Mindset Matters

Posted by Ty Deemer on Aug 20, 2020 8:00:00 AM

BLOG  Ep8 GIP

In this episode of the Green Industry Perspectives Podcast, Sean Adams welcomes Tom Reber to the show. Tom is the Founder of The Contractor Fight, which helps contractors not be a slave to their businesses. Tom shares the lessons he’s learned regarding mindset and definitions of success. He also elaborates on his “Fight Plan” and how he wants to bring respect and dignity back to the industry.

 

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On this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The importance of setting personal and professional goals. 
  • About Tom's 90 day fight plan.
  • What's at stake of the "why" of your business.
  • The different numbers to track day to day. 
  • How to get your time back and still sell work. 

What to listen for:

[4:30] Reverse engineering your goals. 
[6:45] Where to find Tom's fight plan.
[18:10] Having someone in your corner for accountability.
[41:45] The four criteria of a good customer. 

Links to love👇👇

Full Transcript:

Sean Adams:
You are listening to The Green Industry Perspectives podcast, presented by SingleOps, a podcast created for green industry professionals looking for best practices, tactics and tips on running their tree care or landscape business. Tom, welcome to the show.

Tom Reber:
Sean, thanks for having me, man. How you doing today?

Sean Adams:
Doing great. Awesome to have you with us. Been a fan of your stuff for a long time and been eager to get this conversation going. So, it's great to have you on. So, Tom, like we always do in our show, we try to jump in with some immediate value just to kind of get the juices flowing for the audience and get them thinking. So, the question I normally ask is in your experience as a contractor yourself or the work that you do now for the industry, do you have a couple of sort of general skills, mindset things that you see those successful contractors that kind of contributes most to their success or how they're crushing it out there?

Tom Reber:
Yeah, it's a great question and the thing that immediately comes to mind is simply that your income is always a direct indicator of your mindset. That's something that took me a long time to learn and I think the sooner somebody can understand that the success that they're going to have or the success that they're not having in certain areas of their business right now really all begins between our ears in that little six inches up there. It's that simple, man. It's like in my world, we're always talking about don't do a job for less than a 50% gross profit and most contractors like can't do that in my industry, can't do that in my trade, can't do that in my area, can't sell a pool for that much here, can't whatever and that right there is the reason why they're struggling because they just don't believe it can happen. And we've got landscapers, pond guys, painters, flooring people, GCs, home builders, they're selling at these ridiculous margins which allows them then to give this amazing experience to people because they're not like the normal guy running from job to job trying to rob Peter to pay Paul. And so, I would just say if you shut this podcast up right now and walk away with anything, just know that whatever you're bringing home, whatever bacon you're bringing home, it's a direct indicator of how you think.

Sean Adams:
All right. I'll shut it down then.

Tom Reber:
All right, man. We're good.

Sean Adams:
No, I mean it's so true. I always tell people to reference corporate America in the sense of thinking bigger, right? I mean you always talk about there's no employees. Tom, you don't understand. Like you said my market, my market. Everything is everybody else's fault, right? So, you look at these large companies and I ask them like in your market, is there someone who's ten times bigger than you? Maybe it’s a slightly different company structure and services they do but likely there's somebody that's much bigger than you. That means it's possible, right? And maybe I don’t agree with the way they go about it or maybe they miss the mark on margins or whatever that is. But the point is if you think you can't, then you're already putting yourself at a disadvantage. So, it's unbelievably true. I know it's been a huge part of any success that I've had as well. It’s just thinking bigger and believing these things are possible. So, if I'm the guy in the truck, I'm thinking about that right now and I'm like I just don't know how I'm going to be able to get to the next level. I feel like maybe I am limiting myself. If I can recognize that, separate my ego for a second, what do you think is the first couple of things to do or start to do actionably to kind of get out of that limited mindset?

Tom Reber:
Right out of the gate, it's get clarity. Like where do you want to go? What do you want to be? What do you want your life to look like? Not just your business. What do you want your life to look like? At the end of this thing you're doing called your business and you're going to look back on it, right? You're going to go how am I going to know that I'm a competitive guy? So, I use language like win, right? Like how am I going to know I won? How am I going to know I got what I wanted? And I see sadly—and I've been here and I still struggle in my own business now from time to time with this aspect—is sadly most of us don't take time to really define what our own success is. There's a guy in one of our programs, he's in the water feature industry, he does maybe $280 to $320 a year like clockwork. It's him and he's got a helper and he works maybe three and a half days a week, pays himself about $175 grand a year and spends all his other time on his boat. He has no desire to build a big business and scale because he's a little older. He's in his late 40s and he's been doing this for a while now. But he was like man, I'm behind the ball on retirement and all this other stuff. So, his clarity was I want to make sure that we get to a point that my wife could quit her job, that we can actually retire, I want to fish, I want to enjoy my life, he's not on this chaotic hamster wheel. So, for him that's success where for somebody else it might be I want to build a $10 million company and whatever. And both of those can offer freedom, right? It just depends on what you want and I think sadly a lot of us set our goals based on what the guys in our industry are doing that are the big show-offs with a lot of trucks and a hundred employees and things like that when that's just not always for everybody. And so, I encourage people number one, get massively clear and then reverse engineer what it's going to take to get there. It's really no more difficult than that which you and I have talked about before.

