“The things most lacking in the industry are speed, quality and technology.”
By the time he was 33 years old, Justin Armendariz had started and sold three contracting companies. Now he’s the owner of Better Future Facilities (BFF), a $40-million, full-service commercial facilities maintenance company specializing in plumbing (Walmart is a major client).
Armendariz and BFF are on the cutting edge of technologies that he believes can be applied to both commercial and residential operations.
Here are Justin Armendariz’s top tips for successful management of any trade business:
Key TakeawaysFocus on speed, quality and technology.Understand difference between commercial and residential.The scrum model and agile format should rule. Get honest feedback about your business. You can use technology to train technicians while they’re in the field. Incentivize training. Body cams on techs work. Rely on the four cornerstones of sales. Learn from your mistakes.Communicate with everybody.Recommended research and reading
Focus on speed, quality and technology.
Armendariz believes the trades need a good kick forward in the areas of speed, quality and technology.
“Nobody's consistent, everybody's doing their own thing, every plumber that has a license is his own business,” he says. “And I’m all about it, every person that can go out there and do it, that’s great. But organizing that effort together gives us a huge opportunity.”
Understand the difference between commercial and residential.
All things considered, Armendariz says the quality levels are equal in commercial and residential.
“But as far as appearance and expectation, typically, the guys trudging around Walmart are dirty,” he says. “If I was going to build a residential plumbing service company those guys would come in with the booties on their shoes and the whole nine yards.”
The scrum model and agile format should rule.
“Agile” is a modern project management framework. “Scrum” is a set of meeting tools that help a team structure and manage work.
“When I brought that into the service space, it left me working effectively with no box around me and with a very open mindset,” Armendariz says. “Everybody had this mentality of, ‘It’s always been done like this.’ My reply was, I can’t help you—just because it’s always been done like that doesn’t mean it’s right.”
Get honest feedback about your business.
Armendariz is quick to quote business maverick Elon Musk, who said, “Don’t tell me what you like about my product. Tell me what you hate about it.”
Armendariz says there are three questions you should ask your customers:
What are we doing that you love?
What are we doing that you want to see us stop doing immediately?
What is the competition doing that you want to see us start doing?
“Find out, then act on it immediately,” he says.
You can use technology to train technicians while they’re in the field.
BFF has two techs in every truck. While one drives, the other can be looking at a tablet that has a refresher course on the task at hand.
“While they’re en route to that job, they can look at a two-minute video on the tools and the equipment needed,” Armendariz says. “It’s real-time training based on the call.”
When BFF employees complete training and jobs they earn badges and points.
“They can be used to buy tools,” Armendariz says. “If they get a certain number of badges, they achieve another level and they get bonuses. It’s all about giving technicians everything we can to keep them engaged.”
Body cams on techs work.
BFF’s use of body cams—just like the ones police departments use—are a big success.
“We use that a lot to sell quality,” Armendariz says. “It’s a huge selling point even for a residential contractor. Your customer doesn't want to go in there and check the quality of the work. Plus, you get a second set of eyes on the quality of the work.”
Rely on the four cornerstones of sales.
Armendariz says successful companies rely on the four cornerstones of sales. They are:
Have lots of products to offer.
Make them easy to deliver.
Offer the best products at the lowest price possible.
Give the best customer service.
Learn from your mistakes.
Early in his career, Armendariz was stiffed by a contractor and was left owing a lot of money.
“I had to learn to negotiate with creditors, banks and suppliers,” he says. “I had to call them and tell them I screwed up and that I needed to figure out how to pay them back.”
The lesson he took from that bummer was to build everything “super cash-flush” so he’d never be in that position again.
Communicate with everybody.
“Every contractor needs to communicate with the customer, their creditors, everybody,” Armendariz says. “We’re expected to be the trade expert, do what we’re supposed to do, be perfect at it, and get zero support from everybody else. Just communicating with people openly and honestly is the best piece of advice I can give.”
Recommended research and reading
The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber Good to Great by Jim Collins Think Like A Rocket Scientist by Ozan Varol My Life and Work by Henry Ford The Wal-Mart Way by Don Soderquist The Startup Way and The Lean Startup by Eric Ries Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland The Age of Agile by Stephen Denning How Google Works by Eric Schmidt The Art of Money Getting by P. T Barnum Zero to One by Peter Thielundefined EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey