In this episode of Close It Now, Sam interviews Danielle Putnam, the president of The New Flat Rate, which is the first and only home service menu-selling system designed to put profit directly into the hands of plumbing, electrical, and HVAC contractors.
Listen in as they talk about why using a flat rate pricing model is important and how it can help futureproof your business.
Danielle Putnam with The New Flat Rate 55:43
Sam: Welcome to this weeks close it now Sam Wakefield here I am so excited with another special guest. I hope you’re enjoying the new format, a weekly interview. We were bringing in industry experts who are here to drop some Nuggets on you guys and ladies and to you know help everyone up level their game. You know our industry has been such a if you ever watch the Anchorman, it’s like old old wooden ship that is super slow. And that has been our industry forever. If you listened very much at all, you’ll hear me say over and over that anything that’s been done exactly the same way for over 50 years is ripe for revolution. So it is time to up level our game. Let’s stop being weird and start selling. As we always say on this podcast, so I’d love to take a second and introduce someone who has been in the industry basically her whole life, and it’s hardly say it’s a her and but she’s so she’s third generation a track. Also she is. With the company now that is on the forefront of leading the way into change, helping us up level with just partnerships that they have with. So much about the way that we do things and helping everyone become so much smoother in their process and their systems. And yes, welcome to podcast today. This is Danielle Putnam. she is president of the new flat rate. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the new flat rate, but I’ll tell you what I’ve been from the get go in when I got it street. That was one of the very first things that the very first company the service that we use right off the at the start to go from. Time and materials like everybody kind of seems to start with into flat rate pricing and we never looked back from our very first month of using it. We became dramatically more profitable and the margins went up just an insane amount and would never turn back. We never went back to anything else except for. From that moment on we Flat rated everything and the whole world change for us, and so she’s going to talk a little bit about that as in. She’s also one of the big things that you hear me on this podcast here. Talk about a lot is the value of women in our industry. She’s on the Advisory Board of women in HVAC. So yeah, love to welcome you to the podcast today. Danielle, thank you for being there.
Danielle: Awesome hey thanks Sam, I appreciate the introduction. It’s great to be here.
S: Yeah, awesome. Well give us a quick highlight. I know I kind of just hit super high level bullet points, more in depth history of who you are Danielle and what makes you tick. You know what what’s gotten, you where you are. President new flowery but you know, kind of the oranges of that. Why what got started there?
D: Well, when I was young I thought someday in life I’m going to be successful when I have a flip phone and you know, of course. Long time ago I didn’t have a cell phone at all. But in the future I was going to have a flip phone. What I figured by then. I remember that there was a bag phone in my dad’s car. He was a contractor, you know. So he had this bag phone. Anytime I got to borrow his car I got to use it. I felt so cool. ’cause you know everybody else was still using pagers but someday I was going to have a flip phone because I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Wanted to be a business person and that was a picture of success for me. It wasn’t in dollars. It was when I can wear high heels in business suits and have a flip phone. I’m going to be successful so that, you know. But what I love about growing up in the trades. I feel I was born and bred. My dad’s a contractor, his dad’s a contract or my brothers or contractors and so I always grew up in the in the shop, in the warehouse, working the phones, going out, delivering parts. It’s just kind of it was a way of life. But I love the lifestyle of business, family, business and we’re always working and figuring things out and looking for better ways. And so maybe part of being the entrepreneur was a little bit in my DNA. ’cause you know, his dad and grandpa and brothers. It’s like it just was like that for us. And then today you know here I am and I’m. Living my dream of being in business and you know, it’s never perfect and we’ve had the new flat rate now for 10 years and they say that it takes 20 years to be an overnight success. And it’s true. It’s so true because it’s a lot of work. Whether you have a contract ING business or anytime you know businesses work, it just is. And so you know, I love. That’s what makes me tick. Is finding an area that wait we need to put a process in over here and to smooth things out. And hey, let’s get this area dialed in better so that we can scale or hate. We missed some opportunity there and I know you talk about that a lot on your show. You know with sales we’re closing the sales and there’s all these opportunities left on the table every day. So whether it’s. You know, out in the field or in any kind of business, that’s the kind of stuff that makes me tick is how can we dial it in a little bit better?
S: yeah, absolutely. I love it. I love it. So let’s take a quick dip Archer from a track talk real quick, because in fact I’m borrowing this and I’m not just borrowing and stealing this from guys number right now. They do this on their podcast the to the Point podcast, which you have if you haven’t listened to it, make sure to go back and listen to the episode that I interviewed Tall Paul from. Podcast that was episode #50 for everybody that’s counting in the in the world out there, but something they do on their podcast that absolutely love, Danielle If you were in the center ring and it’s your title fight. And if it’s boxing or maybe your MMA fighter and you walk out whatever your fight is when you walk out, what would your theme song be?
D: Crazy Train, it’s what you know. Crazy Train right all above. You know, smile. So I think you know what I’m talking about.
S: So crazy train. That was perfect timing for that song introduction. I mean, we couldn’t get more appropriately. I don’t think, yeah, I feel ya going off the rails, right? Right? Well, cool I love it. And throughout the summer I will guess. Do interviews inside.
D: I can hear you better now, to actually your mikes, not cutting it out might be the way outside.