Sean Adams:
You took the words out of my mouth. My next point was going to be about reverse engineering because I love that thinking. I'm doing my own kind of personal finance stuff right now and I'm thinking about my numbers. I love the idea even in an Excel sheet, just the exercise of putting a figure or a goal or something there and then figuring out kind of what the derivatives are. Like what steps would need to happen to get there, right? I'm like building my own equation of what that looks like at the five or ten year mark. Okay. Well, that's going to break down to a yearly mark and then a quarterly mark and then a monthly and ultimately down to weekly and daily tasks, ideas, methodologies. And again, like down to like your routines and your mindset going into a day, right? So that today starts to make a big difference because it's in line with all these other things that are going to happen, right? It's a domino in that line.

Tom Reber:
Totally.

Sean Adams:
I think that's really powerful. And what I've liked about your content of being someone who's consumed it for a long time is you break things down into good chunks. You try not to eat the elephant all in one bite. You try to break these things down and I was noticing you have kind of your fight plan I think it's called or fight planner.

Tom Reber:
Yeah. Fight planner, yeah.

Sean Adams:
Kind of goes in 90-day increments, something like that. Can you talk about how you use that as a tool or how you point contractors to take that bigger goal and maybe break it down into really like actionable, easy steps to consume?

Tom Reber:
Yeah. And for somebody listening to this, you can get a free page of it. So, it's a daily page. So, if you guys go to TheContractorFight.com/plan, you don't have to buy the planner. There's a 90-day thick spiral bound thing there. A lot of people just go there and download a sheet and they make copies of it and they use it. Okay? So, it's there for anybody that's listening. It's broken into the left side and the right side of the sheet. The left side is about your mindset. The right side is really about your business. And so, this is not meant to be a calendar or anything like that. It's basically just a daily where am I going to put my focus. So, earlier we talked about your income is a reflection or an indicator of your mindset, right? So, what we think whether it's intentional or subconscious, our thoughts become our beliefs and then our beliefs result, they lead to our actions or inactions. So, we will never act out of sync with what we really believe if that makes sense. So, like if you're telling yourself yeah, I can't sell my projects because of all the lowballers in my area, well, if that's going to become a belief of yours, then you're not going to take the necessary actions that are going to get you the results you want and that's why people end up in the mud all the time. They're just stuck spinning their tires. And man, listen, our planner, it was me taking stuff I've learned from brilliant people my whole life and just going these are some of the things I like about it and there it is and I just put it together that I think fits the average contractor, right?

So, the left side starts with gratitude. I just list what are three things I'm thankful for every day. Because I don't care how bad it is, what's going on in your life, there's always some things that we could be thankful for. Like you could lose somebody you love and it's probably the worst day of your life, right? But there's still something good in the day. Maybe you have a friend who's there for you and that's something you could be grateful for. So, I'm just saying like I'm not this pie in the sky woo-woo guy or anything like that but I really believe my routine is basically, it's my daily habit. I get up, I go pour some coffee, I grab my planner and I just fill out my planner and then I usually read a little and that's it and then I move my body up, calisthenics and stuff. So, it starts with three things you're grateful for. I'm grateful for this, that and the other thing and then it moves into three I am statements. This is me of who I see myself in the future. First thing I write pretty much every day in my I am’s is I am lean and strong. I'm lean and strong. I am lean and strong. Like I drill that into my head. And then under that on the left side, there's today's focus word and some people have a focus word for the year, some have it for a week. I'm a daily guy. I got ADD out the ying yang here man. So, like it's funny. Today my focus word is joy. I'm a really intense person and people think that I'm in a bad mood. I'm just driven, right? I'm trying to and sometimes I just blow through things and I don't enjoy the moment and this and that. And like I told you before, we hit record here, I'm at this Airbnb right now with the family. We're swimming, we're having a good time and I'm still doing a little work, hour and a half or so a day. And dude, if I'm not careful, I won't enjoy it. And so, I woke up today just going man, I need to just be fun today for the family. And so, that's the left side. That's just kind of and then I read all those things out loud so I'm hearing them. I'm hearing myself say them a couple times.

And then I move to the right side and the right side, the top is a quarterly goal. And this is like talk about the dominoes, right? Like what's the domino I need to hit over in my business this quarter that's going to get me to where I want to get five, ten, twenty years down the road. And so, I'm a big quarterly guy and that way I'm writing it physically, writing that quarterly goal every single day so it's fresh. Because most of us, what do we do? We set a goal, we don't look at it, we don't—and we go oh, shit, I set that goal, didn't I? And so, then under that, what are three actions I can take today? And this is above and beyond all the other responsibilities we have in our business, right? But what are three boxes I'm going to check that will lead me to that quarterly goal. It could be as simple as a phone call. It could be as in depth as other things that are more detailed in your business. But every day I'm taking three actions. So, what's that? 90 days times three? What's that? 270, right? So, I'm taking 270 actions like a laser focused on that quarterly goal.

And then under that I fill out at nighttime where at the end of the day, it basically says what's one thing I would have done differently today? Just kind of looking back. Not to beat yourself up. Just going listen, life happens, things happen, we get sideswiped by something and we have to deal with it. And then there's a thing to circle was today a win or a loss. Did I win or lose today? And for me—and this is just how I use it—my win is if I checked the three actions off that led to my goal. That's the only thing that counts it as a win for me or a loss. So, if I'm three for three, it's a win. If I'm two for three, one for three, it's a loss. I got to be perfect in those things for me to call it a win. And then there's a thing down there where it just says what did I sell today. How much did I sell? Because it's so easy when you're running a business to get caught up in everything else and if you don't have your eyes on the sales every single day of your business, it often suffers. So, what we focus on? Improve. So, it's just two seconds just going, it could be a zero, it could be 20 grand but just something to remind your brain that this is important. So, that's really the planner right there of how I stay on track and we got thousands of people that use them and benefit from them.

