You will also discover how Damien is able to get new hires working on tasks immediately, and how he spends his spare time as a firefighter and building new businesses.
OWEN: Hi, my name is Owen McGab Enaohwo and welcome to Process Breakdown where I bring on successful entrepreneurs who come on here and reveal how they’ve been able to create systems and processes for their business that now enables them to run literally their business on autopilot without their constant involvement. And my guest today is Damien Sanchez. He is the owner of Mosquito Squad of Greater Washington D.C. Damien, welcome to the show.DAMIEN: Yeah, thank you for having me.
OWEN: So Damien, let’s get started. What specific problem does your business solve for your customers?
DAMIEN: Basically, it’s not unique to the D.C. area, but mosquitoes have been a problem in D.C. since the pilgrims came over. And so, one of the niche things back when I started 7 years ago was that there wasn’t a specific company that targeted only mosquito control. So, that’s the main niche is just making it so that people can go outside and use their yard. Whereas in the past they have beautiful yards but from sun up to sun down, there was constant mosquitoes. So, that’s kind of the niche we build when people go outside in their yard. They get a mosquito bite. That’s what induces them to call us, and that’s why we’re able to go out there and treat the yards and make it so that people can use their yards.
OWEN: And one of the things that my listeners want to know is the scale and size of your business. That way they can get your perspective on things. And so, how many full-time employees do you currently have?
DAMIEN: Well, year round part-time employees we have 11, but we scale up to about 35-40 during the mosquito season.
OWEN: And also, what was last year’s annual revenue and what do you expect this year?
DAMIEN: Last year we had about 2.1 million in sales. Our expectation for this year to go up to about 2.5 to 2.7.
OWEN: That’s awesome. So, given that this podcast is all about trying to go behind the scenes and learn how you’re able to systematize your business. But I want to start the listener from, what would say was the lowest point in your business and I want you to describe how bad it got.
DAMIEN: I think the low point was when we’re trying to making the transition. We’re experiencing very fast growth. But we had– we didn’t have the personnel. We could hire people and we didn’t really have time to train them. It was just kind of we have– however I had like 8 people in the office, and none of the work was getting done. I had guys in the field that I trained them up and then they quit or they go somewhere else, or I’d have to fire them. So, the low point was we had my office [Unintelligible 00:02:57] Jennifer who’s been with me since 2009. She was about ready to quit on me because she was just overworked. She’d be working until like 4 in the morning trying to get all the work done and then come back in at 8. She was about to lose it, I was about to lose it because I just fired 2 guys. And then the one guy I had left was trying to extort a raise out of me. So it’s like, “I’m not going to go out unless you pay me X.” So anyway, I had no choice but to give him a substantial raise just to get through the year, and trying to hire. I just had no time to do anything except the work that we were getting.
OWEN: Sorry, I also want to remind you of this too is during the pre-interview you also mentioned that one of the things too is that you guys rely a lot on paper, files, and a lot of the stuff what you guys were doing a manual, and it was a manual operations. Can you talk about that too?
DAMIEN: Yeah, and that’s kind of what I alluded to. We had 8 people in the office and nobody would know what needed to be done on which customer. So we had a whole process that had to be completed for each person and they were all inside a paper file. But apart from going over, finding the file, picking it up, looking at it, and then trying to figure out, which could take 10 or 15 minutes to figure out for each one. We had no idea so people couldn’t help each other. Everybody had to be responsible for the entire process of one person. And we were very limited on how much we could get done with one person for each account. And we were signing up like 40 new accounts every day. And so, the backlog was becoming tremendous. And so, the paper process is by 2011 were overwhelmed with the number of customers that we had. And so that’s when I started looking at– I think it was by middle of 2011 trying to figure out what I could do to fix the processes so that I could create a specialization of labor. So that one person could be responsible for this type of task, become proficient at it, and then everybody could go in and do what they needed to do for each customer. And so then we could handle a much larger customer base.
OWEN: And I have a question for you too because just so the listener know, they know that your company is actually part of a bigger franchise, right?
OWEN: And so, when I heard that I was like, people usually think when you buy, like a McDonald’s franchise or whatever that they come with all the paperwork and all the operation, everything is already automated for you. You’re just [Unintelligible 00:05:30] to it. And I’m curious, how does that work? Is there not something that’s– maybe just let the audience know how that works. If you’re coming in to a franchise, you bought a franchise and yet you still have these issues.
DAMIEN: Every franchise is different. When I purchased my franchise it was a brand new franchise.
