Patrick Lange, joins us today on LearningFromOthers.com. We talk starting multiple businesses, nude, yes, naked pool stories, managing 100 million dollars in assets and the pros and cons of hiring and working with family. Great business advice from a seasoned entrepreneur. Please welcome, Patrick Lange.
- 00:01:00 – Background
- 00:02:23 – After graduating college
- 00:10:17 – Leaving his business
- 00:13:08 – Next business
- 00:22:40 – Sold his pool business
- 00:23:25 – Started coaching
- 00:26:35 – Patrick talks about scaling
- 00:31:36 – Bringing new staffs
- 00:35:05 – Pool stories
- 00:37:33 – talks about HVAC
- 00:46:31 – Damon quotes Gary Vee
- 00:49:09 – 3 stages of success
- 00:59:48 – Closing remarks
Podcast Episode Transcripts:
Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and errors.
Hey everybody. It’s Damon Burton from learning from others.com. We’re excited today to have Patrick Lange on the show. He’s got a wealth of experience in a variety of industries, and I’ve got some good tips for everybody. So let’s jump right into it, Patrick. Thanks for joining us. Thank you very much for having me.
I appreciate it. Yeah. So let’s kind of go in reverse a little bit without giving us too much detail right out. Okay. Give us a little teaser about what you do now. Get us kind of interested in your career and then let’s start from the beginning and work our way to, through your story, to get to where you’re at now.
Absolutely. I’m currently a business broker I’m selling heating and air companies is the niche that I’ve chosen to work in. And it’s kind of evolved into that. I’ve been selling businesses for five years, roughly. And, um, and like I said, the niche I’m in now is selling heating and air companies specifically kind of across the Southeast primarily.
Okay. How did you come upon that? Um, actually I was businesses and I bought a heating and air company. So, and I’ve been running that the last, last couple of years and realized that there’s nobody who specializes in heating and air companies and thought that there was an opportunity to fill a need. Um, and.
There’s a lot of things that are specific to that industry. And so because of owning one, buying one, selling them, I’ve learned that, um, you know, I could deliver more value to those looking, to buy and sell by owning it. And so I decided to give it a try. Um, yeah, probably seven months ago, I would think. Um, and we’ve been fairly successful at it.
So I’ve been happy. We’ve made the choice. Well, I’m excited for you. It’s just me. What about your current industry before we get into that, let’s go back. Um, you had, when we were speaking offline, you talked about, you kind of got your career in financial planning. Why don’t we start there and work our way up?
Absolutely. Uh, shortly. Yeah, after I graduated college, um, I took a job with what was then American express financial advisors. And now they’ve become Ameriprise financial. And about seven months into my career, uh, they gave us the option to either remain an employee of the company or to own what they classify as a franchise at that time.
Um, that certainly evolved over the years. And it’s not like a traditional franchise because of some of the requirements that are there from a licensing standpoint. But. I decided to go the franchise route. And at the time I had one office in Sarasota, Florida, we ended up my wife and I, um, ended up opening two additional offices across the state and, uh, spent, uh, about, uh, 12 years.
I believe. Uh, doing financial planning, um, primarily working with retirees and the state of Florida. That’s where a lot of the wealth is concentrated. So the bulk of my clients were retirees and we managed about a hundred million dollars assets. We were my office. I was the top 10% of 12,000 advisors across the country in terms of.
Both production from an income standpoint, as well as clients satisfaction, Ameriprise a really strong about taking care of their clients would survey clients on an annual basis to achieve those kinds of ranks. You had to take, uh, take care of your clients, but their best interests first, which I’m proud to say that we did.
And, uh, had a, had a really great time there with the company, as well as with my clients. They were, they were like family to me. I was at weddings and graduations. Of kids, grandkids, uh, was unfortunately at funerals, uh, retirement parties, um, my, my life and my kids grew up in, in our office around all my life clients.
So it was a great experience for, for a number of years and, um, I really enjoyed, uh, enjoyed what I did working with my clients. And then as time went on, um, the enjoyment kind of raw part of it was economically speaking, uh, 2006, seven, eight, or some trying times. And. There wasn’t really anything I could do to protect my clients.
And so things kind of became out of my control if we were trying to be safer and take money out of the stock market and invest in bonds. And those types of investments, the bond market fell down. We invested in CDs at banks and the banks went under. Um, so it was a challenging time. Uh, I just didn’t get up going, enjoy going to work anymore.
It just wasn’t fun. And so. Around 2007, I made the decision that I was going to sell my business and pursue other opportunities at the time. I really didn’t know what, um, but I just, I just believe you can make money doing anything. I’m kind of an optimist when it comes to that. And now I see it day to day in the business brokerage side, but I just believe that life is meant to be enjoyable and you could make money doing anything.
And, um, kind of took a leap of faith. And then the beginning of 2008, sold that business. Okay. So I got a couple of questions. Um, when you were managing the hundreds of millions in investments, was there anything that you learned good or bad about just seeing that much money floating around that might’ve influenced your thought processes as a, as a business person then, or as an entrepreneur now?
Um, yeah, I think on both, um, you know, I had, I had clients who maybe didn’t accumulate enough money throughout their working years. And so they were having to, uh, To try to still save in retirement. So it kind of made me realize that obviously money is important. I was in the money business. So I understood that.
But you know, from a planning standpoint, there was people who, who didn’t plan or things were didn’t work out in their favor. And now they’re 70 years old and the fear of running out of money was there. And so that. Really made me look at that working hard and putting plans in place to try to accumulate wealth.
Um, but I had, it was amazing. I had clients from all different walks of life. Um, some worked for companies with big pensions, uh, some were union, non union. Um self-employed and then once again, it brought back to me, the, you can kind of make money doing anything and, um, and solidified that. Was there any really odd ball businesses that you had seen come through in your portfolio?
Or you’re just like, You can make money in anything, but was there one that sticks out there like, well, in the world, you know, not, um, not in the financial planning side, since I started the business broker side I’ve I used to think that certain businesses made money and it would be easy to sell. Um, and, and one of the first businesses that I listed, um, was somebody who recycled propane tanks.
