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Building a Model That is Scalable

In the final episode of this series, we discuss solid, actionable steps on how tradies can build a million dollar business model that is scalable.

The most important thing to note here is finding a business model which can realistically be scaled.

“Any successful business has three components- The trifecta”

Leadership, team, and systems. These are the three main components of a successful business according to Fares.

We both agreed that it all starts with leadership though (winks).

Every business’ success is sparked by the decision of the owner to take charge of all aspects.

Full Transcription

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TRANSCRIPTION PREVIEW

Matt Jones: [00:00:01] Hello listeners and welcome back to Toolbox Talks on The Site Shed podcast, my name’s Matt Jones. And thank you once again for sharing your earbuds with us. Regardless of where you are on the planet, you’re joining us today for the third part of the series we’ve titled Creating a Million Dollar Design Build Business. I’ve got my man, Fares Elsabbagh from auto-general contractors over in Canada. The first episode we recorded was: Building Won’t Make a Million Dollars, but Marketing Will. The second episode was called: Stop Working for Free, Time is Money. And in this third and final episode we’re talking about: Building a Model that is Scalable. Fares, welcome back.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:00:44] Awesome Matt, thanks for having me.

Matt Jones: [00:00:46] Rock and roll, man. It’s been a good series so far we’ve dived into some pretty nitty gritty stuff some awesome frameworks for listeners out there if you haven’t listened to those oh to on because this episode is certainly going to tie it up and it stem into the ones that we’ve we’ve already recorded. So make sure you go back and listen to the first two of this series. After hours in this episode we’re going to be talking about building a model that is scalable. I know you’ve certainly got some runs on the board in regard to this you’ve got a massively growing highly profitable business over in Canada. Building business that is. And I know when we’re talking about growing a business typically there’s the problems that people encounter are well we don’t have enough work so we can’t grow enough or the other major problems we’re going to quickly how do we make it scalable. You certainly fall into this a second bracket. The things I’m looking forward to getting your feedback on this I know here like a lot of our clients this especially the builder clients you know they’re booked out years in advance which is great except I just feel like sometimes you know when you get booked out you could probably be facilitating it a little bit better but I’m keen to hear your thoughts and your frameworks around that. So I suppose primarily we talk about building a scalable business. I mean I know we have a lot of conversations and we’re putting a lot of emphasis at the moment into our systems and processes policies procedures blah blah blah that kind of stuff through a number of different avenues Firstly like a platform that can enable you to store your systems and give your team access to it. And secondly of course like project management and so I’m really interested to see how how you guys have done it and how you guys still continue to do it. What’s your take on. I suppose that whole philosophy behind systemising your business and more importantly implementing systems in your business.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:02:57] Yeah. What it would have be it’s a beast right. It’s it’s implementing systems creating processes procedures it’s it’s it’s been you know about five or six years in the works. And it took in basically we don’t necessarily have a specific methodology. But what we’ve always looked at it as what our pain points and try to reverse engineer them and how to make our lives easier. Right. But that’s that’s specific to business systems. But the way

Matt Jones: [00:03:29] Right.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:03:29] I like to look at building a scalable model Is with the trifecta. Any successful scalable business has three components the trifecta. So one is leadership. Two is the team and then three is the system that’s made up of a different system processes procedures frameworks you know maybe some some I.T. solutions there to kind of tie everybody in. You take one piece out of that trifecta and you do not have a scalable business.

Matt Jones: [00:04:13] All right interesting. So it all starts with leadership yeah

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:04:17] It all starts with leadership. You know like I’ve got you know I mentioned in the previous show that you know once upon a time we were in Toronto and Calgary and really what fell apart there for us was not sales and marketing. So you know just just to show you that if you’ve got leads if you got sales doesn’t mean you’ve got to scale the business you know like we went into Calgary in the first eleven months. Did you know a million dollars in sales from two of my employees in Ottawa that we sent there. But the problem was was they weren’t leaders. You know we just kind of took the first guy was like I’m ready to move and expand and we’re like alright let’s go you know you’re just a project manager but you don’t have have leadership skills. But I don’t think you need it because we just got sales and marketing right. They go was there was a time where we’re generating a whole crap load only that we had this cool system of qualifying and turned them into sales. But the problem happened when we when we did a million dollars in 11 months. Now you had to build a million dollars worth of projects and that became very difficult for them and you know at the first chance they got they threw in the towel and just quit on us. And and that was a fun time for us.

Matt Jones: [00:05:28] So let’s expand a little bit on leadership and let’s talk about I suppose the key factors of leadership. Because I mean leadership is a pretty all encompassing term these days. So I’m curious to see what elements of leadership you found were paramount and what were missing in that example that you gave before

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:05:51] So you know I’ve got some key traits for a successful leader in the build industry are leading from the front. You know I’m not going to ask something of my team if I’m not ready to do it myself.