DAMIEN: The systems that were in place at the time where an Excel Spreadsheet, a Sugar CRM that didn’t do recurring scheduling. And there was like 4 places of data entry and I was like, “This is insane. I’m not doing this.” And it’s different for me because when I came on-board, the franchise system was 2 years old and there was like 10 of us.
DAMIEN: And so I had to figure everything else. So it was a little bit different, there was some support, but I had to figure everything out on my own. So it was much more of an entrepreneurial experience versus a franchise experience. I think now that the franchise has had 7 years of maturing. I’ve had a ton of experience and feedback back into this system. So, it’s a much different experience for a new franchisee now than it was back in ’07.
OWEN: What I get from that is you guys took the leap of fate and joined the franchise early. So obviously you have those issues with trying to learn things on the road. But now, with all these years of you guys learning things you guys are always sending back information and things that you guys can improve back into the system. So the system is also growing and you find [Unintelligible 00:07:04] learning based on the new stuff that has improved and all that. So, I get that.
OWEN: So going back, I’m losing my voice. But going back, I want to talk about how specifically you solve the problems that you mentioned during the lowest time in your business. So, let’s talk about– you mentioned how you decided to divide your company into a series of tasks. Let’s start from there.
3: Okay. Well basically we recognize that we do the same task on every employee back when we had paper files. We’d fill out a lead intake sheet. We would pile up a work orders into that file. We put everything that pertained to that customer inside that file. And we spent more time walking around the office try to find the file so that each person could add or do what they needed to do with that particular file that people were falling through the cracks. We didn’t get something. One person did get that completed because that file was over on somebody else’s desk. But we were always doing the same thing for each customer. The process was the same. And so what we’re trying to do, or what I recognize was that it doesn’t do any good to have 8 people in the office trying to expand 3 quarter of their time walking from desk to desk. It’s just unproductive labor.
DAMIEN: And so, what we wanted to do, I looked at it, we broke it down. I had seen one of the systems that we put in place was a CRM called Infusionsoft.
DAMIEN: And so it’s just a sales marketing tool. But we’re able to kind of tailor because it’s all very customizable we were able to tailor it to our specific needs. We used to have our processes but we needed an efficient way of managing the process. And so we broke it up, everything in the process and tasks. And so as one person completes a certain series of task, depending on what happens it blows into another set of tasks. And everybody is responsible for their particular tasks in that customer process or that sequence. And so when we did that now we can see, as they go through and I can quantifiably see how much work needs to be done, because every step in our customer sales process is tasked out. So I can see, it’s like, “Oh, we’ve got 3,000 tasks, we need to hire more labor.” Or actually it’s not even me looking at it, it’s my managers and they can look at it and make a decision and go like, “Okay, is there something we can solve with a couple of hours of overtime? Or are we on track to grow, because we’ve been experiencing tremendous growth. So we’re constantly growing the organization. But trying to make that wise decision on when we actually need additional labor and we need just to work a little bit more. So, it’s helped us by breaking it into tasks, we can see if one person is being overwhelmed. We can teach somebody else a very specific task to help knocking out that additional workload. And then we can re-prioritize our entire [Unintelligible 00:10:29]. So whichever task is getting overloaded, we can bring in the other labor and say, “Okay, you’re going to stop doing your task, we want you to do this task.” And then we can assign like 4 or 5 people right on that. Get that down to a manageable level and then re-assign the employees on the other task that aren’t as high of a priority.
OWEN: Yeah, one of the things you also mentioned is that as a result of breaking your business into a series of task and now making use of a tool which you said was Infusionsoft to help you manage the workflow. You’re also able to bring on new employees and train them up quickly. And also once they’ve mastered the task and able to train them on the next series of task. Can you talk about that too?
DAMIEN: Yeah, and that was kind of, when I said we had 8 people in the office, half of them weren’t doing anything because we hadn’t had time to teach them what to do.
DAMIEN: And so, one of our motivations when we’re setting things up was that we want to be able to bring on a new person. And within about an hour of them starting working for us we can go do and give them a quick orientation and say, “Teach them how to do one task.” Now, all of a sudden they can start contributing to the workload immediately. So within an hour of hiring them they’re tipping away at the workload. And then once they mastered test, so let’s say they do a thousand of them. And then we can say, “Okay, now here’s the next task.” We spend 20 minutes teaching them that. They start, we watch them do it, and then they’re contributing up in that level. And then so, we’re able to combine training and actual work together so that we’re training them and getting things done at the same time. And so because it’s very small, bite-sized pieces that they can do repetitively, they can become a master at it very quickly. And then slowly that’s how we integrate them. And as the more complex task come up in the next person, they cross train and then we’re able to put them– assign a lower level person onto the higher complex task and then we bring in the next person below that person. So we’re constantly feeding– Because my goal is also is I want to use. I want to make it so that we break our jobs down so that I can hire somebody $10 an hour to contribute to the workload and we can train them and teach them. And then we can utilize that kind of labor. And without [Unintelligible 00:12:59] before I had to have very intelligent people because they had to keep all those processes in their head.
