Construction Succession Planning and Business Exits

Being prepared for the unexpected is part of success on the job site. And yet most business owners haven’t thought about what it takes to eventually sell or pass down their own business. According to Dan Murray, the Coach at Your Restoration Coach, that’s a big mistake.

In this episode of the Mobile Workforce Podcast, Dan shares the serious repercussions that stem from not planning a business exit in advance. He dives into the financial implications, including how most construction business owners have a big portion of their retirement savings locked into their business. He also discusses timing and explains why planning should begin years in advance. Finally, Dan breaks down action listeners can take now, including actionable steps that make a business valuable to potential purchasers.

 

Key Takeaways:

  1. Take time to determine a business’s worth. A common saying is sellers should get five times EBITDA, which gives a baseline of predictable future profits. But what a business is worth is based on its consistency with the price decreasing if it has a lot of variances from one year to the next or big swings back and forth. The more predictable and solid a business’ financial performance is; the more confident a buyer will be – and more willing to pay more.
  2. A sale doesn’t have to interfere with daily business. An owner’s goal should be to work themself out of a job. That’s because prospective buyers are wary of taking on companies that depend on one person to run everything – or risk things falling apart. The most successful businesses are the ones that run fairly autonomously from the owner in day-to-day business matters, which increases the likelihood of a smooth transition when a sale is made.  
  3. Selling a business comes at a cost. When business owners focus on the final dollar amount of the sale, they’re not seeing the full picture. There are a number of costs involved, including fees to brokers, lawyers, and accountants. On top of that, it’s important to consider how much will be taxed on their earnings. As a general rule, a third of what the business sells for is what the owner keeps in their pocket. 

 

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Episode Transcript:

Mike Merrill:

Hello and welcome to the Mobile Workforce podcast. I’m your host, Mike Merrill and we are sitting down today with Dan Murray. He’s a coach and a consultant with Your Restoration Coach. Dan has worked in the disaster and restoration sector for about 25 years and spent the last 12 years as a consultant serving contractors across Canada and the United States. So, today he’s going to share a little bit about the process of transitioning your business and eventually setting it to sell maybe to the next generation or to move on to retirement. So, hello, Dan and thank you so much for joining us today.

Dan Murray:

Hi Mike, is awesome to be invited in to participate in this podcast and it’s great to reconnect again. We haven’t seen each other in quite a few years and it’s great to see what you’ve been doing to help different contractors and other service providers. And kind of I’ve been watching your progress as you have been moving along and what you’ve developed and offered and it’s just great to connect again.

Mike Merrill:

Great. Well, I’m looking forward to this too. So, thank you again, Dan. So, before we kind of get going into the conversation, can you kind of share with our audience a bit about how you got into consulting from the restoration industry?

Dan Murray:

Well, that could be a long story so I’ll try to keep it as brief as possible. But I did get into the service business and doing first in the early 1980s when the earth was young and dinosaurs roamed the earth kind of thing. And I first got into it as a carpet cleaner and a water damage contractor. And we did quite well, we operated that way for a couple of years. And then I had the grandiose vision of thinking that well why don’t we start off with janitorial services? 

So, we started the janitorial company and thinking that quite often doing water damages and starting to do a little bit of firework back in those days, we would have lots of peaks and valleys in workload so we did is that I thought that we could have our janitorial staff do fire work in the daytime and we help each other that way but it just didn’t work. I had two really good days in the janitorial business. You probably can guess what those two days are Mike.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, the day started and the day you hung it up?

Dan Murray:

There you go, absolutely. What we found was that the definition of clean is completely different when you’re doing a fire damage job versus doing a janitorial job. In the old janitorial expression used to be ash trash and dash, you just give the top of the desk a quick clean or give the traffic lane of a carpet a quick clean and it’s clean. Well, you have a smoke damage, it’s far from that you have to do deep cleaning and clean every surface, clean furniture up and down and everywhere else.

Anyway, three years later, we sold the janitorial, we start really focusing on doing full service restoration. And from there, our business just took off and we did build it from basically scratch, from nothing to a multimillion-dollar business. Then in the ’90s I started doing catastrophe losses. I was involved with a franchise network and I was on their task force to develop a large loss division which I headed up in Canada for several years. And I also traveled to the US doing large losses. And a large loss in those days was considered anything over $250,000 single sight loss and the largest loss I was on we did $2.3 million in three weeks. The largest single loss that I did on my own was a little over a million dollars, cleaning and painting and we had a 45-day timeframe to do it and we finished it in 43 days. 

So, then I had some good successes there for a few years and then the franchisor that I was with asked me to come on board corporately and I ran the Canadian division for them for four years. Had about 70 franchises across Canada and that’s where my passion for training and coaching and advising business owners really started to take foot and then I switched over to buying into a company in my area. And I did that for six years as a franchisor and operated a couple of the franchises and we build it up to 15 offices and then had a really, really bad parting of ways with our business partner and I took a few months off. And then in 2009, we started full-time consulting and incorporated a company to do this in 2010 and we haven’t looked back.

Mike Merrill:

Oh, good for you. A lot of history and bumps and bruises I’m sure also.

Dan Murray:

Yeah, that’s what I always tell my clients is that I do have structure, of course. I have programs that I’d like to take people through but a lot of what I do is just helping people through the life lessons that I’ve learned. I’ve made every mistake you can make, I think. I don’t know, I still make the odd one. But my goal is to be that little on someone’s shoulder say, “No, well, you could do it that way but you may want to think of this and this and this.” Part of being a coach is that you help people make the decisions whereas as a consultant you do things for people. And lots of times I’m doing more advising than coaching and so it’s really pretty awesome to get paid to do something that you love for an industry that you really have spent your whole career in.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, good for you. And I know you’re very respected and revered within the industry and the space. So, it’s been harder, of course.

Dan Murray:

Yeah. Well, it’s a great industry. What’s been interesting is when we started in the early ’80s, it was just basically just a baby. We used to go to the local hardware store and buy the little dehumidifiers and buy those axial fans and the square fans. There’s no equipment manufacturers out there today, there was no testing procedures. And it’s just really been a fun ride to see it from where it is now to see where it came from. And it’s really almost a commodity business now in that there are so many disaster restoration firms. 

We’re all doing things based on the same training to the IICRC organization. There’s only maybe half a dozen equipment manufacturers, there’s only one remote timekeeping system we should be using but we all know who it is. And there’s one main software, there’s a couple other ones on the side but for doing estimates and everything on, so estimating. But it certainly has its challenges now from what it used to be and it’s a much larger business than we ever thought it could be.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, and I think to your point, it’s interesting because kind of like the topic that we’re talking about today, lots of companies have to look into the future and kind of decide what that transition might look like when they either retire or sell a business. What do you think in either of those situations that companies can do today to prepare themselves for that eventual outcome that they have as a goal?

Dan Murray:

Well, you said a key thing, Mike, is that they need to prepare because I’ve seen some really sad situations where a business owner hasn’t. And it is not nice to get a phone call from the widow saying that had a heart attack or to get a call from the owner and I just had a meeting with my doctor and you can fill in the blanks. Those are not nice calls to get and at that point is too late to maximize the value for the business. It’s just basically how do I get out of it? It’s a fire sale type of deal, right? And it’s sad, it really is sad because most… 

And I think I could say this, okay, most business owners have the biggest chunk of their retirement in their business. Real estate certainly is partly a big point, especially if you own your own building that you’re operating out of. But as far as your net worth, what you have for savings to retire, it is what you’re thinking you’re going to get out of your business when you sell. And if you start thinking about that three months before you want to sell or have to sell, is too late. So, you have to prepare financially and get your business ready. I say a minimum of two years but three to five years is the best. 

And so this is where I transition my business in the services that I do in consulting and advising and coaching is to help people get ready for this transition. This has been the last six years, it’s been my main focus in business. I’m not a business broker, I don’t do business brokerage services, I have worked with other business brokers or with business brokers, I don’t do it. But what I do is I help with the getting ready to get it ready for sale. 

