HVAC FINANCIAL FREEDOM PODCAST

Making The Mindset Transition From Employee To Business Owner with Russell Furr of Culpeper Home Services

About this Episode

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Welcoming Russell Furr of Culpeper Home Services to the HVAC Financial Freedom Podcast!

In this episode, you’ll learn…

0:18 Introducing the Guest

0:57 About Russell Furr (Culpeper Home Services)

2:39 The Journey of Starting Culpeper Home Services

6:43 Making The Transition From Employee To Business Owner

10:27 Team Is Key To Building Sustainability Into Your Business

12:17 Private Equity Investment Creates Opportunities

14:33 Culpeper Home Services’ Standout Team of Professionals

16:21 The Advantage of Joining Nexstar Network and Getting a Mentor

20:01 Empowering Your People Helps You Become Successful

23:12 Success Leaves Breadcrumbs

26:47 Proven Marketing Strategies That Helped Culpeper Home Services Grow

28:46 Are Lead Generation Sites Worth It?

29:55 How Facebook Ads Ignited Culpeper Home Services’ Marketing Strategy

33:08 The Great Impact of Rebranding Your Business and Getting Your Trucks Wrapped

36:01 Traditional Advertising for Culpeper Home Services

37:46 Top Marketing Strategies That Boost Sales

38:28 Marketing to Existing Customers: Tactics and Insights

39:02 Importance of Online Reviews and Asking For Them from Customers

41:14 The Focus on Reputation Marketing

42:13 How Company’s Reputation Matter in Recruiting

46:06 “Culpeper Home Services is about taking care of people.”

47:57 Wrapping Up

49:09 Connect with Russell

49:51 Final Takeaways

Tune in to learn more 🙂

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Presented By Polianna (https://polianna.net/)

Audio Transcript

Introducing the Guest

John: Hey, what's up everybody? Welcome to the HVAC Financial Freedom Podcast. Today, we have a special episode. This is our second episode in person. We have our friend over here who is actually a local owner of Culpeper Home Services, Russell Furr, and really excited to hop in today's conversation. We got a lot on the table. We're talking about business, leadership, mindset, and anything and everything in between. We were literally just talking about food and diets and how it impacts your energy. So, I think we're going to have a really good conversation for today. Just to kick things off, I'd love to introduce you to everyone for today. So, could you just do a quick backstory on who you are, what you do, and who you serve?

About Russell Furr (Culpeper Home Services)

Russell: Sure. So my name is Russell Furr, owner of Culpeper [00:01:00] Home Services, started the company in 2018, because I reached a ceiling working within the parameters of somebody else's business. And I felt like that if I was to reach my goals in life, the only sense that it made was to step out on my own and to make it happen. There was a huge hole in my market, you know. What I would do is I would do market research and like you just google "plumbers" in whatever town you want to google it in, like Culpeper, for instance. And there was like nobody there, it was wide open. It was like the top guy that had like 50 reviews. So, you know, when I started my company, dude, I had number one enough review count within like three or four weeks. And in a soft market, you got to understand you're at the top of Google with that one. Like, if you come in with... I even built my first website, I had the most reviews. Like, I was at the top of Google and literally like a month. And then I'm getting all the calls. 

John: Wow. 

Russell: It's not that difficult, you know? I just saw a hole in the market and I capitalized on it. 

John: That's awesome. Yeah.

Russell: Now, we're doing plumbing, electrical, and HVAC.

John: And you're just serving the Culpeper region. Like, what's the extent, what are the boundaries? 

Russell: Yeah. So we're serving Culpeper, Stafford, Fredricksburg, [00:02:00] Spotsylvania, Orange County, Charlottesville... So, we serve about like a 40-mile radius. But we don't go into Northern Virginia. We don't go past like Fauquier County. We stayed relatively outside of the traffic cuz I spent 20 years working in Northern Virginia. So, I wanted to stay the heck away from Northern Virginia and serve these underserved markets. There's plenty of companies in Northern Virginia. I wanted to serve the underserved markets, which is like the Central Virginia region, which is more rural, who are actually calling the companies out of Northern Virginia to come serve them for the level of service that they were wanting to have. And that's the hole that I saw. Like, there's no local company that can provide that level of service.

John: And you had the insider knowledge because you worked for those companies in the past. 

The Journey of Starting Culpeper Home Services

John: In 2018 is when you made the leap, but prior to that you'd already been working the industry for almost two decades. So, could you speak more to the journey before you started your company?

Russell: Yeah. I started in 1999 at a little company in Del Ray, Alexandria, which is like basically right outside old town. It was like right outside BC, just south of Arlington. All old houses, and we're [00:03:00] talking 1999, things were way different back then. We barely had cell phones, man. Like, I remember being on call and having a pager. Things were just way different back then. There was no such thing as a Google review, no such thing as a review period, honestly. But then as time progressed, I remember like 2010, it was starting to kind of be a thing for reviews. And then as time went on, it just got more and more dialed in. And what happened is it got more and more of a business, it's the way I like to put it. It just has become more and more of a business as time has gone on. And that's just kind of the progression of what's happened. 

John: And what do you mean by that? It become more of a business, like in terms of... Is it just like the way things were done? Like, just like the complexity of how to expand into a market... What do you mean by it became more of a business? 

Russell: It became more of a business in terms of focusing on customer satisfaction, focusing on actual business itself in terms of profitability, the numbers, and the KPIs. Because back in the day, it was just here's your calls, go out and run your calls, and whatever happens, happens in a sense. But as time has gone on, it's [00:04:00] just become more and more dialed in, more monitored on the more granular level in terms of KPIs and efficiencies. Because what's happened is the cost of doing business has gotten more and more complex as time has gone on over the past 25 years. It's just gotten to be more complex, in general.

John: Yeah.

Russell: What you find is, like, the old school companies that operate like it's the eighties, like they're stagnant. They're not going anywhere. But the people who are adapting and learning the new ways of doing things and being ahead of the curve, they're the ones who are doing well. They're the ones who are growing because they're doing what the market needs. They're serving the customers like they need to be served and the ones who are not operating in that way, they're kind of stuck in the past and just kind of turned around in circles in a sense.

John: Amazing. And how, and I guess that's, that sounds like it's a mindset shift that folks have to make where... You know, I was speaking to someone the other day and Michael & Sons, I think he was the marketing manager, and they were spending, I believe it was about a million dollars a month on TV advertising and radio advertising. But for them, I guess they realized that there was no return on investment with that so they [00:05:00] transitioned a lot of that into online spend. And so, that's an example of a bigger company who's making that philosophical switch to, "Hey, we need to go to where our customers are at.".

Russell: Mm-hmm.

John: Was it always that way where you're always just like adapting with a trend, or was there a time or a moment when you had to really come to terms, like the world's changing and I have to change with it for us to thrive?

