guys do it for super cheap or whatever. But be that guy that that is that difference in the area, right? And you’ll attract a lot more clients, like, people might say, Oh, why am I giving $2 service for every dollar like, I’m losing money, you know, or whatever, like, it’s just imaginary at this point. But you know, the the thought is you’re creating lifetime customers, you’re creating people that are actually part of your family part of your brand. And they’re people that that are going to, you know, spread your word to other people. So I absolutely love that. I wrote that down. I hope the listeners write that down to that some gold nugget right there.

Yeah, and the thing is, too, is just perceived value. So there’s a lot of extra little things that you can like do out of respect and that client experience that’s, that’s really cheap and easy, but to the client, it’s it really makes a difference. Now, some of my favorite questions, that was is it okay, if I parked my vehicle there, you know, Moody’s in the house. You know, there’s there’s so many different ways that you can kind of be smart and efficient about creating that, you know, how do I get from $1 to $1? To me, given $2 for the $1? So do you have any specific examples, Sam, that you wouldn’t mind sharing as far as like what you do to, to kind of over deliver?

Sure. So one big thing that I personally I feel like it’s fairly novel in my market, at least is when I’m going into a project project, from the very first interaction with the client, I tried to set a precedence of walking them through and helping them visualize, from start to finish into what they’re kind of looking at. And also really kind of breaking things down to a layman’s term. And really, I feel like the way that I based my business is very much geared towards the customer service experience side of it, ensuring the person actually understands everything that I’m telling them, and everything that’s going on around them as opposed to just saying, Well, this is what we’re going to do, we’re going to be on we’re going to be in here this day to this day, it’ll be wrapped up and then the the project will be done and I’ll send you the invoice out. It’s it’s very much a lot of people I think take for granted the fact that while a lot of information in it comes second knowledge to experience people that are in the industry, it’s not necessarily common sense that one might think it is so there’s a lot of times where I talk with someone and they’re their faces just blank They have absolutely no idea what I just said. So, I do find having the customer thoroughly experienced or understanding everything that I’m going through in the project. And not only at the start, but going through every step of the way, I usually touch base with them at the end of every day. And then I also have weekly update reports that I send out to them at the end of the week, covering everything from the work completed plan work for the next week, as well as any meat conversations that we’ve had on site. One, and that’s actually one of my favorite pieces of documentation, because that document, it ensures that there’s clarity, everyone’s on the same page every step of the way. But it’s also a great legal document in the event that someone in the future does say, Well, no, that’s not what I wanted, or that’s not what I said, Do you need to take this entire thing out? Everything is laid out from every step, and it’s very closely timestamp to the time of when the discussion happened. Okay, wow.

Um, so as far as because so it sounds like you do some bigger jobs, too. So I was like remodeling, what, what is kind of like your focus services and bread and butter, like, if you don’t mind kind of giving us an overview of, you know, kind of what your business does to generate sales?

Yeah, definitely. So when I first started out last year, I cast a really broad net, I was finding pretty quickly the bigger kind of things where I was making good money on were things like deck repairs, and generally plumbing inside. And as I’ve kind of been able to scale up my portfolio and my repertoire for people to have a bit more confidence for me to be taking on bigger jobs, I’ve really been focusing on doing more so bathroom renovations. And I’m currently in the process of trying to kind of restructure very slightly to really heavily focus on interior renovations with primary focus on bathroom renovations, while still using the handyman work as infill for when I have some trades coming in doing their work.

So we, I know, a lot of solo owner operators that I know like it’s, I mean, you can make really good money whenever you do offer like the larger renovations, but then you can kind of sneak in those, like quick fix handyman jobs that are just like, you know, right to the bottom line, you know, in the afternoon or in the morning before going to your bigger job. So it sounds like you’ve got a pretty sweet like balance for yourself right now.

I don’t know if balance is necessarily the right word. There’s quite a few 60 hour weeks that I’ve been putting. I’m trying to find that balance.

What do you what do you spend? Like when you work those 60 hour weeks? Like obviously you’re working, you know, 35 whatever hours in the field, but what how are you spending the other time in your business? Like what sucks up most of the time? Is that people calling? Is it writing up estimates? What does that look like for you?