Um, and it was a one man operation. Everything that he did was he built the equipment himself, everything he owned, ran off a profane. So his vehicles ran off appropriately. His equipment ran off of propane, his tractors that he used ran off of propane. And so he would go to. Uh, gas stations, uh, oftentimes County dumps.
Um, he would go all over the place and would charge people will pick up these propane tanks, bring them back to a shop, and they often had propane to deliver them and he would recycle the propane out of them. Use them for his own use. And then would crush the propane tanks and then sell them back to often the very same recycling facilities that he used to pick them up.
So he was making money on picking them up. He was making money because he was using it as well. And then he was making money, selling it back to the exact same people. And oftentimes some of the recycling facilities would bring him with. Dumpster full of them. And he would charge them for him. They would allow him to use their dumpster.
He would crush them, put them back in the dumpster and they come back and pick them up and pay him for him. So it was just the, this business model that I I’ve never even thought of, you know, what happened, these propane tanks when you’re done using them on your grill. And, uh, so that was something, it was kind of in the middle of nowhere, intentionally because of the smell, obviously appropriate guests.
Um, He was worried about where it was located and he’d been doing it for, I don’t remember what the figure was, but like 30 years and never had an accident and had made great money in my opinion, great money working part time, everything he touched, somebody paid him and it was, it was an incredible book business model that M E E was crushing things and just kind of fell into it.
And somebody said, can you crush this propane tank? And. He knew how to get the gas out and safely do it. And he did it. And once again, everywhere he drove, he was for, for free. And when he went there to pick something up from somebody that he was going to then recycle, he was charging them for doing it, it was, it was, that’s a neat model, so that wasn’t in the financial planning time.
But since I’ve been in the brokerage, that was probably the neatest business that I’ve seen. Um, that was extremely profitable. That reminds me, I’ve talked about a tree recycling companies. I think they, they go and they charge you to chop down the tree and they turn around and chop up the wood and sell the list.
Yeah. Yeah. I just think that, that I never thought of that. And every, and he said to me, if I’m doing something, they’re paying me for it. And it didn’t matter what it was, whether he was driving to the store, he was using their free propane, everything, everything sustained itself. And, uh, and in reality at the time anyways, and I haven’t looked into it since had no competition.
Because most recycling facilities didn’t want to do anything with propane tanks and certainly County landfills didn’t know what to do with it didn’t want it to do with them either. So they were paying him to come and take them from the landfill. So interesting. So 35 you sell your financial planning business.
Um, was that an easy or a hard decision to exit that hardest decision I ever made in my life? Uh, my business was like my baby. I started it when I was 23 years old. My wife and I got married in that time. We had kids during that time, as I mentioned, my kids grew up in it and that’s all I knew. Um, when I thought of my life 20 years down the road, I thought I’m still be doing financial planning.
Um, and so when the thought of leaving, entered my mind, um, It sounded like a good idea, but it really was the hardest decision ever made and just emotionally it was difficult. And on top of where’s the money gonna come from? How am I going to feed my family? What am I and do the rest of my life? My life revolves my clients, my peers.
Um, everybody I knew was affiliated somehow with my business. And, uh, it was, it was by far the worst decision I’ve ever made since then, as you and I have talked offline. I’ve sold other businesses and I look at it differently. Um, but, but at that point in time and still today, let’s see, it was the hardest decision I ever made.
Cause I was leaving any security that I knew. And most people don’t look at self-employment as security. But to me, I did. It’s what I did every day. Um, and the first day I can remember sold the business was at home kind of floating in the pool, thinking, now my legs wouldn’t take a turn and I’m calling my former office to make sure everything was okay.
It’s not yours anymore. We’ve got it. Everything’s okay. And I’m thinking well, so and so called what’s up, I think with this because my clients, you know, we’re like family and so, um, And I didn’t know what else to do. Like I did as I was building that business vacations, if we did, um, sometimes accused of being a workaholic.
And so I was always on the phone with the office, always checking on things, always watching what the stock market was doing. And so it just ended. Um, you know, with, with signing a few documents, I was out of business. It didn’t have a job and offices that were mine were no longer mine. And so it was, uh, it was a scary, uh, decision.
Um, now that I look back, I’m obviously happy that I did it, but, uh, but at that time it was extremely difficult. And so I think that helps me on my business brokerage, where I help other people sell a business. They’ve been at 15, 20, 30 years. I’ve been there. I know what that feels like. And it’s a scary thing.
Um, and, um, and there’s nothing I can say to make it better, obviously for somebody to have to kind of go through that on their own, but. But then there, and it’s a hard, hard decision to make, but I just, I felt it was the right decision for me. My thing. How long of a timeframe to adjust from, you know, it sounds like it was a pretty abrupt transition.
How long do you think it took to you after that transition to feel like you had a normal routine? Um, I bought a business as, as, um, As that business was closing, I thought it was going to close sooner than it did. And so I was in the process of looking at other industries. One of my clients mentioned the swimming pool service, which was something that I was not, uh, I had, I owned a pool, but I’d never cleaned my own.
And so, but I looked at the numbers of that. I looked at where we are located in Florida and the abundance of swimming pools in the area. I talked to other people who were in the industry and looked at the numbers and thought, well, I’ll, I’ll trade in a shirt and tie. And the joke around my house was for flip flops and tank tops.
It was just, uh, I was going to relax and play some swimming pools and life was going to be good. So I closed on my business, I think on a Friday. And I started my new that following Tuesday, I had the weekend. Um, and, um, and it might’ve been a close on Thursday. I remember calling the office the next day.
So I think I closed on a Thursday. Um, and the following Tuesday, I was in, in a new industry and getting trained by the person I was buying that business from. Um, so there, there, I, I didn’t have a long time, um, to make that adjustment. Um, not intentionally. I tried to convince the full guy that I was buying out.
Give me a month, let me, let me slow down a little bit. And he said, listen, this is what I need to do for my schedule to work. So we just did it. So. So there became a new normal, if that makes any sense because of that acquisition. Um, and so I didn’t get a lot of time to sit around and lick my wounds and think about how my life’s changed.
I climbed into a swimming pool truck and went to work cleaning swimming pool. So it was a, it was a pretty quick transition. So what related business, what attracted you to jumping on that venture? Part of it was flexible ability and time. When I talked to the people in the business, I was buying a small business that only cleaned 25 pools.
