The Alimond Show

Artin Safarian - CEO & President of Arminco Inc.

March 20, 2024 Alimond Studio
The Alimond Show
Artin Safarian - CEO & President of Arminco Inc.
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Unlock the secrets to a life filled with passion and entrepreneurial success as we sit down with a guest who's a jack-of-all-trades. Imagine managing not just a bourbon brand, but also consulting for health professionals, running a restaurant, and even dipping into commercial realty. This is the incredible tapestry of our guest's career, woven with insights on how a simple bucket list can morph into an ambitious, fulfilling reality of building custom homes and thriving businesses. We tackle the universal struggles of staffing, revealing how to keep a team motivated across diverse industries, and the ingenious ways our guest's ventures support each other, creating a robust foundation for each entrepreneurial dream.

Are you ready to traverse the globe while building a legacy back home? Our guest is, sharing tales of family holidays and the cultural depth they bring into their life, from the streets of Portugal to the warmth of Spanish-speaking countries. Back on home turf, we dissect marketing strategies that make the dental and healthcare sectors tick, especially in the bustling Northern Virginia area. The conversation illuminates the financial savvy required to start a dental practice in a post-COVID world, the art of fostering long-term relationships, and the sheer joy of watching a business you helped to build soar.

Finally, we peel back the curtain on the hiring process, a game of balancing resume promises with real-world performance, especially within niche businesses like photography and construction management. Discover why our guest favors recruiting over traditional hiring and how placing candidates in the wild can reveal their true potential. We cap off our discussion acknowledging the hustle required to be an entrepreneur and the power of a bucket list as a beacon through the fog of daily life, guiding you toward your very own milestones of success. Join us for a candid look at the hard work, dedication, and strategic planning it takes to turn your passions into profitable ventures.

Speaker 1:

I was like sharing with our other guests that you own I still can't say a bourbon by you, but you were like I don't necessarily manage all the day to day In that your primary focus is really around building and consulting dental practices.

Speaker 2:

Dental medical veterinary yeah.

Speaker 1:

So all of the health professionals that's so different.

Speaker 2:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

Well, the restaurants and then the practices there. Where's the connection? Was the restaurant just like a passion?

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, restaurant. I have this bucket list from way back when I was in school and I just go through, you know, checking each one of them. Are you being serious right now?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you just stuck to that list and you just kick out yeah.

Speaker 2:

One of them was, to, you know, get married, have family, which I've done that Awesome. And then the other one was always to build my own house. Back in the day I found a lot secluded, like away from everybody, and I bought it. I waited until I was ready and then I'd build the house here locally.

Speaker 1:

Here locally Because you said it came from LA back in the day. That's correct. Yeah, okay.

Speaker 2:

That's great, so yeah.

Speaker 1:

And when you said build a house, do you mean like you built the house or like you hired the contract?

Speaker 2:

Well, I'm a contractor myself, right, because I build dental practices.

Speaker 1:

Oh, you actually build it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I build it like we build it. You know we had a crew and I designed the house yeah, you know from scratch the way we wanted and we built it. So I took that check off.

Speaker 1:

It's almost like you're. You know something that you're excited about. If that's your passion, you got a leg.

Speaker 2:

Well, like I said, I have a list and just keep taking it.

Speaker 2:

So restaurant was one of the you know items on the list. Okay, I always wanted to, you know, open one up. I build restaurants before before doing dental practices. I've built a couple of restaurants. I've been part of it. My dad did heating and air conditioning and refrigeration, so I was born into visiting restaurants and things like that with him. You know, working with him and stuff. So I've always been in restaurants. I never owned one, so that was one of the check marks. When the opportunity came, I worked with a realtor and she told me you know, someone is looking for a place like this. Are you interested? And that's when I got involved.

Speaker 1:

Awesome, and what's been the biggest challenges between both of your businesses.

Speaker 2:

The biggest challenge.

Speaker 1:

And is that? It? Is that the only two you've got? I want to make sure I'm not leaving anything out.

Speaker 2:

Oh no, I invested also in a, you know, in a, in a in a brokerage commercial realty company and Alexandrian, Alexandrian partners, and the focus there is we find spaces for the doctors, the vets, the medical practices that we're looking for, and we do that to control the budget, because every space, you know, is going to have a different style construction, so it's kind of related to construction. It's the first step in finding a space where your budget is going to be how much you're going to spend and things like that. So we have that. I would say the biggest challenge would be, you know, promoting and finding good staff, good, good team members, and making sure you know, they know, you know, you, you, you, you know, like what they're doing, appreciate what they're doing and putting them in right places as in position wise, you know, like finding out what it is they're great at and then utilizing them in that area.

