The Alimond Show

Luis Lugo of LLUGO LLC General Contracting

January 04, 2024 Alimond Studio
The Alimond Show
Luis Lugo of LLUGO LLC General Contracting
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

What if you could elevate your business by prioritizing service over profits? Our esteemed guest, a successful entrepreneur and a visionary, has made this a reality. Starting his journey as an optician, he climbed the ladder of success, exploring different paths, including real estate and construction, before establishing Sherlington Kitchen and Bath, a well-known kitchen and bath design studio. Learn how his unwavering commitment to customer service and understanding their unique needs drove him to success.

As we journey through the process of building a business, we gather invaluable advice on service excellence and the role of integrity. Find out how to surpass customer expectations, why being authentic and doing what's right is vital, and how this mindset can revolutionize your business. Moreover, we explore the art of finding and retaining the right people, emphasizing the significance of surrounding yourself with a competent team that complements your skill set.

In a riveting reflection, we delve into the importance of nurturing relationships in our personal and professional life, the value of faith, and the lessons learned from not seeking advice. Our guest illustrates how he overcame his challenges by relying on his support system, including his faith and family. This episode is indeed a goldmine of insights, particularly for those interested in building a successful business with service and integrity at its core. You'll be inspired to challenge the norm, reconsider your priorities, and embrace the satisfaction derived from service excellence.

Speaker 1:

That's right. Tell me a little bit about what you love. What did you do? What are you doing with your life right now? How are you building your business? Give me the low down.

Speaker 2:

The low down. Well, you know the low down. I guess you'd have to back up a little bit as far as to get to right now. You know I've always been very interested in service. Service is a big deal for me. I can remember, even at a young age, you know. You see those, those, those movies and images of a car pulling up to a gasoline station and five guys jump out and once doing the air pressure, the other ones cleaning the windshield, the other ones checking the oil, and that was a. That's a big impression on me. You know, I I really loved service from the get go. So right now what we're doing is we're providing service in in the different fields where we, where we operate.

Speaker 1:

Can you give me a little more on that? Or listeners who have no idea what you're talking about right now.

Speaker 2:

Sure. So you know, basically, um, you know, when it comes to business, you want to be able to find. You know, there's people who are entrepreneurs, they love to do what they do, or they want to go out and do something. Right, they just can't sit in a cubicle per se, and so for that type of person, you know, what you want to do is you want to find what you love. What is it that you really enjoy? What is it that you love to do?

Speaker 2:

In my case, it was service. I love providing a service, I love educating people, I love helping them, uh, in whatever the need may be. So I went to school for opticianry, uh, eyeglasses, that's what I went to school for, and I love doing that. Now, as a young man, you know you like money, right, everybody loves money. So I thought you know what. You can't make too much money doing this.

Speaker 2:

So I kind of shifted over into the real estate world and I'm coming around back to what service means. But I shifted to the real estate world. But even in the real estate world, you learn that there's a lot of people there just for the money, uh, or maybe because they have to be, unfortunately, um, and so I said, well, what am I doing here? Am I here just for the money? And I thought, no, what I care about is service. So I started offering service in the real estate world and what that meant was educating myself, understanding the principles, understanding the business, understanding what that transaction was all about. How do I offer service? And really, the definition of service boils down to enhancing someone's experience, right, making them better, uh, from the start to the finish. So I found out ways that I could help people in the real estate world by understanding, uh, the transactions, the agreements, uh, giving better advice.

Speaker 2:

Um, people were very much appreciative, um, from real estate. I thought you know what? I'm kind of tired of running around showing houses, uh, doing the, the mundane part, because as an entrepreneur, uh, you're always looking for the next thing, right, you're always looking to see, uh, okay, well, I've done this, I've climbed that mountain, what's the next mountain? So I was always very hands on. I started a construction company. Uh, always enjoyed construction, and that's kind of where we are right now. But again I said, what am I going to do to make this experience a great experience for the end user or the client? And what I found is just like in real estate, just like an opticianry, uh, construction has a big lack in service. Uh, it's really more about what can I do, how, what, how much money can I make? Um, and a lot of times, uh, it's not in the client's best interest. So what I've been doing for the last 10 years is construction. Uh, we're class A, uh, cbc, rbc, which is residential building contractor and commercial building contractors.