I think the first round I bought guy did it two days a week. It was a Tuesday and Thursday kind of thing. And so I thought, well, I can kind of semi retire for a little while. You know, some people have a midlife crisis and by Corvette and here I buy a swimming pool business. And so I just thought it would be, it would be flexible.
Um, stress obviously was one of the reasons for me selling the financial planning business. And I thought, you know, I’m not worried about somebody’s retirement, I’m cleaning this woman pool. So how stressful could it be? Um, wanting to be outside. I’d been in an office for 13 years. And so the thought of being outside in the sun, um, you know, appealed to me.
I, I, I really looked at it with Rose colored glasses. I was thinking that I would just kind of ride around all day long and get a nice tan, make a bunch of money and not work real hard. I was sadly mistaken in that, but, uh, it just. Was, it was one of the first things that I looked at and I looked at the numbers and, and, and I had always believed that in order to make the income that I was making, um, as a financial advisor, I had to be in some type of professional role like that.
Um, I, I really went into it blinders. I was young when I got in the business, I didn’t know anything different. And, uh, and so I didn’t realize that the amount of money that could be made and other industries out there. So when, when somebody had said something to the pool industry, I looked at it and, um, and I thought, wow, look at these numbers.
Um, I could work part time. I don’t have to be, you have a lot of stress. And so I didn’t really even search once I did that. I found a few sites that specialize in selling pool, where else reached out to them, found something that fit my needs and bought and, and, um, and it was really an education process and buying a business and growing.
Um, and so it was kind of a unique purchase for me. Um, one that I’m glad I did because I learned so much more about client service in different industries. About employees because in the financial planning business, I had some office staff, but I didn’t have a lot of employees. And so managing overhead, managing routes, um, those things, um, it was educational for me and I was able to, to kind of buy it and grow.
And that’s a long drawn out way to answer your phone. I shouldn’t have of how I picked that, but I didn’t really, I didn’t really give anything else, any option. I looked at that little, I liked the numbers and, um, and so I just went with it. So buy it and grow. I’m assuming you were able to scale it just about how big did you get before the next venture?
We ended up, we were cleaning about 300 pools a week. So I went from 25 to 300. Um, and in that industry, um, commercial pools and the commercial would be like a hotel, a neighborhood pool, uh, community center pool. Those are required instead affordable, clean three days a week. So those we’re doing three days a week.
And then residential, we doing one day a week. So we were doing about 300 pools, which translated because of the commercial. We’re probably cleaning a total of 330. 340 pools a week. Um, so we were able to scale it pretty quick. Um, and it was, it was basically six things or it appeared basic thing was me taking care of the customer showing up on time, having looking presentable, um, Things that I think, you know, you should do in any business.
And then we were also able to benefit by the downturn in the economy, what was hurting me in the financial planning business, in the pool business. And I didn’t really look at it that way when I purchased it. But at that point in time, when we acquired the business, there were a lot of foreclosures taking place in the state of Florida.
When I bought the business, we were primarily serving a Sarasota County. So it’d be Sarasota and Bradington, Florida. And, uh, we, we reached out through, through talking to different people, to some, uh, RTO companies that manage property for banks. And they asked us if we would service some of these pools, what they would do with when they would foreclose on the house, or if somebody would leave, they would often board the pool up, put a cage over the top of the bull.
Drain some of the water out. And then it sat oftentimes for two or three years. So it would damage the pool surface, uh, whether it was theft or anger from the person leaving the house, they, they often took the pool equipment with them, um, threw things in the pool, whatever the case may be. So they would hire us to, um, and other companies.
But they would hire us to go in, remove this drain on the water, the pool, clean the pool, fill it back up with water, make sure the blood working properly. And it was fairly lucrative. Um, and, um, so we were able to do that and then yeah, they would say, well, would you serve us if we were in Sarasota, would you go to Fort Myers?
Which is from, from where we were located was about the same distance in Sarasota. So sure. We go to Fort Myers and then we pick up two or three pools there. Um, And the, the downside of that it’s good money you were making by cleaning them as they required you to service them until, until it’s sold that they would pay you for it.
But you had to be there at least once a week. So I was having to pay somebody to go and take care of five pools an hour from where we normally work. And so we kind of went to acquisition mode and I started looking at other companies in those areas to buy. So if I was serving for buyers, I would look around in Fort Myers and see if somebody had routes for sale or buy some routes.
And then. As a result of that acquisition, as well as taking care of the foreclosure work, then we would also begin kind of a door to door marketing. If I’m cleaning your pool, I go to your next door, neighbors, drop off a card and say, you know, we take care of your neighbor’s pool. We’d love an opportunity to earn your business and do that.
And so we’re able to scale it extremely quickly. And we did that. Unfortunately, we ended up covering about five counties across the state. Um, and geographically, it was kind of in the center of the state, down to Naples, Florida, and all the way over to the center state . And so, um, we really got too big, too quick.
Um, I had trucks going in every direction and, uh, and, and with that, yeah. Cause problems too. Um, so, uh, we, we grew big and then I tried to. I realized, wow, I built this big headache that I wasn’t supposed to be cleaning pools two days a week and floated my pool, you know, drinking pina coladas the rest of time.
And now here I am with guys going in every direction and trucks on the road with thousands of hours, chemicals and danger. And, and so we got big. And so I started selling it off to get small, um, and then kind of realized that there was a business model in that, that we could build up these rounds and other people that weren’t good at growing were willing to buy it.
So we sell some off and try to get small again. And then. On accident, we would continue to get big and sell some off. And so, um, that process continued on probably about five years. And then I realized that people cared more about their tools and their finances. Um, you know, uh, when I, on the financial planning company, the week of Christmas, I was, I was off with my family the week of Thanksgiving.
Uh, we’d be gone. And the week of 4th of July, we go fishing for the week. And so I’d never worked there in those times. Um, I’ve worked, but I didn’t have to physically be there and. And so, um, I think every Christmas day that I ended up bull company, somebody called and said, you know, their grandkids are at their house and the pool is not working.
And so I go out there and take care of it. So I realized that that was more probably top of mind to people. They weren’t watching the stock market every single day. Like they were their swimming pool in their backyard. So, yeah. So I thought, well here, I’ve created a big headache for myself and, um, But I knew there was value in it.
