I’m pleased to share Episode 2 of the Business and BBQ Podcast. This week, I’m talking about getting back in the saddle. Recently, my good friend and trusted associate Adam Trujillo left our company to pursue other passions. You never know how much someone you count on does for you until they leave. I really miss having Adam’s help, but the process of “taking care of myself” has taught me a lot. So, check out Episode 2 below. Drop me a comment, share the link and Tag me on social media, and don’t forget to ask me some questions or give me recommendations for future topics. Enjoy!
Topics Covered in this Episode:
- Real estate investing
- Understanding the nuts and bolts of your business
- Adapting to the market
- Taking advantage of technology
- Leadership by walking around
The topic of this episode of the Business and BBQ Podcast is “getting back in the saddle.” This could mean different things to different people based on their business situation, but for Tim it means getting reacquainted with your business processes and making necessary adjustments.
“If you don’t communicate your expectations about who is going to do what, then no one will do it.”
It is easy as the entrepreneur or leader of a business to focus on getting work done, reaching out to clients, closing deals, and building relationships without putting much thought into the systems and processes that are supporting your efforts. In Tim’s business, he had delegated most of the administration of these systems to his colleague Adam, and when Adam left the company, Tim was thrust back into the driver’s seat of the big picture business operations as well as these much smaller but foundational processes.
“I was able to focus on working, not making something work.”
He learned 2 things during the initial shock of getting back into the inner mechanics of the business: (1) your systems have to evolve and (2) changing your systems can lead to company improvement. Tim describes for listeners the many different methods and programs his company has gone through for CRM and call tracking which has ended up in the use of CallRail and HubSpot for all of their needs. But it was not until Tim got back into using these tools from the administration side that he took a hard look at what the various programs offered and how those offerings could fit into his business model. By not providing Adam and his other employees with enough information about what the programs should do for the business, Tim had left them to guess what he wanted, which led to chaos for a while.
“When you’re working well and you’re enjoying what you’re doing, you’re more productive, more creative, and more successful.”
Second, he found that there were better ways to use technology and business strategies that would make the business more efficient in the long run. For instance, they transitioned from using Dropbox to using OneDrive because of the integrations available with systems that were already in place. This also led Tim to create a brand-new website which is simpler, cleaner, and overall more representative of his company and its mission. To maintain consistency in the website realm, Tim tries to dedicate Mondays to marketing, reviewing the website and website copy as well as writing his weekly blog post. Overall, the theme of this phase of his business has been “keep it simple.”
By becoming more involved in his business operations, he has learned so much about every step of their home buying process, and he recommends that every entrepreneur take this same deep dive into their own business every 30, 60, or 90 days.
When it comes to BBQ this week, Tim wants to make sure everyone knows that he is posting reviews on his website that you should be sure to check out if you are in Texas. Feel free to reach out at the email address below with recommendations of your own!
Connect with Tim:
00:00 You’re listening to the business and barbecue podcast hosted by Tim Herriage. Tim Herriage is an active entrepreneur who built and sold six companies but the age of 40 and enjoys at sharing the ups and downs of business and entrepreneur life. As for the barbecue, that’s just something he has a passion for and likes to share as well. Here’s your host, Tim Herriage.
00:23 Alright, alright, what’s cooking? Everybody? Tim Herriage here. Good to have you back on the business and barbecue podcast. Today we’re talking about getting back in the saddle and when I talk about getting back in the saddle, what our mean is if you’re an entrepreneur, if you’re a small business owner, if you’re someone who runs a company or has employees, you need to get back in the saddle and your company may have multiple silos. And the whole point of this conversation is I want to tell you a little bit about what I went through with my business recently and some of the things I had to do that are typically didn’t do and how it’s helped me and kind of the evolution. So for me, my house buying business, my real estate investment company has always been what makes me the most money and it still does to this day.
