Prime for Growth! Conversations with Everyday Innovators

Prime for Growth Episode 2 - Innovation is a Process with Jodi Scarlett

May 03, 2021 Prime Capital Group Season 1 Episode 2
Prime for Growth! Conversations with Everyday Innovators
Prime for Growth Episode 2 - Innovation is a Process with Jodi Scarlett
Show Notes Transcript

I read a quote that fit well with Today’s episode: " Never let success get to your head, and never let failure get to your heart. ".   We know being an entrepreneur involves trying and failing and iterating your way to success - but how do you overcome failure and the chaos typical of high growth companies? Our guest today lived this for years in her business, challenged by a feast or famine revenue cycle, focused on innovating into new markets, but struggling to control the growth and the quality at the same time.  Their team invested heavily in process implementation – turning bootstrapping into scaled opportunity.  Jodi Scarlett began her business Pro Star Cleaning & Restoration as a local home cleaning business and now does large scale construction and disaster restoration projects across the country. We discuss how tempering the entrepreneurial “go factor” using a process framework, actually enables more creativity, innovation, and growth. 

Angela Armstrong 0:03  
Welcome to Prime for Growth, a podcast about the journey of possibility that entrepreneurs live every day. Our conversations with these everyday innovators explore why, when and how they implement change in their businesses. And sometimes what happens when they don't? I'm your host, Angela, and I've been working with entrepreneurs while growing a financial services company for more than two decades. I've learned a lot from our clients over the years, and I hope you will, too. Thanks for joining us on Prime for Growth. 

Angela Armstrong 0:33  
This Quote,  fit really well with today's episode. Never let success get to your head and never let failure get to your heart. We know being an entrepreneur involves trying and failing. But how do you overcome failure and the chaos typical of high growth companies. Our guest today invested heavily in process implementation, turning bootstrapping into scaled opportunity. Jodi Scarlett began her business Pro Star Cleaning and Restoration as a local home cleaning business. We discuss how tempering the entrepreneurial goal factor, using a process framework actually enables more creativity, innovation and growth. Jodi's a big intuitive thinker and decision maker. So we start today talking about how a leadership personality carries through everything you do.

Jodi Scarlett 1:24  
Well, I try and be largely the same person, Angela. I think authenticity is really important. My family certainly thinks I'm a lot like I am at work at home, quite directive, and bossy a little bit. So a leader at home and at work, let's go with that.

Angela Armstrong 1:44  
What was it about those characteristics? Did you always have those characteristics in your life?

Jodi Scarlett 1:50  
I think it is kind of always who I was, although maybe I didn't always embrace it. As much as I do. Now, I think we come into ourselves, I certainly have a little bit of experience. I certainly didn't have the confidence in my ideas. I remember times in university when, you know, sitting in the back of the class not saying the answer or thinking the answer was obvious that everyone knew it. But I had a professor talk to me about it. And one of my mentors, and he said, You know, not everyone knows the answer. You do though, you should speak up. And I think I've always been like that I had the ideas and the answers, but I've learned with experience to speak up.

Angela Armstrong 2:34  
So when you're stepping into your role as leader, at Pro Star, what is  the best thing about those attributes -  that leadership quality? And how  would you define that? Like, what are the personality traits that you think kind of fall in behind that?

Jodi Scarlett 2:52  
You know, I've thought about this a few times, you know, I could think of, you know, decisions that I made, you know, many years ago, like one time we decided to move out of our building into another building. And I remember a good friend of mine that, you know, was always involved, sort of talking to me about the business. He said, Why are you making this decision? Like this is ridiculous decision. And then you know, a year later, he's like, you know, I was wrong, but that that was a good decision that you made. Think of that just as an example. Because we needed to, we need to move like we needed not to be in that 200 square foot room and somebody else's building, like we needed our own space, our own lease. It was just an example of really knowing what I knew, you know, even when others sort of disagreed or people that only knew it on the surface disagreed. And I think that's sort of the character trait that your question is getting to is just this confidence and to be different not to do what everyone else is doing like to take a new approach to overcome obstacles, a different way to go around, like not just to give up when I hit a roadblock or a wall. And I think that that's really the leadership quality, which is just sort of this weird, dogged determination, stubbornness, some might call it, but it it can be annoying to my team sometimes, you know, but at the end of the day, like over time, people that you know, work with the leadership, they see that that particular trade and quality is sort of central to change and innovation in the business.