But quite often, the sale never happens. And the reason is that the same principles that make a business valuable to a potential purchaser, are the same standards in a business that make it easier to run more profitable, less stressful for the owner and help building a team. So, several my clients say, “Well, why would I sell when it’s starting to make this kind of money and it’s running so smoothly? And now I can enjoy and have a regular work schedule and enjoy the benefits and let it accrue.”

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, that’s the double-edged sword. I think of… I’m in business and have been for most of my adult life as a contractor originally and then helped start this business back in 2003. And so 95% of my life has been full throttle, pedal to the metal, I’m not thinking about, oh, eventually, I’ve got to use some brakes or maybe the engine brake, if nothing else and figure out how to… 

I guess if an analogy might be, get off the freeway to an off-ramp because at some point as much as I love this and being a business is fun, it’s also scary and difficult and challenging. And like you said, the last thing you want is to leave your wife with a mass because your health fails or you get too stressed. And so those things are real challenges. And that’s great that there’s individuals like you and companies out there that are helping educate and coach.

Dan Murray:

Yeah, you’re absolutely right. And you made a good point there, Mike, is that you’re doing something that you love. And most entrepreneurs I would hope, are doing what they love. But what happens and I’m guilty it happened to me, is that you get so enthralled with your business and it’s all encompassing that you forget about your personal life, you forget about developing hobbies. And one of the things that is really come about to me in the last five or six years of working with so many entrepreneurs and contractors mainly, is that they have to prepare themselves personally for the exit.

And I know what happened to me when I sold my a couple of my businesses back and then in the ’90s, is that you need to have a vision for what you want to do personally after the sale, right? So, we have an exercise that we go through with clients or potential clients. What do you want to do? What do you want to do when you grow up? What do you want to do when you get free from this business? Why do you want to exit? Those are questions and I don’t always need to know the answers that they come up with but I’ll ask them the question is and go ask them to talk it with their spouse or with themselves, talk them with their family. Because I know what happened to me when especially the first business I sold because I work night and day in it for five years. And I sold it at that time, it seemed like more money than I would ever had in my life. But nowadays it’s a pretty small sale.

One day I was walking down Main Street and hey there’s Dan who owns this business and oh Dan, I’m getting calls to come to this luncheon, the Chamber of Commerce and this and that and people networking, dropping by my office. Next thing you know, I’m just setting home, I took three months off when I was in my ’30s and kind of revamped where I was going before I started my next business. And for those three months, I started realizing, I’m not getting the calls, I’m not getting the invites, I don’t have an office to go to. My self worth was tied up in my business. So, I’m always cautioning entrepreneurs to be careful because you have to really work at developing and keeping a life outside that is tied into your family. And so yeah.

Mike Merrill:

So, it sounds like if I were to kind of list off some checkboxes or have a list of items that somebody should be aware of or be looking at to prepare, sounds like having some personal goals and kind of a transition plans to next steps established before you sell your business. Are there some other things that would make that checklist that a company should be thinking about?

Dan Murray:

For the company or for personal, Mike? I can go either way here.

Mike Merrill:

I mean, maybe a little bit of both. I mean, what are some of the more important things in both of those areas? You identified maybe having some personal goals but what else would be on that list?

Dan Murray:

Well, one that kind of crosses both, personal and business is what’s the value? What do you need after the business to retire? What is the business worth? Most people don’t realize the terms make a big deal on a transaction, right? People say, “Well, let’s just use a simple number, that’s it.” Or, “Well, my business is worth a million dollars.” Well, how is that paid? If the purchasers aren’t going to pay you 50% on upfront and you got to do an earn out over, say, five years, if you hit all these benchmarks, you may or may not get the other or want to get a portion of it.