Matt Jones: [00:06:05] Mhmm

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:06:06] Now that’s one component leading from the front. The second component is understanding what your team goes through understanding the systems they have to use you know before when we we we we kind of ran our company off of google drive and when we transitioned to Salesforce. I made sure I knew that system like the back of my hand before I started going around and implementing it to everybody else, right. Like nobody really wants a leader that’s just gonna bark orders but not really what they’re talking about. Right and especially in the build industry right like those guys are the first guys that are left outside out off the field or off the site or off of the office. You know what I mean. So I think we take I think a very sports oriented approach to my business. I play football for 12 years as captain the football team etc. So I learned a lot about being able to lead people and work with people etc. and the way I like to look at the leadership part like a coach you know, the coach is always there on time. He expects his team to always have meetings on time. If they’re in a weekly meeting they have to start at the same time and it’s all about consistency preaching consistency and preaching the importance of discipline. Right. So but in order to preach and teach and lead these these kind of qualities in try to push your team you have to encompass them yourself. Right. So leading from the front is very important being very consistent is important in your message in the direction of where you want to take the company in and such. But, yeah

Matt Jones: [00:07:51] What about what about first that when you’re talking about communication like how does that look within your organization for you. I mean you talk about you know making sure that everyone’s on the right path and you know site meetings all this kind of stuff. What does that look like?

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:08:09] In terms of like how do I make sure everybody is consistent.

Matt Jones: [00:08:12] Well yeah I mean how do you know you’re saying you know from a leadership perspective it’s important that everyone understands. You know although that runs on the same page in the you know everyone’s communicated to effectively how do you communicate to your team how does the head of the guys that are running the jobs communicate to their team. How does that look?

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:08:33] So you know what it is it’s it’s you know I would say up until a few months ago I was in every meeting you know I was in every operations meeting. I was in every sales meeting I was in every team meeting. And what was important for me was that I got the buying of my managers, so my sales managers, my operations manager, my general manager in my philosophy. So you know showing up on time. You know just certain certain things that you wanted to see on your sites, you know site cleanliness, communication to cries and just basically being repetitive. You know being repetitive

Matt Jones: [00:09:14] Was it like a check list?

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:09:17] You know I guess you could say yeah you should be a checklist probably a mental checklist for me but I was basically repetitive in my message every week for like years to the point where it just became ingrained in our organizational culture. Right. Like like you know it scares me to step back and every once in a while I’ll put my ear to the door and just try to hear

Matt Jones: [00:09:36] Yep.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:09:36] What’s going on and it’s almost scary because you start hearing yourself. Right. But that’s when you get a little like little boy giggles right because it’s like oh my god it’s working. And you know a lot of it too is is giving a little bit of love to your team every once in a while you know sit having the sit down conversations that aren’t necessarily all about you know the deliverables that you need from them

Matt Jones: [00:09:58] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:09:58] You know like you know those go a long way. Actually we had a conversation about that today because you know our designers are kind of in their own section of the office and nobody really gives them love and everybody’s always asking them when the perimeter ready drawings are being handed in and we wonder why they leave an hour early. Right. Well has anybody you know talked to them. We sat down we given we talked about all the exciting things that we got going on. Did we paint the big picture of where the ship is going you know like giving a little bit of love being consistent in your messaging. You know you know leading from the front You know don’t you know don’t be a hypocrite. I think it’s very important to a leader as a leader. Right.

Matt Jones: [00:10:42] Now yeah. Because I mean that’s that’s something that I think I mean I don’t even think that’s a destination like I think that whole topic that we just touched on there is certainly a journey and it’s something that needs to be ever ever revolved because like it’s it’s kind of like trying like showering. You don’t just do it once and say right it’s done. Like I think it’s something that a lot you keep doing and you need to keep you know you need to keep investing your staff you need to keep talking to them be expanding the communication pattern. Like especially when you’re in a scenario you know where you’ve got teams that are not necessarily in your office. I mean that makes it. That’s another dynamic altogether that we’re sort of we’re sort of in that we live in that world now you know where there’s you know a lot of people have got staff that will work from home all day work remotely or they’re offshore or whatever it is. And I think that communication pattern is now more critical than ever.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:11:35] Yeah absolutely. And you know what. Like I I mentally try to keep myself aware of key messages. I want to get across to my team in the little time that I have to speak with them everyday.

Matt Jones: [00:11:48] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:11:49] You know whether I’m talking to a project manager and and reminding them about how excited I am about how we have all these happy clients because we respect their space and take all this extra time to do all this site crap and you know in you know it’s kind of like a subconscious way of this really put and the message across that you know this is how our company should be run. Right. So yeah I think it’s very important to be very consistent with your messaging and giving that love to your team daily.

Matt Jones: [00:12:18] So we’ve spoken about leadership which is which is paramount. I’m just curious before we jump into the team a little bit more. How does your how do you know a leader when that’s coming through your business? Or how do you hire a leader or how do you basically put people in a leadership position.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:12:41] You know that’s a beast of a topic right. I mean traditionally my companies have. We’ve we’ve we’ve promoted from within.

Matt Jones: [00:12:51] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:12:51] So all my managers have been with me for years. The guy that’s running my general manager of Auto-general contractors came out with me Vancouver years ago to start Vancouver and moved back here with me to run the auto office so they’re guys kind of in grooming under me. What are you. You know what. Like I guess I could say I’m pretty demanding you know in the sense that I expect the best. And typically the people who stick around with me are are pretty solid because they’re on the same page like they expect the best of themselves.

