Episode 26: Roger Chong, Bilt Rite Furniture Assembly & Installation

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Roger shares his “handyman journey” from Hollywood producer, to handyman, to niching into commercial assembly and installation.

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Hello and welcome everybody to another episode of the handyman success podcast. My name is Jason call owner of handyman marketing pros, we specialize in website design and SEO. My co host, Alan Lee, the owner of a handyman journey business coaching and honestly handyman services in the Sacramento area. As you all know, if you’ve been tuning in for a while our mission with the handyman success podcast is to teach and inspire by using our guests stories and real practical tips and strategies of how they actually run their business that, you know, hopefully from this, you can be inspired that, you know, if you’re new, that you can make this happen and be successful, or if you’re established that you can reach the goals that you’re trying to reach, overcome some boundaries that you’re kind of stuck with. And so we hope that you will get some inspiration and some real practical business improvement from our podcast here. So today, we’re joined by Roger, thank you so much, Roger, for joining us, if you don’t mind, giving us a little lay of the land as far as you know where you are your business name. And we’ll just start there. Hey, guys, thanks for having me on. Yeah, so my name is Roger Chong. I am the owner, main operator of built right furniture assembly and installation, you know, the business is pretty much, you know, we started officially, in 2020 or so it’s been kind of a long road to get to where we are. But when I officially became a business was in 2020 started off with a bunch of different names over the years. But you know, as I kind of figured out branding and marketing, in a very DIY approach, I kind of came to built right furniture, assembly and installation. And so as you can tell by the business name, we specialize in furniture, assembly and installation. And that really started off as basic furniture assembly. So IKEA Wayfair, Amazon stuff you order in the mail come in, and you give us call and we’ll assemble it. And so that that was kind of like the main crux or the foundation of what my business of what this particular business was when it started. But it’s pretty much grown into anything that can be installed into a home or business. So that, you know, also includes things like TV, mounting, decorating, anything that’s basically not structural, that comes in a box that can be brought into the house is essentially what we specialize in. Yeah. So that’s, that’s kind of the question of the business. And that’s what we’ve been pushing strong at for a while now. So that’s awesome. So you’re currently doing predominantly, you know, building furniture and stuff like that? Did you start out doing that in 2020? Or what was that like, progression? Like? Did you start out doing general handyman stuff? And then move into that or or start with? Yeah, so I mean, yeah, like I said, my journey, it’s been kind of a long journey. So to kind of rewind a little bit further, I come from the world of film and television, I worked in production management for a while, you know, a lot of reality shows, like, wipe out the bachelor, like those kinds of things. I had my little, you know, career burnout kind of thing, where I didn’t know what I want to do with life, I needed to step away from it, because my quality of life wasn’t that great. And just out of sheer desperation, I jumped into the world of being a handyman, and this was back in 20 2015 2016 or so. And it was just out of sheer desperation, it was literally just like me jumping on Craigslist, throwing up a couple ads, and just, you know, doing a few things here and there for you know, a few bucks to make ends meet. And that’s kind of where my journey into like, you know, working with tools and working with my hands started. And then I was doing handyman work. But as I was doing handyman work, I there was a couple of kind of friction points as I was like, figuring out what I really wanted to do in that world. If, even if it was the world I wanted to be in, as far as you know, my income goes. One of them was like, I kept having to learn new things, which is great, you know, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all. But like, I just I kept having to learn new things. I was like, somebody needed a toilet changed and like, Okay, I’ve never done one, but I’m just gonna hop on YouTube really quick. Or somebody needs to like a door and stalls I need to jump in, jump on the internet and find it and honestly, you know, that’s how I found that’s how I Found You was because I would just YouTube, you know, I would just YouTube like how to videos for everything. And that was my process. Back in the day. It was just like somebody hired me for a job. Two hours before I started the job. I was like, Okay, how do you change a doorknob? Because, like before I worked in film and TV, like I barely even knew what a deck screw was. Grill. I had like a $20 RYOBI drill like in the back of my car. And that’s kind of like how it started. So it’s like I really didn’t know what I was doing. But you know, nobody ever called me because I broke a pipe like that. So I wasn’t that and so but like I kept having to learn new things and like with that, you know, you just have to buy like more equipment like oh, well you know, I don’t have you know, I don’t have spackle to like had trouble I don’t have like drywall compound, I don’t have this, oh, constantly having to buy new stuff. And it’s frustrating because I would buy it, I would use a once and I would never get another job like that again, just like, hey, you know, I really got to like, limit what I do. And when I kind of made that decision, I found that like, there was a lot of work for furniture, assembly services, I was like, okay, I can do this, it’s super easy, I can get through pretty fast, and people were paying pretty decent. For that service. I’m like, I should just lean into this. Because it’s the one job where like, I’m not sweating bullets as I’m trying to figure it out. You know, like, I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna worry about burning somebody’s house down, I’m not gonna worry about like, them, like hurting themselves, because I did something incorrectly to whatnot. Like, you know, the, the benefits to me just focusing on furniture assembly, were just kind of overshadow all the other, you know, opposite reactions to it. So that’s why I just kind of leaned in having to that. And yeah, that was about 2020 ish or so you know, roughly around the start of the pandemic. And it’s worked out. So and it’s funny, it’s, I hope you guys don’t kick me off the show. But like, I really don’t consider myself like a handyman business. Because people will still call me and they’ll be like, Hey, can you swap out a ceiling light for me? Or hey, can you do this and that for me, and I do have to turn on work because like, one, I haven’t done it in years. So I don’t feel comfortable, like charging, like my prices for those type of services that I can’t