So, I say in those deals, you got to be happy with the initial amount. If you can live off that, then the rest is a bonus. That’s where you… So, the terms is a big thing and sometimes the more aggressive you are with the terms, the shorter the… How much you paid up front and in the shorter any term is usually it means that your amount of money that you’re going to get shrinks a little bit, right? So, but really what is your bottom line is what you got to be wearing because…

And when you put your hat on from being the purchaser which and I’ve helped a couple of companies do acquisitions, tuck-in type acquisitions to expand in their local areas, what’s a financial buyer buying? You got to put your hat on and just think what the other guys how they’re thinking, right? And really what they’re buying is your future profits but even more important of that, how reliable those future profit estimates are. That’s really what you’re buying. And that’s why when you see people say, “Well, get five times EBITDA, I get six times or eight times.” Every industry is different. But really what you’re doing is that you’re buying predictable future profits and is discounted if it has a lot of variances up and big swings back and forth. It’s got to be fairly predictable.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, that’s a great point. Also, I know, we’ve worked with consultants too in our business and one phrase that has stuck in my mind is, one consultant told us good companies sell, great companies get bought. And so making yourself attractive where people are pursuing you because of predictable profits, branding, market recognition, future potential, all those things, is an important factor aside from just the EBITDA and other things that are maybe mathematical equations. There are other factors that can lead to that value.

Dan Murray:

Absolutely. I’m going to steal that phrase. I like that one, Mike. What I have used in the past is you’re either going to get pushed out of the business or pulled out of the business. Decide which way you want to go. Because being pushed out of the business isn’t fun and not very profitable for the most part, right? But you said it much more eloquently than I did. So, I’m going to steal that line and we’re going to-

Mike Merrill:

I had to steal it from someone else to give it to you, so no problem. 

Dan Murray:

Fair enough. So, but another point you said is you have to think about… I think most of the audience listening to this are probably in the service-based business, right? Whether it could be-

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, the trade so to speak, yeah.

Dan Murray:

Yeah. So, what business are we really in? And you’ll hear people say, “Well, you’re in the business of creating and keeping customers?” Well, I always like to say, we’re in the people business. So, when it comes time to start thinking about selling, you have to think about your team. And in all my correspondence and all my stuff that I’ve written over the years, whenever I mentioned team in a business, I always use a capital T because I think they’re so important that your team members need to be recognized. And so how will they be treated in a transition meant a lot to me when I did some of my deals in the past.

I’ve talked to other business owners where they weren’t all that concerned. They were looking after themselves which is fine. I can’t judge there’s no right or wrong, there’s no absolute decisions, it’s whatever is right for you and your personality but I do think that your people need to be treated right, you need to… And there’s different ways that other people involve or not involve their team members in a potential discussions on a sale. Some people will make it very transparent, others will keep it very close to the chest. 

When I sold my first business, I don’t think anyone knew until the day I announced it. But since then, I’ve different vibe is that sometimes being transparent is good. Whether you transition your business to an employee team who’s going to buy you out that’s an option that can work really well or have them minority partner so that you can have the freedom to do what you want because they have a vested interest is another option. So, again, there’s so many ways you can go and there’s so many different paths. Is according to your team that you have, how skilled they are, how passionate they are about the business and where you are in your life and in your needs.

Mike Merrill:

I’ve heard said many times by other guests on the podcast, one of the important things in making sure that your business is scalable is making sure you have layers so that when you do exit the business, the business can still function for the most part without you And I think there’s more value to a potential purchaser if that can happen. 

Dan Murray:

Yeah, absolutely. The more… Sorry. The better a business can run without the owner, the more profitable it will be to the owner on a sale, you’re absolutely right. If the listeners take anything from this podcast today it should be that, if they can reach a point where they work themselves out of a job in their own business, they’re doing a good job. And from a personal perspective, there is nothing more satisfying, it was at least to me in my career, was in seeing people grow and develop as leaders and managers in my company and see them come to a point where they could take over responsibilities and do things that they never thought they could. That is very self-rewarding as a manager as you help other people develop.

Mike Merrill:

Well, and I think for many of us that are entrepreneurs, that’s one of the most challenging things is handing those reins over. I mean, this is your baby and so to leave your baby in somebody else’s arms for any amount of time is a bit of a hurdle and you have to figure out how to get over that really. Otherwise, you’re going to be too connected and it won’t end well, probably.

Dan Murray:

Yeah, one of the eight drivers that we always work on with our clients and I told you we have a bit of a structure that we work on is what we call the hub-and-spoke model and I think I’ve heard it on your podcast before listening to other guests. And really, the more the owner is totally in control and that all the major customer decision sales and market decisions, supplier decisions, sub-trade decisions, all those are made by the owner, he or she is the hub and it’s a very stressful and tough position to be in. 