Speaker 2:

Um, for the last 10 years, we've been looking for innovative ways to really provide that service to clients where we can just knock it out of the park, and that included having to become educated. Um, you know, as an entrepreneur, you feel like you are Superman. Sometimes, right, I can do everything, but really, if you're going to provide um true service, uh, great advice, you really have to know what you're talking about. And so, um, it took the time to become very well educated in the construction field, traveled all across the United States, uh, going to different technical training after different technical training, becoming certified in just about everything that we do, uh, so that we could offer that great advice and service. And so, for the last 10 years we've been very successful. Uh, very little to no advertising, pretty much all word of mouth, uh, and it all boils down to that same thing. Is, you know, our heart to provide service? Uh, to enhance people's experience, not just to come in and say, yeah, we can paint this wall, you know, for $500, and at the end of the day, you're like why did I hire this guy? This is a terrible experience. On the flip side, our clients, um, you know our goal and this is our marketing plan or our business plan that people would hire us 10 years later. Um, and so we want to perform in such a way that people want to think, or they think about us 10 years down the road and, as a result, um, they end up hiring us six months later for the.

Speaker 2:

If it was a bathroom, then it's a kitchen. If it was a kitchen, then it's two bathrooms. Uh, and then the latest um thing that we've done is we've started Sherlington kitchen and bath. Sherlington kitchen and bath is a kitchen and bath um design studio. We saw the need.

Speaker 2:

A lot of the clients on the construction side uh, constantly complained hey, we can't find. You said go look for tile here. And we're looking for tile, but no service. We don't understand what we need. Um, we're having to go from store to store to find the different products, um, and so, after kind of hearing that over and over, I said you know what, uh we can, we can fix that. You know, if there's a need, um, and we fix it, it can be, you know, uh, a very lucrative thing. So in 2019, we started Sherlington kitchen and bath. Um, it was kind of just a conceptual idea. We didn't actually open up anything, but we started the company and we plan on having our soft opening November 6th. So we are the dealers for just about every product that involves kitchen and bath. Um, we have an in-house designer, uh, in-house marketing team, and we've just been very slowly but surely, um, kind of wrapping our heads around that idea of service and it's it's really, uh, come a long way.

Speaker 1:

First of all, congratulations. That's like such a exciting thing to finally bring to life with the soft or the grand opening, soft opening coming up. But uh, two questions for you. Number one what does your bathroom look like at home?

Speaker 2:

So actually, that's a great question. My bathroom at home is amazing, but not because of what you may think. Um, so in our search for a home, um, you know we were, we we've had all sorts of homes, uh, I'm in the real state world, right? Uh, but in our search for a home, we were really hoping and there's no way I want to answer your question, but it's almost like I have to back up for you to get it Um, in our search for a home, we wanted land, and so we were very fortunate to find a piece of property. Uh, are you familiar with the wood bridge area? Not so much. Okay, potomac Mills, yes, okay.

Speaker 2:

So my home is 10 minutes, eight minutes, from Potomac Mills, and I live on a 10 acre lot, surrounded on what I believe to be one of the most beautiful streets, surrounded by other awesome communities. Um, now, this is, of course, is an older home, um, as built in 1979, but when it was built, it was built by a doctor, and that doctor went out all out for 1979. So, to answer your question, my bathroom is 10 feet by 22 feet, and so it has a his and hers side. So my closet and my sink on this side, her closet and sink on her side, which are massive. And then there's the middle section which we can both walk into from their respective sides. That has a shower, uh, a tub and, of course, the commode.

Speaker 2:

Um, now it is fully original. No, no type of renovation in there. Um, I just love the way it is. Yeah, my wife will say, um, you know, not that she necessarily must have a renovated bathroom, but she says, do you think we can do some improvements here? And for me, I'm a very simple person. Although I enjoy providing service, I enjoy having people smile when they see that transformation. Personally I'm very simple. I just enjoy service myself, but I don't have to have all the fancy stuff.

Speaker 1:

Now you keep saying the word service. Now, for somebody who has no idea in terms of what that means specifically, can you give very practical, if you are teaching somebody how to provide good service, like tactical items that you would do that are different.

Speaker 2:

And the reason.

Speaker 1:

I ask is. We have a small business owner audience that like listen to our podcast and giving them very concrete. Here's some different tips. It was very helpful for them.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely so. The way I see service is again, you provide something that causes the end user or the recipient to have an enhanced experience. That can equal so many things, depending on the business, but at the end of the day. So I think you can sum it up in a few words you do what you do with excellence, and here's how I explain excellence to my children. I say go ahead and tidy the couch, and I don't know what do you call those pillows? What do you call those pillows? I don't know these little pillows like the one you have over there. I can't remember what you call them.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, there's pillows here and a lot of times the pillow will kind of make its way down to the bottom of the couch. I said if I asked you to tidy the couch, you could pick up the pillow and put it in its place and you would have complied with my request to tidy the couch. But if you were doing it with excellence, you would fluff the pillow, you would pull the corners out, you would make sure that the couch was you know any dust or trash that maybe would be cleaned off, and then you'd set the pillow in such a way that it would be enjoyable to look at. So that's excellence. The other thing which I think you could sum up with service is using integrity.