guarantee. And to it’s like, I just I’m not interested in that kind of work. I’m not interested in like, you know, putting that under my belt anymore. What interests me is kind of like getting better at what I wanted to specialize in. Yeah, we’re definitely gonna have to kick you off. Because this is the handyman success podcast, got the furniture assembly podcast. So yeah. So you know, that was another thing too, was like, before I found like, you know, your Facebook group and this whole world. I didn’t really have a home, it was just like, right? There’s not like a big market of just furniture assembly guys. Where do I belong? And then, you know, after a while, I was just like, well, I’m, I’m part of the handyman sector. I’m just like, this very, like, small like corner of it. It’s very specific niche of it. So you know, I’m like, okay, I can kind of, I can jam with these guys. Hopefully, and hopefully, they don’t, you know, sniff out the wolf. Yeah, and that’s that’s the beauty of the handyman trade though is like there’s it’s just that it’s almost every contracting like industry, to the handyman space, you know, again, right? drywall. So it’s very common to, you know, like a handyman, that just, you’ve got to know what you can do and what you what you don’t do, but I love how your is yours is really underscored by like, what you enjoy and what you’re happy to do and provide that value for the client in the furniture assembly. Where so you’re located in Southern California and like Los Angeles, is that right? Yeah. So I’m in the Los Angeles, Orange County region. So it’s just kind of like the main kind of area of Southern California, I’m based out in Long Beach, which is like, right in the smack dab middle of Orange County in Los Angeles. But you know, like me, and my team will pretty much service most of southern California. Just really, depending on the size of the job, like, oh, you know, I’ll send my guys down to like San Diego, if it’s a decent size job. No, which, you know, we’ve done before. One, one question I have is, I mean, before we kind of dig into, I know, we’d like to hear more about your business and your team and stuff like that. But how, what was the transition, like, to kind of transition from a handyman to focusing on you know, furniture assembly and being built, right furniture, assembly and installation? Like, how what did you do to make that transition? Like, a reality? Oh, I mean, it was, it was pretty immediate. I honestly, I would say it was like an overnight decision. It was just like, one day, I think it was after a job where I was like, somebody added, like, hired me to like, do like squeegee on like, this D call onto a window, but it was very interested D call and I completely botched it. And I was just feeling like crap, like, so bad. I’m like, I was like, this is a terrible job. And then, you know, that night I just sat down, like, what can I do to like, not feel this bad anymore? Where I like I don’t because I never had like I said, like, I never did it before, I just want you to do something. And most the time I succeeded, but this time I failed. I was like, like, what can I do to just like, not feel this way anymore and not have to deal with like, this type of anxiety anymore. And then I decided, like, you know, I’m just gonna lean into furniture assembly like, that’s what you know, that was good. That’s what I enjoyed doing. That’s what I don’t feel that, you know, like, I’m really good at it. So it was like that night I made that decision. I I changed my business name that night. I created a website that night just like a really basic one on WordPress or whatever. And I just decided to push it and like the next day onward, that’s when I really just pushed it so like, you know, when I was a handyman, I had like a super generic name. It was like RBC services. So like, you know, it wasn’t really anything and then Then I just changed it over to IKEA installers, because, you know, it was like I was getting to like a lot of IKEA stuff. But that name didn’t last long because they actually sent me a cease and desist letter when they Oh you’re gonna get sued by IKEA? Yeah, exactly. I got a letter from like, like an attorney in Italy or something like that for their, for their client and like, oh, okay, you know, I’m not even gonna, like fight this. I’m just gonna change the name. I was like I was I thought it was cheeky at first. But yeah, lawyers don’t find that funny. So, yeah, and so that’s when he kind of just developed to what it is now. Yeah, so it was, it was honestly Yeah, like, like an overnight decision. And like, once I once I just made that decision, I just leaned into it. And I haven’t really like looked back since. You know, I mean, like, I’ll mean like, I occasionally do like handyman stuff here and there. But it’s really just for like, return clients and friends that just really need a hand with something like that, like they need. They need like a smart door, like a smart doorknob or so like that installed. I’ll do that occasionally. But like, for the most part, it’s really just been like, furniture assembly and, and furnishing installations. And, and especially now like, I got my contractor’s license. So even now, more so than before, like, I’m really not allowed to, like touch anything outside of that scope of work. Yeah, the the contract, or the state licensing board is very specific about like, you, once you’re a licensed contractor, like you’re that licensed contractor, you can’t get out of that license, unless you get the license to cover the additional work. So I really use that as a question of when people ask me to do stuff, I can just, I’d pull that card out and see like, No, I can’t do that. Yeah, I think that’s actually a very interesting thing about the California law. And like I had a lot of people asked me, Hey, why don’t you get your contractor’s license? And it’s really because like, in the law, as a contractor, you’re not allowed to do general handyman stuff, right? You can only do the stuff that’s covered under your, under your contractor license. So it’s kind of like you’re screwed. If you do, you’re screwed. If you don’t like, you know, you can either do handyman stuff and abide by that $500 limit here in California. Or you could be become a contractor. But you can’t do that small stuff kind of like general it’s, it’s kind of crazy. So I’m interested to hear you talk about that. So when you went, so I, I always hear the question and people that want to niche down, right of how do you make that transition? Because one day, you’re doing everything, and then the next day, you’re only doing this stuff? But it sounds like from your business? Like you literally shut one business down and created a whole new one. Is that correct? Yeah, so I guess if you don’t, I mean, like, you know, my phone number stayed the same. Like, I stayed the same. My clientele was pretty much. I mean, my clientele pretty much stayed the same. So the people that had hired me as a handyman, a lot of them over hired me to like build furniture anyways. Okay, as they were calling me back, it was, it was for stuff that was still within my scope. So they needed me to, like, hang a picture at a really high height, or they need me to