018 - How His Construction Business Scaled (Case Study)

In this episode, we speak to Brian Marek who runs Northtowns Remodeling, a small construction company out of Buffalo, NY. He shares stories and insights from the benefits he's seen since adding streamlined tech in his business.

Northtowns Remodeling Customer Interview

[00:00:00] Brian Marek: I shouldn't say this, but like the money that you're talking about compared to the, the business that you reap out of this is so disproportional.

It's, The value is so there, I mean, you save that money, but it's even the lost opportunity that you can't forecast.

[00:00:17] Andra Vomir: Welcome everyone here with Alex Bass. I'm Andra Vomir, and today we sat down with our first customer ever, of Efficient app, but not only Efficient App CyberBytes, which is what Efficient App was before we rebranded. And, that customer is Brian Marek from Northtowns Remodeling. He runs a construction business and we're gonna introduce you to him in a second. But before that, Alex, do you wanna just share a littlebit about what it was like cuz he, working with Brian was kind of like the cornerstone of getting started in this whole automation space. So, talk a little bit about

[00:00:55] Alex Bass: that. Yeah, I mean, when we first started working with him, we were essentially trying to [00:01:00] figure out what we were as a business.

So we were doing like web development, online marketing, and the more that we worked with him, we heard a lot of just pain points that he had in business. Some of that was creating documents to send off to customers, you know, using Microsoft Word and turning them into PDFs and sending them over via email, making changes and having issues with following up with customers.

So I think that's kind of what resulted in us diving into learning about, say, the CRM space and the different tools that could help solve that. So, He was really kind of the guinea pig customer to, try this new software out learning like, oh, cool, this is great software, but now it doesn't speak to each other.

So then we started learning integrations and automation. So the past, you know, 6+ years now, we've been just exclusively doing software, implementation and integration and process. 10, 11, 12 years ago, we weren't doing that, and this is kind of the cornerstone customer that helped us learn that there was such a need in that space and so much value to be had.

So it's really [00:02:00] cool to finally have a recording of this. This has been a customer for over a decade, so it's just, it's, it's really fun and really cool and hope you enjoy what we talk about.

[00:02:09] Andra Vomir: How do you know each other

[00:02:12] Brian Marek: the truth of the matter is we worked together and there was a, a need that needed to be. And Alex, you, you provided a service and you developed, you helped us to grow and we evolved together.

There was an evolution that happened. Yeah, yeah. You know, you gotta, you have to keep in mind, Well, I'd like you to keep this in mind, that I've been in, in business for a long time, 38 years. And, and I, when you go back 38 years, we're talking about, there were payphones, maybe pagers, fax machines, typewriter, doing quotes, estimates, and proposals.

So that, that was a long time ago. And then, you know, you know, you grow fax machines, answer machines, you know, new technologies, pagers, two-way radios, all these wonderful things. And then all of a sudden the internet is introduced and a person like me has [00:03:00] to evolve, or die, really. And you are at the right timing and you had the right vision, and we were able to compliment each other.

There was a need. And you saw the problems. And just kept knocking out of the park. And it helped me to grow painfully sometimes, by the way. So that's, that's how I look at the whole thing. And I, I really don't think that our business could have, uh, couldn't be, wouldn't, we would not be in this position, to take advantage of this new frontier we're in, had, had you not put us in that position.

And that's just, I mean, that's just cutting rate that it chase that's where we're at, you know?

[00:03:37] Andra Vomir: So what were you using before a crm?

[00:03:40] Brian Marek: Well, like if you had proposals, you'd keep your documents at some point you had 'em in, Well, really back in the day, you'd have a manila folder and a file cabinet, and you'd have to take that paper to the file cabinet. Your secretary or admin person would handle it, or you would handle it. You'd file it somewhere and every year you'd, you know, [00:04:00] you, you, you would process all this massive amount of paperwork.

So that's, that's what used to. and it's easy to misplace files, you know, not have 'em turned in. And then the access to 'em was brutal. I mean, you'd have to go to the office physically to dig out a file from somewhere, and if you're organized, you could find it. And if you weren't, you know, you went off your memory.

And that's when people, especially contractors or people that are working in the field, there's not, there's not a lot of good, or there was not a lot of good organizational systems for, you know, driving file cabinets around the back of a pickup truck or a van or, you know.

[00:04:33] Alex Bass: Yeah, I, I remember every job you would have a manila envelope and Yeah.

And you'd write notes of that job, or they would call you on the phone and you'd just start writing notes down. Yeah. And there was a point where when we started talking about the ability to use like a CRM where it's like, okay, now when they call, open up the CRM and it's like, stop writing on paper and start typing, and it was this, this, it, it did take time to kind of move from that.

But I remember [00:05:00] like probably two, three years into it, You fully stopped using the physical manila envelopes, and it was just taking those filing cabinets and putting them in the attic and just being like, I don't think I need these anymore. Oh, yeah. But like, it was a pretty big move on every front from, from like physical paper to like being on the computer in some way.

[00:05:22] Brian Marek: You know, I have to be careful because I'm sitting here and I feel like electricity when you're talking. I mean, I'm, I'm ready to bounce all over this because there was some points where the light bulb just went off and it was electrifying. I, I'll give you an example. So, you know, the whole cloud thing, you know, that's developed too along this time, right?

