Build a Business or Build a JOB?
In this episode we dive into what it takes to take your little company to the next level and grow something meaningful.
Keith Cosentino: I’m Keith Cosentino, he’s Shane Jacks and this is the PDR College Podcast, the only place on the interwebs where you can glean the information you need to grow your dent removal business. We’re going to be talking tools. We’re going to be talking techniques. And we’re going to be talking a lot about the business side of paintless dent removal.
Shane, tell these boys why we’re going to be spending so much time talking about the business?
Shane Jacks: Because if you mix just a little bit of that money with a little bit of water with unibit, you make Hatorade.
Keith Cosentino: Best served cold.
Shane Jacks: Best served cold.
Keith Cosentino: You don’t want to grind up too much of that money, though.
Shane Jacks: It doesn’t take much to make Hatorade, baby. It doesn’t take much at all.
Keith Cosentino: No, you just dunk it in really.
Shane Jacks: It’s kind of like a tea bag. You just kind of flavor the water with it.
Keith Cosentino: All right, so today is kind of a cool show because we decided that we are going to open up a discussion on Facebook and let guys choose what we’re going to talk about. So everybody submitted a handful of questions or topics that they’d like to hear us talk about. Some of the stuff we’ve covered before to some degree. Other things we haven’t yet. So which one did we decide we’re going to do, Shane?
Shane Jacks: Lane Minor asked us a question about keeping – I don’t have the question right in front of me, Keith. The question was basically how do you go from being a one man business into a bigger operation and keep the boutique feel to the business.
Keith Cosentino: Here’s his actual question. I would like to hear transitioning your company from a be small, keep it all operation to an operation that can survive without so much involvement of the owner while keeping the boutique-like feel. Super legit question because I mean, that’s the point of having a business is it’s something that is an entity onto itself, something you can walk away from, something that you could sell, something that produces income while you are not holding tools.
Shane Jacks: Yeah and it’s funny that he asked that question or that that question was asked period, Keith, because it was a topic of discussion between you and I yesterday on the phone actually.
Keith Cosentino: Yeah, personally we were talking about that.
Shane Jacks: Yeah.
Keith Cosentino: Because quite honestly, I don’t know if we have the answers to that question. I have a lot of theories and Shane and I both have a couple of employees, but we both grind it out, man. We’re working tons of hours still and so that question is as relevant to Shane and I as it is to Lane and I’m sure a thousand other guys out there doing the same thing.
Shane Jacks: Should we kind of share our conversation yesterday, Keith?
Keith Cosentino: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that’s what this whole thing is about. It’s not just for us to be up on some kind of pedestal teaching everybody everything because we don’t know everything. We know a lot about what we’ve done. We’ve done well, but there’s a lot of guys, probably a lot of guys that are listening, that are making us look like retards just slaying it, but they’re not on a podcast telling everybody what they’re doing. So I’m sure there’s a ton I can learn.
I mean, I’ve met a handful of guys already that have two, three, four, five times as many technicians as I do and you never heard of them, but they’re just out there crushing it. So there’s a lot of stuff that I need to learn when it comes to building a business that doesn’t rely on my two hands and my mouth and my ears to run it. So I’ve got a lot of theories because I think about this a lot and I’m sure Shane – I’m sure you’ve got some, too, I know because we’ve talked a little bit about it, but I’m sure there’s some stuff we haven’t talked about yet. But I think we can just chat about this in an open format and invite people to join the discussion. But man, there’s a ton of things to implement, but it’s very challenging to go from the technician to the owner because that’s how we started this business was as the business, not as the business owner.
Shane Jacks: Right.
Keith Cosentino: We didn’t buy a Subway and then plug five guys into it and then go check on it. We started answering the phones, we started fixing the cars, we started doing the bookkeeping and you’re going to stay that way unless you make a conscious decision to change that.
Shane Jacks: For sure and I think it’s really hard for me, again, here shortly we will share kind of exactly what we were talking about on the phone. It’s kind of – but I want to say this while it’s fresh on my mind, Keith, it’s kind of hard for me when I left that manufacturing facility – I believe we talked about this last week – I just wanted to make a living. I wanted to be okay. I was tired of where I was and knew that I had a skill that I could take to the masses so to speak and I just wanted to make it.
And like you said, Keith, what you just said about we were answering the phones, we were doing all the work. It is really hard when you have a mindset of going from that manufacturing facility where it’s I just hope I make it. It’s hard to get out of that mindset and step away from that and you’re going to make it and then put it on somebody else, put it on another employee or another tech.
Keith Cosentino: Right. And the reason it’s so hard is that that’s not what you started building. It’s like you picked up a bunch of popsicle sticks and started gluing them together and somebody comes by and says, “What are you building?”
“I don’t know. Something super cool.”
And then when you’re three-quarters of the way through it, you say, “You know what this should be is an aircraft carrier. Whew, it looks just like a pile of sticks you glued together.”
“Well, I’m going – it’s going to be an aircraft carrier.”
But it would have been a lot better if you started building an aircraft carrier from the beginning, that way it didn’t look like a monster. And that’s what we’ve done. We just started building. Oh, okay, well, I’ll be a company and I’ll do dent removal.
And then you expect the transition to be easy when you decide like, “Oh, you know what? This is actually going to be a company that functions without me.”
“Oh, really? Well, you probably should have started building it a little” –[Crosstalk]
Shane Jacks: That’s not the base that you laid out, yeah.
Keith Cosentino: It’s not even. So it’s even more impressive to me that guys can pull it off when they’ve done it in that manner. And I don’t think almost anyone starts it properly and says, “Okay, here’s what this vision is going to be.”
So I think if I can start over with the knowledge I have now, because make no mistake that question that Lane asked is a question I ask myself all the time with the exception of the twist he throws in at the end says “and still feel like a boutique kind of business.” I don’t care to be a quote/unquote “boutique business.” I just want to be known as a business that stands above its competitors in regards to quality and consistency. I don’t mind if I have a hundred people here. I don’t need to be boutique, but I do want to be high end, high quality.
So that might be two different ways of saying the same exact thing, but what I should have done or what I would do now if I could do it over is put pen and paper together and write out that vision. What is the end game? What does this company look like when I’m done and I can stand back and say yes, that is exactly what it’s supposed to be. How many techs, what kind of area to use service, what kind of revenue is that and once you have that end game, then you can go backwards and start building it.
