" I was third generation plumbing heating cooling electric we were making a lot of money but it was killing me and so we learned how to systematize our business ".
- Al Levi
The great Al Levi (7 Power Contractor) joins Allan Ferguson on this episode of - "Pipeline To Profitability". Al is a 3rd generation contractor from New York City and had to learn systems in order to exit his business. Al now teaches others to do the same thing in the home service space.
Check out this episode of The Pipeline To Profitability Podcast! Learn how training your team today can bring huge benefit tomorrow!
Hey it's Alan welcome to this episode of pipeline to profitability and today I've got a very very special guest indeed now Al Levi is I call him a friend he's been to visit down under and we had a great time my podcast pipeline to profitability has been um on air since 2013 our levy has been on the podcast more than anyone else and this is the fourth time the other times all was on with we discussed marketing we discussed adding additional trades and yeah so it was great so just quickly al levy is a third generation plumber with his own plumbing heating and cooling and electrical company based in the New York area al's mastering system systematization and he has done an amazing job with building his business to the point where he could step out and all might he might want to explain a little bit further about that amazing company that he's help grown have also became friends with Ellen raw and Tommy mellow who I've I've some you know I haven't actually met yet and how's actually also working with an amazing brand called zoom drain So what I'll do is I'll before I budget this up anymore I'll I'm gonna hand it over to you you might like to let our audience know a little bit about our levy and how you're changing the industry welcome my friend thank you my friend that we offer pretty funny that this is my fourth time because I'm kind of like the houseguest that shows up but he never leaves based on what he just said but this is over a period of time and it's always been fun because we're two of us are so passionate so for you listeners and those who are viewing here I want to apologize because this is a guy al who still has his New York accent speaking to a guy named Alan who still has his Australian accent one guys in Houston and one guy from Scottsdale try and figure that out so anyway yes I was third generation plumbing heating cooling electric we were making a lot of money but it was killing me and so we learned how to systematize our business we finally everybody thinks this new thing is oh I can't find ticks I can't contact Gee that's really new we had that problem back in the 80s nineties 2000 it's not new but we fixed it so that's really what I want to share I was able to turn the reins over the 4th generation my nephew is now in the business with my middle brother and for the last 20 years I've been traveling around 1 to one consulting doing seminars with contractors and trades I was never in from 1,000,000 to 200 million and one of the great ones was of course and still is Tommy Mello A1 garage who has absolutely revolutionized the garage door industry and yes I worked with our good mutual friend Alan Moore with a lot of consultants but then we did zoom drain and I successfully shared my share to them so that they could get even bigger once they got rid of me all the systems are still in place very proud you know to go nationwide that's really impressive and they've just taken off but what I do these days is just help other contractors get these war charts and manuals and systems but I really want to go higher level which you and I always talk about is what gets in our way as owners of contracting businesses because there's a universal issue here and Alan and I all are not preaching because we have been there my friends we know what happened and I really want to dig into that that look one thing that I must say about you all and all the time I have known you and I can't remember whether we met through Matt Jones or whether we just met through the best practice group out and Ellen Rohr all roads go through Helen roar my friend blah blah blah yes all the all the greatest hits yeah and but the fact that you've been working with an amazing brand like zoom drain and most of my coaching these days since I exited the industry in Australia a couple of years back is the drain space and I feel that it's a in my view as one of the most underutilized areas of the industry that can potentially deliver the highest margins and I anyone that says there's other products and services in home service the home service industry that can deliver a higher net profit higher margin I need to get myself attached to that but so let's talk about our what's what gets in the way of US's owners in our contracting companies you know what I think for myself this particular I worked in the field even though we were a big company as a tech my father believed I should never ask anybody to do anything that I hadn't done myself and I when I was a young man I didn't like that but later on came through I understand the thing but what happens is as a great tech when you ask who's the best person to do this job the answer is always you're going to put your hand on but you're automatically gonna choke the size of your business and keep your people from going and growing and we had done that even though we were 17 million and 70 people which back in those days and then I this was a big company and so we were the problem we had to learn how to put the platforms in to systematize things so people could own their box and then what we were doing the way out I always loved this analogy is you are working for me but I'm not going to tell you what you need to know because if I do you'll leave and then where are all my stuff goes so we want you to perform but we're not going to tell you how so the best analogy I like is I told you to jump but I never told you when I told you to jump but I didn't tell you how hot so I sabotaged you and we were great at sabotaging people I think today it the org chart the box word chart is really where it all starts to take form but every box needs four to five KPI's and just known performance indicators because we all like to use these letters and nobody knows the problem that has come about in my opinion Alan is because we have such great technology like service type and all these other great software and we could have a Bank of computers where we look like we're NASA Space Center right and now we're looking at all this stuff because we can not because we should So what are the four that really move the needle and you as the owner have to get really attached to them and then what I knew for myself and I write about it in my book is so why didn't I let these people help me and it was my great