And so we decided to that I didn’t want to be doing that the rest of my life. And so decided to sell that business as well. And because of the areas we covered, I couldn’t sell it to one person, most people, because we were kind of located in the center in a small town. And so we drove in every direction.
So I was able to sell off Sarasota bull to somebody in Sarasota, Fort Myers bull to somebody in Fort Myers, Naples, Naples, show me. And so we’re able to sell those off to different people on the way, which allowed me to bring a higher premium, because if somebody else was having to buy that big of a route, I wouldn’t mail command the money I did.
Um, and, and so we ended up selling, selling that business off. And as I was doing that, One of my customers actually said their son was considering getting in the pool business. Could I talk to them? And so I talked to him and explain him what to do. And he said, well, can I pay you to kind of teach me. You know what you’ve done and I thought, wow.
Yeah, sure. Pretty easy here’s to do. And I kind of wrote it out as a manual and said, do this. And I stay in communication with them and they paid me to do it. Um, and, and he was very successful then people that I met that were in the industry that had been in the end. Yeah. A lot longer than I have. Where, like, how did you get so big, so quick?
So I kind of said, I’ve got this manual, you know, I’ll kind of help you and sell it to you and help you do it. And at that time I started looking at what I’m doing in the pool. Industry could be done in any industry to take basic things, take care of your customers, you know, make more money per customer, which, you know, kind of upselling.
And I don’t mean to, and the bad way you go to McDonald’s drive through, they always ask you if you want fries with that wine, that’s your money that works for the money to get you there. Now it’s an upsell though, right? More profit off the French fries, and then we’ll have anything else on the menu at that time.
So, yeah. Same type of thing. We implemented that and I started kind of coaching and teaching other businesses and other industries to do that same thing. And, um, and that’s kind of the next phase of my life for lack of a better term. We rolled into, into coaching other businesses. And at that time is how I got into business brokerage.
I went to a BNI meeting and met a business broker and he kind of told me what he did and I thought, wow, I’ve been doing that for myself. And, and, uh, And you get paid for doing that. He’s like, yeah. You know, we get paid pretty well. Here’s kind of what we do. We do it. And so I started looking at, at migrating my business from, from a coaching to coaching and helping a sales and acquisition.
And I learned, and I assume if you talk with a lot of business owners, you’ll see it. And I hate to use the term arrogant, but maybe the confidence of their term, a lot of business owners are competent, what they’ve done and how they’ve done it. And they don’t often take it advice from outsiders coming in saying, Hey, you need to change this.
You need to do that. What I’ve never been in the industry, if they were in the printing business and I went to them and said, Hey, if you change X, Y, and Z you’ll get better results. They would often look at me like you remember the printing business, how would you know? And it’s just. Business basics. I looked at it as so sometimes I was fine with them.
They were paying me and then they would fight with me on what I was telling them to do when somebody is ready to sell the ranch. And so there’s not a lot of persuasion that has to take place. They want out. And as long as you can build their needs from a financial basis, um, do it in a confidential manner, help them out and kind of hold their hand through the process that you’re not fighting.
So I was doing kind of both. And then I just slowly stopped doing the consulting and just started focusing on. Um, the, the sale and acquisition. And that was, that was probably four years ago. I’m guessing. Years were all blending together. That was probably four years ago. Okay. Okay. Before we get too far into the coaching, I want to ask you a couple of questions about pools.
So you had talked about how you scaled by acquiring routes. Um, if I, if I do my math correctly, based on the quantity of pools, you’re saying you’re servicing per week, uh, that means you are servicing upwards of 50 pools per day on some days. So can you speak to how you scout your staff to, to, to kind of.
Go grow with your route acquisitions. How did you manage the manpower? Um, at the time I had my oldest son was 18. Um, and so that was part of my solution. Um, I I’d throw him in a truck and he would go kind of pick up the Slack. And he had a bunch of 18 to 20 year old friends that hadn’t decided what they wanted to do with their life.
And so I could put them in a pool truck and say it was people that I trusted. I’m a big believer in trust. Um, and I think finding employees difficult thing to do. And, um, and so I would typically would be with my son. Um, I would send somebody with him. And he reported back to Mansa yet they’d probably work or no, they’ll never work.
They’re not going to one. Um, so I think at times it would difficult. Aye. I aye. I hold myself to a certain standard and I expect everybody else to be that standard, which is not always a. Great way to run a business. Um, unfortunately, but that’s a character flaw that I have. And so we, as we would add pools, I would slowly bring somebody on either have them ride with me or have been ride with my son.
My wife would even chip in and help only have to get busy and behind because of the foreclosure work that came on so quick. Um, that was, it was the foreclosure work was my son ended up running that whole part of it. And taking care of those fools. And so I would just bring people with me later, ride with me for a day, see what I was doing.
I would put them on my route. So they would take over my pools. I’d look at acquiring some more. And so I would go from cleaning. Uh, at the time I probably clean 80 pools a week. Um, and then I would, I would have somebody take that over and then I would slowly pick up pools, 10 pools here, five pools there.
It was easy to find smaller businesses to sell that were interested in selling. Um, and they were typically wanting to go shootable. Um, so cause they were struggling and so I was able to come in and kind of solve their problem. By getting them out of their struggling business, give them yeah. A little money to walk away with.
And I was able to do it on a less expensive basis. So I pick up five pools, let’s say. And then if they oftentimes we’re not all in the same neighborhood or core collusion neighborhoods, and then I would start marketing that neighborhood. So. We would do a postcard flyers and we would do door hangers and we would do things like that to pickup pulls in that neighborhood.
So you can justify going there because in a service business like that, the money’s lost. When you have windshield time, when you’re paying an employee to drive someplace, you’re not making any money off of them. So pick up strategically, then look to pick up more in that neighborhood. And so. Um, so I’d be the one that would, as I’m cleaning, introducing myself to the neighbor and talking to people and doing the postcards and doing those things.
And we had our vehicles were all lettered we’re clean. So they would see them once a week, every Tuesday morning and see us at the neighbor’s house. And so it’s an industry, unfortunately. That doesn’t have to have high standards and it doesn’t really have a barrier to entry. So if you had a pool brush and a truck, you could be my competitor and you didn’t have to do anything.
