How to create a freedom based service business [ standardize your service offering and make it predictable for delegation ]

How to create a freedom based service business [ standardize your service offering and make it predictable for delegation ]

Hey Mike Callahan here in Rochester New York. I’m walking into another 2-day deep dive and the topic today is- how to create a standardized service business that is delegate able and predictable. So what we’re doing is we’re actually hanging out here, this is a pre room – coming in to a deep-dive for two days. We’re helping another company out to basically standardize their service offering in Service Autopilot, so they can go out and create predictable systems day-in and day-out that are delegatable. This is kind of what we do we setup in a boardroom- if this is something you’re doing yourself I would highly recommend getting out of your office getting a little executive retreat for yourself by yourself or if you have a team but this is what we’re doing here and basically going to post up here for the next two days and we’re gonna go out and create a predictable system. I want to say what’s up Josh. I believe Josh has joined us in this very room here in upstate New York, but Josh and everybody else what we’re talking about is creating a predictable system for estimating and be able to go and standardize your estimating through a production rate based estimating system. Once that is set up we can go and create a minimum price with budgeted-time profit and overhead recovery and then through an on-site or an office form we can standardize the estimating process for someone in your office to go out and do these estimates over the phone and close them live or to go out in the field. The way this came about was in my own company, I wanted to become an absentee owner and the gentleman that took the business over and ran the day-to-day operations was a commercial fertilizer tech, he had never estimated lawn mowing, shrub pruning, bed edging or any of the other things that we do in our service business- but within about a week and a half to two weeks his estimates were identical within probably 50 cents a pop to my estimates, and I had been doing at 24 to 25 years. What we really want to do is take what’s in the business owners head- create an executable blueprint that’s predictable, test it out and create production rate based estimating that’s exactly what we’re gonna do in this boardroom for the next two days. Most people come to us thinking they have 15 to 20 services but at the end of the day when we break it out there’s usually at least 100 to 150 that we build out because it’s a systematic way to create production rate based estimating, we cover each step of the estimate along the way. I don’t know if you can really see it on the screen behind me but what we also do is once we create this system we create a standardized workflow through this flowchart literally from lead acquisition off the website or them calling the office. How do we answer them in our CRM( which is Service Autopilot that we use)… How do we go out then create a templated estimate for leads and clients, so we can have separate marketing conversations based on where they’re at in the customer lifecycle… How do we simplify it to literally hitting a button to add an estimate that the template loads in with all the services particular to-whether it’s landscape maintenance maybe it’s a residential home cleaning so we’d cover our top to bottom weekly bi-weekly d clean move in move out. Whether it’s lawn care home cleaning we could just create this predictable system when we get out of our office and get into a bordering like this like we’re doing in our two-day deepdive. We’ve done this with lawn care companies we’ve done this with home cleaning companies but we’re creating a predictable workflow based on a production rate based estimate so we’re gonna create a system from lead acquisition off the website or them calling getting them into the CRM which is Service Autopilot most of the time we hit add an estimate loads a pre-loaded template with marketing content pre-built for whether they’re a lead ora client those are significantly two different conversations or sales and price objections and education that are going to need to happen based on where they’re at as a customer or not a customer. After that we’re literally just gonna go down and hit quote so whether it’s an exact quote or a price range this can also be done in Service Autopilot we cracked the code four or five weeks ago working with one of the industry leaders in the home cleaning industry Debbie Sardone and that is been instrumental. So now we can do pretty much every type of pricing that you can imagine in Service Autopilot. If you’re in the lawn care industry we can do production rate based estimating for hardscape design and maintenance. If you’re in the home cleaning industry we can go in and do a set price on square footage we can do a set price on small, medium and large rooms we can do a set price on small medium or large rooms with a price range or now we can do a high and low minimum a maximum price based on your top-to-bottom, weekly, bi-weekly deep clean and monthly or move-in / move-out cleans. No matter the industry this workflow works it’s very very similar depending on the industry you’re in we’ve done it with mosquito control we’ve done it with asphalt paving and sealing you name it we pretty much have done it in this boardroom here over the last 12 to 24 months. After we create that standardized estimate we want to be to save it, hit email- a pre template the document loads in again with the marketing content ready to go we hit send the client gets this email there’s a clickable link where they can sign up for the services they are interested in an automated email fires off back to them it’s pre tempted letting know we’ve got the accepted estimate and then that notifies our team in the office basically letting them know they got 24 hours of contact the consumer and get that on the schedule. Next thing we do is we go over how to handle loss estimates, it’s basically close those out in a standardized process so we have list hygiene we can still market to them we want a clean database inside that CRM such as Service Autopilot. If we win the estimate, we go in and convert that lead into a client so we have good hygiene and lead conversion tracking. Then we’re gonna schedule right off the estimate so there’s no double entry there’s no pen and paper and we’ve got a price, a budget, a time and a projected profit directly on to that job. We’re gonna go over the three different ways of scheduling predominantly we’re gonna do a one-time job- that’s when we know the particular time and day that we’re going out to do the job. We can do a recurring so whether it’s a weekly mowing or weekly or bi-weekly cleaning we can go into that scenario. Next thing we do is go into a waiting list, maybe we’ve got a spring cleanup or in a home cleaning industry we’ve got a move in and move out that needs to be done sometime this week but not particularly on a set day, we can put that on a waiting list and we can go in and show you how to actually optimize that routing and minimize the drive time to basically minimize that non billable time. Next thing we do is package job- particularly for the lawn care industry- we go out and do different rounds of fertilizing how to move them off the estimate and get them onto a master package. Next thing we do is we go into the actual route optimization- big misunderstanding that route optimization doesn’t work and it doesn’t optimize the stops- I was gonna make a video last night but I ran out of time getting ready for this deep dive so it will be coming this week. Basically when you set those crews up appropriately with the right start time it needs to start at your shop if you have solo operators such as solo cleaners they need to be based on where they start and if they start from your shop and their home address is on their employee record the route optimization is going to route from their home address which obviously is not good or if you have no address for starting address for those crews or solo cleaners or solo operators in the lawn care that’s a big reason why it’s not working it has no place to optimize off of so that’s also a big issue so we go into that. We show you how to set your crews up under the job costing feature and Service Autopilot under the employee one of the biggest misconceptions is number they’re looking for is a fully loaded overhead recovery number as far as with labor burden so not to totally misspeak they want your labor burden fully loaded on top of them with your hourly and overtime. Then we’re gonna go in and go to the dispatch board- how do we schedule those jobs and get them out in the mobiles or print them out and how do we get the start and stop times and have a quick sanity check to make sure everything we need for the job costing and job reporting is in there in a quick and simple fashion that can be delegated. Closeout days screen this is probably the last part of it where we get the information that we need for automated billing so whether you’re billing weekly, daily or monthly those invoices automatically generate so we go through a process to make sure all the information that should be in there to create those invoices correctly comes at the first time and then at that trigger point those invoices are generated. Then we walk through our accounts and billing so we go in how to charge credit cards how to email how to print those invoices and how to set up contracts so if you’re doing a monthly install for a landscape maintenance or maybe a commercial cleaning how to enter those in correctly and then associate the jobs underneath them with a price and budgeted time. One of the biggest misconceptions is people are putting contract jobs in there’s no price to budget at time because they’re afraid of double billing the client it will not want it to set up appropriately but if you don’t have those data points you are running blind far as your profitability on each job and the whole entire contract. The final part is we go in and go through how to handle your daily KPIs key performance indicators so we go our daily versus actual time for the whole entire day for each crew in the whole entire week as a company as a whole and then twice a year we go in and show you how to actually run job cost reports on each and every job you do so non-emotional you can raise the prices on the jobs you’re losing money on. Just to give you an idea of kind of what we do even if you want to do it yourself that is the framework and I would really recommend if you’re doing it yourself rent a boardroom like this get out of the chaos of your business put your cell phones away for eight to ten hours a day and go in and create predictable systems with the team that can be delegated and create a standardized workflow from lead acquisition all the way through billing and what I like to call them is the five to six screens to success. I can take someone off the street right now and within five to seven days, teach them how to use the CRM basically Service Autopilot for success and have them with the knowledge base of a production rate based estimating system that took me 23 to 24 years because we’re gonna standardize it test it make it predictable and basically train to the four to six screens usually it’s five to six screens of success that are replicable each and every day for standardized production and output of profitable jobs. Then we can go in and test those jobs far as their profitability twice a year and we’re gonna track it daily on each crew and have a sum total each week for each week and we’re gonna show you how to use a public accountability tool to put it on the wall either whether a TV dry erase board chalkboard in your shop or office so we have team buy-in for production with a quality standard. Only took me about 20 years to figure it out but now we’re able to share the knowledge with you guys which I wish somebody had showed with me earlier how to do it but this is what we’re doing so whether you’re doing it yourself or you’re hopping in a 2-day deep dive like Josh did with us here the results speak for themselves whether you do it internally or you hire a professional to help you out but hopefully this helped and that’s the process we use to standardize a production rate based estimating system that was delegated and I wish I had done it sooner but now that we’ve done it we’re sharing the knowledge with everybody else.