DAMIEN: And it’s very difficult to do. And then once you teach somebody that, now all of a sudden that employee is so valuable that they left, your whole business gets thrown in because you don’t have time to retrain somebody and teach them everything you already taught the other one. So this is kind of taking care of both of those. If somebody leaves we can pull somebody in and plug them right into the process.
OWEN: That’s awesome. And one of the things I want to do is now we’ve understood how you can achieve this was first of all realizing that you had this realization, everything we do in this business is based on a series of task. And then we now take the time to breakdown each of your task and get it so specific that we put specific people in each set of task. And also train them on how to do each task. And one of the things you also did, you say you mentioned is that now you can have people move from one level of the business to another level once you understand how to handle a series of task they can learn other things. But what I want to take you back is to the very point where you realize that you had to do something about the chaos. I want to get [Unintelligible 00:14:11] done to tell us what was the first thing you did? That way the listener can really get to take action based on what’s the first thing you did, the second thing, and then– Do you understand what I’m saying?
DAMIEN: Yeah. Well, the first thing I did was go through the process of hiring a lot of people for this little amount of work and just recognizing that it was– I knew I needed more help because of the way I had things set-up. And so, I went through that painful process of like spending an exorbitant amount on payroll and realizing I’m not getting any return for this increase level of pay. I’m putting out all these expense and we’re just kind of spinning our wheels, and I’m not utilizing them right. So that was the first step in the process of recognizing them, saying, “Okay, I’m obviously doing something wrong.” And then once I kind of realized that, identified what I saw the problems and I saw the problems is people couldn’t help one another. There was no way of one person looking and seeing where a customer was at in the process. And I recognize that we already had a system in place but it was just inefficient in how we’re operating it. So we basically utilize the systems that we had set up, but we transferred everything to a CRM.
DAMIEN: Because before the CRM we were using was basically QuickBooks, and another integrated software with quick books but that only managed our day-to-day operations and our accounting. The actual customer relationship management were paper files.
DAMIEN: And so we were really behind the time on that and it works fine when you have like 2 or 300 customers. But once you start getting into a thousand, 2,000 customers you cannot– you spend all this time filing to make sure it’s in the right spot. Whereas now that stuff is completed with the click of a button. You type in their last name and that’s all right there. So, we recognized we needed a CRM. And so that was kind of where I realized, I’m like alright, I can’t track my leads, I don’t know where this stuff is, I’m following all these papers. So I started researching. So once I recognized the problem I started researching the thing. What would meet my needs so that I can do the things that I see that need to be done. I didn’t know what– There’s a thousand CRM’s [Unintelligible 00:16:39].
DAMIEN: So, some of them are highly customizable, some of them are very rigid and ready to go out of the box but have to use it exactly how they have it. And so one of the things we wanted was we wanted something very customizable to do everything the way we wanted it done.
DAMIEN: And so that– and there is a field and it was– it’s kind of like what you’re doing with your Skype, who you’re trying to answer a question that people have. And then [Unintelligible 00:17:10] founder of Infusionsoft and I was watching some of his videos and I said, “Okay, he’s identifying the exact same questions that I have as I’m working through my business.” And he says he has a solution and so that’s what kind of sold me on. He knew what my questions were and then he sold me on his solution on it. So that’s where started down that path. And once we started, we just had to invent, we invested a tremendous amount of man hours to building a system the way we wanted it because that was one of the downsides. If it’s highly customizable that’s great, but then you have to customize it. That’s a tremendous amount of time and effort. But that’s how we kind of move that. Thankfully we have the systems in place, or the system and we just needed to have a better way of managing it.
OWEN: Okay. You found the two, you use Infusionsoft. And then because they met your initial requirement and they’re ready to customize the workflow to meet the way your process is for the business. You started making the tool, customize it, and you now have your process in there. That’s where we are right now. And you guys started using the tool. Okay, so let’s talk about what specific systems now in the business that enables it to run on autopilot without you. Let’s talk about that.
