Are you still “doing it all?” Have you been thinking about whether you might run a more profitable business by narrowing down your specialty?
Well, it turns out that you aren’t the only one asking that question. This question was sent in to us to ask on our “Ask a Protractor” series.
Mike Segal from @morrisdecks agreed to come on and share his experience, and how narrowing his specialty has greatly increased his profits.
You’ll be inspired by this episode as you discover:
- How EFFICIENCY has enabled @morrisdecks to charge more, get jobs done faster, and produce a much better finished product.
- The different ways you can SPECIALIZE in your existing business.
- How to make the proposal part of your job QUICKER because you specialize.
- How Specializing helps the entire team know what to do on each job, and makes training the new guy as EASY as taking a sip of coffee in the morning.
- Specializing actually INCREASES your reputation and allows you to sell bigger jobs than you’ve ever dreamed possible.
- …and much more!
Ok, so specializing may not be for everyone. We get that. But if it’s something you’re thinking about anyway, then listen to this episode today. And if you just want to be inspired and motivated by listening to a really great guy like Mike Segal… then get this episode and listen to it today.
Here’s the entire post from this interview with Mike Segal
Martin: Today on Ask a Protractor, I have Mike Segal. Mike is part owner of Morris Decks. Really excited to have you on today. Hey, welcome, Mike.
Mike: Thank you very much, Martin. Pleasure to be here.
Martin: Mike, where are you located, and what is it, specifically, that you do?
Mike: We work primarily in Morris County, New Jersey, but we have a pretty large service area, fortunately. We are deck builders. That’s all we do, about 10 months a year. I really love it.
Martin: The question that was turned in goes like this: has narrowing your area of specialization increased your profit? I’m going to hand it over to you.
Mike: 100% yes, as far as that goes, for me, because I don’t know whether it’s me, just personally, what I really enjoy doing or throughout just repetition, we’ve been able to kind of come up with a system where … Time is money in this business and it’s really efficiency, while still being able to deliver a really high end product, has enabled us to charge more, get in and out of jobs faster, and just everything is more efficient when it’s all you’re doing. We have efficiency straight from the pre-qualifying phone call that you get from somebody finding you on the Internet, all the way through the execution of the actual building process, billing, literally every step is more efficient when you’re only doing one thing.
Martin: Have you always done just one thing?
Mike: No. When I came up in it, I was building houses for a guy, but I won’t go too in depth on that but when I started off on my own, I pretty much would take anything. Bathrooms, kitchens, a lot of interior renovation, replace windows, decks and then I got hooked up with a guy building decks, and I was like, “Okay. There’s something to this. You can really make some money specializing.” He was a great businessman, more than a craftsman and that was what I was able to take from him the most, was the business side, which I had never really seen before. It was very valuable, for me.
Martin: How do you … You mentioned because you’ve specialized, it streamlines everything, and you mentioned your pre-qualifying phone call. Real quick, describe how that works.
Mike: If somebody finds us online, we’re still finding that most of the people will call versus sending us an automatic form email, but, so, somebody will call, and they’ll say, “I’m looking to have somebody come out for an estimate.” That’s great and all, but if I went and looked at every single job, I would not only never get any work done, but I would never see my family. So I start saying, “Okay, well, what are you looking to do?” Obviously, some people come back with a real snotty, “Well, I’m looking to build a deck.” It’s like, “Okay.” But so I’m like, “Okay.” We’re basically only exclusively working with X, Y or Z products.
You’re gonna be, “Do you know what size you’re looking for?” If people aren’t willing to put in the leg work to know, we’d like X amount of square feet for entertaining or we want a 16×20 or if the haven’t done enough research it’s almost like you’re not far enough along in the process to even be calling me, but most people have an idea where they say, “We want a 16×20.” And I say, because we do it all the time, I know my numbers. I’ll say, “Okay, you’re in the range say from 22 to 25,000. If that’s a budget range you’re comfortable in I’d be happy to come out, measure the job and I can provide you a proposal to the dollar, but if not, no problem.” And I get a lot of people who say, “Well let me check with my husband.” And I never hear from them again. Some people have obviously realized that this is a pretty fair square foot number and they’ll say, “Oh yeah, please come out.”
And those people I would say I’d get 50% of those jobs that I have to go out to look at, so just by saving the trips all over the state of New Jersey and that saved me so much time and it was really hard for me to take that first step in feeling as well, talking to people, making them feel like my time is as valuable as it actually is. That was a tough hurdle for me, because it didn’t come naturally but now I’d done it so much that its like, “Okay, this is such a vital part in saving time and increasing efficiency.”