Sean Adams:
Yeah. I go through a very similar process myself personally and what I love about your methodology there is just the simplicity. I just think that there's just such a lack of concise, simplistic planning that can be done. It’s like okay, now I can think about this, right? It's certainly not easy. Nothing about this is going to be easy. It's three actions but I guarantee you, there's going to be days where you just don't get them. You might not get any of them done and that's okay. But you are now priming your day for what those things look like and that intention is so important because you just set yourself up for that success. So, we’ll take a real world example. One of the things you prescribe is this kind of like hundred thousand dollar contractor, right? Like you've got to make a hundred grand a year. And so, to some people, it's going to be like a hundred grand? I mean that's a joke. Like why would I want to shoot myself down at that size? Well, for you it might be 300 grand. But the point is to have an achievable this is a take-home, this is my salary from my company. And so many people just I mean and the green industry is plagued with people that get stuck. They did barely get by. There is no salary. There's what's left over at the end of the day.

And so, if we use that as this example in your process, well, how can we work backwards to make that a reality, right? You don't have time on a podcast to go through all the steps there. But when you look at something like that kind of intentional journal or that planner, you see how you can break down those steps, right? You can run the math on the back of a napkin, hopefully in something more complex than that like a piece of software. But the point is to get started and say if my average job is 2,500 and I break that down and I make X amount on that, how many of those jobs do I have to sell in a year, quarter, month, day, etc., right? So, see all these pieces start really big and overwhelming and then as you start to scale them down, it's like well, shit, I just got to quote 7,500 today, right? That's three estimates. Okay. That's actually not that difficult to do and some days you might do seven estimates. But if you miss the day, two days in a row, right? So, that's how you can keep yourself on track. So, have you seen people do that sort of reverse engineering at that level and tie it into something like those sales goals as well?

Tom Reber:
Yeah, 100%. And listen, I know there's people listening to this, that bigger companies and like you said, they're going 100 grand, whatever. But the average contractor, the average home improvement contractor across the board, we've polled them for years truly makes around 50 to 60 grand a year and is up to his eyeballs in debt and he's working too much and he's sitting his computer late at night. So, and then you just start looking at what life costs. I mean just look at what life costs above and beyond your house and food. Like last summer, dude, one of my sons woke up in the morning with a stomach issue and four hours later, they're cutting them open and doing emergency intestinal surgery and my cut of that was like 20 grand I had a stroke a check for. Okay? Well, what do most people do then? They're on a payment plan the rest of their damn life or they put it on a credit card or whatever. And my daughter's braces were, I don't know, five grand or whatever. You just start looking at all these things that it just takes to Uncle Sam wants his and your vendors need theirs and blah, blah, blah. And so, I want to give perspective here that like I just think 100 grand is like the basement here, right? It's the floor of what we should earn if we're going to own a business.

Now I know there's other people on here that I've worked with companies that are 40-50 million dollars. Okay? And I've worked with smaller ones as well. So, I get there's always a context to all this. But when you have that daily goal, I'm a daily sales goal guy because there's seasonal issues, right? There's fluctuations in lead flow and there's weather. So, it's not like if I want to do a million a year, it's exactly 250 grand a quarter. It never works out that way, right? So, that's why tracking is so important like we've talked about before and knowing what our close rates are and average job size. That's how you reverse engineer all this and if you want to get really cool about it, Mike Michalowicz, it's profit first. He's been on my show a couple times. He's an awesome dude. You tell the money where to go. And so, that's what I think a lot of guys don't do is they don't pay themselves first. They wait till what's left over and I just think it doesn't have to be that difficult. You just go listen, this is what I need to make. And what's funny, Sean? Is I find a lot of guys when they get the clarity we talked about earlier, they realize they're like well, damn, I don't need to build a big company. I need to be profitable, I need to have a good team, me and three four five other guys and we're clear on our rolls and they end up making a lot more. I mean I know guys who made more with six or eight guys than they did with 25 guys in the field because when you get to a certain point, it's like you're just feeding the machine, man. So, yeah, 100% reverse engineerable.

Sean Adams:
Yeah, Tom. So, I couldn't agree more. I definitely see it being reverse engineerable as well. So, I've seen this many times where it's like okay, I've given the contractor the tools, here's the sheet, in their head they're writing things down, maybe in secret, they're not telling anybody and they get it in their head that like that's what they're supposed to do. But there can be this lack of accountability there where what's really holding them to doing those tasks other than themselves and some people can really escape that being like oh, I just won't think about it and then I'm not going to be accountable for it, right?

Tom Reber:
Yeah.

Sean Adams:
So, I know that you have great groups and obviously you're a coach and you hold people accountable when they pay you to do. So, but you also have these groups. And how can you talk about how we can build in some more accountability for ourselves? Obviously, joining a paid group would be great. But just what has been helpful with that? Why is that important that we have someone outside of ourselves to give us that perspective with some of our goals?