S: Yep, very very possible. So OK good alright. So back to the task at hand. Crazy Train is Danielle’s theme song and why is that your theme song? I know we probably said it would cut out a little bit. Let’s recap that.
D: I don’t think well, I didn’t hear you say why. You just said hey if I was going into a boxing ring and I was going to win the fight, what song is blaring when I walk into that ring train? Because I’ve north of Atlanta, GA. And if you live in America, especially near Atlanta, GA, you need to be a Braves fan because the Braves are America’s team. Right, right, Chipper Jones used to walk up to bat and that whole song would light up the stadium and he’d always have a great hit. So I mean, if I was going to win, I’d channel my inner Chipper Jones and I always knock it out of the park.
S: I remember growing up. It was always always about the chop chop. Yep, those were the years. Good stuff, awesome move cool. Very very cool. So let’s dive into some content today. I know there’s a million things that we could talk about. One of the you know coaching so many people across the country for the last several years. A lot of the conversation that comes up with me is how do I price things? It’s always how do I price this? How do I price that? And so yes, there’s a way to, you know, do all of the work and build it backwards, and you have to know your overhead and your cost of Labor and all those things. What decide what margins you want to set and all that kind of stuff. But that is seems to be one of the biggest I guess blocks almost walls that people run into because they feel like they have to. Get all of that done before they can ever set foot in in in the field or in the house and sell anything because they’re scared of losing money and all these things. Then what happens is they’ll get frustrated with it. And then say, OK, well, let’s just double the equipment cost and go out and start there and then they do actually lose money and they’re going out of business. So help us out here. What can we do otherwise that would make a whole lot make the whole lot easier for everybody.
D: Yeah, well you can create your own system or you can start using one that already exists. That kind of makes it a little bit easier, right? For example, our company, the new flat rate. I can’t not mention that we do pricing and we help contractors all over the US and Canada to do that. I mean, I appreciate that. I’ll catch that one, you know and that’s what we do. We love to help people set their price and make sure that it’s right in their marketplace. And it’s done for you so that you don’t have to spend all the cumbersome hours doing it. But you know Sam. If if we could be real, honest here and candid, it seems that there’s two types of people there are the CPA style contractor, and then there’s the entrepreneur style contractor. The CPA knows their numbers, they understand it, and it doesn’t mean that they have a CPA degree. But there are numbers guy right, more of an accounting background, so when they’re thinking OK, I need to set my pricing they’re calculating all those things and they’re going to come up with a really great price and it might take ‘em time, but they’re going to do a great job at that and have a great price,it might take them time but whereas the majority of us are kind of fly by the seat of our pants. Hey, I sold a job. Who cares what I’m going to price it out or no, I have an opportunity I’m going to get out there and I’m going to sell it. And so you go out there and you do the diagnosis and the customer says how much and you’re like. Oh shoot, I don’t know you will quick calculation. Maybe make a fake phone call and then you know you say hey you know it’s going to be $325 today for example or whatever it is. And then you’re hoping that you priced right? So with those two, you know us entrepreneurs were testing it. We kind of find a prize for losing money. And then sometimes we call all around and kind of phone shop our competitors and see where the market is. But it is a lot of work. Fortunately, you know you guys you Craftsman. You already know what your equipment costs are. You already know what your material, you know what it’s going to cost you to do the job and so. You also have an idea of what you want to mark it up, but it doesn’t have to just be double whether you. You know, say hey, I’m going to work up my equipment 40% fifty percent, 60%, and then figure in your taxes. And you know, of course. What you’re talking about, too is knowing your billable hour and so many people don’t know how to do that right. You know all those things do have to be factored in. You know Sam, I want to give you like the perfect one sentence answer to your question.
S: But let’s rephrase, let’s have a better question. OK, if somebody says you know what I’m interested in, ’cause I’m I’m such a big fan of flat of new flat rate. I’ve used it in my companies before. It’s something I’ve you know it completely turned around the way our pricing work with our margins. And if somebody was like you know what, I’m just tired of dealing with not knowing if I’m going to be priced. High in the market, low in the market, right in the middle. If I’m going to make money or not and they raised their hand and said, hey Danielle, how can you help us? What are the what’s that look like? So you mentioned the thing that really caught my interest because I’ve talked to a lot of people who have mentioned that they’ve heard of new flat rate. But they also were apprehensive to check into it because they were scared that it was only priced 40. It’s just in the big city market so the prices are going to be too high. Or oh, it’s only in the small market so the prices are going to be too low. So you mentioned that you can set it and you guys have already done the market research for the different areas. Expand on that a little bit.
D: Yeah, you know, we’re in big towns, small towns, and I hear that too. So it’s interesting to hear you say that you know it’s not going to work in my market ’cause I’m in a small town. Well, with the new flat rate when we start working with you again, it’s done for you. We’ve already built all the database. We’ve already got all the pricing in there. So then we just get a couple of simple numbers from you. You know, if you don’t know what your billable hour is, we can help you calculate that. We do have a billable hour calculator tool that’s very easy to use, like a widget. If you’ve ever used TurboTax to do taxes, just step by step help you learn your billable hour. So if anybody does want that, reach out to me after the show and I’ll give you our billable hour calculator.
S: Thanks for that, that’s huge.