And when I started many years ago, when I had a bit of hair, working my way out of that position, one of the things… I may be getting ahead of myself a little bit on what we want to talk about towards the end but one of the tips that I have for the listeners is, when someone comes to you with a problem and you know the answer and a lot of times your team members, your employees will come to you simply for the fact that they’ve never been given the liberty to make a decision where they’ve worked before. They’ve never been counseled that way or given… When I go to work, I do what I’m told, right? I don’t do what is right, the company culture is developed by somebody if it has not developed by you, it’ll be developed by some other part of your team, it may not be the culture that you want. 

But what happens is that when someone comes to you and says, “Hey, Mike, should I go to Mrs. Smith’s job and start that today? Or should I go clean up the shop?” I’m just using a silly example. But when someone comes to you with a question like that, you can start coaching and developing them to make decisions on their own by saying or instead of just barking out the order which most of us do, you can say, “Well, what do you think we should do, Joe?” Or “Mrs. Smith, what’s the conditioner? What was it her expectations, yo?” And then when they give you the answer that you like, you say, “Yeah, I agree, that’s a good decision. Go ahead and do that.” And you do that enough times or if they give you a silly answer, “I think I should go wash the truck, instead of going to serve a customer.” You can say, well, “Let’s stop and think about that for a minute. And here’s the three reasons why you may want to reconsider.” But have them involved and after a while, they’ll start making decisions on their own.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, I think that’s great. One analogy that popped into my mind, I’ve used this in a sales environment before but we’ve all used a navigation system, GPS. And when I’ve traveled a lot like you do and I’m in an unfamiliar city, I lean heavily on that GPS and I’m waiting to be told where to go and what to do and it’s difficult to navigate until you hear that voice tell you where to go. But if you don’t have a GPS and you’ve got to pay more attention then you can usually get along just fine. Also, it’s more just knowing that you can depend on your own ability instead of waiting for somebody else to tell you what to-

Dan Murray:

That’s right. And there’s one benefit, I guess. When we are recording this, we’re in the middle of the COVID, the pandemic and travel is really come to almost a screeching halt and I was doing 35 weeks a year on the road for the last 10 years visiting clients and a few months ago, I came to a screeching halt. And I do everything on Zoom now and Loom. I use another service called Loom but Zoom is my main one for two-way videos. And I don’t know whether I’m going to go back to travel, this is working extremely well. I wouldn’t want to be in the air carrier business or hotel business right now. I don’t think.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, it is amazing what we can do when you hear the phrase where there’s a will there’s a way and when your options are limited and you’ve got to figure it out. There’s a lot of different approaches that you can take that might be equally or even to your point more effective.

Dan Murray:

Absolutely, absolutely.

Mike Merrill:

So, with this topic of discussion, what are some things that business owners can do to sell their business or hand it on to a future generation, a son or a nephew or somebody else that you’re mentoring with no regrets? Because I think that would be one of the bigger challenges and it’s one that I hear about quite a bit once companies do sell or do pass things along, there’s all the reasons that they wish they wouldn’t have or that they wish something would have been different?

Dan Murray:

Well, really the old adage is really depends, it depends on the owner what they’re doing. But there’s a personal attachment to businesses for the most of us, right? So, when you detach from the business, what are you going to do with your life? I guess a short and simple answer to that question I tell people is that, a happy accident is meaning that you have a happy life. In other things beside business, whether it be coaching your kids at sports or traveling or doing whatever. And the other thing is, the big thing of course, really why are we in a business it’s really to have financial resources to be able to live the life that we want. 

So, again, the first driver of the eight company drivers that we work on with people that number one is the financial performance or your business. Your financial performance has to be good and it has to be improving all the time. And while you own the business, it allows you to be remunerated properly and when you go to sell, it’ll also do that as well. Because you got to remember, when you say five times whatever or four times, whatever the multiple is, you’re getting paid on your EBITDA is basically if you can make an extra $100,000 a year by running a good business and keeping things tight. If you get five times that multiple, when you sell, that’s half a million dollars and I don’t care who you are, half a million dollars is probably going to make a little bit of a difference on your enjoyment.