How to deal with companies that do not pay taxes, employees that are under the table, and low ballers. [how to CRUSH these companies once and for all]

SA Weekly Talk Show, Monday July 15th 10 am East/ 9am central. With Joshua Latimer, how to optimize your business with kids and family. [family systems for busy self employed service industry business owners]

SA Weekly Talk Show, Monday July 15th 10 am East/ 9am central. With Joshua Latimer

Hey, Mike Callaghan here, want to announce the SA Weekly Talk Show coming at you tomorrow, Monday, July 15th with Josh Latimer and his wife, Ashley. Going to be talking about business systems for business owners with families in the service industry. So Josh and Ashley are going to break down some of the things they’ve used in their business to create a work-life balance. Josh’s crazy, crazy story from starting a window cleaning and power washing business from the ground up to multi-million selling it, moving out of the country becoming basically, a lifestyle entrepreneur with a podcast. And now, back in the States with Send Jim and some of his other operations, so. Josh and his wife, Ashley are going to be joining me in the SA Weekly Talk Show this Monday, 10 AM Eastern, 9 AM Central on the Facebook page for Service Autopilot. Want to say what’s up to Matthew Snyder and Josh as well. Alan, what’s going on buddy? So hopefully, you guys can be joining us. If not, you can catch us on the recorder version, but I want to announce that we’ve got Josh Latimer, his wife, Ashley. We’re going to be talking about systems for families with kids and upcoming families with Josh and Ashley and how they managed that in their business and some other takeaways for myself and some of my other inner circle. How to basically, create a work-life balance while scaling a multi-million dollar operation, so. We’ll see you tomorrow, 10 AM Eastern, 9 AM Central on the Service Autopilot Facebook page as well as the replay on the Simple Growth SA Weekly Talk Show Facebook page. So you can see all the recordings of all the shows that we’ve done before in the past, get some other massive headliners coming up as well that we announcing soon. But right now, we’ve got Josh Latimer, scaled several multi-million dollar businesses with his wife, Ashley, created a great work-life balance. And I’m going to share some of the success and struggles along the way with my work-life balance as well. Scaling Callahans as well as Simple Growth on the way here, so. We’re not living on a pedestal here. Everything’s not perfect, but we can show you what we were lucky enough to get right and some of the stuff we got wrong and how we overcame it, and optimize that work-life balance and family systems with kids and the whole new world that that brings along. So we’ll see you tomorrow on the Simple Growth SA Weekly Talk Show on Service Autopilot’s page at 10 AM Eastern, 9 AM Central. We’ll see you there.