Russell: The first thing for me was in 2010 when I was working for my first like actual real company I'd worked for in a sense, you know, it's the way I like to put it. My first actual real company I worked for where they actually tracked revenue and acknowledged people that were doing well, and things like that. I realized that the better I serve customers, the more money I made. You know, the more I serve the customer's needs, the more I engage with the customer, the more money I made. And I was like a light bulb going off in a sense, you know, it's like, wow. From that moment on, I realized that I need to get better at serving customers. That's what really this is all about. This is not going into the house with blinders on and changing a flapper, and collecting $98 and leaving. This is about spending time with the customer and speaking with them and learning [00:06:00] how they use their system and providing solutions for their problems. Because the thing is customers live with problems constantly, but they're just not big enough problems to make them call. So once we're in that house, we need to engage with the customer and figure out exactly what's going on and figure out more ways we can serve them and help them. So, that's kind of how that progressed. And then when I started my company, like I said, I saw that huge hole in the market. So I just capitalize on that same kind of philosophy going to my own market. Nobody was ever doing it. 

John: What are some of the problems that are visible and also invisible that the customer have not even know, and you are helping them to realize those issues and to fix it to have a more comfortable home?

Russell: Absolutely. 

John: Gotcha. 

Russell: Yep. 

John: So, that was 2010 that led to the opening of your company.

Making The Transition From Employee To Business Owner

John: One of the things that we were talking about earlier was that mindset transition of, let's say being a technician to becoming a business owner. And it's a big step, right? Let's say you're a specialist, you're doing these things on a day-to-day basis, but now you're operating a business. I [00:07:00] love Robert Kiyosaki's book. He talks about the cash flow quadrant. If you haven't checked it out, definitely check that book out. But the quadrant is, there's employee, there's self-employed, there's a business owner, and then there is an investor. So, when you started your company, you made the transition from employed to self-employed, but there's also that transition from self-employed to then become a business owner where you have a team, you're operating systems, you're building a culture, and there's leadership. I know there's a lot of people who are in that position and they struggle with letting go. I wanted to just ask you, like, how could you speak to that transition? Cuz it seems like it might have come more naturally to you than others. So, could you speak to that transition?

Russell: Yeah. So, you know, I wanted to be a business owner. I first started like, you know, "I want to own a business. I want to own a job." because, especially once you start getting exposure to other business owners, you really see who's a job owner, who's a business owner, you know? So, it's important to recognize what you want to do. Number one, cause a lot of people are fine being job owners, they're completely fine running the calls themselves. And, you know, just at the end of the [00:08:00] day, they got enough money to pay their bills and they got calls to run, and at the end of the day, they're happy. They don't really care. They don't really care about their material percentage to revenue. They don't really care about marketing and spender revenue. They don't really care about their net profit. If they got cash in the bank, they're happy. That's fine. A lot of people operate just fine that way. But at the end of the day, do you want to work every day the rest of your life? Because you got to realize when you're in that scenario, that you've got two options in that scenario, in a sense. You're 60 years old, you're still a job owner, what are you going to do? Your business isn't worth anything cuz you haven't built anything. There's no real earnings to sell. Like your business is not worth really anything if you choose to be a job owner the rest of your life. So, what are you going to do? You're going to just shut it down and walk away and retire, or are you going to sell it for virtually $0 just to get something out of it? So, you got to make a decision. Like, what exactly do you want? For me, I want to be a business owner. My ultimate goal in life is to have freedom. Like I want to have freedom. I want to do what I want. I want to travel where I want, I want to just do whatever I [00:09:00] want at any given moment. That's my ultimate goal. so Reverse engineer that, what do we got to do? We have a bunch of cash, do that, right? With enough cash, you can pretty much do whatever you want in life. You know? So how do we get a bunch of cash? Well, let's reverse engineer that, and it comes down to being savvy with business and always just trying to serve customers to the best of your ability, having great people, you know, all the things that make a great business. And that's really what it comes down to. So, from pretty much the first day in business, I wanted to be a business owner. 

John: Mm-hmm. 

Russell: I hired my first technician a year in when I got my first guy on board. A couple months later, I was able to secure another technician. I handed my truck off to him and now I go into the office. Now I'm working on the business, you know? That was kind of the transit for me.

John: I see. So it's always understanding, like, what is the end goal. Because it's easy, right? If you are getting your bills paid, you're doing the work, that's great and all, even if you're employed or self-employed. But it requires a proactive effort and a vision for the future to say like, "Hey, I need to build this thing to potentially one day to sell.". Like, even if you don't necessarily want to right [00:10:00] now, it's just having the option to, maybe you run into a medical issue where maybe a family member needs your help and it just consumes all your time, that's a proactive effort versus something that you can't just dress up a business in a month and then expect to have the best possible multiple. 

Russell: No, no.

John: It takes a concerted multi-year potential effort to build the system, bring the team together, and build the culture.

Russell: Yeah.

John: Build the brand to actually have that enterprise value to sell.

Russell: Correct. Otherwise it's not worth a whole lot. 

Team Is Key To Building Sustainability Into A Business

Russell: You know, you see a lot of guys out there, but they get hurt. A friend of mine, he's got a company, a couple of hours away from here and he's basically by himself. He's got, maybe I think like a helper, an office person or something like that. But now his back's all screwed up and now he's going to be out of work for like three months or something. So you got to realize that when you go into something like this, you are taking on a lot of responsibility in terms of the business, but even more so than the business is the customers, you know. So, you've got to have a level of sustainability. If you go down with an injury, maybe you want to take a vacation with your [00:11:00] family, you got to realize if you're the only guy out there running calls. If you get injured, you want to take a vacation, whatever your customer's not being served, you know? So, you get a phone call at Thursday afternoon at two o'clock, one of your customers has a clogged sewer line and you're at Myrtle Beach with your family, or you boil your knee out the day before, or your truck radiator got a hole in it, which happened to me when all random. Anything like that, you're not sustainable. You're not costing yourself money by hiring people and buying infrastructure. You're costing yourself money by not hiring people and buying infrastructure. So, there's got to be a level of sustainability involved. When you go into a venture like this, you got to understand that. That's what a lot of people fail to understand. 

John: One thing I wanted to pick out of that, as well, is you are able to serve at the highest level. If there's only one person to fulfill the work and a customer needs something and that person's out, you cannot serve them at the highest level because there is no one to serve.

Russell: Exactly.

John: If you have the team in place. Okay, we have 3, 4, 5 people that can come in and [00:12:00] serve you. And so, for you to really bring the biggest amount of value to the customer, you need to build the system. Otherwise you're just, I mean, even if you're self-employed, you just own the job.

Russell: Correct. You're just owning the job. That's exactly all you're doing, it's owning the job.

John: Wow. That's amazing. I love the topic. 

Private Equity Investment Creates Opportunities

John: And I'm curious, like, just in terms of like the trends right now, what are your thoughts on just the environment of private equity, they're buying out a lot of the companies for these crazy multiples. Any thoughts on that with the current environment?