do like a, like a somewhat complicated job, but it was still within my scope. So um, so I guess it was totally shutting down one business starting another but at the same time, like, it didn’t really feel different, it didn’t feel like it didn’t feel unnatural, you know, it felt like, it just felt like a continuation of my timeline. So I didn’t really have like any, I didn’t have any hiccups. When I made that transition, I didn’t really, you know, have any hardships. You know, one thing was like, when I was doing my handyman stuff, I really didn’t have a grasp of what it was to own a business. So when I was doing that, and when I was like marketing myself, I didn’t really know what I was doing. So I was throwing out throwing posts up on Facebook, I was that guy and like city, Facebook groups are like, hey, I can do that for you for five bucks, right? I was just that guy. And I was just kind of like I didn’t really have like a process when it came to like marketing my business. And wasn’t until like after I read a few books and really understood the concept of what it was to own a business that’s when I really focused on like going after my ideal client and my target audience. So you know, if anything, I built more of a base I didn’t really lose anything because to begin with when I was a handyman, I had, you know, no process whatsoever. And now I have a much better process was there when you made that transition? Was there like a down time as far as because it gave you go from doing everything to the one thing you know, obviously a lot of the leads and phone calls you’re getting like you’re now turning those away. So there was there. I guess if you could kind of explain was there any kind of like transition period where you know, your revenue dropped because you’re focusing now on furniture assembly and kind of figuring out the marketing for that because I show the light on that that specific piece of the puzzle? For sure. So like, um, yeah, like I said, like when, before I’d made that transition, I didn’t know what I was doing as far as business goes. So like I was busy. I wasn’t that busy though, because I Still trying to figure out like how to do it, the jobs I was getting was just like for very, like low paying stuff. Like, I think I was making like 25 bucks an hour or something like that. And I thought that was good money. But I didn’t take into account like taxes and overhead fees and all that stuff. So like, I didn’t really know what I was doing. So like, I wouldn’t say I lost revenue. It wasn’t like things got slower. But once I once I made that decision to like, focus on furniture assembly, that’s when I adjusted my marketing and I, so you know, to kind of get down to the granular details. So like, Yelp was a big driver of my revenue, right. So, in the beginning, I, I would get, I would get a lot of inquiries on Yelp, I paid to sponsored my my page on there, I would get a lot of inquiries for like everything. So installing a whole new theater system, patching drywall, all that kind of stuff. And like, I would throw out throw up bids, and it wasn’t like, I wasn’t getting like that much of return. I was maybe getting like, a quarter of them coming back and be like, okay, yeah, let’s, let’s move forward with this. But when I retooled and I focused my Yelp listing, specifically just for furniture assembly. And for TV mounting. It, it really it didn’t, it didn’t spread the money out as far it’s just focused the money that I was spending on Yelp. And so in turn, I was getting more clients that were that were just interested in just furniture, Family Services, and they found, you know, the expert in furniture, suddenly services because they could see that, that’s all I was doing. So I was generating more just through just by focusing. So just changing my settings in my Yelp advertising, I was able to just reach the people that I wanted to, and I was able to get more of them, versus kind of just generalizing and kind of like throwing my, you know, shooting my shot with everybody. I was just shooting my shot with a few that would be interested in my services. That’s awesome. And so you’re a contractor. So what contractor’s license is that for furniture assembly, so in California, it’s especially contractor’s license, the D 34. Classification, which is pre manufactured equipment installation. So, and the the board they kind of, in their quick pitch of what the license is, it’s basically anything that comes in a kit or anything that comes in a box is what I’m allowed to touch. So that could be things like a closet system, so you know, the stuff that you buy off the shelf and okay. I can read both, I assume, right? Yeah. Okay, definitely. So but then that also includes things like, you know, like, the warehouse racks that, oh, right, kind of bigger installs like that. It would include all of that. So, you know, the, the possibility of like, the possibility to make more money on jobs, this is bigger with the license, because now I can go after, like these larger scale jobs, you know, that I wouldn’t have been able to if I if I didn’t have a license, I could just see someone, you know, installing a fence and getting caught by the CSLB. And then be like, what, I bought all the material, I put it in a box. And then yeah, you know, I actually asked about that, like, on my license, and I was I was kind of going, because, you know, like, there are companies out there that will like, manufacture a custom closet for you if you send them the measurements. Like if I just took measurements, and I ordered a custom thing that was manufactured elsewhere. Could I install that and they’re like, No, you can’t do that. That’s still customer. What I’ve learned about the CSLB is like, it feels dodgy, it’s probably not allowed. That’s what if that’s too much questions to work around it. It’s probably it’s probably not, you probably shouldn’t do it. Right. It’s like, Well, can I do this? Or like yeah, it’s it’s, it’s pretty crazy. They got a lot of laws over there, that’s for sure. Yeah. So is there a lot of people in that field that that say that have that D 34. contractor’s license that are going after what you’re going after? Like what’s the competition look like? Yeah, as far as it’s weird. So the D 34 license it’s so broad in the same way that like handyman like covers so many like different kind of like skill sets, the D 34. I only recently found out that also covers like appliance repair and installation and I have no skill sets in appliances but like like now I know that I’m allowed to like advertise my services for appliances but yeah, I mean like the the majority of D 34 People Have you no I haven’t done the market research to see like what the whole classification or what the whole group of people is but looking through the website I found it was like a pretty even mix of like closet installers, plus like people that do like warehouse like warehouse racks like large installations like that. So it is a lot more it is a lot more commercial. It’s a lot more like a the time people get into d3 for license aren’t doing as much like residential like They’re not gonna come in and just build like a single sofa, you know, Karen in Irvine or something like that. So yeah. Roger, like, I’m