DAMIEN: Basically, once we had the systems in place and we had something where we could take it, we could give them a user name and password. All of our tasks within the task that becomes like– it pops up on their work screen. Here’s your task. There’s the exact instructions on how to complete that task. So if they have a question about it I don’t have to physically be there with my manager. I don’t have to physically be there because if they need reminding how to do it it’s spelled out there very clearly. So, once we did that the amount of time commitment, during the hard time when we were going at 2011, and at 2010, 2011, I have lost like 35 pounds. I was under so much stress and working so much. But once we got the system in place it’s like night and day. It did not require my rather than being above in the day-to-day operations my focus then became on running the entire business and where are we going. How do we generate more revenue. I can focus on all the things that didn’t have to do with the day-to-day. Everybody could– I could have a manager and they can look at and see where we’re at and how much work we have.
OWEN: One of the things I got from that is that you mentioned that on one part you were able to outline the task that you need to get done. But on top of that not only do they know what task they need to get done you also added the ability for them to see step-by-step how that task that they need to get done, how it’s actually carried out. I just wanted to iterate that so that the listener know that those two things are critical. On one hand this is what you need to do, but on the other end this is how you do what you need to do. And so, you mentioned during the pre-interview that you’re able to create a sales process as a result too. I was wondering if you can shed some light on that.
DAMIEN: Yeah. We have something we call completion scenarios.
DAMIEN: Like for instance what we wanted to do is take away the ability for employees to make mistakes. So we wanted to eliminate that. So for instance somebody calls in, they don’t sign-up. Before somebody would have to physically make a note and say call this Person Back. And then, if they did that they got to remember to create another note that says call this Person Back if they didn’t get– they say they left a voice mail. So at any point in that stage if that employee forgot to do something. The phone rings, and then all of a sudden the process stopped because somebody didn’t remember. And so what we wanted to do is eliminate that. And so what happens is we have these completion scenarios. So, I’d say I make a phone call to you, an outbound call to follow-up on sales read and I get your voice mail. I just mark it as voice mail and I hit complete. Now, all of a sudden tomorrow there’s going to be a new task for calling that person.
DAMIEN: But the employee didn’t have to remember to schedule it, they didn’t have to– they just had to pick what happened. Once they did that we’ve created the processes behind it that automatically generate the task now if you would selected, say, “Hey, I’m not interested.” Well then we mark that and then we would remove you from all of our processes. But let’s say we called and you’re like, “Hey, I need to talk to my wife, call on this day.” Then it would create a task saying with specific fate that we were supposed to call back. And so it varies it just makes it so that an employee doesn’t have to remember anything. It’s hard to expect an employee if you’re targeting somebody that’s young in the workforce, with very little experience to remember to do a whole bunch of different things and different scenarios. And so that’s what we tried to build out. If that’s the person we’re looking at and helping us, how do we make them the most productive as possible?
OWEN: And what I get from that is really you guys actually have thought about all the different possible scenarios that might happen even as a result of them carrying out their task. Meaning that “if this, do that” “If this other situation do that”. And so it’s like you’ve literally mapped out the game plan based on experience doing the work. And so, depending on whatever scenario they aim, they now have a road map on where else in the journey to take. That’s what I’m getting from that.
DAMIEN: That’s even, they have a road map. They just have to log in, the task are there. So maybe I called you today, tomorrow maybe one of the other employees could call you because we can take those task. And since the task automatically populate, so they don’t even have to remember, they just have to know that I have this many task. The task magically appear for me, that’s it.
OWEN: And I guess I have a question too with that because when you have a situation now where they literally have a road map of what needs to be done. But when you started building out their system I’m assuming that, that road map was not all in there. So, probably the listener now listening to this might have that same situation is the road map might not be in whatever their system they’re using all completely built out. So I’m trying to figure out how do they take what you just shared but figure out what’s the first place to start with when they’re trying to build out this road map like you have now. Do you ??understand the question?
DAMIEN: Yeah. You can think of it as like a tree trunk. So you can start off with the main base, near the trunk. And then as scenarios happen you go, “Oh, you know what would be nice? If we could do this, this, this and this.” And then so you build out that branch, and then you build out the smaller branches. And then over time you start off with like this young sapling that’s just this little tree trunk with maybe one branch. And then next thing you know you have a very poor tree. And with creating more and more scenarios as time goes on and you experience new issues. So that’s kind of how you–
OWEN: And new scenarios and opportunity to evaluate the system and say, “Okay, we didn’t think about this. Where do we plug this in?” So next time it happens the system itself would take all of it and not necessarily us having to have the employee have to remember what to do. The system knows.
DAMIEN: Yeah, exactly.
