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Rolando Serrano
Ever Pro logo

Rolando Serrano

Ever Pro – CEO

rolando@tryeverpro.com

www.tryeverpro.com

Steve Borrebach
Ever Pro logo

Steve Borrebach

Ever Pro – COO

steve@tryeverpro.com

www.tryeverpro.com

Speed to lead

 

Mark Ambrose: Today, we’re going to interview the two owners of Ever Pro at tryeverpro.com. They run a virtual office company for home service companies, excel at customer service, and use machine learning to enter the 21st century.

So without further ado, let’s introduce Rolando Serrano, CEO, and Steve Borrebach, the COO of Ever Pro.

We appreciate you guys joining us today and sharing your insights and expertise with the audience out there. So thanks for taking the time and joining us today.

Rolando Serrano: Thank you, Mark. Appreciate it.

Steve Borrebach: Thanks for having us, Mark. We appreciate it.

Mark Ambrose: So you guys can talk as you see fit, jump back and forth, but tell us what you guys are doing now, who your customer is, and what it is you do to help them out.

Rolando Serrano: So our company is called Ever Pro. And what we do is serve home services contractors in the United States. We help them manage the day-to-day operations of operating a business. Specifically, what we do is the shorthand is we’re an answering service for these businesses.

What we do is: 

  • take calls from customers
  • learn about their problems
  • collect all of their information
  • examine their schedule
  • examine the calendar
  • see where that customer fits in
  • then schedule and dispatch them to the technicians

This  lets business owners to go out and do their work without being interrupted throughout the day.

Or they have to take these calls while doing something else under the sink or working with another customer. They are picking up pieces to go satisfy another customer client, and so on.

So we take a lot of the interruptions and customer service interactions out of the day-to-day by handling those calls, talking to the customer, getting all the info, and then getting them on the calendar and moving on to the next one.

Mark Ambrose: So, customer service dispatch and even lead generation or lead assignment.

Steve Borrebach: Yeah. 

Rolando Serrano: So there’s an element of not necessarily lead generation, but lead management, which means, if there’s a request that comes in via email, online web form, or phone call. 

Basically, our representatives will take the call or make the call and then go ahead and engage with that customer and go through the same workflow to understand what their need is and then fit them into the calendar as the business owner has specified.

Mark Ambrose: I like that.

Steve Borrebach: That’s a perfect high-level overview, and I think one of the areas where Rolando and I really kind of stand out with Ever Pro is that today’s world is all driven by data; big data drives decision-making.

And so I think one of our competitive advantages is we understand that. We try to gather these data points for our pros, provide them with more business insights, phone calls, conversion on leads to help them make better decisions as a strategic partner for them.

But also the world is just changing so fast. Technology is growing and adapting and evolving at such a rapid pace. It’s important to have a partner who can understand and work with some of these guys and gals in the service industry. Maybe they aren’t up to speed with all the latest trends in tech.

So kind of blending those two worlds, but still keeping that human touch on it. It’s really important to have human-to-human conversations. I think we’ve seen that more now, more than ever, with COVID and everybody kind of being stuck at home.

Everybody still likes to talk to people and have that human interaction, but you got to bring it up with data points and tech to drive business decisions forward.

Mark Ambrose: Yes. So as your ideal home services, contractors, your industry, is there a dollar figure or like several trucks that they’re rolling? Are you looking for smaller to mid-sized guys? Who don’t yet have an entire office full of staff, or are you looking for any size because your systems are superior and you can process quickly and save these guys money on any level.

Rolando Serrano: We cover all of them. The way we think about it is less about which specific segment that we want to go after. We’re a smaller business, so we’re not looking to be the McDonald’s of answering service.

We simply want to work with people who share our vision of the future, believe in the same things we do, and want to do business in a way that helps grow their business.

And so it could be owner-operators. We have plenty of those guys, and we find that those are some of the most rewarding relationships that we’ve had, where they just say, “I’ve been in business for 14 years. Oh my God. This is just revolutionary. This is just really eased a lot of pain and petty, frustrating things on top of getting the job done and working with clients and all of that“.

So yes, we’ll run the gamut, and then we still have multiple truck operations that are running, ten trucks, eight trucks, pretty good sized businesses that are, doing a lot of jobs. And so we’ll help them out.

And you kind of alluded to it with those guys. It’s really a cost-saving, but it’s also an employee retention strategy, and that we have a lot of employees that answer the calls for these customers, so there’s never a missed call. There are no days off for illness. You’re never down a key person. We have several levels of redundancy.