Process to track and report daily goals of crews without the owner being involved (30 Day Challenge)

Please add transcription to video- Process to track and report daily goals of crews without the owner being involved (30 Day Challenge)


Hey, Mike Callahan here, back again with another installment of the 30-day challenge, how to get out of your business and leave it for 30 days and let it run the same way it does with you there or, potentially, even better if you’re a bottleneck for implementation or growth. What we’re going to be looking at today is a process to share job performance and profitability with your crews without the business owner having to get involved in the day-to-day process that would happen here. So we’re going to dive in and I’m going to pull the screen out and show you how we actually track this and give the crews daily feedback and create buy-in from the teams for production and quality standards. So I’m going to shrink down the screen here and show you how we do it.

So first thing we’re looking at here is– basically, this is our KPI sheet. So we do daily versus actual and budgeted time. So I’m going to zoom in here a little bit here, and basically, this one cell is the budgeted time. So what we’re proposing here, on a daily basis, coming from the office, we want a daily budgeted hours for the whole entire day. So, in this instance, the crew would be budgeted for 18 hours for the whole entire day. So that’s total hours divided by how many guys or girls are on the crew. So 18 divided by 2 would be your total budgeted time for a two-person crew. Now, as we’re looking at this– so that’s our long term goal.

Our short-term goal is our budgeted time including drive time for each and every job that we do. So each and every job including drive time should add up to that total 18 hours or whatever that is for the crew. Now that we’re going to do that, we’re going to either use our CRM or a hard piece of paper and clock in and clock out of each job to track the start and stop times and the non-billable drive time, and then that’s going to be entered in the system, and then we’re going to take the total budgeted versus actual time and enter that into this sheet or something you made yourself. So basically, right now, we said they were budgeted for 18 hours, and they started at 7:00 AM, ended at 5:00 PM. They worked a total of 10 hours, had a half-hour lunch. We put the crew members names in here and the number of people on the crew. So what we’re looking at here is we’ve got a two-person crew. They worked a 10 hour day. They had a half-hour lunch. The sheet here will take the gross hours, subtract the total lunch. Budgeted are the work hours. The payroll hours were 19 hours, and the budgeted was 18. So we’re over budget here by 1 hour.

So what we’re going to do is put this in, and you can see this percent of budget is 94.74%. A really easy way to explain this to the crews and make it very simplistic is, “If you didn’t give 100%, you didn’t do your job,” and that’s what this is showing. So if I bumped out the budgeted time here to 19 hours, and it took them 19 hours, the sheet’s going to update and then basically say they were at 100% efficiency. So it’s a really easy conversation with the crews to say, “Hey, if you gave 100% today, you did your job. You hit your budgeted time. If you only got 94% and only gave 94%, you weren’t giving 100%. You didn’t do your job.” So if we bump the budgeted time out to, let’s say, 20 hours, when the sheet updates, it is at 105%. So now the crews know if you gave 105%, more than 100%, they’re under budget. So in this example, they’re 1 hour under budget.

So this is a way to track the daily wins for each crew. As you scroll to the right of this sheet, we’ve got crew one, two, three, four, five, and so on. We’re able to track the daily wins or losses on each crew and then sum total each crew, whether they’re winning or losing for the week. What you’re going to find is, in a larger organization, a lot of your crews, the lion share, hopefully, are making money and doing right and beating their budgeted time or hitting it, and you’re going to have two or three crews, hopefully only one or two, that are probably either hitting their goals or underneath it or are bleeding you dry. So this is going to basically cause the management team without the owner having to dive in, to jump in, and fix the situation as far as systems and processes training, or maybe just not a good fit for the company, as far as employees. So this is going to be able to track each crew daily with a sum total for each crew. And then on the far hand left we’ve got a total average for all of our crews. And now we know if we’re making and losing money as a company as a whole. So this is going to give you that granularity, but where I’m going with this as far as the crews buy-in now it’s transparent. Everybody knows that percent of budget, that 105 or the 94, or the 100% is the number that goes on your shop wall, the TV monitor, the chalkboard in the shop, whatever that is we have each crew, their percentage. We don’t want to put an hour on there, so if their budget for 40 hours or 55 hours or 35 hours, inherently the crews are going to start creating animosity because some crews are going to get more hours than other crews, so whether they have 5 hours or 100 hours it doesn’t matter, it’s an apples to apples comparison. So now we’ve created a production standard, and then with that production standard we want to tie in a quality standard; a plus and minus system for compliments, complaints and then also one of the managers not the business owner will go out in the field and do random ratings each week on a select group of properties to add a compliments and complaints or point system behind that as well. So we have internal QC and external compliments and complaints from the customer. So this is part of the 30-day challenge, how to track your profit, how to know where you’re at internally and then share it with a team to get buy-in. Now this can be all filled out by either an admin or even a virtual assistant if you’re running a clock-in and clock-out of all your job.

