What! Why would someone CHOOSE to keep his company small? Why would you not grow it big, and then make it bigger still? As it turns out, not all professional contractors want to have big companies. Today’s Featured Guest is Brian MacAllister @bjmacwoodwork and he has quite a story to tell!
Brian knows what it’s like to own and run a massive company – to the tune of 350 employees. A major life event “woke him up.” And now, he has a small handful of customers, and he’s as happy as can be.
Listen to our featured guest today, and learn:
- How Brian grew a massive company in a foreign country.
- What happened to Brian that caused him to downsize.
- How to get people to spread the word about your services.
- The #1 Key to make even difficult customers happy.
- Why you shouldn’t accept an enormous responsibility of paying off a huge business startup debt based on work you hope you get.
- …And Much more!
Be INSPIRED Today!
<<<Here is the complete blog post:>>>
Brian Macallister was born and raised in Canada, where he didn’t have any personal experience with woodworking or contracting except for what he learned in his high school wood shop classes.
Brian felt that the ability to make things with his hands allowed him to live anywhere in the world, so when he graduated from high school, he bought a VW van and traveled to Baja California in Mexico.
At first, Brian was just working by himself, doing woodworking jobs in the area. Initially, he only did work for Canadian and American customers in Mexico, but his business and the demand for his work grew when he began working for local people as well.
At one point, Brian was running several different companies in Mexico, both contracting and farming, which employed approximately 350 people.
He moved away from woodworking slightly, and shifted to doing more commercial construction. He found a partner who was experienced in steel. In their partnership, they did large scale concrete work and steel work.
During these early years, Brian admits that he would often take jobs not knowing how to do things, but would learn along the way. “If someone asks me to build something, I’ll say absolutely, I’ll build it,” Brian says.
He does not consider himself to be someone who has natural business skills, and that he is more inclined to be friendly with his employees and clients. This type of responsibility weighed heavily on him. Because of his tendency to befriend employees, Brian felt that a lot of people relied on him. To avoid this struggle, Brian advises contractors to “try not to be everyone’s best friend, but try not to be a jerk.”
After a few years in Mexico, Brian experienced a minor heart attack, and realized that the degree of stress and the responsibility of having so many employees was high. He signed over his company to his partner, and moved back to Canada.
During this time, Brian worked for a local contractor and didn’t have an issue finding work due to a pre-recession boom. Word of mouth is how he got other jobs. Word spreads quickly of someone who goes the extra mile, Brian says.
As of now, he has under 10 customers who keep coming back and asking Brian for different work. Although his client list is short, his loyal clients keep him busy. He has no desire to bring on any new employees. “I’ve had my fair share of difficult customers,” Brian says, but the amount of customers he has now has not caused him issues.
Because he has a shortlist of clients, Brian has the time to truly make his work stand out. To make his work unique, Brian will often add small, decorative aspects like maple leaves. “I treat my work like art,” Brian says. He says there’s an obvious difference between the work he does and mass produced work, and that people see this.
If you can do clean, finished carpentry, you get opportunities for other jobs.
He started a youtube channel, and it was one of the first social media things, next to Instagram. He hates the attitude of older contractors who won’t share their knowledge or tips with younger contractors, and he decided that was a good enough reason to share his knowledge on the internet.
On social media, he has met plenty of friends through Instagram and it has been rewarding for him. He feels isolated in his hometown, and Instagram allows him to meet likeminded people. He’s never pushed himself on anyone, or used it as an advertising platform, and he thinks that is why his following grew.
In fact, he is not particularly interested in growing his business. Because of his past struggles,Brian is happy where he is at in his business.
His advice for younger contractors is to respect what craftsmanship is. “It’s a way of life, it’s an ethic, it’s unbreakable, it’s your word, it’s who you are.
Make sure your craftsmanship is gold rated. “If you do that, you can still make difficult customers happy if you adhere to respecting the ethic of craftsmanship. And on top of that, Brian claims that it’s okay for a contractor to reject jobs in order to retain their commitment to quality.