curious because I think most think furniture assembly like I think of like, you know, household furniture from Wayfarer, whatever. But what is like, what is your job distribution between, like residential and commercial? And then also in that vein, like, what is like a, what is like your ideal job, like when it comes into like, sweet this is, this is what I’m going for. Yeah, so I mean, you guys actually caught me in a very like transitional period, I talked about this with Alan, when I had breakfast with him the other month. It was like, I’m in this transitionary phase, where I’m moving from, like, mostly residential customers, and I’m really pushing for commercial customers, because what is most profitable for me are larger scale jobs, where I can bring in like a larger team working in one location, building like the same stuff over and over again. So it’s like, you know, before, where I would just get to be called in to build like a desk and a bed frame. For a customer, I’d have to like squeeze in like four to five clients in a day to really make like, some decent money. But now, like, if I can get a customer that’s building out a new office, and they have 50 desks, and they have 50 chairs to go with it, and they have 50 filing cabinets, along with a conference table and a few TVs and various offices, that kind of job is more profitable for me because I can still, I can still bang that out. You know, my team can bang that out in like, a couple days. But we wouldn’t make I would make tents, you know, 10 times as much money as it would go into like five different houses. So right now, I mean, it’s, uh, right now it’s about 5050. As far as like, my, my incoming revenue dollars, like 50% of that right now is probably for residential customers pitch percent. And of that is for commercial customers, I’m really pushing to, like, flip it so that it’s mostly commercial, because like I said, like, I you know, you get a lot more income for a lot less work. Yeah. You know, that’s the goal. That means I can either just work less or, you know, have more money. So one, one thought I have on this, I mean, just is what I would like, just an idea is like connecting with, like, owners of like commercial property buildings, you know, those big commercial buildings that have people moving in and out all the time. Yeah, it’s gotta be a ton of those were like, I’m sure you could like, make relationships and become like, basically, when someone’s moving in, like, Oh, hey, we’re so excited that you signed our lease, and you’re moving in, you know, here’s a few like, you know, referrals that could help you in this transition. Anyway, there’s just a thought that came up. While you’re talking about that, yeah, that’s totally a route to I’ve been, you know, like, it’s, I’m still in this transition period. So it’s like, I’m learning a lot as well. And I am finding that it’s not as easy as just calling like, the location itself. But that’s where I’m learning a lot, too. So there’s like, nationwide, I’m sure you guys know, there’s like nationwide, like home maintenance companies that like are outsourced by like apartments and whatnot, to like, do the repairs, and home maintenance and stuff like that. And I find that establishing relationships with other companies, as a third party source is really beneficial. So like, right now, I’m like, I’m the sole service provider for like, a desk manufacturer and a couple other like manufacturers. And I’m also like, on the, I don’t know, the list of people to call for like this national manufacturer that does like that covers, like my scope of work, and establishing relationships with these other parties that get outsourced by the actual, like, customer itself. That’s kind of where That’s where I’m getting a lot of my commercial revenue. That makes it I probably didn’t do the best out of explaining Yeah, no, that makes sense. Man, that’s really cool. And I know, there’s a lot of people too, that are have a focus on like smart home installation, they have like, as a preferred vendor for nest, for example, that they know you’re in that zip codes, when someone orders something, boom, your name is like, you know, in there, like order confirmed and all that good stuff. So exactly that so there’s a lot of those companies that specialize in just furniture, so especially like furniture manufacturers, they are, you know, like establishing being the service provider for them is is a real, like a really good relationship to lock in. So that’s what I’ve been pushing for a lot more. So I’ve got, you know, I’ve got partnerships with a couple of smaller manufacturers. I’m really trying to like lock in bigger manufacturers, bigger, bigger partnerships and build bigger relationships. And that’s kind of my journey right now is kind of navigating my way through that and really building that. That’s okay. Yeah. If you don’t mind kind of talking about this a little bit more. I think it’s really cool. Like, what what like, what are you doing specifically, I guess outside of those relationships, is there anything else that you’re doing to kind of have this focus and get more of those commercial jobs where you can make, you know, 10 times more than, you know, assembling the couch. Yeah, for sure. I mean, so like, the great thing about doing b2b versus b2c Is that like, phone numbers or email addresses are a lot more publicly available. So like, I don’t know, if like Karen down the street needs a bed frame assembled. And I don’t know what her phone number is. So I can’t, I can’t call her and ask her like, Hey, do you need help. But I know that like this desk manufacturer that manufactures desks, and sells it all across the country, I know that that’s what they do, that’s their business, I know what number is because it’s on their website, I could probably find like the email address for the operations director or something like that. So I have, I have a way to get a hold of them. And so with that, like I’ve really been pushing like outbound marketing, you know, cold calling, essentially cold calling cold emailing, a little mix of both. And that’s been kinda like my main way of getting to those people, I, I put aside a few bucks in like, just general like PPC advertising, in case like, those people are just Googling like, furniture, assemblers near me or something like that. I haven’t really gotten too many hits from that. But for the most part, just reaching out to them and not waiting for them to reach out to me, that’s really what’s been working. That’s, that’s what work with, like, the couple relationships that I have been able to assemble. And then I have a bunch of like, ongoing pending conversations with a bunch of other people as well. Or a bunch of other companies as well. So yeah, that’s, that’s kind of like my process of like, building that portion of my business. The big portion of it is outbound calling. And it’s a little scary, I’ll admit, you know, just cold calling people, cold emailing people, it’s, I’ve had to read a lot about sales, I’ve had to read a lot about like, you know, understanding how to sell something. And that’s, you know, kind of a new world for me. Because before, like, before this, it was just like, people will call me and say, like, I