And so, from that perspective, it is cost-efficient, but it’s also cost-efficient in that we’re less costly than hiring a full-time person. Still, you don’t have a lot of the constraints of hiring somebody where you have to guarantee a certain amount of hours or train them and onboard them and manage them and “Hey, we’re not busy and oh sh*t, you still have to pay them because it doesn’t matter.”

Like you got to keep the employee on the payroll, but we’re not busy. So you got to look for things that keep them busy and so on. So there’s just a lot of challenges with the cycles of the business. And so for us, we just have a lot of very well-qualified representatives to answer the phone, and can handle the job 24/7 and 365 days a year.

Mark Ambrose: That was the thing that impressed me. So we met through a mutual client. Bob Olson of RT Olson Plumbing that we both serve, and he was impressed by the knowledge of your CSR team. That they could speak plumbing to the customers or prospects calling in.

So you’re looking for a client who is open to technology and to working with other teams. Is that the frame, the mindset of your ideal client?

Rolando Serrano: Yeah. That’s really who has the shared vision of the future that we have. And so the future for us looks like mobile phones are real, and more and more people are using them for everything.

Mark Ambrose: Yeah. It’s a new World.

Steve Borrebach: There’s a lot of people that don’t even have computers, right? Their phone is their computer.

Mark Ambrose: And in a lot of the developing world their phone is their computer, and I don’t doubt that that’s now penetrating the West as well; we’re going digital. And now we have due to COVID a nomadic kind of world a little bit. So those people scaled down from desktops and such. And quite honestly, that little phone in your hand is more powerful than what landed people on the moon.

Rolando Serrano: Yeah. What that means to our clients or us, is that the world is changing quickly and how we used to do business is no longer how we need to do business.

And some of these companies have been legacy companies for multiple generations, and we just need to adapt. And so it’s just about knowing that and being willing to do the work, to adapt to whatever trends and changes need to be made. So consumer habits and ways of engaging with business owners are just different.

But one of the things that I think about often is A1, so there are many A1 companies. The reason is that it would put you number one on the yellow pages because you would come up alphabetically. So that is like the first thing that comes up.

And so there’s a lot of A1 companies out there, which is great. That was the Google of the time and page ranking that’s the kind of innovation that we look for. And the new digital landscape, so that’s the kind of thinking we apply to our business every day.

And we’ve just gleaned that information from the customers. The customers will tell you everything. They will tell you exactly how they want to do business. So that’s what we do all day, every day, as we talk to our reps, run data analytics on the conversations themselves, all of the texts that come from that, and try to glean more insights into how we can handle these conversations better.

How do we get more conversions? What are the homeowners looking for that our customers, our service professionals are not offering? What is that gap? And we have that conversation with the business owner to say, “Hey, there’s some opportunity here. How do you want to capture that? How do you want to go after that?”

So that’s the shared vision that we’re talking about is. How do we look at yesterday’s A1 innovations, what are those for tomorrow, and how do we apply that and have that conversation today to be ready for the future?

Mark Ambrose:  That’s a really good analogy. Everybody was AAA or A1 because they were trying to get on page one of the Yellow Pages, which was the Google of their day.

Steve Borrebach: And taking it just to step back to your original question there, Mark. Every call is a sales opportunity. And with sales, you need to build trust, and you need to be empathetic; you need to build rapport, build that connection.

And so the more that we can bridge that gap between the plumbing professionals that are out there doing the work and the homeowner or the tenant or whatever it may be, and show the customer, right?

The homeowner, the tenant that we have, that knowledge we have that mastery of this field will make them feel at ease, and that’s the most important thing delivering the best service for that particular person so that they keep coming back for more.

So the more that we can do that, the better we can deliver on that promise and that product for our particular customers, the home service professionals, the better.

Mark Ambrose: I was impressed right there in that explanation. It sounds like you guys are using data analytics. You’re recording the calls and then using data analytics on the content of the calls to extract opportunities for training and for the expansion of products and services. What else are you analyzing that data for? That’s interesting to me.

Steve Borrebach: I think that’s a really exciting tool, which we just started. That’s kind of taking it back to the beginning. The world is changing so fast, and technology is expanding so rapidly that these tools are available.  And then it’s about how we can best utilize it to suit your business’s needs.

This doesn’t just apply to us. This applies to all sorts of industries and verticals and companies out there but can translate speech to text, and then we can apply our custom markers to identify words and phrases. We can use those to emotions and different contextual points. Like this is more like a sales pitch.