D: Yeah, absolutely, but if you do know your billable hour, then we ask you what it is and what are the taxes in your area. Do you offer a service agreement? Discount an what’s your service and diagnostic rate or your trip charge? OK, once we have those four numbers then we can put him into our systems and the algorithms already built in the back end and then we take a look at where you’re located. And surrounding areas. You’re right, we have done all the research and we know based on you know what you tell us and what we know already of the US in Canada. What would work well in your area? Then we will send you a preview and say OK, this is what we’ve put together for prices and we can do that in less than 24 hours. Does that look good? Because what we’re looking for Sam is. Is that what you would currently charge ’cause we don’t want to raise or lower your prices. We want to be real comparable if you don’t know what they will make a break recommendation. If you say hey that looks good and if for example you went on board with the new flat rate and we built out our app for you and get you up and going, we provide 5 price points for everything diagnosed in the home. And that’s the beauty of the system is we’re not pricing too low. We’re not pricing to too high. We’re giving the homeowner five prices on everything so they can make an educated decision based on their budget and what they want. So what we see Sam is 80% choose higher than the bottom and the bottom is a standard flat rate, so 80% or choosing higher than that. And it is so easy for technicians to prejudge it. It’s not just techs it’s humans, right? We like to say, oh, they have a BMW. They have money. Or oh, they have a Dodge Caravan. You know they have money. Or oh, they live, you know, in that side of town across the tracks, they don’t have money. And that’s not true, right? So we go in and we discount all the time. Don’t wait based on what we think and we perceive. So we call it leave your mother in the truck like you gotta check those emotions at the door an offer somebody options because they know their budget and their need and what’s important to them. And then they’re going to choose the level of service based on their budget. So when it comes to selling service, selling equipment, show multiple options and then shut up.
S: Nice, I love it that’s you know, I’ve always said it’s like don’t make their don’t spend their money for it’s not your money to spend. Did from you know my personal experience as well as coaching so many people I’ve got into the biggest nicest houses in the biggest neighborhoods and they couldn’t even get approved for not just the basic system for financing. It wouldn’t even get approved for the second look. No, you know previous. Yeah, and then I’ll go into a house to the other side of town. That’s not even square or level. The house looks like it. Leaning over and they’re like, Oh yeah, I’ll take the just whatever the best you have and is there anything else we can add to the project and then they’re going to get a copy can of cash out of the backroom and they pay you no problem and it’s it’s wild. The difference? So the pre judging has to stop it does.
D: It does as humans, you know, and we do it based on our budget, we know, hey, I’m bout to send somebody to College in my family and I don’t have any money so surely they can’t afford it either. But well, we don’t know. We don’t know their scenarios.
S: Nothing to do with our own lives. So let’s I’m super interested in because I know how I’ve always explained why flat rate. Versus time and materials. I would love to hear from the expert. Your your take in how you express to people why it’s beneficial to convert to a flat rate menu pricing type of system versus the time and material, how it’s good for the contractor and how it’s good for the homeowner.
D: Every contractor I’ve ever talked to that switched from time of material to flat rate. Emphatically said, I started to make more money. Every one of them said pay that we started to be more profitable. We started to make more money but the switch to flat rate kinda was a long time ago. You know when people were like hey what was it in the 80s? The flat rate came about.
S: Yeah yeah it was a good while back yeah everything. Move into it, yeah?
D: So then everybody you know, not everybody. There’s still a lot of contractors on time and material and but the switch over your prices you start to make more money and then that works for a long time. But then what we saw in the industry over time was OK. We started to make more money but now we want even more so we need to turn the technicians in to selling technicians and force them to look for more opportunity. But that wasn’t necessarily a process that was a training. A person, not a process, and so that’s why with the menus then flat rate evolved again into, you know what we call menu pricing when you just use the process of showing 5 price points. Then the customer chooses and you make even more money, so you had time material, flat rate, and then menu pricing. The revenue opportunity profit went up, but why flat rate? You know the consumers. The consumer has changed. Anywhere that we go, we see the price of what we’re paying and the certainty of knowing the budget. It’s what the consumer wants. The consumer has changed, but then also that changed again because now you go to Amazon or you go to Walmart, you go Home Depot, you go anywhere and you have multiple options for every product that you want, right? You have all the different price points you get to choose based on your budget. And so it’s it’s the changing of the times it’s who we are as retail shoppers.
S: Frank, I totally agree. You know, especially right now in our industry it was starting to happen gradually, but especially as soon as covid hit, you know. Personally I did a couple of webinars for three or 400 people how to do virtual sales appointments. Nobody ever thought in. Anything trades especially HVAC. You could do a completely 100% virtual sales appointment. Well now we have people all across the country doing, you know, $1,000,000 a year in virtual cells which was unheard of. You know. I personally I’ve always done a few 100,000 a year, just not even intentionally just because we have remote buyers. But when I realized that, you know, figuring that process out started, you know leading people into that. But what’s also happened with that is our general population. I don’t know about you, but the amount of boxes that come from online ordering now to our house has multiplied, not just 10 x, probably more like 50 X. Yes, we don’t go to stores for most things anymore. It’s like, oh, I just need this. Hang on, I’ll just. Put it on my app. So the hot topic that I was really kind of becoming boiling too ahead here is E commerce for HVAC. Seeing prices up front because we know traditionally it’s always been a value first sale sales, model value first and then show pricing at the end. Once you’ve built that stack of value bigger than their stack of dollars, so there’s a change happening and already having these prices worked out. Man, that would just facilitate that a whole lot easier wouldn’t it.