industry friend Dan hollahan another mutual friend of Ellen and so he said to me you know what you're doing and do you know why you're doing that and it made me think about that I like to be the rescuer ride to the rescue I like being the guru I was always the smartest guy in the room and here's the one that really tripped you up I like being a fireman you know as a young kid we want to be a fireman or a cop or whatever so we like putting out fires and here's the really sneaky one for all you owners out there if there aren't any fires you will subconsciously set the fire as stupid as that sound because we don't go on our logic we are emotionally attached to stuff and then we defend everything with logic and that's something I want you to really focus on lovedale I am I have to say your book the seven power contractor is definitely one of my favorites and going back a few years before I II I suppose I changed direction myself I was going to release a a book myself I've got the content it's just a matter of doing it my our mutual friend mark Madison is always kicking my **** but I I decided to change II I added a couple of steps and I was calling that the nine step contractor series the book type the book will come out I'll probably just call it here's the thing there's a bit of a story behind that because yeah but look I'll just make it interesting I'll add some color to the book and but look I'm always fascinated by your book so maybe all you might wanna take a minute or two just to I don't know if you can do it in a couple of minutes but just take our listeners through what are the seven steps in the seven power contractor I I'm happy to do it so it's planning power which is having a plan which is another thing that gets in our way but executing that plan because you guys don't need another idea you need another idea that gets implemented but how do you do it in what order so planning power is learning how to work on the right thing at the right time the right way and then operating power is having the right more chart like a bingo board and then having an operating manual that covers each of those boxes for the way you work but not everything in those boxes with you Mr. and his perfectionist you want them to be like they should read your mind and that doesn't work how do I know because we tried my company was in business since 1936 if you could do that we should have met you a long time ago because it's impossible so it covers 80% of the things that's really about where the system the next thing that builds on that is staffing power which is what changed the dynamic for us is we could take young willing apprentices with no skills through willing text great skills and as many as we wanted and then so that we could manage our growing company we learned how to hub and spoke by being able to take senior techs to field supervisors instead of going hey you know what alan's a great tech let's make him a field supervisor and you have no idea how to do that so we have a program which is qualified to compete and trained and that's all tied up in staffing then it's sales at the end of it sales to me has always been great communication ethical selling because I don't believe you ever have the right to sell anything that's not in the customers best interest no you're like a great waiter and a great restaurant your job is to serve me really well and help me make a great decision and so that's really the big part of selling power the next thing is sales coaching because putting a system out there and not having coaching is like me handing you a gun but not teaching you how to use it safely how to use a target do the rest of it so sales coaching fits to that then The thing is marketing because you can be great at everything I just rattled off and if the phone doesn't ring it doesn't matter so I'd like to use the plumbing analogy it's a bathtub full of the right amount of calls from the right customer at the right time and anything you're overflowing that tub because if you can if you can with those three rights of marketing then you get to decide how much you charge what customers you work for and what products you will and won't do and then the big part of marketing is the drain is wide open if your customer service reps are awful and I've been to a lot of companies where they really stink but Magnus was training will help then the last part is where Ellen always came in is financial power now whatever your accounting team does it's great because tax accounting helps you minimize taxes delay taxes and keep you out of jail preferably and then the other part is you have to know ellens real world accounting and those like Megan lives who doesn't these days which is how do I run my business by which Ellen talks about looking out the front windshield rather than looking at the rearview mirror because that's what's in the past so I I need real numbers to run my business and doing a budget is key for that so those are the seven hours well just blow my mind with all that info coming at me and absolutely every single one of those points are so critical I just I'd like to circle back on sales well the marketing is something that I'm doing a workshop today which is based on memberships and I must say that I love memberships I'm so glad you brought that up I've got to know Billy Stevens the founder of serious software really well and yeah I'm sort of looking at memberships are something that I've been using probably in my business from 2000 and three 2004 we had phenomenal results with memberships but yeah talking about sales and this was my observation of the industry now is you know if I had you know we our company before I exited was about 100 staff we had 70 trucks on the road and one thing that I learned is most plumbers and all use plumbers even though we had electricians we had air conditioning technicians don't like to sell they don't wanna sell I didn't get into this business to sell well we'll wake up you know we're all in sales at the end of the day but getting to know Joe Cunningham and his what he's about the perfect service call and putting a sale system in place where the technician shouldn't have to sell they just need to follow a system they just need because realistically our everyone loves to buy but no one likes to be sold right so why sell in the first place why not have a process where you can give the customer options and solutions to their problem and that's what I love about the training that we're currently doing at the moment is teaching our contractors how to sell without actually selling and I'd just like to expand on that because this is an area I don't feel Mario Tommy mellow it with his garage door business which is going freaking gangbusters easy and I think when we still like to do a couple of years yeah but I think anyone that's really making it realizes that sales is a system like everything marketing is a exactly and you're probably the most the smartest guy in this area when it comes to systems because you've wrote a book on it and you are you are the master so over to you on that on this yeah so I will tell you I was great at sales and marketing and years ago my