Martin: All right, so what else does narrowing your area of specialization help with, specifically for you. What have you found and ho has it increased your profit?
Mike: Profit wise we’ll say that when I go to do a proposal for a job, I’ve done however many hundreds maybe thousands of these things at this point, so we have an Excel spreadsheet that is strictly narrowed down to decks, it has all the products that we use in it. I have all that stuff memorized, so boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. It spits out a to the dollar amount and I can do that in say 15 minutes and it’s very accurate and then I can just cut and paste all these very detailed things that are tailored to that project because I have done every single one of those aspects before most likely and I can then send them a seven page, very detailed proposal, that looks like I have hours into and it’s too done within the same night as I’ve looked at the job and that saved me to say a full proposal for a job that could be up to $70,000, I might only put an hour into it. Where as, years ago, that might’ve taken me four.
Martin: And if you were doing kitchens and baths and porches and all the other barns and sheds, it would take a lot longer, because each one is so different.
Mike: Exactly, so that’s been huge for us and then it all scales from there. The efficiency on the job is equally as huge, because every single member of the crew has done exactly what they’re doing that day 100 times before. There’s no communication, there’s no standing around going, “How are gonna go around this obstacle.” Because this is not a unique obstacle, we’ve done this 100 times, so without communicating, this guy goes and does that, this guy does that, this guy does that and we’re working in conjunction, we know the times where we need to come together and work together. We know the times that we can separate and we’re all working towards the same end goal and we’ve all been working together so long at this point as well that even if there’s a new guy on the job, somebody’s got eyes on him and can say, “That’s not how we do that, bla, bla, bla.” But really, we are putting out a deck, I would say quite a bit faster than most of our “competition”, because it’s all we do.
And we’re doing it, in my mind, I feel, that we’re doing it better than most of those people as well, because we’ve done it 100 times and we know what to look for, we know how to overcome all these different things so we can also charge a little bit more, so by being efficient from the very first phone call through the entire design, build customer interaction, everything has kind of, it’s like a well oiled machine and so we’re in and out and on to the next job and money is in hand and the profits … This year I’m selling jobs like two times what I sold three years ago, because we now have a reputation. People are willing to pay for it and I’m putting less time into it. So the profits are just incredible and I’m really grateful that it’s worked out the way that it has.
Martin: Yeah, one area of specializing is going from doing everything to doing just decks. But then I’m sure it just goes on from there. You could specialize in only say Trex products or you can specialize in re-doing old decks. There’s other ways to specialize. Have you entertained some of that as well?
Mike: We are pretty product specific and loyal to Trex, we’ll also do the tropical hard woods, like IPE and stuff like that, but that’s a whole different dollar bracket at that point.
Martin: Do you not do treated lumber decks or pine or …
Mike: We won’t be doing one this year I can tell you that.
Mike: We have in the past. This year we’ve really geared towards even being more efficient and I can tell you a couple of those ways really quick. We’re not digging footings anymore, we’re using helical piles, which not only keeps us off the job that day, but it also enables us to build without a footing inspection. Those guys come, they got our helicals in and they’ll do 10 in a day, where that could’ve taken us two days, three days, depending on the ground conditions and then we’re posting on those immediately as those are pulling of the job and then we’re also gonna be using … It’s a tough transition, but we’re trying to use all steel framing, where I can order that stuff pre-cut.
Mike: So if I have a 17′ by 32′ deck, I’m ordering the rim and track 32′ and the joint somewhere at 17 and it goes together like an erector set and then we’re putting deck boards on and then we’re also using powder coated aluminum rails, because when we lay the decking down, those guys come they template and they have a really high end fabricated aluminum rail, that’s custom templated for their job, but it’s also removed a step for us.
Martin: Nice. Well, all right Mike, really appreciate you sharing that with us today and for you protractors that are considering specializing, give this some serious thought, because what he just shared with us today is so true and it looks like a great way to increase profit. Mike, if somebody wants to follow along and see what all you’re doing, where would you send them?
Martin: Awesome. Well thanks a lot for coming on today, I really appreciate it and we’ll talk to you again later.
Mike: All right, I really appreciate it, thank you Martin.
Thank you so much for your support and encouragement of this podcast. If you have a question you would like to hear us address on the [Ask a Protractor] series, please send it to [email protected] and as always, please share this show with your followers. We greatly appreciate it!