So having trust in putting your information out to, you know, that file cabinet in your office, right? Or not on the pile on your desk, or the piles on your desk not buried in there somewhere. So there's this trust issue, and I remember the first time I was down in a, on a. I took a little holiday with my wife.

We went down to Fort,[00:06:00] Lauderdale and Sea and I was on the beach and this is after you started us, you know, getting, with the automation and different things. And I was trying to not take phone calls, but I took a phone call and it was a pretty big deal. It was coming across like literally it was a 12 project job that someone had some questions on, and I was on the beach with my cell phone and I was able to log into my.

My Google drive, my files and, and my crm, and I was, I was able to pull up the information I needed and give them answers in real time. You know, I don't know if they heard the waves in the background or not, but so be it. It was like a commercial, right? And I closed the deal on the beach. Okay, now you gotta to understand how cool that is.

Okay. And when I hung up, I was like, there was the payoff, you know, there was the payoff and it was a big deal. It wasn't a little one, it was a big one. And you know, I'd been working it for months and finally bam. Now that could have never happened. That would be, that was impossible before, you know, there's that lag time and, so [00:07:00] that was just like one experience.

Then you get into other things like. You know, the fact that just your, your massive storage system that you needed before, you know, moving boxes and boxes and cataloging them into some place safe and not burning your building down, or being able to know where it was if you need it. I mean, I have records going back at least 20 years or plus.

And now we have basically one file cabinet that we empty out where I keep hard copies of the actual contracts and, you know, things that I might need, but most of it's scanned and actually it's all scanned. I, I think I'm just a little, I don't know, I just haven't given up that last part of it because we actually scan all the contracts so that I have access 'em to the field.

So technically I could probably reproduce those things. But my point is, I, I literally have gotten rid of all that information, which is just a, a huge labor savings and just the how, how cumbersome that was, you know, just keeping it all organized and becoming a, and then when you gotta get rid of it, taking boxes and boxes and boxes that a shredder.

[00:08:00] Or to fire pit or whatever it is that you're gonna do with 'em is nuts. You know, you don't really realize how much you accumulate in terms of that kind of thing, so, I'm sorry, but, that's just like the little things that come out of this.

[00:08:11] Andra Vomir: Yeah. Do you think your customers notice the difference?

[00:08:17] Brian Marek: Sometimes when they call me up, it's funny because, you know, you, you start, you start taking, your situation for advantage or like you don't appreciate it as much. Like you, you know, day to day we're human beings. So, you know, we get on the treadmill, we go to work every day, and then you forget that all this automation is happening in the background.

So then people call you up and they're still in tune cuz you've been keeping up with them and yet, you know, you're 30 customers down the road. And so, but when they, when they respond to you, it's warm. It's like they're fresh. And so you have to make sure you can kind of jump back in a sink and as long as you have access to your, your, communication.

You know, system, you can jump right back in. And it's [00:09:00] to appreciate that. Who doesn't want that warm hug on the, on the telephone? Like, Hey, Andra, how you doing? You know? Yeah, right. It's wonderful. You know, when, and that this allows you to do that. And it, it, it's a, it's a beautiful thing. I, I say that as a salesperson because in my company I always sell, I mean, not sale, like, you know, pressure sales.

I mean, this is just about good service, good communication. That's what, that's what the selling process is. It's about communication. It's about understanding the needs, being there for your customers and the CRM and the, storage vehicles that you have. The availability to them, allows it to be warm, friendly, consistently.

[00:09:42] Andra Vomir: coming back to now 2023 almost. Can you list all the automations that are in place in your business?

[00:09:49] Brian Marek: Yeah, well, I can just take a look of a typical day so I don't answer the phones. I try not to answer the phones.

I try not be around, I try not to slow my business down by being there and I know that sounds crazy, [00:10:00] but you know, you, you get into minutia some, you walk into the office and. Sometimes it's too much water cooler, you know, kind of stuff. You know, it's, don't get me wrong, you have to be sociable with people and all that.

But what I'm saying is, my day, I'm in the field all the time. That's where my customers are. And so a phone call could happen and someone in my office, if they're there, they're gonna book the appointment or take the call. And if they're not there, then I'm the backup. So I like that, that works out real well.

So I'm gonna speak as I just took a call. So a customer might call in and we're gonna right away, call this prospect the lead. Put their information in, you know, the basics, their address, their telephone number, their email, how they heard of us, and that, that gets very routine. But you can concentrate on your, your, attention to them because it be, because you have a format and you're not thinking about, Okay, what do I have to ask next?

It becomes natural because you have a system, a process, and it allows you to focus on the people [00:11:00] skills, the soft skills that are needed to maintain a good client relationship. And it starts right there. And my staff does that too. I mean, I hear 'em in the background and I'm like, Sometimes I have to high five, you know?

Well that's probably an old saying, but knuckles, whatever, right? . So, alright, so that happens. And once that lead is in there, then we deter, we make a determination right off the bat, if they're gonna be in our, if we could service them properly. Cuz we, we don't take every customer right. Might have 10 people that call in.

And of those 10 people. Two or three are, might be referred out or just declined. But once it, once they're once, once they turn into a, a potential, customer prospect, internet lead system, then right away we're always setting up our appointments. Then there's an automation right there. Boom, the appointment happens.

They automatically get an email. And that's great cuz now it goes and we all like to get those little reminders. Right. So that's the first big one. Then, let's see what happens after that is once, [00:12:00] once I go out and see them, the, the notes of the meeting are scanned and put into their file. So that goes into like a, a Google drive.