You just had to be able to convince that person that you do enough to clean the pool. And so, um, it’s extremely price sensitive. And, um, and so is it, for me, that was part of my reasoning for getting out is, you know, you’re always competing against the guys willing to be $5 cheaper than you are at some level.
And so, um, and so. You know, we try to be strategic in our equity so we could maximize the return on that route and minimize our overhead expenses. Because once again, every minute you’re paying that driver to drive from four to four, you’re not making any money and they are. And so I don’t know if that really answered your question, but, but do it through slowly acquiring pools strategically, then putting people with my son, myself, and my wife to ride and see how we’re doing it.
And by the end, The last couple of years, I really didn’t clean any goals. I was more, we’re doing repairs, the marketing aspect of it, the, um, the dealing with problem pools or problem customers. And that was more my role. I have a question. I DLP up myself. You, you had talked about holding people to your standards.
Isn’t necessarily a good way to run a business. Um, you know, I have a hard time, um, I think one of our limitations on scaling, we scaled really well. But I think one thing that, where I plug up the pipeline myself is holding potential candidates and team members to certain standards. So are you saying it’s not a good way to run a business, which I agree.
Can you offer any advice to our listeners of how you got around that and were able to kind of, um, I don’t know if you. Kind of accepted a little trade offs here and there with bringing on new staff. How did you get around not holding everybody to the standards that you really wanted to inside what you just said?
Exactly. I would, I would, and I hate to say lower my standards, but because I want it, I want it, I want the customer, what the customer receives to be a certain way. And so there was certain things that were, that were. Unquestionable as far as I was concerned. And so if there was other things, things that weren’t being done again, exactly how I want them done, I was overwhelmed.
I was able to overlook those. As long as these other big things were being taken care of, big things to me were having a customer was treated how you look, certain things like that. And so those were the big things. If something I still struggle with today, um, that’s not my strong point. Um, but I think that understanding that maybe the customers or client is not looking at it the same way you do.
Um, my assumption is with your business, you have certain things that you see that the customer does not see or the client doesn’t see. And so I would try, try to lower. Those expectations, realizing that that may be your employees at five o’clock in the morning. And, and I would assume as a business early often at five o’clock in the morning.
And when you’re up thinking about things and planning things and employees probably doing that, I just had to accept that. Although I believe that if you’re 10 minutes early, you’re 20 minutes late, you know, I can’t expect them probably to have that same belief that if they, if they have to be at work at eight o’clock, they’re getting to work.
Five minutes earlier is going to have to be okay or I’m not going to have employees. And so, um, I tried to soften up in some areas that. That maybe are not as important to the customer cause that’s who the ultimate bosses, whether it’s customer client, depending on what business you’re in, softening up on.
Some of those things that as long as the job’s getting done the way the customer wants it done, um, that I, that I can overlook some other things. And I, and that’s probably not a great answer. Um, but I haven’t found out what the ideal solution is because once again, my expectations are up here. For myself in the delivery to that customer.
And if somebody comes in down here, we’re failing as far as I’m concerned, but I can’t expect, especially in the pool business, I can’t expect somebody that I’m paying $10 an hour to have that same expectation, that same passion. And so part of it too was explaining. What my expectation was of certain things and why those things were so important and how it tied into their business and trying to have the conversation of that customer pays their family’s bills.
That’s who puts the food on the table for them with that customer. So there were certain things. We had a checklist that I created that every pool, these 10 things had to be done and had to be documented. And then we left something for the customer. Telling them exactly what we did. And so I was able to overlook some other things as long as those results were getting done.
Does that answer your question? Yeah. I think takeaways from that are that the customer is the ultimate boss and, you know, communicating to employees. Hey, we need to take care of these guys because they’re who they’re, who, who put food on your table? Yeah, I like it. Um, so Kyle and I were talking offline.
Um, so this doesn’t necessarily benefit the listeners business skillsets, but do you have any entertaining, gross, awkward, full stories? We found things in falls in, um, in hotel pools that you probably. You know, that are somewhat gross and nasty. Um, we have walked up, surprisingly. It was so funny. It’s funny.
Now my, my son was with me. He was probably 20 or 21 and walked up to nude sunbathing. Um, okay. So, um, and they were probably college age, uh, people that were nude sunbathing and. We walked around the corner of the house and they were laying there. We have to clean this pool. So we were coughing and, and making noise was trying to get attention without saying, Hey yeah, your, your, your butts up in the air.
You know, we, we were, we were trying to do it and finally did, and they jumped up and ran off and never saw them again in probably 10 years, we cleaned that pool. Um, so that was, that was probably the. The highlight of my son’s full career. Um, it wasn’t a really, you know, grilling, but, uh, you know, that, that was probably the most awkward moment I would think of, of showing up to a pool and not knowing what you’re going to find.
Yeah. And then I just have, and we can move on. Um, so we’re, we’re from maybe 120 homes. If I’m being generous to the pool. Just give me an idea in Florida about the distribution of pools in the neighborhood. Well, you know, that really depends on where in Florida you are, where we were was in Southwest Florida and where I lived was in the country.
So there wasn’t as many, I would think probably one in 10 would probably be a fair number. There was one neighborhood. However, in Bradenton, they had a neighborhood at 10,000 pools in it. Um, so I would think every, at least every other home had a pool. And in certain parts of that neighborhood, Um, that were considered the country club area and that every Homeland pool.
Um, so the numbers are high there’s, there’s so much work that, um, and I, and I’ve sold routes for other people now that I see, you know, one company that’s cleaning 600, 700, 800 pools and not driving an hour. Um, so the numbers, so pool cleaning, you had mentioned has no barrier to entry, which is the opposite of.
What you’re doing now with HPAC offline, you had mentioned that that’s what you do. You liked about HVHC listeners, uh, more what you mean by that? Yep. I, uh, I bought heating and air company two years, two and a half years ago. Um, and it, part of it once again was the barrier to entry is, is what I’ve looked at in, in businesses.
Certain things that you have to have training to be get involved in. Um, you can’t today say I’m going to own a heating and air company without having a license and in the state of Florida, in order to get that license, you have to be in the industry three years or have somebody who is part of your ownership to be in that company that has that license.