need a bedframe assembled, I’d given my price I’d give him like, why I would be like the best person to do it. But that’s really about it. Whereas like, now, you know, trying to tell these people like, Okay, this, this really is why, you know, I’m licensed I have, I have a one year warranty on the workmanship. You know, we do this, and we do that, I really try and build my value and like I have to do it in a way that doesn’t sound like a douchey salesman, either. Yeah, that’s awesome. And, and I know, when we were talking, we met at that Denny’s, and I was trying to wrap my brain around kind of what you do and this and that. And you could even like target companies like, like Denny’s right to assemble all their boots, right when they first buy a building or whatever. Oh, yeah, for sure. So like, this is something else. I’ve also learned to and I don’t know if your listeners will compete on me with this. But what I found is like with these large corporations and with these large with these large customers, so bash, or chains, like Denny’s, McDonald’s, hospitals, when they’re building something new, they’re gonna be buying furniture, apple from a specialized manufacturer, and the conscious part of the sales agreement between like, you know, when we Donald says, like, hey, we want you know, 10,000 chairs across all of our restaurants, we want to buy for this price. But with that price, we’re going to need you to also include white glove delivery, or installation or assembly. That’s, that’s kind of how it works across the board. And with all the different people have been talking to you, they the end user will actually, you know, force, the manufacturer or the retailer, whoever they’re buying it from, to include it as part of the sale of, you know, these million chairs, these million desks that need to be done. So that’s why it’s so important to reach out to like the manufacturers of yours, and the retailers that are selling the actual product to the end user to the customer. So you don’t necessarily need to call McDonald’s. Right? You know, but you call like the McDonald buys from, right. So I learned this because I tried to build a relationship with the Los Angeles Unified School District. How can I be the guy that built all your chairs? Or what’s it going to take for me to be that guy that you call when you need furniture assembled and all this, they actually have a whole department of people that are just focused on overseeing the work of furniture being installed? How can I be that guy for you? And like, oh, well, you wouldn’t be the guy for us, you would be for the guy that we buy it from. So you got to these manufacturers and have, you know, have them hire you like we wouldn’t be the ones to hire. So yeah, so you’d be calling the manufacturers. I mean, I’m sure it’s case by case. I’m sure there’s some companies that probably keep all that in house. But for the most part, with all like the executives and professionals I’ve been talking to, that’s what I’ve discovered is like the general you know, way of how things work in this commercial furniture installation space. Very interesting, very interesting. And you were Tell me when we’re down meeting, you’re telling me about some times when you’ve worked in like, Catalina Island for a few people. Can you tell us maybe a little bit about that and how you got those jobs? Yeah. So that’s one of the more rare instances where the end users have actually hired me directly. And that’s one of the variances where, like my PPC advertising actually worked, because they just found furniture assemblies in the area. And so they, the company that pretty much, you know, for those of, you know, for those listeners that don’t know what Catalina Island is, it’s a little island that’s like 30 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. It’s like a full fledged town. People live there. It’s like Hawaii, but not Hawaii. So like, it feels like going to Newport Beach, but on an island. And so like the there’s a company there that pretty much like handles like all of the all the commercial spaces, you know, the the restaurants, the hotels, and all that stuff. And so they were just they were revamping a lot of their restaurants. And so they just find me through researching online, they found my pay, or they find my website. And then yeah, they just established my relationship with them, because they, they buy the furniture, but they’re also in charge of like assembling it. And so that’s why in that instance, the end user actually hired me. So I made a trip out there with my team. Um, I’m always more than happy to take a free boat trip anywhere on the island. And it’s, you know, and the good thing about that is like, you know, it moves by pretty quickly the furniture that they get. So it gives me my guys like two or three hours on an island just to hang out after we’re done with a job because you can’t go back until the boats ready to go back. So yeah, that’s cool. And so I’m hoping maybe you could dig into a little bit more about, like pricing and the you know, because like, we’ve talked a lot about pricing, I Candyman jobs, right? But as, as we’ve learned, you know, you want to change this to the furniture assembly podcast. So can you tell us a little bit about like, how you price furniture assembly, and what that looks like? Because how do you know how long someone’s gonna take you or maybe like, I’m very much a big proponent of flat rate pricing, I understand why some guys who want to stick with hourly pricing or just charging by the hour, but you know, like, there’s only 24 hours in a day. So there’s like a cap on how much you can really make. Right, you know. And so that’s why I’ve always been against hourly pricing. So I do flat rate pricing, and I do it. Each type of furniture has its own price has gone flat rate. So like a chair is a price, a bed frame is a price, you know, and it’s like one flat rate. So whether it takes an hour or whether it takes like 30 minutes, it’s going to be that same price. And I developed this price from it’s just based off experience. And just based off the averages of like, what I know how long it’ll take to build it. Because I mean, the good thing about like furniture assembly, it’s like it’s a lot more predictable. And that’s why I really like furniture assembly, it’s like, it’s a lot more predictable than like, you change on a toilet, you could find like a rusty pipe underneath that you have to replace. You know, when you patch a while you might find like there’s rats behind the wall, you have to like Clear that out or something like that. And like you never really know going into it like if there’s going to be an issue. But with furniture, it’s like once you build a bed, you’ve kind of built all the beds, like once you build the dresser you built pretty much like all of them. So you’d like you know what goes into you know what the pain points are. So it’s like, that’s why like I feel comfortable with charging a flat rate for like, any dresser or any desk. All that requires is like, you know, me scoping it out with the customer. Like is it a desk with drawers? Is it a standing desk or is it a bed with storage underneath? Or is it not a bed with storage underneath? And so like on my