Right, a storage system. And we have, we call it a pipeline, we've called it for that for a long time. It's just basically, I can go back 10, 15 years and find the same structure, exact structure. So if you ask me what did we order? Or, you know, all, it's all back in there. Okay. And so, and then once they become a client, then, then there's a bunch of triggers that happen, right?

So, you know, someone has to put the information into our, accounting and we use QuickBooks, you know, so there's, there's an automated email with a list of tasks that have to be done. That's beautiful because, and that also goes over to Help Scout, which is a mail system. And I can see when the job was completed.

So we use Help Scout there and we use, you know, the email service, uh, and then, I dunno, Google Workspace. Yes. Right, right. And Outfunnel. Yeah. And the custom automation.

[00:12:58] Alex Bass: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:12:58] Brian Marek: See, that's more year end. [00:13:00] Right. And I kind of trust, you know, you're the right tool for the job, so I don't get involved too much in that.

All those, I'm familiar with it. I look at, so, so we're using Help Scout, we're using, you know, Google the calendar, we're using, the email service. And then at the end, there's, there's a process, like when we, when we order things out and we move these people down the pipeline, they're getting automated emails, what to expect, how to get ahold of us for communication before we even get to the job.

It's great because they're like, you know, in my case, we're using, let's say we're in someone's home. What should they do to prepare for us? Reminding them about payment schedules in a friendly way, letting them know who they contact. If there's a concern that has to be address. , you know, and those are automated right up front.

And as we're moving 'em down to, Okay, your products have been ordered. Hey, good news, everything's been ordered. We'll be in touch with you when it's time to schedule. So you just stopped all these phone calls from, you know, I, I was talking to Brian and [00:14:00] you know, he was supposed to get back to me. Well, let me have Brian call you back and he'll check that doesn't have to happen, you know, and, and, and it's, it's a really good process.

[00:14:11] Alex Bass: Yeah. I, I think sometimes it's, it's fun working with companies that are in the service, industry. Customer support and, communication is such an important thing cuz there's trust. Like you're going in, you're, you're doing a mo like tens of thousands of dollars in a bathroom, kitchen remodel of sorts.

Mm-hmm. trusting people in like, you're going to their home. They have family members there, they have pets there. So there's this level of trust that needs to exist just from like a safety level. And then also the level of like, I'm spending a lot of money and I'm planning on getting 15 to 20 plus years out of this thing that I'm spending money with you from.

Mm. So the fun thing has been like you have all these processes in place already. Mm-hmm. , you would already do these things. And so much of working together has been like, Okay, cool. Like what? Like kind of looking at [00:15:00] what you're already doing. So you might manually send that email out and be like, Hey, job's been ordered.

Just wanna give you a heads up that will let you know what's gonna be happening in the next two to three weeks. When everything comes in and we can kind of look at these things that you're already doing. And maybe you're not doing it for every single person, but you're doing it when you have the time to do it.

And then we can take those things and just be like, Well, what if we can actually automate that email going out or. When it moves here, then you can do this. Or like, you're not really asking for a customer review. So what if we automatically ask for that customer review or, you know, in a, in a perfect role, I remember in around, holiday season, you would have, Angela manually write out like, cards to, to all of your past customers and things like that and send that off.

And you were doing the unscalable. But now it's like using a tool like handwritten to essentially have it automatically write a handwritten note to a customer once the job's completed and make them feel like, Oh, this is really sweet. Like you've, you've been very communicative along the entire way and I'm now getting like a nice letter from that.

Like, are [00:16:00] your competitors doing this? Like you're, you're a small business construction company in, in a small town. It's like, do you think your competitors are doing this? They're absolutely not. And so not only are you going like above and beyond of what the average company in the, in the US or the world is doing, but you're doing like 10 x what your competitors are doing in the local area.

[00:16:21] Brian Marek: Well, I, I've got news for you. I don't sit on my laurels, Right. So I'm, I'm watching what's happening and people are catching up. Mm. Okay. Yeah. But three years ago, okay, that may be true, but I'm watching my competition because that's my job as the, as the manager of my team. That's, that's my job. And if I'm not doing that, then I'm not doing my job right.

So I'm watching and there are people that are stepping up to the plate. I'm gonna give you a perfect example, like with the review you just mentioned to me. You put a process in place that was just beautiful because it was really simple. It was just a thank you for your business. Do me a favor, if you [00:17:00] liked us, write a review up.

If you don't call me directly, Right. So first of all, for you to put that down, it makes you, you have to, you have to internalize that and then realize that that's kind of important. . Like, otherwise you're gonna get some, you're inviting bad calls, you know, or bad reviews. Right? So, and that attention to the details, what is, what brings it full circle to the good reviews, right?

And the good reviews bring you more business. Now I'm watching what, So now I wanna see what my competitors are doing. I'm looking at a lot of the older dinosaurs like me. I, I say that, but you know, I'm, I, I don't guess I'm, maybe I'm not a dinosaur cause I've evolved, but I know a lot of the whales in my industry and I've known when they started, we, we started the same time.

A lot of them, and I look at the reviews on a lot of the, the big boys that are older. And the ratings, you know, like the 4.2's, you know, or like, you know, they have 70, but it like a 4.2 or 3.9. It's like, you know what I mean? That's right now [00:18:00] I think it's, that happened for a lot of those guys.