So yeah, I generally say that it’s both 35 to 40 hours that I’m actually working in the field. And then aside from that, there’s probably about five to seven hours in email and phone call follow up. And then 13 hours is kind of building quotes, as the one downside to the bigger renovations is they do tend to be very time intensive for drawing quotes from all your sub trades. Building an entire package like the the renovation that I’m working on right now is $63,000 condo, condo renovation that was quite a lot of back and forth as well with the pre planning with the client and figure out what kind of designs and finishes that they’re looking for.

Okay, awesome. And so free estimates.

Sorry, on

Now You go ahead.

So yeah, with so when I first started out, I found the advice of a lot of people in the Facebook group of charging consultation fees, which I did have a bit of success with that, in the beginning with the handyman kind of work. At this point for the handyman work, I am generally able to figure out how much time it’s going and materials, it’s going to cost by asking a few few questions usually over email and then getting some pictures from the client. And that eliminates about 95% of the projects that I don’t actually need to go out and look at. And that also saves me a lot of time because then it’s five to 10 minutes that I’ve spent for someone that’s a tire kicker as opposed to driving out there and doing all the work. And so I pretty well don’t do any consultation fees anymore as a result, usually the only times that I’ll actually be going out the client already has a rough idea is what the price is and it’s more so because I need to actually look at and get proper dimensions. And then as for the the renovation side I didn’t know usually charge $60 consultation fee to go out the issue with that was I was at about a 20% approval rate charging, just because people have these big projects, and there, a lot of them are still in the planning phase, they’re not ready to pull the trigger. And the first thing that they’re kind of seeing is this price being doled out to them just to give them a price. So since I tried a few projects on just doing a free estimate, usually I’m out there for about an hour and a half, two hours talking with a client going over ideas that the initial conversation, and so far that went from a 20% to an 85% approval rate for my renovations.

Awesome. Yeah, there’s certainly value in that personal experience and like, selling yourself, you know, through that, I mean, obviously a really great consultation experience that you give.

Definitely. So how do you come up with pricing? Like, I want to, I want to jump back into that pricing. So I know, you know, in 2021, when you’re doing part time, you chose 50 bucks an hour? What made you choose that? And then how does that differ from how you price things now? And how do you come up with that?

So I kind of price around $50 an hour, because I was finding a lot of contractors were that we were hiring on for new builds, that’s kind of what they were building out their their guys out, I didn’t realize how low they were budgeting. So after that, and then that’s kind of where I was going. And then in I believe it was February of 2022 When I joined the handyman group on Facebook that the mastermind group. And I started reading a lot more at first, I was just shocked at some of the prices that were people, people with cars. And so I started doing more research. And it’s I feel like a big part was just kind of exposure and seeing more more regularity and how much people were actually going out and starting to realize that there’s there actually is a thing that exists that are professional handyman. It’s not just a bunch of people that are uninsured and a chuck in a truck that’s going out and doing these jobs with a dirty wife beater on and

smelled like cigarette smoke or, you know for sure.

So yeah, and then when I first went out on April 15, my first price I think I was setting myself up when I was coding, it was all fixed rate, but was about $75 an hour. And that was doing a I did a bit of a price breakdown. It wasn’t overly detailed it just personal expenses as well as my overhead. Seeing as I was doing everything, bootstrapping, I didn’t really have much business overhead at the time. I didn’t even have liability insurance or anything like that, which isn’t something I necessarily recommend people. And so as I’ve kind of grown from there, I’m about to do another price increase. But right now I’m at $85 an hour. And then for price markup is that 50% of gross profit.

So can you can you explain a little bit about that? You said, you’re at 85 bucks an hour and 50 50% gross profit? Can you explain a little bit about that? Sure.