Russell: I think it's great for a lot of people, because a lot of people have put a lot of work into their businesses and it's great to see them cash out and stay on board. This isn't the way it used to be. The thing that a lot of people are used to is like an ARS buyout where basically you're shoving all your people into a meat grinder, and it's just not like that anymore. A lot of these private equity firms, a lot of the big players in the industry, they've got the same core values that you do, you know, as the business owner. They got the same core values. So, they still want to serve your people the same way you want to serve your people.

John: Love that. 

Russell: So, [00:13:00] it's just a lot different than it used to be. It's a lot more kind of like a family atmosphere. They want to keep the same branding. They want to keep the same company. They don't want to come in and change everything. They want to keep everything as it is cuz that's what's working. Why come and change everything? So, a lot of these private equity firms that I've talked to, they want to keep everything the same. They want to still keep all the same people. They want to keep the same branding. The trucks look the same, everything looks the same. It's just now you're part of a larger conglomerate, which at the end of the day is a lot more beneficial...

John: Mm-hmm. 

Russell: ...for the employees. Because now, the owner is not the top of the ladder. Now, the owner's off the top of the ladder. Now, the top of the ladder is endless. Now, you're part of this large giant network where you can perform very well and get yourself noticed and move within the whole entire organization. So, it opens up a lot of opportunities for employees. It allows the company to operate more efficiently in terms of equipment calls cuz now we have more buying power. 

John: Yeah.

Russell: We got buying power with our vendors now. Now, we can be more profitable, which [00:14:00] ends up as more dollars in the employee's pockets. It's a good thing if it's done correctly. If it's executed correctly, it's a very good thing. 

John: Yeah. That's so key, right? You can't get the economies of scale in just your own operation. But now you have access to, let's say it's 10, 15, 50 companies. 

Russell: Yep.

John: The buying company of 50 companies and the economies of scale of materials, it's just crazy. And also insights across each of the companies that..

Russell: And also benefits, they're huge, too. Just all those things, it is very beneficial to the employees, and that's what it's all about being beneficial to the people.

John: Love that.

Culpeper Home Services' Standout Team of Professionals

John: I guess, just to wind things back, I guess we didn't talk about this in the beginning, but could you also share a bit about your company, like the size of your team and the number of trucks that you're running? Potentially, the amount of revenue you're also running, as well. Like, what does the company look like? Because you only started in 2018, and it's been a short four years. What does the operations look like on a day to day basis?

Russell: So, right now we have 17 employees. I think, 14 field employees and 3 office girls. My wife works in the accounting office, so she handles payroll and truck replenishment and[00:15:00] the bookkeeping, that sort of thing. We do plumbing, electrical, and HVAC. My vision is to have every trade under one roof because customers want to use one company. It just makes sense. You got to make things easy, you know? So, that makes it easy. That's pretty much what we do. We serve customers and like I said, Fredericksburg, Stafford, Culpeper down to Charlottesville, you know, up into Warrenton. And we serve that Central Virginia area that's kind of unserved in the market. We kind of pick up in that area and we're going to do $4.5 million this year. So, last year we did $3.2 million. The prior year we did $1.7 million. $1.3 million, the year before that. My first year, I did $339,000 all by myself. So... 

John: Wow. 

Russell: You know, there's been a nice growth curve with the company.

John: Yeah. 

Russell: Which is cool. Because I'm in a small market. You know, the markets where people say you can't make any money. And we've kind of disproven that. 

John: Yeah.

Russell: You know, if you do things right, and you operate at a high level, you have the right people, you can certainly do anything. So, that's what we do. 

John: So, as over the past few years, have you noticed any pivot points? I've seen different things, and I've experienced my own [00:16:00] business where there are moments. It could be revenue level. It could be the size of the team where the way that you've been operating in your system no longer is the system able to get you to that next level.

Russell: Mm-hmm. 

John: I give the example of, you might start out your business in a car, but if you're trying to get to the moon, your car's not going to get you to the moon. You need to build a rocket.

Russell: Yep.

John: A completely different system.

The Advantage of Joining Nexstar Network and Getting a Mentor 

John: So I'm curious, like, was there any of those pivot points along that growth cycle where you said like, "Oh wow, this is the time that I really need to rebuild the system or I had to get additional training from my team in order to really take it to the next level.". Cuz you just jumped up, it was $300,000 to, you said $1.2 million?

Russell: $1.2 million. Yep. And $1.8 million, now $3.2 million. 

John: That's a big jump, $1.2 million to $3.2 million. During those times, like what happened there?

Russell: I've always wanted to build the business right from the beginning. So, I was really focused on numbers and I was really focused on fundamentals from Day 1. So, there really hasn't been that pivot point where it's like, "Hey, I got to start doing things differently.". When I started my HVAC department at the end of 2020, and December of 2020 is when I started that, I knew it was a whole [00:17:00] different... because I've been around long enough to know, and I've seen other owners at HVAC and fail at it. And I knew what the pitfalls were. So, I position myself to have as much success as I could. I sought out a specific business coach within Nexstar, which I got him on my team. He's Jamie Robinson. He's just like an HVAC business guru. Dude's really freaking smart. So, I got him on my team. And every time I had a question, I just reached out to him for advice and that's the way I did it. I basically did exactly what he told me to do. But, I've been a Nexstar guy since 2014. So, I've been familiar what to do as a technician, how the call center is somewhat supposed to operate and how things are supposed to operate just from the technician level, and what I was able to observe and learn as a technician. That gave me a huge leg up and a huge advantage. I don't think there's been a huge moment where I was like, "Hey. Things need to do be operated differently.". Whereas, as I continue to grow, maybe that happens, maybe it doesn't, I don't really know. Maybe I should continue to adapt. But that's what I've been able to do so far, it's just kind of adapt. 

John: I think the two ingredients that you had were you had that [00:18:00] network of people that supported you along the way, and you had a mentor who was specifically guiding you with the expansion of that department. 

Russell: Mm-hmm.

John: If someone's like been in that situation before they can guide you through a lot of those pitfalls, so you're not going to experience that. And I think that really just speaks to the core values, like being coachable, humble, and being able to learn from someone. And I think that is a trap that a lot of people experience where they get into business for themselves and they don't want to listen to anybody because now I'm my own boss. But, you need the people who have walked before you in order to guide you to the next level. It seems like you haven't experienced that because you've been surrounded by a support group that's been helping you along the way. 

Russell: And that's the thing. It's like, I want to be surrounded with people that are way better than I am. I don't need to be the guy at the front of the pack. I'd rather be the guy at the end of the pack, propping everyone else up on the mountain in front of me.

John: Yeah.

Russell: I'd rather be that guy. You know, I'd rather be surrounded with people who are way smarter than me. And I've got a philosophy, you know, I like to pretend I'm the dumbest guy in the room because you're going to learn a lot that way.

John: Mm-hmm.