But the way we’ve been doing it, just kind of going out there and trying to see how many you can make every single day and then coming home and saying that was great or that wasn’t great, that’s a fine way to make a living, but it’s not a way to build a company that runs without you.
Shane Jacks: Not at all. And Keith, could you have imagined, honestly – well, I’m sure you could. You’re a smarter guy than I am. I couldn’t have imagined when I was standing at that plant on that line hating life; I couldn’t have imagined that I could make the amount of money that I have made at times in this industry doing what I do. Okay? I had no idea at that time that I would have two guys working for me, sometimes more when the hail hits and everything, but that’s a whole different story, different situation. But standing there on that line I had no idea that it could be what it is right now and the kind of money especially that I’ve dealt with over the last couple of months, never, not even in my wildest dreams, Keith, you know what I’m saying, would I have imagined it.
Keith Cosentino: Yeah.
Shane Jacks: Now, I’m sitting there and I’m looking at it and you know what? I could do this in different cities across the Southeast at least and do this once or twice a year and crush it for a few months at least doing the exact same thing I’m doing right now. But standing on that line in 2005 when I decided to leave that place, I had no idea. Did you have an idea when you were working for somebody else when you were doing PDR, when you decided to go out on your own, you were actually working for another PDR company? Did you have any idea you could do what you’re doing now?
Keith Cosentino: Good question. And like I just said a minute ago, if I would have sat down and created a vision what, I mean, some people would call what we’re talking about a business plan, but that’s not what I’m talking about. A business plan is beneficial to some people at some times, at least for the exercise of going through how you want your business to run. But I’m talking about an end vision. The thing is done, built, it’s finished, what does it look like? I didn’t do that, so I’ve always got my head in the sky. I promise you I didn’t envision that I could make the money that you make chasing hail. I promise I didn’t think that was possible.
But what I do now, I think I thought it was possible because I could see – well, not quite possible. I’m a little above what I thought was possible all those years ago. But I always had pretty high aspirations and I always figured that I should be able, even on my best days, I should be able to double or triple that because I recognized how much downtime there was in a day even when I had really strong days when I wasn’t producing, I was driving or talking and I always thought there’s a way to keep a technician pushing dents all day long with just a couple of breaks. And to me that’s the holy grain of productivity is take all the stupid work out that doesn’t actually produce and put a guy behind a tool for eight working hours and you should be able to do three grand a day pushing door dings.
The numbers are there. That’s what it is. But you get syphoned off into doing menial tasks because you’re running the whole company. But I’ve always thought if there’s a way to assign those other tasks to other people that yeah, you could do stupid numbers for PDR.
Shane Jacks: And Keith, I have shop here, a retail shop and it’s still even if you have a guy pushing a tool, quote/unquote, in the shop, it’s still – is it possible? Yes, but things happen and like you said, you get pulled away even if you’re not driving places. It’s –
Keith Cosentino: No, right. I just know it’s possible. I don’t say I have the answer to it. I just know it’s possible. And if our companies were in 20 states with 1,800 employees, it would happen because there would be support personnel and you wouldn’t even be able to do anything but push cars, but that’s not how they’re built. They’re built as these little standalone boutiques where it’s like a shoe repair guy. You talk to the guy up front, you follow him out back, he works on the shoes, he delivers the shoes and then he talks to the next guy and starts over again.
Shane Jacks: Our discussion yesterday started out as – I know it seems that Keith and I are really cool. We always have it together, at least Keith anyway. Man, I was in a bad way yesterday and just frustrated. It’s one of those weeks where basically nothing went smoothly. I’m not going to say nothing went right, but nothing went as smooth as I had envisioned it. And again, once you get to the point where you’re making a good bit of money in a short period of time and things are going pretty smooth that man, you just want to start making more money. You want to make it even smoother. And then when there is a hiccup it seems to me when it rains, it pours. And this week was that way.
Keith said, “Hey, can you talk for a few minutes?”
And I told him to screw off basically. I didn’t want to talk to him, that I was in a really bad mood and –
Keith Cosentino: It was like high school all over again for me.
Shane Jacks: So I told him I didn’t want to talk. And he was cool. We understand each other. No hard feelings there. But anyway, I cooled down a little bit later like 7:00 at night our time here and we spoke. And I was still working, of course, so we start talking about this. And Keith’s like, “Well dude, just get some of your guys from the plant over there to come help you.”
And then I came up with this excuse. And it’s a valid excuse. It really is the way I feel. This is not a head hunter, shark mentality. I don’t have that like I wish I did have, Keith. We talked about this yesterday. I worry too much about what’s going to happen in the future and I don’t know what’s going to happen in three months if I’m going to have the same amount of work, but right now it’s just with the hail and the car lots, they’re buying a few cars with hail and honestly my retail right now is just insane. We’re booked out almost – which we’re only booking one or two cars a day on the retail side because of the hail that we have booked. And we’re booked out on the retail a month right now. And it’s just people keep pulling up. People keep calling. The car lots have 30 cars and I’m not exaggerating, 30 cars sitting there waiting on – it’s just everything is hitting at once.
And then I looked, like I said, three to six months in the future and I don’t know what’s going to happen and I worry a little too much. I think Keith does a lot better job of this than I do. Honestly, could I use another guy? Yeah. But can I babysit another guy to get him to that point, to the point where he needs to be that he’s self-sufficient and he’s making himself money and making me money? I honestly don’t have that time right now and I didn’t have the foresight six months ago. But how do you know? And I think that’s the question Lane is asking. How do you know?
Keith Cosentino: Right.
Shane Jacks: I don’t. I’m terrible at it. Like I said, I believe, Keith, you do a bit of a better job at that than I do.
Keith Cosentino: Well, I started to recognize, just like Lane has I’m sure and just like you have that as hard as I’m working and as much as I enjoy it, which is the reason I work so hard, I have no time in my life for anything else, for other things I want to do. And I know that probably seems silly to guys looking in on me because I get a lot of stuff done around the company and I run the tab company and we got the podcast and I do a lot and I still spend a decent amount of time with my family. But I’m going so hard all the time that I recognize it’s not healthy and I’m probably – there’s probably a lot of things that I could do better if I just backed off a little bit from a couple things here and there.