Matt Jones: [00:13:28] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:13:29] And they constantly push themselves. And it’s it’s they do not get complacent And in turn I recognize that you know like I feel like I can teach leaders the intricacies of how corruption works or how you know our business runs but you can’t teach leadership.

Matt Jones: [00:13:52] Really

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:13:53] To a certain degree to a certain degree I and I say that because I feel like one of my guys was not a leader in making them into a leader.

Matt Jones: [00:14:00] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:14:00] But you know what I guess maybe that’s where experience has come and maybe they learn from experience. Maybe what I say you can’t teach leadership. You can’t formally teach in like a classroom setting. But maybe through experiences that shaped

Matt Jones: [00:14:12] Yeah it’s interesting isn’t that I’ve read so many books so you sort of say the same thing. You know you’re a leader or you’re not. You know I don’t know if I agree with it to be honest like. I think it’s um I think leadership can be learned. And I recently recorded a three part series with a fellow here in Australia called Edward Plant. He’s part of the community. It’s amazing. I’ve got amazing business and he spent years you know in the military and the military of course is all about developing leaders and like it’s if the military doesn’t run without leaders you’ve got you know your overarching you know your leaders then you’ve got the fills us down through the different tiers. You know with all your lieutenants you colonels your captains blow a lot and you get your platoon leaders and all this kind of stuff and it’s all leadership and those leaders they they develop dementia. Some of them will have traits of leadership initially. But I can’t imagine in any instance there would be somebody who’s like a bank pull the trigger you’re as you say you’ve got everything that it needs like I think all those guys would have to develop those skills.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:15:18] Yeah I know that’s true yeah I know that’s true. Absolutely. And I think a big part of it is shaped through experience. Right. You know understanding what works and what doesn’t from different scenarios. Right.

Matt Jones: [00:15:29] Yeah

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:15:30] So maybe it’s not necessarily that it’s not. It can’t be taught. But I think it needs to be nurtured through experience.

Matt Jones: [00:15:38] Yeah. Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:15:38] For sure. Right. Like you can never out. I don’t know. I don’t know how you can have a leader that hasn’t gone through the whole experience of being a leader being put in a position where you had a year she had to be a leader.

Matt Jones: [00:15:49] Exactly I think it’s kind of ironic in a sense that to my way of thinking a good leader is someone that can help develop leaders

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:15:58] Yeah.

Matt Jones: [00:15:59] Has a

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:16:02] You know for me you know I look for certain traits and individuals you know like having a positive attitude is very important. You know somebody who who you know is committed to building themselves and the people around them in the company in turn is very important somebody that you know is not necessarily just going to clock in and clock out but you know is looking to better everybody around them. Right.

Matt Jones: [00:16:24] Yeah yeah exactly. And I think those are things that are very apparent within some types of people and some different types of personalities. And they have things that can be built on that can help you create a leader. Definitely I couldn’t agree more.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:16:38] Mhmm

Matt Jones: [00:16:40] All right so in terms of the teams are you focused about leadership. You’ve spoken on talk a little bit more about the team and we did touch on it then I suppose when we’re talking about communication and making sure everyone’s on the same path but you know what’s that we’re talking about scaling a business. Obviously you can’t scale a business without without people. No one’s ever done anything great on their own. So let’s talk about I suppose. Recruiting because I think it’s a big thing. How do you guys go about the recruiting process so you’re constantly adding to your team adding the right people I should clarify to your team.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:17:24] Well you know what. That’s probably one of the hardest things for us to do especially you know it’s still one that I’m trying to perfect and it constantly throws curve balls

Matt Jones: [00:17:37] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:17:38] At me. You know individuals who I thought were going to be rock stars were complete flops and people who are just desperate to hire because I needed to and I thought were going to be flops turned out to be rock stars

Matt Jones: [00:17:49] Yep.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:17:49] And I can’t tell you that I’ve figured it out. But when I reflect back on I do a lot of reflecting when I reflect back on on the success that we’ve had. You know it all came down to it always came back to my team. I have an amazing team you know and in part of our age our strategy is that we constantly have job postings up so we have a careers that constantly gets resumes because if you could probably imagine you know if I lose a sales guy I mean that could cost me a few hundred grand a month in sales. Right. Like it’s very important that I plug somebody in right away. So an important story. So I’m always interviewing even if I don’t need them.

Matt Jones: [00:18:36] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:18:36] I think actually one of the strengths that I’ve had from an age our perspective is when I was ever down a man or woman I had somebody right right away ready to go.

Matt Jones: [00:18:47] Right.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:18:48] And and that’s very important for me in a size business I have right. Like one of my offices at the burn rate is one hundred fifty thousand dollars a month. You know like you can imagine like business needs to be done at that rate frankly.

Matt Jones: [00:18:59] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:18:59] There’s no time for waiting. Right. But what I look for more than anything is a positive attitude especially in construction.