Speaker 1:

I agree with you 100%. That's the hardest thing I've ever had to do is when it comes to team staff keeping people motivated, excited, making sure they're in the right position Because, like you said, I've seen where it's not necessarily they're bad at that job, but it just it doesn't excite them.

Speaker 2:

Sure.

Speaker 1:

I mis-hire. All right, I put them in the wrong seat.

Speaker 2:

Sure.

Speaker 1:

Essentially, I just move them to a different seat and then they just like blossom and flourish and you're like I can't believe.

Speaker 2:

I almost lost that person and you said something motivation motivating people is is could be challenging, especially when you place them in a position and you know you work with them a little bit. Now you you have them working with someone else. You don't really know what's happening and that someone else is not carrying the same message that you want to carry right. So you know it could could fall. Motivation can fall.

Speaker 1:

That's right. Well, we're not big enough. They all have to see me all the time. But I can definitely see that where just me being away from the studio. Sometimes I'm like are they like, do they see my craziness? Enough to like? Still feel motivated? Sure, Okay, In terms of bucket list items, what else is on your list? Are you allowed to say, or do you have to wait until it's accomplished? You have to wait until it's done.

Speaker 2:

I figured that's what I would do.

Speaker 1:

I wouldn't say it until it's done.

Speaker 2:

I think you know I've done most of them. The next two are probably going to be pretty crazy, so we'll. We'll see if I get there. I don't know, I'm sure you will.

Speaker 1:

I think you will.

Speaker 2:

One of them might be achievable, the other one I don't know.

Speaker 1:

What is this? Might be a bucket list item. What's one huge like dream or goal you would love to see come into fruition for your personal life, family?

Speaker 2:

What's one huge goal? I never thought about that. I think one thing I would like to see is for my businesses to properly operate without me having an everyday save right. Every entrepreneurs dream that would be my dream, right when I can be like, okay, this business is doing so well, I don't even, they don't even need me. You know, that would be a dream.

Speaker 1:

Why do you feel like they need you? What do you think is like holding them back for making their own decisions?

Speaker 2:

Well, I can't say they're not making correct decisions. There's a lot of decisions on a day to day that they are making. Some of them are probably good, some of them are not. And no one says I make the right decisions either. You know it's decisions or decisions.

Speaker 1:

But when we make it, then we're like well, we're the one who said it so.

Speaker 2:

But you know, I wouldn't know that they don't need me when the business goes to the next level and the next level without me pushing it, or me pushing the day to day, so to speak, right, and the business just keeps on moving forward and forward. And that's what I would be looking at for, as far as looking at understanding that, okay, we're safe.

Speaker 1:

That's your metric.

Speaker 2:

That's my metrics, right, like, please check that off. We can just keep growing, that's right.

Speaker 1:

So, like, what do you do outside of building homes? What's like, what's your passion?

Speaker 2:

What's my passion and you've got a family Right, but Right now. Right now, one of my, my eldest daughter, is also almost graduating high school. This is at last year, so I'm gonna probably be spending a lot of time visiting different schools. We visited the first one, nice, so I think my passion to see my children, you know, succeed and move forward. And you know, move forward, go ahead and see what it is they do.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

You know, that's one of the discussions that I'm having with them as we speak Traveling. There's another passion.

Speaker 1:

Where are some? Where are some of the best places you've gone? Best places Are the most memorable, most memorable.

Speaker 2:

Wow, I like going into, like I don't. We travel with family, with resorts and stuff, but I don't call those traveling into the cities, like if you go to family with Bahamas, you're in a resort, right yeah. And when I travel by myself, I go into the cities and that's the way I like it. I think the better places where I visited, like the cities are being probably, you know, I like Spanish-speaking countries a lot more so like Dominican, costa Rica.

Speaker 1:

Why do you like the Spanish-speaking? I don't know the culture.

Speaker 2:

I don't speak it.

Speaker 1:

I always wanted to speak it, so I'm trying to learn it.

Speaker 2:

I don't know if it's the culture. Yeah, Having said that, I haven't visited too many European countries either. Okay, Recently we went, we took a family trip to Portugal, and we loved it.

Speaker 1:

So Okay, yeah, now how many kids do you have?

Speaker 2:

Four.

Speaker 1:

Four, I got three daughters, one boy Okay, three daughters, four, four sons.

Speaker 2:

The second one is the son. Yeah, it was a girl boy and then girl girl.

Speaker 1:

Surrounded by females In terms of like marketing, just to kind of switch back over to like the business side in terms of like marketing and bringing in new clients. What are some of like your best strategies that you've found Sure?