D: It would and I’m hearing that all over the place there’s a lot of consultants in the industry. Pressure are promoting that model right now, saying just put your your price is right there on your website and so that there’s definitely a shift moving in that direction.
S:People sign up, presentation, put their credit card in and pay for their. You know, whatever it is knowing that I click the box that says, I understand that it could change what somebody gets here. Yes, depending on what they find, but it’s prepaid us.
D: Yeah, there’s website developers developing those exact same things right now. People are doing it and people are doing it and consumers are doing it. So it’s happening.
S:CYeah, I like to keep keep talking about it because everybody listening we have, you know thousands and thousands of listeners that man. Don’t don’t fight it. You know when when things start to change and move in the industry kind of reminds me without 22, you know with the change to 410 and everybody thought it everybody thought it. One brand pioneered it and started installing it a decade before or when the industry decided to adopt. 410 it was up between four or five different refrigerants, and they’re like, Oh well, we already have millions of these systems installed. Why don’t we just adopt that one and so everyone else was forced into that specific refrigerant, but it’s kind of the same. You know the same thing going on. Don’t fight the change. That’s inevitable. Embrace it, Either embrace it for yourself or at least learn about what’s happening and understand the dynamics of how to sell against it. If you’re not going to make the change yourself.
D: True and you know at first it’s kind of a scary thought. Well if I put my prices out there, my competitors are going to see it. Or what if everybody else is prices are cheaper and then nobody goes with us ’cause mine are more expensive so a lot of scary ways to look at it. And you don’t want your customers price shopping and all you know you guys know all the objections as well. But thank you. For example, American home shield. I don’t know. You’re probably familiar right with American Home shield solutely, right? And so think of these home warranty companies that have been around for a long time. And I say American Home shield because we did what we call American Home Shield calls not with American Home Shield, but on our own every week for. A couple of years using it, teaching contractors how to use it as leads gen right contractors. Either hate it or they love it, but in the slow seasons there’s a slow season for him and they want to know how to get leads. Will American Home Shield was a great way to get leads? You can be a great contractor form. They’re going to guarantee leads. You’re going to get those leads, but then hey, you’re only going to make $70 or whatever it’s going to be. It’s a set price point, right? So that price points already published in there, and everybody already knows this is the price point. And So what we started doing Sam is teaching our guys take the lead, get out there and then show a menu. Here’s a menu from the page from for example the new flat rate price book. And here’s your 5 price points in that bottom one, you know, that’s that’s what’s covered. Your American home shield. It’s covered right here. Is that what you want? ’cause hey, it’s fine. It’s a great repair, it’s just your basic band aid. It’s your get you up and going today and that’s your flat rate price or we have these other options. What should we do? And so all of our contractors started reporting back making all this extra money. What was shocking about it is nobody thought that a homeowner would pay more. When they were already promised, hey, it’s going to be, you know, or it’s covered, it’s covered, it’s free ’cause it’s covered in your American Home shield, right? And your home warranty is covered so you don’t have to pay, but we every week had contractors saying Yep, every time we showed options they always paid more. Absolutely. When it comes to pricing on your website, you don’t have to be afraid of it. Let’s just be creative on what do we want to price. Some of it is going to be baiting, you know? Yeah, we can do a cleaning for this price. Or hey, we come out there. We do it for free and then you show options and the customers are going to choose more than they want. Is that we need to build your value when you’re actually on site with the customer, right?
S: We are ’cause the caveat is you know these prices are you know there just penciled in here. There you know, tentative until we get someone on site to do the project measurements. You know everyone knows me even give the option so I know so much about this too because I have a team member, one of my coaching clients in Denver who’s doing this and I think right now he’s like 16 for 16. You know in a row, yeah, and he’s just killing it and so the the question too. You know, if you if people are price shopping you and you’re losing to the cheap guy anyway, how much better would it be if those people already disqualify themselves before you have to go out? How much? How much more efficient is that? ’cause if we’re, here’s the thing. If I’m only gonna get 50% of the sales, my average closures could be 50%. Let’s draw a line right through the center of the demographic and I’ll take the top half and let. Everybody else fight over the cheap guy. I don’t want the commodity buyer because that’s where all the headaches come from anyway, we know that yeah, so how? How much easier is it to disqualify that ahead of time and man, your model is this beautiful to be able to use that to the degree that needed anybody wants to? And I have to give props. I heard in your presentation a little bit of Uncle Joe and the what should we do? Every time somebody says that I was like, oh, somebody knows Joker Sarah so big. He’s gonna mentor in the industry for so many years and have taken courses from him along with most people. So I love to when I hear it.
D: im so glad you mentioned his name, yeah, and we. Definitely think of Joe is a great friend and mentor to, and we’ve spent a lot of time with Joe and Love Joe and all this stuff.
S: So yeah, I hope to someday be a big boy podcaster enough to get him as a guest on here.
D: Awesome, I know you will, so I’m sure I will.
S: We’re working on it.
D: you have to end him this episode when he hears his name that was mentioned on the show that we want him.