So the 30-day challenge is how do we create the processes and systems for a profit business that’s scalable, and be able to delegate those to other people in the business, and be able to hand those off and get buy-in from the whole entire team. This is one process, we call this our KPI in accountability. So we’re going to go in, we’re going to track actual versus budgeted on each and every day for each crew, and then we’re going to show the percentage of over or under budget to the crews on the shop wall and eventually this is what we turned into a piece-rate pay system. So we ended up paying the crews on the budgeted time not the actual time. And that was a win-win because now the management and the crews are on the same team working together to drive a production standard and a productivity standard and put more money into employees pockets at the same time as the company. The next step of this is usually in July and November/ December in a lawn care company if not every six months in home cleaning company. You definitely want to run a job cost report. So what a job cost report is going to do is basically take the two stops here on this fictitious job here, but basically you have all the jobs you’ve ever done. It would go in and say, How much are we charging per cut or per visit; the actual revenue per man-hours. So this is the time from the clock-in to clock-out. So on average we rate $57.30 and if our goal was $60 per hour the sheet is going to tell us we need to raise our price by $2.56 with no motion. So this is– the next thing it builds upon that data, but the main thing for today is focusing on public accountability, crew buy-in, and tracking your actual versus budget for each crew on a sheet, and then going out publicly displaying that and including it in with their payroll tickets, or payroll information as far as their checks when you hand that out. And then the next step, twice a year, we want to go in to do a job cost report with the same data and raise the prices on only the jobs that aren’t hitting our financial hourly threshold. When a lot of people on Facebook groups go, “I’m raising my price by $3 a cut across the board,” or “3 to 5 percent across the board”. I think that is the craziest thing you possibly ever could do because I’ve gotten jobs that we’re making well over $100 an hour on, and if my goal is $60, why would I ever mess with that account? We’re only raising the non performing accounts, and going out and creating a profitable business. So we don’t

want to invite the competition in the back door by having a price increase across the board. Now, if we have this account here and we’re making $57 per man-hour and I put 55 in when the sheet updates, it’s literally going to tell me that I do not have to change the price. This price stays static at $54.28. This is the next step. We’re going to make a more in-depth video on this in the 30-day challenge, how to delegate this how with non-emotion. It includes YouTube videos, how to do it as well. But the main point here is this KPI sheet. You really need to go out, in my opinion, and build something like this and create a public accountability, include it with their paycheck stubs, and then have it up on the dry-erase board or chalkboard in your shop. So we’re going to have your production standard. If you hit your budget, at times 100%, anything below, anything under budget is over 100% because they gave 110%, 108%. And if they’re over budget, it’s lower than 100% because they didn’t give their all that day. And that’s an easy way to explain it to the crews and get buy-in around that. And then we want to throw a quality standard with the production standard so we’re driving forward, making money with a quality product. Another thing here is a lot of people have asked me, what’s on the top of the sheet that we have here? Fictitiously, if you have $400 worth of expense here, the sheet basically goes in and gives you a really rough break-even. So what it costs you to operate before you make a profit. Now, there are better ways of getting at this, but this is just a rough way of tackling it if you don’t know your budgeted hours. Basically, what it is, you put your total expenses in there for the month after you reconcile your checkbook and you pull out your materials and subcontractors. So it does the math and divides it out each month. So let’s say in January, in this example, we’re breaking even at $21.50 per hour last year, and we go into in 2019, we’re breaking even, let’s say $35 an hours. That’s another KPI, key performance indicator that you want to be looking at, because that’s a red flag going, “Holy cow, if my break-even point has gone up almost $15 an hour, is it something I did intentionally?” As far as equipment or labor or payroll, or is there something I need to dive in and fix before it’s too late? Because a lot of people don’t look at these numbers until the end of the season. And they don’t have any money in their bank account or they’ve lost money. By doing this, it’s going to focus on what needs to be done to hit your goals and keeps you driving forward each day and every week. And by doing so, this is a process, it can be delegated where the business owner can just get those report daily. And then if things shift and they’re not looking good, the business owner can jump back in and make sure things are back on track. So we break down the break-even for each month. That’s another thing that could be delegated and shared and a team buy-in. And then in the far left here, we’ve got an average of all the months, how much we break even for the whole entire year. So you want to have those benchmarks each month, especially in a long period of break-even. It’s going to be significantly high on the spring because our costs are front-end loaded. If you’re in the home cleaning industry, on average, we see those spread out being pretty consistent. But basically, we want to track it each month, and then we have an average for the whole entire year here. And that break-even is going to be the one you use in your pricing matrix and your job costing. So productionary-based estimating, for instance, in a lawn-mowing example, it could be from 1 to 5,000 square feet, we’re charging 50 bucks. It’s going to take us one hour to do it. And if our break-even cost is $21, it’s costing you $21 in expense before you get the delta of the profit from the 21 to the 50. And averaging it across the year, it’ll take out the highs and lows, and give you the number you want to work with. So 30-day challenge, my challenge to you today is create a document here that will track your start and stop times to give you a percentage that can be shared with the team, with compliments, complaints, plus and minus, and then the ability to see the whole entire company, as we have it here in the left as an average, if you’re making money or losing money. You really want to buy a dial-in for each day, for each crew, and then the sum total for each week, for each crew, and then the whole entire company, share it out, get buy-in. And then twice a year, we go into a job costing report here and raise the prices only on the jobs that we’re losing money on it. By creating a process and system like this, it doesn’t revolve around the business owner. This is something that can be delegated to a virtual assistant or an internal office staff member, extremely easy, with precision, and it’s not emotional, and the numbers are numbers. When we start running the business by the numbers, in my opinion, it’s fun. It’s just really a math game to drive profits and help build a culture that is driven by numbers and production and goals. So any comments or questions, drop them below. And I’m happy to answer any questions. Thanks a lot.