Angela Armstrong 4:28  
QBXerience,  conducted a study in North America of more than 5000 leaders across a spectrum of industries. They defined five core characteristics that leaders whose companies were innovative had in common compared to their counterparts in non innovating businesses. The characteristics were managing risk, wielding curiosity, leading courageously seizing opportunities and maintaining that all important 10,000 foot strategic perspective of Their business within the bigger market. The only key measure that these innovative leaders scored lower on than their counterparts was their ability to maintain order and accuracy. But even that delta wasn't as large as the gaps on the other metrics. What that tells me is that if you're a leader whose instinct is to ensure that things are done first, in an orderly way, you might be preventing some innovation from flourishing inside your business. 

Angela Armstrong 5:30  
So talking about that sense of self confidence to say, I have an idea, and I'm actually willing to test it and try it. And if it fails, that's okay. I'll reiterate all, you know, fall down eight times get up nine, always the sense of tenacity. Would you say that those were really important in your formative years of starting your business? Tell us about that journey of where prostart came from?

Jodi Scarlett 5:58  
Oh, no, if I knew that, then like hindsight, being 20-20, for sure, but I think it's always been there. But as the years have gone by, because I've been at this 19 years now, as the years have gone by, like, the decisions have sort of piled up where you sort of see like the attempts, the failure, the destinies and getting to success, or, you know, some things just didn't work, whatever, let's leave those in the dust. But lots of, you know, lots of times, I've certainly swung for the fences and hit it out of the park. So I guess, over over time, you know, when successes they start to add up to and I think that's where confidence has come from.

Angela Armstrong 6:39  
If you never take you miss all the shots, you never take the sense of having the confidence, that what's that first step feel like though, when can you think back to a time when you were contemplating that we're going to move out of the building? And where you had doubt? How did you sort of quiet the doubt and allow yourself to try anyway, even though failure was one of the possibilities?

Jodi Scarlett 7:03  
You know, I think there's just a stubbornness to me, like I say all the time, like my team started saying this now. So I know, I must have said it. Not seven times, like for sure. 70 or 700 times, but I always say, you know, we've got to get that canoe in the water, we've got to get that canoe in the water. Like, I don't care if it has a hole in it, like we'll patch it as we go. And I think that's kind of what you're talking about. How do you quiet the fears? Ignore them, maybe, I think, if I knew now, like, if I knew then what I know, now, I probably wouldn't have taken some of the risks I took, you know, is the truth. A strat a tactical strategy is, I now have a business partner, you know, that joined me about 11 or 12 years ago now. And he really helped me manage risk in the business, which was really good, because, you know, I just, I'm a bit of a risk taker, and I needed a bit more pragmatic pragmatism. But sometimes those risks are just like, we got to get there, we got to go, I know where we're going. I don't know how we're going to do it all we'll build the plane while we're flying it as needed. So I don't know what personality traits you're hearing in there, Angela. But I'm sure stubborn has to be on the list or foolish or risk taking some of them.

Angela Armstrong 8:22  
I personally think one of the most valuable things a leader can do is to invest in self awareness. As a leader, especially one vested with driving the innovation, and competitive advantages in the business, knowing our gaps is just as important as knowing our strengths, if we are on the risk, comfortable side of the spectrum, but managing risk is a key success factor in innovation, as we heard earlier from our innovation leadership metrics, than we need to assure that attribute is somewhere inside our leadership team to help create that needed balance. Some of it is this sense of naive naivete to that confidence, where you could just say, I don't know what I don't know. And that might actually be a good thing.

Jodi Scarlett 9:08  
I think you really summed it up there. Like sometimes you don't know what you don't know. But you have to. I mean, since the dawn of time, I'm a woman in a man's industry, you know, and since a very young woman in a man's industry, and if I listened to every naysayer that said, You can't it's not done that way. It's not what happens like the hundreds of times that I have been told that in my career. I mean, we just be nowhere. So So what if I got it wrong? Sometimes like somebody has to blaze a new trail, and I just have to be me, I guess,

Jodi Scarlett 9:43  
when so when prostar was starting out. It is not the same business model as what was conceived when you began it. And I think you've gone through a lot of iterations. Can you kind of sum up where the business started? What were what was the service model? When you started the company, and then what imperative happened or opportunity that created the next iteration of prostar? And how did you evaluate the there was a kind of an innovation of products and services and change pivot in your market focus? What drove that decision from where you started?