Mike Merrill:

Sure.

Dan Murray:

Can I make another point on this, Mike while we’re-

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, absolutely.

Dan Murray:

One of the big things I see people not considering when they sell, they always think about the big dollar amount they can get, they don’t stop and consider all the costs that are involved. Lots of times especially if you go to brokers and other professionals, you’re going to have lawyers and accountants and you can spend tens of thousands of dollars on lawyers and accountants really quick just getting your business ready to deal with the due diligence and all this sort of thing. Then if you get brokerage fees, so you can have eight to 10%, easily in fees on what you’re going to pay for a transaction.

And then you can have some personal fees if you guys have holding companies or family trusts or whatever, you can have other fees involved with setting up all that and to save taxes. And then the big thing that where most people don’t stop and think about is how they’re going to be taxed on their earnings. So, I always say just hold your thumb up in the air and pick a number but basically a third roughly of what you get out of your business, you’ll end up keeping in your pocket. And most people don’t take that into consideration. They think of if I sell $4 million, I get a million dollars. I wish I could say it was so but it isn’t.

Mike Merrill:

That’s a great point and I think even within that framework, there are different tax approaches that can be taken too so depending on the turnout or other factor, at the end of the day, what’s really going to net you the most revenue? And I think that’s a great thing to consider.

Dan Murray:

Yeah, so there’s at least a dozen ways I can think of off the top of my head I you can structure a deal and there’s so many in zeros but I’m a big believer in that. We’ve all heard the expression win-win but I think it needs to be win-win-win, and it’s a triple win, right? We need to win, whoever is acquiring our business needs to be a winning deal and our existing team members and customers need to win. Like if everyone wins, there can’t be a win-lose scenario or someone’s going to not be happy.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, I really like that. I think in a lot, a lot of cases, a lot of company owners, they are concerned about the long-term viability of the business, how it affects those employees and team members like you’re saying and along those lines, I’ve heard you say before, it’s important to have more than one exit strategy also. So, maybe if you’ve got a few horses in the race, whether it be different suitors or maybe some different options on how this transaction could take place and what it looks like, what wold your advice be?

Dan Murray:

Well, I always like people I’m working with to actually sit down and there’s an exercise that we go through and write down who would be potential. Could be a big multinational, it could be who just wants to do what they usually call them tuck-in acquisitions, where they want to expand or they want another dot on the map or your pain in the butt they just want to buy you out so that their local branch can grow, that can happen. You can have… 

Family members is what most people think of but that can be really good or really bad. And are the kids ready and able to run the business? Have they paid the dues? The other thing is you may want to stay on as a lower percentage owner and give some shares to two or three key members of your team and just let them run it or hire a CEO or general manager and forfeit a little bit of the annual profits and just so you can enjoy life. Go get your 43-foot diesel pusher and go have a time as your general manager is running the business. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that. Except that you’ve got potential liability exposure that maybe you wouldn’t if you had the money in a bank.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, yeah, that’s a great point. And I know you as a coach and a consultant, helping companies understand the health of their business and what’s in their best interest of growing profitably, I know that you’ve mentioned in the past how important data is being forward-thinking and then planning, what role does data play in all this that companies need to consider that maybe important?

Dan Murray:

Well, it’s huge, especially when you get to the transition stage, most companies want to do due diligence and you need to know your numbers before you start putting a price on it. We’ve all watched Shark Tank and shows like that and people get just nailed for having crazy valuations on their business and we’ve all seen it in dealing with contractors. But the thing with data is that, well, in the insurance industry as a vendor for contracting, we have what’s called KPIs;key performance indicators. And what these is, when they started pushing these down on us, they really made us better business operators. Because before a lot of us weren’t looking at things, we weren’t looking at the average response time, we weren’t looking at the average time a file was open, how quick we could dry a job or how quickly we could rebuild it. 