S: we’ll have the timing worked out. Yeah, that’s what it is. But I love it, you know, and and statistically, that’s the beautiful part of the way people buy. You know, I’ve taken so many courses over the years in trainings. And you know, like anybody in the industry, the top or former, you dedicate your life to become a lifelong learner an when you do that, there’s no, you know. I heard one time that you should spend 10% of your income on personal growth every single year. Is the way to be world class at anything you do and so for the last decade I’ve dedicated myself to that and I’ve stuck to it which has so many people say, well God, there’s no way I could afford that and my like there’s no way you can’t afford it when you look at your own. Anyone who’s done that their own income has just skyrockets. When you decide to become that better person. And so that’s you know. And people here on the podcast all the time. I’ll say work to become someone worth buying from. And as you do that you up level yourself. The people that buy from you also up level. And it’s so true. It’s what happens,
D: but is otherwise we plateau and plateaus a scary place. It’s hard to get off. That plateau to the next level, especially if you haven’t been preparing for it.
S: Right, yeah, when change comes if we’re not, if you don’t dig the well before you need it, then you’re scrambling to go back and OK. What’s going on? How can we get on this? But then you’re on the backside of the change, and now it’s like, well, everybody is already doing this. I guess I might as well do it also, but we all know that The Pioneers are the ones that find the gold. Right, that’s they’re also the ones that catch the arrows. So that’s thetrade about to get props of my my first mentor, Brian Winkleman for that one, but I started my career in Tiny town, Texas in a town of 13,000 people in Dumas, TX. And yeah, anybody who says you can’t be successful in a small market. We were a million and a half. You’re a company in a town of 13,000 people, so it’s 100% possible you can dominate your market anywhere you’re at. Everything else was proportional from there, so, but back to the topics, we could go all over the place with this one thing that I’m super interested in. Especially I I know you mentioned that the timing wasnt intentional. It just happened to be a, I guess a serendipitous coincidence so to speak. Is you guys have introduced a new module for indoor air quality? A lot more in depth than it used to because I know used to you had some options to just put in. You know, indoor air quality accessories just kind of on a one off, but now there’s it’s a lot more robust I guess, so to speak. And so talk about that a little bit how that transition happened and what inspired it. And then let’s dive in, you know, kind of a. Oh, unpack it a little bit for us. What’s the benefit of the new module?
D: Yeah cool. It’s an we have actually changed it from just indoor air quality to building science, so it’s a building science indoor air quality price book. It’s a menu price system. It’s within our app, it’s digital and we’ve been talking about it for years. And you know, if we could be super honest and candid, ’cause I can’t help but to be super honest. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so honest. Like the real everybody will know, right? I’m just it is the tremendous amount of work is OK. Hey we need to do this indoor air quality building science module pricing system because people ask for it. People want it. People want to know how to price these things, but that’s a lot of work to go write a new price book and to do the research and to get it ready and get it beta tested and. You know, so we kind of were like oh, are we going to do it? Are we not? You know, do people really want it? And people really did want it, so we kept being asked one and then my our founder, my business partner, our CEO is actually my dad, Rodney Cope. Who was, you know, and is a contractor. And really was specialty niche in indoor air quality and and specifically then mold and so his highest service disconnect word. I know, I know. I know we call it something else in the price book, we totally call it something else. microbial, right? Yeah, like microbial, we totally do anyway though his his average tickets were always. Above 35,000 because those are the kinds of jobs he was doing and were in Georgia. So lots of crawl space in capsulation’s and stuff. So he had a lot of knowledge and then people still kept calling him from all over the country saying hey, I ran into this. Is there anything that I can do? What should I do? And we just began to to find that there’s not a lot of help. When it comes to finding solutions for that stuff and contractors need help and we feel mandated they need help because it’s it’s the health and safety of the home, in the homeowners and the children are the people that are in these environments that might be getting sick ’cause their home is actually making them sick and then contractors don’t know how to fix it. So those conversations are you home. Are you home because you’re sick? Are you sick because you’re home Alex and we’re hearing it more and more, right? I love the way you say it. So with all those conversations in the phone calls coming in, you know we had the notes we’d already outlined it. We had the structure and then we started to talk to business partners to look at their equipment. What would we want to recommend? What wouldn’t we want to recommend? And then I wanna say another name too. And it’s John Ellis He also if you know John Ellis he is a business training coach. He works with Dikun Amana Goodman doing indoor air quality classes for them. He’s actually one of our right align coaches. He goes out and does ride alongs with texts all over the US and. And he’s got a wealth of knowledge once, but out when he had his HVAC company in California did a whole lot of indoor air quality. So we started having conversations with John. So between John Rodney and I, these, like you, calls sent us in Tuxon Tux and talks and talks. And then people calling in. I know this is a long story, so I’m trying to get to the point, but it really was just like we gotta do it for awhile, yeah? You know we had to do it and so we just let’s put the put the date on the calendar and said OK, everybody fly to Dalton, GA and we’re going to write this system and figure it out. And you know, the big piece was the discovery phase. It takes a lot of time to be in a home or building in an environment, sometimes to assess what’s really wrong. Right, and so we needed to figure out how for contractors to get paid for that discovery time, and that is something that we built into this pricing system. So we didn’t mean to do it during COVID. It just happened to. Now is the time that we completed it and we got it rolled out. We’re in beta testing. I’ve got twenty companies in the beta test and we’re getting great reports, so we do group calls every week and learning so much. I could say I talk about like you all day.