Matt Jones: [00:19:08] Right.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:19:08] You can so easily get caught up in the negativity. Right. Right. Like it’s like I’m going to be around these people like half my life. If you think about it like half your days at work half year. You know when you’re not sleeping half your days at work, right. Like I don’t want to be around these negative people and we’ve done such an amazing job bring together positive people that make it a very pleasant place to work.

Matt Jones: [00:19:33] Yes.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:19:34] And you know we contribute to the organizational culture to make sure its that way. But the interesting thing is is like when you when you have a team of positive people it becomes really easy to figure out who’s disengaged

Matt Jones: [00:19:46] Yeah

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:19:46] And it becomes really easy to hone in and focus in really figure that out, right. So to me like you know you’d be surprised. I mean like now more than ever we hire for experience. But at one point in time I didn’t hire I had a whole team of people that didn’t even have construction experience. I mean I do not encourage that at all. But we’ve learned a lot from that. But like as a great example my general manager the guy that went out with me in Vancouver like he used to be a server like a bartender server when I met him you know. And actually I found a really interesting correlation between people from the hospitality industry in coming to work in construction. Their customer service is unparalleled

Matt Jones: [00:20:33] Of course.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:20:33] They got me in customer service. It’s crazy.

Matt Jones: [00:20:37] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:20:38] But but yeah I guess since we didn’t have. Yeah. So you know hiring people that have a positive attitude. But you know what it really comes out we found a big difference is doing in job interviews on the job interviews. So it’s it’s I got a prospect a project manager who is going to do a ride along and my operations manager is going to ask me to point out some deficiencies or you know maybe see how he interacts with the client or interacts with tradesmen that that went along way to

Matt Jones: [00:21:10] Interesting purchasing. So yeah I mean obviously you you spoke about you know from a leadership perspective most of your leaders come from within the business and they’re people that you know they’ve sort of move through the ranks et cetera. And it is interesting what you said as well about the gentleman that came from a hospitality background and he ended up as as a general manager because I think that’s a really important point. Like when you’re talking about managing and leadership it doesn’t necessarily like that skill set doesn’t necessarily have to have the technical know how of say somebody who’s running the projects. You just need to know how to you know have the communication skills and be able to I suppose just lead and keep things running smoothly and don’t necessarily need to know all the ins and outs of the product and whatnot although it will help but I think that’s quite interesting and you look at some of these you know these massive organization banks and you know these you know Fortune 500 companies around the world and you look at the you know they’re managing director of CEOs and they very often come up you know guys that have been and worked in you know say Google’s CEO. The next minute they’re running working for a pharmaceutical franchise which is like chalk and cheese in terms of products but the skillset is relevant across the board through business and you know they take that skill set and put it into a completely different vertical and it still works.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:22:42] Yeah yeah. I mean it’s really interesting how that works. I mean like others of course downsides to it. So with Brian as example like my general manager came from the hospitality industry. Sure maybe you know we lost a little bit on the construction at that time. He’s he’s he’s got a lot of experience now. But sure he you know he lacked on the construction side of things but he really understood people.

Matt Jones: [00:23:06] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:23:06] And if you really think about construction at least in renovations and home building at the level that we’re at is all this people management

Matt Jones: [00:23:15] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:23:16] You know like like it’s not like you’ve got one guy that knows how to build everything from the foundation to the roof. Right. You really rely on experts.

Matt Jones: [00:23:25] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:23:26] So when you’re relying on experts you’re managing those experts you’re managing clients you’re managing supply you’re basically managing relationship managing all across the board.

Matt Jones: [00:23:35] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:23:36] And that’s really what. Can make or break a company like us. You know you can imagine some I’ve hired project managers that knew how to build a whole house by themselves but didn’t really understand how to speak to clients and pissed off every contractor in my company. You don’t think he had the right to fire guy after three days of hiring him because he literally got maybe 10 calls that day asking you who is a smart guy and why is he doing this and that. And I’m just like. And I look at him like how did you manage to piss off ten people in one day you know like that like like from up from a technical perspective from a construction technical perspective he scored maybe like a 15 out of 10. He knew everything you know and from from from a people perspective he had just zero skills in that in that area.

Matt Jones: [00:24:32] And there often it’s often the hardest they’re often the hardest people to train because they’re that you know they have that attitude of Well I know everything and I’ve done this and I can do all this stuff and I’ve done it this way for so many years and this way works and I’m not going to do it your way. I I wanted to build a client here in Sydney had to let go one of his arms. Foreman for that exact reason like he was really really good but he was just painful to work with and he wasn’t on board with the direction the business wanted to go and he was he was starting to create that negative element within the business. You know in talking to other staff members and sort of talking behind the backs of people that kind of stuff and it was becoming cancerous so they just pondering.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:25:15] Yeah. You don’t like part of me. My interviewing strategy is I get guys to write me an email of why would it be a good fit. Because you know I don’t know how it’s like in Australia. A lot of guys in residential construction are good with email communication

Matt Jones: [00:25:29] Right.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:25:29] Or really like written English in sentences and to a certain degree. So when when I noticed that I had really well put together emails. So it was really interesting because the guy that I fired in three or four days because he had amazingly put e-mails really well spoken English by just terrible people skills. So it’s like I guess like the really the best advice I can give in that department is higher quick fire quick and you know like you can’t really let that kind of stuff. Like me I’m not I’m not good at the fire. Quick example I’m actually bad for that. Like I really don’t like letting go. My staff and I try everything because a few reasons one you know you build a relationship with them and to it. It’s like it’s really costly for our turnover’s really costly right. But in some instances if you’re going to go with it piss off all my subcontractors it’s not going to work for you. You know

Matt Jones: [00:26:31] Yeah yeah interesting. All right so what about retaining staff?