Speaker 2:

So my business, because it's such a niche, you know, in the marketing aspect, you always want to understand who your target audience is. Right, my target is it's a niche of a niche, right, it's all the dentists, all doctors, all you know veterinarians. So the way we do it is we do a lot of speaking events, a lot of, I believe, in long-term indirect marketing, so going even into the dental schools, dental schools, talking to them while they're in the dental schools, residency programs, and we do a lot of exposed shows out there that you know the community has. So those are the type of marketing I like to do.

Speaker 1:

Relationship-based.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and we have one coming up in February which is going to be, you know, I'm going to be teaching them how to build a practice, you know, understanding the budget and how to do it properly, so that they, you know, get to understand what they're going to go through, the entire process, from the beginning to the end, and what they're going to be experiencing and going through.

Speaker 1:

What is the? What does that look like budget-wise? For building a practice.

Speaker 2:

Well, it depends. An average dental practice is not right now about maybe 2,500 square foot. You probably need a good 7 to 800,000 to you know. Get it going. That based on, like your special, if your specialty, or a general dentist, you know, and then how you're going to set up your business, but about 7,800,000, you can build it, get it up and running. You'll have money for working capital or proper money. You'll have money for advertisement. So that's what you're looking for.

Speaker 1:

That's good that you got. I mean, you've done it at the F-Tines, that you know. But like. I said you've done it at the F-Tines, that you know, like how much it's going to cost. It was great to work with somebody who's experienced.

Speaker 2:

I've seen it rise too, especially after COVID. Costs are going up. Right Before COVID, maybe like seven, eight years ago, costs were about 500, 550,000.

Speaker 1:

That's not just. That's not for the building, that's just to build it out.

Speaker 2:

That's just to build it out right. Whether you buy the property or lease, it is a different story. That's correct. That's just to get all the yeah, that's when you have possession of the property. You need a good 800,000.

Speaker 1:

Got it. How do you see the future of the health service businesses in our Northern Virginia area?

Speaker 2:

It's strange. You know that's an everyday discussion. I think in our industry For dental, we see a lot of DSOs which are big groups buying out the single dental dentists and conglomerating into larger practices. But I think personally, I believe the future, in the next 10 years, that's going to stop. It's going to go the opposite direction where bigger practices, more and more doctors are getting together and building larger practices all in one services type of practices. That's where I believe it's probably going to end up going. So I'm kind of curious to see what happens to these DSOs and the larger companies.

Speaker 1:

I've had conversations with both types of people the practice that's kind of buying out other ones to grow, and then the practices, or the DSO, like somebody who actually created her own DSO and then is buying out the smaller.

Speaker 2:

Right, well, I provided two names where you guys talked to. Both of them are dentists and both have their practices. Oh nice and they're both probably not going to sell two at DSO. They're larger practices and they're very successful in not going to wood doing what they're doing.

Speaker 1:

Awesome, and now were they clients of yours. Yes, so you helped guide them.

Speaker 2:

Well, yeah, one of them are very Well. Both of them I closely relate to because we kind of have our story. One of them, my company started, you know, approximately when I say started, I mean started moving up, approximately when he opened up. And I opened him up he was one of my you know first people. That you know we got billed and so we went through the process, yeah, and I watching him grow and watching my company grow, I kind of relate with him. And the other one bought a practice that I build a long time ago. Then he relocated it and he built it with me as well. So I kind of have connected connections with these two.

Speaker 1:

That's amazing. What is your story Like? How did you? I know you said that your father was in the contracting world, and but what is? What's your?

Speaker 2:

story. So my father, we're Armenians. I was born in Iran Actually there's a lot of Armenians in Iran and we came out. We came out back in the 80s, about 85, 86, traveled to the US, got to the US about 88. My dad has always done refrigeration and air conditioning and things like that. So I like to say I was born with a wrench because I was very close with him. Everywhere he went he took me work. I was always working with him on my you know off days when I wasn't going to school and I liked hanging out with him. So kind of learned through refrigeration and air conditioning. But I was at a passion of building things, not just fixing them. So you know the places he took me. I was always like what if I build this space, the whole thing. So that's how my passion came in construction and things like that. I went through school, I studied economics in George Mings University and then when I graduated I just took the business and just started opening up general construction and doing places that you know my dad, like we, I built a lot of restaurants because through his connections, because he was fixing the refrigerations and the air conditioners and stuff. So I tagged along, I built a bunch of those until I stumbled into the dental industry In 2004,.