And the thing that eats up most of my time is not the tab business or the podcast, it’s my service business. I mean, that’s what I’m doing all day, every day. So I start recognizing that I can’t keep up this pace and grow the company. I’m kind of redlining right now. So I need to back off somehow so I can grow strategically and the only thing that makes sense for me to back off of is the actual physical day-to-day in the company.
So I know that if I want to move from where I am, which is not a bad place, but if I want to progress and move from where I am, that’s how I’ve got to do it because I can’t change anything else. I can’t just go push more metal. I mean, I probably could a little bit more, but that’s not the quality of life that I’m after. I want to be a little more free from the day-to-day and not just – I don’t want to prance around on a boat all day, although we haven’t talked about our yacht for a while.
Shane Jacks: I do want to prance around on my boat. I am not going to lie.
Keith Cosentino: But the way that’s going to happen for me is to grow the company and grow people underneath me. So both my guys are absolute studs, but we need to add some more guys and I’ve been trying to get that done. And just like you were talking about a moment ago, you have this vision that no one can do it just as well as you can. And maybe that’s true in your reality that no one’s going to do the job you think they can do.
But what’s humbling is to step back a little bit and think about this industry, think about all the guys that we know thanks to Facebook and other networking systems that we’ve got online and think about how many guys around the country, around the world are doing PDR at an expert level all by themselves without instruction from Shane, without instruction from Keith. They’re going out there and they’re glassing stuff every day and they’re working hard. And there’s probably 5,000 guys that you’ve never heard of just in the U.S. doing their thing and doing a good job at it every day.
So when this idea that Shane and I both have and I’m sure that you guys have, too, that no one else can do it the way you want to do it, that’s an asinine idea. There’s a lot of really good guys out there and there’s a lot of guys that could be great guys given the right instruction and the right mentoring. So to think that we can’t grow these companies and step away from them is really a self-imposed, limiting belief that we put on ourselves because there’s other service businesses that have grown. Dent Wizard is the biggest example. You can make all the comments you want about their guys aren’t the best and all that stuff, but the fact of the matter is it’s a worldwide organization just pushing dents the same way we do. They’ve done it. They’ve proven you can do it and maintain it.
So take that out of the equation. There’s a lot of other really big companies that are not that big, but forget about PDR and look at something else like pest control or plumbing or any of these other services businesses that – I mean, pest control is kind of dumb. You just spray the junk, right? You don’t need to learn a lot. But a plumber or a handyman or something, all these guys are relatively specialized skills and there’s companies with hundreds and hundreds if not thousands of employees all over the place. So to say that you can’t grow it is just us thinking that what we do is a lot more special than it really is. It can be grown. I don’t have all the answers. I have some theories, but I know it’s possible.
Shane Jacks: Oh, yeah, for sure. And I believe that 100 percent and I’m not as much worried, Keith, about the other guy running the – being able to do what I do because I’ll just be straight up honest with you, I don’t do the business side as well as you do, Keith. So I don’t have a problem with the business side of things. I believe somebody else can do it better than I can. Okay?
So that’s not the concern for me. And I know there are a lot of killer dent techs out there and I know that I can make some good dent techs. You know what I’m saying? I can train guys and get them up to speed to where they’re – it’s all about selling the product anyway and it’s about giving the customer what they want and I believe I can do that, get guys to that point. I’ve done it before.
It’s more of scared I’m going to let myself down, let the company down and let the new tech down in a year because we’re not doing moneywise what we need to be doing. And that is a totally stupid stance to take when you’re running a quote/unquote “business.” I’ still running it like a one man show in my mind.
Keith Cosentino: Yeah, it’s really hard to get out of that because like we keep saying, that wasn’t the initial vision. You’re trying to turn this thing into something else, but that wasn’t what you started with.
Shane Jacks: Right. So that’s what makes it hard for me. And I guess selfishness also, greediness. I want to make a lot of money. And if I have to push myself harder to do it, I will. When the smart thing to do and the business decision would be – the best business decision would be to put more guys.
Keith Cosentino: Yeah, that’s the only business decision because even as much as some of the top sports players make, these ridiculous salaries, there’s guys that are writing those checks and they’re called the owner.
Shane Jacks: And they’re making a lot more.
Keith Cosentino: Right.
Shane Jacks: Have you ever seen that –[Crosstalk]
Shane Jacks: Thing back in the late ‘90s, I guess, mid ‘90s where it is called jock versus athlete and it’s Michael Jordan versus Bill Gates?
Keith Cosentino: I didn’t hear about that.
Shane Jacks: Oh man, it’s awesome. It goes through this – it’s two pages long of how much Michael Jordan makes while he’s drinking a glass of milk. It’s ridiculous stuff like that. How much per game, per year, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. It’s all about Michael Jordan, right? By the end of the thing you’re going this guy is making a stupid amount of money.
And at the very end it says now take all of his money, save it for the next – I think it was 80 years – and he still wouldn’t have as much as Bill Gates. Jock wins. I mean, nerd wins.
Keith Cosentino: Oh, nerd versus athlete.
Shane Jacks: Yeah, nerd versus athlete, yeah.
Keith Cosentino: It’s the truth, man. Being a high income earner for the physical work that you do individually is a trap. You stay stuck there. It’s really hard to transition out of that because every day you don’t work – that’s the language you speak is daily income. And every day you don’t work you feel like you’re going backwards and you are. It’s a measurable amount. I mean, when I take vacation days I know how much money I’m not billing. And it sucks. No matter what I do, it’s an expensive vacation. Even if I just go sit in a car in a parking lot, that’s an expensive vacation.
Shane Jacks: It’s the golden handcuffs, dude.
Keith Cosentino: Yes. And I’m not complaining about it because it sounds ridiculous, but it is a limiting factor in your mind because you keep going back to that nice, easy well, you just dip down and there’s some more water. If you want to grow it, you’ve got to remove yourself from that situation and start looking at the company as an entity onto itself that’s going to produce and you’ve got to steer that ship and put it in the right places at the right time.
So okay, that’s a lot of theorizing and complaining. So let’s talk about if we were going to change something how we would go about it. Now, we’ve talked about a book called The E-Myth once or twice on the show, but this book is exactly about this problem that we’re talking about. It’s the exact issue. It’s not kind of like it or similar. This is what the book is about. And the E-Myth stands for the entrepreneurial myth. And it’s written by a guy named Michael Gerber.