And so I always say we need to have our own KPIs not just our customers and we need to look at them on a dashboard-type basis, one page report because most entrepreneurs will glaze over if you give them a 10-page text-only document, they’re not going to read it. Most of us What do we do when we get our financial reports for crying out loud? We look at two places;top number for revenue, go to the bottom right-hand number for the profit. And goodness gracious, we would never want look at the balance sheet and figure out some things like day sales outstanding or days payable outstanding. Oh, my goodness, that would just be too hard to do. But it’s vital to the business to know some of those numbers. And it’s easy to do with different types of software today.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, so really what you’re talking about then is live field data, live visibility, daily updates on dashboard. So, really, you’ve got a finger on the pulse of the business?

Dan Murray:

Yeah, and as far as for the contractor running in their field management, that’s becoming more live data all the time too from your employee timekeeping and job costing. Our biggest cost on a job usually is our personnel so we don’t have that number down, but we’re in trouble right out of the gate. The other thing that’s coming on, for example, nowadays is that there’s newer technology, AI type of technology where you take a piece of equipment out of your shop, put it in your truck, take it to a job site and leave it. 

A lot of our things we can charge for or at least we know it’s there nowadays, we don’t have to barcode swipe, we don’t have to write it down, it’s automatically done because there’s a little RFID or whatever transponders in each location. And you can use a GPS as well. A manager consents and say, “Okay, I’ve got 77 air movers out in the field today and 27 humidifiers, they’re all billable by the day and I’ve got it all right there live, I can see where it is. I’m not going to lose it, I am going to capture every hour I should be billed for it.” So, having live data in the field as well is extremely important.

Mike Merrill:

Yeah, I would imagine for potential purchaser of a business too if they know you’re using those types of systems, they’re going to have a lot more trust in the data that you’re presenting.

Dan Murray:

Absolutely, that is 100% right. I’ve seen that happen several times over the years.

Mike Merrill:

So, this has been a great conversation. I’ve really enjoyed it. I guess just kind of wrapping up, one of the things that I like to ask a lot of the guests is, what’s one key practice or best practice or something that’s been impactful in your entrepreneurial career that you could point to for the success you’ve had.

Dan Murray:

Always be learning. Always be learning. And it takes some time but it’s a very inexpensive way to do it. Be a reader, you want to be a leader, be a reader. You want to be an expert at something, you have an expertise you want to learn, whether it be writing code or how to do a water damage. If you read a book a month on a particular topic you want to be good at, in a year’s time, you’re going to be surprised at how much better you are at understanding whatever it is you want to get better at.

Mike Merrill:

Great advice. Yeah, that’s very wise, I would say. If you could kind of relive or do something different or change a decision you made at one point, is there anything real specific that pops out in your mind that maybe someone else can learn from?

Dan Murray:

Well, now that’s an interesting question. Is this where we get real honest or we just going to get fluffy?

Mike Merrill:

I mean, something that’s applicable to others too probably, professionally speaking.

Dan Murray:

Listen more and talk less. Really listen. And by listening not only verbally but listen to the body language of your team members, of your customers, show some empathy instead of always… No matter what kind of type of contractor is listening to this podcast, when we go into someone’s house or business to work, we’ve probably done that job function a thousand times. To our customer, it could be the first time they’ve ever had this type of job done. And to them, they’re kind of overwhelmed and they don’t understand the processes. And so we got to show some empathy and patience, listen, read their situation, understand what they’re going through so that we can serve them better.

Mike Merrill:

Well, that’s a great note to end it on. And I so much appreciate the conversation today. It’s been a pleasure to have you on, Dan and I look forward to continuing to keep in touch in the future and following your success.

Dan Murray:

Thanks, Mike. And I look forward to many years of this great podcast series that you started in the future.

Mike Merrill:

Thank you, I appreciate it. And thank you to the guests for joining us today on the Mobile Workforce podcast sponsored by AboutTime Technologies and WorkMax. If you like the conversation that Dan and I had today or were able to learn anything new and interesting, please subscribe to our podcast and give us a rating and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast platform. 

You can also follow us on Instagram at WorkMax underscore or on LinkedIn at WorkMax. And again, please leave us a five-star rating and review if you enjoyed the show. We appreciate your support and if you can subscribe and download those episodes that really helps us out to continue to bring these types of discussions to you to help you improve your business and your life.