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:26:37] So I’m you know I feel like we’ve got an awesome organisational culture here and part of it you know is is all the little things you know. I mean we provide lunch every Friday we do a company outing every every month. We are we’re committed to creating win wins with our staff which basically means that we understand what their career path is and we create a road map to try to progress them because you know everybody wants to know that there is growth. And if people feel like that there’s growth and if you can show them how to achieve growth then you have an engaged staff. And a big part of it is also to is is not nip picking at the little things. You know I can’t mention your designers or leave in an hour early. Like I mean although we are going to address it in the sense that we know it’s happening but we’re not make it a big deal like there there’s a lot more things going on like the 10 architectural plans that he’s working on in the permits that we’re trying to get going. I mean like like I feel like it’s the 80 20 rule you know like try to focus on 20 percent of the things that give you 80 percent of the results. Right. As as as opposed to nip picking. Because you know we’ve got like as an example in the auto stuff like I refer to auto a lot because it’s where I’m in the office here. So like you know I’m in Vancouver we’ve got a GM and really know too much about what’s going on there but in Ottawa you know I’m I’m here I’m kind of ingrained in it. It’s really easy. You’ve got 25 people to pick at the little things.

Matt Jones: [00:28:21] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:28:21] You know what. Why is it your shirt tucked in like why did you come in half an hour late like your own. You know all these little things but at the end of the day like us people don’t leave companies they leave their bosses right. And this is really important for me that I’m super fair and everybody I mean I learned this all the hardway right. Especially coming especially coming from like the football football world where everything was discipline like your coach was the ultimate discipline. You know you do not talk back and whatever he wants or she wants that’s it right and you got to give your best. I kind of took that approach when I first came into construction but obviously that didn’t work out really well when you have project managers that quit on you leave you in 20 open projects and pissed off clients. You start to realize there’s a bigger picture. Like like, oh okay. You don’t want and even if they start pushing their weight around like often enough like you know I’ll get. I mean I don’t have this anymore. But back then you’d get them trying to trying to squeeze you for more money or they’re going to leave than you know like I would deal with it right away because a lot of my my style is just dealing with things right away because I’ve been an unlimited to do list. Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and really think strategically about how you’re going to do it. You know like yelling back at the guy Tom. Hell no I’m not going to give you money going back to work is not really going to work out for you. Right. Whereas it’s like you know what let’s sit down next week let’s figure out a road map a road map for you to get you what you want. Because I truly feel like Two parties three parties. Whoever is engaged in a situation can all get what they want. But you’ve got to figure out what what that want is and that’s how you create those win win. So we try to we I try to buy myself time to try to get win wins. But what I do at the same time is I’m a Murty looking for somebody else in case

Matt Jones: [00:30:12] Yeah exactly. Yeah it’s an interesting paradigm shift I think when you’re talking about and I know our friend Danny Curd does this really well from Beatty Academy over there in Canada. They’ve had a really good policy in the space of higher recruitment hiring retaining that kind of stuff. And it’s like easier said than a lot of it does come back to making it relatable to the employees like making it. Okay well yeah the business needs to grow and obviously that’s like my objective but I want to get to it by helping you get to where you want to go. So what do you want like do.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:30:49] Yeah.

Matt Jones: [00:30:49] If you can pay if you can paint it like that and communicate it like that. I think it’s really powerful actually. Adrian from trade group over here in Australia they’ve recently done some really cool stuff with some of their clients where a lot of the big problems is here in Australia. I’m sure it’s probably the same over there in Canada where there is so much work. People were happy to jump ship for an extra three bucks an hour that their competitors offer them. So what they’ve done is I thought Okay well why are they jumping ship it’s because maybe they’ve been offered a bit more money. Okay but what do they want to do with that money. Well maybe they want to invest in property or maybe they won’t buy a new car or something like that. So what they’ve done with a lot of these companies is they’ve helped them put in a plan where as part of being an employee you get access to a financial adviser who can help you earn with the money that you’re getting paid every week or month or whatever it is invest that in to something or put together a savings plan just something that is you know you the next company is not doing. I thought that was really cool.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:31:52] Yeah. You know I think that’s great. I think you know part of that process opens up a bigger topic which is you know what are your goals what are you looking to achieve. You know I mean I don’t feel like I don’t think that too many companies are really looking at the bigger picture for employees and like their employees are looking out for themselves. First and foremost right which I don’t blame them. So if we can start getting involved in that conversation I think that becomes very powerful because nobody else is doing it right. You’re not going to an interview with the guy you know and the guy trying to pitch the company about how the company is going to try to help him grow. Right. It’s more about the person trying to pitch themselves to the company. So try trying to really like catch that while this early is very important. Right. Because there is a point of no return where somebody is kind of made up their mind and they kind of checked out. But you know during those frequently with quarterly reviews or you know by yearly reviews becomes very important and often enough. Yeah the conversation starts with money but really that becomes a bigger picture out there. You know like oh I know I need to take off an extra hour a day because I got to pick up my daughter from daycare.