So there’s the price competition exists, but not as much as say pool cleaning or lawn service or something else that you don’t have to have specific license or training by the state for. Um, and so that’s what attracted me to the industry, um, is that once again, you have to have some level of competence to be in the business.
And the state of Florida dictates that by a three year of being in the business. And so, um, When you look around, there’s a lot of competitors in the industry, but not as many as there was in pool cleaning, not as many as there wasn’t house cleaning, not as many as there was an office cleaning environment.
You know, there’s a lot of industries that you can get in that’s great money and it was great money in the pool business. Um, that that’s, it’s great money in my opinion, but you’re constantly going to compete on price because of the overabundance of competitors and those competitors often. Either didn’t have the village, that business knowledge or didn’t care that they would, they would just compete on price.
So if you’re cleaning it for $85, they would do it for $65. Well, there was a reason the price was $85 is because you have all these built in it. They often didn’t have workers’ compensation, insurance and liability coverage, and all these other things that we had to pay for. Um, and so we. We had to be at that price just to make a profit and to be able to pay our employees to cover the oil change.
And he gets in the trucks to cover the tires on the trucks. And so, so they would be in business for six months or a year, and then they couldn’t afford to remain in business and then go to business. But that customer is still looking at that $60 price as opposed to getting federal or price where I think there are certain industries you can either pest control is one that we see a lot of heating and air, electrical plumbing, those service businesses.
That you have to have a license to get into. And so that really attracted me about it. I had the heating and air company that I own, I had listed for sale for somebody else and decided to buy it because I’ve looked for businesses like that and the numbers made sense. Um, and so I decided to buy it and thank goodness the owner was willing to stay on with his license.
Um, and, uh, they called the attorney, qualifying the business. Um, they were willing to remain part of the business. Um, to oversee me and my employees until we were able to get our own licensing. And so, um, that’s, uh, I’d like that business for that reason. Um, and once again, different from, because if you bought a pool brush and a pickup truck, you could compete against me.
Yeah. So what’s your ultimate goal with the HPAC company? Um, is this something you want to ride out for awhile? Longterm play a short term play. My, actually my son who was 18 at the time in the pool business now is running the heating and air company. Um, and it’ll, it’ll be his, um, I, um, once again, I got back to having employees again and thought, what was I doing with employees?
Um, it’s, they’re not listening to me. They don’t dress. Like I tell them to dress. They don’t come in their hair. Right. And so, um, my son is now 27 and, um, and has taken a love for the industry. And so he basically runs the day to day operations, but I help out from a sales capacity if somebody needs a new unit or doing something specific.
Um, but as far as day to day, I have nothing to do with it now. And my son will be the ultimate owner of it. Um, he, uh, he really loves the business and has, and has worked hard in it. And so my time in there is short-lived wasn’t initially that wasn’t the goal. Um, uh, I was looking at growing is, and then once again, I got back to two people care more about their air conditioner and they do their financials.
And that’s the, that’s the blessing of the business, right? If you’re willing to work 24 hours a day, which we are open 24 hours a day, um, in a highly, uh, Rental market where I live now, the, you could be profitable, you know, if you rent a house on the beach and the air conditioner doesn’t work, you want it fixed immediately.
And oftentimes you won’t pay a premium for that to take place. And so that’s been beneficial to our business where we serve primarily. Of rental market. Yeah. Mature times of the year because of our location. And, and so there’s, there’s an opportunity there, which once again, I’m 45 now. And my days of running service calls, if midnight or that’s not my, that’s not my plan, but for a 27 year old growing that business, he doesn’t mind doing it.
Um, and so it’s a good place for him to be, and for him to take over and he’s spent. All his life, obviously watching me in business and, and slowly, uh, Um, slowly learned, learned what I was telling him. Um, you talk about lower. Your expectations by sun has meant my whipping away. Unfortunately, when it comes to what has to be done in a business managing employees, he’s, he’s a, he’s got to be the one to learn that firsthand.
And so now he’s doing a great job with it and it’ll be us. That’s the ultimate. Mike, my goal is to continue with my studies brokerage division. We also bought along the way a promotional product company. That does embroidery signs like the sign behind you? The CEO national signs, street signs, uh, hats t-shirts, uh, and my wife runs that business.
Um, and so, you know, I. I like buying businesses and growing if it makes it fit equal, keep them, um, and if it may, if it doesn’t, if it’s something that we can improve the businesses themselves for profit, um, similar to people doing with houses, I love businesses. I love what makes them tick. I love my, the business brokerage side because I get to see so many successful businesses and, and unsuccessful businesses.
So I can learn. I think you can learn a lot from both what, what is working and what’s not working. And it’s so much easier to be on the outside, looking in. I imagined that you can, you can look at somebody as business from, from an SEO or from a growth standpoint and say, wow, why aren’t they doing this?
I’ll get to do is X, Y, and Z, but somebody is too close to it. It doesn’t get that opportunity to see that, um, kind of the, can’t see the forest cause the trees type of thing. And so I love that aspect of my business. I get to be around successful people and learn kind of what. What makes it work and then steal their ideas.
Um, you and I talked offline at my huge, huge, huge believer in success, leaves, clues, anything you want to do to find somebody who’s doing it and model them. And that’s kind of been the basis of my life when I was in the Finch. Plenty of business. Aye, aye, aye. A ton of my success to a gentlemen who was doing at the time, probably 10 times more of the business than I was and was willing to pay him, to coach me and teach me what he did.
The pool business, there’s books and different things you can read. Um, I applied the financial planning parts of that business. And then from the coaching standpoint, I went to coaching training from successful coaches to see how they helped people grow their business. And I was able to apply that to my business.
And so, so I’m able to. And I hate the Western steel, but I’m able to steal from all these people, these great ideas. And I just, I just believe that if whatever you’re looking to do, even find somebody who’s doing it and steal from those ideas and say years and years, and years, and a lot of money on that education.