This sounds kind of more customer servicey. And then our people on the phone applying those strategically to get to better outcomes. So we can say, Hey, if we’re a little bit more about sales and use these words when we’re talking about, it translates to capturing more jobs.

If we use these words to build rapport and create emotion and connection, they will translate to better conversations or happier customers.

Mark Ambrose: I like it. What do you call yourselves, a virtual office? What would the term of the type of business you are? Cause you’re a lot more than an answering service.

You’ve taken that to the moon and back; it sounds like. What’s your elevator pitch? We just walked in an elevator at a trade show; we’re going up. I’m a fortune 500 CEO of the biggest home service company in the world. Do you want my business? We got 30 seconds… go!

Rolando Serrano: Unfortunately, it’s just not that sexy the way. I would just kind of frame it. We’ve taken the friction out of running your business. Like that’s it. And so there’s just so many facets that go into that, right. That we kind of touched on there.

And I think it all comes back to your question there, Mark, as far as like, well, how do you apply some of that, the analytics that we’re talking about to the business and I think it’s just four things. It comes down to specifically looking at the areas of opportunity we look at and just going back to just like that.

The conversations that we’re having and how do we analyze that? It comes down to customer service and brand management. We want to deliver a great experience for the customer because that is your brand. And guess what? We’re foreign to our business owners right off the bat.

And so that’s paramount they’ve been running these businesses sometimes multi-generations and sometimes for 15 years plus or 30 years. And so, for them, it’s paramount that we deliver exceptional service and represent their brand in the best way possible. So I think that’s like the first one.

The second one would be, you know what, we’ve talked about a couple of times, but just conversion. Let’s make sure that we’re making the most of the opportunities coming their way, whether it’s an incoming call or an incoming lead through texts or online form or whatever. Let’s make sure that we’re making the absolute most of that opportunity.

What is the opportunity that the customer looking for, and how do we best satisfy that on every single call? So the second thing we’re looking for in the analytics is which representatives are having conversations, what terminology they’re using, how they’re using it, and whether or not it’s making a difference. So we can look into that.

The third area is employee management, so internal. For us, the service level is consistent across the board. Everybody is getting treated into the standards that we’ve set forward, which are very high. So just consistency and making sure that there are no bottlenecks and all of that.

So it’s really like performance management, but just kind of internal operations, management. So that would be like the third component. And then, the fourth one would be looking for those opportunities in terms of product lines and services. Like what are customers looking for that we don’t necessarily the business owner doesn’t necessarily already offer.

And so that would be kind of like the product categories and just ensuring that we’re well-positioned in the market to capture all of that opportunity. So it does kind of go back to that conversion piece, but it’s more not conversion from existing product lines or product offerings, but the future. Yeah. Just another opportunity. I think that’s it. Like the elevator pitch is.

 

Episode 30 - Interview with Rolando & Steve from Ever Pro

Mark Ambrose: Pretty good.

Steve Borrebach: Yeah. Well, that’s a long elevator pitch.

Mark Ambrose: No, that’s good. Those are four important points. So on point number one, most important, I’m sure excellent customer service and tying in point number two to convert that caller into a service call or a lead.

According to our mutual friend there, Bob, it sounds like you guys are training your CSR teams in the field of plumbing. And I don’t know what other areas you guys use, but certainly, in the plumbing, your CSR team can talk plumbing to the people who are calling in.

Rolando Serrano: Yeah. And we’ve flirted with the idea of becoming plumbing certified, obtaining an apprentice license, and other such things. We toyed with the idea but it’s not practical, but that is the standard that we want to maintain really, we want to make our team as damn good as a technician so that they can have that conversation in an in-depth and wonderful way on the phone.

Not that they will ever use it. Because homeowners typically are not getting deep in those conversations. We don’t necessarily estimate over the phone, and we’re not diagnosing over the phone. 

However, having that back knowledge, you reassure the customer that you are more than capable of handling the task at hand. And so we want that confidence to come across, and we want our reps to have all-day, every day, we do this all the time. Right.

Steve Borrebach: And you can set the technician up for success. If you hear these keywords over the phone call, and you’re better trained at taking those minor points and saying, “Oh, it could be this. It could be that,” you can ask different questions. 

You’ll know what to ask, what information to get to provide for the technician. We almost want it to be like a technician is talking to the homeowner to book that service appointment. They don’t have the time to do that. They’re out of their job.