Speaker 2:

A lot of times, as business owners, we know more than the end user, and sometimes the end user can be so I don't want to use the word ignorant, but maybe not aware of what you know they're really looking for, that we can take advantage of the end user. We could say, oh well, you know what, I can upsell this person and I'm gonna make a little more money, but at the end of the day, is that gonna create a better experience for the end user? So again, another word I would use is integrity. You find out what they need and you look to give them exactly what they need and sometimes, by the way, it can be an upsell. They might be looking for something that, at the end of the day, is gonna cause an additional expense, right? So, for example, they're gonna replace their cabinets and they're looking to save some money, but you know they're in a humid environment, so you're not gonna want to necessarily sell MDF, right, mdf being a compressed particle wood, because that might bubble up over time. And so you say, hey, that is gonna be the most cost-effective thing. But I think what you really need is gonna be, you know, solid wood material for these base cabinets Because over time, you won't have to deal with it. And then you allow them to make the decision. That's integrity, and integrity is just sticking to what is right. You know you say the right thing is for me to look out for their interest and, of course, throughout my experience of opticianry, real estate, construction and now material sales, it's always been about what is the best thing for the client. I represent them, they're coming to me, they're trusting me to be able to give them the best advice.

Speaker 2:

So practical things for service, use excellence in everything that you do. Seek to be the best. Educate yourself, you know. Don't make it that it's just enough that you know the one thing about the one product. What about the products that are gonna be associated with the one product? Understand the overall of whatever it is that you're doing, right If it's renovations. Understand how the floor joist will ultimately affect the cabinet installation if they're not straight. And then use integrity, you know. Make sure that you're not cutting corners. Yes, you might make a little bit more money, but at the end of the day, I think anybody who's been in business for any amount of time will tell you that money should never be the reason. Should never be the reason.

Speaker 1:

I think for business owners that's such good feedback. Thank you for that Very specific. That was good. I think for a lot of business owners it's a little bit hard because, like you said, sometimes people come in. Actually most times in my experience people come in.

Speaker 2:

They don't know what they want.

Speaker 1:

They come in and they're like oh, I think I need headshots for my LinkedIn, for example, yeah. And then it's not until you talk to them and they're like oh, I'm also gonna be a speaker in two weeks for this thing. Oh, yeah, I need something for that also. Oh, you're doing social media? Yeah, I am Well. Do you have photos for that? No, do I need photos for that?

Speaker 1:

Yes, you do, you know, like, you just like really get into it and you start finding out really what their true needs are at. So then they come in expecting this thing. I'm sure you deal with it as well. They come in wanting this thing and then you realize, no, actually not that you need it, but you could use it for 30 other items going on. But if you don't ask the right questions at the beginning, as a business owner you're never gonna get to it. But I've also. My point is I've also got to the. I've talked with other business owners where they feel it's out of integrity to sell somebody something more than what they originally came in for. And my thought process I'm curious, what yours is is no, that I don't believe that's out of integrity to offer them more than what they came in for, because at the end of the day it's up to them to decide do they wanna move forward with it or do they wanna just stick to the original thing that they came in for?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, well, I think the best way to answer because you said what are your thoughts on it? I think the best way to answer it is you really have to know what. The question is right. You said some people think it's outside of integrity to try to offer more than what they came into. And then you said I think it's part of being integrity, or using integrity, to offer those different things and let them choose. Well, here's how I would personally do it myself. The word integrity again has to do with you doing what is right. So it's not one or the other, it's what is right for that application, right.

Speaker 2:

So if somebody's coming to take headshots, for example, and you know they're a business owner, if you asked me what I would personally do is I would create a plan. I would say listen, I know that. Here are the different applications. There's a wedding application, there is a professional business owner application, there's a family application right, and so forth. Well, what am I gonna provide for, in this case, the business owner?

Speaker 2:

Well, I think the best way for this business owner to have the packet he needs to succeed. He's gonna need a headshot, he's gonna need multiple pictures with multiple shirts, let's say, if he's male, whatever female, you're gonna want different outfits. You're gonna, presumably I know nothing about taking pictures, by the way, but presumably this person's gonna have social media, presumably they might be asked to speak, presumably they might wanna put their photo on their website, and so I'm gonna create a package that really fully encompasses what these potential needs would be, and I'm gonna present it as a holistic package, right? And that way they have the opportunity to say you know what I do and I do foresee needing these things, so let me go ahead and knock them out of the take care of them now. Knock this out of the way now, because I don't wanna keep coming.