Should you have a physical fitness test or requirements to work in the field?

Hey Mike Callahan here and a quick question submitted before I run into dinner here. Jim wanted to know, he is getting a lot of applications off of online application places such as Indeed, Craigslist, Facebook and he wanted to know if he should put a physical requirements on the job description. A lot of the applicants are quote, unquote “overweight or unfit” by his examples. So my suggestion is absolutely not. Some of our best employees came in the office looking like they may not last an hour let alone a whole day. But after seeing their drive and cultural fit they were a great asset they drove the company forward in positivity and after getting to know them they used the business and the job as a way to get paid to get in shape and technically they just didn’t have time with the family and work life to work out after work or before work so it was a perfect win-win. They got paid to get in shape and they made business for us a great place because they were efficient, they cared about their job, and they were dedicated each day with showing up on time to make sure they did their job to get payed and create some physical fitness. So I would give everybody a shot. Far as the legality of it I’m not positive but I’m assuming it would probably depending on your state laws be legal. I would double-check with an HR expert such as Jason Cup and a local expert before you went into creating qualifications around physical fitness.

How long should a plow route be and client communication

Mike Callahan here. Had a questions submitted via Facebook, I wanted to answer it. I know it is in the hot heat of the summer in most areas, but it was actually a snow plowing question. Gentleman’s ramping up for next season, and he wants to know– quick question, when doing residential, how long from the time that snow has ended until the phone calls start coming in, when are you coming? So he wants to know– he keeps his route in around six hours, but the complaints start rolling in at around three hours. Well, a two-pronged approach or two-pronged answer to this question. First thing, let’s deal with the time of the actual route itself. In my business, we are averaging anywhere between five to six hours for a routing, and we are in the third-largest snow area in the United States, in Upstate New York, in Rochester. So probably the worst right there, so it’s probably a good benchmark for just about any market.

So we’re looking between five and six hours per route. On residentials, we are routing a route so crew one starts here, a crew starts here, and they meet in the middle. So each crew through our mobile app and hard-copy, in case something happens, has copies of everybody’s route with maps and contact information live on the cloud as well as hard-copy in a binder because you never know what is actually going to happen. So first thing is routing those routes so they run into each other for efficiency. So if there’s a breakdown or one individual is faster or stronger than the other person plowing, that those routes combine into each other for efficiency and breakdowns.

And one of the articles I wrote for Lawn and Landscape magazine, we also strategically placed equipment in the service area for backup, where they could be grabbed for back up equipment within probably an 8 to 10 area away from the route. And in addition, we also contracted subcontractors in the local area that could cover the areas where those two routes combine if we had a catastrophic breakdown, an accident or a major snow event a foot or more. We would pull those subcontractors and then keep it, that five- to six-hour range. Now, obviously, when the whole city shuts down, that’s a whole different story. So the routing, I’m guessing six hours, depending on your market, is probably not that bad. I would shoot between five to six hours. So if we send the trucks out between midnight, 1:00 AM, they should be done between 6:00 and 7:00 AM, that’s what we suggested.

Now, the second part of that is communication. So going into that, 6:00 to 7:00 AM, it was clearly stated in the contract, and we require to sign contract with payment for residentials via credit card or check, no cash, so it had to be prepaid before November 1st and a written contract signed. If you either one of those were missing, no go. We would not service the property. So we made sure that they understood that we were not guaranteeing an exact time, but we shot for morning runs between 6:00 and 7:00 AM. And after that were new runs between 4:30 and 5:30 when everybody got home from work. So clear communication started from the initial contract. Once the crews were dispatched, now depending on the time of day, in the middle of the night, we did not use text messages, but we can use mass text features and a voice over IP, voice over internet provider, such as RingCentral or, in Service Autopilot, we created automations to do such. So we would go out and let everybody know through either a text blast and email blast or even a Facebook Messenger blast through a product called ManyChat, we can go in and get all of our snow plow customers and Facebook Messenger and blast that out. So we use communication letting the consumer know that the crews have been dispatched at approximately this time, and we are projecting this time completion, barring any catastrophic disasters and we would give them an update of the condition. So we were very transparent upfront the contract what we set as an expectation, but we wouldn’t guarantee it. Every time we went out, we would send out an email, text or Facebook message, depending on the time of the day. Text messaging is great but don’t make the mistake that we did and send out a text message in the middle of the night or a Facebook Messenger blast as well. Email worked really well for the middle of the night.