The more, as I said, we can bridge that gap, it’s just going to make it much easier for the technician. Once they get out there, it will create a much better customer service experience for the person calling in. They’re going to feel well taken care of and reassured, “Okay. I called the right company”.

Mark Ambrose: Yeah. You want to be able to if I’m calling a plumber or electrician or something, I want them to answer the phone. I want a human being to answer the phone. As Rolando said earlier, we’re in a new world. So if you don’t answer the phone, I’m hanging up. I’m calling another guy or a girl.

Steve Borrebach: Yeah. You’re probably on Yelp going down or Google, going down the list -1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 whoever doesn’t answer you’re going to call the next company.

Mark Ambrose: Exactly. And then after I get that human being, I want somebody who can exhibit some knowledge. I do realize it is a customer service office person answering the phone.

I don’t expect them to be a plumber or an electrician, but I do expect them to know a little about it, and then you guys in your training can certainly help; as you said, Steve, you could help the sales tech serve them up better to the client. You can identify maybe I’ve got a leak in my floor or whatever, and your person can help them turn off the water before the tech gets there or something.

I’m sure you’ve got all kinds of checklists and stuff. So that’s awesome. How many of these service companies would you say are independently owned and it’s the owner with their cell phone and it half the time it goes to voicemail?

Rolando Serrano: Man, I would say about 70%. We got ourselves into a situation where they’d have one phone and, it’s like, “Hey, well if we need to get ahold of you direct,” if they forward the number over to us and then we need to get ahold of them for whatever reason.

We can text back and forth, but if we need to call, we say, “Hey, what’s that number?” We can call that. This is it; this is like my personal business day, night, all the time, which is great. It’s awesome. It’s worked out well, but they’re not set up like a proper business in that there’s defined kind of parameters between personal and business.

And I would say about 70%; it starts slow and steady. And before you know it, 10, 15 years have gone by, and it’s just all on your phone.

Mark Ambrose: But he’s missed out on, oh my God, how much business? Because again, we’re going down the list. So 99% of the people are not going to wait for the plumber to call back. They’re going to go to the following number on the list. So how much business is lost by not picking up the phone and letting it go to voicemail?

Or that you have a problem, like, let’s say you just did a job, but there was a mistake, or an error or something happened afterward. And now the client is calling back and I’ve got a problem. And instead, I get a voicemail, so maybe I get a bad review now as the contractor because I’m not answering my phone; we’ve seen those reviews, I called three times, and I couldn’t get through”.

Steve Borrebach: Yeah, from my perspective, everything you said earlier, Mark everything’s digital, right? So reviews in today’s world are essentially word of mouth. I think we may have discussed that in one of our previous phone calls. Reviews are word of mouth, so if you don’t have good reviews, they will not find a plumber Jim on page 2.

If it’s a difference of a few blocks away and there’s a company with 50 reviews, and there’s a company with 10, they will call the company with 50 reviews. First, that’s where it comes from. Frankly, if you’re not answering the phone, you’re not probably not going to have 50 reviews anyways.

And if you do, they’re probably not very good of no fault to the service business. Many of these guys are hustling, they’re out there trying to do the work, and it’s tough. It’s not easy, but every opportunity is to lead. And if you don’t capture that lead on the first, go around.

That person’s going to go somewhere else. Whether they’re going to try to book online, that’s a big thing in today’s world, and consumers will want that. When I order food, I order online, and I ordered Uber Eats, or I’ll order it online and pick it up. I don’t call the restaurant anymore, and ten years ago, that’s all you did. You’d call the restaurant.

Mark Ambrose: In fact, I heard Rolando say earlier that you guys were taking in the phone call the text, the web forms, and maybe live chat. You’re not just a phone answering virtual office. You are all-encompassing, all communication channels, and then you’re replying in those channels, like live chat.

Steve Borrebach: Yep, exactly. Right. And that’s just a customer interaction, and that will continue to adapt. And we want to provide our customers, our clients, these home service professionals, the ability to adjust. And since that is what we do, we can do that at the highest level for them. 

But if they were to do it on their own, maybe they wouldn’t get to that level and deliver that profound customer experience so that they can get that five-star review and continue to grow their digital word-of-mouth marketing g and things like that.

Mark Ambrose: Well, they might be able to answer the phone intelligently on their own, but they’re never going to be able to do all the other things that you do. Machine learning, identifying gaps in services, you know?

Steve Borrebach: And doing it with speed and with accuracy. Cause that matters today.