Speaker 2:

As much as I'm sure you guys are fabulous, I don't know that anybody wants to constantly take pictures, right? So you make it simple for them and you say you know what? Here's a package? It's really not. And here's I'm gonna backtrack a little bit. The way we do it is we never make pricing the focal point of the service. How?

Speaker 2:

do you do that. The way we do that is we have a conversation. What are your goals? What is it that you're trying to accomplish here? Well, I want the most beautiful, fancy, you know chic bathroom you could ever have imagined Perfect. Let me connect you with my designer. She has, you know, literally 15, 20 years experience in the field. She's a grad, a design graduate, and has been in this field for quite a while. She knows exactly what you're looking for, will create some 3D renderings, will get everything picked out for you and, of course, you're part of the project. Part of the project and the process is what I meant and at the end, we'll provide you exactly what you're looking for. If you feel you need to pull some things back, we can always pull some things back, but let us show you that we can actually do what you're thinking.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And then they decide. They decide what they want to spend. We've had clients say we're on a budget, we don't want to spend more than X. At the end they spent four times X and they were thrilled. But they approached us with that attitude because of so many other experiences where it's all about I'm charging you for this, oh, you want a screw there, yeah, we'll charge you for the screw, or you want this? And so they've approached us because of bad experiences. And then we've had clients that have said the sky's the limit and they end up spending just the absolute minimum.

Speaker 2:

So it really boils down to addressing situations, you creating the package and letting the client choose. So, for example, hey, we have a package that's gonna be strictly headshots. You can use these headshots for all social media, so forth, here and that. But we also have a package that's kind of an all-encompassing package. If you foresee having to present yourself for an event, for your website or so forth, here's what we have found you're gonna need.

Speaker 2:

And so here are the two packages and, of course, at some point, if you're anything like me, the price is usually the last thing that I ask about. Right? I wanna understand what is it that you as the professional photographer are suggesting, and if I have a sense that you are a professional, then I'm really gonna take you at your word. But of course that's where the education comes in, right. If I start asking questions and you're stumbling all over yourself to give me answers and the answers don't make sense, at that point I'm gonna say, well, I think this person still has a little bit to go. I might need to find someone else. So education and really providing those different packages that you know as a professional are needed. So again back to integrity. It's not one or the other, it's which one is the right thing for that particular client.

Speaker 1:

Speaking of education, how do you educate your clients before they come in, before you guys have that conversation for the first time?

Speaker 2:

Well, actually, education is like my favorite thing to discuss. I guess you can almost say the way I do. It is we always when somebody reaches out and says hey, we're interested in a bathroom or winter, so, whatever it might be, we schedule a complimentary 30 minute phone call. That 30 minute phone call is to, first of all, make sure that we're compatible, right. We wanna understand the project, we understand the goals and, the same time, we take the time to educate them about what they just said their expectations are. So, for example, if somebody said you know, I have a powder room and I'm wanting to turn that into a shower, a full bath with a shower and tub, Well, believe it or not, it's doable. We can turn a powder room into a full bathroom, but it's gonna take up space from somewhere else. We're certainly not gonna be able to do it within that four by six space that you have for the powder room.

Speaker 1:

But wait, Ikea can. No, I've never been in there and I got like these itty-bitty little.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, but they're not to code. There are such a thing as code. So what we do at that moment is we say, well, first of all, I'll always take a step back and I'll let them know who they're talking to. So we are Class A, cbcrbc, which stands for Commercial Building, residential Building Contractor. In Virginia there's 25 different construction licenses, because if you were to ask a contractor, are you a licensed contractor? 25 people will say yes, but not all 25 are capable of performing this particular scope of work. Our licenses allows us. And blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Speaker 2:

Right, so we will explain to them at that point, educate them on what construction really is. We'll let them know that we primarily focus on structural repairs and therefore we are the perfect partner to partner with them, because when you start doing renovations that involve moving walls and relocating space, it does involve structural engineers. Many times we work very closely with structural engineers and that's really part of our forte, of what we do. The benefit to the client we'll explain is that we'll never say you need to find another person to do this part, so then we can continue to do our part. We do the whole thing, start to finish soup to nuts, as some people say and so we'll educate them on our capabilities, and then we'll educate them on what their expectation is.

Speaker 2:

Well, what's your expectation of timeframe? Oh well, I was hoping you'd be able to do it by the weekend, right? Well, it is gonna take a little longer than that because there is Even if it was Monday because we do have to create a design submitted to the county for approval. That in itself takes a week or two. Then, once we receive it, there is some planning process, there's the selection process.

Speaker 1:

But so and so so that they could get it done in a weekend or by next week.