Russell: If you go in there acting like you're the smartest, and this and that.[00:19:00] You know, shit don't stink. You're not going to learn anything like that. You got to go in there acting like you don't know anything. Because if somebody's talking about something that you think you know about, they probably have a different perspective than you do, and you can learn something from that person even if you think you know about what they're talking about.

John: That's powerful. A lot of the best leaders that I know, they always ask a lot of questions and they're not just generic questions, but they're like really pointed questions. It shows the curiosity and really digging in. That's the way that you learn, right? With questions. If you always have an answer, you don't learn anything. 

Russell: Yeah. And that's the same with customers, you know. When you're customer's house being inquisitive, be genuinely interested in what they have to say. Be generally interested in their hobbies, the things that they do. That's the difference maker, you know. Just seek to make a friend everywhere you go and don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone either. 

John: Yes. 

Russell: That's the biggest thing. 

John: Yes. 

Russell: That's the great thing about Nexstar. It's the Nexstar training that forces you out of your comfort zone. So, you get a lot of personal growth from that sort of thing.

John: I love that. So, it sounds like definitely Nexstar you recommend it. Like, whoever's in the trades, like, "Hey, you need to get in there.".

Russell: A hundred percent. Yep.

John: A hundred percent.

Russell: Yep.

John: [00:20:00] Okay. Love that.

Empowering Your People Helps You Become Successful

John: I also want to speak more to your support network because we're friends with Facebook and I see you recommending a lot of people all the time. Are there other people in your business, or it could be just vendors that you work with that really help you to grow and support you whether it's mentally, whether it's with actual things?...

Russell: Well, everyone in your business is a partner. You know, everyone's a partner. So, my vendors are partners. I've been with Ryan Redding and DP Marketing since virtually Day 1 I've started my business. Me and Ryan hit it off from Day 1. The company wouldn't have grown like it has without him. He's just freaking awesome. He's a partner. I can just call him off the phone and whether we're BSing or talking about some kind of marketing metric or we're talking about this or that, like, that's the thing in business is. You got to treat your people that are close to you as partners cuz they really truly are. They're the ones who make you successful. It's not you, it's the people that you have around you and the way you empower the people around you. That's the main thing, empower the people around you. Don't think you got to do it all by yourself. 

John: Yeah, that's amazing. There's a quote that I [00:21:00] love it's, "It takes a village to raise a child.". But, just the idea is that it's not just the individual, it's the group around you that really helps you to grow. And without them, without the community, it's very difficult. You're operating in the silo, and maybe you can make it, but it's really there's no self-made millionaire either. It's the people around them and the people that they help to cultivate and grow which makes the difference.

Russell: Yep. A hundred percent. Any self-made person could probably tell you that.

John: Yeah. 

Russell: You know what I mean?

John: Mm-hmm.

Russell: Because anyone who's self-made knows what it takes to get there. 

John: Yeah. It ain't easy. 

Russell: It's not, it's a lot of work. It's important to delegate as much as you can. My philosophy is, if somebody else can do it, they're going to do it. I'm going to reserve my energy and what I do for only what I can do. Like, the things that I can do in my business are very specific and only I can do them. And that's what I do. Outside of that, I got other people doing it. They won't do it as good as you will, but they're going to do it good enough. And that's the key. And a lot of times they're going to do it way better than you. It just depends on what it is. 

John: Mm-hmm.

Russell: But you can't be afraid to delegate, you know, cuz that's the [00:22:00] problem. Fear holds people back from delegating, you know. Like, "Oh, they're not going to do it as good as me, only I can do it.". No, they're going to do it probably better than you. Or the way I run a service call, I know nobody can run a service call better than me. And I just know that. I'm freaking awesome that I spent years honing that in and I'm really good at it. But now, I train my people how to run the service call.

John: Mm-hmm.

Russell: They're out there running the service call, but I'm training them how I ran the service calls. My knowledge is flowing into them so they're all just extensions of me.

John: Yeah. It's a mindset thing too, right? It's like, I don't know if it's ego or something like, "Ah, no one can do it better than I can.". But it's maybe potentially making the shift of a leadership where, "Hey, we're bringing up the team and I'm pouring to them so that they can be their best self and live up to these skills." versus, like, "Only I can do it.". So, it's like the I versus the We or the I versus the Us, which could be the distinction? But, it sounds like it is really just like a mindset shift that people need to make.

Russell: It's a mindset shift. It's a personal growth, an inner growth. Because a lot of people are very insecure and they can't release control of anything, [00:23:00] and have a very difficult time with that. Don't be that way.

John: Yeah.

Russell: Those people never get anywhere. At the end of the day, those people never get anywhere, you know? So, that brings me to another thing. People never get anywhere. 

Success Leaves Breadcrumbs

Russell: You know, back when I started in 1999, you always heard that you don't want to show any profit and all this other BS, like, you know, there's all these kind of like, like underhanded, like back, you know, cash deals and all this other crap. You don't want to show profit and all this. Well, every dude I ever worked for that mentality is out still out running calls. 

John: Mm.

Russell: You know what I mean?

John: Yep.

Russell: You got to operate above board. You got to be above board. You can't do crap backhanded. You can't do shady crap. You got to be above board and do things at everything the way you're supposed to do. That's how people get to where they want to be in life.

John: Wow. That's huge. 

Russell: It is man. I talked to my first boss, first guy I ever worked for. I'll call him every now and then, cuz I'm trying to get together and hang out with him. I've been seeing the dude in like 20 years, you know? I call him and he's out driving a dump truck. He's 60 years old, he's out trying a dump truck. And he's always the dude saying you shouldn't show any profit, and he always wants cash jobs, and this and that. And you know [00:24:00] what, that's not worth anything. He can't do anything with it. Last week, I called him and I was with my buddy who worked there with me, and I was like, "What are you going to do? What's your plan?", and he's like, "Well, I don't have a plan.". The dude's 60 years old and don't have a plan. What are you going to do? You going to just shut it down and walk away? You're going to sit there and slave you're 60 years old? What are you doing?

John: Yeah. 

Russell: You can't sell it cuz it's not profitable. There's nothing to buy. There's nothing there of any value. So, build value in your business. If you got to pay taxes, what do you freaking do?

John: Yeah.

Russell: I'd rather keep 70%. I'd rather make a 100%, pay 30 and keep 70. Then, make zero and have zero.

John: Yeah.

Russell: You know what I mean? Like, it just doesn't make any sense. If you got to pay taxes, that's actually a good thing. That means you made money.

John: Yep. 

Russell: But also at the same time, you got to know how to do it correctly and you got to learn how to take advantage of depreciation. And there's other things that all set your tax live building. So, there's a whole formally involved. But if you operate above board, then it all works out.

John: Mm. That's [00:25:00] so needed, right? Yeah. And If you're not making a profit, how are you going to have the money to invest and actually build wealth? Whether you're investing in a stock market, real estate, crypto, which is down right now. But, yes. How are you going to do it if you have no profits? I mean, maybe you put into retirement accounts, but there's limits to that. 