Matt Jones: [00:33:03] Yeah

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:33:04] Okay. That’s no problem, right. I’ll just pay you an hour or less and you have that flexibility.

Matt Jones: [00:33:08] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:33:08] Right. Like they’re okay with that. Just the fact that they have that flexibility goes a long way. What did that really that cost me nothing at the end of day.

Matt Jones: [00:33:15] Right.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:33:16] And that becomes the the most powerful outcome is when you can generate value for your team without it costing you anything.

Matt Jones: [00:33:26] Right.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:33:27] You know one of the biggest things actually we did with our team and I think it’s kind of relative. Yeah. You know one of the biggest things we did with our team especially in operations. My project managers always used to bug us for more money. And it was very difficult for us to pay them. You know 80 90 100 grand a year like you know we were roughly around the 50 to 60 thousand dollars but then we had a bit of an aha moment last year where we’re like you know what what if we turned them into salesmen And if we turned them into a salesman they can bring more money into the company and we can give them a share of that. And that might get them to where they want to be and a very powerful thing happened the company started making more money. The project managers started making their 80 90 100 grand a year and they actually we revolve them around certain things that they really hated doing. You know like like change orders you know like know who who really wants to present a change order a device called change order. Variants I think

Matt Jones: [00:34:31] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:34:31] I saw On-Site shed

Matt Jones: [00:34:32] We call them variations.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:34:34] Yell variations

Matt Jones: [00:34:35] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:34:35] So it’s like who really wants to present like a variation or change order to client only to get them upset because you want to charge them an extra 10 or 20 grand. Right. Like nobody ever wants to do that. So what ends up happening is like they wouldn’t do it and then we’d still end up spending money but we can collect the money from

Matt Jones: [00:34:50] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:34:50] Them. So now we’ve got motivated employees that are looking forward to doing things that are actually process and improperly. Right.

Matt Jones: [00:35:00] That’s it can be both valuable and dangerous. From my experience I know a lot of the companies out here they incentivize their staff to up sell. And for the right person it works well but for the wrong person who is like overly money focused it normally ends up in them trying to sell

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:35:18] Yeah. Yeah.

Matt Jones: [00:35:19] Up sell booze this ridiculous shit to their customers. So there’s a fine

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:35:23] Well

Matt Jones: [00:35:23] There’s a fine line there is a fine line

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:35:25] Yeah no you’re absolutely right and we did see that happen.

Matt Jones: [00:35:28] Right.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:35:29] Oh I feel like we only see Allen when he wants money.

Matt Jones: [00:35:32] Right. Right.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:35:33] But like like but then you just got to correct that behavior and remind them like look at the end of the day. We’ve got to give our clients a positive experience. I mean that’s why they go with us. Right. And you got to correct that behavior a little bit.

Matt Jones: [00:35:45] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:35:45] But but often times I mean then we start teaching and coaching are our project managers to start upselling with creative things that maybe the client didn’t seem that they wanted.

Matt Jones: [00:35:58] Right.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:35:58] Like it’s not necessarily like charging somebody for something that didn’t need to be charged for like they’re all relevant. You know

Matt Jones: [00:36:05] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:36:05] We’re not really and we’re not in the business of scamming people. I mean we’re here for a long term but you know as an example like if wordie in a client’s home and we’re doing you know a 50000 dollar basement I mean it doesn’t hurt to ask them, hey you know what we’re here we could probably replace the tiles and your unsweet for an extra thousand bucks.

Matt Jones: [00:36:22] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:36:23] Right. Like they were already there. Right.

Matt Jones: [00:36:25] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:36:26] So that was very powerful for us. That was a way for us to get that win win that I was talking to about

Matt Jones: [00:36:32] Yeah. And I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there. A lot of the guys the way that they tackled that problem was instead of making the KPI more like a bigger is a bigger ticket item they’ve sold. They made the KPI primarily feedback from the customer that they were getting value and they were being treated correctly and then then the money the monetary upsell or whatever came into it was like the secondary thing. So if you didn’t get the first thing you don’t get the commissions on the second thing you’ve got to make sure that everything played out correctly otherwise you’re turning to these big scamming sort of

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:37:10] Yeah.