Mark Ambrose: I brought that up Steve because speed is immensely important. So many of these guys are buying leads right from these lead farms, like a Home Advisor or whatever. And speed is the number one rule.

I’m not a fan of those lead farms but it does work for some of these guys. The big problem is it’s usually a race to the bottom price. So that’s why I’m not a fan, but it’s also speed to lead. So you have to be fast. Not only do you have to answer the phone, but when do you get that lead, you better respond immediately.

That’s amazing right there. So it sounds like you’re integrating with their CRM if they have one or maybe providing one to them; if they don’t. So you’re integrating technology with their systems. Yes.

Rolando Serrano: Absolutely. And so when it comes down to is two parts, one is meeting our customer where they are.

Meaning we don’t want to overhaul their whole business operations because that’s just disruptive. So that’s the first part. And the second part is what we were just talking about, which is now meeting the consumer the homeowner where they are. And so we touched on a couple of things.

One is communicating to them through a phone call and missing phone calls and things like that. But I think what’s important for me constantly is to just to get down to the root cause. Like why do we not answer our phones? And obviously, service professionals are busy, but when they have an office manager, we still miss opportunities.

And what it comes down to is many people are competing for business owners’ attention. There’s legit, actual customers, salespeople and spammers, and those types of people. And then there’s the existing reoccurring customers or follow-ups and things like that.

And then they’re also running their own personal phone on top of their business while they got their kids. You got to go pick them up from school or their Mom who just went into the hospital or whatever it is. There’s a lot of competition between the wife and the friend who wants to hang out this Friday or whatever.

So there’s a lot of people competing for their time. We have to channel and pipe all of those people into the appropriate channels and capitalize on the opportunities that come through each one. So, spammers, we eliminate that. 

A hundred percent, we have a way of identifying those and not even interrupting our client, but also not interrupting our team so that they can focus on the real true opportunity.

Now, if it’s a supply house, no big deal, let’s get the information. Let’s get that message and take care of it. If it’s a business opportunity, let’s convert that. If it’s a follow-up, let’s make sure we follow up and deliver grades. If it’s a personal call, no problem, get that information.

And so that’s why there are so many missed calls. It’s not that we just don’t care or we don’t know that it’s important that we give good service to get reviews and so on. It’s hard; it’s fricking hard, right? So that is the crux of the issue. And that’s the problem that we solve.

And so we solve it by making sure that everybody lands in the right place and that the calls that we don’t need to worry about just get eliminated. And so that’s the inbound, right? And then we talked about the online portals, right? So we talked about filling out a form online, now we’re talking to people through keyboards.

So there’s the phone, and there are keyboards. Once again, we met the customer where they’re at and where they’re coming from, so maybe they chose text. And beyond that, let’s make sure that we text immediately. Let’s make sure that we call that lead back directly because, as we know, we’ve all seen the graph of basically the success ratios, and every minute costs you a significant dip in conversion.

So from one minute, you’ll get nine out of 10 opportunities. Two minutes, you’re going to get eight out of 10, three minutes, so on, and so forth. But by five minutes, you’re getting maybe 10 or 15%, and that’s it. And it’s just gone after that. 

And so we built our systems, to go back to your point, to integrate with what they’re working with. We’ll meet the customer where they’re at. Then we will continue to build on incremental changes so that they can, in time, see the massive results in terms of revenue, profitability, efficiency, and all of that.

 

 

Steve Borrebach: Yeah, and right now, we don’t necessarily coach any of our clients on “Hey, go with this or that CRM.” That’s not what we do, although we could. Rolando and I have a unique experience in the home services industry, being a part of HouseCall Pro for such a long time and seeing the struggles and seeing the tools to help them. Them being the home service contractors and professionals.

So we just have a unique eye and a unique lens that we’re looking at this market through. And we have customers that are on HouseCall Pro or Jobber or Service Titan and others are just on a Google calendar and we’re more than happy to help and guide them in the right direction. But that’s not necessarily a service that we put on the website.

And we will continue to follow this path as we integrate with different tools and things like this, and we will create and build more tools to become standards in the industry. And so we need to stay on top of those trends, but then you have the mainstays, right. 

And the more that we can integrate and have automated data transfers and things like that. Hey, it’s going to be easier, right? So that means our team can have more time to get other things done, and it’s better for our customers because all the data’s in there succinctly and clearly at the flick of a switch, and they can access that wherever they are because that’s just how their tools work.