And so that’ll be my ultimate goal is being with the business brokerage division, um, and hopefully continue to grow that. And, um, and then if, if something makes sense to acquire along the way that we continue our acquisition, Yeah, I think you had a good tip about why our success leaves clues. It reminds me, um, you know, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Gary, Gary Vaynerchuk, but a lot of our listeners will be, um, he has a recurring advice to the offers, young entrepreneurs, where he says your best opportunity that you could do is to go work for, you know, identify somebody that’s successful that you admire and go to them and say, I want to work for you for free for two to three years, you know, just live on your couch.
Eat shitty food, eat ramen noodles, do what you can do to afford the time to go donate to this person. And you’re going to learn so much by modeling them that it’s going to reward you, you know, a hundred falls as soon as you’re done. Absolutely. And I, I believe that. And actually my daughter would graduate in college this year and now has decided she wants to get in real estate.
And my advice to her was find the number one real estate agent in town and go tell him you work for free. Yeah, that’s exactly what I said. Um, you know, what you will learn from watching somebody do it and you take an industry like real estate, you know, but I think 90% of people for a fail in the first year.
Um, but there’s people at the top that are, you know, making multiple millions of dollars. And so, um, that was my same advice to her. And I’d hear, I’d heard Gary. Chuck said that in the past. Um, and I think in any industry, and that was my initial mentor in the financial planning business, went to all these different conferences all the time.
And I would talk to him and say, you know, why do you go to these conferences? Some of them were kind of a waste of time. You’re giving up a day at your office. You could be doing something you joy. He said, listen, I just need to get one idea. And if I’m there around people who are making more money than I am, I can get one thing from them.
And that pays for the day. I mean, it makes it all worth it. And so any way that you’re able to be around those people. And I think there’s a lot of truth to that. And so, um, and I have found it surprisingly, most people who are successful want other people to succeed. You know, there’s not the scarcity mentality.
When you meet somebody who’s extremely successful in their field. They typically believe that there’s. There’s plenty of money to be made by everybody. There’s plenty of business to go around. And that’s what I found within the financial planning business I would go to, I would go to a meeting and find somebody who was more successful than I was and say, Hey, I’d love the way you talked about this.
Can I come to your office and sit for a day and see what you do every single time? They said, yes. And I would go to the office and they would teach me their system in a day, but I could take that back to my business. And I I’ve seen that in almost every industry that people at the top and not necessarily those are just scrapping trying to get going.
Cause I there’s nothing not making enough money where they can give it away. But those that are at the top that have been successful. I want other people to be successful as well and are willing to share their knowledge. Whether it’s on a paid basis. Like I hired a coach that’s money ever spent saved me years.
So my learning curve or buying somebody lunch and just sitting down and picking their brain, I’ve done it a lot called people up and said, Hey, can I take you to breakfast? I just want to, I’m impressed by what you do and just love to take you to breakfast or attend your time is valuable. And I find many people are willing to meet you at five o’clock, six o’clock, seven o’clock in the morning, or it doesn’t ruin it day that, you know, what can I do to be more like you?
And what are your, some of your points and what are your summary takeaways? And obviously with what you’re doing podcasts. I mean, I think it’s an incredible, incredible way to learn from other people without even knowing them. My entire time I been driving. I’m listening to podcasts, whether successful people to try to learn what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.
I think once again, successfully closed, every industry will have something for him. Yeah, I think there’s three types of people in three stages of success. There’s the people that are new or hungry and they may want that advice. And then there’s the people that think they’re at the top and they’re kind of defensive and they want to hide their secrets and push people away.
And then, and then at some point you realize just like you said, there’s no scarcity, there’s plenty of money to go around. Right. And you, you actually embrace wanting to help people. And it becomes kind of, I don’t want to necessarily say your mission, but you feel your, your own internal value in helping other people.
Absolutely. I think there’s a lot of people willing to do that. And there’s so many different places to learn it. You had something, um, you listed on LinkedIn the other day about hiring a virtual, virtual assistant and phone doing phone work. I got so much out of that article. And, and we’ll talk about that offline.
Obviously I was blown away at the simplicity of what you said, where you’ve listed places that people can get things. Get things done instantly. And so I think there’s so many places because if you’re looking for it to find those nuggets and those glues, and to reach out to somebody and say, Hey, how did you do that?
And once again, I think people that have been successful are willing to pay it forward. That’s really at that because, um, I think in social media, you know, social media is a whole different conversation, but as I’ve been really embracing, um, using LinkedIn as a tool to give back to other entrepreneurs and share my experience, um, Me being in my position.
Like I have no way to gauge the successful reach on those. You know, LinkedIn will tell you how many people viewed it and it’ll tell you how many people commented, but like, you don’t really know how many people that actually impact us. So I’m actually really glad you said that. Yeah, sure. If it helped me, it had to help a bunch of other people as well.
When I read that, which I didn’t expect it coming from you, um, you know, I was expecting something SEO. I was expecting something, but what a pure business building tip. That that now once again, we’ll talk about more details. I want to learn more about it and implement it my own business, but I just think things like that are everywhere if you’re, if you’re looking forward and trying to find it from other people.
Yeah. So I had one last question about this vac and then we’ll kind of get to wrapping things up. Um, so is HPAC sun, is that the same? Yes, exactly. Same one.
Yeah. He has no cool stories to tell it’s it’s a, it’s a completely polar opposite. It’s a lot of happy people sweating and so different environment. When he shows up, nobody is sitting by the pool naked or in their bikinis. How has it been difficult working with family? Can you offer any advice on how to manage that relationship or you, I promise you, I am the last person to ask that from you have to come home and tell your wife that you fired your son.
Uh, it makes for some extremely tense times. Um, and, and once again, I. I hold people to a higher standards. Um, and my son, unfortunately, doesn’t get the, I’m going to lower that standard for you part. So he has had to endure years of me nonstop, probably complaining, um, And I, and I have, I talked with other business owners about it as well.
Cause there’s, there’s people that are on the polar opposite of me. For me, my difficulty was having to come home and face my wife. Um, because once again, I’m yelling at her baby, I’m firing her baby. You know, there’s all these things that are taking place. This is not great for a relationship. I’m fortunate that I’ve got a wife that, that overlooks my, my, my poor choice of words sometimes.
But, um, I talked to other people that are struggling with the same thing, because it’s a family member. They feel like they can’t say things to them. And so it’s a difficult situation to me and I took it to the exact opposite. I’m going to tell you exactly how I feel. I’m not going to sugar coat it because you’re my son.