Matt Jones: [00:37:10] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:37:11] Yeah yeah yeah. And then you know and then another incentive was you know if they turn the project over and it was profitable on the cards ready to give us a good review and begin to share in that success as well too

Matt Jones: [00:37:21] Is it perfect. It’s great. All right, cool. We’re getting to the end here just before we leave. I just want to ask you a couple of things and you touched on it just then before well you didn’t directly but you’re talking about operations and sales. I got to think I was wondering what department do you run within your organization.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:37:41] I kind of go with the flow and see where my attention is needed. Recently it’s

Matt Jones: [00:37:48] Do you have like a documented departments sales marketing operations H.R. that kind of stuff?

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:37:54] Oh yeah we have them. Sorry (inaudible) specifically asking which ones I ran specifically

Matt Jones: [00:37:57] Yeah I’m curious because I mean across the board I mean I mean obviously there are a lot of development in this space for building companies and charities and things like that. I’m just curious what you run personally within your business to get it to where it is today which is you know creating a billion dollar design build business. What are the departments you have?

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:38:15] Yeah. Well you know what. I’ve been fortunate right like the last five years we’ve done between two offices 50 million dollars of renovations and new home so

Matt Jones: [00:38:23] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:38:23] I currently don’t run any department. I’m kind of I still come to the office because I have nowhere else better to go.

Matt Jones: [00:38:31] And what are the departments?

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:38:33] So we’ve got an operations department. We’ve got an H.R. depart. Well okay so it’s operations admin sales and design, and within admin a kind of tossin‘ legal and H.R.

Matt Jones: [00:38:47] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:38:47] But those are the four major ones.

Matt Jones: [00:38:49] Okay, gotcha. Interesting. I know because it’s a big big conversation around you guys are setting up their org chart because we found now more than ever like the more I look into it the more the more I realize how relevant having an org chart organizational chart is in your business because everything kind of everything flows from that initial org chart. So once you got your departments and you can start talking about your roles within the departments once you get the roles you can start talking about the responsibilities within those roles and that’s what enables you to scale because you can really start systemising those those different roles and responsibilities which means you can outsource that you can employ people you can bring people on to fulfill that which replaces yourself which sounds exactly like what you’ve done now. You come into the office because you got nothing better to do and the wife wants you out of a house.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:39:36] Yeah. Yeah exactly. Or as my person I just want to be a hacker. Yeah I know. And that’s very important right because every every department’s guy it’s got its own responsibilities and whatnot. But an interesting role I’m looking to roll out in our company that’s not really traditional is a director of client x relationships. So this person would be involved with certain expectations for the client before we start the project and would be involved with somehow maintaining relationships with the client after we’ve done their project.

Matt Jones: [00:40:15] Yeah. Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:40:16] Something

Matt Jones: [00:40:18] I’m trying I think we caught we had one of them in the last business I worked at and I can’t remember they call them. They they do that (inaudible) before the technician went to site they would call the client and say you’re (inaudible) just letting you know that sounds those 10 minutes from your house. I’m looking forward I’m completing the project. I’ll be calling you again. I want to see how they went. Make sure everything’s happy and they used to do all that kind of stuff. It was really good.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:40:41] Yeah I mean I think it’s a I think it’s a great avenue to have them vent to you as opposed to the internet.

Matt Jones: [00:40:49] Oh you’re a hundred percent

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:40:52] Because I mean like let’s face it you know like renovation projects are not easy. From a customer service point of view you know like like like we we mapped out the the client renovation journey as kind of like almost imagine like a you know where we’re like you know it starts off strong and then it dips low and then it gets strong again.

Matt Jones: [00:41:14] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:41:14] And every renovation projects like that you’re always going to have a pissed off client.

Matt Jones: [00:41:18] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:41:20] I mean, just way she goes so managing clients expectations and that’s what that journey is very important.

Matt Jones: [00:41:25] And so just before we close this one off in terms of the third part of that framework you said leadership you said team you said systems. How does the how does that systems element to your business look and had the weight of the systems leave. How do you make sure they’re being followed updated etc..

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:41:49] So I mean I like to look at systems like our playbook

Matt Jones: [00:41:52] Yeah

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:41:53] You know like like any sports teams got a playbook

Matt Jones: [00:41:55] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:41:55] And um what you need to do with that playbook is you need to practice it everyday. You know like you need to be able to practice it everyday and your team becomes really good at it but you need to be able to make sure everybody’s using it properly or you’re just as good as your weakest link. So I also like to look at it as look at business as like just a bunch of information going through a system and being spit out. So if that’s true then this system is the way you organize your company and it’s how you deliver on your product or service. So for us and for me I mean because I got to roll out and build Salesforce years ago and our future is basically took it upon myself to make sure everybody bought into and was using it properly. Was just using it everyday understanding myself how I how I need it to be use it just repeatedly following up with my team members to make sure they’re using it properly. And two things happen. Tell them what to do. But also show them the benefit of why they’re doing it to make their life easier or make the client experience better to make the company look professional.

Matt Jones: [00:43:10] Started a guys on site you salesforce. So for the listeners as well Salesforce is a customer relationship management software tool CRM. You probably may or may have heard so sorry to the guys on site. You CRM. Is this

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:43:24] So a lot of our work is contracted out. I mean we do have in-house contractors but my project managers use Salesforce. They go on site they’ll take pictures upload it to our client portal and they’ll kind of put some notes depending on what that picture is. Yeah. So they use that

Matt Jones: [00:43:43] They use it like job management almost

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:43:45] Yes. Yeah. So yeah they use it on site. But also we use it for budgeting for scheduling for client client relationship.