Tom Reber:
Yeah. I think accountability simply starts with a strong why. I go back and forth on this, honest to God. Like part of me is like I shouldn't have to motivate you and hold you accountable if it's important to you. Do you know what I mean? But I also know the importance of having somebody in your corner. So, I think the community that you're in and it could be just a friend or a group of guys in your area, it could be a mentorship type thing, it'd be a coaching group. I mean there's a million different ways it can happen. Again, I sound like a broken record. Let's get back to the clarity of why you're doing this and what are you after and what are the stakes of it. What's at stake? I think so many times when we find ourselves procrastinating and blowing things off that we know we should do, I just don't think we understand what's really at risk here. I think too many times we just ignore the real issue and it's easy to go to the money and stuff, right? But like if you're going to own a business, then you better make some damn money because there's a lot of risks.

I'm catching a bunch of heat on social right now, dude because I just said like literally in the last 24 hours, I went online last night and I poked the hornet's nest. I said something to the extent of I think most contractors that own a business should quit and go get a job and it's been a shit storm. It's been funny because they’re like I'm never quitting and guys are like if you were my coach and you went online and said that, I'd be ticked at you. And I'm like well, the thing is number one, you think I give a shit. Number one, I don't care. I want you to be ticked at me because that's my job is to push your buttons and get you to think deeper. So, I think accountability, the community that you're in, the people you surround yourself with, dude, I do things that I don't feel like doing because I don't want to have to show up to my group that I run or groups that I'm part of or talk to my coaches and be embarrassed to go yeah, I didn't do what winners do this week. I'm sorry. So, for me, it's definitely an ego thing. I think also you got to look in the mirror and go when am I going to be done stealing from my family, stealing money, stealing time, stealing memories? Those are the things that that just come out of my mouth in our groups and accountability, I think it's important to have somebody in your corner that knows your why and can remind you of your why and then tell you the truth, call you on your BS.

And listen, this is why business ownership is not for everybody and it doesn't mean you're a bad human being or you're a loser or any. It just means you might not be cut out for you. You might not be cut out for it, dude, because maybe you're just not passionate about it. It's so funny that we're having this conversation because this week I did a YouTube video on this. I did a short podcast on this, a solo cast. So, it's fresh in my brain. If you've been doing what winners do, right? You've been tracking your sales, you’re setting goals, you're working on yourself, invest in yourself, you're spending less than you bring in, like you're marketing your business, if you're checking the boxes where man, I'm doing this and you're falling and failing and getting your butt kicked and you keep getting up, keep getting up. Okay? That’s that side of it. But if you find yourself over and over and over continually procrastinating on these things that you should be doing as a business owner, then you need to look in the mirror and go do I really want this. And sometimes it's just a matter of you're not passionate about it. Maybe you got roped into the trade somehow by a family member or you were guilted into doing it by your dad or I don't know what it is. But I find that like when you're truly passionate about something, you don't need a whole lot of accountability if that makes sense.

Like I mean I used to play in in rock bands and stuff. I'm a drummer, man. I used to gig six, seven nights a week and nobody ever had to like twist my arm for me to practice my rudiments and practice certain techniques and sit down with a metronome for six eight hours a day and things because I loved it. It was cool. The stuff I do now, the things I write down on my planner, I'm passionate about what I do. It's like I don't need accountability in that sense if that makes sense. You know what I mean? So, to be totally honest here, I kind of go back and forth going man, if you're really in this and you love it, then you don't need somebody in your ear all the time. However, the flip side is having a strong community and people in your corner often is the thing that is the fuel I've needed in the past to keep going when I'm a little down or something. You know?

Sean Adams:
Yeah. Motivation can come from multiple sources too, right? So, you've got intrinsic motivation which is arguably probably the larger percentage of what you need to have which is what you're talking about, passion. You've got to have a fire to get done what you want to do. And like in my business, we started mowing lawns. I don't know that many people that are absolutely in love with the idea of mowing lawns for a 40-year career, right? I certainly was and I was like 14 and I'm like after one summer, this sucks. Like I don't want to do this. But I fell in love with the game of business and commerce and sales and growing and finding people and opportunities, right? I found a piece of that, my why, that was larger than the day-to-day operational tasks. And so, I started to set myself up for like their forcing functions, right? It's the same idea of like being 30 pounds overweight and booking yourself for a marathon next year, right? Now you're set yourself up intrinsically that you know you've got to get that thing done because it's going to be super embarrassing. You have the social component where it's going to be bad when you tell people on social media and everything else that you're going to go do this and if you can't get it done or you back out or whatever. So, those forcing functions are helpful for accountability. But I do believe there's got to be that level of inside of you. You've got to care about something bigger than I got to get this tree removed to be able to make payroll so that I can get home and not think about business for two seconds. And like we all need breaks from that sort of thing but I think it's very, very important to be able to separate that but also have, like you said, the little foundational pieces of like all right, I care about this but it's part of my larger goal. I'm going to make sure I check off these things to get to what needs to happen. So, I totally get that.