Speaker 2:

A friend of mine's wife is a pediatric dentist and she was going through a hard time, a horrible time, building her practice. I'm not going to say names, but one of our competitors now was doing the practice and I looked at it and I said, look, this is not that hard for us to take over, but you have to let the other contractor go before I even interfere. You know, not knowing who the other contractor was at the time, and then she did that. We came in, we fixed it and then in that same building, two other dentists came in and she was like you got to use them. That's when I realized how much of a niche it is.

Speaker 2:

So we started at that point. On that same year we said, okay, we're going to rebrand, remark it. And we started saying we only do dental offices because that's what dentists want to know. They want to know that you know what you're doing before they even hire you. So that first year I think it was April we started. In that first year we had done about 15 dental practices and then that's how we started growing and growing. We started averaging about 40 to 50 dental practices a year after that.

Speaker 1:

What's your name gets in that pipeline.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it was just a word of mouth. Like I said, it's a niche of a niche. Like I remember sitting down on that first year and talking to my people saying how do we get a hold of the dentists? Now it's looking bad, it's like it's you know. Once you've accomplished it, you're like okay, it's easy, it's easy. Let me say yeah, so you don't really have to do it. Nothing is easy, but it's easy.

Speaker 1:

Well, once you accomplish it, it's easy Right, yeah, once you're there, but yeah until you get there. You're like, oh my gosh am. I going to make this happen. How many people do you have on your team?

Speaker 2:

So at Arminco we have close to 45 46 depends on the time of the year and then we have a bunch of subs, but 45, 46 in our on our staff got five and I'm like uh-huh. What I got to about 15 16. I realized you know HR is a very important position, so definitely brought an HR person right away, which a lot of companies don't do. When they're that small, they sub out HR.

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Speaker 2:

I chose to bring it in-house because I felt like that was definitely more beneficial, more beneficial.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's smart, yeah, okay. So when I get to that side, yeah, you can't go wrong with that.

Speaker 2:

In terms of how long have you been doing this? If you don't want to ask me 12 years.

Speaker 1:

I mean business. Oh, the show is still in its infancy, so but the business yeah, 12 years.

Speaker 2:

Photography is the business. Yeah, you do like weddings.

Speaker 1:

We stick. We're also niche. We stick to business professionals. So the headshots, social media content, stuff that a business owner is gonna want, that's where we specialized. Now, do we do family sessions around the holidays? Yes, but we don't necessarily advertise it or promote it. It's just for internal clients.

Speaker 2:

Got it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah it's. It's been a fun journey and now I'm starting to look at you know kind of reaching out and branching out in Other locations doing the exact same thing. But then my biggest thing is the hiring Finding people that is gonna be able to replicate everything we're doing here.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, our hiring is tough. I mean we, we now Control or manage practices, not on a national level. So, like we are proud projects in right now we are project in Connecticut, boston, you know, like the Boston area we got Florida, you know, new York, california, and one of the challenges I have is Finding good contractors, not even hiring staff, just finding a contractor in that area that knows what they're doing, because there's there's a lot on the line too. There's a lot, yeah, for sure.

Speaker 1:

Do you have a process? Is it, do you already have like a process that you set up, or is there like a company that you use to?

Speaker 2:

well, you can't use one company because it's different states, right, I mean?

Speaker 1:

like a company that helps like source, or we don't have a company.

Speaker 2:

We, internally, we have a process, or we, you know, understand how to talk to them, interview them, understand where they're coming from. Yeah, I asked that right question because we do construction. We know, you know, I, I know how much of it is correct, how much of it is. You know, you know what, what they're gonna be doing and things like that. We have one right now. It's pretty, pretty big challenge. It's in Colorado, in a very isolated area, so it's not Very well known, not a lot of contractors out there, so it's finding someone to go out there is it's gonna be a challenge. It's a new project.

Speaker 1:

a good challenge Aren't you.

Speaker 2:

We're good yeah we always look for a challenge.

Speaker 1:

What are some red flags when it comes to hiring, since you've done this plenty of times red flag is in hiring.

Speaker 2:

For what?

Speaker 1:

Hiring for a Leadership type position.

Speaker 2:

One big, big, big red flag is when the resume doesn't match with the way the person is Providing their interview. You know, some people will not something probably most people try to beef up the resumes Just to make it look good, but when you ask them questions it doesn't reflect to what they're saying they know right. So let's say I'm hiring a project manager and it's telling me he's got 20 years of experience in construction. When I ask you two questions and you're not able to Definitely give me an answer, and here I am. I know the definite answer Presents a problem a little bit. So that's, that's the biggest challenge.