Matt Jones: [00:43:54] Yeah. And so that’s how the guys on site work. What about how the office runs I mean obviously they’ve got procedures and things I need to fulfill. I mean every job when have I imagine there’s like a series of checklists that need to be ticked off in order for the project. You know in the preliminary stages throughout and then post How does that look.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:44:14] Well you don’t win. That’s right. Right. If you think of it as a system or as a playbook. All it takes is one team member to do their part right for all not to work right because they don’t know the sales guy or a project consultant will close a job that he has uploaded to Salesforce and if he doesn’t upload it to Salesforce and it doesn’t turn into a project if he doesn’t turn into a project I don’t got budgets. I don’t have schedules I don’t even have clients it into their own client portal. And then if my project managers aren’t following through on how we pitch to the client our system works well then we dropped the ball there too, right.

Matt Jones: [00:44:48] Right.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:44:48] So there is a lot of moving parts. It’s a beast to tackle. I mean you know the switching systems change management is a discipline on its own but really really what I suggest for anybody to do is I’ve seen people try to implement systems without understanding the systems and they completely failed. If you’re if you’re going to implement systems or if you get to hire somebody to implement systems they need to know the ins and outs and they need to be able to be around to teach your team because it’s not something that they’re going to perfect in a month or two.

Matt Jones: [00:45:26] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:45:26] It probably could be a 6 to 1 year investment.

Matt Jones: [00:45:31] Yeah. Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:45:32] Six month to one year investment. Yeah.

Matt Jones: [00:45:35] And you stole that part of the business processes no check. So they sort of all online or are they in folders in the office or how does that look.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:45:45] They’re online in drive so they can

Matt Jones: [00:45:47] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:45:47] Pull up Google Drive to be able to kind of like go

Matt Jones: [00:45:49] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:45:50] Over their checklist and also to train new new employees coming up. A lot of it becomes habitual.

Matt Jones: [00:45:56] Of course.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:45:56] After a bit you know thank God we haven’t had too much turnover

Matt Jones: [00:45:59] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:45:59] So hasn’t been a problem for us. Actually I know of like Vancouver office had to go through a lot of turnover and that becomes very difficult from a systems point of view. You know like imagine like your whole team you know if you’ve got a brand new team well now you’ve got to teach them again for a whole year. Right.

Matt Jones: [00:46:22] Which is where systems come into play.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:46:24] Right. Yeah exactly.

Matt Jones: [00:46:26] Yeah.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:46:26] Exactly.

Matt Jones: [00:46:27] All right. Cool man. Look I think we’ve pretty much covered everything. Is there anything else you wanted to wrap up before all actually one thing we didn’t talk about wars. I write this down and I can’t find it. Or is it. Or is it or is it. You know I can’t find it there was something there wasn’t talk about it like a forgotten anyway. Oh I call it. I think we’re pretty good at closing this one off. Is there anything you wanted to add. Building a model scalable.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:47:03] No you know I think I think that you know a lot of people can can achieve a scalable business but just takes a lot of hard work and effort everyday. I mean like anything else that that has to happen. But appreciate everything you guys do over at The Site Shed. I think it’s a fantastic group. I’m very fortunate to be part of it and everything that you do mine is great. Thank you so much for having me.

Matt Jones: [00:47:27] You betcha.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:47:29] It’s it’s been fun.

Matt Jones: [00:47:31] So far as waking people get hold of you doing, give us a quick rundown. Some contact details etc..

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:47:37] Yes. So my e-mail is Fares, F A R E S at Ottawa general contractors. That’s O t t a w a general contractors dot com and my instagram is I am Fares. So, I A M F A R E S.

Matt Jones: [00:47:56] Right on. Perfect. All right so our list is out. That was the third and final episode that was Building a Model that is Scalable. It’s part of the Creating a Million Dollar Design Build Business. If you have any questions or if you want any follow ups or anything like that. By all means you can do that. Probably the best place to do it is to jump into these site shared Facebook private community there and you can ask that question because Fares’ in that group or if you see one of these podcasts floating around across social media or wherever you hear it. By all means you can leave a comment there and we will endeavor to get back to you. I think that’s awesome and thank you so much for your time. It’s been amazing. You certainly are a wealth of knowledge and my congratulations on building such a successful and continually expanding empire.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:48:47] Thanks man. It’s a battle everyday but you know we make it happen.

Matt Jones: [00:48:51] It’s all about the fight.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:48:53] Yeah yeah yeah, the good fight.

Matt Jones: [00:48:55] All right fantastic. Well that’s a wrap.

Fares Elsabbagh: [00:48:58] Thanks, Matt.

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Matt Jones
Founder at The Site Shed
I'm the facilitator here at The Site Shed. My passion lies in doing anything that helps trade based organisations grow. My other company, Tradie Web Guys, helps tradespeople stand out online, while The Site Shed is all about education and resources.
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