So the $85 an hour is a kind of it’s a goal to be at about $100,000 a year minus the business overhead and expenses. So the one thing that was quite beneficial, I think it was actually UL and that added that the core business costs spreadsheet on the handyman mastermind group. So I use that and I did that as a break down and got a bit quite a bit better of accurate pricing as to what expenses are. And that gave me a really good foundation to kind of work off of and now as I continue to grow, I’ve I now have like I have liability insurance, I have life insurance I’ve out of work, injury and the insurance for that. And then I also have WCB that I recently signed on to which is mind boggling how much it adds up quickly. So and then so all of those have been a big factor in kind of price increases. And then it’s also a factor of just me getting busier and busier, increasing my rates to get a bit better of a balance and still have that kind of target audience that I’m wanting to work with. Then on the the material side for the 50% gross profit, it’s spent essentially taking the material cost, the straight cost and then doubling that. That doubling cost I find is very beneficial. It covers me in the case of future jobs where I either underestimate the materials that I’m meeting. And it also helps me to supply warranties for two years on the products that I’m supplying as well as the labor that goes into going back there and I feel like that’s a really big thing that people tend to underestimate because they don’t really, you really have to factor in that. That thought because inevitably there are things that you’re going to be called back to you no matter how good you are. It needs to be planned and to count.

Yeah, that’s one big thing we talked about on the last episode of The Handmaid’s success podcast with Mike clash is just the unexpectedness of things, right like this, this business has a lot of unexpected things, right, you open up a Walling, I’ve Whoa, I didn’t expect to see that or where you go, you know, you get apart and you’re like, Oh, crap, that’s the wrong part, I gotta run to Home Depot for the seventh time today. You know, there’s all these like, unmentionables on things that you didn’t know about. And those need to be factored into your price of both materials and labor. And I think that’s probably, you know, throughout, you know, coaching people and giving advices that’s one thing that people oftentimes leave out of their equation is just the unknowns, right. So I like I like your idea of, you know, when you factor in labor charge, you need to factor in some unknown. When you do materials, you need to factor in some unknown, we actually mark up our materials by 60%. So a lot of people are like, well, how are you selling stuff at that price, but like, it’s possible, you just need to find the right clientele. And, and also, it allows you to stand behind that product. Like you said, it allows you to give a two year warranty, it allows you to, you know, wear that nice uniform and sharpen that nice truck, rather than showing up in a wife beater, you know, in a beat up Prius, right? To go back to a joke before the podcast, but, um, so it all plays into it. And really, I think at the end of the day, it comes down to pricing and factoring in those unknowns. So that’s huge.

Yeah. Yeah. And then, yes, and then with, I guess, going back to the pricing, I also do a, for my handyman side of work, I do a two hour minimum call out. And that is for the first hour. And that also covers the admin time. So the when I’m going out right now, it’s $170. Call out fee. So in the event that it’s a eight hour day that I’m doing, I still have that hour factored in. So that would be sorry, I have to do the math real quick.

You’re basically building in an hour into every job that’s like, not technically labor hour, but just like a more administrative driving kind of buffer hour.

Exactly. Because a lot of the times when I’m factoring the time for the job, it’s factoring the actual process of picking up the materials, cutting out whatever I’m needing to cut out and putting in the new material itself. It’s not factoring in the admin time that goes into it. So I find just tacking on that hour, regardless of how much time it takes. Sometimes it takes more, sometimes it takes less, it’s just a good balance. So and then I also offer or sorry, not offer, I operate off of a similar system that Mike Radcliffe is first one that I saw mentioned, which is the 248 principle.

Okay, so like a quarter day, half day, full day, and that’s how you estimate everything.

Exactly. It cuts down so much time on quoting, as opposed to trying to find exact timeframes. And the as Alan had mentioned, there’s so many variables to the type of industry that we’re in, that it’s I find it so much easier to something’s gonna take six hours I build for the entire day, it’s almost guaranteed something’s going to come up. And instead of me having to talk prior with the client saying that I have to charge you extra, it’s already built into the cost. Right?

Right. Yeah,

I always liked the idea of that kind of pricing to from a consumer mindset, I had a my, before we moved, we had a handyman. That’s how he charged as well. And it was just simple. Like as that as the consumer side. Like it was really straightforward to me. It’s certainly better than getting like an hourly price, which obviously, we’ve shared many times on the podcast and in the group, do not charge hourly, you got to have your back end that way. But please just quote by the project do not say we charge at $5 an hour, and we think this will take us an hour and a half because then people are you’re on the clock, you know, and that’s why we started businesses now a big part of it. Any so another question on pricing for you on another topic. Sam? Do you have any pricing goals? Like as far as like, Do you have a goal to be at a higher than $85 this year? Are you going to rock and roll that this year or any kind of future goals as far as pricing that you’ve laid out yet?