And I first heard about this book on Dave Ramsey’s radio show and again on his podcast. He talks about it all the time. But for those of you who have never heard of it, the entrepreneurial myth by Gerber is this theory. You are not a business owner. You are a technician. You didn’t decide to start a business. You decided to go into business and then you started getting so busy, you got overwhelmed and you hired more people and they got overwhelmed and everybody’s just flailing around trying to make as much money as you can and nobody knows what the heck’s going on.
So you think you are an entrepreneur, but you’re not. You’re a technician who went into business and now you’re running out of hands because you didn’t create and put in place systems. You’ve read the book, right Shane?
Shane Jacks: Yes, I have. And like you said, it talks about – and it hits home because – I know I’m stuttering here. It hits home because it is exactly what I am. I went into business. I’m not building a business. I just rushed headfirst in. I’m the janitor. I’m the coffee maker. I’m the pencil pusher. And I’m the tech. I am absolutely everything there is. And you know what? I actually read that book when I first – well, it was a couple of years after I left the plant I read that book. And when I read it was like yeah, I am doing absolutely every bit of that, but I’m making money, so I’m cool with it.
Keith Cosentino: Right.
Shane Jacks: And it may not be the smartest thing, but that is what I felt like that is what I have to do right now to be able to make it. But it’s hard to be effective in all capacities. If you’re nothing but a tech and you can’t do the rest of it, you’re not good at the business side of things, then staying small and boutique, as Lane said, may be the only answer.
Keith Cosentino: Yeah, there’s nothing wrong with it.
Shane Jacks: No, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Keith Cosentino: If that’s what you want, no, kill it. Go work for yourself and stay super simple. I mean, that is a pretty low stress, high reward setup. But if you want to get to the next level you got to do something different. So Gerber when he lays out this program recognizes that when you start you’re going to do everything. You’re going to answer the phone; you’re going to book the job, etc., etc. But what he suggests – and I recommend you get the audio version of the book because he reads it himself and I always think you can get the message better when it’s read by the guy who wrote it versus reading it yourself because you may make your own narrative.
But what he lays out is that you create a description for each position within the company: someone who answers the phone, someone who makes the coffee. Every task that’s done in the business has a description and every task is assigned to a job position. Maybe some jobs have five tasks and some have one, but they all have a job description and they’re all assigned to one person to one degree or another.
And he even wants you to go as far writing that down and signing that job agreement for that particular job yourself even though you’re going to sign all 20 papers. But the idea is that you build out this system so that when you start getting busy enough, you can remove that one job from yourself and apply it to someone else. And you say here’s the job you’re going to do and here’s exactly how you’re going to do it. A, B, C, D, E, these are the exact steps. Don’t screw around. Don’t make up your own program. This is what you do.
And then eventually you can replace all those job positions with other people and then you can step away as the owner of the company and continue to grow the company as whole versus just doing better and better at those individual jobs. And it’s really beautiful how elegantly he’s laid it all out and it makes a lot of sense. Have I done any of it? No, I haven’t done any of it. I’ve learned a lot of it and I think it’s great and I’m definitely going to use his theories when I continue to grow the company, but for me the hard part about doing this stuff is removing yourself from the day-to-day and doing this stuff because in a couple hours when the day gets started my phone’s ringing, we’re talking about dents, we’re fixing cars and it’s really hard to get the strategic stuff done when you’re doing the day-to-day. So it still kind of sucks you back in every day and takes up that valuable mental energy that you need to run this company separately from fixing cars.
So that’s the kind of stuff that needs to happen, but we don’t do it. I’ve been talking in circles for a few minutes. But the statement that I posed earlier was if I was going to start over today, what would I do differently. So the things that I would do differently, first thing, is to write down the vision of what the company looks like when it’s finished. And it’s okay to go back and change that later because it’s probably going to change as you get closer to that point. But you need to have something.
So right now you need to stop, write down that vision for what is this company and you need to get as detailed as you can possible think of. What type of customers am I servicing? How many people am I serving per day? What is the average repair cost? What is the monthly revenue? How many technicians? What is their compensation? What area do I service? Am I hail, am I retail, am I both, wholesale? You got to spell the whole thing out.
And then once you do that, once you have that vision, then you can start understanding what pieces you need to make that happen. And you may not have any of them right now except yourself, but if you know where you’re going to go, where you want to get, it’s going to be much easier to make those steps to get to it. So I would lay that vision out for myself now and then get to filling those positions as soon as possible.
See, I worked for plenty of years by myself just like we were talking about. I am the whole company. It’s me. I’m on the phone. I’m in the books. I’m on the field. And I did that for plenty of years until I got overwhelmed with work and there was no denying the fact that I needed another guy. It wasn’t, “Hey, I’m going to bring on another guy and grow this thing.” It was, “Oh, I’m buried. I’m done. There’s no way I can even do what I have in front of me. I need more help.” And that’s when I started growing. And it was fine, but that’s not the way you grow a big company. That’s the way you just –
Shane Jacks: That’s the way you hang on. That’s all you’re doing is hanging on. And I’m the same way, Keith. It was all I did when I hired my first guy was hang on because I could not handle it anymore. And now I’ve got another guy and already I’m feeling like I can’t hang on now. A lot of this has to do with circumstances beyond my control that are going to end shortly. So it’s just I’m hanging on for dear life right now.
But you said – and I understand, Keith, from the very beginning you need to lay out what the company looks like at the end. And I’m going to call you and myself out right now because honestly we’re – how many years are you into this thing, Keith, right now?
Keith Cosentino: Industry or business?
Shane Jacks: Business.
Keith Cosentino: Eleven I think.
Shane Jacks: You’re 11 in and I’m honestly full-time I am 9 in away from the plant. So do you still know what you want it to look like at the end?
Keith Cosentino: No.
Shane Jacks: Do you have any idea?
Keith Cosentino: I have an idea, but I don’t know.
Shane Jacks: Yeah. But are you willing to do what it takes? Because I mean, honestly if this were to be an ideal situation in my case when I first started, again, it was just hang on, make good money and survive myself. And I start laying out everything. Well, this is where I’m going to get X percent of my business from is retail business, X percent is going to come from body shop, X percent is going to come from dealership work and then I’m going to have hail every now and then and then once I got into it and started getting calls to go do hail I weighed the options and got my guys from the plant to help me out with my stuff here to just basically, again, just hanging on here to take care of my accounts here while I went and chased hail.