01:15 And I go through phases of where I go on the appointments. I go through phases where I don’t go on the appointments, I go through phases where I send other people on the appointments. I go through phases where I answered the phones, other people answer the phones. I’ve had call centers, I’ve had all these different mechanisms. One time I had three or four we call them buyers, purchasers, people that go out on the sales calls and there’s really, I think there are right and wrong ways to do things, but in order to manage any process, and that’s really what we’re talking about today being an entrepreneur is you need to be familiar with the process. So I’ll talk about most recently, last month when I was focused on selling some of the businesses and reorganizing things, Adam who had worked for me the better part of 12 years, kind of saw some other opportunities and he saw me slowing down personally as I reached this new stage in my life and he decided to pursue some other opportunities.
02:25 Well, what that did is it put it in a situation where I actually had to take on some things that I wasn’t used to taking on. Adam used to answer more than half of the incoming phone calls from our number one revenue producer, which is my house by income. So now I had to answer all the phone calls and Adam used to track the calls, process the recordings, get the appointment scheduled, prepare the appointments, which in real estate involves looking at the tax information, running a market analysis, making sure that I’m going to be there, that type of thing. And then Adam had to do the followup and Adam had to maintain the CRM. And Adam really did everything except I would go look at a house and if I didn’t go look at the house, we would send Randy or Jaymon or someone else. So fast forward to Adam’s departure.
03:13 Now all of a sudden I had to answer the phones and I had to prep the appointments and I had to do the followup and I had to manage. I had to do everything. And at first it was really overwhelming. But then it became such a blessing because it’s not that Adam wasn’t doing things right, it’s that my system had gotten out of line with today’s technologies and the technologies that were available to us and the system needed to be redone. And it took me having to work in the broken system to realize it was broken because the entrepreneurial trap is we were still doing it the way we always do it versus doing it differently because there was a better way. And I found that out by getting back in the saddle. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today. And I’m really looking forward to it.
04:11 So when we talk about getting back in the saddle, I think the most important thing that I’ve learned is your systems have to evolve. And when you talk about systems, evolvement, it can either be intentional or accidental. And so what happened to us in our house buying business is our systems evolved kind of as the business grew in our systems evolved, as cashflow changed in our systems, evolved as I wanted to simplify, but it never really was thought out. So let’s just talk about our call tracking software. We use CallRail, we have always used call rail, I think call is a fantastic resource and we’ll put a link down in the show notes. But you know, using call rail is still a big part of our system. And then after I looked at it all, I think it’s still the best. Well the next step and the kind of tracking mechanism is the CRM.
05:13 And this is where we have really spent thousands and thousands of dollars that we probably didn’t need to. And so I just want to take a minute and Kinda just take you through the evolvement. We had salesforce originally and salesforce is amazing. It is world class, top of the line. It is a Ferrari. And you know when we were running our big B to our business and Blackstone companies and all that, we had to have salesforce and we could afford sales force. I mean we were spending tens of thousands of dollars on salesforce and we needed it. We needed that robust functionality. We needed the inter operability, we needed the developmental support, we needed all of that. And then when I kind of, as you heard in episode one, when I got going with my renewed 2020 REI, well the first thing I did was bring that big business idea into small business and we went and got sales force and got 10 licenses isn’t, it was a couple thousand dollars a month and we were going to get all the add ons and the pro-license in the lightening addition.
06:26 And I can’t even remember what all we paid for. But the point was we were going to be big. Well after paying for that for a couple of years, you start to realize we just don’t use it all. Well. Then early last year after the, we had a problem, the finance company, we ended the salesforce contract and for the house buying side we weren’t really doing the lending anymore. And so for the house buying side, what we did was we just went to Zapier and Zapier is a pretty cool tool. It’s mostly free unless you have a lot of activity and then Zapier can run you 20 – 50 I think a up to a hundred bucks. Just depends how many processes you set up. But Zapier was really cool because we integrated it with Google docs and it would just automatically add the call rail calls into a Google spreadsheet and we could track it from there.
07:18 And then that at least kind of helped us keep something from falling through the cracks, so to speak. Well then I heard about podio and I said, okay, Podio, this is this era. A lot of people are using podio. I see it on the Facebook groups, let’s use podio. So then we started using podio and podio is one of those things again, It’s just like salesforce. It’s not just like, but it’s a lot like salesforce in that it has a lot of functions and possibilities, but it requires a lot of development and it also requires some specialty knowledge. So we had podio, we had the free edition and then we upgraded and it just, we weren’t really using it. Well. Then we found a podio customization company that could offer to is a hundred something dollars a month and it was specific to real estate investors. So we said, yeah, we’re going to do that.
