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Operations • Productivity • Business Tips • 64 minutes

How to Run a Remote Service & Repair Team

February 23, 2021

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Episode Overview

“Twenty percent of clients will take up 80 percent of your time. It’s best to get rid of those clients.”

— Tersh Blissett

Tersh Blissett is executing a successful game plan for the expansion of his remote HVAC company, Service Emperor. The plan is working so well, he’s got two profitable trades based in Savannah, Ga., that are essentially competing against each other. 

Blissett, a prolific podcaster, talks about that unique situation, as well as the “80-20 Rule,” managing a remote team, and the secret to vetting great affiliates. 

Here are Tersh Blissett’s top home-service management tips:

Yes, you can successfully compete with yourself in one market.

First, Blissett bought a company called Icebound and integrated it into his Service Emperor brand. He also co-owns another HVAC company called Tri-Star. 

“Tri-Star is low margin, high volume,” he says. “Service Emperor is the exact opposite—lower volume but higher margins.” Same market, a little bit of overlap but different kinds of clients.

Learn the “80-20 Rule.”

Especially when acquiring the existing business of a new partner, Blissett says it’s crucial to know the 80-20 Rule: 20 percent of clients will take up 80 percent of your time. 

“It’s best to get rid of those clients,” he says. “You get burned when you don’t say no to them. Even if it’s a high-ticket job, you can lose money on all the time and energy that person takes from you.”

Pick your clients wisely. 

Blissett exports information out of ServiceTitan to a company called Melissa Data. He gets a report back on the demographics of all his clients, including the ZIP Codes where he’s the most profitable. 

“We take the information and determine where we make the most money,” he says. “We get detailed information about where people work, kinds of cars they drive—it’s super detailed. When we start the advertising process it’s almost like cheating, because you know a lot about what their desires are.”

There’s a secret step in vetting a potential affiliate partner. 

Blissett says the final step before he hires a subcontractor (or an employee) is to go out to a family dinner together. 

“My family and their family,” he says. “We go somewhere that’s really noisy and can be kind of irritating. And we watch how they interact with the wait staff and other people. If we still have good vibes after that, we can say, ‘Yes, they’re worthy of being an affiliate partner.’”

Remote was cool even before Covid. 

Blissett’s company went all-remote back in 2018—pre-coronavirus. 

“I talked a lot on my podcast about smaller companies not needing to have a warehouse,” he says. “Then it became how to get to $5 million without a warehouse. Then, $10 million.” 

It works, he says. He saves on rent. He posts policies and procedures for employees on a sub-domain on a website (which saves on paper costs). He creates contracts that include things like vendors taking responsibility for dumping trash. 

And, he uses ServiceTitan’s truck replenishment instead of third-party inventory management.

Remote companies require morale management. 

The Service Emperor team meets in person on a regular basis at various restaurants or establishments. And on a quarterly basis, Blissett holds a companywide meeting at his house, where families are invited. 

“You have to be very deliberate about morale, since we’re not in an office sitting around a coffee table,” he says. “There’s no more reactive management, it has to be proactive.” 

Blissett adds that employees communicate daily on the messaging app Slack. 

Networking is king. 

Blissett says he’s looking to learn about businesses getting over the $3 million to $5 million hump, and leveraging his network for advice. 

“I have tons of friends outside my market area who are in the trades, and we bounce ideas off each other all the time,” Blissett says. “You’ve got to talk to people that have done it and see how they did it. That’s the only way to learn.”

Communication is key when working with a spouse. 

Blissett’s wife, Julie, is a former nurse and now a full-time member of the Service Emperor team. They’ve taken the advice of life coaches on several topics. 

“We have four kids—so at four o’clock we turn off the business for an hour—no matter what,” Blissett says. “We have a lot of communication and try to have as thick skin as possible. And we never take our work to bed. As soon as we cross the threshold of the bedroom, we’re not allowed to talk work.”

Recommended research and reading

The Family Board Meeting by Jim Sheils

Extreme Ownership, by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Find Your Yellow Tux by Jesse Cole

Service Business Mastery podcast by Tersh Blissett

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Toolbox for the Trades is a podcast where top service professionals share the tips, tricks, and tactics they use to succeed in their industry. Hosted by Jackie Aubel, this podcast is brought to you by ServiceTitan—the leading home and commercial field service software.

Episodes will feature stories and strategies to help contractors grow and scale their service business.

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