In addition, about midway through the event, if it was running late or, traditionally, every time we had a chance, myself or a manager would make a video and put it on social media. And that video would just basically give them a quick background of what was going on in the storm event we were at in our projected end time. Now, if we did have a breakdown, maybe we got hit with a late bout of snow right before 5:00 in the morning and everybody’s been sleeping and think we’ve been up plowing all night but we haven’t been. We would put that in a mass communication private list to each client, as well as social media. A lot of times, we find– and this gentleman saying about three hours into the route, he would get the complaints. They start rolling in. Traditionally, they’re really not complaints. They’re just people’s curiosity wanting to know where you’re at and they get anxious. So by through and creating a mass communication via email, text or Facebook Messenger, you can alleviate a lot of those calls.

Now, the key to this is in it please do not reply unless there is an emergency because a lot of people will respond, “Thanks for communicating. This, that, the other.” That will absolutely bury your office or if you’re a one or two-person show in the office or the overnight crew, that will absolutely destroy your communications and you will be backed up. So make it very polite but make it understood that please do not respond to this unless it’s an emergency situation. Explain that we’re trying to keep the phone lines open for any emergencies that we need to address immediately. So those are the main points.

I think we need to go between five and six hours on a residential route. We need to have routes routed so they run into each other for any backups, breakdowns or anything that– if it’s going to happen, when it happens in the snow removal industry, we will need it to go out and have some backup equipment if possible in the area. And that we also need to go and create strategic alliances with other snow plow contractors in the area and get them on as subcontractors and backups for breakdowns, accidents, and, especially, for those massive events that we would get in the Northeast for a foot or more of snow in four or five hours. That’s when those subcontractors and paying them right after the event is going to save your butt and keep you in good sense with your customers.

Second part of that is communication, communication, and communication. When we dispatch them, if it’s the middle of the day, we can use text messages. If not, the middle of the night we want to either use probably email but after, if it’s not during sleeping hours, text message and Facebook messaging blasts work really, really well. But remember to have them not respond to those unless it’s an emergency. That should answer the majority of the question. But a lot of it is just proactive planning, being transparent with people and a lot of it is education before we even make the sale. I used to use a lot of the videos. I still use the videos in a lot of our sales process to educate people what to expect when they’re hiring a snow plow professional, what the things they should be asking when hiring a snow plow professional. And overcoming any of the awful conceptions or misconceptions, really, of our industry of fly-by-night people not showing up, what happens if there is a breakdown, all the things that we really don’t want to answer you should answer those upfront so people are comfortable with you and they’re not going to call you in the middle of the night or if you’re backed up during a major snow event. Be proactive. Be honest. Tell them how you handle the good, the bad, and the ugly. And that should alleviate a lot of the phone calls and create transparency and great customer service. Any comments or questions, drop them below and great question. And hopefully we don’t see the winter months for at least a few months here because I’m starting to at least enjoy upstate New York starting to warm up for once.

SA Weekly Talk Show TODAY on the Service Autopilot FB page 12 noon East /11am central with Michelle of Pink Callers. We will be talking about Slack, Trello, automations, and all things for cloud based collaboration.

Hey. Mike Callahan here. Wanted to take a few minutes for a quick preview of the SA Weekly Talk Show coming back at you. We took about a month, month and a half off. Things are just absolutely crazy in my business over here at Simple Growth as well as a lot of our customers’ business in the lawn care and home cleaning industries. So we kind of put a quick pause on it. We’re getting back into a weekly rhythm. Going to be starting out today at noon eastern, 11:00 AM central with Michelle of Pink Callers. We’re going to be talking all things cloud-based collaborations. We’re going to be looking at Slack, Trello, how to tie them into Service Autopilot automations, and a few other nifty tricks and things that Michelle’s using in her business, Pink Callers, and showing other Service Autopilot members and service business owners on different CRM platforms, how to integrate the use of Trello and Slack with different videos, cloud-based knowledge very similar to a wiki. But basically, she’s had some really insightful ways of taking a knowledge database that’s in the owner’s head or the virtual assistant’s head and installing it and disseminating that knowledge across multiple platforms in one central location for everybody to see in written text as well as video. So really excited to get back into that rhythm on a weekly basis. So we’ve got Michelle of Pink Callers today at noon eastern, 11:00 AM central. Check that out on the Service Autopilot’s Facebook page. Coming up next week, Josh Latimer and his wife are going to be joining me, talking about work-life balance and how to run a business and still have family and structure and be able to do that as well. So really excited about Michelle’s talk today. We’ve got Josh Latimer coming in of Send Jim and Radius Bomb. His wife’s going to be joining us and talking about how they’ve developed a business strategy around family structure for work-life balance and a whole ton more.

And then we’ve got some other huge hitters coming up on week three, four, and five that we’ve already touched base with. We’re just going to confirm some dates, but be ready. We are going in full tilt. SA Weekly Talk Show on a weekly basis, driving home right to SA6. And if you’re watching this preview, keep an eye on Facebook today. We’re going to be launching an extremely limited access to Simple Growth’s one-day live event for free – yes, I said free – the day before Service Autopilot’s convention in Dallas, right across the street from the hotel that SA6 is being hosted at. So it’s going to be limited to first come, first serve. 30 people that want to dive in deep with the Simple Growth team for eight hours of just pure, free, executable content in your business and Service Autopilot. And who knows? Maybe we’ll have a couple special guests. But more to come later today and tomorrow. But keep an eye out. It is going to be first come, first serve. The first 30 people. First time ever done for free. Eight hours of basically consulting and learning on your business and how to use Service Autopilot from the Simple Growth team that’s going to be there for SA6 in Dallas. But until then, we will see you at noon eastern, 11:00 central. Michelle of Pink Callers, all things cloud-based collaborations, Slack, Trello, automations, and a ton more. We’ll see you there.