08:09 It takes care of the follow up and everything and what it’s really like putting a band aid on the company because we knew we were having trouble with the followup. So instead of addressing that, the fact that we needed to kind of have a good process and system for follow up, we thought we would go buy some technology to fix our problem. And I’m just here to tell you that technology will not fix a core problem in your business because if the problem in your business is lack of followup, you probably aren’t prioritizing that or making it easy enough for someone to do or rewarding enough and you and as the entrepreneur of the boss, you probably don’t have any accountability built in on whether or not things are followed up on. So anyway, I digress. We use podio for awhile and then we use this other company for a little while then not heard about hubspot from a web developer.
08:58 And then after that I heard about hubspot from another investor. And then after that I heard about hubspot from a buddy of mine and I was like, hey, check out this hubspot thing. Well then come to find out the CRM, hubspot is free and if you’re an entrepreneur or you want to be, trust me, anything that’s good and free you should use in your business. Because that is really how you get kind of some leverage in your business. When you can get a tool that works with your other tools and does the job, you do it. So we, anyway, we signed up for an account and Adam started to set it up and then I never really told him how I wanted it set up. And this point in time, I told you last week, I’m just not that good of a leader. I was kind of leaving at them high and dry.
09:44 I wasn’t really telling him what I wanted and everything that kind of left him to guests. And if you’re an entrepreneur, you don’t want your people guessing. Because many times as an entrepreneur, you know they’re not your people, they’re your friends and what happened or family. And what happens is when they’re left to guessing, they’re going to guess wrong because they can’t read your mind and then you’re going to be upset and then you’re going to change your attitude. And it’s just the dynamic, all it, it just doesn’t work. So don’t let people, guess, after Adam left the company, I was forced to start using hubspot. And only then once I started to have to use it, did I actually start to understand what it was capable of and it’s just amazing how that works, right? I mean I finally use something and then I start to understand how it works and I start to understand that it actually worked fantastically for what we need it to do.
10:37 It may not be right for a large complex enterprise, but I’ll tell you this, if you do not have a CRM, you should at least go get hubspot. Like today, it’s free. They have a lot of add ons and they can scale, but it integrates with MailChimp and integrates with CallRail. It integrates with most of the common other tools that you use in your business and it’s very user friendly. And I think that’s the thing. It took the friction out of the business because then I was able to work instead of try to make something work. And that’s a big difference, right? Because I’m an add entrepreneur anyway and if I was going to have to try to make something work, I was probably just not going to do it. But also with me, if I’m able to go try to do something and I’m successful at it, I began to think I’m the smartest person in the world.
11:37 And then I want to keep doing it more because I feel like I’m actually accomplishing something. And when you feel like you’re actually accomplishing something, that is when work becomes more fun, but it also is more rewarding. And then you get kind of in that, that good part of your mind and then, and you’re working well and when you’re working well and you’re enjoying what you’re doing, you’re more productive, you’re more creative and almost a hundred percent of the time more successful. So that was kind of the evolvement of just our CRM in my business and that process alone. Had I gotten back in the saddle a year ago, two years ago, probably would have happened faster and I probably would have made more money because I can tell you after looking through the way I was doing it, I left a lot of deals on the table because by leaving salesforce I set the company up to be kind of running all over the street instead of actual on the railroad tracks heading down towards success.
12:39 And that’s kind of the system involvement. And the next thing I want to talk about, his company improvement wouldn’t, you know, once I actually got back involved in the system, I started finding things that we weren’t doing the right way. When I say the right way, we were still doing them the way they used to be done, but we were not taking advantage of some of the technology. We were not recognizing some of the changes in the real estate market. We were not recognizing the changes in our own business strategy with regards to what type of assets we were pursuing. So I think the point is, is once I actually kind of opened the hood and went back under it, I started seeing other things that I just didn’t like anymore. Again, they weren’t being done wrong. There was just better ways they could be done.