Mark Ambrose: Exactly. What do you guys do when they have no CRM, no systems? You get the single sole proprietor running his plumbing business for 15 years or whatever, and he’s got no tools. Like Orlando said, he’s got the cell phone in his pocket, which he answers half the time.

But now, if he doesn’t have tools, there’s probably a few limitations on what you can do for that.

Steve Borrebach: Yeah, there is. And I think that has opened our eyes to some of the operations that are getting run, and you can successfully run a business to a certain level doing that. That’s for sure, you can do that to a certain level, but where, and I think we kind of spoken, touched on this earlier, but—

Where do these customers want to be?

Where is their vision of the future?

What do they want to do for themselves and seeing the tools in their own business? 

We have quite a few clients on Google calendar and don’t have a CRM, and that’s where we book their jobs. Right onto their Google calendar, and we’ll text them the information.

Mark Ambrose: Yeah, you meet them where they are, as Rolando said. Otherwise, I go in, and I tend to disrupt their life and their business a lot. Cause I’m saying, “Hey, you’re living in a yellow pages world but the rest of the world is in a smartphone world”.

Suppose you want your business to be different and more successful, and more efficient. Work fewer hours have better control grow from within spend less on acquiring customers. Then you need to harness and accept the tools of the trade today. You would go out and get a new tool for your business. 

I wish I knew the name of the top of my head, some plumbing tools or whatever, but if a new tool came out to make replacing a toilet easier and it legitimately cut half an hour of labor out of a job, you would get that tool.

So same thing here; they’re just not exactly related to your industry. It’s not an industry tool, but it is a business tool. These are business tools, and these men, and women need to harness the technology. So you guys, if I got, say I’ve learned a lot more about what you do.

So if I’m a home service company, give me a few tips that I could just institute myself to help me run a bit better customer service team, maybe I have one or two girls in the office. Let’s give them a tip or two that you think might help them increase business a little bit.

Rolando Serrano: Yeah. So we have a handful of criteria. So if we talk about every call being the perfect call, really just having the perfect call every time. There’s a handful of criteria that goes along with that—

  • being empathetic with the customer
  • restating the problem
  • capturing all of the relevant questions to the problem itself
  • etc.

So there’s just like a handful of things, but I think it comes down to what is important to you. The United States is big, and there are just so many different pockets. And all of our customers work in different industries and then also in other geographical areas. And so it just comes down to what’s important to your customers and you as a business owner?

And then once you identify what that is, deliver on that. Measure that, and make sure that you and your teams are providing that. And so it’s not a catchall which is like, “Oh, what’s the number one tip.” It’s like, really, just who do you want to be remembered as.

Like the world is noisy, everybody’s competing for everybody’s time and attention and even more so with the Facebooks and the Instagrams and the Tiktoks of the day. Where it’s just like bang, bang myself included. I got the apple watch. It’s just like constantly bombarding me.

I was relaxing last night with my in-laws that are in town. And I get a picture of my friend, like on my phone; it’s just like a picture of him. “Gosh, why are you on my wrist right now?” and so it’s just an interruption, right? And so there’s just so much of that today. And so the point is the world is noisy.

What do you want to be remembered for and define that and then deliver that every single time? Cause the easy answers are like, oh, empathy and relate to the customer and understand their issue and reiterate that and set the proper expectations on those things.

Mark Ambrose: Well, those might sound routine to you, Rolando, and maybe to other people out there, but that is the most important thing for the CSR team. People were answering your phone; you can train them to listen. 

Steve Borrebach: Well, there’s two ways there’s listening, and there’s hearing. Listening, you’re intently taking in what the other person is saying. Not only what they’re saying, but how are they saying it? What’s the tone in their voice?

What’s in the background that maybe they’re not communicating? Do they sound like they’re in a stressful environment, and their voice is a little bit frantic when they talk. That can adjust how you respond and where you take that conversation. Yeah. But if you already know what you want to say the whole time, then you’re not even listening.

You’re just hearing until they stop talking. And then I can say what I wanted to say now. You have changed to listening.

Mark Ambrose: Changing to listening is an acquired skill set, too, for most of us. Most of us, our ego wants to shout out, “Hey, look at me. I know something about that too, or whatever”.

Especially when it comes to your customer calling in, you just want to listen. What’s your problem? How can I help? And Steve, like you, said, what’s the emotion behind it? How frantic is it? How emergent is it?

Well, that’s good stuff, guys. Is there a common myth in your industry that you’d like to debunk?