S: Well, that’s great. So let we’ve got a fork in the road in the conversation here. One thing that I love that just a quick notice. You know, forever. We had to do such a thorough, you know, really healthy job of educating on the importance of indoor air quality. And now our job is so much easier because the world has done it for us with COVID with the you know, the coronavirus. They everybody knows the importance of indoor air quality, so the lead into it is so much easier now without training my podcast in my in my training personally is literally just two questions. First is with everything going on in the world. How important is indoor air quality to in a second and then the second and then the second one after that is would you like to hear what we did in our own personal homes to make your home a sanctuary? Excellent from that, everybody says yes to both of those questions. Yeah, and then it’s an easy conversation ’cause they just gave you permission. But I’m so so for everybody out there. If you didn’t hear that other podcasts on that, those are your two questions that will. If you use the the new flat rate or not. I recommend it ’cause it’s great, but even if not. If you just want her curious how to open that conversation, those two questions will do for you will do it for you. Between those nobody knows. They they, they they expected, the expert would you, the expert would you do? Would you do to protect your own family? And so?
D: And that was such a non sale-sy way to say it. Sam, it was so good of. Are you concerned? Do you want to know yes or no? If not, OK, great. I’ll finish up all…
S: drive down the road for 45 minutes to somebody that has zero interest. People about right checks for what they want, not what they need, right? So I do. More importantly, the other part of that conversation you know, taking us into the rest, though, is you know, how do once we get there, you know what are the pieces, how does it build? How do we educate, and you know, and then price it, right? You’re right, it’s like. There’s so many components, especially when you start to incorporate not just IQ but building science, you know part of my history that most people don’t know is I owned a Doctor Energy Saver franchise. You know contractor with them for about five years, so we were that was the home performance network across the country. Yeah, for a long time they still are just since I sold my company haven’t been connected but so understand the dynamics of how in depth you have to go. Yes it there. So talk to us a little bit about you know if somebody if I’m just you know I have a small company and I want to roll in some indoor air quality but I don’t know if. The full on building science is right for me. And then let’s talk about also. You know, if I’m a bigger company, really ready to make some investment. How does that look and the education piece is really one of where I want to go with this because I know if you guys heard they do weekly. Calls to educate on how to the importance of indoor air quality and how to in building performance, building science and how to incorporate that into your business. So I love that you guys are doing so much education. That’s the missing piece in our industry because erase so just hit and miss across the board on it.
D: It really surprised us. Because we roll this out and we’re like, hey, you guys are all contractors you know what to do. And then I said let’s have a check in call and they’re like we didn’t know what to do. You know. And and my guys in my beta are really sharp awesome top notch contractors I gotta give him a plug there but it was having the conversation the segue into the conversation and then to your point how do you get started? What kinds of pieces? To answer your 1st question, maybe if you’re maybe if you receive going into that into that into that and pick up some of the opportunity because the opportunity is there. So how do you pick up some of the opportunity that you feel like might be going to everybody else? And it easy answers dot cleaning and so many people look down on it and maybe don’t want to do that cleaning and technicians often think it’s below them. And you don’t even have to be a technician to do duct cleaning. You can have, you know some apprentices do duct cleaning. You can have some of your other guys that are maybe slow today. Do some duct cleaning, but here’s what we found when people are calling around saying hey, do you do duct cleaning and all the HVAC companies like no call so and so and they’re hanging up in that opportunity on that opportunity why did the customer want home cleaning. That’s the golden question, so there’s opportunity there. Is there dust in their home? Is that what they’re not liking? You know? Is somebody sick? Surely if I had to guess, nobody in this home is suffering from bronchial, you know, upper respiratory or asthma or any kind of issues right now somebody is, you know my child is. So let’s start with the duct cleaning. OK, so so my point is that cleaning is an easy way and you don’t have to necessarily have the equipment to get going on it. Day one. I’ve got a friend contractor right now who has seven jobs lined up and did not have a piece of equipment. He sold seven duct cleaning jobs because here it is the heat of the summer and people are willing to wait for duct cleaning ’cause it’s not. Oh, I don’t have air right. Units will wait until the slow season in the fall, so he’s already sold them and he’s booked him for weeks out and then he just went and bought a rotobrush and we’ve been working with Rotobrush and they’ve given us some great discounts to offer to our people, so if anybody’s interested in learning more about…
S: we’ll start with that cause I wanna highlight that with you as well. Let’s go into so that was small guy you know. Wanna get started. So duct cleaning is a great way to start. And what about the bigger company with some capital? They’re really ready to drop and expand another division of their company where? Where would you recommend that go?
D: Yeah, good question. So there’s so much equipment, material and things and you know a device that we’re loving right now is air advice. The air monitoring system that you can do with a 30 minute snapshot, 7 days snapshot whatever to know the air quality in the home and that’s kind of easy way. But these big guys they’ve got files and files of customers and opportunities and opportunities, and opportunities and that’s where they’re gotta start right, marketing to that existing base. You know I want to back up for a second and say. Back there. Well no I I want it. I want it. You can’t just go and say hey, we’re gonna add an IAQ branch, an hey you techs you are now IAQ guys you go out and do IAQ because of the safety of the home and the residents of the home like you have to know what you’re doing. If you do it wrong and incorrectly it’s a safety issue for everybody and so you gotta get trained. And so I know John Ellis has a four day is a 16 hour for half days class. He does a couple times a year and it’s really important if you want to start getting into it to figure out how to get into that class and pick your technicians that you want to get into it. ’cause you can’t just say hey, we’re going to do this and not be trained on it. It’s a safety issue.