Speaker 2:

And I don't I never. I'm, oh I've always been the type to hire away from looking at the best resumes. I don't think the best resumes are necessarily the better people. We don't know until we see them work right. So I don't always look at resumes, but I evaluate them and ask questions according. So if you come to me with a lot of knowledge on your resume, you're probably at a disadvantage because I'm gonna drill you with a lot of questions. Yeah, so that's the method I've used to hire.

Speaker 1:

So do you end up doing a lot of interviews for one physician in order to you know, I think, my best person.

Speaker 2:

It's a great question. So what I've gone through is my best. People have been people I've recruited, not necessarily hired. I can think of maybe one, two people that I've hired that are great. They're still being with me. They've been with me for a long time, but most of them has been like recruiting, like knowing this person is out there. How do I get them on our team?

Speaker 1:

So You're one of the best people to hire people that already have jobs right and are doing a good job.

Speaker 2:

Not necessarily jobs, like I don't go after them and steal them from a job, but it becomes like talking to them, understanding that maybe they wanna switch, they wanna be happy. I've had people that changed careers to come and I knew changing his career would have been a better path with us, you know, cause he was so strong with what he did and then he had to just change his thought process and do what we do here right and that's worked out pretty good. He's been with me for 16 years now, so recruiting has always been the better method for me. However, do we interview a lot of people? I wouldn't say that no, I don't think so. We look. Yeah, we do get a lot of resumes that we look through, but not too many.

Speaker 1:

Now that I wanna open an additional studio, I gotta start going back through that. So, I'm looking for all the jobs I can get and it's the number one thing that business owners have said in that chair that they struggle with is the hiring knowing what to look for and how to hire the right person, Cause you never know until they start working. I feel, like, unless you've already seen them work like you said.

Speaker 2:

That's correct. I mean, it's so hard. Some people can also surprise you. They come in, you're like you don't think too much, and then you're like, wow, this guy or this person is doing really good or the opposite.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you have a lot of high hopes for and then they come in and you're like either they don't have the work ethics or you know so, and I'm not a me myself, I'm not a micromanager at all. I hate people that are micromanagers. I don't allow people to micromanage in our workplace, but sometimes when you don't manage someone, also they don't have the right direction right. So they slack off or not knowingly, not knowingly, and they think they're doing what they're supposed to be doing.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Right so.

Speaker 1:

But it is frustrating for people that, like I, don't like to micromanage either, and I actually find it harder when there is somebody that needs that in order to stay on task.

Speaker 2:

Some people need to be task oriented. For sure they're like you. Gotta give them a direction.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, true, all right. So, to wrap it up, what advice would you have to somebody who is looking to start their business or looking to take their business to that next level? What's this one piece of advice you would have for?

Speaker 2:

them. Don't be scared. If you wanna open up your business and you have it in you right To be an entrepreneur, you know you want it right. You gotta go through the grinding process. There is no cheating, right. You can't snap your finger and say, oh, I'm there right. So it's gonna be a lot of hard work. You're gonna have to put it all aside no excuses and go after and get it. You know my dad growing up always I used to laugh at this. My dad always used to say you know you can get anything you want. And I'm like and dad, everyone says that, right, that's like. You know everybody says that. But you know as you grow up and you go through it, you're just absolutely right. If you want it, you can get it. You just gotta figure out how to get it. And if you plan it out and you're ready for some hard work, definitely open up your business. I'll probably tell you 100% is successful if you believe in yourself.

Speaker 1:

You got that hustle mindset, don't you?

Speaker 2:

The hustle mindset is the only way that you're gonna make it work. If you're an entrepreneur, you gotta hustle right. Some people you know they think they are an entrepreneur, they get there, but then there's oh, I couldn't do it on this day, I couldn't do it on that day, but I had this to do, I had that to do, I get it. There's everyday life, but you gotta want it. You gotta make it happen.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you need to have that bucket list too.

Speaker 2:

That's gotta have the bucket list. Actually it is. It's so true, you know Cause when you have a list you have something to look forward to and you wanna get to that list right, or to that you know location that you wanna be at.

Speaker 1:

Check it off.

Speaker 2:

Check it off, that's right.

Speaker 1:

Thank you so much for being on the show.

Speaker 2:

Oh, thank you so much for having us so appreciate every time when you're in inspiration too.

Speaker 1:

I'm gonna have to create my like life bucket list now You're gonna do that.

Building Passionate Businesses and Overcoming Challenges
Dental Industry Growth and Marketing Strategies
Hiring and Growing Your Business
Hustle Mindset and Bucket List Importance