And this is what my expectations are. I wouldn’t have said it to him. He was 12 obviously, but now you’re working in a paying you and, and these things are happening. So I held him to a higher standard cause he knows what goes into business. And I see other people, once again, a friend of mine writes, you talked about this last week, his was the exact opposite because he said, well, it’s, it’s my, my brother-in-law.
And if I yell at him, then, then it’s going to be tense Christmas. And so I see it as such a challenge, um, and, and defining those roles. And because my I’ve allowed my businesses to kind of consume my line. Not from the standpoint that I worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I love what I do. And so to me, it’s not working.
And that’s why I got out of the financial planning business when it wasn’t fun anymore, I didn’t want to do it anymore. So, um, So there’s not a big separation to me and work in play. So on a Tuesday, I want to go fishing. I’m going to go fish, that’s self employed. And that’s why I do that. If I want to go take my kids someplace, I can go take my kids someplace, whatever it is that I want to do, as long as I meet my obligations.
And then that’s what I believe that I’m in. I’m self employed for the freedom that it provides me. Um, but. I’m also, if, if we’re having a cookout at the house that my son comes there, I’m going to ask him what happened on that service call. He went on the night before. And so I don’t have the ability to separate that, that that’s once again, I’m the worst person to ask about that because as I’m flipping hamburgers, I’m going to say, you know, what was wrong with that?
Lady’s this. And how did you handle that? What did you do? When did you get paid? And so that’s just because that’s what I’m thinking about. Other people I see have the exact opposite of they’re walking on eggshells. Because they can’t say something to their brother-in-law or their sister or their, and so I think it’s a, it’s a difficult thing.
And I think the real answer is to provide boundaries of which I’m not capable of doing. So I’m not the gutter here to be preaching on how to do that, because I just, um, I allow my businesses, um, interact with my life because I’m the same person in front of the customer as I am at home. And so. If we’re at my son’s high school baseball game, I’m talking to the guy about fixing his air conditioner because that’s where my business is going to come from.
And so, and so I don’t have that separation. I think being self employed, it’s difficult to have that separation unless you’re in a business that doesn’t do business locally. And so when I was just doing the business brokerage, it was easy. I could be at a baseball game and they didn’t own a business.
They had nothing. We didn’t have anything to talk about business wise, but when you provide a service. I believe everybody should be our customer. If we have an air conditioning business or a pool business or an SEO business, whatever that business happens to be that everybody be my customer, because I believe we do the absolute best job possible for a reasonable price.
And we take care of people. So to me, if I’m going to be an outside in the world, Uh, you know, outside of my business environment, I should be talking about my business monthly ties back all the time. So once again, I’m not the person to answer that question. There’s a lot of good books. I imagine you could find on, on creating separation.
I don’t have the ability to do it, um, because. That business feeds my family and it takes care of the things that I want to do with. So it’s always a focus in my mind that we go out and we do things and we don’t talk business, but we talk business a lot because that’s just part of it to me. And, and, um, and so.
Don’t fire your son. It’s not good for marriage. Don’t fire. And multiple times it’s not good for your marriage. And don’t cuss out of, it’s not good for your marriage. All of which I’ve done many, many, many times. And, uh, so if you could learn anything from today, don’t need me when your, your son works for you and it’ll probably make it going home a lot easier, but I’m the wrong person that has that.
So your children are not replaceable, but you are. Yeah, absolutely. And, and that point has been driven home multiple times. I promise you, but I’m still married. So I think that’s a good sign at this point. If you could tell our listeners or even your younger self something, do you have any, um, you know, something you learned a lesson from something that could save them time, something that could help them scale faster.
Do you got any tip of the day kind of thing? Well, I, I think a couple of them that tied in for me is one that successfully includes. We’ve talked about that a bunch of them too, you can make money doing anything which we’ve talked about today. I drive around and I see a sign not far from us as Ocala, Florida, which is, I think the number two in the country for horses.
Um, and I see a sign for a company that comes in scoops, maneuver. Other driving $200,000 semis to go scoop maneuver. Clearly they’re making money. I mean, I think you can make money doing anything. We were cleaning swimming pools. I just think that that, that you could make money doing anything, find something that you don’t, that you enjoy doing, and somebody will pay you to do it.
Um, but I think for me, the biggest thing was having confidence that I could do it. You know, I, I, I bought the swing all company and I didn’t know anything, but, and I’m not mechanical at all. And so I was able to figure that out. And then I bought a heating and air company, and I knew nothing about heating in there and I was able to figure that out.
And so I think not putting limitations on ourselves that, you know, and I’m not an exceptionally smart guy. I just think that I find what somebody else is doing, what they teach me and I do it. And so, um, So I think that that would probably be, if anything, would be, have confidence in what you’re doing and know that, that you can figure it out and, uh, and you know, a lot more than you think you do.
I think that would probably, so I didn’t answer one. I gave him like three or four and I apologize, but my mind go 90 miles an hour. Again, I just think that, you know, all of those things helped. And I think for, I try to teach my kids, um, you know, you don’t have to know it all. But you know, more than anybody else and, you know, whatever it is you’re doing.
And that’s the thing I learned when I showed up to, to clean somebody’s pool. They didn’t know if I was wasn’t brushing it. Right. Because they didn’t know how to brush or either, but I was panicking, brushing this swimming pool over time. Yeah. You just realize that they don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.
You know, it’s having some confidence that you know what you’re doing and, um, and, and it’ll work. Yeah, I appreciate that. Um, so as we close out, do you want to go ahead and plug yourself, give us a humblebrag, share your website, your phone number, social media, whatever you like. Absolutely. Or you can find me I’m naming.
My, his brokerage company has business modification group. So it’s just businessmodificationgroup.com or on Facebook on LinkedIn, Patrick Lange LaNG, my name and our number is (352) 440-4604. Uh, we do specialize in heating and air companies, but I sell all sorts of companies as well. As far as restaurants, gas stations, uh, you name it, we sold it.
Um, and so if I can help anybody out in any way looking to buy or sell a business, I’d love an opportunity to do so. I appreciate your time. Thank you. Thank you both very much. Yep.