website I literally just post all my prices like there’s a whole pricing list on my website so customers can go to the website and see like oh this how much he charges for bed. Like a chair like for instance like an office chair is like $40 to assemble right? It’s a flat rate no matter if it takes like you know 10 minutes or if it takes an hour it’s never gonna take an hour but it’s like Like they’ll know like it’s $40 per chair so if you have 10 chairs is gonna be 40 times 10 And usually bigger quantities I’ll mark down a little discount because like I said like the more there is one item like I can just you know my team could just do it faster because we’re just a one location. But yeah, everything has its own price. And that’s based on like me knowing like on average it takes you know, half an hour to do this or 45 minutes to do that or an hour and a half to do that. At that price is based off of times what I need to you know make our lead to you know, cover the business. Yeah. Okay so so I’m just thinking like, you know, say you got it’s X amount for a dresser right but they have a little bit bigger of a dresser right the normal is it like how mid like depending on how many drawers they have and then you add on like per drawer like say the typical dresser has nine drawers and this this one happens to have 12 drawers like how you for every piece of furniture there is variations of it. So like this Dressing for example. They do vary in size. And people have people buy different sizes of all sorts. So my flat rate pricing is for dressers up to four drawers, oh, yeah, dressers up to four drawers, I don’t have the price list in front of me. But it’s like, it’s $120. Because it takes like half an hour to do that, right? For years, with five GA, and more, it’s like 160 bucks or something like that. And then just an extra half hour or less than that. To do that, like with the four deaths, you can have a standard desk and have a desk with a return hudge, you can have a desk, that’s just a standing desk, electrical or non electrical. So there’s variations of each type. And so that’s, and that’s kind of what I base my pricing on, but like, I’ll know that it was just the standing desk without drawers, it’s gonna take 30 minutes, if it’s a desk with a hutch and return, it’s gonna take like an hour and a half to do on that. And usually, in the beginning, that was there was like a lot of like, you know, learning through that process, and I definitely lost money on some jobs. But you know, over time, I just kind of figured out like, No, this is the average. And I’ve been pretty accurate about that. And so that’s why I’m really confident when it comes to like pricing my services, because, like 90% of the time, like it goes as expected, there is 10% of the time that we’re like something will happen where like, it’s gonna take longer, you know, like, there’s, there’s something wrong with the packaging. So I have to, like, fix, like an issue that was caused by the manufacturer or something like that. But, you know, like, if I’m winning, you know, eight jobs and losing two jobs as far as like, you know, what I’m making out of it, then, you know, it works out in the end. So, yeah. So, you know, I don’t do furniture. I mean, we do furniture assembly as one of our services, but we don’t like niched down and focus just on that. So, sometimes we’ve had some crazy doozy ones like I remember one time, someone hired us to assemble this really big IKEA dresser. And we looked at reviews, we figured it would take us like three hours. It took me like six hours to do that puppy. Like it was absolutely insane. So have you ever had a job like that? Where, like, it took me way longer than you thought? And can you talk a little bit about that? Yeah, for sure. So, so the IKEA has a closed system called the IKEA PAC system. I’m sure a lot of people are familiar with it. And it’s like, their custom closet system. But it’s just like, the, you know, they have the frames and everything is like, you know, you customize the insides essentially, and which frames go with which, and I do have to go into it, assuming the customers have measured properly. And I will say me 25% of time, they don’t measure properly. They’ll forget things like, you know, like, walls aren’t perfectly plumb, you know. And so like that half inch, like makes me not able to like push in a frame all the way. And so that requires some creative solutions to make it work. Yeah, one time, I had to like I literally took a stand and I shaved down the drywall, and things like ugly because it’s behind the frames anyways, I would do that I would literally just chip away at walls, or I would I try not to like remove baseboard, but if I have to remove it, I’ll remove it. I charge extra for that as well. But it’s just things like that. So like, yeah, one job, it was like she had Miss measured by a half inch or so. Or the bottom, I think at the bottom of the wall, like, you know, carved out a lot more on the top of the wall. You didn’t allow me to like make this perfect, like you shape in there walk in closet. And you know, like I could have just like what bathroom like, You got to reorder, or we got to send this back or you know, I can’t do this. But it was just like apartments, like, it’s only like a half inch. Like I got to figure this out. And so that took me that took like an extra hour, hour and a half maybe to like get a solution going. And I was just drenched in sweat afterwards. But it also required me to like I was working by myself on this project. But like I had to like lift up this whole frame by myself and kind of get in like this massive, like a foot frame by myself and getting pushed into place and knocking down and cutting out like shapes at the other frame to like make it work. It was it was a very complicated process because each step was like, Okay, this isn’t working. What can I do on like this next attempt to make it work. And like that was just one of those things where like, I could have charged her extra for the additional work that I was doing, but I’m like, I don’t even know how to like, quantify that, I guess. So I definitely didn’t make as much money on that job. But like the next job the next day, installing the same system, I was done. I was done maybe like an hour ahead of time because everything fit, everything worked. There was no problems. I was just in and out like she loaded everything up where it needed to be Um, you know, everything was just like super smooth sailing. So, you know, between the two jobs, it was just like, I lost money on one. But I gained a lot, I gained a lot of time. And another one another reason another quick job that somebody just called me about, like, and so it’s like, I guess I made money from the next day. So it’s like, you know, that’s why I’m saying like, some eight out of 10 jobs are going to work in your favor, the two out of 10 That’s not going to work in your favor, but it will the universe will balance itself out. Or, I don’t know, maybe I’m being too optimistic. That’s exactly how I see it. Yeah, you almost have to price your services to account for that 10 to 20%, that, you know, it’s just unpredictable. There’s just variability in business. Yeah, I do do that there is