Jodi Scarlett  10:18  
Well, a variety of things over time. So just to take you back to the beginning, imagine my first day in 2002. And here I am in a 200 square foot room that I'm renting and someone else is building, you know, super love brown carpets, one broken chair, like the wheel was sort of broken off its head crooked in my chair, and there was really only paper calendar on the desk with a few customer names, like, not even their last names, like we cleaned for Marcy on Tuesday, you know, when I bought this business, you know, we had a seven broken down Hyundai accents. And oh, the somebody had at one point, tried to make a database on the one computer in the room, and it was called the costumer database because it was misspelled. So you know, we had to, it was a pretty ragtag little operation, that we were trying to get started, and it was a cleaning business, you know, we just cleaned houses every two weeks. That's what we did. And I didn't certainly have this vision at that time. Like, I certainly didn't start the cleaning business envisioning like a $20 million construction restoration firm. Like that was not in the plans that evolved over time. And how did we get there? I mean, first iteration just started with, well, it was always profit driven, like we need to clean some bigger things like a revenue driven, right, we need to clean some bigger things, we need to do more, what can we do? What can we do? And then always this ridiculous idea like that, like I have this character flaw that I never think I can't. It's a benefit and

Angela Armstrong 11:54  
not a flaw, just saying, 

Jodi Scarlett 11:56  
benefit and curse, though.

Jodi Scarlett 11:59  
My husband would certainly say that it's a benefit and a curse. So anyway, so you know, always just do more do bigger, what can we do next? And well, then we were doing carpet cleaning. And the next thing you know, we were changing the name because we wanted couldn't work under the old name with the licensing. So we wanted to do restoration, and we did restoration. Why can't I do construction? I mean, I was a city girl with an MBA, like I don't know, what end of a hammer was what yet somehow now today, like we're building big buildings, and I have learned ins and outs of construction business like full scale development now. So you know, things have come along. Fortunately, about six or seven years ago, we started doing entrepreneurial operating system in the business, which was a huge move to strategic planning. And I will say that, from the days of just evolving of we should do bigger, we should do more. And, you know, whatever I dreamed up was next, we moved into a far more strategic model of strategically planning, prioritizing what changes in innovations we're working on and analyzing what risks business has and how we're going to mitigate those risks with our strategic plan. So things have changed, but it used to be a lot more fly by the seat of the pants, and now it's a lot more planned and procedural and strategic.

Angela Armstrong 13:24  
EOS is the acronym for entrepreneurial operating system. It's a framework that helps growth companies align their team around three key priorities. To help build a healthy growth, business, vision, or aligning the team around the same objective and the plan to accomplish it. Traction that helps create a discipline and accountability to move towards the objective. And investing in the health of the leadership team. So the organization can be effective in its work. companies often use a coach to help them create a rhythm and to build this framework and enacted and help the team practice it as a strategic investment in the business. There are several well known frameworks that help growing businesses with implementing systems and building disciplines other than EOS, a couple of other popular ones are called Gazelles. And the one that we use a prime which is called RES for the Results Execution System. 

Angela Armstrong 14:26  
So what made you decide that that shift was necessary? Because I know exactly that, that moment in my business when we just knew that our, our franticness of reaction to things was going to keep us in the proverbial hamster wheel, and we weren't going to be able to scale and grow. It just wasn't possible for you. What was that imperative? What drove you to go to that to adopt that EOS and implemented?

Jodi Scarlett 14:57  
Well, you know, it's a bit of a different thing. Like we had about two years before we put the EOS in. I had embarked with a consultant, we wanted to put in a core safety program and at the same time put in an ISO 9001 procedure system. So I so had us documenting our procedures, and we did that. But I found that it still wasn't quite like it wasn't giving me quite the organization that I wanted, like it was a good documentation stuff. And it helped with some of the orderliness but there must have been this deep sense like of what you're talking about Angela, like this deep sense of it's just not quite clicking or running smoothly, like it's still sort of driven by women. wimzie. And I have always been a member. Well, we met in women presidents organization. So I've always believed in mentorship through the WIPO. When I started my WIPO, platinum chapter, I noticed that a number of the other members were all doing this thing called EOS, which was like this big mystery like, what's this acronym? What, what's this thing and you're doing? So I read the books, entrepreneurial operating system, so I read the books and learn more about it and thought, you know, this is going to give more of a cadence to decision making in strategic planning, we had procedures before us, but we didn't have the kind of cadence of decision making. And I really related to sort of the part in rocket fuel where they talk about the whole organization reacting to the whims of the visionary. So I'm the visionary, and I always had all these ideas, we're gonna do this, and now we're gonna do that. And then we're gonna be over here, and they just couldn't, they couldn't keep up with it. Nobody knew what direction we were driving, that I saw, I suppose seeing other successful businesses doing it paired with, you know, relating to some of the reading material really deeply

Angela Armstrong 16:59  
consequences of that wimzie style of business operation, like what was the impact on the people?