And then I see newer guys come in. Okay, they've been in five, five years in business, right? And they got a lot higher number. And I think the, some of the newer generation has understood from the beginning that this is something to grab onto. And this is important. Not that it's gonna be important. That it is important.

And some of the whales that have been around for a long time, them begged them big battleships. There's a lot of, they took a lot of damage. They'll, they'll hold because they've got thousands of customers and a following, but eventually everything turns, and then you wonder why something's outdated. Why is, what's that space book or was it Facebook and what was before that?

MySpace. MySpace, Yeah. Right. You know, why does MySpace fall off the, the table? Right. And then Facebook and then why is fa what's gonna replace Facebook? You know? And I think that's where that comes into, you know, you've got some people that I'm better pull that drape. Either somebody agrees with me or what, what I'm getting at is.[00:19:00]

So I've watched it and, and I'm very aware of the fact that there are some people that are on their game, and those are gonna be the people that lead the field. They're gonna lead the pack. And anyone who doesn't adapt, evolve and, and better get, you know, in line quick with this and doesn't get it. It's really just, you know, it's just a matter of time through attrition, you know, that they're gonna pass by wayside.

That's, that's my opinion. Okay. And that's, Again, I used to do my estimates by typewriter. You know what I mean? So that's important. Yeah. That review process that you did was huge.

That's just like one little thing. I can't even explain it. Just one little thing like that. And what's it, there's a saying that says, you know, one "uh oh" screws up a lot of "attaboys".

I dunno if you ever heard that, right? Yeah. You could have a lot of things that you do, right? You could still crash the system, but really to be successful, you really need to do kind of all of 'em, right? If you really wanna be a flyer and when you do your customers, my customers, I can't believe the confidence that comes from these [00:20:00] systems, like, because there's that consistent follow through.

What happens? is I mean, people pay us ahead of time before we're done. That's a sign of confidence, you know? Yeah. And they're just happy and they thank you. Sometimes we get thanks so much that it's awkward. I don't know how to respond haha Do you know what I mean? Cause here I'm getting paid. Right. You know, we're providing service.

You're my customer. How high you want me to jump? You know? Okay. But then it's almost like they're that happy with the service and we're not perfect, but this helps us to stay in check on point and that people see that and it's a level above.

[00:20:38] Andra Vomir: Yeah. And on a previous call you shared about, one of your team members, Angela, if she's not in the office, you were saying like there's a level of relief that you know that all the emails are going out, even if nobody's around.

Can you speak a little bit more to that and other benefits of automation that are not just like the time saving,

[00:20:57] Brian Marek: Yeah. Actually, i, there's a, [00:21:00] a weird. Thing that I'm going, not a weird thing, I'm having a conversation in my head about automation and part of it is like, it's awesome because there's no doubt about it that it allows an employer, like I'll give you, for instance, my staff can work remote.

Mm-hmm. a lot more now. And I, I'm gonna circle back to this whole thing because like before Covid we already poised to take on what we're doing and then Covid came in and all it was was an accelerant. It was throwing some airplane jet fuel into it, you know what I mean? It really allowed, and it by, I don't know if it was by luck, but we happened to be in a good position to take advantage of it.

And we are already kind of working remote, but then when this whole thing happened, we didn't drop the ball. We just were able to stay on top of it. So there's the thing, and, and my, my employees weren't stressed out. So I was able to say, you know, okay, come in and do, you know, just check the mail and stop in and, and then go work [00:22:00] remote.

And we maintain that without losing any service, you know, and they're my employers, my employees happier. Now the, the flip side of that conversation as a capitalist uh, is, you know, you wonder because, because you're able to do their job in two days instead of five days . So you know, right, That you think, well, you know, maybe I should only be fed of two days.

You know, I only need part-time health. You know, and that's bizarre, right? Cause it's, but that's not, that's not the path we're choosing. What I'm choosing to do is to be able to maintain strong people, make sure they're financially stable, allow 'em to work remote if they benefit from that. Just like me, I like to work in the field.

I work remote. So why, why should it be any less from them? And that's a benefit to them. Like totally. I mean, it, it's not a line. I'm saying, Hey, you know, you gets remote, that's part of your compensation, but isn't it? You know? And as long as they're doing their job,

[00:22:59] Alex Bass: which, [00:23:00] which I think what's really interesting too is that so many, tech companies are more able to do the remote work and asynchronous kind of work environment, because they're already using tech.

So they're going into the office and they're around people, but they're already using the modern tech stack, whereas you think of just a traditional service based business and you still see people going into the office. Often because they don't have the tech, they don't have the, the voiceover IP phone that they can actually use and answer sales calls from their house because they actually need that physical phone that is the company number, so that the company lines ring.

And I think by, in, in this funny way, by modernizing the business before it was even needed, you enabled your team to be able to work remotely and be able to work in the way that that covid kind of required us to. Yeah. Where the companies that were forced to go into work to actually get stuff done, which is most of your competitors probably, they were probably like, Shoot, we need to modernize now.

And you're just like, Okay, cool. Now we [00:24:00] just get to focus on customer success and, and servicing our customers and really staying alive through this, where other companies are like, How do we answer phone call? We need something in place. What do we put in place now so that we can keep answering calls and dealing with this?