Speaker 2:

We love to hear that and so, so and so could very well be able to do it. As a matter of fact, we can do it as well. The difference is that we take into account all of the technical aspects of building this. So if you're not concerned with your house being full of dust and you're not concerned with the experience, we can come in here and just become a tornado, rip everything out and just really completely annoy you for the next week. Or we can do it the right way, and let me explain the right way. We'll explain our process.

Speaker 2:

We do leverage social media. So, interestingly enough, I'm not on social media anywhere, with the exception of LinkedIn, because I think one of the marketing people said I should have that, but I don't have a Facebook account. I don't have any social media whatsoever, but we do leverage it. So our business has an Instagram page, and so the first thing I do is I open up the Instagram page and I say, if I'm with them, I'll show them. I'll say here's why you don't wanna do it in a week. You see this, this is the process. If they're on the phone, I'll say, hey, do you have access to the internet or to go online and they'll say, yeah, absolutely. I say, do you have Instagram? And most people say yes. I'll say let me show you. Go to this particular post and you see, this post is showing essentially what you're wanting to do. Do you see why that's not possible? Oh, wow, this, that the other.

Speaker 1:

So I love that you have visuals and a story framework behind your educational conversations you're having with people so that you can send them to those visuals. Having it on social media, too, is brilliant, because it's not just like a 10-page PDF document that you're sending them that nobody wants to get into their email.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely.

Speaker 1:

It continue. I just think that's brilliant.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, well, you know, personally I'm very visual, so I don't I don't enjoy necessarily reading, but of course I'm glad to read whatever is necessary so that I can understand. You know what the what I'm doing? We think that part of providing a service is making it simple for the client to grasp your vision and understand why you do things the way you do them and really why that's the better way. I like to say this to my children all the time, and actually say this to a lot of the employees and people that I work with I will ask you to do something, a particular way. If you have a better way, I'm always open to hearing the better way, but if your way is ultimately not better, you do it how I say it right, I'm willing to, you know, change everything up, and I think that's part of you know, the flexibility in business. You have to be willing to say, hey, my ways doesn't seem to be the better way.

Speaker 2:

I've had instances where you know an employee who just started will be in a meeting and they'll blurt something out, and I'm like, no, it's gonna be this way. And they're like, well, what about if you did it this way? And I'm like that's genius, you know. And so what do I do? At that point, do I say, no, no, you just started, you don't know any better? No, no, you do what they say, that's right.

Speaker 2:

So you know again, service is a big thing for us. It's really what our business revolves around. But I will say this you have to be very careful. You can and I've been there, you can get so service oriented that it becomes unfeasible to really operate. Right, you have to have processes.

Speaker 2:

I've done it to the extreme where I never collect a payment because I'm like waiting for the project to be finished and my accounting team is like, hey, we do need to receive money. I'm like, well, I don't wanna charge them because, you know, I don't wanna ask them for money, and this, of course, was many years ago. I'd be like I don't wanna ask for money. It just seems like we're being pushy and they're like, no, we need to operate. And so over the years, you know, we found ways to provide a service but at the same time, be very flexible and common sense oriented. Right, and I found that people, for the most part, are very open and understanding. There's only a small majority of people that are wanting to take advantage of you. You know they're wanting to find a way to kind of get one over you, but for the most part people are very flexible.

Speaker 1:

I have a percent of grace. Sometimes, when I'm talking about different marketing campaigns or different offers that we have with people outside of my team, I will hear that same feedback. But won't most people do X, y and Z?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I'm like you might think so, but in my 12 years of experience, no, there'll be one or two people that will take advantage of it, but otherwise everyone's honest and you know and you know, what I found is, when those one or two people come in, your standard of professionalism kind of makes them want to Take a step up, yeah, and not take advantage of it, because they're like, oh, you know, this kind of look, this is embarrassing, right, these guys are professionals. But when you don't have that standard of excellence, when you don't have that standard of integrity, when you don't have that level of professionalism, you almost Open yourself up for those people to take advantage of you.

Speaker 1:

I agree, so I love to switch gears, just a little bit here, this is your not fourth career, third career kind of but fourth business with the opening of the retail.

Speaker 2:

Well, there's certainly been others in the middle, but yes, entrepreneurial.

Speaker 1:

Tell me a little bit about your upbringing. How did you get here?

Speaker 2:

because You're like a one-personer, you know yeah, well, actually, oddly enough and I and I'll hopefully get a chance to touch on that last thing you said one person or later on, but Upringing, I guess you know very, very middle class, certainly not much anymore than that. You know my mother's from Mexico. My father was from Venezuela, did have a stepfather, you know not anything that I would say amazing. Growing up I was, I would say, at the very best, an average student and Probably maybe I'm being courteous with myself Not very great, yeah.