Yeah, so I started out this year with the price increase from 80 to 85. And then I’m about to jump up again to $90. Now or and I might do another price increase later this year, depending on how things pan out. Right now. I’m currently booking out into September so yeah, and then just another big thing is I’m planning on hiring someone I’m in the summertime of this year as a helper as a primary and then the second higher than I’m planning on getting as a receptionist to try and ease the load of the amount of people that are calling and emailing me. Yeah. So when one of the factors with that, of course, is employees are incredibly expensive, so I’m wanting to try and get the software and the systems built in place in preparation for that, that next step. So it’s very likely that I’m going to have another increase in kind of late summer time to balance that out as well to $9,500 an hour. Okay,

that’s awesome. One thing you got to think about when you’re just one little thing about raising prices is every year we we try and raise our prices by inflation. So say, you know, inflation average 8% Last year, right? So if you multiply $85 by point 08, that’s $6.80. You know, so that’s just kind of like one thing that we try and do that I wanted to offer to you. At a

minimum? Yeah. That’s awesome, man. Yeah, certainly, I mean, some like the first position that we always recommend people to kind of look at between the two is either a helper to help with more like labor. Or just like really minor stuff that you can easily train and teach or, or that Office admin, a good good options on that into as far as like, if you needed typically, most like owner operators, they just need someone part time to do a lot of a phones estimates, like more administrative stuff. There are like sub like technical sub chopped contracting, like companies, they specialize in fulfilling kind of like part time assistance, that that can be a pretty, you know, nice financial, like, you know, it’s a win win. It’s largely just a matter of having the systems and the training so they can rock and roll and work within your business. But you know, just another option to look at as far as when you’re looking for that next addition, as the owner operator, which one makes sense? Those are the two most typical routes that we see.

That’s great ideas, that it’s something that I’ve put a bit of thought of into as well, the I’m guessing you guys have a lot more experiences in this than I do. Just trying to figure out that how how to actually operate in a part time basis for those kind of admin roles can be somewhat tricky, because obviously, people tend to call and email and try to contact you in any kind of given hour as opposed to a set set kind of timeframe. And the person’s there. Yeah, yeah. So.

So sorry, Jason. Sorry, zooms a little trickier. Yeah. So the way that we operate it is our first hire was a CSR. So someone in the office to answer the phones answer the emails, that was the, like, one of the best days of my business is when I handed over our business phone, number our business email over to her, I’m like, man, it’s not my problem anymore. Like, you know, you take care of and she does, she does a fantastic job with it. She’s so good with clients, people often, you know, call me up. And they rave about, you know, their experience with APR and just the first point of contact. So she works part time. So she currently works, I think it’s five hours a day, we started out at four hours a day, and then basically just kept following up and saying, Hey, do you need more time do you need more time for like, things that we added into her job description. And she, she pretty much just bases her schedule around when the majority of calls or emails or important things come in. So I think she works. She starts at like 9am. And then she takes maybe an hour or two off for lunch. And then she comes back, you know, kind of like when the peak call times are. But there are going to be those times where the phone’s not going to be answered, or the email is not going to be answered. But the cool thing about having a dedicated person is you know that those will be answered once that person gets back on the clock. Because for us, like, I remember I’d be out there like, you know, hammering and my phone’s going off. And I’m like trying to answer it hold it while I’m hammering. And I’m like, they tell me what their name is what their I’m like, send me a text message. Like I can’t take your information down. So it’s and then I would have voicemails, I’d have emails and I at the end of the day, I’ve been exhausted, I wouldn’t I ended up not returning those calls, right. So it’s so great. Having someone dedicated to that specific job in your business and really just give them the way that me, as a handyman business coach, teach a lot of our clients is to create a job description for that customer relations personnel that will basically have an outline of what they need to do. And then really let them create their schedule around that so that they can get it done with whatever they feel needs, but obviously manage them. If they’re not, you know, if they’re slacking off and things like that. You’re going to want to manage it, make sure you set more of a time schedule for them. But most people you know, for one love the freedom of doing that and creating their own schedule, but they also have the boundaries of the job description that you created for them. And the other cool thing about a CSR is ours lives an hour away and And she maybe comes down to our office maybe once or twice, maybe three times a year. But other than that she works remotely, she works from home, her husband’s retired, like she works, you know, five hours a day for us. And then she has the rest of the time to take care of her kids take her home, you know, be with her husband, like, it’s a win win for everyone. And it’s really fantastic.