OWEN: And this is a question that my listeners always like when I ask the guest. I’m going to ask you now. So imagine your business like a conveyor belt. On one end is somebody who is looking to make use of your service. Enough to show what anyone gets started yet. So on one end that’s where they are. And on the other end that same person has been transformed into this raving, excited fan that has used your service, loves you guys. But in order for that to happen there are things behind the scenes that they are working. And so, given that we’re talking about trying to transform that person from who I just mentioned to now, the person who’s raving about your service. Let’s talk about what’s happening behind the scenes that transform that person into the excited customer?
DAMIEN: Our goal, no matter what the customer outcome is, is to provide the highest level of customer service.
DAMIEN: From the first time somebody calls us, it’s at the phone, it’s answered between one and two rings by a live person. If there was a problem and somebody decided to cancel the service that we’re providing the best level of customer service and getting them their cancellation. Because what my goal is that no matter what happens, they can say, “Well, something, so and so it didn’t work, or wasn’t satisfied with this element. But they came out and took care of it.” And so that’s where we– just like you said a conveyor belt is an excellent analogy because we have different people that perform different functions within the office. And as somebody is going through that process they just fall into whatever sequence of events based on what happened if they’re a prospect.
OWEN: So let’s make it specific. The listener now is wondering and excited about all these things you’ve been saying. We want to hear specific like– that person just came in now, they now start using your service. So what happens behind the scenes to take them from that point to the other point where they love the service, they’ve used it, and now they’re going to keep coming back. What’s happening behind the scenes is what I’m trying to get at.
DAMIEN: It really is automated. Somebody got the basic sequence of events. If somebody signs up for service, they go into our customer sequence, or doing follow-up emails to say like how do we perform on service, like after the first treatment they’ll get an email automatically generated from one of the sales associates that, “Hey, how did your first treatment go? Was there any issues?” So if they say no issues, they just continue down their path. But they say they had an issue, well a manager automatically gets a task and look into it, call them to see is there something that we could do to fix it. Because I don’t want to have a customer going through and then saying having the same problem repeated every day, everytime, throughout the whole season, and then they would not come back. So we want to be very proactive on dealing with that. But as they’re going through them they might be– we’re constant, we’re touching base with the customers saying like when they’re next schedule of visit is, at the end of the year we send out an end of season survey. We send a Christmas card out. And I think the Christmas cards’ the end of the customer sequence. And then they roll into our renewal sequence where we’re going to go through a process of trying to get them to renew, whether it’s filling out our online shopping cart to renew surveys or calling in. And then they become a seasonal customer for this year. And then they start to process over until they move. And then maybe they can– Then that’ll be where we cancel our service and we remove them out of all of our sequences. But if they were a customer last year, they rolled into the renewal sequence. But then they didn’t renew this year for whatever reason, then we would roll them over to our what we call like a long-term nurture campaign. So for the next 3 years, until they opt out of our communications we’re going to try and do a kind of special offer or remind them, say “Hey, would you like to sign back up?” We just kind of do a whole series of events to try and capture them back as a customer. And then eventually if they don’t respond after a period of time the 3-year process, then they would just fall off of our contact goals. But no matter what happens they’re either going to fall into a long term-nurture, current customer, or a prospect sequence.
OWEN: What I hear from that is like you really broke it down into several different stages. On the first part maybe is where they come in, and they’re interested on the service. And on the other end is they’ve now signed up for the service. You have a portion of your system that is focused on the ground operations versus delivering the actual service to prevent the mosquitoes and whatever. And then after that is the back end service to make sure that the customer actually is satisfied, following up with them to make sure, okay, now that we deliver it are you satisfied in making sure that you keep that relationship ongoing. And then besides that you also have that relationship where you’re trying to be continuously in their mind, and even possibly trying to get more of them to have more, the need to make use of your service again to come back, or even to upsell that. It’s like you’re trying to think all through the different stages of the life cycle of that customer. You’re building out a system that kind of attacks each stage of the life cycle is what I’m hearing from that.
DAMIEN: Yeah, and that was kind of based off experience that we were losing people. I remember 1 year, it must have been 2010-2011. At the end of the year I found a stack of papers about that big and I looked at it and I was like, they’re all leads. Did we ever follow-up with these? Now, it’s just like little things like that. So that’s where now we look at it, I know exactly anybody that’s ever contacted us. I know exactly where they are in the process. So whatever stage, they’re going to be in one of those stages.
OWEN: And so I’m wondering, the whole idea of creating systems is great. Once you get into that way of thinking it’s awesome. But initially when you got started creating a system I’m curious, what challenges did you experience initially when you decided to start creating a system around everything you’re doing in your business and how did you solve them?