Or like, how do we get these procedures out to our customers to let them know like, Hey, we're gonna come and here's the expectations. Like we're gonna be wearing a mask. Feel free to wear a mask or not, or whatever. Like, you were able to just write an automated email that went out at the time that you were gonna go on the call and it just said, Here's a full essay of all the things, like, here's the precautions that we're taking in our business and why you should trust us to come into your house during a time that is scary like this.

And you, you just got to flip a switch. Most people actually had to like, shoot, how do we build this infrastructure now and start from there?

[00:24:42] Brian Marek: Yeah. We were very fortunate to be in that position, and I don't, I imagine there are some people that probably went out of business because they weren't, it was too much.

You know, there's comes a point where everyone to decide that the, that the change is just, you know, too great or it's too much effort, you know, for what the, what they're getting out of it. You know? With, with us, [00:25:00] we were positioned really well, and I think that's to this point of. I can seriously say that this was, is a huge part of a success for our business.

I'd like to sidestep for a minute here. Mm-hmm. . Cause I have other businesses that I have that I would not say this type of automation would work for. You know, Do you mind talking about that? No. Yeah. So I think that there's a certain level, right? So it depends on who you are and what, and what your goals are as a company.

So if you're like an artisan where, you know, you're just the guy in the field and you got the tool pouch on, or you're, you're paying the picture and you're the only person in your company, well maybe you can get by without, you know, client relationship managers and automation. You know, it's that, it's a very, you're, but once you take, once you decide to take it to the next level, I'll give you an example.

I have multiple things I work on. So I have a business, that does construction and it supports property that I own. That's more of a personal thing. And we tried to bring, Well, no, I, we did, we did bring the [00:26:00] CRM and some automation to it, but, For 13, 14, 15 clients, you know, you know, sometimes these people move in and they stay there for years and years.

It's, the value wasn't the same. Like, I'm not saying you can't use it, I'm just saying that there's some point where, you know, the value just, it's, it's almost like, if you, if you could say, go back and, you have to wash your clothes well and you have to wash it by the side of a creek with an old wash board, if you had to do that once, cuz you were camping, you could get by.

Right. But to, to say that you have to do that on a regular basis, in a large scale for your entire week ahead of you would be daunting. You couldn't do it. It would change the way you live. And so, in that same way, I know that's a silly, you know, relationship, but in that same way, when you're doing a one shot deal, eh, I mean the customization and the cost of automation, eh, maybe, maybe the value isn't there, but once you start hitting a level where it becomes [00:27:00] somewhat routine that you have enough of something.

Then, you know, you would never go to the creek to wash your next week's laundry when you ha when you need a washing machine. You know, it's like, and that's basically what this is. I mean, this is a tool of technology and if you don't have it, you're really killing yourself. But if you're really small, eh, it might not be worth it for you.

So, I mean, I, and I hope I have them, you know? Yeah, no, I mean, motivate the conversation here, but that's my opinion on it. Cause I, I live both sides of that and I'm not using that automation, on, for some lesser things.

[00:27:33] Alex Bass: I, I mean, I think that what's also been helpful is, we've talked with automation with some people that are smaller businesses and what I've noticed that his like led to.

Northtowns success with automation has been that you have also delegated your business to some degree, such that when we talk about implementing a new piece of software, say panoc, to move from say Microsoft Word for the contracts and PDFs over to a [00:28:00] system that you can do that quicker. You invested like probably 8 to 10 hours within that first weekend that we put into place for you to learn how to use it, how to build it, asking questions around like, how can we make this like more modular?

But like you run with stuff and you play with it, and I think a lot of people also expect like, Cool, we're gonna be using a new tool. Why isn't it helping? You've spent. Probably hundreds of hours over the course of many years. learning the software, coming up with ideas of like, Wow, like we can do this.

So what if we can do this now? Hey, like, can we actually automate this piece of it? And there's so much that you've invested into learning the software and then also you training your team on how to use the software and how you want them to use the software. So if you are the one that was literally going and tearing down the bathroom and and remodeling it yourself, you don't actually have the time to learn the software, right?

So you also want value or benefit from the software enough so it, you're also in the right role to be able to take this on and lead it in the company. And then also your employees see [00:29:00] you using it and they will use it by proxy. Cuz if, if you stop using it, then they'll stop using it. So it's also like you lead by by example in that way.

Yeah. And you're able.

[00:29:11] Andra Vomir: And I think I'm, I'm glad you brought that up, because we do have a lot of business owners reaching out to us and they're like, It's just me, or I have a team of two people, and at that point it doesn't make sense to invest $30-$40k in their automations. They're still figuring out their processes and they're still okay with doing things manually.

Mm-hmm. , and that's not, I guess, who we're targeting as customers, but I, I know we have an opinion on this, but from your perspective, at what point do you think it would make sense for a business? Like if you had a, a friend and you saw, him or her managing their business, at what point would you be like, Hey, I think you, I think you can use some automation or some help from Efficient App.

[00:29:52] Brian Marek: Well, I would definitely say that, you know, it, it, you have to know what, who you are, you know, or what your [00:30:00] business really is, right? So, If you're just like an owner operator that throws the mental tool belt on and does all of it yourself, CRMs probably not a real big thing. It would be helpful, you know, but you could probably get by without it.

But as soon as you start having, like, I always look at the, three sides of a business, well, you know, general manager kind of being in the middle, and then you're gonna have, one league of the business is gonna be, the administration. The other is production, and the other is sales. So in a small company, we only have one person, you know, that person's doing a quote proposal, and then they're running out, maybe doing the job, and then they're also collecting the money.