that gap. And that’s why I’m saying like, eight out of 10 works in your favor, like. So like, for instance, the chair that takes like, $40 that I charge $40, for chairs take like 10 minutes to assemble. So it’s like, a lot of time, and you might even be done in less than 10 minutes. A lot of times, like, you know, I don’t know what the math is, but like it works out, it works out in your favor. And the one time it doesn’t work out in your favor, all the other times it didn’t work in your favor, is gonna like balance itself out. Yeah, so I know, we’ve got like, about 10 minutes here, Roger, so I wanted to ask you, I know you’re you’re pretty passionate about like systems and processes. And so I wanted to ask, like, what, what kind of processes do you have in place that makes your business more efficient and just run better for you? Yeah, so I think, um, before, like, when I said, when I was doing my handyman business, and I was just like, all kind of like, flying by the seat of my pants. I was very unorganized before. And that’s when I was just like texting people, like, Hey, you owe me like, you owe me 50 bucks for this job, or something that would just pay me cash, you know, like a very typical way of just kind of do everything under the table. But there was a lot of times when I was just like, missing appointments, because I forgot that I scheduled an appointment this day. And so like, the customer will call me like, 30 minutes after the appointment starts and I’m like, I’m knee deep in building like mounting another TV or something like that. And I can’t make it. And it just, like that instance, just happened so many times, I’m like, I gotta fix this. And, you know, when you’re starting out, you’re very resistant to paying for stuff, because you just want to do everything for free. But like, you know, I gotta get, I haven’t even noticed all the time. I’m like, I gotta get a CRM. And so I was just like, I didn’t want to pay for anything. Because I was just being a cheap up, I’m like, you know, I ended up just jumped, you know, biting the bullet, I paid for a CRM, and it was just a total game changer. Because it just it solved like all of the Miss organization that I had. So with my CRM, I use jobber, by the way, you know, I have a form online that customers can just fill out, and it’s just like, it’s a booking appointment, but, and they just fill that out, it comes to me directly. And then I can, immediately right there, I get on my phone, and I can just like send out, you know, I can just send send back the quote and be like, I have a guy that’s, you know, I have a guy that’s in your area, he can be there in like two hours. I’m like, Oh, I can schedule like next Tuesday or something like that. Having that efficiency was such a big game changer. And being able to do all of like, the scheduling, the estimating the pricing, the invoicing, all within like one app or one computer screen on my computer, really changed how efficient I was, I wasn’t dropping the ball, I wasn’t losing money, because I would forget to show up to an appointment or something like that. That big change in my process was probably what made me feel like I had like a business versus just me, like, you know, answering an ad on Facebook or something like that. So So I created like, this process of like, the funnel of getting people from like, searching my name to actually getting them booked into appointment. And then, you know, once I’m there on site, or once my one of my guys are there on site, you know, it’s it’s pretty much straightforward process. But like, I had to make it like, it’s, I might go into the nitty gritty of this, but like, you know, there’s a there’s a process for like, How to Answer the door, how to talk to the customer, how to do the job itself, how to keep your tools organized, so you don’t lose tools, which still happen anyways. But you know, how to keep everything organized during the service call itself and then how to wrap up the service call. And then how to do like follow ups. Like there’s, there’s just like a process for it. It definitely could be used for some more refining can definitely improve, obviously. But I found that like, once I figured out like I needed, like, a repeatable way to like run a service call it it made the customer experience so much better as well. So yeah, finding the process of that was also you know, important for the business and and Yeah. And how did you get your your team to kind of follow? Um, you know, I don’t think I have especially I think I just have a good group of guys that like that just work with me and understand like what I’m trying to do and you Why don’t they just, they just do. Like, I tell them like, hey, I want, you know, I’d really love it. If you could just talk to the customer this way, I’d really love it if you didn’t talk to the customer this way or something like that. So like, one, one hard rule I have is to never bash customers purchases, even, even if you don’t feel that way. So like, if they buy like a really dinky bed off of Amazon that like looks super rickety. It’s going to fall apart. Like, you’re never going to say like, oh, yeah, this beds really, this beds really crappy anyways, it’s probably gonna fall apart on you. So you know, don’t fall in love with it too much. You know, there’s other ways to work around it, like, you know, just saying like, Oh, this is, you know, this, this beds gonna get, you know, this beds gonna last you, you know, through your whole time here to college or something like that, like, never just talking about about a customer’s purchase, especially even if they’re talking about about the purchase themselves. So like, like, those are the type of things that like, I try and like my guys, and they buy into it. So it’s not like it’s resistant. If I come across, like a guy that doesn’t want to buy into it, I’m like, I’ll cross that bridge when I want to get to it. But you know, so far, I’ve just, I’ve just had a good group of guys around me. What what are some examples? If you don’t mind sharing, like you mentioned, like, when they go when you go to the door and how like you, you know, that first interaction, like what are what are some points there. So I don’t bring everything with. So like, what when I go to a service call, I don’t bring up everything with me, but I have like a rolling toolbox. And like I said, like furniture, somebody’s really predictable. So I know what tools I’m going to need. Like, you’re always gonna have your basics drill, hammer screwdriver, and all that stuff. But you’ll know if you need a stapler, you’ll know, if you need like a specialty tool or something like that, you can load that up. And I always come up with just one toolbox. Even if I know like, it’s gonna require a bunch of other stuff, I don’t want to come to the front door with like, 10 bags of like hardware and all this stuff. And I you know, I knock on the door, I don’t ring the doorbell. And then, you know, when they answer the door, and you know, we go in, you know, I will either do booties or shoes off one or the other. And then I’ll always start the conversation with a compliment, or some sort of like icebreaker that isn’t related to the job. So like something like, Oh, I love the color