S: With that too, don’t throw you companies out there that you’re really in. You know open to getting into this. Don’t let that. Also, don’t let that scare you. Yeah, true, you know. Yeah, let’s invite you in. So while yes it is, you know it’s a big thing, especially when we start getting into, you know, the the next level items like cross based encapsulation we’ll get in to next level items like spray foam insulation. There’s some serious health concerns that you have to be aware of, however, I have friends all over the country who there they have one or more $100,000 spray foam rigs that are working every single day of the year because it is such a high demand item. Yeah so at the same time don’t be scared of it. Invest in the in 100%. I’m going to echo this. Invest in the training first. Because at the same time, and this is No fun warning and not really fun. One of my peers in a in a city years ago when I had my Doctor Energy Saver Company, they decided to get into spray foam and the person they didn’t get the right training. The person who was actually the applicator. He was not wearing his goggles and he got foam overspray on his eyeballs and had to go to the eye doctor in have it ground of with a like a grinding wheel iff of his eyeballs. Don’t be that guy. Don’t think that you’re just manly enough. You can go do this, get the right training. So that’s my little word advice there, however highly profitable. That’s right. So the big big margin is in this stuff because it’s such a high margin, low material, high labor costs. Which also means high margin. So stepping into the home performance in building performance and IAQ, we start getting into, you know. For example, if you’re you can, I’m sure talk about this better than I can. ’cause you price it all the time. Equipment system pricing. You know your margins into the day for your company’s anywhere from 25% to maybe 45%. Your margins on your IQ items and home performance by percentile be 5% all 5%, although they percent, although that percent all the way up to 80% margin wise dial the dial. The difference, difference or even a difference or even higher. So it’s and then you throw those together. If you’ve already covered your bottom line with something else, and then you put a super high margin item on there that goes straight to the bottom line,
D: it does, you know something cool too is with these opportunities. So often they include equipment changeouts and depth replacements and all that. You you know, so you have your crawl spaces in your attic renovations and sealing the home pure pure air, your air and all that in all, and then you all do and then you have would have done anyway. But it is. It’s such a profitable thing to get into. So don’t be afraid of the training. And if there’s a lot of easy ways to get in in a trance, I said I recommended John provides a list of all the equipment in the different things that you could start getting so that you need for sure.
S: Yeah, so he is a great resource. Contractor Nation is another good place to start. That’s the parent company for the Doctor Energy Saver organization. I was involved all there’s. There’s lots of space. Of course you know your VPI and your NCI. They can also point you in the right direction, but I want to circle back on something that you mentioned a minute ago is being connected to the new flat rate. You have developed a lot of partnerships with vendors with different companies all across the board. To get your clients have additional discounts so it’s an advantage of being connected to you they basically pay for the new flat rate with the discounts that they get from everywhere else that they’re already using anyway. Is that right?
D: It does help, yes. We have found, though paying for the new flat rate it pays for itself in a matter of weeks just on the service calls and like if you run, get paid for in weekend away and we hear that everyday just ’cause they’re picking up the lost opportunity. But then we saw that in our company. I appreciate that you mentioned it. So then the partnerships working with you know, for example air advice and rotobrush. These are just great companies that are well established and have great products and have said yeah, we’d love to be a part of that and offer a significant discount to our group. So I’m really excited on to be able to pass that on to everybody. And so and then on our weekly call everybody says hey I just got my rotorbrush hey I got my air advice, you know it’s exciting, it’s fun, it’s fun to watch everybody to expand their business to and to learn new things, and another thing that’s been cool is if there’s somebody, maybe you have a friend you know everybody’s not always in competition you know you see your buddies at the supply house. They work at a different company, but if there’s a company that does, you know, attic renovations or things and you want to get into it then kind of apprentice with them a little bit. In our group calls, we got a couple of companies that are in Georgia and so to get in to IAQ one’s been doing it for 15 years and the other one’s only been doing so we’re been doing it for about two years, and so they’re planning on working together on so that the newer company can really learn in a safe environment and not necessarily just outsource, but invite the company. Hey, I’ll give you a piece. Come here, do this job with me and help me, so I’m excited to see the people working together to learn. And it’s a good way to get a little bit of extra revenue.
S: Absolutely Oh my gosh. That is so cool to hear because our in our industry is notoriously competitive and I always said the idea of good competition is their doors are closed because we took all the jobs. I say that’s more of a tongue in cheek at the same time. It’s awesome to see companies working together because we know that a rising tide raises all ships, so we’ve got to get over our infighting and really work on educating the client. Because truly, we have to become a unified front in this otherwise. But what we’ve seen already other industries will reach into the HVAC industry and take a huge portion of our business that we don’t want to give up. Example is nest thermostat with Google, Google Home, they hundred. They absolutely did that. They bought the place on the wall so they could take over the rest of the house, and that’s a place that we should have had never given up that real estate but nobody offered it. So let’s not let other industries do that with these other pieces of the House. So that’s my that’s my sub box on that one.
D: Stay on that one man. I love that you said that
S: yeah, for sure so awesome. This is been a fantastic time together. I’m so glad you were able to join us. And so before we go and all of your you know get all the other links to be in the liner notes for this episode but. To sell all of the listeners how they can find you, where the best way to contact you is and how can they just learn more about the new flat rate and some of the programs are offered.