DAMIEN: I think the biggest challenge was implementation and taking the time to build the system up because I can’t stress how expensive it is to really invest to build a good system. But, it pales in comparison of carrying 8 extra people in the office. So you can [Unintelligible 00:32:12] maybe a large one-time up for an expense. Once you have it in place, now all of a sudden you can do 10 times more work with a third of the people that you have before. But that was the biggest challenge and apart from having a good– one of my employees, Jennifer. I couldn’t have done any of the implementation without her working side-by-side with me and having the same buy-in into seeing the potential of what we could build if we dedicate our time and our energy into getting it ready. And we had like a very tight deadline, so we built it up like about 6 months’ time. We spent every day was non-stop building, learning how to do things. And that was the biggest challenge. Once Jennifer and I had the vision and we implemented it, then it was just saying it’s like all the employees that didn’t really matter. Alright, this is what we’re going to– And I think everybody knew at the time, they’re like we can’t do the same thing that we were doing before.
OWEN: Yeah. And so, basically, you had the vision, you decided that you want to do it. And then you also got your manager of operations which is Jennifer on board so that you and her can work hand-in-hand to do it to work on creating the system. That’s [Unintelligible 00:33:32] systems are great and you’re going to the challenges. But I’m also trying to figure out what we can make you stay committed to the whole thing because given the fact that you already have so much work to do but now you’re trying to create systems to organize this stuff. At the heat of the moment, how do you stay committed to this is what I’m saying, I’m trying to figure out–
DAMIEN: Yeah, There really wasn’t any option. There’s no way we could do what we we’re doing. We’d have to stop advertising, stop growing and just get stagnant, and then there would be no moving forward just because you’d be overwhelmed with the work that you had. So there was just no option, there had to be something done if we were going to succeed as a business. If failure is chasing you you’ve got to make a move, because if you don’t then you fail.
OWEN: Definitely. And so I know now that based on what you’ve been saying so far is that everything you guys do is based on tasks. So you have a system that you put all the task in there. And also, on top of that not only do they know what task needs to be done, they also get away with step-by-step how that task get carried out. I think you also mentioned during the pre-interview that now you guys have gone beyond just your sales process. You’ve been also able to systematize other aspects of the business. Can you talk about how that works too?
DAMIEN: Yeah, basically we created the same sort of scenarios and sequences from everything from HR functions to vehicle maintenance and vehicle accidents. Because we know there’s a certain processes that we need to do if a vehicle gets in an accident. But we want to make sure that we don’t miss any of those steps. So, we’ve just created– started up small, we just created that little tree trunk and say, alright, we know these steps need to be done. And then we can say, look back at it and go– we’ve been able to adjust and say, “Well, actually this step probably should be 5 steps. And 4 different people need to have a hand in that.” So then we can break that down and then 4 people get a task whenever accident happens, right? A new employee is hired. There’s probably about 3 different people that have that– do something in that process. Whether it’s putting them on the payroll documents, getting them sent-off to the payroll process, making sure that they had their new employee orientation. You know things like that. So, so many different people have a hand in the process. We’ve just continue to breakdown those things into small, more bite sized tasks. So then we can go back and look and say, “Oh, so and so still needs this.” Or we can look and say, “This person is getting behind because they have a backlog in the past that need to be done.” But that way we never lose track of anything that has to be done.
OWEN: And I’m curious, who’s responsible now for– I know initially when you started was you and Jennifer, your operations manager. But now whose– And you said now that you’re going into other aspects of the business and literally creating system for other aspects of the business. Besides sales where it initially started out, who’s responsible for making sure that everything is getting updated? How does that work?
DAMIEN: Well, now we have general managers in place for the business. They’re taking on a lot of responsibilities but we still have things broken up, because, like maintaining the system itself. Jennifer still has a big hand in that. And another lady in the office as well, because the general managers don’t necessarily know how to operate on that. But they can do their task that are created in it. So, it’s still kind of a team effort. The team is getting [Unintelligible 00:37:37] and so it’s– we have last time because we continue with the specialization of our labor so that they can accomplish what needs to be done. It will move things around and make adjustments. Actually we’re always making adjustments, nothing ever stays static within the business.
OWEN: And it’s good to know that you have systems in place. But I’m also curious like how you guys tracking to make sure that the results have been delivered? Because without tracking you can’t really see the result. So how are you tracking to see the results are being delivered?