And so I had this vision of hey, I can make X amount per year percentage wise from doing hail and then I hire a guy and then it just gets so – it’s gotten so freaking convoluted over the years as to what – I have no earthly idea what my vision is. I can have a killer retail business here. I do. I have a good retail business here, retail facility, retail customers out the wazoo and on the flipside; I do incredible chasing hail also. And 99.999 percent certain that in this world of dent guys that I could crush it on the retail side doing hail or going out and selling to wholesale and bringing guys in on car lots that have been damaged.
So my vision, it’s a 19 headed monster that I believe that I could create, but then that’s even more headache than what I have now. My hands may not be in it nearly as much at that point, but it’s more of a headache.
Keith Cosentino: You said a minute ago that your vision was to make as much money as you could and to stay business and you have fulfilled that vision because that’s the vision you had. That’s exactly what you’ve built.
Shane Jacks: Right, true. But what I’m saying is if I – in my perfect vision right now, Keith, and I guess that’s what I was asking you a minute ago, is your perfect vision 30 guys across the Northern California plains? They have plains out there, right?
Keith Cosentino: We do have some plains. Gulf streams mostly.
Shane Jacks: Is that your vision or is it five guys, is it ten guys, is it keep it where you’re at right now? Because my vision – I have so many things running through my mind. I’m seeing X amount per year if I were to start doing this on the hail side of things or this if I stay here doing retail and hire another guy to do the wholesale. You know what I’m saying?
Keith Cosentino: Yeah. One thing’s for sure that we’re in an awesome time for growing a PDR business. There’s so many different ways you could go with it. You can stay home. You can do big dents. You could do wholesale. You could do retail. You can chase hail. You can do a combination of all those things. There’s a ton of opportunity for everybody and it makes it hard to choose. It was a little easier for me to choose my company because hail didn’t exist in my world except for some weird stories. I never saw it, never heard it, hardly ever saw the damage. So that was never an option. Now I know more about it and it clouds your field of judgment because there’s these other options that you could be doing that can be very lucrative, but it’s kind of like chasing treasure. It’s not always there.
And I personally think of a retail business – a local retail business is easier to manage and although you don’t get these big, giant spikes in income, it’s much more consistent year in and year out.
Shane Jacks: For sure.
Keith Cosentino: So I don’t know. Per technician I would like to think a well-run retail business over ten years would be, if not equal to, more lucrative than a hail chasing career. But if you’re good at chasing hail and you’re in the right spots all the time, then you’re going to crush it. But there’s also a lot of travel expenses and stuff like that. So it’s interesting, but I’ve never done that business so I’m not going to change to that business plan. That would be starting over from scratch because I know this retail local stuff so well it would be stupid for me to try to learn the hail chasing business now.
Shane Jacks: Right and I wasn’t alluding to that at all, by the way.
Keith Cosentino: No, I know.
Shane Jacks: You know that.
Keith Cosentino: I’m just kind of talking it out. Yeah. But there’s a million possibilities to grow. So it can be – if you have too many choices, you don’t have any choices. If you have a thousand – I was just talking about, we were goofy on Baskin Robbins and having 31 flavors. You can’t pick anything. There’s just too many choices. So if you look at it like that, you’re going to be even more confused. So you got to stick to the thing that you’re doing and the thing you know you can do is my opinion and talk about growing that.
So like Lane was asking, he wants to just grow his local business. He didn’t talk about running around chasing hail around the country or the world. He’s talking about growing a local business and removing himself a little bit and freeing up some of his time because I know he works really hard, too. We’ve chatted a few times and that dude puts in the same kind of hours we do. He’s working until the cars are done. I think he’s working Saturdays often just like you. I’m pretty good at turning the weekends off.
But it will suck the life out of you chasing those last few bucks, man. So –
Shane Jacks: For sure.
Keith Cosentino: You’ve got to hand that stuff over to somebody. And if you don’t have a somebody, you got to get to finding the somebody.
Shane Jacks: And it’s – Keith, we’ve – if you keep chasing those last few dollars, you and I’ve talked about it and I’m extremely hypocritical when I tell you this. During the fall and winter months you’re going nuts and you’re like I can’t do this, I can’t do that and I’ll tell you dude, just go jump on the bike for an hour, go workout, take some me time and then as soon as the first hail storm hits I’m doing exactly what I tell you not to do.
Keith Cosentino: Right.
Shane Jacks: And I’m not taking any me time and it’s Saturday, Sunday, it’s seven days a week, 14 hours a day for two solid months. And I’m taking years off of my life. Keith, you’re taking years off of your life. There’s another struggle whether to go big or not. Is it worth it to your personal – we talked about that earlier – to your personal time. But that is a huge one for me especially when I’m making a lot of money and I’m spending a lot of time making that money. Man, I think more about I’m just freaking killing myself for a dollar. And then when I’m making, again, really good money in terms of a lot of PDR guys just sitting here in my retail shop doing retail and some wholesale, still making good, good, good money, but I’m sitting there looking at ah, remember what I made three months ago when I was chasing hail.
It’s a never ending cycle, man. And I don’t know. I’m getting a little sappy and personal here, but count the costs. The costs aren’t only monetary, not at all.
Keith Cosentino: No, but the rewards are not only monetary either if you get it right. And I honestly believe that is the path to success. Overall success is to grow the company independent of yourself, to bring on talent, help the guys get better and support them and let them produce and you keep growing this company. But because I ultimately feel like you would free up enough time that you could be present with your family, with your kids and still be able to produce income and still help – this is something a lot of guys don’t talk about, but still provide jobs for a number of guys and a good living, not a burger flipping living.
So I’m pretty proud of the income that I help my guys earn. I mean, they earn it themselves, but I help them. I facilitate their skill development and I put the work in front of them and I do everything I can to help them be more productive. It’s a question I’m asking them all the time. How can I help you make more money? What can I do with your schedule to help you be more productive? And I’m proud of that. And I would like to do that five times over and I think if you can, your life is going to be more productive because you’re ultimately going to make more money, but if you can free up a little bit of time, you’re going to be more effective for everybody around you.
So that’s the direction that I think success is hiding, is in there with a larger company, but I haven’t built it yet. I’m building it. But this year I’ve just come to this realization that it’s time to realize that vision and put it down on paper and get to building it because otherwise you’re just flailing around doing the same thing over and over again, getting too busy and then bringing on somebody and then getting too busy and bringing on somebody and it’s a very stressful way to live.