D: I’ve got horrific spam filtering system, so I want to say email me if I don’t respond. It landed in spam, so reach out in other ways too, but my email is [email protected] or [email protected] Our website is…
S: can you spell danielle for everybody?
D: it’s D A N I E L L E at menupricing.com our website thenewflatrate.com I’m on Facebook and LinkedIn. Definitely connect and I would love to to give you something just for reaching out. You know we talked about a couple things, so if you want to know more about the IAQ things we’re doing, reach out. Something else that I just came across my desk that I’m loving right now. It’s a ten page process of the service call cycle and it’s just scripting because as you’re scaling and expanding Oraibi right now in summertime, it’s busy season and you guys are just going from call to call. You add a technician and he might. You know we might not be doing the training that we need to be doing of the expectations of the business. Show up on site. Park like this. Create the customer like this. I’ve got a 10 pager on it that could really help you in the busy season right now. Would love to give to you for free so just reach out and I’d love to share that. It’s just my service call process. You could call it or for anyone.
S: And I love it. You also mentioned your calculator for people learning their own hard costs and things, right?
D: Yes, so our billable hour calculator? Our reach out for that too. Just ’cause you listen to the episode. I’ll get you a promo code for that so you can log it for free and find your billable hour.
S: She’s bringing the value everybody. I hope you’re paying attention.
D: Connect, connect connect
S: good again. Part of being a listener of close it out I’m I’m always working on partnerships as well. With, you know, different organizations and just to support all of you guys. And then ladies in the field. So really quick again. Want to plug tha she is on the board of directors for women in Hvacr. So if you’re a woman listening you didn’t know this in Group exist it does. Take a take a super short to it. Didn’t have to be super short. Give us a quick little blurb about women in hvacr. She’s having a hard time with words are hard today. How, how old is organization and why was it founded and how can women get involved and to get supported?
D: We’ve been around for almost 20 years now. It’s a incredible network, so thanks for the opportunity to talk about it. We’ve got a very active Facebook group women in Hvacr. You can look for our it’s a private group so just request to be in it and will accept you in. Where we talk about all sorts of stuff we’ve got in our membership, technicians, installers, owners, managers, manufacturers, distributors, marketers, you know, salespeople. We have all different facets of the industry in there, and we have an annual conference where we actually come together personally and we have several hundred women that come together in one room. And sometimes you will ask them, hey why? Why are you here? Why you’re at our annual conference and I say to be in this group of women, you know, the people that you’re sitting next to it will be high level at some really big companies and then front lines over here and small companies over here. But the connection and the camaraderie of being in this industry together. You know there’s a small group of US women that are in the industry and sticking together. I’ve built some of my best alliances and my best friends from the industry and So it’s a it’s just a really great tight knit group and tight knit group and we’re always looking for more members to come in. And also for sponsors. You know if you’re a manufacturer or a promoter of any kind and we’re always looking for sponsors and we do scholarships, I love our scholarship program because we’re helping to bring more people into the industry we give out. Over seven scholarships a year. That’s really cool too. To help get ladies into tech school and I love that program, but it’s womeninhvacr.org.
S: OK, great yeah. My last podcast interview actually, which will air right before this one is a woman in Illinois lease against who is a sales manager up there Lisa Gentz. She’s been a. $1,000,000 a year salesperson for over a decade and she runs a big crew there and so I’m always looking for ways to highlight women in the industry. There’s not enough of not enough. Absolutely mean more. So in fact will connect outside of the podcast. I have a program or for sponsorships, so I would love to talk to you about how it could possibly work together for some fund raising. But yeah, this has been fantastic. Thank you for being on the episode today everybody you heard it here. First flat rate is the is this where it’s at. If you’re still doing time and material or you haven’t realized the advantage of time in a flat rate pricing man, it’s it will instantly change her bottom line changer margin and it just takes all the guesswork out of it. It makes it so easy to get projects that we so this is the place to connect to get that ball rolling for you. So thanks everybody for listening. One couple quick announcements super fast before we wrap this episode up and I hope you again. Hope you’re enjoying the new format with the two episodes a week. Lots of stuff happening with close it now, the high performance coaching, which is private one on one, coaching with me is really gearing up right now as well as we’re working on a Group A really cool hybrid group coaching model which is going to be so just super quick highlights. It’s going to be a monthly training for me. It’s also going to be a monthly Q&A for me. Within its own private Facebook group and then a laundry list of rock stars that are going to be in in there doing Facebook lives. Interact this live interaction with you guys plus guys and ladies plus just the peer support is going to be awesome so it’s going to be a hybrid group. The book is in its first edit. So the the close it now book is coming out and all of the cell system that I talked about in the podcast is actually in production. I’ve almost recorded all of the videos for that, and so we’re in production of having all of it packaged into a nice online course for you as well. So what has the busy over here? In Austin, TX and lots, lots lots coming up and going to be. Now that things are opening up. Look for me at some of the events that are going to be happening. I plan on attending a lot of the conventions of different things for our beautiful industry. and yeah so that’s it for now thank you again danielle with a new flat rate for being on the podcast today and we’re going to end this the way we always do everybody i know it is you’re in the heat of it go save the world one heat stroke at a time will talk to you again soon