Russell: And those are always the guys that are buying trucks with cash and everything else. They're cash buyers, won't finance anything. If you finance, you get to keep your cash and still depreciate the asset within the first year, if that's what you want to do.

John: Mm.

Russell: It's just not knowing. It's just a big culture of not knowing how to operate. And those guys always have their driving junk trucks and they got junk equipment. I've been there. worked for companies like that in the past, man. Operate above board. You can have all the nicest and best stuff out there, as long as you know how to operate your business in a way where it pays for it.

John: As they say, "Success leaves clues.".

Russell: It does. Success leaves breadcrumbs. 

John: And you just truly check it out. So, you look at the fruits, right? You look at the fruits [00:26:00] of the advice. So, if someone gives X advice, look at their fruits. I mean, Russell, I mean, it's incredible what you've done in four years. So, the seeds, which is the mindset, that's what's leading to a lot of the fruits. So, success leaves clues. Don't try to reinvent the wheel, right? If this has been done, it's been tried and true. The process, join a mastermind group like Nexstar, connect with the mentor, connect with peers in the industry because you don't have to be alone. You don't have to be alone with any of this.

Russell: Exactly. Everything you want to do has already been done in the past. Everything you want to do has already been done. Just learn what has been done and innovate better ways of doing it. That's the key. Take what's already been done and innovate. That's what's really going to get you above everybody else in the marketplace.

John: Love that. 

Proven Marketing Strategies That Helped Culpeper Home Services Grow

John: So, I guess just to make a pivot, I want to dive into the marketing you're doing, because you mentioned in the beginning that you were doing a lot of that yourself. You got the reviews, you built the website, you were ranking number one on Google. What are some of the things that you [00:27:00] are doing currently that's working like really, really well for your specific market?

Russell: Well, number one, being on top of Google's huge. You got to be number one on Google because number one, you got to understand how does a customer go into the marketplace to find a plumber or an HVAC technician, or an electrician. No matter what it is. So, you're a customer, right? You wake up, you got no hot water. You wake up, you got no AC. You got no heat, no power, whatever the case may be. Now, what? Alright. Now, what? Now, you go to Google, you say plumbers in whatever town I'm in. Electricians in whatever time I'm in. Alright. That's how a customer goes to the marketplace. Generally, your two most valuable lead sources are Google and existing clients. Those are your two most valuable lead sources. So, to capitalize on the Google sources, you got to be at the top of Google and everywhere. You got to be number one in local services, number one on the Google ads, number one on the map, number one on the organic search, the organic results. That's number one, that's how you capitalize that. There's also a branding factor that plays into the whole equation, as well. And that's just being [00:28:00] everywhere.

John: Yeah.

Russell: You know, being on the buses that drive around your town, being on the park benches that are in your park, sponsoring your highschool football games on all the t-shirts that they throw out to the crowd during the games. Just anything to get your name out there. Think Coke and Pepsi. Coke and Pepsi are freaking everywhere. Everywhere. Think about big corporate marketing. What do they do exactly? Success leaves blueprints. What are you seeing around you? You got to do the same thing. You got to be everywhere, so when that customer does go into the marketplace with no AC, they see Culpeper Home Services and they're like, "Oh, well, heck I saw them advertise at my child's soccer game last season. Oh, I'll call them.". There's a multifaceted sort of approach to it that you got to understand every angle. Number one, understand how does the customer go into the marketplace to find you. That's the number one thing.

Are Lead Generation Sites Worth It?

John: There's a lot of, especially smaller contractors who do HomeAdvisor. I think it was Angie's List or HomeAdvisor. One of them got merged into the other. Are you doing any of these third party lead sources? Do you think those are worth it? What are your thoughts on these third parties?

Russell: I have not really [00:29:00] found those to be worth it. We do Thumbtack, which is like decent, like the ROIs decent. It's definitely not our number one lead source, but we keep it all because it's decent. It performs decently and the customers are okay. We don't do any HomeAdvisor, Angie's List, or any of that. I found that to be really not worth it. It's more trouble than it's worth. 

But aside from that, it's just organic results. It's community involvement, which is huge. I touched on that. It's like advertising at the highschools and the parks and rec. We got our logos printed on all these cups that are handed out at this local ice cream dealer thing.

John: Yeah.

Russell: You know, so all our logos are on these cups that go out, that everyone goes to this ice cream playing thing, it's ice cream and just stuff like that, you know. Just overall branding is really important, man. Because if you can create a strong brand, you don't have to spend as much on advertising because you're already in the minds of the consumers. You know, When you see the Pepsi logo and you know exactly what it is.

John: Yeah.

Russell: You know, that's what you got to create.

How Facebook Ads Ignited Culpeper Home Services' Marketing Strategy

John: Are you doing anything with Facebook, like social ads? Like TikTok...

Russell: I have. I have in the past, but I...

John: [00:30:00] How is it compared to search?

Russell: Well, it's really good. It's actually what got me launched and got me really going. Really got me jumpstart in the beginning. Cuz what I did is the thing with social media is you're able to hit your customers right now. Like, you got two different scenarios, right? You got two different scenarios. You can pay for a paid ad on Facebook and hit your customers and get in front of their face right now, or you can wait till they go looking for you and be on Google.

John: Mm.

Russell: So, there's two different scenarios. So, well I was really good at capitalizing on at the beginning because I was in the field, I would collect all this interesting data from the field, from these jobs I was on, and I would create these compelling Facebook posts, and put them out there and boost it, and that would get me recognition, you know, "Who is this guy? What's he doing? Like, you know, this guy's really on his stuff. He really knows his stuff.". That sort of thing. So, that really got me a lot of recognition right in the beginning, because I didn't know anybody in my town. But the way that I really hammered Facebook, it got me known pretty much right away. So, it really helped, number one, the whole branding aspect of the equation. [00:31:00] But it also got people thinking about things that they might want to do to their own homes in terms of, "Hey, I'm running out of hot water, this guy's out here selling these booster valves and getting people endless hot water with a 50 gallon electric. That's something I might want to look at doing.".

John: Yeah.

Russell: You know, so I was able to capitalize on that aspect, at the same time as building that brand with this new company in town. So, that's kind of the approach that I took. Pretty much Day 1, I was busy. 

John: Wow. And with Facebook, you're capturing more of the top of funnel. These are people who might not necessarily have the need right now. Cuz with a search engine they already know, "Hey, I need this service..."

Russell: I got no AC. You know, AC Repair Culpeper, you know.

John: It's so clear. But with Facebook, it's higher in the funnel. Like, they don't necessarily have the need now, but the branding component and being in the mind before they have the need.

Russell: Yep.

John: So, you're even preempting them that they've been searching cuz they already know Culpeper Home Services prior to that even happening, correct?

Russell: Yep. Yep. And also getting them thinking about things they might want to do to their house, too. 

John: Mm.