So in that situation, one person, you don't need it, but as soon as you start having so, you know, a, a administrative manager handling things, you start having sales people and you start having production staff that you're no. Putting the mental tool doc belt on, or, or the physical one. That's when you need to start it, cuz it's the communication of those things and, and developing the processes.

If you don't have the [00:31:00] processes, then everyone is just a loose cannon and pretty soon they're gonna be running their business the way they want to , you know, So whatever experience you have and whatever wizardry that brought you to the, to the game, you're gonna lose that. Mm-hmm. , you know, so I, you know, I don't know if that explains, if that answered your question.

Okay. But, yeah, I would, I would say, you know, on a smaller level it's, it's an individual thing, but once you start getting, like you mentioned, $30k-$40k, I I can't tell you it's not even, it's a lost opportunity cuz the money that you added, I shouldn't say this, but like the money that you're talking about compared to the, the business that you reap out of this is so disproportional.

It's, The value is so there, I mean, you save that money, but it's even the lost opportunity that you can't forecast. Like, like being on the beach in Lauderdale by the sea and closing a big deal. You know, it's like if I, if something would've bumped that the [00:32:00] wrong way, I, I may not have gotten that. I wouldn't have realized.

And then the referrals that came from that and the extra business beyond that, you know, there's that whole chain of events. So it's not just what are you saving, it's, it's what are you the lost opportunity, you know? Yeah. Allowing you to grow.

[00:32:18] Andra Vomir: So our biggest competitor is, oftentimes the business owner that wants to do the implementation themselves. So there's a lot of tools like Copper that, you know, offer a single seat or a couple seats, and they try to take on the job of setting up their own CRM, which is fine to a, to a degree.

And then they start scoping out different software, pieces to implement in with Copper. So like PandaDoc for contract signing. And I understand why people do that, and I don't blame anyone for doing that because it makes sense from a financial perspective to try to take some of that on, themselves.

But the difficulty with that is sometimes, [00:33:00] We're brought on at a later time, like two or three years down the road, and the CRM is a mess. They have implemented and trained their team on other pieces of software that don't have an API and can't integrate. So now we're having a conversation about changing software and there's a huge time sink with that, but it's really hard to connect for us with the business owner sometimes.

And maybe, you know, with the right business owner, I'm sure it's much easier, but it's hard to relay the value of like, when you're starting out, let us come in and guide the way. So for you, can you speak to, I guess, the experience of having Alex, cuz I wasn't around at that time, lead you through this process and the benefits of that?

[00:33:44] Brian Marek: Yeah, I, I can, let's identify what, let's take the scary monster under the bed out, so, you know, as a business owner, you know, you, you put your blood, sweat, and tears and your money and the, all this risk [00:34:00] into your business. And then to be able to release that to someone and have confidence that you're not gonna crash your business.

I mean, this is an uncomfortable thing. You know what I mean? Mm-hmm. So the relationship that I have with Alex, truthfully gave me a lot of that confidence. But I'm gonna speak to you and your business now. You know what, what I, what, what you need to do is be able to relay that confidence to people. People have to have confidence in you, right?

And once they work with you, it's, it's a no brainer. You know? I mean, they turn over to keys to the city because not, you know, we've all had bad experiences where someone's promised something. They take your money and then, you know, not only we might be worse off than were, and then what happens if, So you have a natural tendency to wanna know how to do things, but, okay, so there's that one.

I understand that cuz you know, I'm there, you know, I, I just don't turn over the keys to the city, to everybody. You gotta have some history and some confidence in there. On the flip side of the coin is having the right tool for [00:35:00] the job, right? So in my case, I'll give you an example. Like, let's say I need to dig a foundation and not put a building up or, or I need to do an electric service panel, or I hire experts, They're on my staff, you know, but I, I definitely won't go in there and try to do it myself and tell them how to do it, but I have to have the confidence of that person.

But you need to get outta their way, give them the objectives, say this is what needs to be done, and then monitor it. And then when you have enough confidence you can back off. Which I love to do. My guys, you know, my, my people know that cause I have men and women working for me. And what I'm getting at is, so there's, there's a, there's a management thing that you have to be a good manager yourself, right?

So you have to look at yourself as the owner of the company and say, you know, what is my confidence in my people? And, and if you have confidence in that, you need to let 'em do what they need to do. Define what the objectives are, let 'em do their job, monitor it, and then the, the more confidence you have, the less monitoring you need to do.[00:36:00]

You know, the guys I see the less in my company are the ones that know, you know, And if I walk up to someone and I see that they're doing something that, you know, I'll ask 'em a question to clarify, you know, make sure there's a good scope of work. So I guess what I'm saying for you is when you, when you work with people and once they decide to work with you, And they have that confidence, then they just need to get out of the way.

Cuz I can't imagine the mess that they'll make and how much harder it is to take apart someone else's work. Anyone who's ever tried to take apart someone else's work and make it right will understand what I'm talking about. That's the worst thing. No matter what, it's gotta happen in your business, right?

You jump into something and they made a mess of it, and now you have to undo all these bad habits, you know? And how do you, how do you tell a new customer that this is a mess and you created it? You know, it's,

[00:36:48] Andra Vomir: it's every customer for us because the reality of the situation is that most people try to do it themselves first and then when they realize at some point that they're, not getting anywhere or their CRM is [00:37:00] a mess, there's no data consistency.