Speaker 2:

So I think what it was is it was I Tend to Disengage when I'm when, when something's not interesting, I tend to pull away when I don't see the the benefit of something. And you know I didn't necessarily have great guidance as a child, because that's not a good thing, by the way, you know it would have been great to have better guidance, perhaps because that's not the way you do it. You know, when you're not interested in something, you don't just disengage, you assess Is this not interesting because I'm being lazy, or is this not interesting because it's truly not interesting, but I should find the good in it and kind of learn what I can? Anyway, because I didn't necessarily have that guidance, I grew up kind of just Disengaging from a lot of things. But about 15 years old I think I was I Realized that there is being true to yourself and then there's being you who is not true to yourself. So you know, you, you do things that really don't matter to you because it matters to other people, and so forth.

Speaker 2:

So when I kind of really grasp Doing what is right, being true to yourself, not coming up with excuses because excuses are available, not using Technicalities to get out of things, but instead and I'll use my very fame, I would call it famous, but more my own personal favorite statement going through the mud. What that means is doing things you don't want to do because they're required and they're necessary. And even though you don't Want to do them, you know that it must be done so that you can get to the end goal. So when I kind of got that sense that you know what, sometimes you got to go through the mud. Nobody likes to get muddy, nobody likes to get their shoes muddy, nobody likes the feeling of walking on mud, but sometimes you have to do those things, you have to go to those classes, you have to Realize that you did wrong and you need to go apologize and you have to realize that your attitude wasn't right and you need to correct that within yourself.

Speaker 2:

As I learned those things and I put more emphasis on them, it just kind of propelled me personally to the next level, right?

Speaker 2:

So there's more to life than just, you know, getting by and just kind of avoiding the difficult things and Hustling your way through life.

Speaker 2:

I think that was a big thing in my early years where I realized, hey, there is a right and I can Convince you why I don't have to do that and maybe having a valid, because I was a master of Avating things when I was young.

Speaker 2:

You know teachers, homework, assignments, whatever I you know, and I'm not proud of it, but I was a master of, well, this is why I wasn't able to do it and and the teacher would not necessarily have an answer and they would say, okay, well, you're, because the excuse is viable, you know, okay, I'm gonna give you more time and you know, the more you do that, the more you're like I'm not being true to myself, I'm all I'm doing is just taking advantage really of of the system of life of people, and I thought I don't want to live that way. That's, that's not a way to live. And so, again, when I took on the concept of going through the mud and and really doing whatever is necessary, I Think that changed my life completely. So by the time I was 16, 17, I was, you know, one of those guys that was probably more honest than most adults are now you overcorrected.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, overcorrected, and my wife will tell you I, you know and thank God for her, because sometimes you can overcorrect to an extreme. Yeah, and and then have no sympathy or pity for anything is no excuse. As a matter of fact, it's funny. I just said that if you look out the window to my license plate, the license plate says no excuse. So that's how I live my life. No, no excuse.

Speaker 1:

I'm kind of there with you, I'm. I haven't gotten to the other side of that yet. I am in the there is no excuse type of person, and I've got young kids that don't like that at all.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, well, there's two, two license plates that I have. The first is fearless yeah, you shouldn't be afraid of anything. The second is no excuse, and so even my younger kids, because again, I have six. They span from seven to 19 and a seven year old knows no excuse. It's a matter of fact. The seven year old will correct the older ones and he'll be like you know, dad says there's no excuse, there's no excuse for that.

Speaker 1:

I told you to that same regard, yeah.

Speaker 2:

So anyway, that's a little bit of by younger years. You know again, nothing very special it was. It wasn't until I just decided there is a right and there is a wrong, and there is a right way to do things and there's a wrong way to do things. And for me, I didn't see myself living in a world where it wasn't Me doing what was right Till this day. My wife will tell you I can't be around anything fake. If it's fake, I just don't want anything to do with it. If if it's someone that's just trying to please me for something, I'll stop it right there. Hey, listen, that's not necessary. What do you mean? For example, there's sometimes people will come to you and they'll Say all the things they think you want to hear Right In business or just in general.

Speaker 1:

Well in business.

Speaker 2:

In business, people are wanting to sell you stuff all the time. You know, when we started Shirley and take kitchen and bath, we met with countless reps for different material and everybody's telling you why their stuff is the best. And I'm looking at these products and I'm saying, look, your product sucks, you know uh did you say that to them Well?

Speaker 2:

I told her many times I did. I would say listen, your product. I understand you're trying to make a living and everybody wants to sell their thing. I said do you believe in your product? Because I'm looking at your product and I don't think it's all that you have, it's all that you've made it out to be. And some people will be like you know what? You're right, it isn't, while they were trying to sell me the product and it's just about saying listen, let's get down to where the braver meets the road.