Tom Reber:
Yeah. Well, and I think a lot of times, we—now I'll just share about The Contractor Fight, my business here. Our mission here is to bring respect and dignity back to the trades. That's our mission because what I see are a lot of amazing human beings in the construction industry that are taking risks with their wallets, they're taking risks with their bodies, they're working their asses into the ground every day, burning the candle, they're not making what they should be making, they're struggling with debt, their relationships are struggling at home, all because of this thing. And I'm sitting here just going I've been there. Man, I mean I've made millions through the years, I've lost shit tons of money, I've been on top, I've been bankrupt literally, I had to rebuild and I know what it's like laying there going I got to make a $60,000 payroll in four days got 2,500 bucks in the bank. I know those pressures.

So, let me take this deeper. So, why do I give a shit, right? I give a shit because, back to the clarity thing, I've learned to set a course for me and a destination that's rooted in my own values and one of the number one values to me, one of the most important things that is important to me that when I look back at my life I want to be able to say I had a positive impact in the world. And so, what I do in the fight is a reflection of that value of I simply want to have an impact. That's what drives me. That's why it doesn't feel like it's work. That's why I don't need somebody in my ear going man, you got to get this done, you got to get this done. So, I encourage people, we work with people one-on-one and do some coaching days and stuff like that, we spent a lot of time in this clarity piece of just being like Sean, who are you, what's important to you. Let's build the business around that and when you do that, you're more likely to not procrastinate, you're more likely to check the boxes, you're more likely to welcome the uncomfortable things because you know you have that clarity of where you're really going. It's not just setting a business goal, man. Because that gets old.

Sean Adams:
And back to your point, putting yourself in a position that your goals align with what your skill sets are too, right? There's some people that, like you said, they're comfortable being an owner/operator and having two guys next to them like an assistant and whatever else and they got a laborer and they're making their six figures. They're making whatever and they're happy. That's perfectly fine.

Tom Reber:
Absolutely.

Sean Adams:
But you can’t have your cake and eat it too, right? If you’re going to build this business, then there's certain skill sets and certain things that you're going to need. And so, I think that it's about working on the right things when you have that larger goal. So many times I know you'll agree with this, we see people like they're looking at the scoreboard and they think the scoreboard is time, like hours worked per week. That's the scoreboard, the metric they're chasing and we start to break that down and we're like but where are the hours going. Tell me about the outputs of your input, right? You spent the time there. What actually got done? Because really you just work for $13 an hour when you can pay someone to do that and you're [inaudible 00:27:18] circles. I used to put a little GPS in our trucks, right? And I would see myself and I would look on the map and it looked like a ball of yarn. And I'm like where the hell am I going? Like what a gigantic waste of fuel, my skill sets, my customers’ dollars, like everything. It was a giant waste. So, we've got to get out of our way and like bring in the ego component which I know you value too and go okay, it's not about—the hard work is there but working on the right thing. So, any thoughts, anything that come to mind when you hear that?

Tom Reber:
I love working hard, man. I mean I think most people listening to this love working hard. What drives me crazy is when I know I was digging the hole in the wrong yard, right? Or the ladder’s against the wrong wall and I've spent all year climbing the thing and I think that's—so, I want to work hard simply because I love to work. I like working. It reminds me of this story that I told on my podcast the other day. It might have gone live today actually. I was younger, I was working for my uncle, my uncle's a painting contractor and my grandfather, my uncle's dad also worked in the company. He was a World War II veteran, lifelong painter, golden gloves boxer, big guy, cinder blocks for hands. I pull up. It was a new construction house I think and he was painting spindles by hand on a staircase and I had to go upstairs into a bedroom and restain something or do whatever it was. I forget what it was. So, I run up the stairs with some stuff. I'm up there a couple of minutes. Back down out to the truck. Back up a few more minutes. Back down out to the truck. I'm this younger guy, right? And about the fourth time I did this, my grandfather, he called everyone a prick, he goes hey, you little prick! And I go what? I answered to it, right? He goes you're making me tired running up and down the stairs like this. He says take 30 seconds and think about what you need and go get it and walk upstairs one damn time and stay up there until the thing's done.

And that's what so many of us do. You were talking about your ball of yarn, right? One of the hardest things for a contractor to do is not be in constant motion because when we're not in constant motion, we feel like we're not getting anything done, we're not working. I got this guy work with and it’s his biggest struggle and I'm like dude, just take 15 minutes a day with your team and talk through the plan. Have a weekly meeting. And what's the old quote about spend the most time sharpening the ax and not trying to chop the tree down, right? And that's what you did. You're like man, by the time you calculate it, you're making 13 bucks an hour. And so, I would encourage people to do that. Like track how much you're working and how much you're actually bringing home and putting in your pocket and I think you'll be blown away and that'll be some serious motivation to help you to get more efficient.

And then earlier you talked about motivation and one of my favorite authors is a guy named James Clear and he writes on habits and routines. We are not always motivated to do the stuff that we have to do. And so, I encourage—and I'm stealing this from him, I'm giving him credit—create the habits where you know what those most important habits you need to create are in your day and it might be as simple as like my journal I was talking about or planner. Just writing down what I sold today. That is a habit. And one of my favorite quotes by him and I'm going to butcher it but it's basically be fanatical about behaviors that will pay off for you in 10 years. And when I heard that, man, it was almost like the skies opened up for me to a new level of just clarity and direction and focus and it really makes me just sit back and go okay, what are the behaviors, what are truly the behaviors that I'm I am going to relentlessly pursue that are going to be those right dominoes that knock all the other ones down?

Sean Adams:
Yeah. I've heard you talk about before and I can't recall. I think it was an author or whoever created it about the big rocks versus the small pebbles, working on the big thing to fill up, moving the dominoes.