If it's a bigger company, sometimes the C-Suite team needs reporting and they're like, Why doesn't anything make sense in. So, yeah, we're brought on. And I think that's why people also like us, because we're like, We get it. This is overwhelming. We'll go through the mess. That's part of what you're paying us for, but you need to trust us moving forward.

Yeah. And I think

[00:37:21] Brian Marek: I wanna throw something in there. I'm sorry I beg your part and I really do, but I think this is another big thing. When you're, you have certain tools that you bring to the table, and if, if, if I'm hiring you, I might have my tools. Cause my, you know, the guy that I know for 50 years or 20 years or 10 years, who's, I think he's really smart, likes a certain tool, but they're not your tools.

And like, I think that the packages that you put together based on your expert experience or how they integrate is really important. So I could see the big pain point probably for you folks is someone says, Well I really wanna use this one software because [00:38:00] I'm comfortable with it. You know, and it's like, I'm just saying to, to an owner, like, You may be comfortable with it, but it's not what's right for you to grow and you can't even see that that's the wrong application.

You know what I mean? Because you're just not there and you may never be there. I know I won't be there. That's why I rely on you guys as the experts let you do your job. And I really mean that. And I feel that way about other vendors that I work with too. And if I, if I don't feel that way, they're not my vendor.

You know what I mean? Mm-hmm. . And, and not, that's saying that you're a premium. I just have to say this, that when I have a relationship with a vendor or even a material supplier, I look at a bunch of things. You know, how responsive they are, that communication, solving problems, expert power, you know, delivery, you know, credit lines, if that even comes into play, and how well they do their job.

And like that. For me, the price is the least. Important. You know, because if that breaks down, the cost of [00:39:00] that breakdown is so much more than the price. And let people, let people succeed alongside of you. Make them stronger. There's nothing wrong with that. Like for you guys to be stronger by me paying you well to do a good job.

That security for me, you know, I mean, that's how I look at it. And I'm not speaking to just you. I'm thinking about my electrician. I'm thinking about, you know, people that work for me. I want them to be strong. I don't want them to be falling apart cuz I squeeze every nickel out of 'em. And I think you guys are very reasonably priced for what you're getting.

I mean, if they do the math, if anyone does the math over any, you know, just in the cost savings alone, forget about the lost opportunity that you won't get by, by hiring you, but just, just the cost savings alone is, is and stress. What's that worth? Peace of mind.

[00:39:47] Alex Bass: I, I think it's, it's fun sometimes to like correlate our businesses because they're, they're so different in a way, but business is business and, and every business has a similar like, pain point.

So I think one of the things that's kind of [00:40:00] interesting is when we're talking about like yeah, going into a business and like they already have tools and they have, some opinions on how they want things done. You've brought up the example of working on a bathroom or kitchen for someone and they've already bought like all of the product mm-hmm.

and they're like, Cool, we just want you to be the hired hand to implement all of the product. And, and you, you said that you've tried that before and it always blows up. And I, I think it would be really cool, for you to speak on that scenario because maybe if other people can see how they experience that in their business, they can see why we would also experience something like that and how they might be that that person doing what they are frustrated by in their business.

[00:40:43] Brian Marek: I, I would just, I'd be glad to respond to that, but I do wanna challenge the word always cuz it doesn't always blow up. Okay. Okay. Because my job is to make sure that things don't blow up. Sure. I'm saying that nicely. Okay. Cause there's other words I could choose. My job is really just to make sure that the expectations are met [00:41:00] because I can't win the battle and lose the war with the customer.

You know what I mean? I, I, you know, so, but when I, when I first meet that prospect, I've been long enough to look at it and go, If, if I'm gonna, first of all, I may not take the project on because I know that I may not be able to, get the end result out of it. And do I really wanna deal with. Even if there's money to be made, do I really want to deal with all the hardship that goes along with that?

There's, I hate to say it, but there's easier money or money. I'm a better service for a different client. You know, like in my case, you could say someone buys the materials, they hire a guy out of the, a friend that's laid off, or you know, does a volunteer fireman who does this on the weekends or evenings or whatever, and they get, and they save a couple bucks.

And if the guy's decent, maybe they come out with a good job. You know, maybe they do, maybe they don't. But that's not my customer, right? So my customer's gonna be, so the other issue is that there's learning curves. When I'm, when, when I'm using, You're, you're telling me to use your product. [00:42:00] Well, when there's a problem with my product, I might have three more in the shop.

I might be able to pick up the phone and have one delivered in an hour. You know, so my solution, options are open on my products, on your products, wherever you got 'em from. I don't know. So there's a whole series of things have to happen to even understand your product. You know, and sometimes it's not a big deal.

I mean, you know, but other times it can be. And so coming back to your point about, you know, using someone else's products, just even when I price that, the first thing I ought do is I have to increase all my, you know, we call it GOK. God Only Knows, you know, I have to, I have to price it more aggressively to compensate for all the learning curve that we have to do.

And, and, and that may, that may force me to decline to bid the job. And then you may get mad at me for not bidding your job, cuz you want me to do your job. It's this whole ugly thing that happens. You know, it's like, look, just let me use the things that I have confidence in. Let me understand your situation, [00:43:00] then make a recommendation.

We're gonna out if it's not the right tool, cuz there might be a better way to do it. And there sometimes are. And so in your situation, it'd be the same thing. I'm, I mean, I am, if I'm speaking to your, your, your prospects, then I wanna say, you know, decide if you're the right fit. If you're not, you're not.