Jodi Scarlett 17:06  
Well, as always trying to put in more leadership, right? And I remember like thinking, how are we going to get these people on track to their goals? You know, we're not getting results. We've got to have these meetings. These goal setting and review meetings was a term I had learned GSR, I thought, I'm going to get these GSR meetings going. And I've gone to our WP o meeting and told them that I was going to do this. Well, what's the timeline was one of the questions that came back and I was like, Well, what next month, it'll be done by next month. And everyone laughed hysterically. They're like, this is a two year problem. Oh, that you're embarking on Jodi. And I was like two years? Won't take me two years. Surely it did take two years. And I since that time, notice that everything after that has also taken two years, when we implemented a new backbone software, two years when we implemented EOS two years. And when we implemented the core system or ISO system, it was two years like in hindsight. So things are all with a longer than, than I think, and I think that's the impact to the organization is that, you know, I'm rushing to the next idea and not allowing things to germinate. I think I think that's where you're going with the question like, what's the impact to the people, right? It's just that lack of traction?

Angela Armstrong 18:22  
And so would you say that has resolved now? Or you've cured it? Or is it changing slowly over time, because you've been using the system for a while, I've seen you achieve remarkable operational efficiency, and no business is perfect. There's moving parts that you can't predict. So I'm curious, when you implemented it, you knew that you would gain some value from it? What was the response of your team? Like, how did you have to socialize this with a team, if it took two years, probably the first year was getting buy in and having people agree that it was needed, because you're asking them to step out of their comfort zone, you're asking them to, to learn something that they don't feel as essential?

Jodi Scarlett 19:03  
Well, funny story. So I came back from one of the WIPO meetings and, you know, in true God style, I just said, like, we're doing this new thing, EOS, at our senior leadership meeting. And my business partner, Scott, he fully objected. He was like, we've done too many new things. And we need a break from new things and no more new things. And I said, Well, you know, we'll just do it here. It's really no big deal. It's just a sort of like meeting agenda. And all it means is that in the senior management meetings, I'm gonna run the agenda a different way. That's all can you live with that? And so that was stage one buy in. Right? So senior leadership meetings, so I didn't have an implementer or whatnot at that time. So senior leadership meetings is just me, trying to figure out how to run like an L 10. style meeting, but it's funny because it starts with the first thing you do is you have to actually have a segue or a personal share at the beginning of the meeting. And I remember thinking back to how awkward that was like, we're talking to a meeting of four people. Now, this is not a big group. And everyone has to say, like, maybe something they did on the weekend, or something that they ate for dinner, or, you know, something like that. And it was so weird to even like start with, relating personally. And then we just did that for a while. And we we started doing the scorecard. We really liked the scorecard, because my partner's really analytical, and it added some structure to how my Vp opsonized started relating to the material. And so it just started flowing, like we were doing it at the senior management meeting, and then gradually, like, they started like it and I said, Well, you know, there's some grants, maybe we could get a coach and, you know, do some training, you know, for some of the team. And, you know, they said, Okay, well, that sounds good. And then you know, we hired somebody to come and implement it a little bit more widely to the next, you know, layer out. So then we were at about 25 out of 75 in the organization. And then, and then they kind of got into it, we did a retreat, and then the next thing, you know, it trickles down. So it took two years imagine

Angela Armstrong 21:19  
the two year rule. So do you think everyone else agreed that there was a problem in the business at that time?

Jodi Scarlett 21:26  
I don't think they could have articulated it. But I think they certainly would have felt a sense of whiplash, you know, what are we doing that? Why are we doing this? Like, what's the direction like, I just don't think they could have articulated it beyond being busy. But I feel now they, when you have something to compare to, certainly now everybody is rowing dedicated, it didn't work smoothly at the beginning, even with the system, like you have to really commit like, a lot of a lot of people I know started this system and quit. But you know, I think that really sticking to it. In hindsight, you can see the difference and identify that there was an issue, but they didn't know at the time,

Angela Armstrong 22:06  
oh, if you put the frogs in the pot, turn the water up really slowly, the heat up. They never know that anything that they're in danger, because they're just acclimated to the environment, when you hire new people now, do you think about your recruitment differently now that you've got this cadence?