Tom Reber:
Yeah.

Sean Adams:
Yeah. That same concept is unbelievably powerful. And back to your point of doing the calculations, finding out really what you're making or what you are assigning your hourly value to by taking these terrible tasks or not tracking your time. And the light bulb had to go off for me and that's why I try to have people go through exercises so the light bulb bulk can go off in their head because I can't force them to do it, right? It's got to happen to you. You got to have to have that experience and once you do and you start realizing that your money and your time are just being wasted in so many different areas, I mean the money you can always make more of. But once you really get crystal clear on that time and that like 30 hours, 40 hours a week, it's not that much time. Very, very easy to waste 40 hours a week in a million different things, right?

Tom Reber:
In everything, yeah.

Sean Adams:
And so, like getting crystal clear with your time, it spills into so many different things and I want to segue this into kind of your sales and the Shin Fu and kind of how you guys think about this. I think it's a perfect tie-in because people don't value the way in which they go and quote their work. You got owner/operators, you've got large companies. Owners and the sales teams spend the majority of their time doing what? Estimating and trying to drive new revenue for the business. It takes a shit load of time to do all that and a lot of effort and a lot of people just run around in circles to try to get the numbers that they want to get. So, let's just start by kind of going through the methodology or just how and why you think about this pre-qualification and taking the time to make sure that the leads are coming through the door are even worth us doing or where that came about in your life?

Tom Reber:
Yeah. Well, about six years ago, I started The Contractor Sales Academy with my partner Steve over there and Steve's in the green industry. Steve used to run North America, he used to own and he sold and made millions on I believe is at the time North America's largest swimming pool maintenance company. I think he had 3,000 teenage lifeguards working for him at one time and a bunch of stuff like that. So, and then he got out of that, retired when he was 38 or 40, 42, somewhere in there. Long story short, the day after the towers fell on 9/11, that was the day he built his first water feature and he had reached a point in his life where he just wanted to do something again. You know what I mean? And he heard you can make 50% on these things and he's like well, I'll do that, right? And his thing which I've always appreciated in the context here if it changes lives, he has fun and it makes money, he's all in. Okay? So, those are kind of his three criteria for a business. Can I change someone's life? And he believes he can in the water feature industry.

I mean I've seen it a million times in the green industry where you guys build something and people are hugging you and they're crying and it's so beautiful when they turn the water on a feature for the first time or whatever it is. One guy got a text. He built this water feature. In a text, it was a picture of the guy's wife lying next to the water feature and she was going through breast cancer treatments and chemo and the husband texted a picture and said hey, thanks to you and your team. I really appreciate this. This is the only place that she can rest and sleep. I mean you talk about tears to your eyes, right? So, anyway, Steve and I, I worked with his company, helped them with some marketing, coaching and some things like that and then we just developed this friendship. We decided we were going to start this thing called The Sales Academy because we saw so many guys. I'd been coaching for a while and this and that but I saw a problem of guys just, pardon the term here, but most contractor sales people, we're just everyone's a little bitch. You know what I mean? Like leave a bid in the box. They send you over all this stuff and I expect a quote by next Tuesday because that's when we're comparing all the bids and we're on everybody else's sales system except ours. That's really the root of this.

And so, we started this sales academy to help people take back control of that process because we in both of our businesses had massive success with this like you have. And so, really Shin Fu, the name of our sales process is called Shin Fu, it's named after my business partner Steve Shinholser because somebody at one time was like whenever an objection comes his way, he like deflects it like Kung Fu and then the next thing it was Shin-Fu, right? I think it happened over beers one night in Nashville. So, this thing called the Shin-Fu and it's five steps and they're just five things that are rooted in respect for the client and respect for you. It's that simple because the reality is most people that reach out to your company are simply not going to be your customer, right? I mean it's that simple and I want to say this upfront. A lot of guys end up selling work over the phone via pictures or videos and then they go out and pick up a deposit check and that's when they actually do the site visit. Okay? That happens a lot but that's not the goal of Shin-Fu. A lot of people think the goal is to sell over the phone. The goal is simply to only go see people that you already know are a good fit.

And so, step one is the motive. What's the why behind this? And it's rarely what you think it is. Step two, we get into the money. Okay? Let's see if we're on the same planet with money. We have a philosophy that you don't ever go see someone unless they already know pretty much what it's going to cost and they're cool with it. Okay? Then you get into what we call the truth and the truth is like if I come out here and tell you the same thing I just told you on the phone, what's going to happen? And this is also the time where through some series of word tracks and stuff that we train them on, if you get out there and there's unforeseen conditions or some site condition that's going to prevent you from doing it for around the range you talk about, you're just going to call the timeout and have an honest to God conversation with people and that's totally cool. Next is influencers, right? How many times are oh, I don't own the house or I got to talk to my wife or whatever it is? Well, you go talk to your wife before I schlep my ass out there and do an hour of windshield time each way and tap dance in your yard for an hour. Okay? And then I'm up at 11 at night negotiating against myself before I stand the proposal because I want to get it—this happened to me a million times that job was like $12,200 is what it came to and it was like one in the morning and I was too much of a chicken shit to just hit send. God, this was so long ago. I remember like last night. So, I lowered it to like $11,800 or $11,900 or something like that to get it under 12 grand. I sent it. I wake up the next morning. Hey, great, that's way less than we thought. We thought it was going to be like 20 grand. So, we do this all the time to ourselves.