Shane Jacks: Yes. Yes, it is.
Keith Cosentino: You got to be willing to take on a little bit of risk I think like bringing on guys before there’s all the work to do. In the past I’ve only brought on a guy when I’m doing 80 hours’ worth of work a week. Then I say, “Okay, now I know I have another week worth of work for another guy full-time. Let’s try to bring another guy on.”
But you got to bring that guy on earlier and then try to build that work up otherwise you’re killing yourself.
Shane Jacks: Yep. And that’s where I’m at. That’s where you’re at.
Keith Cosentino: So I guess the exercise for everybody who’s thinking about this stuff, Shane and I included, is to sit down this week and – you know what? Sit down with your wife, too if you’re married because you guys are in this thing together. You’re going to be running this business together. Even if you’re the main person who does 95 percent of it, it’s a decision that you need to decide together that we’re going to do because it’s going to involve her or him for the one female PDR technician who’s listening. It’s going to involve your spouse to a greater degree than you think. So you got to make sure that you’re both on the same page when it comes to that vision. And if you are, it’s going to be even more powerful when you write it down together and get to going after it because when you’ve got someone there to keep you honest and ask you how does this move your making fit into our vision of having the X, Y, Z company, you got to answer that question straight up.
So it’s three times more powerful to have two people on the same page than it is to be by yourself. So that’s the homework. I’m going to do it. Shane isn’t going to do it.
Shane Jacks: I’ll tell you what. I’ll do it between – yeah, between 11:00 at night when I get down pushing and –
Keith Cosentino: Right. I mean, you’re deep in hail season right now so it’s hard to imagine having enough time to do it, but that’s the whole point of this conversation is that that doesn’t change. Hail season goes away and door dings get busy and then winter comes and you’re busy doing X, fixing up the shop. There’s always something else that feels more pressing, but those things are urgent but they’re not as important. So you got to really work on running the company and not just doing the job. I’m always thinking about that and always trying to do that, but it’s a challenge. You’ve got to delete something else to make space for the new stuff. Otherwise there’s no space. You’re all running the redline. Everybody who’s listening to this podcast is interesting in going hard all the time. Otherwise you wouldn’t be trying to get better. So you guys are running just we are. I know you are.
So this is just a little reminder to you to back it off a little bit, make that time to build your game plan, build your playbook, otherwise you’re going to keep going in circles just barely spiraling up slowly. But if you want to jump to the next level like we do, then you got to have a plan.
Shane Jacks: Yes, sir.
Keith Cosentino: One of the more powerful things that I have added to keep track of what the company’s doing is Recon Pro. I’m able to go into that software and check on my production as a company at any time in real time and they have been slow to roll it out, but their coming out with an automated report system that will email me at the intervals of my choice with sales figures and productivity numbers for the company. I mean, that’s real company stuff. That’s a dashboard that you need to see if you’re going to run a company. And that’s just one –
Shane Jacks: You mean pulling out my papers and looking over them.
Keith Cosentino: That’s one step that I want them to take to be closer to running an actual company and not just being a technician out there in the field working on freaking sheet metal. I want to run a company.
So having Recon Pro in place has been really cool for that. I’m super pumped for that report to come out. Guys, if you’re listening, how about getting that thing done in the next couple weeks as I’m freaking chomping at the bit to put that in place. But to get that real time number so I can know hey, on Wednesdays we’re down or on Mondays we’re down or on the first half of Mondays we’re down compared to the first half of Thursdays. What are we doing differently? Let’s make some adjustments.
But all these numbers are now beginning to come to me on my phone at my fingertips. I have all the information I need to know where this thing’s going and to tweak and make it more productive. So that’s automobiletechnologies.com. Recon Pro is the software. That’s what we do all of our invoicing, our estimating, everything that has to do with a PDR business happens on our phones with that software and goes up to the cloud. So I would check it out because I’m a huge believer. That’s what I use. When that report comes out –
Shane Jacks: I will be soon.
Keith Cosentino: Yeah. When that report comes out I’m going to talk about that a lot because I’m really excited about that. I’m going to talk about what I learn from it, which I know is going to be more than I know now because I can go at the end of every day or anytime I can go in, but I have go and check. When those numbers are going to start being pushed to me whether I want to see them or not, that’s when the magic’s going to happen and that’s what I’m really excited about because then you can start making some real time adjustments to scheduling, to dispatching jobs and all that kind of stuff, the kind of nuts and bolts of running a service business.
Shane Jacks: Very cool stuff, man. I didn’t know they were coming out with that. I had no idea until like 1.5 minutes ago.
Keith Cosentino: That’s because you didn’t listen to the PDR College Podcast. We talked about it before.
Shane Jacks: Did we?
Keith Cosentino: Yeah. Well, they’ve had it in development for a little while. Apparently there’s more to this computer programming stuff than I understand. I’m like well, just make the boxes and put the buttons in there and then it works. Give it to me and then I push the buttons.
Shane Jacks: Oh well, I must have been asleep during that episode.
Keith Cosentino: Yeah, you probably were. We got a couple of minutes left. Why don’t we hit some of those other questions that guys had. Some of them were cool questions. Do you have that page up?
Shane Jacks: I am pulling it up now.
Keith Cosentino: Michael Cory James Petula wants to know what’s going on in Temecula. We haven’t talked about it in a while. Man, Temecula. I don’t know this for a fact, but I did hear that they are incorporating citrus a lot more into their currency in addition to avocado, which is just making things even more confusing to a bunch of guys who need to take off their shoes to count to anything higher than ten. So I’m worried about the situation getting even worse down there if people are going to try to pay in citrus and in avocado. Things are tough down in Temecula, man.
So no, it hasn’t gotten any better. It’s getting worse. Keep those guys in your prayers. They’re having to shut off the air conditioning and east wings of their mansions, which is tragic.
Shane Jacks: I’m staying out.
Keith Cosentino: A lot of guys are asking hail questions. Chad Flint who’s talking about how not to get screwed and education on how to max out your panels knowing what the body shop has to do and how much it costs. Hail’s falling all over the place right now in everywhere but California. And you guys can make a lot more money by being really effective with your hail estimating. I mean, Shane, you can talk with a lot more authority about that than I can.