Russell: You know what I mean? Like in terms of, if they run a [00:32:00] hot water, I used to be able to walk into a house with a 50 gallon electric and I just know from being around for so many years that a 50 gallon electric puts out barely any hot water. You can get through one and a half two showers before you're running out. So, all I'd have to say is, "Hey, how often you're running out of hot water if I walk in and see that 50 electric?"., "Oh, you know, I have family coming the holidays, we ran out, we got staggered showers, this and that."., "Well, I got a great solution for you. You don't have to do that.". You know? It's also getting people to think about things they might want to do.

John: Mm-hmm.

Russell: You know, "Hey, I do ran out of hot water. I might want to look at that. Let me call that guy. Let's see what he's got to say.". So, that's really what got me going in the beginning and it's interesting to me to think about how much revenue we've kind of taken off this market and where all that revenue was going before. So, all that revenue was going to all these different companies, which now we've come in and we've capitalized on it all, and now we're kind of siphoning it out of the market, which is a pretty cool thing to think about.

John: Yeah. 10 years ago didn't exist. And now, the way that you position your philosophy of how you approach the company [00:33:00] focusing on service and continuously upgrading things, that's... Again, success leaves clues. It's not a time thing.

Russell: Exactly.

John: It's not a time thing. 

The Great Impact of Rebranding Your Business and Getting Your Trucks Wrapped

John: On the topic of branding, I know that you get your trucks wrapped. Could you speak how that plays into the overall strategy with your marketing?

Russell: Yeah, so it's really cool. So, I use TradeWraps for all my truck wraps, and I did a rebrand of my company in, uh, I think late 2019, I did a rebrand. So, I was in business like almost two years maybe or so. I knew that my truck didn't look that great. The branding wasn't that great, wasn't that strong. So, I went to Brad Rapone at TradeWraps and he actually connected me with Ryan Kettering at Prolific Prints. And all I had was a logo. I just had this logo designed through some crowdsource logo design things.

John: Is it 99Designs or something?

Russell: Something like that. I didn't know any better at that time. I wish I did, you know, but I didn't. So, I took the logo, took it to Brad at TradeWraps. He said, "Hey, let me book you up with this guy. He's going to design your wrap for you.". I said, "Sweet.". So, this dude, Ryan Kettering designed an amazing looking wrap, man. He took my logo and said, "Hey, I think we should do this to it [00:34:00] because it's going to have a greater impact. What do you think?". I was like, "Hey, I love it, dude. You're the expert.". And that's the thing, it's allowing experts to do what they do. So, if this dude's telling me my logo should look at different way because this is going to have a greater impact, and he shows me the two different ways, "Hey, let's do it, dude. You're like, this is your field of expertise. I don't know anything about this.". So, we went with that. He designed this amazing wrap around the logo that went to Brad at TradeWraps. He prints all the wraps, installs them on the trucks, does a great job. But at the end of the day, I also have that same guy at Prolific Prints create all of my marketing efforts in terms of internet ads, print ads, things like that. So, the branding's consistent.

John: Yeah, consistent. 

Russell: There's a consistent branding across everything. So, everything the customer sees has this kind of consistent look to it. So, you can see my truck from a mile away and know exactly what it is before you can read it. 

John: And its that omnipresence effect. If you guys haven't checked out, we also did a podcast with Brad Rapone of TradeWraps, it should be the last episode. 

And [00:35:00] so, to talk more about this, it's so important, right? It's a mobile billboard for you. And some of the keys which were mentioned were the consistency of all the trucks because for some folks they think, "Oh, maybe I should have a different design for each of the different divisions. So, Electrical, Plumbing, HVAC,...". But Brad said, "Hell to the no.". Like, you want to have a consistent brand across so you're everywhere. You got the ads going, you're there in search, you're there with the trucks, you're there in the community events. You are there. 

Russell: You got to be everywhere. And that's what people say to me, like, dude, you're everywhere. It's like that. Exactly, that's the point. You know, you got to be everywhere. And if you're going to get some little tiny business card sized ad in the back of some magazine, you're town don't even bother saying it ain't worth it. Cuz nobody's going to see it. You got to make a splash. People got to know who to call. And like Grant Cardone says, " What you suffer from is obscurity.".

John: Mm.

Russell: Do not suffer from obscurity. You got to splash. People got to know who to call. Get the biggest ad in the front of the paper. Get the biggest ad, the biggest one they got. That's what you want to do. Otherwise, don't waste your money.

Traditional Advertising for Culpeper Home Services

[00:36:00] 

John: What are your thoughts on traditional advertising like radio, television ads? Do you find those to be a part of your marketing strategy? Do you think that it should be, if not, or how is something like that, like traditional advertising incorporated? Maybe mailers, as well...

Russell: I do mailers. Mailers return, okay? I don't do any TV. Haven't done that yet. I haven't done any radio aside from like Spotify and Pandora, which haven't really been able to track any preschool ROI from that. I don't know, man. I feel like people don't really watch TV the way they used to. I feel like people don't really listen to the radio the way they used to. People just don't really pay attention to it the way they used to. You need to be in front of them more in terms of Facebook, where people are actually engaged. They're not really engaged on the TV a whole lot anymore, you know?

John: Okay. So, if you were to rank, let's say create a hierarchy of the things that you're currently doing, like what... And it can be tough, cuz this is something I was talking to Brad about where... because you're doing multiple things, they all add into each other, like we were talking about what do the wraps do. And he said, "Yes, you [00:37:00] have the wraps, but let's say they go to Google because they remember the name. Now, it's attributed to Google. And so now, the ROI is huge.".

Russell: Yep. I have a metric in my marketing channels and ServiceTitan to where I have saw a truck and I saw building. I can attribute a certain amount of revenue because they saw the truck, which is like, I think it was like $41,000 last year.

John: So, these are questions you asked the customer?

Russell: Oh, yeah. "How'd you find us?". Even if it pops up with a marketing campaign with the tracking numbers, always ask how you found us because there's value there. So, I can attribute at least 40 grand to people who saw my truck last year. And that's just people who called in and said, I saw your truck.".

John: Wow.

Russell: It's not the ones that saw the truck and looked up on Google, and looked up on Facebook, and eventually call through your GMB listing or something. You know what I mean?

John: Yeah.

Russell: So, you got to ask where they found you.

Top Marketing Strategies That Boosts Sales

John: Say, if you were to... Let's say you create a ranking list, like in terms of ROI, like what is the order in your marketing mix? Is it like Facebook? Your organic? Is it community events? Is it the mailers? Like, if you were to rank it, what would that look like?

Russell: Previous customers, existing [00:38:00] customers... always number one.

John: A hundred percent. 

Russell: And then aside from that, just Google. Unfortunately, it's Google. But then also what feeds into that is going to be things like branding, you know. Branding feeds into that. Having these cups that are at the ice cream shop, and having the ads on the buses, and having the ads in the newspaper... All that sort of branding, it all feeds each other. But, Google's definitely number two. It's always Google's number two. Existing customers, number one. Google's always number two. You know, those are the areas that really need the focus. 