DAMIEN: We have customized reports because we’re so task oriented that we have so much information that’s going in to the system. We can create reports, whether it’s monthly sales reports that we can compare year over year. It’s just a click of a button and then we can kind of see where we’re at. We can see how much– what advertising sources are creating the best ROI. We can look at re-diverting resources just by doing simple reports. And we can have meetings that have a lot of data in them, and so we can make very quick decisions based on the data that we have coming into the system. So just because we have the systems in place, we have so much data, we can be very specific reports and make quick decisions.
OWEN: And so not because you have system that literally to an extent runs without you. So what would you say has been the longest time you’ve been away from the business?
DAMIEN: I think how about 15 days, but I’m a full-time fireman so I work 56 hours a week at the station. That puts me– On average I’m probably spending on this business about 10-15 hours a week.
OWEN: It’s awesome. You have the business working on its own without you and you’re still able to do something you’re passionate about being a fireman. We thank you for that. And also, I’m curious, how would you say now the company has been transformed as a result of you systematizing the business?
DAMIEN: Oh, we’ve experienced very big growth, and it looks like we’re continuing that, which has allowed me to focus on the development of our 2 other businesses that we’ve started within the past 3 years.
OWEN: During the pre-interview you mentioned that you guys have grown about 212% since February 2012. I just wanted to share that with the listeners so that they know specifics about in terms of the growth. And you also said that now– Correct me if I’m wrong, people can carry out 10 times more task than they could before you had the systems in place. Is that what you mean?
DAMIEN: Yes. Because our labor force in the expense side remained about the same as it was back 3 years ago. But we’ve grown by 250% since then but our office labor is about the same.
OWEN: Wow. That’s awesome. And so, in terms of your personal life, how do you see your personal life has been transformed as a result of systematizing your business?
DAMIEN: Well, it’s allowed me more time to spend on the other businesses. And then also just spend more time at home with the family. And one of the things that happens, as the business grows, you make more money and it makes it so that you can stop doing. So at some point I may think about stopping or not fire fighting anymore. I’ve been doing that for 17 years, so it’s kind of hard to think of myself as not being a fireman. At some point it may make sense to stop, which would free up a lot more time.
OWEN: Yeah. And so, now since we have free time on the business that we’re talking about and you don’t have to run it day-to-day. Where do you focus most of your time on in that business? What do you focus on now and why?
DAMIEN: You mean with the very business now?
OWEN: Yeah, we’re talking about the mosquito business.
OWEN: You’ve freed up your time and you’ve talked about the systems you have in place, and I’m trying to find out where do you find yourselves focusing on now inside that business. What do you do, what is your focus on?
DAMIEN: It’s probably employee development. That’s where the bulk of my time is spent, and it’s probably about 4 key employees that I train at best. Most of my time it’s meeting with them, guiding them, and trying to teach them and groom them so that they can take pride in greater responsibilities in the future. So that’s probably the number 1 place that I invest most of my time. Even after that, then it’s the overall direction of the company, marketing, even the things to generate and grow the business are what I focus on. So it’s employee development and then growing the business are the two things that I spend most of my time in.
OWEN: Wow. And so now, what will you say is the very next step that the listener who’s been listening to this all the way from the very beginning of the interview to this point? What will say is the very next thing that they should do in order to get started with being about to systematize their business?
DAMIEN: I think analyze, the first step is just to analyze what you’re doing already. If you’re in business you’re already doing a certain set of events with every customer. So, it just kind of analyze and say what is that serious event? And that’s kind of your tree trunk, you’re just kind of start there. And then once you identify the system, whether it’s Infusionsoft, or SweetProcess, or whatever it is, once you kind of do it you just start of small and say, “Alright, these are my series of events.” Then you can kind of start looking at it and working through that, and then growing it. And then making those branches, creating more steps within that process and until you start to– you want to obviously identify it so that you make it as easy for like a new employee to become plugged in to your process. That’s where you kind of start to just break it down. And that’s when you get to the blueprint to start to grow that process.
OWEN: Awesome. And I’m curious, this way of thinking, what books will you say have influenced you the most and why?
DAMIEN: That’s an excellent question. There’s a lot of economics books that I’ve read. One book, I read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. I thought that was an excellent book, more on the philosophical level. What’s the name of the book, it’s been awhile. Something else that’s been helpful, they’re very dry reading but some of the Nolo publishing books.
OWEN: The what?
DAMIEN: The Nolo Publishing, Nolo.
DAMIEN: Just some basics of understanding, like what’s an LLC and how does it work, what’s the differences? I’ve read a ton of those books which were very helpful in just understanding business structures. A lot of other blogs, I like the Harvard Business Review, they have a lot of good information, I read those all the time. Andy Stanley’s podcast is another very good–
OWEN: What’s the title of the podcast then?