Jodi Scarlett 22:26  
Well, we've always been in the system, we already had this component, but the system is really big on you know, hiring, firing, rewarding, evaluating based on your values. And, you know, we've always done that that was we had that in place, I think before Eos. But certainly one thing with EOS is we've reevaluated our values a lot more constantly and given ourselves permission to sort of adapt and adjust them. I think that we certainly, I think we, you know, I think our values are different than than money like they're, they're unusual, like one of them is trust in best intentions. And that's defined in our organization as meaning that we know that the other people are working to the same end as us. And when I explain it to the staff, I would say like, you know, when a project manager picks up the phone to call the crew chief and say, what, you know, why didn't you finish the baseboard in the spare bedroom? Did they yell at them? Or do they say What happened? And usually, you know, if you say what happened, the crew chiefs gonna say, well, that door was locked, you know, I couldn't access that room or something like that? Do we really need to, you know, jump on people? Or can we really trust in best intentions and find out what happened. And I think when we hire people that are willing to operate like that, you know, it always shows through, the customer reviews are funny, because when they when they write back, they say, you know, your people are just so exceptional, like, they're never going to say your staff trusted best intentions. But they certainly talk about how exceptional and kind and thoughtful and conscientious the staff are. And I certainly see that feedback, you know, matching how we're hiring based on values.

Angela Armstrong 24:18  
That's a really good insight, because it's not just systems and processes that were at the center. Do you think that the fact that you had that sort of people philosophy before you even tried to implement the systems? Do you have a sense of whether you could have been successful without having that kind of core, those core values already defined before you started to kind of implement and innovate this process, new kind of process system?

Jodi Scarlett 24:47  
Well, I think it was because I was doing hiring. And even though before it was Arctic, even back in the days before it was articulated as clearly had a single the single point of hire Like if you were in a business where, you know, maybe that wasn't filtered through same individual, could he I could easily see that going off track. But even when we weren't articulated, I remember one time doing a personal histories exercise at a retreat and going around the room. And everyone was saying, what they had there a little bit of their career background. And I learned in that moment that about 70% of the people in the room of about 25 people. So about 70% of them had all worked in the hospitality industry at one point in their career. And I thought, you know, this is not an accident. I wasn't looking for that on their resumes, but I realized that I'm hiring on values, like I'm hiring people that know how to service and help people. So was it an accident? Maybe? Could it be replicated without systems? I think people could do it by accident, if, if they really know what they were looking for. Just couldn't voice it. But you know, now we've grown and other people are doing the hiring. So good thing that we've got it written down somewhere.

Angela Armstrong 26:05  
And we'll certainly if you have it defined, and you know what the rules and the parameters are? It's Is it easier to replicate? Do you find that you is your your degree of success in hiring and retaining changed, since you've been very methodical about that recruitment process, according to values and the end the the framework that you built around? Who what kind of person will thrive inside of your business?

Jodi Scarlett 26:29  
Well, hiring is never perfect, you know, in general, you know, so it's not perfect, but overall, yeah, some of the ways that we've learned to articulate and some of the great questions that we've learned to ask people are really telling, like one of the ones that we talk about a lot, one of our values is make change, you know, meaning, can you take feedback? Can you make change, like, are you a person that can see your part in any given situation and adjust? And there's some really good tactical kind of interview questions that we can ask around people's ability to make change. And if we've asked people in interview, tell me about a time when you you know how to conflict at work, and how you resolve that, when we can get these fake answers, like if people can't admit a personal flaw, or what they learned or be vulnerable, we're really not inviting them onto our team. And I would say that's made a world of difference.