Marketing to Existing Customers: Tactics and Insights

John: And for the existing customers, are you doing like rehash per, like, what is, is it like email? Is it like you're sending them? Are you calling them up? What does it look like to re-engage? Are you re-engaging them proactively or are they just coming back?

Russell: Well, we're re-engaging through mailers that we do. We do a follow up phone call after every call to make sure the customer's happy. After HVAC installs, we'll send out the technician who sold systems to customer. We'll send him out, make sure the customer's happy with the install, make sure everything is up to their liking. There's a lot of quality control things involved in that, as well. And also following back up with the customer through [00:39:00] mailers and emails, and things like that.

John: Gotcha. 

Importance of Online Reviews and Asking For Them from Customers

John: And how about reviews? How do you incorporate that in terms of your process? The first things you did was just hammer out the reviews, like ask for people. What does your current process look like? Is it still importing reviews? How does that play into the marketing mix?

Russell: Reviews are huge for a lot of different reasons. Number one, this is the way I look at it. So, when a customer goes into the marketplace and say, I need a plumber in Culpeper, Google looks at that as their customer. Okay. So, Google's going to show that customer the companies who they feel like is going to be a best fit for them. Now, who's going to be a best fit for them? The ones who deliver the best service. From Google's perspective, that's my customer, let me give them the best company that's going to take the best care of them. 

John: Right.

Russell: Now, who is that? That's the customer of the best reputation, the one who gets the most 5-star reviews, you know. All that sort of thing. So, that's from the Google perspective. From the customer perspective, when they see a company with 609 reviews like we have versus the next guy down has half or even 50 or 20, your [00:40:00] customer's going to go into the marketplace and they're going to say, "Hey, that company has 609 five star reviews.". They're going to read through them and like, "That's a good company. They take good care of their employees, they take good care of their people, their customers. Everything.". So, what it does is it creates confidence in the marketplace. From the customer standpoint, that's a good company. They're going to take care of me. They're going to be here on time. They're going to be clean. They're going to do what they say they're going to do.

John: Yeah. 

Russell: And if something goes awry, then they're going to be there to back it up because these are the things the reviews are telling me. You know what I mean?

John: Yes.

Russell: So, the reviews are huge. From every single standpoint, you cannot operate as a successful service business without reviews. 

John: Yeah. And being an SEO guy, reviews for Google My Business is number one factor.

Russell: Yep. 

John: It's the toughest to fake and... 

Russell: You can't fake it. You cannot fake Google reviews. 

John: And then, the second thing is the conversion, right? When people see other people commenting and, especially when they give a great story like what happened...

Russell: Yeah. 

John: ...and how they showed up on time. Just like the care... they made a mistake that happened, but they made it right. Like, that [00:41:00] sort of stuff. If you're going to prioritize anything that's easy to do, like, It's getting reviews.

Russell: Yep. And it's just asking every customer, because you'll get 3 out of 10. You have to ask every single customer cuz you're only going to get 3 outta 10. They're actually going to do it. They're actually going to leave that review.

The Focus on Reputation Marketing

John: Do you do an incentive program with your team to encourage getting more reviews? How do you build that into the culture...

Russell: Yeah, so we do review bonuses. A lot of companies will give the customer discount to leave a review. Like, that's the wrong way to do it. It's like, "Hey, I may not have given you 5-star service, but if I give you a hundred dollars off, you leave me a 5-star review.". Like, that's the wrong approach. I'd rather pay my people and reward them for delivering the 5-star service. Cuz they're not going to leave that 5-star review without that 5-star service.

John: Wow.

Russell: So, it's about having a process that they can follow, that's super easy for the customer, and it's about rewarding the results. So, that's what we do and it's worked out pretty well.

John: Well, it sounds like it's aligning all the motivations properly, right? You know, it incentivizes the team member to do an amazing job to deserve the [00:42:00] 5-star review. And also, you're paying into your team. And so, that's building the culture of the importance of reviews, but also it's like, "Wow, really cares about the reputation and I love it here. Amazing.".

Russell: Yep. Reputation's everything. Everything.

How Company's Reputation Matter in Recruiting

John: How would you say reputation plays into attracting the right team members? I hear from a lot of owners, I'm having a tough time finding good people. There's no one in the market. Are you experiencing similar issues... What would you say to like some of those comments, like in the current environment with attracting the right people and attracting the right talent?

Russell: I feel like that a great company will attract great talent. For me, I'm not that big. I'm like a $4 million company or so. I'm not a $10 or $20 million company, so I don't really know what it's like to really need a ton of people. So, I have not had a whole lot of trouble in finding good people.

John: Mmm.

Russell: I've let a lot of people go that didn't fit the culture. I've been through a lot of people. The ones we have now are really, really amazing. They're just really good people that just get, they get, you know, and they share the same vision. They want to serve customers. And that's what we [00:43:00] make it all about. It's all about serving customers. Because at the end of the day, that's all the customer knows. It's how well they were served.

John: Yes.

Russell: You know, the customer doesn't know what a good plumbing job looks like or a good HVAC job. They don't know what that looks like. But what they do know is the experience that they've had. And if you read through reviews of companies, the reviews very rarely speak about the actual pipe repair that looks beautiful. You know, they very rarely speaks about the water here that was installed beautifully and the pipes are perfectly aligned. Everything's nice and straight. The pan is perfectly aligned for the drain, so the drain pan runs directly into the drain, and the expansion tank is beautifully placed. And the valve, the way the valve is positioned, it pulls straight down. You know, like, the customers don't know about any of that. If you go through and read all these reviews for companies, they talk about the experience. They don't really talk about what was actually done within that experience. They talk about things like, he played with my dog, the office called to make sure I was home, told me he was on his way, they sent a tracking [00:44:00] link with service type, we have a tracking link where the customer can click on it, see exactly where the technician is on a Google map. Those are the things they talk about. They cleaned up after themselves. They were on time. They were clean. They were easy to talk to. My three year old son wanted help and they weren't annoyed by that. They actually took the time to educate the three year old son and let him be involved. Those are the things that people care about. When I talk about experience, that's what matters. It's not how well you did the pipe repair or install the water here, it's about how well you serve the customer.

John: Mm. And would you say that this is something where... especially as you grow a team, like, these people already share that core value, or is this something that you are training that team member for?

Russell: Well, so I hire for character first, you know? And anything else I can teach. So, if I hire good people, number one, then they're going to get it when it comes to serving people. I can teach them how to technically serve the customer. But in terms of serving the customer like a professional, if they're a high character individual and they have high integrity, then they're going to understand what it means. Especially, when we do our training once or twice a [00:45:00] week, whatever the case may be, they're going to get it. The best part is that I've got some really good guys that have been with me for a long time that have come to the industry, and they're just the best guys out there. 

John: Mmm.

Russell: You know. Cuz they're a product of our system.

John: Yes.

Russell: They've not been around for 20 years. Back in the day, when it was just run in and change a flapper and run out, collect your $98, you know. They're guys that have they've come up in my system and that's all they know is my system.