Shane Jacks: Yeah. You don’t know what you can max – every situation is different. You don’t know what you can max a panel out at times. It depends on what shop you’re in. If they’re really willing to put a roof skin on the thing or a hood on the thing and they’re not at bat for you, then it’s going to be really hard to talk to the insurance adjustor about maxing out that panel. You’re there as a guest basically when you’re in a body shop.
Now, if you’re running a retail facility where you’re doing hail damage repair, it would be a lot easier. I mean, you can’t get ten grand for a hood. That’s ridiculous, but you can go over what the actual cost is. It happens rarely. I mean, get as much as you possibly can out of it, but if it’s not feasible to do, it’s just not feasible to do.
There are times if the adjustor is just – if you write $2,500.00 on a minivan roof and he says, “Well, I could put one on there for $2,600.00” and he’s just being stubborn, there are – and you’ve done everything. You’ve tried to charm his pants off and you’re doing everything you possibly can, then there are times where you can kind of call their bluff. If you’re in a retail shop, then they’ve got to take it out of that shop, take it to a – or get the customer to take it out of your shop, take it to a body shop and get it repaired and that’s just not going to happen. You can call that adjustor on that every single time because okay, call the customer and tell them we’re not fixing their car.
And again, that’s after you’ve exhausted all of your resources. I am not one of those guys that is combative with insurance adjustors. Keith, I’m sure you’ve seen it online a lot where guys just pop off at them right away.
Keith Cosentino: Yeah.
Shane Jacks: In my opinion, that is just not the way to do it. You do everything you can in a nice manner. I mean, 99 percent of the time I get what I want and I get it with a smile because I’ve treated them like human beings from the beginning. But there are times where they don’t want to be human beings. They want to be Martians and you have to jump back at them and just – hey, take it somewhere else. Tell the customer we’re not doing it here. But that’s a short answer to that question. And is it a technical answer? No. A lot of this stuff isn’t technical for getting the most amount of money. A lot of it is relational. So –
Keith Cosentino: That’s a great point right there. I have two questions for you about that. One, how often does your bluff actually get called and they do take it back and take it somewhere else?
Shane Jacks: I honestly have never had that happen. Not once.
Keith Cosentino: Okay.
Shane Jacks: But it doesn’t happen to me often to begin with anyway, so – I mean, I’m not writing six grand on roofs.
Keith Cosentino: Right. And that kind of leads to my second question. Is there kind of a sweet spot between getting absolutely every dollar out of a car, which everybody agrees you should do, but when you’re doing that it seems to me that last 5 percent that you’re writing a supplement for and waiting for the adjustor to come out and argue about. If you just put your head down and worked for the 95 percent and got on to the next car, is that more productive than fighting for every last cent on the other car?
Shane Jacks: Well, it depends on the situation. But yes, most of the time it is. If it’s – I mean, I know I get guys that call me crazy for this, but if I’ve got 40 cars sitting there waiting to be worked on, well, heck yeah I’ll wait on a supplement of $200.00 to $300.00, you know what I’m saying? But if it’s the only car or if there are only two or three cars sitting there to work on and I know I can buzz through these two today, this is the third one, I’m going to have to wait two days on a supplement, it is smart for me to – and I mean, you’ve got more cars coming in the next day, but you don’t know if they’re going to need supplements either.
So am I going to be standing around tomorrow? So you got to kind of take a chance on that $200.00 or $300.00. If it’s a $3,000.00, $4,000.00 car and it’s $200.00 and I’m waiting on an adjustor, I’m not going to wait on the adjustor.
Keith Cosentino: You’re just going to fix it.
Shane Jacks: I’m just going to fix it because it’s just not worth it to me. And that’s just me. You can call me stupid, call me whatever you want, but –
Keith Cosentino: I call you highly productive when it comes to pushing hail.
Shane Jacks: I am.
Keith Cosentino: So I think if that’s what you do, maybe give that a shot, fellows. Because I can tell you one thing, I have a lot of good ideas about how to run something, but if I hit the hail trail tomorrow, if my local business imploded, I’m going to say Shane, tell me exactly what to do and I’m not going to deviate from that one inch because if I can do 80 percent of what Shane’s doing, I’m going to be in good shape. So you tell me how to run it, that’s how I’m going to run it. But you would think you going to go out and invent your own ways of handling stuff and you’re going to do it better, but man, that’s just like starting PDR from scratch and deciding you’re going to make up your own tools and techniques.
Shane Jacks: Right.
Keith Cosentino: And that doesn’t work for anybody except Sal.
Shane Jacks: That is true. That was another question we had.
Keith Cosentino: What?
Shane Jacks: Was about different tools and techniques.
Keith Cosentino: Oh yeah, it was. Where is that one?
Shane Jacks: And that is a technique – the techniques that Sal uses, I use a lot of the same kind of techniques, pressure while slapping. And that was kind of the question, different techniques that other guys use and they actually use Sal’s slapper and all that, but that hammering and everything, that’s a technique that a lot of you guys – and again, we’re just saying this in passing. The show really should be wrapping up right now, but learning how to put pressure on a dent while you’re using a slapper with either dent dial or a regular dent tool. Yeah, that would greatly benefit your PDR.
Keith Cosentino: That’s something that I don’t do at all. I’ve thought it’s interesting and I was surprised to know that you do it as well, but I feel like that’s a whole other skill that I’ve got to start from scratch and I just have not been excited about starting that over and learning that technique.
Shane Jacks: Yeah.
Keith Cosentino: So I don’t really do a lot of that.
Shane Jacks: Yeah. Well, you’re wrong. That was a joke.
Keith Cosentino: Brent Ringling wants to know how to get Durango coat hangers out. I have never heard of that, so I don’t know how to do that.
Shane Jacks: How about Honda Civic –
Keith Cosentino: Visors.
Shane Jacks: Visors. Does anybody know how to do that? Anybody?
Keith Cosentino: You know what? I know how to do it and still freaking break them half the time.
Shane Jacks: Are you serious?
Keith Cosentino: Sometimes it comes out like magic. Oh, this is exactly how this comes out. Other times it just fights me. And I think it’s because I don’t have a proper tool for pushing that little nub in and over. I’m always picking something different: a dent tool or a screwdriver, but it’s never the same thing that I have found that works perfectly for that. I’ll use that every time.
Shane Jacks: Yeah. You’re just an idiot.
Keith Cosentino: Yes.
Shane Jacks: Yes.
Keith Cosentino: Dave O. asked this question. What’s the best answer for how much do you charge?