13:31 And so then, so the first thing I do, the original system that ran on sales force was designed to use Dropbox. We didn’t use salesforce anymore and salesforce used to be linked with Dropbox. Now I like to use one drive because one drive comes with my office 365 subscription and it’s working better for me. So I didn’t even have a file system set up of how I like to keep track of the contracts, the [inaudible], the disclosures I had allowed it to become this devolved, decentralized email system. We emailed everything back and forth. Everything just emailed, emailed email. I had lost track of all timelines and the business when to follow up, when to check, when to send the letter of intent, when to send the contract. All these little things that if I were standing in front of you on a stage, I would teach you, you should do, I would tell you, you’ve got to do this on time.
14:32 Every time I would tell you all these things, but we weren’t doing it in my business because of all the changes that had happened and at one point someone else was supposed to do it and we had some interns and it’s just like in a marriage. If you don’t communicate your expectations about who is going to do what, then what will end up happening is no one will do it and it goes with any relationships. So I started using hubspot. We kept using call rail. I switched over to one drive because I just, I like it better. It gives me more control because it’s all run off of my office 365 subscription actually created a new website. I had this complicated website from a large national template seller that I was paying a couple hundred bucks a month for, and it was producing automatic content and supposed to help my SEO rankings and all these little things that I didn’t have time to do.
15:33 And so then I just went back and set up a wordpress website. Simple, just a simple, I think there’s three or four pages on it and I’ll be dang if all of a sudden now we’re not actually getting people to call us off our website, and I’m not saying that the SEO is happening in a month. Search engine optimization. What I’m saying is the fact that it’s cleaner, easier to read. The previous version you must understand was done by a marketer and then changed by another marketer and then modified by an IT person and then made to fit a template. So you had multiple evolutions that weren’t accounted for in the quality had just gotten horrible. And it’s not because anyone did anything. It’s because as the boss, as the owner, as the entrepreneur, as the sole proprietor or whatever you want to label yourself, I hadn’t went back and revisited it.
16:34 So once I put myself again back in the saddle and I said, okay, I’m going to work on my webpage today, I blocked off time and now I have what you hear. People talk about a lot. Marketing. Monday, I had this on Monday morning, I sit down and I write a blog and so now four weeks in a row we’ve written a blog. Now will I continue? I don’t know, but the point is I will, the point is on that website, it now is very accurate. It now speaks to the customer that I know better than anyone else in the business because I’m the one that always meets with them. It now speaks to my strong suits now reflects a more accurate depiction of our company and our ethos and our values. And I say this because many times when you talk to someone, they get themselves a web site or page and then they kind of check it off on the list and then they move onto something else and they never revisit it.
17:37 And I would say that among the list of things you should consider to revisit, it should be your website and your website copy. Like does it say, does it say good things? Does it say the right things? Is the address accurate? Did you create a page that said contact us and you never put anything on contact us? Did someone make a couple of different modifications of it and now all of a sudden there’s like these you’ve, you’ve probably seen it before. Loram Epselem kind of a default place holder happens all the time. I found one of my web pages had been imported so many times that I was actually flagged on Google for having duplicate content of some other page. And what had happened is we had closed one company, opened another company and then sold a company and enclosed a company. And then in someone’s genius, moronic decision, by the way, that someone is me, the it guy was told we’ll import all of the old websites into one new website and the it guy was more of a technician, not a marketer, not an SEO specialist.
18:48 So he didn’t know to tell me, hey Tim, just so you know, since that was originally at another URL, if we don’t do a 301 redirect, it’s actually going, it’s, it’s really going to hurt your SEO rankings. I thought, well, I already paid to create that content. I’m just going to use it. It’s mine. The other one will be, will disappear wrong. So you know, it’s one of those things my fault, everything’s my fault, right? If you watched last week and you ever watch and listen to me, you know, I take the blame for everything. I don’t blame anyone for anything other than myself, but the point is right when you make yourself get back in the saddle and just kind of start from a to z and that’s what I did. These right here are the postcards that we use to buy houses. I created a new phone number for 2019 it says the web address there.