John: Love that. Yeah. Unlearn. I think that's the most difficult thing to unlearn bad habits or bad mindset things. Someone already starts off with the right values that you share. And from there, everything's teachable, especially for someone who's like intellectually curious, that's a walk in the park.

Russell: Yeah. That's like John Maxwell says, "Learn, Unlearn, and Re-learn.". It takes a strong individual to be able to unlearn something that they think they know so well, you know. If you think you know something so well, but it takes a strong individual to build and reflect and say, "You know what, maybe there's a different way of doing this, you know?".

John: Yes. And [00:46:00] so, I guess, we're coming up on the hour so I don't want to go over too much. But one of the things I do want to point out is...

"Culpeper Home Services is about taking care of people."

John: So, I follow Russell on Facebook, we're friends. And one of the things I noticed about you and all these different Facebook groups is that you are such a giver. You respond to so many different questions. I can tell that you've taken the time to think about it and you're sharing best practices. Like, where does that come from? Cuz I think it's an amazing thing. Just like helping, and just helping lifts others. There's a quote it's, "Rising tide raises all ships.". And that's kind of like what you embody. So, I was wondering if you could speak to that philosophy?

Russell: I don't know, it's just something about me. I can't explain it, but I love serving people or helping people, you know? And that just runs intrinsic in my company, you know? My people love to serve and that's just what it's about. It's about helping people. Because at the end of the day, I believe that my success in life, it directly hinges on how many people I can help and serve, you know? 

John: Mmm.

Russell: I don't know. It's just something I enjoy doing. I love helping people.

John: I love that.

Russell: Yeah. I love making people happy. Back in the day when I was running calls, you just help a customer with a pipe leak or whatever the [00:47:00] case may be, but they just get so happy as a result. It was like this simple thing that I take for granted, cuz I do every single day, but I can just go help people and make them so happy with this something that's so like minuscule to me.

John: Yes, it's this giving attitude. There's another great book, if everyone wants to check it out, it's "The Go-Giver". It's a go-giver versus a go-getter. Go-getter is always just thinking about themselves, and the Go-giver is the person who's service-oriented, wants to solve problems and really build into others. Giving without expectation. Cuz you never know where things will go.

Russell: And that's the thing. It's like, don't ever do something for someone expecting something in return. There's so many people out there that hold debts, like, "Oh, I did something for you now. Now, you're indebted to me, and you owe me a favor or some BS like that.". Like, just give. Just give. Cuz it'll come back. Don't give and expect a direct reciprocation, or anything like that.

John: Yeah. 

Russell: Don't hold debts or anything. Just give, and give, and give, and give, and give, and give, and it always comes back.

Wrapping Up

John: And so, I guess just to wrap up, so would there be any [00:48:00] other additional nuggets of wisdom or insight that you would like to share to an owner who is, you know, looking to grow their business, take it to the next level. I know we've shared so much today, but is there anything that we didn't get to touch on that you wanted to, like, "Hey, this is really important that people should know."?

Russell: Know your numbers, make sure your chart of accounts is arranged correctly for your type of business. Because if you just start a new QuickBooks file as a new business, you're chart of accounts as some generic chart of accounts, it's not relevant to what we do. So make sure you get with someone like Cheryl Lanahan PlumbBooks, she can give you a free sample chart of accounts. You can have your bookkeeper, get your chart of accounts all set up on your income statement for you. Cheryl Lanahan's amazing, if she's available, hire her. I don't care what she charges, it's worth it. You got to know your numbers, you got to know how to calculate percentages. There's only a hundred percent of anything. All that matters is how you divide that pie, you know, between labor costs and material costs, and overhead, and profit. There's only a hundred percent of anything. I don't care if there's a thousand dollars or a million dollars. There's only a hundred percent of anything. How do you divide that pie? And always just seek to serve and give to the community, [00:49:00] and the clients, and the people, and whatever the case may be. Don't ever hold debts and don't ever do something for somebody expecting something to come back to you. It's the wrong way of looking at it.

Connect with Russell

John: And for anyone wants to get into contact with you, what would be the best way for them to reach out? Is it like Facebook? Is it email? Is it calling in... What's the best way to connect with you?

Russell: Facebook's probably the best way, you know, just look me up. I'm always on there. That's where the people are, as Grant says.

John: Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Russ. Like there's, I don't know if you guys saw me. I think you guys saw me, I've been taking copious notes. There's a lot that you've accomplished in just the four short years that you started your company, but also the wealth of wisdom, the decades that you've also been in the trades. Like we said earlier, success leaves clues. So, this is not just hocus pocus. Hey, this is all theory. Like, this is what you've done to actually build a business.

Final Takeaways

John: So, some of the key takeaways I think were, you know, number one, having that support network, the mentor was a key thing. Number two, I love the [00:50:00] numbers takeaway. There's only a hundred percent of anything, which is, which is such a...

Russell: There's only a hundred percent. I don't care how much you're making. There's only a hundred percent.

John: And I think the third one had to do with just the philosophy. So, it's a philosophy of service, but also philosophy of learning. No matter what room you're in, there's always something you can learn from someone leading with questions versus leading with answers. That's such a beautiful thing. There's so much that you can pick up just by having that inquisitive, curious attitude. So, thank you so much, Russell. I appreciate you for being on. I know you're incredibly busy. We're moving into the busy season for 2022. So, thank you for being here. Any last words you want to say before we wrap them up?

Russell: Don't finance. Don't pay cash for trucks. Finance everything you can. 

John: Yep. Yep.

Russell: That's, that's a big thing that these small guys out here are doing. They're out here thinking they got to pay cash for crap and you don't finance it. Keep your cash because businesses fail for one reason, that's lack of cash. Preserve as much cash as you can. Finance as much as you can. Have a strong cash [00:51:00] position... when times get slow.

John: Yes. And just to dive into that. So, in terms of cash position, are you saying like three months of expenses, three, six months...

Russell: As much as you can.

John: As much as you can.

Russell: As much as you can.

John: Is there a limit? You'd say like...

Russell: There's got to be a limit. I mean, if you could run your business for six months, a hundred percent, everything, every expense, then you can take the rest as a distribution.

John: Yeah.

Russell: But you know, you got to have cash in your business. Don't be out unloading 60 grand for a truck or 20 grand for some used piece of crap. That's going to be broken down constantly. Get the nicest and the best and finance it. Keep your money in the bank. You depreciate the asset against your income. That's just the way to do it.

John: And do you have a referral for financing?

Russell: Mm, I don't. I'm sorry. Wish I did. I wish I did. I'm sorry. Unless you want to come to Warrenton, those guys take good care of me.

John: Cool. Well, thank you everybody for tuning in. I was super excited to have you on and I hope you learn something. We'll catch you on the next episode and as always, you know, feel free to reach out. Russell gave [00:52:00] his information. And, yeah, we'll catch you on the next one. Take care everyone.

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