Shane Jacks: My answer is yes.
Keith Cosentino: More than you want to pay. More than everybody else in town. We’ve done a lot of talking about that over a lot of the old episodes, so go back and listen to some of the old shows on pricing. I think our first episode actually is on pricing. So we talk a lot about a lot of that. But my standard answer for how much do you charge is if you’re asking me that question right off the bat, we’re probably not even going to do business period. So you don’t even need to answer that question right away. If that question comes later, then I have a lot of ammunition on that. So at the risk of going over the same information a thousand times, I will advise you go back and listen to a lot of our old shows on pricing and I bet you’re going to find the answer to that.
Darrel Bundy wants an update on the website case study, which is way back in Episode 14. I want an update on that, too. We’ve been taking a lot longer to build that website than I anticipated and I’ve teased it a couple times that it’s getting close and it is closer now than it’s ever been, but it is not completely finished yet. We’re actually going to have a meeting this week and make the final tweaks to it. So it is close to being underway.
We’re going to get that thing live in the next couple of weeks ideally and once it’s live we’re going to do a show on it and bring everybody onboard and show you what we changed, why we changed it and then revisit that again after it’s had some time to grow some roots and talk about what kind of results it’s having and we’re going to have the guy that owns that domain and tell us what it’s doing to his phones and what he may want to change to it after it’s running. So Darrel, thanks for bringing that up. It is important to me. I wish it was already live for three weeks at this point, but you know what? Sometimes things take longer than you anticipated like making glue tabs.
Shane Jacks: Yes.
Keith Cosentino: Let’s see. There’s a couple other good questions in here. Oh, some of them are just too deep to answer in five seconds.
Shane Jacks: Yean.
Keith Cosentino: All right. Do you have any new tools you put to work these last couple weeks? We missed the tool review last episode.
Shane Jacks: I do not. I do, but the guy on the other end of the line won’t let me say anything about them.
Keith Cosentino: Are you talking about that one thing that you used it’s so good you liked it better than the other thing?
Shane Jacks: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Keith Cosentino: I know. You pretend like you don’t. Shane’s always getting super magic terrific stuff sent to him from manufacturers all over the world because he’s the man with tools and nobody sends me anything because apparently I can’t fix a dent. I can just talk about it.
Shane Jacks: That’s not true, Keith.
Keith Cosentino: It’s not true.
Shane Jacks: Not at all. Not at all.
Keith Cosentino: People do send me some stuff.
Shane Jacks: I had somebody ask me the other day, is Keith a good dent guy? And I went, “Yeah, sure.”
Keith Cosentino: You’re such a –
Shane Jacks: That’s not what I said. I said, “He’s an awesome dent guy” and I was telling the truth, so –
Keith Cosentino: No, I have not gotten this far on my looks alone. I can promise you that.
Shane Jacks: A to the freaking men.
Keith Cosentino: What am I using more of these days? You know what I’m using more and more every day is your stinking jackhammer and that’s the god’s honest truth. I’m using that tool every day.
Shane Jacks: Nice.
Keith Cosentino: And I’m using it more and more for regular crown work and tap down work because it’s faster. And not necessarily it’s a faster way of moving metal, although it is, but it’s faster because it’s right there laying in front of me and I can grab it with one hand and do it instead of reaching into to two different pockets, get a tap down and hammer out and having to put both my hands up there. And that sounds silly to say it, but that’s true. If I’m saving half a second, I grab the tool that saves me half the second versus the one that takes longer.
Shane Jacks: That, man, is a model of efficiency right there.
Keith Cosentino: Yeah. Anytime I can cut down a little bit of time I’m doing it. That reminded me just the other day I was working and I was thinking about how we were talking about doing wholesale cars and the little things that we do to be more productive and I was remembering – and not everybody does what I do, but when I get into a wholesale car the first thing I do is open every window and pop the fuel door and the trunk, sometimes the hood if I know I’m doing cars that generally have a lot of hood dents or can get them like Chevy trucks or something where people are pushing down the top.
But getting in the first time, opening everything and then getting out saves you that extra step of getting back in the car, putting a window up or down. You just get in there, drop everything and open everything so you can stay outside the car and keep working saves me a couple minutes.
Shane Jacks: A little time hack there.
Keith Cosentino: Yeah. Do it. Do it if you’re doing a lot of wholesale production work.
Shane Jacks: Yep.
Keith Cosentino: It will save you time.
Shane Jacks: He got me started doing it, so –
Keith Cosentino: I did.
Shane Jacks: Yep.
Keith Cosentino: All right, fellows. Do not forget about the Black Plague Tabs. They are available at just about every major tool company. I would like to welcome Anson Industries to the family. They’re going to be carrying Black Plague Tabs now. So a lot of you hails guys that work with Anson if you want to get a set of Black Plague Tabs, they’re going to have them here very shortly. I’m excited to bring them into the fold. They’re available on my site as well if you want to come direct, but there’s really no advantage to getting them directly from me versus another tool company. So I’d advise you to just pop them in your cart when you’re buying some other tools if you don’t have a set yet. And of course Shane’s jackhammer is lighting the world on fire. I think people are buying them for their mother-in-laws because you can’t keep those things in stock.
Shane Jacks: Yeah. I drove by a construction site the other day and I saw one. A roofer was using it.
Keith Cosentino: He’s like, “I don’t agree with your choice of tips, but otherwise it’s a great hammer.”
Shane Jacks: Roofers everywhere are twirling them around their index finger. Drive by and it looks like a freaking Western going on up there.
Keith Cosentino: So Shane’s website is BlendingHammerPDR.com and he’s got the video tutorial on using the Blending Hammer, which is arguably more important than the hammer itself there available either by itself or as a package discounted together. You get the hammer and the video. So check that out at BlendingHammerPDR.com.
The Black Plague website is DeadRatTabs.com. That’s the easiest one to spell. Or if you prefer something that looks nicer, BlackPlaguePDR.com.
Be sure to support us so we can continue to make the podcast which produces absolutely nothing for us.
Shane Jacks: It produces years of joy and entertainment.
Keith Cosentino: Infinite joy and millions of downloads.
Shane Jacks: Possibly hundreds.
Keith Cosentino: All right, look for us next Monday. We’ll be out with another episode. Until then –
Shane Jacks: Get better.[End of Audio]
Duration: 70 minutes