Pricing is in my favor as a customer is it's now I know all I will pay today is this based on what you told me within those parameters and two is I know it's not because my brother who lives across the street and by the way he does his act he gets a better price because he's a better negotiator no what the price is for the same price for the job the other thing that my text I understood when we first went to flat rate in 1990 95 I think it was we were buying motor for 30 bucks pay you 30 bucks and we thought wow there's $40 leftover for us because we had never done a budget right so when we did a budget it came out to $150 selling price per hour we did our first toilet it came out to $400 and my brother Richie leans over to me and he goes do it again try do it again come back 400 bucks and we going home you know and ultimately whether it was a great liberating thing because we understood not everybody's gonna be our customer if you're only interested in price that's not us but so I I recognize that my family would call friends would call House of worship recall right the three biggest problem areas so I created a speech and I go thank you al call me because if you we may be higher than some but you are entitled to know why we will be in on time we are licensed insured they're trained in our place not your house they will come to the house they will look at the whole job they will make recommendations you get to decide what we do we will do an expert repair we'll keep the place clean we will bring you over and show that and if there's a problem after that we're coming back with a smile on our face if you think that's more worth more money where you write company you can imagine we never had a problem closing calls love it fantastic yeah now you're absolutely right there and you know I when it comes to sales and this is something I learned from uh take daddy over the years oh actually yes yeah he's a classic he he's been down under I think four or five times and we've had a lot of fun and he's put on some really great training as has Joe Cunningham and Kenny Chapman and mark Madison great also yeah no and David heimer and like the list goes on with all these people are gonna be going to Google after we get done we've had so many great trainers down under but look one thing when I started to become a look I I can hold my own with sales and I I II I believe in the product then and I'm very confident when it comes to selling a drainage system or but the the best sales guys that I ever employed that I trained along with you know the greats that the trainers that I've brought down the very first plumber that did 300K in a month uh one thing I observed he never said much you know like it was just confidence and he would show the customer and the customer would nearly always buy he didn't have to talk his way into the sale and same with my first electrician my first 200K a month electrician same thing the guy hardly said a word it was like really and that's one thing that I was taught by by Charlie Greer is try to make the sale with saying the absolute least amount possible let the customer tell you what they want and sell them a solution that they genuinely need so look we could go on and we could we both love this love this about sales so yeah look I wanted to thank you again for coming on we we're probably getting you know another couple of minutes we have to round up the podcast we got two minutes one thing I always like to venture into and I've done this on the last few podcasters is there any particular book that you're reading at the moment that you could go wow my anyone that reads this book it's going to be transformational and please don't mention the seven power contract because that that's oriented captain obvious so is there anything at the moment that yeah owing you that you would love to talk about and share with them share with our listeners you know what Tommy mellow wrote his second book elevate which is coming out I think in the middle of March and I was lucky enough to read it and I don't think you can read that book and not come away a smarter contractor and you know yes Tommy and I are you know work together became good friends but that's not why I'm recommending I'm recommending it to you but that's one really good one and he actually gave me a book a couple of years ago I thought was great do you know wickman's rocket fuel or love love I know I know can I just sorry to jump yeah it's your time the last now it's it's yours the last podcast I did was with Tom peregrino the new CEO general manager or president of service nation service roundtable there's a guy you need to meet here's an amazing person he's gonna take that business in my view to a whole new level that's exactly the book that he recommended and it's one of my favorite books and I tell you there's a great podcast to listen to on Tommy mellows podcast is this funny talking Australian guy called Alan Ferguson and I think it's the book that I might have recommended I don't hold me to it but rocket fuel is is about the visionary integrator relationship until I work that out because not everyone is a is a visionary not everyone is an integrator and it's a very important part of growing a business and I and I'm blessed to have one of my closest friends in Australia Daniel Davies is he's one of the highest up in the in the whole E OS org chart he's he runs Australia and Asia and it's the most amazing program E OS the operating system probably not as good as the seven power contractor system but it's I have a lot of guys that are in both it's an it's an amazing read so I yeah I but definitely Tommy's book is it's not out yet but when it is elevated I'll be out March 15th I believe I will be catching up with Tommy at a service nation event in Nashville one of my favorite places national is great and I get to meet Tommy with spoken quite a few times I've been on his podcasts and you know he's a he's a great guy and just watching him achieve his goal of having a billion dollar business by 2025 and I know he's gonna get there so anyway another question I think we've ticked off quite a few boxes today al I wanna thank you again for not just being on the podcast but being a friend and I can't wait till I catch up with you in person again girlfriends that sounds good my friend let's make sure we have it alright you have a better than great day thanks for everyone who's joining in to pipeline of profitability and signing out now with the one and only Al Levi take care of my friend bye now see you well.