You know, And it's, but that's a two sided. Deal. You know, it's gotta work both. And, and, and I wouldn't recommend bringing your own products or services, or at least being flexible to consider, consider other possibilities. That's all.

[00:43:30] Andra Vomir: Just to spell it out for anybody listening. So Brian's products would be, and correct me if I'm wrong, is it like bathtubs and like lumber and Yeah.

Like physical, like products. Yes. And then our products that we're talking about are our software recommendations, like the tools that we recommend using. Yeah. We get a lot of people who are using, you know, ad hoc CRMs that are, I don't wanna say we've never heard of them cause we have, but, not ones we would recommend.

[00:43:57] Brian Marek: Mm-hmm. While our services [00:44:00] are different, mine, mine would be more tangible. Right. Yours is more intangible. But it's the same point, you know? Yeah. There's, you know, mine might be a rough valve and R10000 UNWS, and, you know, you wanna use something that's off brand, that's gonna twist apart in a couple days after I leave the job.

And that's literally happened. I put someone faucet in that the first thing I spoke about was a shower valve, but I put someone's faucet in that they bought, and they spun the handle around and stripped the threads. I went back and replaced and put my faucet. I didn't even charge 'em. I did that just because I didn't wanna have a problem, you know, And I didn't make any money on the sale of the product, and yet I'm servicing their product, you know, and I, I, and you know, let's face it, as business people, we're not gonna take the hit on the chin every week, every time, you know?

So then you have to make adjustments for it, or you go out.

[00:44:46] Andra Vomir: Yeah, I mean, even in our case, if somebody's using a piece of software that is integral to their business and they have an api, like it's not like we're gonna make them change it if it doesn't make sense. If it's not broke, don't fix it.[00:45:00] But if it works, or sorry if it doesn't work or we foresee it having issues with scale, we wanna bring it up at the beginning.

Yeah. Okay. Cool. I think like, this was a really awesome chat. We are so grateful for your time and it's just, it's really helpful to have other people listen in and hear from a business owner that has been working with us for a long time. Any final thoughts, I guess, on automation integration, business processes that you wanna leave the listeners, which are, you know, I'm gonna assume business owners or, ops managers.

[00:45:36] Brian Marek: Yeah, I, I think the biggest thing I'd like to say, I mean, the more you know, knowledge is a funny thing. You start off knowledge this big and everything that touches it is, is ignorance, right? But as your knowledge increases, your ignorance surface increases too. So you're always learning, you're always growing and you can't know everything.

So [00:46:00] you need to work with experts, you know, you need to work with people that are in those things. I mean, just because you're an expert with this, I'm not gonna go ask you what to do about my arthritis or, you know, you know what I mean? Cause that, that's an error people, people make sometimes. Right?

They'll, they'll, you know, just because they're smart on one thing, you know, does that make 'em smart? On the other thing? No. You know, But in your application for what you do, you know, list what the end is that you like to accomplish and then listen to the recommendations that are being made and develop the path that you can agree on.

And if you can't, don't, don't, but don't do that half that, that middle ground where you know, you're, you're creating. You're gonna tell someone how to do their job, then what did you need 'em for? You know, get out of the way. Define the mission, get out of the way, and realize that you can't know everything, even if, even if you get smarter.

There's just that much more that you need to learn. And then when you get there, there's that much more. So, you know, then pretty soon you're just in your [00:47:00] business. You know, If I wanna know your business, what do I need you for?

I just wanna give you the confidence of, in my opinion, there's no, there's no question that the service, that there is a value to it and there's a value added that you can't even realize until you get there. It's like just looking back at, you know, how we got to where we are.

I could have never forecasted that back then. You know, all the opportunities that open up that, that, that means something to me. You know, so you guys are, you guys got a great, you, you folks have a great service. You do it very well. I can say that without any hesitation at all. Very, very well. And, that might be scary to someone that, you know, has to give you the keys to the, the Maserati, you know, or whatever, you know, But you guys handle it well and you, you, you fine tune it and you can take it to the next level for people and that you have the confidence to that you do a great job.

[00:47:55] Andra Vomir: There you have it. I hope you enjoyed this conversation that we had with Brian. [00:48:00] Now, if you've listened to this episode and there's a part of you that feels inspired to maybe dig into your business and see if there's anywhere that we can help with building some automations or integrations or helping you streamline your CRM and tech stack.

Then we have an option that is completely free for you to explore that. So what we're gonna ask you to do is take a look down in the description box, there's a link with a form, and fill out that form and you can apply for a complimentary 30 minute audit with myself and Mr. Alex Bass and, yeah, in, in that.

Essentially we take a look at your business. It's a screen share call where you'll just show us a sneak peek into what you're currently doing, and, it's a chance to completely pick our brain.

[00:48:46] Alex Bass: Cool. Thank you so much for tuning in, and we'll at you again soon. See you next time. ​

Creators and Guests

Alex Bass
Alex Bass
⚑ β€œThe Efficient Guy” πŸš€ Founder & Product ( @EfficientApp ) πŸ‘Ό Angel Investor ( @EfficientVC ) πŸ† @useMotion πŸ€– Automation & Integration πŸ”₯ Product Obsessed
Andra Vomir
Andra Vomir
Co-Founder & Business Process Strategist at Efficient App
018 - How His Construction Business Scaled (Case Study)
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