19:34 I went to the web address and all of a sudden, okay, this looks like garbage, right? And then I looked at how much I was paying for it and then I thought about making it complicated. I was going to hire a marketing company and all this and I said, whoa, timeout, Tim. Let’s just keep it simple. When I think through all of these new processes and procedures have been created since I had to do it, the theme is keeping it simple and also there’s a saying, I heard once, never sacrifice good enough for perfect. And what that means is when something is good enough, go ahead and do it. Don’t not do it because it’s not perfect. Right? I mean in too many entrepreneurs make that mistake, they say, okay, well it’s not perfect yet so we won’t do it yet. My message is do it, change it, fix it, and then come back to it.
20:25 Revisit it every 30 60 90 days and revisit it every 30 60 90 days and go A to Z again. I think process change and improvement is one of those things that more of us need to spend more time on and I think that will definitely keep our businesses from getting way off. And then I use me as an example, the re this is as real world as it gets because it’s something I’ve been going through the last couple of weeks. But at the end of the day I got involved more on answering the phone, which then made me focus more on how the calls were routed and then it made me focus more on how they were tracked and then it may be focused on more on how they were scheduled. And then it made me focus more on how they were prepared. Then it made me focus more on how they were executed and it made me focus more on how they were documented.
21:16 Then I had to focus more on how it was followed up on everything from the contracts. I had not typed a contract on a house and probably three or four years and I taught a couple now and it was eye opening. Uh, I didn’t even have a docusign account because had made myself bigger than that. I didn’t even know how to use docusign anymore. It took me probably 45 minutes to figure that out. So that’s the whole point, right? When you, even if you have a massively successful, massively scalable company, you may be asking people to do something in your business that is really difficult, that with your experience could be innovated or eliminated. Or you may be literally overworking someone to the point of one of your best people are going to leave because they’re not making enough money for what they’re being asked to do.
22:11 But at the end of the day, get back in the saddle, start at point A and get all the way to Z. And then every 30, 60, 90 days or so, just put yourself through another repetition to make sure that there’s not something in the business that could be done differently or better. And I think that will help you and the people that work for you from making some mistakes or maybe being frustrated. So that’s it. Get back into saddle, make things happen. And now we’re gonna talk about barbecue. Barbecue Barbecue has become this metaphor for me of doing what it is I like to do. So today I just want to talk a little bit about it and kind of what I like about it, what I don’t like about it and what we’re going to be doing. So if you’ve been on the website, TimHerriage.com You’ve seen that.
23:04 I do some barbecue reviews and I’ve got some in the can and I’ve been meaning to do more and I’m going to, and I really enjoy it. This week I smoked my first pulled pork a pork shoulder and smoked it out behind the house while I was working all day and went out there and checked on it. That tasted very good. I smoked a t bone that was very good. And I bought a small brisket flat from, uh, the store, which is really just a really small part of the brisket and smoke that too. And it was horrible. That was way too much oak and it was so thin. I just didn’t think it would penetrate so easy. But this weekend I’m heading down to Austin and San Antonio. My son is about to attend college down there, so I can’t wait to experience some more barbecue down in the Austin San Antonio area.
23:55 If you have a barbecue restaurant in the Austin San Antonio area, you’d like to recommend, let me know. You know, make sure you go on TimHerriage.com and check out the barbecue reviews. Check out my blogs, sign up for the email list and then there’s a section that says ask me questions and if you have a guest you’d like us to interview, if you have a recommendation, if there’s a topic you’d like to talk about, go ahead and do that. Fill it out there or you can just email, firstname.lastname@example.org if you’ve got a barbecue recommendation or a barbecue question. I’m not an expert, but I can find one. Just email email@example.com – check out our website, subscribe to our blog. Check us out on iTunes and Google play and TimHerriage.com And until next time, keep cooking.
24:45 Thanks for listening to the business and barbecue podcast. Make sure you check out our other episodes and stop by TimHerriage.com To say hi. We want to hear from you. Until next time, keep cooking.