Speaker 2:

I have a small group of men that I meet with every every once, once a week, and, um, the title of my small group is being a man, the challenge of a lifetime, and we talk about things where rubber meets the road. Hey, yeah, you don't like to come home after work and have to help out at the house or wife or whatever, but at the end of the day, that's your responsibility, right? And whatever issues you're having at work, you need to fix them, so you don't bring it home. So those are the kind of things that I'm talking about, where we say you know what? Yes, you're saying all the right things, but You're not being truthful, right, you're trying to. You're trying to Make me see this pig with lipstick as this most beautiful person, and it's just not Right. So let's be honest with each other here and um like your visuals.

Speaker 2:

Well, I heard someone say that is not necessarily my original thought.

Speaker 1:

That's funny. Um, so you touched on the one percenter thing. Tell me a little bit about that, that one percent piece.

Speaker 2:

Which one percent piece did it? Was it one percent? I thought it was like you're a single person doing everything and what I, what I meant by that was what I understood by that is one person. Yes, that's what I thought you were saying.

Speaker 1:

Let's talk.

Speaker 2:

Okay, well, it's not the, the. The moral of what I'm saying is it's not a one person show. Yeah, you know, um, I have a gift, we all have a gift. We I believe we've all Been given a gift. I can't operate the, the businesses that I operate, with my gift alone. I've tried that in the past and I've said, oh, I'm very capable, and, you know, anybody who knows me will tell you that, um, I'm not one to say, hey, come help me do this. Uh, I live on a 10-acre property and we do all the maintenance ourselves, cutting the grass, my boys, it takes four hours to cut the grass. With the most Advanced equipment that landscaping offers still takes us four hours.

Speaker 1:

Uh, now we know why you have six kids.

Speaker 2:

Well, they get to benefit. But it's not. It's not because I'm this great person. My gift personally is to kind of visualize Um a solution where we can bring service to a particular area, and also to kind of bring the team together and point them in the wrong right direction. My gift is not to do marketing. My gift is not to design. My gift is certainly not to kind of manage that, the nitty gritty, day to day activities. Now, as an entrepreneur, you have to know how to do those things and you have to be able to do them to a certain level. But if you wanna take it to the next level, you have to surround yourself with people who are much better than you in those areas.

Speaker 1:

How do you find people? I wanna, because you've got multiple distances, and this is something that all business owners that are wanting to grow are really trying to find out. How do you find those good people, how do you identify them, how do you interview them and then how do you keep them?

Speaker 2:

Well, I don't know that I'm gonna be terribly helpful to all these business owners that wanna know the answers, because one of my I guess not fortes is finding people. I actually have gone through hiring so many bad people. The reason for that is, again, I'm not great at necessarily taking my time to go through stuff In the past. I'm not a great business person, believe it or not. A lot of people look at me and they say, luis, you know I've had people say can you mentor me? I'm like dude, you do not want me mentoring you. I don't have it all figured out the way you think I do.

Speaker 1:

That's reassuring to hear.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, well, anybody who has it all figured out. I would be a little skeptical, right? Because as a business owner, you can't possibly know everything. I like to think I do, but I really don't. And the more you acknowledge that you don't know everything, you start bringing people in who do.

Speaker 2:

For example, the reason I constantly hired the wrong people is I would just want somebody to say the right thing. Right, I was looking for key words. And those key words would come up like, for example, if there were gonna be in marketing, is I love social media, right, that was a key word. Stupid, but that was a key word. So I would hear something like that and I wouldn't take into account previous experiences. I wouldn't take into account, maybe, thinking about it. So Karen, who's here today, when she came on board when she came on board, she kind of saw how I was doing it. She was like no, no, you can't do that. You can't just hire people. I was like, why not? I just hired them because they sounded good. Yeah, they said key words. She's like okay, but I don't think that's a good idea, and so eventually, she doesn't know this and if she hears this, she'll find out. But I started listening to her Come on down, lou, and I'd hire some. Then I would say you know what? I want to see their resumes, because she suggested let's find people who actually have experience.

Speaker 2:

The other thing is I wasn't always being competitive with the pay, but here's why Not because I was trying to take anything away from anyone. I wasn't educated in that field. I spent so much time of my education time figuring out products and how they work and they integrate that when it came to hiring people, I was like how much do you want? I mean like. And so some people would take advantage of that and say I want $55 an hour and I'm like sounds like a lot, but is that how much those people make? I don't know, right. So I wasn't educated in that field and so I made a lot of mistakes. I hired people I shouldn't have. I don't know how. I mean, I really don't know the impact that it caused to just slow me down to the point where sometimes you get discouraged and you're like, oh Lord, is this really the pool of people to choose from? And so you know, having some advice and accepting advice from other people, I said, okay, let's start looking into what these people should make right.