of your car out there. I always want something like that, or I love this neighborhood. My wife and I were looking at buying a house in this neighborhood. But like, you know, we just couldn’t afford it. So like, but we’d love to live here one day, just something like that before you jump into like the business of it to really like break down like the ice wall that like, you know, customers will have about having a stranger in their house for the first time. This is especially important during like the COVID era, when like, you know, people weren’t used to having people into their homes, let alone somebody that’s masked and you can’t even see their face. Like it was really important just to build that friendly rapport. And you can do that so quickly with just saying like, a simple line about like, oh, yeah, you know, I used to have that bed in college. Like that’s a great bed or like, oh, yeah, I love this TV. I wish I’m probably gonna get one for Christmas. That really helps break that barrier. So that’s, it’s kind of my nude but like, you know, if you just kind of do that icebreaker and, you know, approach it that way. Yeah, I found that helps. I even did like, I did testing between ring doorbells and knocking on doors. And I found that like knocking on doors was more friendly. I guess they were I felt like customers were a lot more that helped break down the wall a little further. That could be anecdotal. I don’t know if there’s any science behind that. But I felt like, like knocking on the door and standing there with you know, looking friendly is a lot better than ringing the doorbell and just like being impatient or something like that. I don’t know, it could be me. You guys might know better than me. But you know, yeah, now that’s good stuff, man. I mean, I’m gonna like any business, whether you’re just by yourself, or you have employees like creating patterns like that like to provide ultimately you’re providing a consistent experience to every single client. So then, you know, as you grow, it’s cookie cutter, like, you know, because they follow these processes that they’re going to get that same exemplary service as if Roger was there. So I love listening to these little nitty gritty things, because it’s it’s like the icing on the cake, like the little icebreaker question. One of my favorites was that was from Steven Capps in our podcast and I feel like I bring up every podcast is like, it’s okay, if I park there, like just little disease, nuances within the customer experience, they add up and ultimately to create something that’s consistent every single time. The customer experience is so important, like in my opinion, like it’s the work is important. Obviously, that’s what they hired you for. But I think at the end of the day, like when the customer feels good at the end of the day, that’s what generates like, consistent business for you. And that’s what’s so important, right? I think that’s, that’s what really stuff like that is what really transitioned me from being like the guy that does handyman work to the guy that owns a business. Right? And it was all after, like, you know, reading reading books and studying and learning the crowd and yeah, that’s good. So, Roger, what, what kind of parting advice would you have for people that are looking to get into kind of, not necessarily just furniture assembly but me Maybe niched down their their business to a specific category, whatnot, or even getting started in human history. What kind of like INFO? Or parting advice would you have for them? Yeah, I mean, I think I definitely wouldn’t be where I am now without my experience is just being like a general handyman. So I wouldn’t want to overlook that aspect of it either. You know, if if you’re crafty, and you’re good with, you’re good with your hands, and you’re interested in jumping into the handyman world, I would absolutely recommend it, so that you can learn what you like, and what you don’t like, before each down. So it’s kind of like going to college, like, you know, go in without a major, and just figure that out while you’re in there. And while you’re kind of discovering yourself, I think, yeah, before you niche down if you just want to make sure like, you know, what you like and what you don’t like, then, you know, becoming a handyman is, is definitely that. Yeah, like, you’re going to make mistakes, and you’re going to trip up a lot. I’m still tripping up now. But like, you know, that’s kind of like how you learn. And that’s how you grow is by making mistakes. Yeah, I will say like, don’t be afraid of that either. And when you do decide to niche down and discover what you want to be like a specialist in. The great thing about that is like, you can research that, like you can, you can actually Google a term. So like you can, you know, if you want to be the toilet guy, if you want to be the drywall guy, you can Google like, how people like are doing it. And then you can figure out what you can do to make it better. Where you can see what other people are finding success in and you can figure out, you know, your approach to being like the unique guy in that space. And so that’s why I think that’s the great thing about being able to specialize is you can really focus everything, not just your marketing or business operations, but really just like studying and focusing because you can just limit your search to just drywall or toilets have to search like everything. You don’t have to learn everything. Fantastic. Fantastic. Well, thank you so much, Roger, for all of your insight. It’s been absolutely awesome having you on this podcast. And obviously, you know, we don’t have enough time in kind of a 40 minute one hour podcast here to hear your whole story. So we’ll have to have you on again sometime. But we really appreciate your insight and kind of what you do for the handyman industry and also for all the listeners out there. We thank you so much for listening to this episode of the handyman success podcast. I am Alan Lee, one of the CO hosts here I run handyman. journey.com, a business coaching and consulting platform. We currently have open enrollment to our handyman Academy coaching group if you’re interested in that, you can also schedule a free consultation with me at handyman journey.com And then Jason call is our other co host. He operates handyman marketing proz.com. And you can also book a free call to talk with him. He’s the he’s the guy for marketing. If you are interested at all in marketing, websites, SEO Google ads, anything like that Jason is your guy, go and schedule a call with him there and also want to let you know handyman success the brand is growing. We now have handyman success.net. And we are launching into doing webinars once a month. So typically they are the last Thursday of the month. But you’ll need to go ahead and go register at handyman success.net To get your name into that and we’ll go ahead and get you an email sent out. But thank you so much for tuning into this episode. We really appreciate it. We really appreciate any feedback you also have for us so drop a comment on this video wherever you’re watching it. And we will catch you guys on the next episode of the handyman success podcast. Have a great day everyone