DAMIEN: I don’t recall, it’s Andy Stanley.
DAMIEN: Yeah, and so, a lot of good information there. I’m trying to think of any one particular book that’s had a huge influence. I read so much I forget what I’ve read.
OWEN: Yeah. So what will you say is the best way– So what was the best way for a listener who’s been listening so far to actually thank you for doing this interview?
DAMIEN: Oh, I think you have a blog comment section on your website.
DAMIEN: SweetProcess. And I’d be happy to answer all your questions on there for you. And you’re more than welcome to swoop me an email or give me a phone call if they like.
OWEN: What’s the email so they can email you if they have questions personally for you?
DAMIEN: It’s Damien@dcmosquitosquad.com, and that’s my email at the office there. And I think what did you say, we have SweetProcess.com.
OWEN: Yes, so–
OWEN: Oh, never mind that. I’m actually going to talk. Now you’re reading my own part off the question.
OWEN: So you’re listening to this, what happens is before the interviews we do pre-interviews and we do have an outline because we don’t want to waste your time, we want to make sure that we give you good content. So myself and Damien, we have the outline of the interview in front of us and so that we can continuously–
DAMIEN: I thought I was supposed to be taking a hint [Unintelligible 00:47:26].
OWEN: I’m just making sure some of the listeners doesn’t get confused like, “What’s going on?” But anyways, I’m curious to know now, is there a question that you feel like during this interview I should’ve asked you that I didn’t ask you yet, and if so, post the question and answer to that question.
DAMIEN: We covered a lot of things on just the processes, but I think the biggest learning experience and motivation, we touched on this a little bit was what motivated you to create the systems and to take [Unintelligible 00:48:03] running your business day-to-day, and say, “Okay, I’m going to set aside this next 6 months to really build up the system and then deploy it. And it goes back to their failure. Failure is a huge motivation and I look back at it and it’s like I could’ve– there’s still plenty of room for me to fail. [Unintelligible 00:48:28]. I make more mistakes in the process of operating the business than I get right. I tell my employees all the time, I go, “I cost the business more money than any of your mistakes have caused the business. Whether it’s deploying a new application it doesn’t work, or making some bad hiring decisions. It’s like I’ve made the most mistakes out of everybody. And the other thing that I tell my employees is that usually whenever I make the mistakes everybody else is the one who usually pays for it. Because whether it’s with the hiring decisions or implementing a bad process. They’re the ones that have to wrestle and struggle through it. And I think that stuff is going to happen. As a business owner you’re going to continue to make mistakes and that’s probably the best learning tools. We have a small website we’re deploying and we spent 5 grand and we got to the end of it and got– this is terrible. And it’s like it was just a mistake and it was things– but I learned a ton of stuff through that process of going through and [Unintelligible 00:49:46]. So now we won’t make those same mistakes again. But there’s just going to be trial and error. And you’re going to fail at some things but you have to fail in order to succeed going forward. And so that’s one of the things as you’re building out your process is that you can’t be afraid of making mistakes but you have to remember is that your motivation is not to ultimately fail.
OWEN: To learn from failure. So failure is just the spring board to success is what you’re trying to say and be willing to fail so that you can be successful I guess.
DAMIEN: Yeah, you got to take those risks.
OWEN: And so I’m speaking to the listener now, so you’ve been listening to this interview on this point, also this time. And so, if you’ve enjoyed this interview I want you to do one thing, to go on iTunes and leave us a 5 star review. To do that go to sweetprocess.com/iTunes and leave us a positive review. And also while you’re there subscribe to the podcast. The reason why I want you to leave a positive review is because when you do leave reviews other entrepreneurs will read your reviews, find them useful and say, “Oh, let me check out what this interview is about and come and listen to this interview Damien.” And hey, the more interviews the more reviews we get, the more eyeballs and more listeners, and the more we encourage to go get entrepreneurs like Damien to come on the air and share the processes and basically breakdown how their business works. And so if you’ve enjoyed this interview I also wanted to share with another entrepreneur so that they can also get benefits from this interview. And finally, if you’re at that point in your business where you can no longer afford to be the bottleneck in your business and you want to get everything out of your head, into documents and procedures that allow your employees to know exactly step-by-step how to get tasks done, sign up for a free 14-day trial of SweetProcess. And Damien, thanks for doing the interview.
DAMIEN: No problem, thanks for having me.
OWEN: And we’re done.
DAMIEN: That’s right.