Speaker 2:

And so as we became a little more educated in hiring people, I decided we're gonna hire people that are qualified for the position. And you know, I want certain qualifications, I want certain experience and I'm willing to pay top dollar when they prove themselves Up front. You know, somebody asks you for $5. I'll say I'll be glad to pay you the $5, but would you be willing to start at $4,? Right, I just wanna make sure that you are who you say you are, and I'm more than glad you know to even go past the $5, because I believe in compensating people for their work. I certainly don't wanna take anything away.

Speaker 2:

So as I became more educated, I took a little more time at the interview. I would do a follow-up interview. I would then think about it for a couple of days. It was a longer process, it was a more methodical process. Of course, if somebody comes in and they're just like the perfect candidate, no, I don't do four interviews and wait a week, right, we wanna take them on ASAP. But it really boils down to you know the same things that you would apply for your everyday life. You don't jump into things, you make educated decisions, you take the information that is available to you, and if it's enough information to make a decision, then you make a decision. If it is not enough information to make a decision, you don't make a decision. You just have to. You have to see the value of what you're offering as well, and you have to make sure that you're not compromising yourself by just simply filling a role. That will ultimately be your maybe not a demise, but it will slow your progress.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and slow you down, yeah. I think a lot of people do it because of that right there is because they've got an opening that needs to be filled and they're just quick to get in. And before we wrap this up, is there anything else I could say here? I listen to you all day. You've got so many good nuggets of wisdom and experience. I think that's the best thing, because you've gone through all this a lot of different things.

Speaker 2:

Yeah well, let me tell you, wisdom comes from failure. So it's certainly not that we've always done the right thing Experience sounds better. It certainly sounds better, but from the guy who's no excuse, I guess I have to throw in there. Experience comes from a ton of failure.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's actually a good mindset to have that that way. When you do fail, it's like, okay, now I've got some more. You know I call them nuggets of wisdom, but things that I can have my back pocket to be like, okay, that was a red flag, don't do that again.

Speaker 2:

Exactly.

Speaker 1:

But is there anything else specifically you'd like to share about how you've gotten to where you are today, or any tips of wisdom or advice you'd like to share with the world?

Speaker 2:

Well, to be honest with you, I'd be remiss not to say that the experience, the gifts that I have, it's not something that you can claim, right, it's something that's been given For me, it's not some. I can't sit here and tell you that I'm this amazing business person, because I'm truly not. The fact that I've been able to do what I've been able to do, ultimately, is because there's greater things in my life my family, my faith. Those are things that kind of ground you and everything else kind of works around. That, right. If you don't have that, if you don't have family, if you don't have faith, if you don't have something that grounds you, it doesn't. Everything else is just there, right, there's no purpose, and so I think that, for anyone who wants to be successful, success is not something you move towards. Success is something that happens when you do what you do best, and the only way you're gonna be able to do that is to really give credit where credit is due. For me, it's been my relationship and my faith that has kind of helped me see that my ideas, my strength, my abilities, they really come from somewhere else, which, in this case, are from God, from me, right, and so it's not anything that I have done. It's really been my relationship. I have an ongoing, very active relationship with God. I'm constantly reaching out hey, what do you think about this? What do you think about that? I'm wanting to do this. What are you thinking right and believe it or not? That's how I make my best decisions. My worst decisions have been when I've thought, oh, I got this, I know how to do this, I can take care of this. Those have been the absolute worst decisions. When I rely on my wife, I say what do you think about this? Do you think this is a good idea For those that are married, whether it's a woman entrepreneur or a male entrepreneur, talk to your spouse.

Speaker 2:

Sometimes you can reach out to your spouse and say, hey, I'm struggling with this. What are your thoughts? You can't be a one man show. You can't be a one man show. It's all about the people around you that will make you, ultimately, the person that you can be. But you really have to acknowledge those people. You have to acknowledge your relationships. You have to acknowledge the influences in your life, because they play a very significant role. So, ultimately, I'm not as smart as I look and you don't have to be terribly awesome and smart. You just have to learn your weaknesses and have no excuses and be willing to walk through the mud. There we go, and I think that will ultimately hopefully get you to where you need to be.

Speaker 1:

Thank you so much for being a guest here on the podcast. I appreciated all of the things we had to share with us today.

Speaker 2:

Well, thank you for having me, it was a pleasure.

Service and Building a Business
Service Excellence and Integrity in Business
Renovation Process and Business Flexibility
Being Authentic, Doing What's Right
Finding and Hiring the Right People
The Role of Relationships and Faith