Rolando Serrano: I think something that comes up often is that many business owners don’t know how to run a business. I think that’s like a common thread. It comes in different flavors, but it’s like, “Oh yeah, these guys are not great business people,” things like that.

And I think that’s wrong. I don’t believe they are not great business people. I think they just don’t know how to operationalize their business. And so we’re coming into a more complex and challenging time where customer needs have changed. Logistics have changed, gas prices are going through the roof.

So you’ve got to be smart about how many times you’re crossing the damn city and what times you’re crossing the city, things like that. And so there’s just a lot of new information and data available to make better decisions. And so what I think has happened is it’s not that they don’t know how to run a business, or they’re not great business people.

And it’s kind of like, and there’s a lot that kind of goes into this whole, they’re not good business people. They don’t know how to run a business. That’s not true. They’re not proficient in the tools that are available, given the advancement of technology over the last 20 years, and that’s what’s happened.

Do they understand how to serve customers, get the job done, treat them well, build a good relationship, build rapport, and wow them and deliver exceptional value. Like absolutely! And that’s business.

Like business is delivering consistently at a high level and they do that well, they just don’t have that nuance of all of the freaking gadgets and gizmos and technology and analytics and data that are available today, and that’s where we come in. Like that’s a part of the business. It’s not this whole catch-all like that is just one part, you know?

Mark Ambrose: Yeah. It’s a part of it. No, you’re right. I’m guilty of being in that former crowd, saying too often that many home service companies aren’t great business operators, but that’s not true. You’re right. They deliver excellent service consistently, most of them. 

And like you said, the customer has changed, 20 years ago you just had to answer your phone. Today you got texts, chat, email, websites, Google… you got a lot of new stuff. And these are where the customers are going whether you want to or not.

Rolando Serrano:  And they’re converting fast, baby.

Steve Borrebach: And you have a lot more competition.

Mark Ambrose: Well, that’s the other thing. The internet also opened that everybody is your competitor now. The guy three towns over who was not a competitor 25 years ago. Now he is.

Steve Borrebach: Because 25 years ago, he was only advertising in his town, a local newspaper. But now I can go online. Rolando and I were in San Diego, but now, I can go online, and I can see plumbers all across the city. Twenty-five years ago, I would only know the one that was in my local neighborhood.

Mark Ambrose: That’s right. Or sometimes you had to get in your car and take a drive to see what kind of stores were in town that you could shop at.

Steve Borrebach: I don’t need to go anywhere. I can do everything I need to from my desk. I can order my groceries. I can order a pizza. I can order a movie. I can have a conversation like this with my Mom. I can do business from my desk. I can call a plumber from my desk. I can book a plumber online.

Mark Ambrose: Without a doubt. The world has changed with a lot of new tools. They are technological and some of them are a little challenging. So yeah, it’s a little, maybe an overwhelming time to be a business owner and put all these pieces together.

Steve Borrebach: And it is most definitely an overwhelming time.

Mark Ambrose: With that said, what advice would you give to somebody who was just starting a home service business?

Steve Borrebach: Yeah, I think my advice would be to take complete ownership of the world around you and what we’re operating here. You just can’t fight the current. And if you do, you’re just going to put yourself at risk. And what Rolando said earlier is kind of who do you want to be? Do you want to be successful?

Do you want to provide a good life for you for a good life for your family? To be a great friend, be a great husband. Be a great wife. Be a great father. And if you do, well then take ownership of the tools that are around you and don’t make excuses like, “Oh, I wish the world wasn’t this way or that way.”

Technology will continue to develop, and the wildest things that are only in our imagination right now will be a reality before we know it. So that would be my point of advice is just understand that and own it. Maybe you disagree with it. Not saying you have to agree with it, but don’t fight it. Use it to your advantage.

Mark Ambrose: I agree. Adapt to the world as it is. How about yourself, Rolando, any tidbit for new business?

Rolando Serrano: I think Steve just about covered it there, but I would say just get after it. Don’t ask for permission, just get out there and start doing it. And you’ll learn every single day how just to get better and be willing to put in that work.

I’m all about just empowering people. Just go and do it. Like don’t ask for permission, the world is not built by anybody any smarter than you, and you could just go out and just start getting after it. And so do that and just be open to learning every day and apply those learnings to the next day. And with time and consistency, you could build something.

Mark Ambrose: That’s really good advice. So many of us try to perfect things before we come out of the gate and instead just jump out of the gate.

Rolando Serrano: That’s right.