And so, Shin-Fu is simply a phone—and you could do it in person. If you choose to just run out and do all these steps in person, go for it. But what we found is let's just take some time, 15-20 minutes on a phone call with somebody where you're just asking great questions, you're connecting with the real motive, you're connecting with them as a human being unlike all the other guys they're talking to who are just running around doing bids. You actually have a repeatable process that's rooted in respect. That's really it. And step five is the BS meter. It's the consultation fee. I mean we have guys that charge 500 bucks if you want to go out there. If you want them to come out and stand in your yard and consult you on shit, it's 500 bucks. We got guys that charge a thousand. We got guys that don't charge and they're fine because whatever. And the consultation fee, it's funny, like there's this whole is charging for estimates a good thing and the goal is not to charge for the estimate. The goal is a deposit check. And so, a lot of people make a big deal out of charging for estimates and we'll often tell people, I'll be like Sean, if I come out there and tell you it's 10 grand like I just told you here, I would hate if you don't move ahead. I have to charge you this ridiculous consultation via 500 bucks. I don't want your 500 bucks. If we're not a good fit, I don't want you to give me 500 bucks. So, what do you think we should do next? And oftentimes the customer will go yeah, that 10 grand’s like way more than all the other bids that we got from people and it's probably best and the customers love you because of the honesty. You have this great spirit of the conversation. They appreciate the fact that you told them the truth and then you get your life back, right? You get your time back.

One thing, dude, that we track, talk about metrics, is we call the ESR, your effective sales rate. So, take what you sell in a week, divide it by how many hours you spent in the sales process and the sales process is driving there, being in the yard, typing the thing up, follow-up call, follow-up call, follow-up call, email, now they're ghosting you, they're in witness protection because they got the price and you can't find them. And what we find, the better you are at sales, the higher that dollar amount is going to be, you're going to be more effective. It's your effective sales rate. So, we got guys that have a $12,000 per hour sales rate. We've got $9,000. Most guys come in and it's somewhere around $1,800 to $2,000 or something. And so, we've got example after example of people. I'm just proud of them. I'm bragging, man. I they're getting commitments over the phone through pictures. We've been doing this for six years way before corona, the COVID thing, right? They're selling $50,000, $60,000, $80,000 landscape projects. We have a guy that just sold a $200,000 project and he went out to pick up a deposit check and that was the first time he met the customers.

And there's a lot of other things that have to support that too, right? You got to be on point with your branding, you got to have a good website, you got to look the part and build trust. And so, I'm not negating any of that. But guys, we're stealing memories from our families. Okay? We're stealing—like that has hit me. I'm 50. I'm almost 51 in a couple months here. That has been hitting me like a ton of bricks lately of why it's so important to get our time back and to only go see people that are good fit. I have four criteria of an ideal client. They need or want what I have, they see the value in what I do, they're a joy to work with and they are willing to find the money to work with me. Those are four criteria. I didn't say they have the money but we all find the money for the stuff that we think is important. And so, those are the people that I want to work with and we coach people to work with. And it simply starts with a phone call. We've done as of a month ago, our group collectively has hit over 10,000 role plays done in 2020 so far. So, we do a lot of role plays with each other to practice. So, before you get into the game, it's like you've been there, right?

Sean Adams:
Man, that was a hell of a little summary of what that is.

Tom Reber:
Well, I get excited, man. It was funny. Near the end there, I was like shit, Tom, shut up, you're talking too much. But I'm excited about it because here's what I'm excited about, man. Like I had a guy tell me Shin-Fu and this program saved my marriage. What we started out to do was to help people with sales and what I've realized we're helping them repair relationships, create more memories. One of my guys in the program sent me a text. This is like the first year we had this thing going and I'll never forget. I was walking through a parking garage and I got this text from him and it was a little video of his daughter hitting a triple in her softball game. And he goes in years past, I would be out running around doing estimates and I would miss stuff like this. Thank you. That's why we do this shit, man. And listen, we deserve this. You're a human being just like they are. You're not their little bitch. Hey, run and put it in the mailbox and send this over. You don't be a jerk about the process. It's all about being confident in it and asking the right questions and things like that. But people respect it and you deserve it and your family deserves it. I don't care what size business you are. We just did a whole sales training day for a $15 million landscape company, man and they're on board big time because their phone's ringing off the hook. One guy in their water feature division, he said he's spending 40 hours a week just on the sales process stuff and he's closing 30%. I'm like well, dude, let's fix that. Let's cut that to spending 18 to 20 hours a week and sell the same 30% at your margins or whatever, right? So, it's, I don't, whatever but yeah.