Angela Armstrong 27:24  
When I was researching for this episode, change management and process management, I came across this concept of the dynamic of failure. It says that big successful companies often get stuck in their thinking styles based on the success of the past. Now, that makes sense. But what was really interesting is they broke it down into four different areas that can become strategic Achilles heels for the companies. The first one is the blinders. The second is routines. The third they described as shackles, and the fourth are dogmas. Let me break these down for you a little bit. blinders are the strategic frameworks that you built over time that help you identify patterns, for example, who are your buyers and what is driving their decision making, but they can also prevent you over time, because you become a devotee of those patterns or expert in those patterns. They stop you from seeing new opportunities or even risks in the market. Surprising new information can get distorted through the lens of this expectation, and come in and fit into the pattern. So therefore, you miss the new information altogether. An example of this is Firestone versus Michelin Michelin had built these radial tires, and done very, very well in Europe with these. And when they first entered the North American market. Firestone had a pretty commanding marketplace, had some complacency, there weren't really producing tires at full throttle. And they didn't really react quickly to this new entrant their expectation was their clients are going to buy tires in a certain frequency. Well, radial tires last twice as long as what Firestone was producing, meaning that the shift to radial could impact Firestone not just from the perspective of somebody buying a substitute product. But also if they turn themselves to radio, they're having to retool all their plants, and potentially sell half as many tires. This is a big problem for a business. And so they sort of put blinders on and that this new competitor wasn't such a big problem. After all, obviously, that didn't turn out to be true. The second one is your routines. These are the processes in your business or the way you've always done things. And managers and people within your team get comfortable doing things a certain way. In fact, we encourage them to be highly effective at their jobs and to find a way of doing it that's cost effective, it's time effective, and that allows us to compete on price and time in the market. But if you are stuck in the way you've always done things and you You're not willing to change and consider new technology that's coming in, you just may be setting yourself up for failure. The third one is shackles. And this is in the form of relationships. What they say is, well, we all nurture and cultivate relationships, we know they're important. You need to have good relationships within your supply chain, your lenders, other people in your market, and especially your core clients, but they can also doll your sense of innovation, because you may be reluctant to make hard choices that break the trust that you've embedded into those relationships. Boeing is an example an organization that got trapped in this when Airbus's new, more fuel efficient engine was announced it caught them really by surprise, they were years behind in innovation. And in order to accommodate a new competitive fuel efficient engine model, they would have to rebuild their craft that would require new certification, which is costly and time consuming new pilot training for all of their customers. And it could effectively put them out of the sales cycle for up to a decade, while their clients who often would have a single type of aircraft in their fleet would have to cycle out of those to acquire the new one. So there's a lot at risk. So they compromised on adjusting the model to not disrupt these clients and their expectations. They did all this because they were concerned that delays in coming up with his new fuel efficient engine model would disrupt them to the tune of about $35 billion in revenue. Unfortunately, with the crashes of the 737 maxes due to what we know now was a problem with software put in to mitigate the rush job that they did on these new engines, that's ultimately cost him so far over $100 billion. The last one to consider is dogmas. Which is really ironic to me, because a dogma is really a value gone bad. And when we talk about being an entrepreneurial organization, we always start with our values. And we're going to hear today about the values that are enshrined in recruitment and making sure that people are aligned based on value not necessarily on skill set or experience. But sometimes, over time, values become the press that you should no longer believe because it no longer serves you. They become enshrined and taboo to question. Blackberry, for example, rim was a very slow adaptive, technologically cycled business, they believed that they would do things in an engineered way, very slowly, very methodically, they also had a bit of a bias or shackled to their customer base, because of course, you know, they were serving a lot of government clients. But when Apple was coming along and putting out the iPhone, they really didn't see that consumer demand was going to start to drive demand for changes in their product. And they kept on doing their methodical engineering cycle. While Apple was putting out a new product every year, rim was struggling to keep up in 2009, they had 20% of the market share that diminished down to nearly 0% in 2016, when they were acquired by a Chinese consumer goods company called TCL. So all of these four things, the dogmas, the shackles, your business processes and routines, and the blinders, that are patterns that are no longer serving you and your business can all contribute to failure.

Angela Armstrong 33:24  
But do you get the ideas that are going to fuel the next iteration of positive change inside your business that I think of as small AI innovation? It's not artificial intelligence. It's not inventing a whole new robotic process. But it's looking out in the marketplace. And of all the people I've known in my entrepreneurial journey, you're one of the persons that I think does that so well is kind of look out in the market to see what you can adopt and adapt