Steve Borrebach: Yeah. The hardest step to take as the first one. And then you have momentum, and you have a little bit of confidence.

There’s a book that I read called “Ride of A Lifetime” by Robert Iger, who was the former CEO of Disney. Thrilling book, super fun. I do an audiobook. I listened to them when I walk my dog. So I can just kind of zone out and look at the pavement and visualize the words. And there was a great line that he said, which “long shots are usually not as long as they seem.” So it can seem so daunting to start a business at first. 

But once you take that first step and you kind of get moved, and I’m like, “Okay, okay, this is pretty good.” And by the time, you know what, you’re running full speed, and you’re having a great time. This was another quote, “Even the boldest ideas can be executed.” Seventy years ago, people were conceptualizing landing on the moon. Who the hell was going to do that?

Mark Ambrose: Now we’re flying a helicopter on Mars for God’s sake. That’s crazy. There’s a great quote from the founder of LinkedIn, who said something like. “Starting a business is like jumping off a cliff and building an airplane on the way down.” That’s the way you should do it, jump, and then the rest you’ll figure out.

You’re not going to get all the parts together beforehand ever, never. Entrepreneurship is awesome. It takes a special kind of character. You must want to, but it’s extremely rewarding, and you can not only employ people and affect their lives, but of course, you’re serving clients and affecting their lives.

What would you guys say is the most rewarding thing about owning a business for years?

Steve Borrebach: Time, the older I get, the more I realize how important time is. It just goes by so fast, and I’m sure you, two gentlemen, can corroborate that point. I’m not saying I have all the most accessible time globally because running a business is challenging, and I need to put a lot of effort into that, but I feel so fulfilled when I am deciding for myself to work on things that I want to work on.

And does that mean I’m working six hours a day? Hell no, I’m working my butt off.  But it’s much different than being told. “Hey, Steve, I need this thing by tomorrow.” And then for me, I’m saying, “Well, why do we need it? Why do we need it by tomorrow? What value will it deliver as if we get it tomorrow instead of a week from now? And the person that’s told me I needed to do it for tomorrow”

They’re not going to tell me all that because they’re super busy, and they’re just telling you what you are going to do. So that’s the biggest thing for me is I just feel fulfilled about how I spent my time.

Mark Ambrose: And independence sounds like where you want to go into your future. How about you, Rolando?

Rolando Serrano: I mean, I think it just comes down to doing something that I believe in just having that freedom of choice. We could choose to do a whole lot of things in this life. And we don’t have much time to make a difference and make an impact. And so really having the choice to have one choose that path and then going and making an impact in that path.

That’s where I’ve seen the greatest satisfaction and joy from my life have impacted other people’s lives. So the business owner they have a dream, and we’re helping them realize that dream. Our employees have a dream, and we’re helping them realize that dream.

I have a dream. My family has a dream, and we’re enabling that dream every single day for the people that we affect. And so that, to me, is the greatest inspiration. Every day I get to work on my dream that relates to my employee’s dream, that relates to my customer’s dream, that relates to their customer’s dream.

It’s that level of impact that is just profound because we can do anything. We’re fortunate to be able to have that freedom of choice. So choose well,

Mark Ambrose: Yeah, I agree. I got goosebumps on my arm here. Gentlemen, we ran a little long. Sorry. Thank you very much. I appreciate your coming to the show and sharing your information.

That was awesome. I didn’t know that technology had penetrated the virtual office space as much as it has. You’ve impressed me. I like what you do. And a million thanks for coming on the show with us.

Steve Borrebach: Thanks for having a smart, great conversation.

Rolando Serrano: Mark, you are a true professional. I appreciate you giving us this platform, and I appreciate you doing great work with Bob at RT Olson Plumbing and just, in general, getting this information out. One of the more productive things that we can all do with our time is to get these insights and conversations out into the world and impact and inspire as many people as possible to continue making a difference.

Mark Ambrose: Well, I appreciate that. And I thank you for coming on. This is a big one – answering the phone, qualifying leads, and booking appointments. That’s like the very core of the root of running a business. 

So I’m really happy you guys came on and enlightened me and the audience here. So again, a million thanks.

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Founder & CEO of Battle Plan Marketing, LLC. We customize marketing strategies and solutions for home service contracting companies. Mark has over 30 years experience in sales and marketing, 20 years as a business owner or partner, and over a decade in digital marketing and website design. We offer analysis, strategy, project implementation and management, and marketing coaching. Mark is also host of the new Battle Plan Marketing Podcast.
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