Estimate templates that are connected to emails that send and confirm estimate confirmation. How to link for more information:

Hey, Mike Callahan here Im going to show you how to organize, automate, and dominate your local market and become an absentee owner. So basically the challenge is, can you leave your business for 30 days?

Well, the next thing we’re going to talk about is estimate templates in email. We’ll create a system workflow and processes in the business that will basically standardize your process and procedure and not need you as the business owner to basically have this work. So what we’re talking about here is, I’ve included a link to actually show you how to do this. But on a high level, what we want to do is standardize our service offering. So if we’re in the lawn care industry, we may have landscape maintenance and design-build or if we’re in home cleaning, we’re going to have a template that loads your weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, and top-to-bottom clean. So the whole idea here is to segment all your services on one loaded pre-template,

the template would basically come up, all your services would be there. Behind the services would be a price matrix. So your minimum charge and then every additional unit or a square foot range above that would add an additional price, budgeted time, and cost. So all you’d basically have to do is go in now and hit a template button in your CRM. The one we’re using is Service Autopilot but, basically, that’s going to load in all your services and all the estimator now simply has to do is go in and click quote on the services they want to estimate.

Now if you check out the link below, it goes into detail, but the whole premise is creating a turnkey solution for your office to be able to estimate without them having to think, and without you, the business owner-manager, having to be involved in the system. So it’s standardized production rates, it loads into a template. Once we go and save that estimate template, what we’re quoting, we’re going to go and email it. At that point a pre-templated email loads in with all the marketing copy, we recommend breaking this into two separate templates, one for leads and one’s for clients. Your leads are going to have a significantly different conversation than you would for clients, so if someone’s already doing work with us as a client we’re going to probably reaffirm some of the things that we’re already doing but it’s not overcoming those sales or price objections, or educating them to the way we operate. It’s more educating them to a specific service. Where if it’s a new lead we’re going to go in and educate them how our company’s different, how we overcome some of those hard-asked questions as far as what do you do on a rainy day, what happens if something’s damaged, things like that.

So we’re going to create two template systems that automatically load so the email doesn’t have to be rewritten that sends out the estimate, inside that estimate, we’re going to have a clickable link that pulls up a live estimate that the client can go in and accept what services they want and have an electronic signature. I also recommend replicating yourself through technology with videos on each service level on those templates. So not only do we have the workflow of Mrs. Smith calling our office – we pick it up, “Hey,” – we enter their information into the system. The estimator goes in, clicks the template for lawn care maintenance. All the services for lawn mowing, shrub pruning, mulching, all load based on measuring it on the satellite or asking some pre-qualifying questions over the phone, the price loads in, how long it should take, and the profit projected. And all the estimator does on the phone, goes in and see quote, numbers they want, and hit save. They go up, hit email, pre-templated email loads with a clickable link in the middle. The consumer opens up their email, if we don’t close them on the phone, they check what services they want, scroll down to the bottom and hit accept and sign electronically. At that point, a pre-templated email automatically fires out to the consumer and says, Hey, thanks for accepting the lawn care or home cleaning estimate that we just sent you. We’ll be in contact within the next 24 hours to get you scheduled. And then that pre-templated To Do or task pops up in the office to alert whoever should be responsible for calling and scheduling that service to let them know it needs to be done within the next 24 hours.

So the idea today is to create a templated standardized workflow for estimates that anybody can work. Once that is saved, we hit a button that would basically load a pre-templated email, that doesn’t have to be customized, with a clickable link so they could see the estimate and when the consumer pulls it up they can check the services they want, sign electronically, and once they accept it another automated pre-templated email goes out and communicates with the consumer to let them know that we know they accepted the service and we’ll be in touch.

So I want to challenge you to this 30-day challenge. These are processes and systems that we could put in place in our business to leave the business for 30 days without the business owner intact. So I’ll give you a quick review right now. The first step was a centralized knowledge database- a wiki. So all the things that are in your head you disseminate and stick in a central place for the software for our employees and staff members to be reliant on, not the business owner.

The next one was field equipment and office equipment manuals. Step-by-step, how to use them, how to troubleshoot them. So now we’re talking all the things you’d have to train and create in your head. We’ve made another centralized knowledge database for them to train off of and then refer to.

Next thing is Google Docs. One knowledge place that’s a centralized area for document sharing and creation. You can kind of see the theme here, it’s centralized cloud-based knowledge- not in the business owner’s head but complete accessibility no matter where you are in the world for you and your team.

Next thing is we did voice over IP, voice over internet provider, so it is getting rid of your landline and giving you the ability to basically have phone systems in your office either with a VA, a virtual assistant, or the ability for you to pull up on your cell phone, to dial in and call the consumer as if you were in the physical office, but you’re not. And to send and receive text messages from your office as well as your cell phone, all looking like it’s from your business.

And then the final step that we’re going into today is creating pre-built estimate templates that load all your services with predefined budgeted time, cost before profit, and a price, an email that automatically loads that doesn’t have to be tweaked each time, that sends it out with the clickable links. The consumer opens it up, signs and checks what they want and when they send it another pre-templated email automatically goes out and confirms that we have acknowledged they’ve bought the service and it alerts our office with a To Do or a task with a deadline assigned to a specific role or person that that thing needs to be scheduled and addressed in the next 24 hours.

So these are the top four or five and we’re going to go through about probably 55 or 60 of these here before we’re done with the 30-day challenge under the organize phase, then we’re going to show you how to automate them and then how to go in and dominate your local market through different online-offline marketing strategies. So any comments or questions, drop them below. It’s our next installment of our 30-day challenge, How To Become An Absentee Owner, or at least to leave your business for 30 days at a pop and have it run the same, if not better, without you, the business owner.

Location independent phone & text (30 Day Challenge, absentee business owner) Additional information:

Hey, Mike Callahan back again with the next edition of the 30-day challenge, creating an absentee owner. Yes, the ability to leave your business for the next 30 days or work remotely. So, what we’re doing here is we’re going through a bunch of tools and tactics right now. The first thing we’re going to do is go into an organize, automate, and dominate your local market. We’re still obviously in the organize phase here. So, the next 30 or 40 days, I’m going to go through all the tools that you need to organize your business to leave it for 30 days and not be part of it. And then we’re going to show you how to automate it, to go out and actually execute it, and then use those tools to dominate your market without you, the business owner, having to be part of the equation.

So, I’m going to change the screen out here to show you what we’ve gotten so far. So, as we’re going in here in the organize phase, we’ve talked about having a centralized knowledge database, a wiki. We’ve talked about field equipment, how to create a manual for possibility for troubleshooting so the business owner or manager is not tied to the equipment and assets in the office and in the field. Predominantly in the field, but we also want to track that for the office as the business grows in scales. Next thing is we’ve talked about Google Docs and G Suite for business and the ability to have a cloud-based centralized document system that everybody in the business can work on with audit trails, and if somebody leaves the organization, they quit or they get fired, we can pull back all the information and have control over.

So, the thing we’re going to talk about today is creating a location independent phone system as part of the 30-day challenge. So, one of the keys in the business to become an absentee owner or location independent is getting a voice over IP so, it’s voice over internet provider. I’ve included a link in the post notes to have some more information about this. But the premises of this is creating this location independent system. So, when we go into an app such as RingCentral, or there are several other ones that you can go into, RingCentral just seems to be the one that we’d been using. We can go into our phone and we can call out as if we’re actually in the physical office.

It’s also going to allow us to log-in to the cloud-based system on our laptop and track all the calls coming in, the stats, and manage and update the phone system whether it’s voicemails, calls coming in, call ordering, so whether it hits the office and your cellphone or just hits the office, or if it hits the manager’s cellphone in the sequential ordering, we can have complete control over the system in minutes without having to hire a third-party software to come in and build a phone network. Awesome process as well it’s going to give you the ability to do text messaging through the office, through the actual office phone number. Most people don’t want to talk to us nowadays. So, we’re able to use a voice over IP system to do two-way texting whether it’s from our personal cell phone, the manager’s cell phone making it look like it came from the office, or if you have an admin just like Christine in my office, she can fire back two-way texting over the voice over IP.

And if you end up using a process of a virtual assistant, a VA, I get into some deeper knowledge on this in the linked video, but if you’re using a product or a service like Pink Collars or Michelle and Doug, this is a great way to take your phone system and remotely connect it to a virtual assistant, and let them work full time or part time in the off hours and have a centralized phone and knowledge system all at one solution.

So, as we’re going into organize the absentee business owener, want to create a centralized knowledge database in a wiki, manuals for the equipment in the field and office for how to use them, maintenance and troubleshoot them, Google Docs for unified basically documents shared across the organization, and then today’s video is voice over IP, voice over internet provider, phone systems. You create a location independent control and access for the business owner if they need to use it. Otherwise, they can have this basically freedom business.

So, these are the foundational parts. Like I said, we’re going to go through probably about 35 or 40 of these different pieces. We’re going to show you how to organize all of them, then create an automated system, then go in and double down and dominate your local market. So, if you have any comments and questions about our 30-day challenge, voice over IP phone system, integration into the business, drop them down below and I’m happy to respond.

FREE LIVE training and business strategy the day before SA6 in Dallas!

Quick announcement before the holiday weekend, want to announce that we are going to have a free, yes, a free live event for at least eight hours the day before Service Autopilot Six in Dallas, Texas, in November- more details to come. Going to be limited availability, but it’s basically going to be first come first serve, absolutely free event. We’re going to require about $100 deposit to save your spot, but if you show up you get an instant refund when you show up. But the short of it is a free event, SimpleGrowth. Myself, Mike Callahan, Chad, Laurie, and Bill, will all be there so all the SimpleGrowth experts of automation business workflow in process are going to be live in Dallas, Texas, the day before SA6. So if you’re looking at it, go to SA6, make sure you set an extra day ahead– get there an extra day ahead, book the hotel an extra day and we’ll have the sign-up coming out later next week, but we are going to have one full day, eight hours of free training with myself, Mike Callahan, the SimpleGrowth team, Laurie, Bill, Chad, and Christine even maybe coming out as well, but at least the four of us are going to be there and provide live, free training business strategy to a live group the day before at the hotel of Service Autopilot SA6. Depending on the demand, we may be going across the street, but literally, within walking distance. We are going to have a free event where you can join the SimpleGrowth team for eight hours of deep diving business process systems and set up of Service Autopilot. So take a look at it. We’re going to be having a free event for you. So we’ll see you then.