Jodi Scarlett 33:55  
a few things. There's a few parts to it, I think it's a big question. But I like your characterization of small AI innovation for the entrepreneurial conferences, where you have a mix of industries, also in industry conferences, but sometimes I find those a bit narrow and myopic, like, just not enough ideas inside the industry. I get a lot more ideas when I look outside the industry. And then I get a lot of ideas about like I listened to speakers, you know, and I listened to them talk about what the things that are going on, like I love listening about, you know, Millennials has been you know, the last five years, we've all been talking about millennials and millennial culture or artificial intelligence or you know, how that impacts things. And as much as I think well, how could that impact my business? You know, artificial intelligence. If you don't know like, for me, if I don't know what's going on out there. I can't have that armchair view. So I try and do that and then and then I I do this thing like my espionage tours. People are really great, like they'd let you into their businesses. You know, like, I have traveled all over North America visiting with different restorers, you know, they've had me in their facilities, they give me their paperwork for heaven's sakes, you know, they've, they, and I've given the mind, don't get me wrong, like we've equally shared and help each other, we're out of market. So it's quite useful that way. But between all these things, like just really thinking about it, and then looking really kind of far out of my market, I've been able to kind of put together best practices and sort of like a patchwork quilt like this guy, does this really good. And this woman over here does this really well. And my vision is coming together, this is how I want to do it. And that when you mentioned in the question, you mentioned, you know, we had put in place this contents process and how did that look. And you know, there was a lot of parts to it, there was process parts, there was all kinds of things, and they all kind of got married together into a fairly cohesive change that we rolled out.

Angela Armstrong 36:00  
I love how you characterize it espionage, but I but I think of espionage as requiring a lot more subterfuge. And I know you you're direct, you're honest, and you're authentic, you merely ask and people are happy to share. And I love that there's reciprocity in that for you that you also share your best practices and your ideas and your takeaways, an industry that is better, makes its customers happier, which is better for the industry. So that feedback cycle, I think of helping others become better with their best practices. And when you're thinking about a problem that you're trying to solve, is there a process or a strategy you've employed within your business that allows you to really poke at that problem from a whole bunch of different perspectives? Like what does that look like inside your business?

Jodi Scarlett 36:52  
You know, not all, not all problems are, require innovation, some of them just require problem solving, but in a way they they have some commonalities in terms of what you're talking about. So a few things. One is that, you know, defining the issue can be a challenge, because sometimes I think something's an issue, and nobody else in my company thinks it's an issue. Like, we just had this this week, where I was getting after some of the staff that this problem that I was seeing about a service deliverable, and they just didn't understand why I thought this was an issue. And it took actually quite a long conversation for them to see why I was even digging in. So defining the problem, one sort of thing. The other thing is part of that ISO system that we run, has something called improvement, opportunity reporting.

Angela Armstrong 37:44  
Change Management is really important for a business. Typically, though, you have to think about change as not something that happens periodically, with long periods of stagnation between it and particularly not in the piece of our economy today. Change is something you need to practice every single day in small ways and small iterations of change. Practice within your team, make them far more agile, when it comes to something big, a substantial shift that you need to make in your business. Maybe we're seeing the consequences of the problem. But that's not the root cause I love that you talk about kind of distilling it down to that root cause. Is there a problem in your business that you have been unable to solve so far? By doing those those conversations?

Jodi Scarlett 38:31  
Well,  I think there there have been a couple of things in the last few years that we we've made really good progress in the last couple of years. So one of them was around, you know, the business is exceptionally cyclical, you know, in restoration, like it's freezing out, okay, it's busy, it's raining out, okay, it's busy. It's exceptionally cyclical. And then sometimes you have a catastrophe that adds to the use, you have to be geared up to handle these sort of large events. And then you have to scale right down and work anytime. That cyclical nature of the business had been causing quite a few problems, because, you know, you build your overhead and you've got these highs and lows and you're trying to sort of level the curve. And in business school, we think about how to offset seasonality. Like if you have a lawn mowing business, you start a snow shoveling business to offset seasonality. Well, I had thought like, how do we do this, like geography would help like having a bigger basket, what held was sort of what I've been thinking about, and that's, that's a hard problem to solve, like, a little local company doesn't become a national company overnight. And, you know, we did join a national franchise group to have a little bit more reach but wasn't necessarily exceptionally changing the size of our basket immediately. So we decided that, well, we'll go to we'll go to where the jobs are. You know what we have To make the basket bigger. So we, we just decided we're going to launch cap services and remote large loss services. And without starting locations and a whole bunch of geographies, we will travel to the work remotely and find a way to use local resources compare are paired with our internal resources to do this work, and that's gone really well. But it was like an unsolvable problem that we've been solving.

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