It’s awesome. It sounds like great balance.

Yes, definitely.

Yeah. Um, so kind of getting back to. So your book you’re currently booking into September right now, is that just for like larger inquiries, like, like renovations? Are you getting faster to like small home repair projects, so those typically kind of just dropping off because I know, people are just not going to wait, you know, how many six months to get their ceiling fan replaced in most cases. So I think kind of could walk us through kind of how you are booking out your your projects that come in right now?

Yeah, definitely. So I’m going through a bit of a growing pain right now in getting a bit better restructured system of that. But currently, how it goes is in my schedule, the bigger projects tend to kind of take precedence in the initial building of the calendar. And once that’s built, and I can coordinate with the sub trades, and when they’re going to be coming in and doing their work, and they need free rein, then I’ll have one week here one week, then once I have those blocks open, I can let the person the clients know that I have this day or this day available for them to come. If that doesn’t work for them, it’s completely fine. But you could potentially be looking at about a month wait. And then it’s like, one of the challenges I’m running into right now is exactly as Alan was mentioning, is I’ve been somewhat drowning in the amount of phone calls that I’ve been getting. And it’s I’ve unfortunately, I tried to follow up with everyone. But I’ve been probably having voted an average 70% Follow up rate just because of the sheer number of interests that I’ve been getting. And I just don’t have the the bandwidth to be able to get back to everyone. Usually people don’t appreciate being called at 9pm as well.

Yes. And something is subcostal that we mentioned on the last podcast with Mike clash, you know, most a lot of businesses that are looking at like, well, how can I grow next? So the first question you can ask yourself is how many phone calls lands? Right? Right. You know, in a lot of cases, especially for established businesses, the next phase of growth is not so much marketing as it is customer service and operations. So, you know, I’ve kind of already briefly mentioned this, but there’s a lot of phone answering services that can answer your phone 24 hours a day, on behalf of your business. We actually use one in our company, they do a wonderful job I called Abby connect, there’s, you know, Jane’s office, there’s answer connect, there’s only services that you’ll pay, you know, a 300 bucks, or some of them are a lot cheaper, but you know, between two and $500 a month, but it guarantees that someone professional is answering your phone, you know, very kindly, they walk through your scripts, you know, identifying if it’s a current client, if it’s a new inquiry, they can either forward the call to you or take notes and email it to you. You can have it set up however you want. But in a lot of cases, you know, rather than looking at new marketing, someone could spend three $500 a month on making sure their phones are answered, providing a better client experience. And that’s a great way to unlock more growth for your business too. It’s again, like it said in the group a lot Answer your phone show up on time very simple concepts and business that in the handyman trade and do those right, you’re just gonna be blown up. So anyway, just just something to something to think about on that realm. It’s a pretty easy low hanging fruit as far as the investment for being able to capture a lot more of those inquiries in a way that you can address. Without feeling like you’ve got to work till 9pm and call somebody when they’re like, you know, having their cup of tea or whatever they fortnight for gone to bed.

Definitely appreciate that. And it’s so this might be a question for later on. But just in terms of I have thought of using someone like that the challenge with that is one is just the represent the ability to ensure that they’re adequately representing your business and also having the level of accountability that you might have with an employee versus outsourcing.

Yeah, I personally don’t like the answering call route, but I’ve never tried it right. So I’m a little bit biased towards you know, an actual person. But so, you know, I could be wrong, I probably am wrong. There’s probably some places where an answering service works great. Jason’s had some good experiences with it. Personally, I opted to get with an actual person, an actual employee. That way I could actually have them do other portions of my office work right. So I don’t only have them answer calls or answer emails, but I have them do follow ups two weeks after the job is done. I have them send thank you cards out to the clients. I have them send birthday cards. So they’re really the first first and the last person that that person or that the client talks to so that’s personally why I chose to go with an actual person rather than