Sean Adams:
Yeah. No, amazing stuff, Tom. And you've got thousands of case studies of why this works. There's many others out there. I prescribe to a very, very similar method and when I was finishing up kind of where I went through selling my business, you were just getting started in the consulting world and it kind of validated all the stuff that was working well for me. That methodology, I can speak from experience. It really, really was transformational for me and I remember a very similar type story. I was kind of scaling. We were doing well and I hired my mom part-time to come help me in the office and she was excited to get going. I had her set up at home and she was doing her thing and I kind of walked her through like what this looked like. And circling back to the beginning of this conversation about mindset, right? It took me seven, eight years to realize that there were people willing to meet my parameters as well as I was going to meet theirs and she came in like well, Sean, lawns cost $35 to mow and like this is—what do you mean you're going to charge them? How can I tell someone I'm going to charge them? And so, when I walked her through the process and we got down to it, she always tells the story of people that kind of go through and find out that like all right, we weren't the best fit and I would give them a referral down the street. You know who would love this? Andrew. He's 21 years old. He just started. He's looking for customers. He'd be a great person for you. And she would just talk about how those customers would be like—or they're not really my customers—but blown away that we would give them a reference or someone would call in and say hey, I need something done on my fence and I would have a list of all the subcontractors that we would use and I would just say look, if that's all they want, just give them the lead. Like fine.

Tom Reber:
Yeah.

Sean Adams:
You become that resource and it just instills this level of confidence and then what would have been your customer leaves with this unbelievable feeling. It's like they're blown away by that even if you turn them down. So, circling back to that beginning of the conversation, right? The mindset around oh, I don't want to tell somebody no. What are they going to do? Are they going to sue you because you didn't work for them? Like think about it, right? They would rather you not waste their time in the beginning and that's all you're saying. It's just about the methodology, the way you go about it and you have to stop thinking that this is going to be this thing that crushes your business because now you're playing hard to get. It's not like that. It's actually being the most professional you could possibly be and people will respond to it. I mean it's a proven method.

Tom Reber:
And the key is that you don't tell them no. The key is through your word tracks and some of the strategies and tactics and nothing slimy, it's just through learning to be a better communicator, they come to their own conclusion that they're not going to invite you out to their home because we're not a good fit. So, it actually ends up being their idea because of the way that you navigate the conversation and the questions that you ask. In fact, we don't even encourage people to invite themselves to somebody's home. We want them—I'll give you one of the golden questions is simply this, like if somebody goes hey that's way more money than all the other guys, don't defend it. Just go yeah, I get that from time to time. What do you think our next move is here? I'm taking control by putting it in your court. Or yeah, Tom, that $10,000 budget sounds great. I have no problem paying that or whatever. I'd be like Sean, I appreciate that. What do you think our next move is? What do you think we should do next? What do you think we should do next I promise you we'll change the game and in that case, a lot of times they'll go well, how does it work? Is this when we set up a time for you to come out and confirm everything like you just said? Now they're inviting you out. Now you're not an invader. You're not the invasion force coming into the home. You're an invited guest. And so, it's these little nuances in communication that really build trust with people and things like that.

Sean Adams:
Yeah. And again, that's what it's worth investing in. That's what's worth putting the hours into learning and even if you are not going to be that person, maybe you're more of the back of the office, back of the house type of guy, you don't want to do that, you're hiring an estimator, you've got an office staff, these things are still going to work for your company. It doesn't have to be you but someone's got to be doing that, right? So, you've got to instill these best practices. So, Tom, I love that you went through that. I want to force as many people to kind of check that out. You have great content online on the social media platforms. If somebody wants to learn a little bit more about that, just give us an idea of kind of what does that offering look like? Do you have a group setting? I know there's a couple different ways in which they can learn more about what you can help with.

Tom Reber:
Yeah. Well, first and foremost, what we were just talking about there with the Shin-Fu is that they can learn more at ContractorSalesAcademy.com and that's a hundred percent sales coaching. Super active group, great community, people really have each other's backs. I'm blown away by what it's become. And then my whole world as a whole is called The Contractor Fight. So, anywhere you go online and we've got everything from we have one main pillar group program called The 100k Contractor. That's designed to get you 100 grand personal income within a year. Or if you're already making that, it's to get you to that next hundred. There's monthly topic calls. There's open coaching calls. They have access to me and my coaches a few times a week. So, it's really like just having a great resource on call, right? And then we do some one-on-one stuff where I go to somebody or they come to Colorado for a day and a half of coaching which is called our Conquest Program. But listen, man, I know not everyone's in that position. So, there's also a ton of free stuff out there, like I said, the planner thing I told you about. We have over 300 podcast episodes where we drop some knowledge to you. We got Contractor Fight TV on YouTube where I break stuff down on how you should charge for your work. And we have thousands of people that message us and go man, I haven't spent a dime with you and my business has doubled in the last two years. Thank you. Right? So, and that's cool because again, I want to make the connection in case somebody missed it here, this comes back to the value of mine that's most important is that I have an impact. Okay? Of course, I'm a business. Of course, I want to grow my business and all that other stuff. But the thing that drives everything we do in the fight is we are here to have an impact and bring respect and dignity back to the trades even if it means you don't hire us. Okay? I get it. I'm not for everybody. There's so much abundance in the world. It's like whatever. We'll be good, man. Anyway, I appreciate you letting me be here today, man.

Sean Adams:
Absolutely. Yeah. It's our pleasure and you dropped some great knowledge there. I think the mindset stuff alone and tying that back into the actionable steps and how we look at our business, it's unbelievably impactful for guys. So, thanks so much for being on here, Tom. We will link to all those resources in the show notes so people can check them out. I highly suggest at least giving Tom a follow and then definitely check out the YouTube videos to get started. I think you'll have a bunch of things you can take away there and open or broaden your horizons about what is possible. I think you're going to see a lot of those stories come to life. So, Tom, thanks again for being here. Really appreciate it.

Tom Reber:
Thanks, Sean.

Conclusion:
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